Discussion Guide: FALLOUT by Steve Sheinkin

Fallout by Steve Sheinkin
Ages 12-18

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New York Times bestselling author Steve Sheinkin presents a follow up to his award-winning book Bomb: The Race to Buildand Steal–the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon, taking readers on a terrifying journey into the Cold War and our mutual assured destruction.

As World War II comes to a close, the United States and the Soviet Union emerge as the two greatest world powers on extreme opposites of the political spectrum. After the United States showed its hand with the atomic bomb in Hiroshima, the Soviets refuse to be left behind. With communism sweeping the globe, the two nations begin a neck-and-neck competition to build even more destructive bombs and conquer the Space Race. In their battle for dominance, spy planes fly above, armed submarines swim deep below, and undercover agents meet in the dead of night.

The Cold War game grows more precarious as weapons are pointed towards each other, with fingers literally on the trigger. The decades-long showdown culminates in the Cuban Missile Crisis, the world’s close call with the third—and final—world war.

Learn more about FALLOUT here →

Celebrating Indigenous Literature for National Native American Heritage Month

Celebrate National Native American Heritage Month in your school or library! Keep reading to find more book recommendations, watch a presentation by Firekeeper’s Daughter author Angeline Boulley, download the We Are Water Protectors activity kit, and watch a read-aloud of Fry Bread by author Kevin Noble Maillard!

Watch author Angeline Boulley discuss her inspiration, storytelling, and research process for her bestselling debut novel Firekeeper’s Daughter. Plus, educator Kit Robinson shares how teachers can use Firekeeper’s Daughter in the classroom.

Find Ojibwe language translations, correct spellings, and audio pronunciations for Firekeeper’s Daughter in this Anishinaabemowin resource center, created by Margaret Noodin, a professor at UW-Milwaukee.

Find more books for National Native American Heritage Month here →

STORYTIME: Katherine Applegate reads her new middle grade novel Willodeen

Willodeen by Katherine Applegate
Ages 8-12

From #1 New York Times bestseller Katherine Applegate, a singular middle-grade novel about a girl who risks everything to help a handmade creature who comes to life.

The earth is old and we are not, and that is all you must remember . . .

Eleven-year-old Willodeen adores creatures of all kinds, but her favorites are the most unlovable beasts in the land: strange beasts known as “screechers.” The villagers of Perchance call them pests, even monsters, but Willodeen believes the animals serve a vital role in the complicated web of nature.

Lately, though, nature has seemed angry indeed. Perchance has been cursed with fires and mudslides, droughts and fevers, and even the annual migration of hummingbears, a source of local pride and income, has dwindled. For as long as anyone can remember, the tiny animals have overwintered in shimmering bubble nests perched atop blue willow trees, drawing tourists from far and wide. This year, however, not a single hummingbear has returned to Perchance, and no one knows why.

When a handmade birthday gift brings unexpected magic to Willodeen and her new friend, Connor, she’s determined to speak up for the animals she loves, and perhaps even uncover the answer to the mystery of the missing hummingbears.

A timely and timeless tale about our fragile earth, and one girl’s fierce determination to make a difference.


Praise for Willodeen:

“Employing flawlessly simple, candid prose that belies deeper messages, Newbery Medalist Applegate again considers the complex relationship between humans and the natural world. … Fiercely protective Willodeen is easy to champion, and her belief that “nature knows more than we do” is a message worth sharing.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review

Applegate’s gentle yet honest tale mixes magic with very real environmental messaging, both warning of human-caused harm and pointing to nature’s resilience and interconnectedness… Applegate empowers her young characters by not only granting them courage but also ensuring they earn the respect of their elders.”—Booklist, starred review

“An endearing fable that illuminates the importance of recognizing that all living things serve a purpose in our beautifully complex world and are worthy of care and dignity.” —BookPage


Watch more author storytimes here!

Celebrate your freedom to read during Banned Books Week

Share these remarkable books from the ALA’s Top 100 Most Challenged Books 2010-2019.
Find ALA’s 10 Most Challenged Books from 2020 here.

Find more ideas to fight censorship at your school or library
on ALA’s Banned Books Week website.

Watch our Anti-Racist Education Webinar & find Reading List Recommendations

Watch our anti-racist education webinar, featuring authors Dr. Crystal M. Fleming (Rise Up: How You Can Join the Fight Against White Supremacy), Bethany C. Morrow (So Many Beginnings: A Little Women Remix), and Aminah Mae Safi (Travelers Along the Way: A Robin Hood Remix). In this conversation moderated by Julia Torres, a teacher-librarian in Denver Public Schools, the authors discussed how educators and librarians can build a more inclusive collection for their schools and libraries.

Find more resources mentioned during the event below:

More Resources for Continuing Anti-Racist Education: 
ILA Children’s Right to Read
NCTE Intellectual Freedom Center
NCTE Committee Against Racism and Bias in the Teaching of English (CARBTE)
American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom
Disrupt Texts
Diversity in Children’s Books Infographic (2018) by Sarah Park Dahlen

More Anti-Racist Book Lists to Build Your Collection 
Social Justice Books
We are KidLit Collective

Nonfiction to Pair with So Many Beginnings by Bethany C. Morrow:
Time Full of Trial: The Roanoke Island Freedmen’s Colony, 1862-1867 by Patricia C. Click 

Nonfiction to Pair with Travelers Along the Way by Aminah Mae Safi:
The Crusades Through Arab Eyes by Amin Maalouf

Nonfiction to Pair with Rise Up by Crystal M. Fleming:
Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong by James W. Loewen 

Check out our list nonfiction and fiction books to add to your anti-racist collections and classroom curriculums. Create more inclusive, representative and equitable collections by incorporating these newly published works and backlist favorites into your school and library collections!

Books to Commemorate the 20th Anniversary of 9/11

Remembering this Day: On the morning of September 11, 2001, the United States was attacked by a terrorist group known as al Qaeda. The terrorists hijacked four commercial airplanes and crashed two of them into the Twin Towers and one into the Pentagon. Passengers on the fourth plane fought against their captives, but the plane went down with no survivors. Nearly 3,000 people died as a result of these attacks, leaving the United States, and the world, in a state of grief.

We’ve put together a selection of books and resources you can use to reflect on this day and teach students about this important historical event. Find a list of books to share with your students and watch a video with Alyssa Bermudez, creator of Big Apple Diaries!

Find more information to share with students about the 9/11 attacks here and here.

Learn more about these books here →

Download the School’s First Day of School Activity Kit!

Need back-to-school icebreakers or storytime ideas? Download this activity kit to be used alongside School’s First Day of School! “A perfect first day read-aloud,” says School Library Journal!

School’s First Day of School story by Adam Rex; pictures by Christian Robinson

It’s the first day of school at Frederick Douglass Elementary and everyone’s just a little bit nervous, especially the school itself. What will the children do once they come? Will they like the school? Will they be nice to him?

The school has a rough start, but as the day goes on, he soon recovers when he sees that he’s not the only one going through first-day jitters.

Adam Rex has written several books for young readers, including the New York Times bestselling Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich and The True Meaning of Smekday. His first day of school was at Lookout Mountain Elementary in Phoenix. He lives now with his wife and son in Tucson.

Christian Robinson‘s award-winning books for young readers include Josephine, which was a Coretta Scott King Honor Book as well as a Sibert Honor Book and Harlem’s Little Blackbird, which was an NAACP Image Award nominee. His latest book Last Stop on Market Street earned four starred reviews and was on the New York Times bestseller list. This is his first book for Roaring Brook Press.


Praise for School’s First Day of School:

A New York Times Bestseller
Boston Globe Best Books of the Year
Goodreads Choice Awards
Washington Post Best Books of the Year
Publishers Weekly Best Books of the Year
Kirkus Reviews Best Books of the Year

★ SEVEN STARRED REVIEWS! ★

“An essential purchase that is simultaneously funny, frank, and soothing. A perfect first day read-aloud.”—School Library Journal

Sure to become a staple for first days of school everywhere.”—Horn Book

“This charming reversal of first-day-of-school nerves will delight little ones and help put their own anxieties at bay.”—Booklist

“A delightful, perspective-tweaking back-to-school picture book.”—Shelf Awareness

“Deftly juggles well-placed jokes and keen insights into feeling comfortable in one’s own skin—or bricks, as the case may be.”—Publishers Weekly

“Using his signature, simple style, Robinson alternates scenes of the building and its interiors with shots that show the boisterously diverse kids’ first day. A unique point of view makes this school book stand out.”—Kirkus Reviews


A new and promising approach for school-shy youngsters, and it’ll make the already school-positive want to give their beloved building a hug.”—Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books