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15 Books Every Young Reader Will Love

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Want to help the kids in your life nurture their interests? From art, to science, to history, these brainy books can teach and inspire—and who knows? Your young friends might be able to school you on a few topics after reading!

1. NATHAN HALE’S HAZARDOUS TALES, BY NATHAN HALE

History doesn’t have to be dry—and author-illustrator Nathan Hale’s series is anything but. Presented in graphic novel form, Hale’s Hazardous Tales covers everything from the Alamo to the Donner Party. But the first book in the series, appropriately, is on the author's namesake—the American spy who was captured during the Revolutionary War, and uttered the famous "I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country," before being hanged by the British. Hazardous history, indeed! 

2. RAD WOMEN WORLDWIDE: ARTISTS AND ATHLETES, PIRATES AND PUNKS, AND OTHER REVOLUTIONARIES WHO SHAPED HISTORY, BT KATE SCHATZ AND MIRIAM STAHL

Nothing illustrates the saying "Well-behaved women rarely make history" better than the 40 women highlighted in this book. Famous fab females are featured, like Marie Curie and Frida Kahlo, but young readers will also appreciate tales about lesser-known figures such as environmental and political activist Wangari Maathai and punk rocker Poly Styrene.

3. EARTHRISE: MY ADVENTURES AS AN APOLLO 14 ASTRONAUT, BY EDGAR MITCHELL

Kids can make history into reality by putting themselves in the shoes of astronaut Edgar Mitchell, the lunar module pilot for the third moon landing. Mitchell's first solo airplane flight as a teen and his firsthand accounts of eating, sleeping, and even going to the bathroom on the moon are sure to fascinate any science buff.

4. CHASING VERMEER, BY BLUE BALLIETT AND BRETT HELQUIST

Dubbed "The DaVinci Code for kids," this youth novel sends a pair of sixth-graders on a scavenger hunt to recover a stolen painting. The clues and puzzles presented in the book encourage kids to scrutinize and analyze real works of art to solve the mystery themselves. And you may recognize illustrator Brett Helquist's style from his work on Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events books.

5. STAR STUFF: CARL SAGAN AND THE MYSTERIES OF THE COSMOS, BY STEPHANIE ROTH SISSON

Any kid who has felt a sense of wonder while looking up at the stars will feel a kinship with little Carl Sagan, who once gazed at the cosmos from his apartment window. Learning how a kid from Brooklyn went on to be one of the most renowned astrophysicists in the world will no doubt inspire budding astronomers—and the fun illustrations definitely don't hurt.

6. WITCHES! THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE TALE OF DISASTER IN SALEM, BY ROSALYN SCHANZER

The author of the critically acclaimed children's book How We Crossed the West: The Adventures of Lewis and Clark tackles the topic of the Salem witch trials in an age-appropriate manner, including intriguing illustrations and well-researched information. In 2012, Witches! was named a Robert F. Sibert Honor book, an award given by the Association for Library Service to Children to honor writers and illustrators of distinguished informational books for kids.

7. FUNNY BONES: POSADA AND HIS DAY OF THE DEAD CALAVERAS, BY DUNCAN TONATIUH

Calaveras skeletons are the hallmark of Dia de los Muertos, but not many people know the name of the artist behind them. This book changes all of that by telling the story of Mexican printmaker and engraver Lupe Posada, who used his artwork to make political statements—it's sure to inspire any young aspiring artist.

8. GEORGE AND THE UNBREAKABLE CODE, BY LUCY AND STEPHEN HAWKING

Astrophysics and super computers are big concepts for anyone to grasp, let alone children. But if anyone is up to the task, it's Lucy Hawking and her father, Stephen. In George and the Unbreakable Code—the latest in a series of George books that teach kids the principles of astronomy, astrophysics, and cosmology—the young title character and his best friend have to travel into space to figure out who hacked into the world's super computers.

9. BOMB: THE RACE TO BUILD—AND STEAL—THE WORLD’S MOST DANGEROUS WEAPON, BY STEVE SHEINKIN

How do you explain the creation of the atomic bomb to a young reader? You turn it into an international spy story. But this historical tale told by author Steve Sheinkin is 100 percent true—no embellishment necessary. In fact, adults who need a refresher themselves would do well to give this one a read: According to The Wall Street Journal, Bomb is "an excellent primer for adult readers who may have forgotten, or never learned, the remarkable story of how nuclear weaponry was first imagined, invented and deployed—and of how an international arms race began well before there was such a thing as an atomic bomb."

10. WARRIORS DON'T CRY, BY MELBA PATTILLO BEALS

Most of us have never known a world that includes segregated schools—and even fewer can imagine what it must have been like to be one of the "Little Rock Nine," the first group of black students to integrate. Experiencing the historic event through the eyes of author and Little Rock Nine member Melba Pattillo Beals is sure to be a fascinating, terrifying, and eye-opening perspective for any teen.

11. SMART ALECK’S GUIDE TO AMERICAN HISTORY, BY ADAM SELZER

Look, let's talk about the elephant in the room: 11th president James K. Polk had a serious mullet, OK? It's tidbits like this one that makes Adam Selzer's Smart Aleck way more interesting than your average history textbook—but he also manages to work plenty of important stuff in amongst the Daily Show-style humor. It even invites readers to do some critical thinking about the subjects by asking questions such as, "Who was the bigger jerk, Hitler or Stalin?"

12. YOU CAN'T READ THIS! WHY BOOKS GET BANNED, BY PAMELA DELL

From Galileo to J.K. Rowling, books have been under siege from censors for centuries. This book, targeted specifically at young readers, helps them understand why books have been banned based on historical context—and makes them think about the banned texts of today. Other titles in the series, including Play It Loud!, a look at how musicians from Bach to Tupac have used music to fight oppression, are also worth checking out.

13. THE BOYS WHO CHALLENGED HITLER: KNUD PEDERSON AND THE CHURCHILL CLUB, BY PHILIP HOOSE

It wasn't just adults who were opposed to Hitler and the Nazi regime. Fifteen-year-old Knud Pedersen and seven of his friends committed numerous acts of sabotage against the Nazis during the German occupation of Denmark, including stealing weapons and destroying plane parts. Their action-packed story, which includes narratives from the boys themselves, is a great reminder that you don't have to be an adult to make a difference.

14. MR. FERRIS AND HIS WHEEL, BY KATHRYN GIBBS DAVIS AND GILBERT FORD

The story of how the Ferris wheel came to be is a tale of inspiration, invention, and perseverance, with more than a little bit of history mixed in. Though younger children will no doubt be interested to see how a favorite carnival ride came to be, they'll also learn about the creation of the Eiffel Tower and the 1893 World's Fair while they're at it.

15. ORPHAN TRAIN: A NOVEL, BY CHRISTINA BAKER KLINE

Between 1854 and 1929, homeless children from crowded cities on the East Coast were loaded onto trains and sent into the Midwest in hopes of being taken in. Sometimes it went well for the children—but just as often, it didn't. Orphan Train is a fictionalized account of what the emotional experience must have been like for kids of different genders, ethnicities, and ages.

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15 Powerful Quotes From Margaret Atwood
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It turns out the woman behind such eerily prescient novels as The Handmaid’s Tale and Oryx and Crake is just as wise as her tales are haunting. Here are 15 of the most profound quips from author, activist, and Twitter enthusiast Margaret Atwood, who was born on this day in 1939.

1. On her personal philosophy

 “Optimism means better than reality; pessimism means worse than reality. I’m a realist.”

— From a 2004 interview with The Guardian

2. On the reality of being female

“Men often ask me, Why are your female characters so paranoid? It’s not paranoia. It’s recognition of their situation.”

— From a 1990 interview with The Paris Review

3. On limiting how her politics influence her characters

“You know the myth: Everybody had to fit into Procrustes’ bed and if they didn’t, he either stretched them or cut off their feet. I’m not interested in cutting the feet off my characters or stretching them to make them fit my certain point of view.”

— From a 1997 interview with Mother Jones

4. On so-called “pretty” works of literature

“I don’t know whether there are any really pretty novels … All of the motives a human being may have, which are mixed, that’s the novelists’ material. … We like to think of ourselves as really, really good people. But look in the mirror. Really look. Look at your own mixed motives. And then multiply that.”

— From a 2010 interview with The Progressive

5. On the artist’s relationship with her fans

“The artist doesn’t necessarily communicate. The artist evokes … [It] actually doesn’t matter what I feel. What matters is how the art makes you feel.”

— From a 2004 interview with The Guardian

6. On the challenges of writing non-fiction

“When I was young I believed that ‘nonfiction’ meant ‘true.’ But you read a history written in, say, 1920 and a history of the same events written in 1995 and they’re very different. There may not be one Truth—there may be several truths—but saying that is not to say that reality doesn’t exist.”

— From a 1997 interview with Mother Jones

7. On poetry

“The genesis of a poem for me is usually a cluster of words. The only good metaphor I can think of is a scientific one: dipping a thread into a supersaturated solution to induce crystal formation.”

— From a 1990 interview with The Paris Review

8. On being labeled an icon

“All these things set a standard of behavior that you don’t necessarily wish to live up to. If you’re put on a pedestal you’re supposed to behave like a pedestal type of person. Pedestals actually have a limited circumference. Not much room to move around.”

— From a 2013 interview with The Telegraph

9. On how we’re all born writers

“[Everyone] ‘writes’ in a way; that is, each person has a ‘story’—a personal narrative—which is constantly being replayed, revised, taken apart and put together again. The significant points in this narrative change as a person ages—what may have been tragedy at 20 is seen as comedy or nostalgia at 40.”

— From a 1990 interview with The Paris Review

10. On the oppression at the center of The Handmaid's Tale

“Nothing makes me more nervous than people who say, ‘It can’t happen here. Anything can happen anywhere, given the right circumstances.” 

— From a 2015 lecture to West Point cadets

11. On the discord between men and women

“‘Why do men feel threatened by women?’ I asked a male friend of mine. … ‘They’re afraid women will laugh at them,’ he said. ‘Undercut their world view.’ … Then I asked some women students in a poetry seminar I was giving, ‘Why do women feel threatened by men?’ ‘They’re afraid of being killed,’ they said.”

— From Atwood’s Second Words: Selected Critical Prose, 1960-1982

12. On the challenges of expressing oneself

“All writers feel struck by the limitations of language. All serious writers.”

— From a 1990 interview with The Paris Review

13. On selfies

“I say they should enjoy it while they can. You’ll be happy later to have taken pictures of yourself when you looked good. It’s human nature. And it does no good to puritanically say, ‘Oh, you shouldn’t be doing that,’ because people do.”

— From a 2013 interview with The Telegraph

14. On the value of popular kids' series (à la Harry Potter and Percy Jackson)

"It put a lot of kids onto reading; it made reading cool. I’m sure a lot of later adult book clubs came out of that experience. Let people begin where they are rather than pretending that they’re something else, or feeling that they should be something else."

— From a 2014 interview with The Huffington Post

15. On why even the bleakest post-apocalyptic novels are, deep down, full of hope

“Any novel is hopeful in that it presupposes a reader. It is, actually, a hopeful act just to write anything, really, because you’re assuming that someone will be around to [read] it.”

— From a 2011 interview with The Atlantic 

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China's New Tianjin Binhai Library is Breathtaking—and Full of Fake Books
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A massive new library in Tianjin, China, is gaining international fame among bibliophiles and design buffs alike. As Arch Daily reports, the five-story Tianjin Binhai Library has capacity for more than 1 million books, which visitors can read in a spiraling, modernist auditorium with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves.

Several years ago, municipal officials in Tianjin commissioned a team of Dutch and Japanese architects to design five new buildings, including the library, for a cultural center in the city’s Binhai district. A glass-covered public corridor connects these structures, but the Tianjin Binhai Library is still striking enough to stand out on its own.

The library’s main atrium could be compared to that of the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Guggenheim Museum in New York City. But there's a catch: Its swirling bookshelves don’t actually hold thousands of books. Look closer, and you’ll notice that the shelves are printed with digital book images. About 200,000 real books are available in other rooms of the library, but the jaw-dropping main room is primarily intended for socialization and reading, according to Mashable.

The “shelves”—some of which can also serve as steps or seating—ascend upward, curving around a giant mirrored sphere. Together, these elements resemble a giant eye, prompting visitors to nickname the attraction “The Eye of Binhai,” reports Newsweek. In addition to its dramatic main auditorium, the 36,000-square-foot library also contains reading rooms, lounge areas, offices, and meeting spaces, and has two rooftop patios.

Following a three-year construction period, the Tianjin Binhai Library opened on October 1, 2017. Want to visit, but can’t afford a trip to China? Take a virtual tour by checking out the photos below.

A general view of the Tianjin Binhai Library
FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images

People visiting China's Tianjin Binhai Library.
FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images

A general view of China's Tianjin Binhai Library.
FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images

A woman taking pictures at China's Tianjin Binhai Library.
FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images

A man visiting China's Tianjin Binhai Library.
FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images

A woman looking at books at China's Tianjin Binhai Library.
FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images

A general view of China's Tianjin Binhai Library.
FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images

People visiting China's Tianjin Binhai Library.
FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images

[h/t Newsweek]

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