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For non-fiction children will love, the “Who Was,” “Where Was” is tops

By Melissa J. Oleen

Rowan Public Library

Three of my favorite non-fiction series for children are the “Who was/is?” “What was?” and “Where is?” series. The intended audience is children 8 to 12 years old (third- through fifth-graders) but older readers will also find them informative.

They are great choices to read to older children — children are never too old to be read to — or any child who prefers non-fiction over fiction. Short chapters and lots of black and white illustrations make them a good choice for reluctant readers.

Children working on their first oral essays or written reports for school will find these books a great source of information without being overwhelming. Families visiting famous historical sites will find these a fun way to get the kids interested (Use these books for a game of true or false in the car on the way there).

Each volume includes a timeline of the person/place/event covered with a corresponding world timeline on the other side of the page, helping readers gain a broader understanding of events. Timelines are followed by a bibliography listing additional books on the topic for young readers.

The “Who was?/Who is?” series offers a detailed account of a famous figure’s life. They are also referred to as the “Big Head” books, as the covers all feature the famous individual’s picture with the head made unusually large. Titles start off with a few unusual facts about the person to get the reader’s attention and make you want to read further.

Often the facts are ones that kids will identify with and understand. For example, “Who Was Albert Einstein?” first tells us that Einstein was a very poor student who got kicked out of school. Yet, he becomes one of the most brilliant people in the world.

The series includes both living and deceased individuals, and the variety of occupations and backgrounds is excellent — musicians, sports figures, politicians, inventors, entrepreneurs, explorers and leaders to name a few.

For many of the individuals featured, it is hard to locate quality non-fiction books about them intended for these ages and grade levels. “Who was” Ernest Shackleton, Rachel Carson, Gandhi, “Who is” Bill Gates can all be found at the library.

“What was?” focuses on important historical events and provides a detailed accounting appropriate for young children. Titles include “What was” Pompeii, the March on Washington D.C., The Alamo, Pearl Harbor and the Battle of Gettysburg.

“Where is?” introduces readers to famous landmarks and locations around the world. They explore how they came to be and why, in addition to describing how they were used. “Where is” the Great Wall, the Grand Canyon, Mt. Rushmore and the White House.

The library has a growing collection of these titles available in both hard copy and digital format via the NC Digital Library.

Simply search for the person, place or event to locate specific titles. To browse available titles in the library catalog, do an advanced search for titles that begin with “Who Was” “Where is” etc. In the NC Digital Library, go to Kids & Teens then Kid’s Non-Fiction and search within the results for your subject.

Stories by the Millstream Family Concert: Headquarters, Thursday, Sept. 17, 7 p.m. A special storytelling concert featuring Tom Lee. His repertoire is a trove of myths and stories from cultures around the world; some are centuries old, some originated thousands of years ago.

Book Bites Book Club: South (China Grove), Tuesday, Sept. 29, 6:30-8 p.m. Free, open to the public. If you enjoy good books, fellowship and tasty food, join us for this club where we discuss a different book each month and serve refreshments loosely related to the theme. This month’s book choice is “Under the Tuscan Sunby Frances Mayes. Need a copy? Call 704-216-7841.

Michael Reno Harrell in Concert: Headquarters, Tuesday, Sept. 29, 7- 9 p.m. Featuring Harrell, an award winning songwriter and veteran storyteller and entertainer. His recordings have won awards in country, Americana and folk circles. Find more information at http://www.michaelreno.com/index.php. Admission is free, all are welcome. Program starts at 7; doors open at 6:30. Show sponsored by Friends of Rowan Public Library.

Computer classes: Getting to know your iPad, headquarters, Tuesday, Sept. 22, 7-8 p.m. Discussion of components, navigation, apps. Must preregister, bring you own iPad, charged, and with an updated operating system, and have a current, valid Apple ID. Free signup at https://appleid.apple.com/  Space is limited. Call Paul Birkhead at 704-216-8242 to reserve a spot.

If you’re new to computers or never felt comfortable, Computer Basics will cover the everything from components to programs. Thursday, Sept. 24, 9:30-11 a.m., headquarters.

Lego Saturdays: The library’s Lego collection will be available for free play, developing creativity, imagination and problem-solving skills. East, Saturday, Sept. 19, 10 a.m.-noon; South, Saturday, Sept. 26, 10 a.m.-noon.

Adventure Club: Headquarters, Saturday, Sept. 26, 11 a.m. Join Robert and Johnathan for another round of adventurous hands-on science activities and projects; lasts one hour. This month: “Back to School Apple Prints.”

Displays: Headquarters, DAR, Constitution Week and Lee Street theatre; South, wearable arts by Vickie Clontz; East, handmade jewelry by Myrtis Trexler.

Gallery at headquarters: Photographic prints and tintypes by David Lamanno.

Literacy: Call the Rowan County Literacy Council at 704-216-8266 for more information on teaching or receiving literacy tutoring for English speakers or for those for whom English is a second  language.

For a list of teen and children’s activities, please refer to the Thursday Education section.



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