This is the first year I do not have a nephew in school. I have three cousins who are still going (one who is a junior or senior in high school, one almost in high school and one almost (or is) junior high), but it is not the same. Do I feel old? A little, but because I am mostly young at heart, and I can read picture books, I can still think I am that kid reading 100 books for summer reading challenges and getting a gift certificate to the local bookstore. Recently I happened to find two books about education, so at least I can read about school, without worrying about the hard homework or tests.
I like chocolate. Especially milk chocolate. And honesty, nothing really beats the classic Hershey bar. And in On the Corner of Chocolate Avenue: How Milton Hershey Bought Milk Chocolate to America is a fun way to learn how that came about. Tziporah Cohen’s story is simple, but not simplistic, as we follow Milton Hershey from a poor, young boy to the Chocolate King. But of course, it was not a straight or easy path. We see how the events of the time and his background shaped him as a man, chocolatier, entrepreneur, and even an educator. We see the highlights of the things that will make chocolate what it is today and the city that was built around that idea. They also touch on the fact that, due to Hershey’s background of leaving school when he was very young, he did start a school for boys. Nothing is overly analyzed but nothing is skimped on either. Steven Salerno illustrates the story with fun, realistic, lighthearted imagery. The colors and details are popping and are supportive. It might be a bit longer than what we assume a picture book might be, so it might not be a one read sitting, but it is worth taking your time with. It is currently available, but I read it as an online reader copy. Extras at the end are included.
You might have known Hershey was known for his chocolate, and started the school for boys who were like him, but you might not know about another educator who we see in Milloo’s Mind: the Story of Maryam Faruqi, Trailblazer for Women’s Education. The author, Reem Faruqi has a story about their grandmother and how she revolutionized the education of girls in her country. Maryam Faruqi (nicknamed Milloo by her father) was a female at a time when women had little education and were expected to take care of their family, marry and then take care of them. But she found a way to go all the way to college instead of dropping out as her parents wanted. And still, here was an educated woman who was still being subjected to the traditional belief that the aunties needed to find her a husband. But like when she was a child, and realized she would have to fight to get what she wanted, she knew that to teach was her dream and she would find a way to do that. Faruqi’s picture book shows how a little creative determination can have an amazing impact on people. The illustrations of Hoda Hadadi are bright, colorful, well detailed and are both their own character and support the text. They are readable on their own. Read as an online reader copy, you can currently find copies at your local independent bookstore