These books for kids are about being brave

Humans are capable of much more than they first imagined. In the face of enormous adversity, time and time again people have shown determination and courage to survive at all costs.

Reading real and fictional stories that demonstrate bravery is a great way to encourage children to dig deeper and find courage, even when the odds seem insurmountable. This is the case with the books reviewed today.

True stories include a little boy in Cleveland who saved the lives of the first early settlers in 1798, and a woman who didn’t let polio get in the way of her dreams. On the fictional side, the story shows that even a kitten will go to great lengths to try and save her people.

As always, strength can be gained by reading good books to children. Start today and keep going. The benefits of your efforts are indeed great.

borrow books

Many public libraries have the following books.

“Saving the Boys of Cleveland: Based on a True Story” by James Cross Giblin, illustrated by Michael Doolin, Henry Holt, 64 pages

Read aloud: Ages 5 and up.

Read Yourself: Ages 8 and Up.

In 1798, Cleveland was nothing more than three log cabins and a small cornfield in the middle of the forest. Young Seth Duane lived with his family in one of the cabins, and despite the work, Seth’s favorite activity was reading.

Unfortunately, when they moved from Connecticut, the only book the family could read was the Family Bible, and Seth told these stories time and time again. But when his family and several other settlers fell ill with a form of malaria, Seth had no choice but to put his reading aside. Their survival depends entirely on Seth.

Based on a true story, this fast-paced, engaging book is full of courage and heroism.

Librarian’s Choice

Library: Muhlenberg Community Library, 3612 Kutztown Road, Laureldale

Assistant Librarian: Erin Sims

Youth Services Coordinator: Melissa Adams

Picks of the Week: Buffalo Soldier: Heroes of the American West by Brynn Baker; Rebecca Langston-George’s “For the Right to Learn: The Story of Malala Yousafzai”; Susan Campbell Bartoletti’s The Terrible Typhoid Mary

book to buy

The following books are available at your favorite bookstore.

“Splash!: Ethelda Bleibtrey Makes of Change,” by Elisa Boxer, illustrated by Elizabeth Baddeley, Sleeping Bear Press, 2022, 32 pages, $17.99 Hardcover

Read aloud: 6-10 years old.

Read Yourself: Ages 7-10.

In Brooklyn in 1917, 15-year-old Iselda contracted polio. She was in pain all over, and the illness was exhausting, her limbs were heavy, and walking was painful. Her doctor suggested swimming might be good for her, and despite Eselda’s misgivings, she was willing to give it a try.

To Ethelda’s surprise, swimming made her feel light and strong, as if she were flying. Being in the water is where Ethelda discovers her powers. But it didn’t stop there. Two years later, Ethelda took off the modest socks that women were then required to wear when swimming, encouraged other female regiments to do the same, and revolutionized women’s swimwear.

Ethelda went on to win three gold medals at the 1920 Belgian Olympics and set three world records in women’s swimming. Eventually, Ethelda became a nurse, caring for children with polio and introducing them to the freedom that swimming brought to each of her patients.

Splash!: Ethelda Bleibtrey Makes of Change tells the extraordinary true story of a woman of courage and tenacity that will inspire readers to face their own challenges and find inner peace, strength and personal strength.

Megan Wagner Lloyd, Haven: The Adventures of a Kitten, Candlewick, 2022, 132 pages, $17.99 Hardcover

Read aloud: Ages 8-12.

Read yourself: 8-12 years old.

Haven was a stray kitten in the forest until Mother Millie rescued her. Life as an indoor cat with Ma Millie is a blessing – lots of good food, lots of love from Ma Millie, and a safe place to sleep whenever Haven wants.

When mum Millie became very ill, Haven knew she had to seek help. This means she will have to leave her safe and comfortable home and venture into the forest to try and find her way to town.

But there is danger at every moment, and despite her pairing with an unexpected ally, both animals are hunted by a hungry lynx determined to make them their next meal. Can they outsmart the Bobcats and find the help Mamelie needs for Harvin?

A stirring story of courage, loyalty, love, loss, and learning to start over, “Haven: The Adventures of a Kitten” is a wonderful read.

Kendal Rautzhan writes and lectures on children’s literature nationwide. She can be reached at

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