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Golden State Reading PDF Print E-mail
Written by Flannery Fitch   

 

Summer is a great time to explore our beautiful state and remember all the things that make it so wonderful. From rich history to a wildly diverse ecosystem to progressive politics and vibrant culture, California so much to offer. Here are some great books for kids that celebrate the Golden State:

 

Our California

by Pam Munoz Ryan

This bright, colorful picture book highlights California cities from San Diego to Eureka. Each page has facts about California history written in engaging verse and plenty of eye-catching visuals. While it doesn’t include Santa Cruz, it does have Monterey.

 

When Butterflies Cross the Sky

by Sharon Katy Cooper

Santa Cruz and Pacific Grove share a very special thing: both are destination spots for migrating Monarch butterflies. Every year, the Monterey Bay is visited by the best tourists ever as the bright, fluttering butterflies swarm the local eucalyptus trees. This lovely book is a great guide to the life and times of the Monarch butterfly, and you can pair it with a visit to Natural Bridges to see the flying beauties in real life.

 

Sequoia

by Tony Johnston

Sierra

by Diane Siebert

These books are simply stunning. Told in simple, flowing verse, they tell the story of the wild worlds that thrive around sequoia trees in the Sierra Nevada. Paintings by Wendell Minor bring them to luminous life, lighting the pages and capturing the beauty of our state. While we have an abundance of redwoods and amazing mountains, our ecosystem is different from the high peaks of the Sierras, so these books can provide a vicarious visit to that world.

 

Riding Freedom

by Pam Munoz Ryan

This is one of my favorite books from childhood. Charley Parkhurst was one of the most famed, fearless stagecoach drivers in the West, but Charley had a secret: Charley was Charlotte, a woman disguised as a man. In this fantastic middle grade novel perfect for younger readers, Ryan creates Charley’s story, which takes place largely in this area. Charley Parkhurst is buried in Watsonville, and her obituary ran in the Santa Cruz Sentinel, so this book is even more special because of the local connection. If all that wasn’t enough to recommend it, it’s illustrated by the fabulous Brian Selznick. Read the book and then take a trip to visit Charley’s grave and marvel at a woman who became a living legend and died with her secret intact.

 

Operation Redwood

by S. Terrell French

Julian Carter-Li is not enjoying living with his aunt and uncle in San Francisco while his mom is in China. When he sneaks a peak at his uncle’s email and discovers that his uncle might be out to destroy a redwood grove, he’s ready to dive into action to save the trees! Not only is this a great buddy adventure with diverse, realistic characters and a good sense of humor, it’s written by an environmental lawyer and has plenty of redwood facts.

 

The Way We Lived &

The Ohlone Way

by Malcolm Margolin

The original inhabitants of our gorgeous state and our incredible bay were the Native Americans. Several nations lived here before their land and lives were taken. While much of their culture has been lost, what remains is kept alive by their descendants. These two books are perfect for the young adult looking to learn more about the native people, or about California in their time. Since much of the history of California taught in schools focuses on the Missions, gold miners, and Oregon Trail pioneers and their role in the formation of the state, why not spend the summer rounding that out with the history of the original Californians. Bookshop’s children’s history section has a wealth of books on the subject appropriate for any age, and the Santa Cruz Natural History Museum has a great exhibit on the Ohlone people. Reading material for the whole family and a cool field trip!

 

Flannery Fitch is a bookseller at Bookshop Santa Cruz. Her life has been about books since before she could read.

 
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