The best books around the idea of streets, history, and places

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an art and architectural historian whose field also includes the histories of cities. My area of specialty is Africa. I am also a professor at Harvard who has lived in Cambridge, Ma. for over 30 years where I have become a civic leader, co-founding the Harvard Square Neighborhood Association to help bring improvements to the city and preserve historic buildings here. I teach a class on Harvard Square (and the city of Cambridge) and following January 6, I felt it was important to rethink the way we teach young people – encouraging them to understand the diversity of all our communities. 


I wrote...

The Streets of Newtowne: A Story of Cambridge, MA

By Suzanne Preston Blier, Jim Blake (illustrator),

Book cover of The Streets of Newtowne: A Story of Cambridge, MA

What is my book about?

The Streets of Newtowne is a history of the first planned city in North America (Cambridge, MA) from its indigenous origins to the present day as told from the perspective of its varied pathways, waterways, and streets. The text engages the legacy of indigenous life, Puritan life, the American Revolution, slavery, the Civil War, immigrant vitality, the city’s industrial growth, and famed universities. We witness the forces that made this city, state, and country what they became, in eight period-specific chapters and accompanying illustrations.

The Streets of Newtowne is more than just a book about one town. It is a journey through time, exploring events and individuals that shaped not only the community of Newtowne, and our nation's history in a captivating exploration of America's past.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of A Street Through Time: A 12,000 Year Journey Along the Same Street

Suzanne Preston Blier Why did I love this book?

This book takes us through a visual journey of how one street has changed over its long history, providing us with a glimpse of its shared and divergent economic and religious history as well as the many ways that bridges and buildings have changed from Stone Age to the Industrial Revolution, to the present and possible future.

The carefully rendered illustrations provide ample settings for discovering new things in each different period of life on the street.

By Steve Noon (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Street Through Time as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 7, 8, and 9.

What is this book about?

Have you ever wondered what your street was like thousands of years ago? This illustrated history book for children takes you on a 12,000-year journey to find out the story of a single street.

Think of the street you live on. Now think of how it may have looked in the Stone Age in 10,000 BCE, or in Victorian times during the Industrial Revolution, or how it may look 50 years from now. A Street Through Time takes you on a time-travelling journey that you won't forget. Highly detailed illustrations bring 15 key periods in time to life. You will…


Book cover of Midnight Ride of Paul Revere

Suzanne Preston Blier Why did I love this book?

A timeless 1860 classic, given fresh vision with illustrations and complementary documents on the 1775 Patriot’s Ride by Christopher Bing.

This book not only brings the history of this period to life, but also the importance of Longfellow himself as a period storyteller and poet. This book illuminates key events in American history that make one want to learn even more.

By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Christopher Bing (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Midnight Ride of Paul Revere as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In his magnificent interpretation of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow s poem, Christopher Bing seamlessly weaves history and imagination into a rich portrait of an American hero. A meticulous researcher, Bing includes material that provides texture to history, maps that follow the British campaign to quell the rebellious citizenry, as well as the patriot s ride into the Massachusetts night of April, 1775. Documents firmly affixed into the book, including the British general s orders to his troops and Revere s own deposition relating the events, give the reader not only a visual experience but a tactile one as well. Far more…


Book cover of Make Way for Ducklings

Suzanne Preston Blier Why did I love this book?

This is a wonderfully told local story that is a classic for area residents and visitors, where the key characters are not humans – but birds.

The book provides a wonderful sense of how important geography and place are to humans and animals alike. The story is in many respects a personal one that highlights the ongoing power of individual relationships and families. This is a book whose wonderful illustrations amplify the story as one is reading it to children.

By Robert McCloskey,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Make Way for Ducklings as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

This brilliantly illustrated, amusingly observed tale of Mallards on the move has won the hearts of generations of readers. Awarded the Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished American picture book for children in 1941, it has since become a favourite of millions. This classic tale of the famous Mallard ducks of Boston is available for the first time in a full-sized paperback edition. Make Way for Ducklings has been described as "one of the merriest picture books ever" (The New York Times). Ideal for reading aloud, this book deserves a place of honor on every child's bookshelf.


Book cover of Olu and Greta

Suzanne Preston Blier Why did I love this book?

This delightful new addition to children’s literature addresses two young cousins, both living in large cities on different continents one (Olu) in Lagos, Nigeria, and the other (Greta) in Milan Italy – share complementary experiences and differences in their diverse settings – in their lived lives and while they are playing.

The bold, colorful, and wonderfully engaging illustrations that convey the different characters and settings are a key part of the pleasure of reading this book.

By Diana Ejaita, Diana Ejaita (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Olu and Greta as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 3, 4, and 5.

What is this book about?

The geographical and cultural distance between two cousins is counteracted by the universalities of childhood and the dream of uniting.

Olu lives in Lagos, Nigeria; his cousin, Greta, lives in Milan, Italy. Though their lives may be different, their ways of living and playing are quite similar. They both roller skate; they both skip down the street; they both play with toy trains, trucks, and boats... and they both dream of meeting and being together. Debut author-illustrator Diana Ejaita references her own childhood and heritage to create a rich, poignant, and authentic portrayal of Nigeria, of Italy, and of the…


Book cover of The Street Beneath My Feet

Suzanne Preston Blier Why did I love this book?

This book, which takes one on a journey below ground in a city as well as a rural area, providing a glimpse of both the man-made infrastructure (tunnels and pipes) as well as the burrowing trails of animals and many layered rock formations.

The book encourages its readers to think more about the paths and streets on which we and others have long traveled.

By Charlotte Guillain, Yuval Zommer (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Street Beneath My Feet as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This award-winning, double-sided foldout book takes you on a fascinating journey down through the layers of the Earth, all the way to the planet’s core and out the other side.

When you’re out walking around, whether on the city streets or a country trail, there’s always so much to see and hear. But do you ever stop and look down? Have you ever wondered what’s going on deep in the ground under your feet?

There are so many amazing sights to see! One side of the foldout shows the ground beneath the city, while the reverse side shows the ground…


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Totally Turtles!

By Ginjer L. Clarke,

Book cover of Totally Turtles!

Ginjer L. Clarke Author Of Animal Invaders: Creatures Causing Trouble

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Hiker Reader Dancer Nature & science lover Social justice activist

Ginjer's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

Did you know that leatherback turtles can weigh up to 2,000 pounds? Or that the Florida softshell turtle can breathe through its snout and its skin? Turtles have been around for millions of years, and we’re still learning more about them!

With simple language and vivid photographs, Totally Turtles! is perfect for emerging readers curious about turtles and how they have managed to adapt, survive, and thrive for so long. Learn about the fascinating world of turtles, from sea to land and everywhere in between.

Totally Turtles!

By Ginjer L. Clarke,

What is this book about?

Learn about turtles and their many talents in this nonfiction leveled reader perfect for kids interested in these shelled creatures and their lives on land and in the water!

Did you know that leatherback turtles can weigh up to two thousand pounds? Or that the Florida softshell turtle can breathe through its snout and its skin? Turtles have been around for millions of years and we're still learning more about them!

With simple language and vivid photographs, Totally Turtles! is perfect for emerging readers curious about turtles and how they have managed to adapt, survive, and thrive for so long.


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