Read Virginia

Jefferson Cup

Jefferson Cup BadgeThe Jefferson Cup is presented by the Youth Services Division of the Virginia Library Association every year to honor a distinguished children’s biography or historical fiction title. In 2012 the Virginia Library Association began honoring both a children’s author and a young adult author.


by Melanie Crowder
Set during the Progressive Era, Audacity is a free verse celebration of Clara Leinlich and her determination to improve women’s rights in the workplace. Clara is best known for a speech that incited 20,000 women to strike for better working conditions in the garment factories.

Blue Birds
by Caroline Starr
Blue Birds is a beautifully descriptive novel in verse, which explores the relationship between an English child and a Native American child. Set in 1587, this fictional account of the Lost Colony of Roanoke Island redefines family and notions of right and wrong.


Red Madness: How a Medical Mystery Changed what We Eat
by Gail Jarrow
Red Madness traces the story of pellagra in the United States from isolating the disease to an eventual cure, as well as the intensely personal trials of the tens of thousands afflicted and persecuted during the early twentieth-century.

Hello, I’m Johnny Cash
by G. Neri
Hello, I’m Johnny Cash, unanimously selected by the committee as the winner for younger readers, is an age appropriate free verse biography of Johnny Cash that stretches from Cash’s extremely poor beginnings to his eventual success with amazingly beautiful illustrations that bring his story to life.


by Anne Westrick
Brotherhood offers a glimpse into the enormous social and political upheaval of the period immediately following the Civil War. Judges felt Westrick wrote of “a complicated chapter in history with empathy and balance.”

by Matt Phelan
Bluffton, set in 1908 Minnesota, features a small town, future comedian and actor Buster Keaton, a young boy, and a visiting vaudeville troupe. Judges cited this gentle coming of age story for its focus “on finding personal paths through youth into adulthood and the friendships that can develop along the way.”


Bomb: the race to build and steal the world’s most dangerous weapon
by Steve Sheinkin

Unspoken: a story from the underground railroad
by  Henry Cole


Okay for Now
by Gary Schmidt
In Okay for Now, author Gary Schmidt, weaves the tale of Doug Swieteck, an 8th grader with a very unhappy life at home. Schmidt is able to sensitively craft a story about a fractured family that starts to put the pieces together in ways that are perhaps a little unexpected. There are moments in this book that will make the reader cry interwoven with moments that will lead to laughter, making it a wonderful story that deserves to be read for years to come.

Balloons over Broadway
by Melissa Sweet
Balloons over Broadway is the true Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade.  The book features uses colorful watercolor paintings and mixed media collage to bring this story to life. Using clear but charming text, Sweet explains the various versions of puppets and balloons Sarg made for the parade, each better than the last, until finally creating the helium-filled balloons we see today. Sweet explores the legacy of a creative, fun-loving man who had a great love for figuring out how things moved.


Sparky: the life and art of Charles Schultz
by Beverly Gherman
Writing in a style that is accessible yet fresh, Beverly Gherman paints a fun portrait of cartoonist Charles Schulz’s life. Gherman uses wonderful anecdotes from Schulz’s life in order to make this biography fun and accessible. She does not shy away from less positive aspects of his life, but paints a very true portrait that will interest readers and inspire them to look at his cartoons in a different light. What Gherman manages to beautifully capture is the notion that, while Charles Schulz — like Charlie Brown — never got to kick that football or win the little red-haired girl’s heart, he truly got to do so much more.


All the Broken Pieces
by Ann E. Burg
Writing in simple yet elegant free verse, Ann E. Burg brings readers into the world of Matt Pin. Airlifted out of Saigon during the Vietnam war at age 10, Matt has spent the last two years learning the ways of his adoptive American family. Now 12, Matt has gained enough confidence to try out for his school’s baseball team and has bonded with his adoptive family, which includes his mother, father, and toddler brother.


George Washington Carver
by Tonya Bolden
This is the story of George Washington Carver, inventor and the first African American to attend Iowa State College.


Birmingham, 1963
by Carole Boston Weatherford
This is an account of the Baptist church bombings in Alabama in 1963.


Blood On The River: James Town 1607
bu Elisa Carbone
Traveling to the New World in 1606 as the page to Captain John Smith, twelve-year-old orphan Samuel Collier settles in the new colony of James Town, where he must quickly learn to distinguish between friend and foe.


Sweetgrass Basket
by Marlene Carvell
In alternating passages, two Mohawk sisters describe their lives at the Carlisle Indian Industrial School.  The school was established in 1879 to educate Native Americans as they try to assimilate into white culture.


A House Of Tailors
by Patricia Reilly Giff
When thirteen-year-old Dina emigrates from Germany to America in 1871, her only wish is to return home as soon as she can, but as the months pass and she survives a multitude of hardships living with her uncle and his young wife and baby, she finds herself thinking of Brooklyn as her home.


Grape Thief
by Kristine Franklin
In 1925, in a small Washington State community made up of families from different ethnic backgrounds, twelve-year-old Cuss tries to stay in school as he watches those around him struggle with various financial difficulties. 


Mississippi Trial, 1955
by Chris Crowe
In Mississippi in 1955, a sixteen-year-old finds himself at odds with his grandfather over issues surrounding the kidnapping and murder of a fourteen-year-old African American from Chicago.


Storm Warriors
by Elisa Carbone
In 1895, twelve-year-old Nathan moves with his father and grandfather to Pea Island off the coast of North Carolina.   Nathan hopes to join the all-black crew at the nearby lifesaving station, despite his father’s objections.


Blizzard! the storm that changed America
by Jim Murphy
Story of the massive blizzard that hit the Northeast United States in 1888.


Preacher’s Boy
by Katherine Paterson
In 1899, ten-year-old Robbie, son of a preacher in a small Vermont town, gets himself into all kinds of trouble when decides to give up being Christian in order to make the most of his life before the end of the world.


Soldier’s Heart: a novel by the Civil War
by Gary Paulsen
Eager to enlist, fifteen-year-old Charley has a change of heart after experiencing both the physical horrors and mental anguish of Civil War combat.


Leon’s Story 
by Leon Walter Tillage
The son of a North Carolina sharecropper recalls the hard times faced by his family and other African Americans in the first half of the twentieth century and the changes that the civil rights movement helped bring about.


The Ornament Tree
by Jean Thesman
When fourteen-year-old Bonnie moves to her cousin’s boardinghouse in Seattle in 1918, she learns about life from the boarders and progressive women who live and work there.


The Great Fire
by Jim Murphy
Story of the great Chicago fire in 1871.


Pink and Say
by Patricia Polacco
Say Curtis describes his meeting with Pinkus Aylee, a black soldier, during the Civil War, and their capture by Southern troops.


Across America On An Emigrant Train
by Jim Murphy
Combines an account of Robert Louis Stevenson’s experiences as he traveled from New York to California by train in 1879 and a description of the building and operation of railroads in 19th-century America.


Children of the Dust Bowl: the true story of the school at Weedpatch Camp
by Jerry Stanley
This true story took place at the emergency farm-labor camp immortalized in Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath. Ostracized as “dumb Okies,” the children of Dust Bowl migrant laborers went without school–until Superintendent Leo Hart and 50 Okie kids built their own school in a nearby field.


The Wright Brothers: how they invented the airplane
by Russell Freedman
The story of the brothers who invented the first airplane.


Franklin Delano Roosevelt
by Russell Freedman
Traces the life of Franklin Delano Roosevelt from his birth in 1882 through his youth, early political career, and presidency.


Anthony Burns: the defeat and triumph of a fugitive slave
by Virginia Hamilton
In 1854, Anthony Burns, an African American, is put on trial in Boston under the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850.


Lincoln: a photobiography
by Russell Freedman
Biography of Abraham Lincoln, includes photos.


After The Dancing Days
by Margaret Rostkowski
A forbidden friendship with a badly disfigured soldier in the aftermath of World War I forces thirteen-year-old Annie to redefine the word “hero” and to question conventional ideas of patriotism.


Sarah, Plain And Tall
by Patricia MacLachlan
In the late 19th century a widowed Midwestern farmer with two children–Anna and Caleb–advertises for a wife. When Sarah arrives she is homesick for Maine, especially for the ocean which she misses greatly. The children fear that she will not stay, and when she goes off to town alone, young Caleb–whose mother died during childbirth–is stricken with the fear that she has gone for good. But she returns with colored pencils to illustrate for them the beauty of Maine, and to explain that, though she misses her home, “the truth of it is I would miss you more.”


In The Year Of The Boar And Jackie Robinson
by Bette Bao Lord
A Chinese girl moves to Brooklyn, makes new friends and discovers baseball and the Brooklyn Dodgers.


Jewish Americans: a history in their own words
by Milton Meltzer
History of Jewish people in America.


Maria Dillon, Central Rappahannock Regional Library
Donna Hughes, Handley Regional Library
Delia Ullberg, Fairfax County Public Library

This site is made possible by a grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services. It is managed by the The Library of Virginia Library Development and Networking Division.