Top 40 Solutionary Stories of 2020

Meeg's favorite books from this past year—still fresh for inspiring kids!

By Meeg Pincus, Founder of Solutionary Stories

What drew me into writing nonfiction for children (after 20 years writing/editing nonfiction mostly for adults) was what I call "solutionary stories." It's a term I coined from a term I didn't coin. You see, the term "solutionary" is one I learned as a humane educator—popularized by Zoe Weil, co-founder of The Institute for Humane Education (IHE). I added the "stories" part myself.

Here's the backstory: After teaching cultural studies (focusing on race, class, gender) at a university, I completed some training at IHE to refocus on teaching comprehensive humane education (how to care for people, animals and the planet, focusing on systemic change). Then I worked for a nonprofit, HEART, going into elementary schools with humane education lessons.

As part of my lessons, I always added a reading of a picture book biography about an inspiring solutionary (which I checked out by the dozens from my local library). I called them "solutionary stories." The kids loved them and couldn't wait for me to read them each week! Soon I realized I wanted to write these stories myself; it was a perfect mix of all I loved and knew how to do as a writer and educator.

For six years now, I've read every "solutionary story"—trade nonfiction children's books about solutionaries—that I could get my hands on. I've studied what works in these books and filled my library with my favorites. And I've had the joy of publishing several solutionary stories myself (six in the works, two already on the shelves).

I love discovering and sharing other kidlit creators' solutionary stories as much as I love writing them—especially ones that highlight diverse representation and social change, which is a part of comprehensive humane education. So, this past year I decided to put all that reading and book analyzing to use for others and start this blog/website.

Starting in 2020, I picked my "top 40" at the end of the year to live on this website for others to discover. Throughout the year ahead, I'll also be highlighting new ones on the blog as I read them and as they're published. (Alongside posts from expert guest authors of solutionary stories!)

It was so tough to pick just 40 books for 2020! There are other good ones, too, that didn't make the list. But I tried to pick a diverse mix of books, plus of course the ones that really took my breath away. Learn about all 40 books here. And the collage above highlights some of those very favorites.

Most of all, I hope you enjoy learning about and reading these solutionary stories to the kids in your home, school, or library, as much as I love sharing them with you!