Goodwill to All Lights the Season with Hope and Joy

trees-of-the-dancing-goats-51omzsvscgl-_sx377_bo1204203200_Christians around the world celebrate the Christmas holiday and its beautiful message of compassion, inclusion, hope, and light a season with good will to all.  The Trees of the Dancing Goats by multi-award-winning author/illustrator Patricia Polacco. The curiously-titled book delivers an inspiring story of neighbor helping neighbor, Jew respecting Christian and reveals how one family “rescued”  Chritmas for their ailing community.

The cover features a childhood version of Polacco. In her hands she carries both a menorah and a tiny, decorated Christmas tree. Readers will intuit that the story blends parts of both traditions. They will discover a heartwarming, fact-based story that will inspire children and adults. The story takes place in Michigan where the snow falls deep, the temperatures plummet and neighborliness flourishes. When scarlet fever devastates the community, leaving families too ill to put up and decorate their trees, Patricia’s family saves the day. This  story will touch the hearts of adult and child readers and remind us that the best gifts are intangible.

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300 Adoption-attuned Lens: This book can open conversations about how we live together, first within our families and then beyond to our communities. Adoptive families combine disparate elements–birth and adoptive family heritages and traditions–so they will appreciate this story as a model for blending and respecting both.

Holiday Blessings: Beyond Tinsel and Trinkets

Holiday Blessings: Beyond Tinsel, Trinkets to compassion, welcome - Christmas ornamentsAirwaves thrum with familiar holiday tunes and shoppers crowd stores, it is easy to lose the true meaning of Christmas in the quest for the perfect gift. We must appreciate our holiday blessings and see beyond the attention-grabbing sparkle of tinsel and trinkets. We know our most valuable treasures are not wrapped in bows and fancy paper. They reside in our significant relationships, memories and good times shared with those we love and care about. These two books focus on true blessings whose value far exceeds dollars and cents. They depict the Christmas spirit of welcome, generosity and compassion and they highlight the transformative power of acts of kindness both small and large. In our hearts we know that the power of the season lies in the celebration of  “Peace on earth, good will to men.” When that ideal is fulfilled we will be truly blessed.
Holiday Blessings: Beyond Tinsel, Trinkets to compassion, welcome-the-blessing-cup-51ksoujm8zl-_sx258_bo1204203200_

Although not about Christmas, The Blessing Cup  written and beautifully illustrated by acclaimed author-illustrator Patricia Pollacco offers a lovely holiday read. It recounts the history of a treasured family heirloom–a china teacup which belonged to her great-grandmother, Anna. It was a part of a surprise wedding present arrived–a magnificent and delicate china tea set which  Anna’s parents received as newlyweds. An enclosed gift card enclosed promised, “Anyone who drinks from [this tea set] has a blessing from God… Their lives will always have flavor. They will know love and joy.”

Life in the shtetl was difficult. In the face of poverty and worsening persecution, Anna’s family treasures the tea set. Eventually,the Russian czar orders all Jews to leave, so they pack the tea set along with a few meager possessions. When Anna questions why they must leave, her father replies, “Because we are different from them.... They are afraid of what they don't understand. Click To Tweet” (The connection between the “No-room-at-the-inn theme of the Christmas story is obvious as is the similarity to current political climate and attitude towards immigrants and “Others.”)

The story continues and follows the family’s travails. Papa falls dangerously ill. In another parallel to the Christmas story, his life is saved when someone–a kind-hearted doctor–welcomes them and invites them to stay with him. When the political climate becomes too dangerous for the family, the doctor pays for their passage to America. The treasured tea set is the only thank you they can offer for his generosity. They leave this note, “Always remember, dear friend, You are the bread that fed us. You are the salt that flavored our lives…. We kept one cup so that we can still have its blessing…” Patricia Polacco still possesses–and treasures-this precious cup.

This poignant, true story serves to convey the spirit of joy and love that underlies the nativity story and highlights how small acts of kindness can transform heart, minds and, lives. It also reminds us that “things” can hold deep sentimental value that far exceeds their literal value.

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300 Adoption-attuned Lens: This book can open conversations about who is family as well as discussions about the very real challenges some people face in life. In the absence of an “angel” like Dr. Pushkin, Anna’s great-grandmother’s story might have ended tragically.  The Blessing Cup  also vividly demonstrates how something can be a vessel of important sentimental value. It can segue into talking about how almost anything can operate as a trigger of vivid memories, some of which may reassure while others might be quite painful.

Holiday Blessings: Beyond Tinsel, Trinkets to compassion, welcome-my-two-blankets-51eryqdhk0l-_sx418_bo1204203200_My Two Blankets  written by Irena Kobald and illustrated by Freya Blackwood is another story that captures the Christmas spirit without being about the holiday itself. The story follows a child who must move. Moving is never easy. Children will readily empathize with this challenge. But My Two Blankets is not about an ordinary move from one neighborhood or one state, but a move from one country to another which magnifies the uprootedness experienced by a young girl who had been so full of joy that her aunt nicknamed her  “Cartwheel.” When she emigrates her war-torn country, Cartwheel feels overwhelmed, confused and sad.  She misses the familiar sights, smells and language of home. “Even the wind felt strange.” She no longer feels like herself. To escape the outside world, Cartwheel wraps herself in her favorite blanket.

Eventually she meets another child who strives to befriend her. They share a smile, Cartwheel holds back and resists the girl’s overtures. The girl overcomes Cartwheel’s caution and they play together on the swing. They meet several times. Cartwheel yearns to tell the girl that she’s glad to have her as a friend but she can’t speak the language. The girl’s English words land on Cartwheel’s ears, hard and indecipherable. Fear and longing for the comfort of her old life bubble up within her. Frustration and loneliness turn to anger. Cartwheel ponders “When I went home, I hid under my old blanket. I wondered if I would always feel sad. I wondered if I would ever feel like me again.”

When she returns to the playground, her new friend is not there. Cartwheel is surprised by her own disappointment and overjoyed when the girl returns with carefully folded pieces of paper. Eventually, they bypass the barrier of language and connect. Cartwheel weaves a “blanket” from the papers on which the English words are written. She comes to understand “My new blanket grew just as warm and soft and comfortable as my own blanket.”

Compassion and acceptance offered by the girl in the park transformed Cartwheel's life. Click To TweetThis child’s actions embody a “room-at-the-inn” approach that fulfills the Christmas message.

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300 Adoption-attuned Lens: This book can open important conversations for adoptees–especially those adopted trans-racially or trans-culturally. Adoptees often talk about feeling isolated from their birth culture/race and struggle to learn how to absorb and integrate this part of their identity. Due to current political climate regarding immigrants and other races, many kids worry what this… Click To Tweet My Two Blankets can help start the conversation that will enable parents to reassure their children.

my-two-blessings-beyond-tinsel-picmonkey-collage

 

A Child Is Born and the World Rejoices

A Child Is Born and the World Rejoices

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given… and his name shall be … The Prince of Peace.” A child is born and the world rejoices. Christians around the world celebrate the birth of Jesus, as the hope for the world who will usher in “Peace on Earth, goodwill to men”–a noble and worthy goal regardless of the faith one practices.

Today’s post reviews books that honor the birth of “ordinary” babies whose arrivals thrilled parents and families who rejoiced at the miracle of their baby’s birth. In the words of poet Carl Sandburg, “A baby is God’s opinion that the world should go on.” Each book looks at a baby’s birth through a lens of joy and celebration.

.A Child Is Born and the World Rejoices.on-the-day-you-were-born-51du73s0ecl-_sy386_bo1204203200_On the Day You Were Born by Debra Frasier is a lyrical and dreamy narrative that tells how the very elements of the universe, the moon and stars, the sun and animals rejoice at every child’s birth. Each one exhales sighs of wonder at the birth of every new baby.

The dreamy and lofty perspective of this story will surely tug at parental hearts. Children will shiver with pleasure as they hear,”On the eve of your birth  …While you waited in darkness, tiny knees curled to chin, the Earth and her creatures with the Sun and the Moon all moved in their places, each ready to greet you the very first moment of the very first day you arrived.” Who wouldn’t delight in hearing that their arrival on the planet met such expectation and celebration?

This book would be a lovely gift for expectant parents or for any child. It includes back matter that provides fascinating facts to explain the science that underpins the poetic text. Portions of the book’s sales proceeds help fund the Wabasso (Florida) Environmental Learning Center.

A-Child-Is-Born-and-the-World-Rejoices.on-the-night-you-were-born-51l2mysthpl-_sx483_bo1204203200_-2

With equal enthusiasm, On the Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman focuses on honoring the uniqueness of the newborn child. Like the previous book,  On the Day You Were Born also describes how the animals and the planet welcome each baby. “On the night you were born, the moon smiled with such wonder that the stars peeked in to see you and the night wind whispered ….”

Gorgeous illustrations bring the short text to life. Several feature musical notes as part of the vignette and seem to suggest that the story is singing the child’s story. On the Night You Were Born concludes with the lines, “Heaven blew every trumpet and played every horn on the wonderful, marvelous day you were born.”

A-Child-Is-Born-and-the-World-Rejoices..the-story-ill-tell-51yqfo18aal-_sx258_bo1204203200_Like the first two titles, this book celebrates a child’s birth with an added twist. It also narrates his journey to join his adoptive parents. The Story I’ll Tell  by Nancy Tupper Ling and illustrated by Jessica Lanan relates several fanciful story lines to explain how the child and parents came to be together. Each is dreamy, appealing and accompanied by lush illustrations. However none is the real story which isn’t revealed until nearly the end: “Still there are times when I think I will tell the truth, for the truth is a beautiful story too.” I would add that the truth is more appealing because of the fact that it is true.

on-the-night

Tell Me Again about the Night I was Born by Jamie Lee Curtis and illustrated with skill and humor by Laura Cornell unfolds through the voice of an (adopted) child who asks her parents to recount the details of her birth day. It is clear that she has memorized every fact as she tells her parents what they should recite. Obviously this is a familiar story, one in which the child finds comfort. The story begins with her (future) parents who “were curled up like spoons and Daddy was snoring.” Until … the phone rings announcing that the little girl had been born.

The facts of her birth day story are specified in detail. Kids who share similar facts will enjoy finding this common ground: infertility, baby placed directly from the hospital, very young birth mother,etc. But for families whose facts don’t match, it may not be as much of a hit. This story focuses on the positives of adoption. Many cherish this book and it has been a top choice for years. Others, however, find it less satisfying because it gives no hint of any of the hard stuff of adoption.

Our theme for this month’s Favorite Holiday Books. (Please feel free to share any holiday resources, not just winter holidays.) The theme is only a suggestion. Diverse posts on alternate topics are always welcome.

DiverseKidLitWhat Is #DiverseKidLit?

Diverse Children’s Books is a book-sharing meme designed to promote the reading and writing of children’s books that feature diverse characters. This community embraces all kinds of diversity including (and certainly not limited to) diverse, inclusive, multicultural, and global books for children of all backgrounds.

We encourage everyone who shares to support this blogging community by visiting and leaving comments for at least three others. Please also consider following the hosts on at least one of their social media outlets. Spread the word using #diversekidlit and/or adding our button to your site and your diverse posts.

We hope this community will grow into a great resource for parents, teachers, librarians, publishers, and authors! Our next linkup will be Saturday, January 7th and on the first and third Saturdays of every month.

Most Clicked Post from Last Time

Our most-clicked post from last time from The Barefoot Mommy: 15 Diverse and Inclusive Books about Christmas. Rebekah includes an overview of each book as well as a downloadable felt ornament craft. The stories showcase a wide range of cultures and countries celebrating Christmas, some focusing on the holiday and others happening around that time. A great place to start for thinking about this linkup’s holiday theme!

#DiverseKidLit is Hosted by:

Gayle Swift, Author of ABC, Adoption & Me
Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Google+Jane @ Rain City LibrarianMarjorie @ Mirrors Windows Doors
Blog / Twitter / Facebook / PinterestMia @ Pragmatic Mom
Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Pinterest / Instagram

Myra @ Gathering Books
Blog / Twitter / Facebook

Want to be notified when the next #diversekidlit linkup goes live? Click here to join the mailing list. Interested in joining as a host or an occasional co-host? Contact Katie at thelogonauts.com.

(Never participated in a linkup before? Please click here for a more detailed step-by-step.)

Get #DiverseKidLit Recommendations on Pinterest!

Our Pinterest board highlights a wide range of amazing posts and resources for Diverse Children’s Books. Please consider following the board for even more great books!

 

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The Hope of the Season: Goodwill to All, Peace on Earth

The holiday season reminds us to have peace in our hearts, to think of others, affirm our relationships and share gifts that express our love. At the heart of the Christmas narrative is Mary and Joseph’s unsuccessful search for a place to shelter. May we all prepare our hearts and homes to offer peace and goodwill and to be open and welcoming to those in need. These books detail historic examples of civil rights violations. They bear an unsettling parallel to contemporary situations.

Hope of the Season: Goodwill to All, Peace on Earth-civil rights, bracelet-51xjt7ubitl-_sx416_bo1204203200_Originally published in 1976, The Bracelet by Yoshiko Ushida and illustrated by Joann Yardley revisits the mass internment of Japanese-American citizens during World War II. Guilty only of sharing the nationality of our enemy,  and in utter disregard of their civil rights, the U.S. government required them to sell all their property, homes and, businesses.

They had committed no crimes but rampant fear and mistrust shaped the decision to round these families up like convicted criminals. America no longer welcomed, trusted or, wanted them. Taking only what items they could carry in two suitcases, they were then imprisoned in  stables formerly occupied by race horses. They lived under armed guard and experienced great privation. This book presents the story through the eyes Emi of a young girl. The story opens moments before she and her family are forced from their home, now empty of all contents. Only memories inhabit the rooms. In a bittersweet gesture of friendship, Emi receives a bracelet from her (caucasian) friend.

This story focuses on how Emi learns to cope and on realizing that while material things can be lost, memories cannot be confiscated. The Bracelet does not dwell on the suffering and humiliation of internment and is an excellent introduction to learning the important lessons of this historic policy. In 1988 the US officially apologized and offered symbolic restitution.

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300 Adoption-attuned Lens: This book can open important conversations for adoptees–especially those adopted trans-racially or trans-culturally. Adoptees often talk about feeling isolated from their birth culture/race and struggle to learn how to absorb and integrate this part of their identity. Because of the current political climate relative to the status of immigrants and those of other races, many kids worry what this cultural attitude means for them individually as well as for their family and friends. The Bracelet can help start the conversation that will enable parents to reassure their children.

So Far from the SeaHope of the Season: Goodwill to All, Peace on Earth-civil rights-so-far-from-the-sea-61dofjm7j0l-_sy498_bo1204203200_ by Eve Bunting and illustrated by Chris Soentpiet also presents the story of the internment of Japanese-Americans. However, this story unfolds decades later. Koharu, a former child internee, now a man with his own young children, returns to the camp to visit his father’s grave.

Flash backs rendered in black and white illustrations create a dramatic look into the bleak and intimidating living conditions. Readers will clearly see that Manzanar was no summer camp; it was a prison where entire families were held captive. Stripped of their livelihoods, their goods, their status, and their culture, the camps imposed social upheaval

Laura, Koharu’s daughter narrates the story. She has listened attentively to her father’s stories of his time at the camp. One particular memory touched her: As they prepared to be relocated, Koharu’s father told him to don his cub scout uniform so that when the soldiers came for the then-eight-year-old boy they might recognize that he was “a true American and they will not take” him.

The unfairness of her family’s internment shocks Laura. She cannot believe that it happened here in America. “You were Americans,” she says, “Like me. Like Thomas.” Her father concludes, “..it happened long ago … and cannot be changed.”

The gift of this poignant story is the chance to learn about this major misstep in American history so that we can understand the cost in human terms and not repeat such a policy.

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300 Adoption-attuned Lens: Every adoptee faces a unique task of merging together elements of their biological and adoptive family identities. This book can start conversations about how important it is to respect both and not to treat one as “second class.” There is room for both at the table.

 

The Grace of Gratitude and the Blessing of Diversity

thanksgiving-picmonkey-collageThanksgiving focuses us on the grace of gratitude and the blessing of diversity. It exists both as a chance to express gratitude as well as a reminder to pause and notice the many overlooked blessings that enrich our lives. This collection of books will help kids develop a fundamental “attitude of gratitude.”

They also reminds all of us that our thanksgiving festivities are enriched with a plethora of friends, family and foods. Diversity equally blesses our families, communities, country & planet. We’re intertwined and mutually dependent on shared success for survival.

The Thankful BookThe Grace of Gratitude and the Blessing of Diversity The Thankful Book  Todd Parr’s signature artwork lights up each page. Although targeted to three to six-year-olds, it can be enjoyed by the entire family. His zany–and diverse–cast of characters express appreciation for a range of things: pets, underwear (and the chance to wear it on your head!) hair; basics like clean water and a home; vital things like friends and family.  The blessings mentioned are varied and some readers may share these same blessings while others may only dream of having them. Reading this book offers the chance to talk about gratitude, sharing, empathy and, compassion.

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300 AQ LensThanksgiving centers on gratitude; that is the very reason for its existence. As adoptive parents we must be mindful of the hot button issue that often connects gratitude and adoption. Adoptees frequently hear that they “should” feel “lucky” that they were adopted and be grateful to their parents.  This attitude/expectation ignores and trivializes the losses that co-exist with the benefits of adoption. Avoid commingling the desire to encourage gratitude with the burden of this misguided cultural expectation.

The Grace of Gratitude and the Blessing of Diversity. 1621 A New Look at Thanksgiving1621: A New Look at Thanksgiving a National Geographic Society publication by Catherine O’Neill Grace and Margaret M. Bruchac revisits the traditional myths surrounding the first Thanksgiving observance. Stepping beyond the Euro-centric slant, it strives to incorporate a more balanced view of the historic event and to give equal billing to the Native* people who joined with the Pilgrim settlers. It asks readers to consider that “Unquestioning acceptance of biased interpretations can affect the way we treat one another, even today.” Although the target audience for this book is 8-12 year-olds, parents and teachers can infuse their explanations of Thanksgiving with a more balanced history with even their littlest children.

This book offers a historical context and is based on respected scholarship. It was developed in partnership with the Plimoth Plantation a “living” museum with reenacters who portray historically accurate colonial life. Much of the information will probably surprise many adult readers and upend long-held beliefs. It is much more than an entertaining “story” book; its purpose is to educate readers and inspire gratitude for all of the people who contributed to our history.

*The main tribe with whom the Pilgrims interacted was the Wampanoag tribe. Their name translates as “People of the First Light.”

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300 AQ LensBecause of its strong stand for truth and respect this book can be used to trigger conversations about a child’s family of origin so that their contribution to his/her life can be acknowledged and appreciated. It also can lead to discussions about any hard truths in a child’s history as well.

how-many-days-to-america-511zdlwull-_sx388_bo1204203200_How Many Days to America: A Thanksgiving Story by multi-award-winning author Eve Bunting was illustrated by Beth Peck. It follows a family as they escape oppression in their homeland who dream of America as a place to be free–free of soldiers threatening violence, free to disagree with their government and military, free to dream of a better life for their family.

On a moment’s notice they leave behind everything and set sail for America. Their only baggage are hope and their bodies. When the little boy questions why his family must leave, his father replies, “Because we do not think the way they think, my son. Hurry.” This poignant line reminds us what happens when it becomes unsafe to think or be different and when independent thought endangers the lives of those who are othered.

After a harrowing journey, the family arrives on the American shore and are welcomed with a celebratory meal. When a woman serving the food tells the little girl that they have arrived on a special day– Thanksgiving–the child asks what that means. She answers, “Long ago, unhappy people came here to start new lives.” The reader is reminded that religious freedom was a driving force in the formation of our country. That freedom is definitely worth a moment of thanksgiving gratitude.  This book offers an easy way to talk about the immigrant roots of one’s own family as well as to discuss the immigrants who continue to see America as their best hope.

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300 AQ LensThis book may trigger an awareness of the challenges that parents can face as the try to provide for their children amidst challenging circumstances. It provides a natural segue to explore some of the reasons that caused a child’s birth parents to choose adoption on their behalf.

Family is a Way of Being, Loving and Caring

Recently diversity has been under siege in our country. More than ever, we must learn about other people, other cultures, other family constellations. Understanding yields acceptance and respect. #DiverseKidLit shines a much needed light on difference. The books reviewed today all focus on what it means to be part of a family, whether in our intimate nuclear families or as part of the family of man. Family is a way of being, of loving, caring, and not just genetics.

The Family Book .51eLY1EkfZL._SY498_BO1,204,203,200_The Family Book  written and illustrated by Todd Parr with his signature bold style and brevity, captures the variety and importance of family. His illustrations include diverse “races” (pink, blues, yellow, green, etc.), numbers, and configurations–including single parents as well as same-gender parents. The colorful illustrations catch the eye, hold the reader’s attention and affirm the idea that family is about love and connection. Whether a family looks like our own or not is irrelevant. What is important is that they consider themselves family and love and support one another accordingly.

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300 AQ Lens: For adopted children this book can offer a way of discussing differences like race and/or family composition in an abstract way: pink, green and blue people which offers an insulating layer that may make it feel less “personal” and thus “safer” to explore. #AAQ

 

Who We Are. 61AGqwNYmoL._SX451_BO1,204,203,200_Who We Are by Robie H. Harris and illustrated by Nadine Bernard Westcott, is subtitled: All about Being the Same and Being Different, is straightforward in its efforts to validate diversity in individuals and in their families. It goes into greater detail than Parr’s The Family Book and is appropriate for a slightly older reader. Using the concept of visiting “Funland” as a logical place to encounter an array families, Who We Are focuses on the commonalities that we share and still affirms that each of us is unique.

The illustrations are broadly inclusive in terms of ethnicity, race, ability, family constellation and body type and activity preferences. The text describes how sometimes differences can make us hesitate or be afraid of people who differ from us in some way. It explains how melanin influences eye, hair and skin color and then highlights the commonalities of the fundamental humanity that we share.
magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300 AQ Lens: For adopted children this book can offer an easy opening to discussing race as well as the many ways in which children can be both different and similar to their adopted families–and/or their birth families if they have an open adoption or knowledge of their birth information. The tone of the book is both affirming and supportive. #AAQ Kids can be both different & similar to both their families--adopted & birth. Click To Tweet

All the World.51vxq61dL0L._SY478_BO1,204,203,200_All the World  is written by Liz Garton Scanlon and illustrated by Marla Frazee, strives to picture the universals that all people and families share: family love, the pleasure of play–and its variety, parental nurturing, etc.  The book repeats the refrain: “All the world is …” then the detailed illustrations capture many ways in which each concept is embodied. The vignettes overflow with examples of variety; we see types of cars, boats, gardens, byways, weather, foods, etc. There’s truly something for everyone. The delicate rhymes conclude: Hope and peace and love and trust/ All the world is all of us.” Children will appreciate that the world surrounds us and is within ourselves as well.

I predict that this atmospheric book will be one which readers will select from their shelves again and again. Each reading will yield a new level of appreciation.
magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300 AQ Lens: adopted children this book can offer a chance to see diversity in a larger swath because the double spread illustrations depict many ways of seeing or experiencing a concept. Instead of seeing difference in an isolated moment or single example, it is seen as part of a complex fabric that holds the varying elements of the spectrum simultaneously.

Here Is the Baby here is the baby.51Vrd+LHFnL._SX436_BO1,204,203,200_ by Polly Kanevsky is a charming book which readers will select from their shelves again and again.  It follows a baby throughout his day. Readers travel with him from Mama retrieving him from his crib until she eases him down for his evening’s rest. During baby’s busy day, his parents and sibling, feed, care for and play with him. Clearly he is a well-loved and nurtured child.

Daddy is the one who walks sister to school, strolls baby around the neighborhood and brings him to the library for story time and plays with him at the park. This is a welcome depiction of hands-on fathering! Although the family is Caucasian, some limited diversity is represented in the characters who appear in the background.
magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300 AQ Lens: For adopted children this book shows both parents as involved caretakers. though the story depicts a two-parent family, much of the story shows Dad doing the parenting. This may help it appeal to families that have only a father (or fathers). #AAQ Lens

Our theme for this month’s Diverse Children’s Books linkups is Favorite Children’s Books Featuring an LGBTQ Character(s). (The theme is only a suggestion. Diverse posts on alternate topics are always welcome.)

What Is #DiverseKidLit?

Diverse Children’s Books is a book-sharing meme designed to promote the reading and writing of children’s books that feature diverse characters. This community embraces all kinds of diversity including (and certainly not limited to) diverse, inclusive, multicultural, and global books for children of all backgrounds.

We encourage everyone who shares to support this blogging community by visiting and leaving comments for at least three others. Please also consider following the hosts on at least one of their social media outlets. Spread the word using #diversekidlit and/or adding our button to your site and your diverse posts.

DiverseKidLit

We hope this community will grow into a great resource for parents, teachers, librarians, publishers, and authors! Our next linkup will be Saturday, December 3rd and on the first and third Saturdays of every month.

Upcoming Theme

Our theme for the current linkup is Favorite Children’s Books Featuring an LGBTQ Character(s). Themes are a suggestion only; all diverse book posts are welcome. If you’re interested, you can start planning now for our upcoming themes …

  • December 3rd linkup: Favorite Holiday Books. (Please feel free to share any holiday resources, not just winter holidays.) We will only hold 1 linkup in December, which will be open all month long.
  • January 7th and 21st linkups: Human Rights. In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which is celebrated in the US in January, think about your favorite books to share with children about the importance and the history of human rights and/or civil rights.

ABC cover with badges

Most Clicked Post from Last Time

We Need Family for a Lifetime: November Is National Adoption Month.

In addition to the previous #diversekidlit linkup, Gayle shares several great book recommendations about adoption and adoptive families.

This is an important reminder about making sure that all children and all families find themselves in literature. Thanks, Gayle!

#DiverseKidLit is Hosted by:

Gayle Swift, Author of ABC, Adoption & Me   Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Google+
Marjorie @ Mirrors Windows Doors   Blog / Twitter / Facebook / PinterestMia @ Pragmatic Mom Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Pinterest / Instagram

Myra @ Gathering Books   Blog / Twitter / Facebook

Want to be notified when the next #diversekidlit linkup goes live? Click here to join the mailing list. Interested in joining as a host or an occasional co-host? Contact katie at thelogonauts.com.

(Never participated in a linkup before? Please click here for a more detailed step-by-step.)

Get #DiverseKidLit Recommendations on Pinterest!

Our Pinterest board highlights a wide range of amazing posts and resources for Diverse Children’s Books. Please consider following the board for even more great books!

Embracing Differences in Ourselves and Others

It's Alll GoodIt’s All Good: A Book ABout Self Acceptance & diversity by Gina I. Humber shares a timely and important message about diversity and acceptance, of embracing differences in ourselves and others. It features a sequence of children who happen to be classmates. Each child is different in a visible way and each experiences prejudice and hurtful comments from classmates. Each also participates in subtle “othering” of classmates.

This is one of the aspects which I appreciate in this book. It reminds readers how easy it is to call out others for mistreating us and simultaneously be blind to the biases and “othering” of which we ourselves may be guilty. This awareness is a vital part of addressing and eliminating any biases we–and our children–might hold, many of which we are not even consciously aware of believing. (Sometimes we even hold biases against ourselves!)

By highlighting this subconscious double standard, we help kids to build bridges of acceptance. Once we admit, that we too, have regarded others as less than, it makes it difficult to cry foul. Awareness allows us to move forward to being a conscious force for kindness, respect and equality. And that is a very good thing.

This book offers a wonderful gateway to important conversations about victimization, the collusion of silence and the courage to stand up for self and others. These are big concepts. Very big. They are also essential topics to explore with kids. It’s All Good is a tad heavy-handed. Still, it is a fabulous tool for parents and teachers to share with kids. (And it offers a good reminder to the adults, that they too, have blind spots, biases and feelings of being an outsider.) It also emphasizes the benefit of valuing differences in ourselves and others because differences are precisely what make each person unique.

diversity-is-a-verb-245b4c_101dacdf52394787be75b8ff2e9a9487-mv2The kindle version of It’s All Good: A Book ABout Self Acceptance & Diversity is available on Amazon and the paperback is sold on her website. Gina’s website is chock full of resources. Please visit and take advantage of her work on Diversity Is A Verb which aims to build “platforms for discussions surrounding topics of: global diversity, self-acceptance, special needs, and body imaging for both young and mature adults. …  Diversity is a Verb strives to be a source of empowerment to all involved; improving environmental and social conditions.”

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300Adoption-attuned Lens This book invites discussion of adoption as it is one profound way that adoptees differ from their non-adopted family, friends, and classmates. It’s also one of the most common ways adoptees find themselves being “othered.” Ask kids about their how they’ve been belittled for being different. Follow this up with explorations of ways they might have been the perpetrators of bias. Conclude with conversations that help them develop action points of to respond and stand up for themselves as well as others. Embracing differences in ourselves and others is a full-circle approach which requires us to live the Golden Rule. How might this principle benefit families, classrooms, schools and our country?

gina-humber-socunow_

Gina I. Humber: “Empowering communities and businesses on global diversity and cultural sensitivity.”

 

http://wp.me/p4vGHg-I6

 

What Is #DiverseKidLit?

Diverse Children’s Books is a book-sharing meme designed to promote the reading and writing of children’s books that feature diverse characters. This community embraces all kinds of diversity including (and certainly not limited to) diverse, inclusive, multicultural, and global books for children of all backgrounds.

We encourage everyone who shares to support this blogging community by visiting and leaving comments for at least three others. Please also consider following the hosts on at least one of their social media outlets. Spread the word using #diversekidlit and/or adding our button to your site and your diverse posts.

DiverseKidLit

We hope this community will grow into a great resource for parents, teachers, librarians, publishers, and authors! Our next linkup will be Saturday, February 4th and on the first and third Saturdays of every month.

Upcoming Theme 

Our theme for the current month is Human Rights. Themes are a suggestion only; all diverse book posts are welcome. If you’re interested, you can start planning now for our upcoming themes …

  • February 4th and 18th linkups: Love. Let’s spread our love of diverse books by sharing diverse books about love, families, and relationships.
  • March 4th and 18th: Changing Seasons. As we eagerly await the beginning of Spring in the Northern Hemisphere and Autumn in the Southern, let’s share favorite books and resources on the seasons.

Most Clicked Post from Last Time

Our most-clicked post from last time was a review by Alex of Randomly Reading of Ashes,

book 3 in Laurie Halse Anderson’s Seeds of America trilogy.

#DiverseKidLit is Hosted by:

Katie @ The Logonauts      Blog / Twitter / Facebook / PinterestCarolina @ La Clase de Sra. DuFault     Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Google+

Gayle Swift, Author of ABC, Adoption & Me     Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Google+

Jane @ Rain City Librarian     Blog / Twitter / Instagram

Marjorie @ Mirrors Windows Doors     Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Pinterest

Mia @ Pragmatic Mom     Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Pinterest / Instagram

Myra @ Gathering Books     Blog / Twitter / Facebook

Want to be notified when the next #diversekidlit linkup goes live? Click here to join the mailing list. Interested in joining as a host or an occasional co-host? Contact katie at thelogonauts.com.

(Never participated in a linkup before? Please click here for a more detailed step-by-step.)

Get #DiverseKidLit Recommendations on Pinterest!

Our Pinterest board highlights a wide range of amazing posts and resources for Diverse Children’s Books. Please consider following the board for even more great books!

We Need Family for a Lifetime: November Is National Adoption Month

In November we observe National Adoption Month to focus particular attention on foster children who wait and hope for families. As we give thanks for our own families, please consider how you can support finding a loving family for every child that needs one. Today, families embody diversity–step families, single-parent families, foster families and adoptive families. This post will review several adoption-themed books to help children understand that all families are valuable regardless of how they come together. This builds understanding, respect and acceptance.

in-our-mothers-house In Our Mother’s House by the award-winning and gifted author/illustrator Patricia Polacco tackles a difficult subject with respect and honesty. As is probably obvious from the title, the story focuses on an adoptive family with two mothers. Readers searching for stories that include LGBTQ families will appreciate this upbeat and poignant tale. Written as a flashback from a now-adult adoptee who recalls some treasured and delightful memories of her childhood, In Our Mother’s House focuses on the positives, on how families can look different but still be about the love and care that connect them. Lesbian parenting is not the focus of the book; it is the backdrop. The story concentrates on the warm, supportive and “regular”  family that the children and their two mothers shared. Love, tolerance and joy thread throughout.

While most of the neighborhood characters welcome and embrace this unique family, one does not. Polacco makes the point subtly—the children wonder why Mrs. Lockner grumps at them whenever they meet her. The mothers concentrate on reaching out to neighbors (all of them) to create community. The illustrations include a dazzling array of diversity. Many lend themselves to further exploration of cuisine, language and neighborliness, etc. Although the story is about a family formed through adoption, it doesn’t concentrate on adoption issues, makes no mention of the emotional struggles that adoptees often face nor does it mention birth parents, etc. In Our Mother’s House is a sweet, feel-good book about the wondrous blessing of a unique, loving family. Great book!

motherbridge of loveI highly recommend Motherbridge of Love, by Xinran (Author), Josee Masse (Illustrator) story about a little girl adopted from China and how both her mothers love her. This wonderful book clearly champions respect for and validates a child’s feelings for his birth and adoptive mothers. When we open the space for a child to hold his birth family in a place of respect, we allow them to honor that part of themselves too. My daughter, an adult adoptee and I both believe this is one of the best adoption books for kids.

 

 

place in my heartAs an adoptive parent and adoption coach, I search for books that support adopted children and help them learn how adoption influences their lives. Mary Grossnickle’s sweet story, A Place in My Heart, is one great example of a story that validates the adopted child’s point of view. Charlie–a chipmunk adopted into a family of squirrels wrestles with the differences in their appearance. Adoptees commonly feel like they don’t quite fit so they will easily identify with Charlie’s struggle. He’s an endearing character, full of mischief and curiosity. His mother recognizes the stress factors that challenge Charlie and she responds in a supportive and adoption-attuned manner. Parents also can identify with Charlie’s desire to be reassured that he holds a special spot in the hearts of those he loves. We all share this need for connection. This is especially true for adopted.

I thoroughly enjoyed this story and in the important message of understanding acceptance and validation that it conveys. Alison Relyea-Parr’s pastel illustrations have a gentle, dream-like quality that reinforce the comforting tone of the book. Readers will want to duplicate the “Place in my heart” activity.

ABC IAN Badge - croppedFamilies have evolved to include a variety of parent child combinations. Through friends and classmates, children come in contact with families that look different from their own. Sometimes this can confuse or worry them. Kids need information to help them understand whether bio, adoptive, foster or step families–they are more alike than they are different. It’s as easy as ABC: all families are “real.” The unifying factor is that they love and care for one another. Almost every classroom in America includes some adopted children so this is a topic that interests many children. ABC, Adoption & Me: A Multicultural Picture Book  explores adoption in a gentle, respectful way. It relies on the familiar scaffold of alphabetical order to structure the book. ABC, Adoption & Me has won numerous awards and helps explain a complex topic to children whether they are adopted or not. It serves adoptive families particularly well and includes a guide to help parents and teachers.

Forever fingerprintsThe wonderful adoption classic, Forever Fingerprints by Sherrie Eldridge is being reissued by Jessica Kingsley Publishers. An adoptee and a staunch advocate for adoptive families writes, who LIVES the adoption journey, Sherrie connects with adoptees’ hearts and validates their experience. She has written many books about the adoption experience. Forever Fingerprints, a picture book serves a younger audience than Sherrie’s other books. Behind its simple story line, Forever Fingerprints models adoption-attuned* relationships. It speaks to child and parent. As an adoption coach as well as an adoptive parent, I know it is important for parents to clearly establish that adoption is a suitable topic for family discussion. While this may seem obvious, to children it is not. In the absence of expressed permission, kids usually assume that adoption conversations are off limits. They will fear that it might hurt their (adoptive) parents if they talk about their concerns, mixed feelings and sharing their thoughts about their birth parents. And so, many wrestle with heavy worries weighing down their hearts. Forever Fingerprints is an easy and enjoyable way for parents to talk about some of the “hard stuff” of adoption.
Our theme for this month’s Diverse Children’s Books linkups is Favorite Children’s Books Featuring an LGBTQ Character(s). (The theme is only a suggestion. Diverse posts on alternate topics are always welcome.)

What Is #DiverseKidLit?


Diverse Children’s Books is a book-sharing meme designed to promote the reading and writing of children’s books that feature diverse characters. This community embraces all kinds of diversity including (and certainly not limited to) diverse, inclusive, multicultural, and global books for children of all backgrounds.

We encourage everyone who shares to support this blogging community by visiting and leaving comments for at least three others. Please also consider following the hosts on at least one of their social media outlets. Spread the word using #diversekidlit and/or adding our button to your site and your diverse posts.

DiverseKidLit

We hope this community will grow into a great resource for parents, teachers, librarians, publishers, and authors! Our next linkup will be Saturday, November 19th and on the first and third Saturdays of every month.

Upcoming Theme

Our theme for the current linkup is Favorite Children’s Books Featuring an LGBTQ Character(s). Themes are a suggestion only; all diverse book posts are welcome. If you’re interested, you can start planning now for our upcoming themes …

  • December linkups: Favorite Holiday Books. (Please feel free to share any holiday resources, not just winter holidays.)

Most Clicked Post from Last Time

Our most-clicked post from the previous #diversekidlit linkup is Svenja’s Author Spotlight on Ezra Jack Keats. She provides a detailed biography as well as information about his most popular books and characters. Want to learn even more? A new biography of Ezra Jack Keats by Andrea Davis Pinkney just came out this week, titled A Poem for Peter.

#DiverseKidLit is Hosted by:

Katie @ The Logonauts
Blog / Twitter / Facebook / PinterestBeth @ Pages and Margins
Blog / Twitter / Facebook / PinterestCarolina @ La Clase de Sra. DuFault
Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Google+Gayle Swift, Author of ABC, Adoption & Me
Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Google+Jane @ Rain City Librarian
Blog / Twitter / InstagramMarjorie @ Mirrors Windows Doors
Blog / Twitter / Facebook / PinterestMia @ Pragmatic Mom
Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Pinterest / InstagramMyra @ Gathering Books
Blog / Twitter / FacebookWant to be notified when the next #diversekidlit linkup goes live? Click here to join the mailing list. Interested in joining as a host or an occasional co-host? Contact katie at thelogonauts.com.(Never participated in a linkup before? Please click here for a more detailed step-by-step.)

Get #DiverseKidLit Recommendations on Pinterest!

Our Pinterest board highlights a wide range of amazing posts and resources for Diverse Children’s Books. Please consider following the board for even more great books!

Excitement or Fear: Braving the Dark and Unknown

dark-dark-cave-61ax5z8evol-_sx405_bo1204203200_The cover of A Dark, Dark Cave by Eric Hoffman and illustrated by Corey R. Tabor features two smiling children aiming flashlight beams into the shadows.  The title page illustration shifts the mood slightly. It shows the gaping mouth of a tunnel entrance shrouded in darkness. Readers will wonder what will happen next. Will the children face danger? The next page-turn reveals the children and their trusty dog aiming a flashlight into the abyss. Will they respond with excitement or fear when braving the darkness? Will they choose to enter the cave? 

Yes! An adventure of sight, sound and emotion begins as they explore. They cautiously, bravely continue and encounter a variety of surprises–bats, lizards, sparkling crystals. Until …

Until a brilliant shaft of light pierces the dark and reveals their father looming overhead, admonishing them to pipe down because the baby is sleeping. Readers discover that the children’s adventure  was imaginary play.

Tabor’s illustrations serve the story well as he deftly captures the children’s emotions in each vignette–wonder, hesitation, excitement, fear-a gamut of feelings hint at the children’s experience. This book offers a great way of talking about the mixture of courage and caution that kids need as they explore their world, stretch their skills and dare to try something new. The line between excitement is narrow. Kids need both emotions in  healthy measure.

Imaginative play serves children well as it allows them to try on behavior and skills, to imagine themselves as brave and daring, as defeating fears and feeling powerful.

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300Adoption-attuned Lens Use this story to discuss the need for courage in facing the scary moments of life. This is an especially important message for adoptees who must confront the reality of some big grief and loss issues which resulted from their adoptions. Parents can start the conversation by asking kids to tell them a story of the kinds of things they imagine might occur on a”cave” exploration of their. Children may volunteer some adopted-connected elements. Gently, follow their lead if they do. If they avoid the adoption connection, pose a question like, “What if you discovered your birth mom there?”

Always let your child’s response guide you. If they open up, great; if they resist, do not push it. Ask a second, neutral question and let the conversation flow from there.

Childhood Milestones Celebrated with a Cultural Twist

universal-childhood-milestones-celebrated-with-a-cultural-twist-tooth-on-the-roof-border-51tn8sa6pjl-_sy485_bo1204203200_In today’s strife-ridden global world, it is reassuring to focus on the commonalities that unite us instead of the differences that divide us. Cultures around the world celebrate universal childhood milestones.  Throw Your Tooth on the Roof: Tooth Traditions from around the World by Selby B. Beeler is a fun retrospective of the varied ways cultural traditions that celebrate children losing their baby teeth. Kids will get a tickle reading about the variety of celebrations. Some will feel similar, some quite unusual and some will strike their funny bones.

In the USA we believe the tooth fairy exchanges teeth for cash. In other cultures this job falls to birds, calves, mice, rats (Yikes!?!) and many more take the tooth and replace it with something valuable. Sometimes the tooth is planted, gold-plated, steeped in milk or simply tossed on the roof. Kids will learn how a specific practice is embraced within  different cultures. While it may seem silly to us, it’s folkloric  tradition in each respective culture–unique, mythical and charming. None is sillier than the rest. Taken as a totality, all the traditions are slightly goofy yet still fun to embrace.

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300Adoption-attuned Lens This story offers a chance to talk about differences between families as something interesting not as something to denigrate. Every family and culture, like the patches in a piecework quilt, contribute an integral element that is part of the overall beauty and success of the whole.

at-the-same-moment-around-teh-world-full-borderAt the Same Moment Around the World by Clotilde Perrin takes the reader on a world-wide journey. Under a brilliant cloak of dawn-painted clouds, the book begins at 6:00 a.m in Dakkar, Senegal. Each subsequent  page begins with the same refrain: At the same moment in…

Encourage young readers to repeat the refrain, to scrutinize the illustrations for the details identified in the text. The book presents diversity of characters, locations and activities. The end flap includes a pull-out map of the world.

Help kids to understand that the events occur simultaneously even though the “hour” is different (because of time zone changes.) This story captures this complex concept of time in dreamy, detailed illustrations which carry the reader through twenty-four separate vignettes.

Children can see how similar the human story is regardless of where one lives in the world. Understanding this universality encourages tolerance and respect, something which benefits us all.

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300Adoption-attuned Lens This story offers a window onto the diverse ways people around the globe live. At the same time, it reinforces our commonalities. This is also true for families. Although our families came together  through adoption instead of by birth, we have much in common with all families regardless of the way we formed. This book can open conversations about what kinds of things a child’s birth and adoptive  families might be doing simultaneously. Some will be similar, some will not.