Birthday Celebration, Tree-style

Americans celebrate many beloved holidays  During February we mark Valentine’s Day, President’s Day, and Groundhog Day.  Jewish people celebrate an additional holiday, Tu B’Shevat, “The New Year of the Trees or “the Birthday of the Trees.” In 2017,  Tu B’Shevat is observed from sundown on Feb. 10 to sundown on Feb. 11. 

Happy Birthday Tree.51w8spMfTjL._SX396_BO1,204,203,200_Happy Birthday, Tree: A Tu B’Shevat Story by Madelyn Rosenberg and illustrated by Jana Christy is a charming book centered on “The Birthday of the Trees.”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          While resting in the branches of her favorite tree,  Joni a little girl living in Israel, ponders how to help celebrate it’s “birthday.” She struggles to find the perfect gift gor her tree.

Lightbulb moment– water, trees need water!

She carefully waters her tree. Although she knows her tree requires water she feels like she wants to give it more. Another idea pops into her mind. Decorations! After she adds them, the tree looks festive but Joni is still not satisfied.

What else does a tree need? Knowing how much she enjoys her own friends, Joni decides her tree needs a companion. She enrolls friends and families to help her. They plant a new tree and she presents it with the perfect gift. Joni promises to care for it well and to “… be good to the trees of the world.”

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300Adoption-attuned Lens: This story can jump-start many  conversations, for example, that kids can be problem solvers and can awaken adults to take action. This is important to all kids. Adoptees particularly benefit from experiencing competency and acting as agents of their own choices.

The idea to celebrate an obscure holiday might trigger an adoptee’s interest in observing a holiday tradition from their birth culture. Even if they resist the idea of celebrating the event publicly, kids may enjoy learning about it. At the very least the suggestion conveys an interest in and a valuation of their birth culture. That type of validation is vital to adoptees.

 

Kids Find Inner Lion: the Strength of the Hero Within

The Lion Inside.51T3oKWEACL._SX398_BO1,204,203,200_

Inside of each of us lives an Inner Lion. Sometimes he is dormant but he is always there waiting for  us to tap into our powerful potential. Even adults often struggle to remember this “hero within” so it is vital for us to help children discover and embrace their Inner Lion. This hero exists in all of us regardless of our stature or age. But he must compete with the other voices inside our heads-the ones who broadcast, fear, self-doubt, timidity and despair

The Lion Inside by Rachel Bright and illustrated by Jim Field brilliantly demonstrates that the most powerful person in my life is me. It also hammers home the truism “Never judge a book by its cover.” So often the face we present to the world hides our genuine selves, the selves that our both brave and fearful, confident and cautious.

When we (both kids and adults) make judgments about others based on externals, we overlook the opportunity to connect with the whole person and all of us lose the chance to be genuine. Ironically, we often treat ourselves no better and criticize ourselves with the same harsh judgment!

Fields’ fabulous illustrations carry a lot of the story’s message. The difference in size between the tiny mouse and the huge lion reinforces the immensity of the mouse’s decision to confront the lion. By connecting to his Inner Lion he awoke the bravery needed to accomplish his goal. Taken from the lion’s perspective, the reader experiences the other side of the equation. Physical size doesn’t protect one from fear. Courage does. Courage acknowledges fear and still chooses to act.

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300 Adoption-attuned Lens: All kids strive to find their niche in school, their neighborhoods, etc. Adoptees also must learn to find their comfort spot in their new families. Sometimes they can feel as mismatched and powerless as this little mouse when he faced the roaring lion. This story invites readers to consider that beyond stature and externals, each of us has important skills and gifts to contribute, fears to overcome, and opportunities to grow. Each family member benefits from being part of the larger whole. Diversity enriches families. And classrooms, neighborhoods and communities.

The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles.51oUYa5gt8L._SY457_BO1,204,203,200_

All of us yearn to be included, to have friends and to be appreciated.  The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles  written by Michelle Cuevas and illustrated by Erin E. Stead tackles this idea from a nuanced perspective. Pastel images convey the watery context of both ocean and fantasy world and strike the perfect note of mystery and dreaminess.

Cuevas writes that the main character–the Uncorker of Ocean Bottles–“Had no name.” This choice is brilliant because his anonymity renders him as “Everyman” that part of all human beings, kids and adults, who crave recognition and validation. The Uncorker dedicates himself to his life task: ensuring that he locates the rightful recipient for every message in a bottle he discovers. Through his diligent efforts, he finds purpose, steps beyond his own loneliness and engages with others. His actions solve his “problem.” He is so pleased with the results of his efforts, he commits to repeating his efforts. Young readers will recognize the great model he sets.

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300 Adoption-attuned Lens: Action is key to overcoming fear, creating connection and displacing loneliness. This book helps adopted children to see the benefits of reaching out instead of waiting for others to reach out first. (This is not to shift the burden of creating family connection from the parents but rather to show kids how they can contribute to the process.)

Poor Little Guy.51A1ZTLGLWL._SX496_BO1,204,203,200_Poor Little Guy  written and illustrated by Elanna Allen also focuses on the relationship between stature, fear and, courage. Allen conveys a lot of information in her illustrations which include only two characters: an octopus and a tiny, tiny wide-eyed, bespectacled fish. Immense disparity in their size highlights why the fish feels threatened by the octopus.

At first glance readers might think the octopus is playing with the fish. The octopus’ immense arms transform into many things–a fish-sketball net, a complex maze, a bird-cage, etc. Soon it becomes clear that he is actually “toying” with the fish. Each transformation is intended to remind the fish of the octopus’ size, strength and power to control the little fish.

Until the octopus mentions how tasty he thinks the little guy will be. His threat awakens the Inner Lion of the fish. He draws on his courage and his ability to defend himself. The reader discovers that the little fish isn’t so helpless after all. He uses his special skill to successfully defeat the octopus’ evil intentions. Read the book to find out exactly how he accomplishes this! Don’t we all love it when the underdog–er, underfish– is victorious?

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300 Adoption-attuned Lens: It is important for kids to recognize how they can stand up for themselves and tap into their ability to be agents of their own success. For adopted children who sometimes encounter bias and bullying because they were adopted, this message of self-advocacy is an important one. Again, this point is not intended to invalidate their experiences. Rather it is meant to add a skill with which they can cope. Dismissing or trivializing bullying does not address the situation!

I wasn't Invited to the Birthday.51QhF7wiBOL._SX428_BO1,204,203,200_I Wasn’t Invited to the Birthday  written by Susanna Isern and illustrated by Adolfo Serra addresses the universal experience of being left out. No one enjoys feeling invisible, inferior or, unaccepted. Among children these slights often occur “publicly” when kids distribute invitations at school. Even in classrooms where that practice is forbidden, kids talk about upcoming events which can leave the uninvited kids feeling bleak and marginalized.

The gift of this book is how it shows kids a way to take control. They can choose to look beyond the ranks of the “in crowd” to find friendship.  (Commonly, a child’s first instinct is to shun others who are on the margins in the hope that they will be “tainted” by befriending an unpopular child. Unfortunately, fear drives them to collude in the ostracizing of other children.)

In this story, however, the uninvited kids band together. The story takes a fantasy vibe and the kids “enjoy an unforgettable afternoon.”

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300 Adoption-attuned Lens: For kids wrestling with feelings of rejection–which almost all adoptees report at some time in their lives–reading a story of finding ones “group” is helpful. Perhaps that means befriending other adoptees, or kids who share the same passion for a common interest–sports, the arts, etc. Whatever that common ground is, it is important to reach out and search for it.

As mentioned in the previous review, this point is not intended to invalidate their experiences. Rather it is meant to add another coping skill. Dismissing or trivializing their experience does not fix the problem.

Our theme for #DiverseKidLit in February is Love. Please consider sharing diverse books and resources that support love and families. (As always, 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, February 18th and on the first and third Saturdays of every month.

Upcoming Theme

Our theme for the current month is Love. 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 18th linkups: Love. Let’s continue to 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 Marjorie’s review of IBBY Review: Roses Are Blue by Sally Murphy and Gabriel Evans on Mirrors Windows Doors. This novel in verse shares the struggles of a young girl trying to process her new life after her mother is severely injured in a car accident.

My DiverseKidLit Shout-Out

My DiverseKidLit Shout-Out

Now more than ever, we need to share and promote books by and about Muslims, and a great place to start is Kitaab World‘s new series on Countering Islamophobia through Stories. The first entry is a book list featuring Muslim Kids as Heroes.

I am also delighted to welcome Gauri, CEO and co-founder of Kitaab World, as a co-host!

 

#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!

Guest Hosts for February

Gauri @ Kitaab World   an online bookstore for South Asian children’s books, toys and games
Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Instagram

Shoumi Sen, Author of Toddler Diaries   Blog / Twitter / Facebook

 

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!

Families: Each is Special and Unique and Deserves Respect

a family is a family.51FYQ-KDJKL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_Family Is A Family written by Sara O’Leary and illustrated by Qin Leng projects the reader into a moment that overflows with emotion. To show her students that all their families are each special and unique and deserve respect, a teacher asks the class to share what each student feels makes their family special.

Told through the words of a little girl, the story begins, “I went last because…”

What a powerful opening. Who among us hasn’t wanted to go last because we feared not fitting in or felt our situation was something to be embarrassed by, ashamed of, or which others might find inferior in some way? I’m guessing as children we all had some of these kind of moments. (Perhaps even as adults, we’ve had times when our stomach clenched as we imagined how others might judge our looks, our homes, our families … us.)

The story proceeds. Child after child describes his/her family. The reader meets an inclusive array of family configurations. Diversity abounds! We see step-families, interracial families, families with many children, foster families, families with only one child, single-parent families, families with two moms or two dads, families who “match” and families who don’t. The stories premise comes across clearly: all families are unique and… that variety does not make one type of family better or less than others. What counts is that families love, support and connect with one another, not how they look, how they came together, nor whether they “match” or not.

Leng’s delicate illustrations portray the families with a warm and whimsical touch which adds charm and appeal to the book.

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300 Adoption-attuned Lens: Family provides us a space where we feel connected, valued and safe. This book highlights some of the different ways families are formed. This is important for adoptees because they often operate under the misunderstanding that their (adoptive) family is the only one which is “different. Reading about other “alternative” families helps to put the adoptees experience of difference as a source of commonality. Talk about a paradigm shift! It provides children an opportunity to see that other kids may need to feel welcome and accepted and gives adoptees a chance to be the vector of acceptance and welcome. what a refreshing shift for adoptees to be on the giving side of offering acceptance and welcome instead always being the seeker.

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Marisol Rhymes with Parasol

Colorful rainbow umbrella isolated on white background. 3D illustration

Marisol rhymes with parasol which conjures images of brilliant sunshine. Marisol McDonald, the charming heroine of this series delivers a similar warm and sunny lift. She delights in her quixotic and colorful approach to life. She exudes confidence which provides her an umbrella of security to carry her through her days. The series, written in both English and Spanish by Monica Brown and illustrated by Sara Palacios highlights the adventures of Marisol. She has a rich ethnic ancestry (Peruvian-Scottish-American) and a penchant for quirkiness which makes for an interesting, colorful and, fun perspective. Most of us–whether we’re a child or an adult–admire spunk and the ability to be comfy in our own skin. Still, the struggle to find acceptance and to fit in is real, especially for kids. A spunky, self-assured character like Marisol delights and serves as a model for what is possible. Click To Tweet Confident people attract our attention. We want to be with them and be like them.

confidence security quirkiness diversity-marisol-mcdonald-and-the-monster-51bcmtoy6vl-_sx437_bo1204203200_The third, and newest book in the series is,  Marisol McDonald and the Monster  It debuted in July 2016 and finds Marisol  confronting a nightly visit by a monster under her bed. Young readers will easily identify with her situation because most kids have had a similar experience at least once. She tries to be brave and to dismiss the nightly encounter as a figment of her imagination but… try as she might, the monster continues to bother her. In typical Marisol fashion, she takes action.

She fashions a monster of her own, one that is real and–since she created it herself, it is not scary at all. Except her efforts prove unsuccessful. The monster and its nightly bump, bump, bump persists. Marisol is determined not to let the monster win. To learn how Marisol defeats the him get yourself a copy!*

confidence security quirkiness diversity-marisol-mcdonald-doesnt-match-510a77mjrpl-_sx421_bo1204203200_Sara Palacios won a Pura Belpré Illustrator Award Honor for her drawings in Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match the first book in the series. Her energetic illustrations brings Marisol’s quirkiness to life in a way that enchants readers and showcases the beauty of “not matching.” Whether it is her physical characteristics (carrot-colored hair and brown skin,) her kooky fashion choices or, unusual food concoctions, Marisol’s unique approach is appealing. Even her dog doesn’t “match.” He’s got one brown eye and one blue eye and a most unusual name: Kitty!

Even Marisol is tempted by the desire to blend in. She briefly attempts conformity. Everyone misses the bright spark that Marisol usually contributes and all are relieved when the real Marisol returns. This story provides a wonderful model for kids who all too often surrender themselves to a… Click To Tweet

confidence security quirkiness diversity-marisol-mcdonald-and-the-clash-bash-514-yahfjal-_sx421_bo1204203200_

Marisol McDonald and the Clash Bash is the second collaboration between Monica Brown and Sara Palacios. The two previous books revealed that Marisol is one self-assured and unique young lady. It’s no surprise then, that when it comes to celebrating her birthday, the event is far from ordinary. Only one “theme” suits Marisol: a “clash bash!” Her party is a melange of ideas and her guests’ costumes embody variety and personality. Creativity reigns and all have wonderful fun. Inspired by Marisol’s “mix and match” approach, they “borrow” parts of one another’s outfits freely without worrying if it should be for only a boy or girl. There’s no jeering, judging or snubbing as they celebrate. They’re just having fun, fun, fun!

The story includes a wonderful use of contemporary technology which helps Marisol celebrate her birthday with her Peruvian Abuelita.

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300 Adoption-attuned Lens: Throughout the illustrations in all three books there are elements of Marisol’s rich ethnic heritage: llamas, chullos (the traditional knit hat,) Peruvian textiles. All blend in a colorful and rich celebration of cultural diversity. Highlighting these signposts of culture can easily lead to conversations about the ways an adoptive family honors all the different aspects of culture of the family–birth and adoptive. Marisol clearly values all aspects of her rcially diverse family, her multi-ethnic heritage, and her two languages!

These stories can also open dialog about the urge to fit in and conform, what it costs and how to cope. Since the need to be comfortable with self and to fit in is often complicated for adoptees, these stories can offer a non-threatening pathway for discussions. They can look through the third person perspective of Marisol and or the first person of the reader–if they’re receptive to that direct approach.

*I received a review copy of Marisol and the Monster from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review. The opinions stated are my own. I purchased the other two books included in this review.

On Jan. 26, 2017 please join myself and the many other sponsors of Multicultural Children’s Book Day and help expand diversity in children’s literature. #ReadYourWorld

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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.

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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.

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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!

 

Blog / Twitter / Instagram

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!