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.

 

 

Faith Ringgold’s Books: Beauty and Historical Importance

Faith Ringgold collageFaith Ringgold has written and illustrated many important books. Some have won the Coretta Scott King award for illustration and one was named a Caldecott Honor book. They tackle a variety of important historical and cultural themes. Hers is a powerful and courageous voice.

Her website reports that she has won “more than 75 awards including 22 Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts Degrees. 

 

Tar BeachHer stunning work is unique and distinctive, full of brilliant color. Many contain quilt-like motifs which underscore the sense of diverse fragments coming together to create something of beauty and value that exceeds the individual elements.

Several of Faith Ringgold’s books explore important themes and events from African-American history. They contribute a vital window into these events and are important to all readers.

I first read Tar Beach, with my own children decades ago. Captivated by the art, they enjoyed the story and absorbed an appreciation for the world which it depicted and was so unlike their own. The inspired text invites children to dream and to fly into the world of dreams where anything is possible. It also shows that wealth derives not only in terms of money or things.

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300Adoption-attuned Lens This story offers a  chance to discuss what a family values as important and valuable. Although not wealthy in terms of material goods, the Cassie and Be Be have the most important asset: a family who loves them. This can be used to jumpstart an age-appropriate conversation about why an adoption plan was made for a child.

Dinner at Aunt Connie's HouseDinner at Aunt Connie’s House, shows an annual family gathering where Aunt Connie reveals her most recent paintings. While exploring their aunt’s large home, two children happen upon the trove of paintings. Each depicts a famous African-American figure. The children discover that the paintings can speak to them. Each painting reveals a personal story of courage and historic barrier breaking.

As a secondary theme, readers learn that Aunt Connie’s red-haired, green-eyed son was adopted. Connie challenges his “right” to feel pride in these African-American figures. This can easily lead to conversations that remind us that all Americans should be proud of the achievements of the people in the paintings. Fundamentally, regardless of their specific ethnicity or race, the history of each and every American contributes a “patch” to the “quilt” that is America’s story. This book can also open conversations about race and racism.

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300Adoption-attuned Lens Since this story focuses on Aunt Connie’s art it offers a chance to discuss family talents. Some may trend through generations and be prized. This can put pressure on adopted children to “take on” this talent in preference to following their own natural abilities. Families can affirm that every family member’s unique talents are valuable.

Aunt Harriet's Underground RailroadIn  Aunt Harriet’s Underground Railroad in the SkyCassie (a child featured in several of Faith Ringgold’s books,) travels the Underground Railroad and experiences the trials, terrors and privations of that long, dangerous route to freedom. In another repeating theme of Ringgold’s books, Cassie’s brother Be Be travels a mythical reincarnation of the Underground Railroad Freedom Train.

Separated from each other,  each child chooses the quest for freedom over security and remaining enslaved. The children eventually reunite. Each now possesses a realization that “Freedom is more important than just staying together.”

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300Adoption-attuned Lens Since this story touches on some difficult parts of American history it lends itself to discussions about the events and politics of all countries. Thus, it can open a conversation about the conditions in an international adoptee’s birth land some of which may have influenced why a child was adopted.

 

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One of Ringgold’s skills is her ability to place the reader in the heart of the historical experience. In  If a Bus Could Talk

Faith Ringgold places young Marcie on a metaphorical bus with Rosa Parks and other historical figures. Each shares their stories in a way that feels present and real. Readers will learn about some of the uglier parts of history: discrimination, slavery, segregation, the role of the Ku Klux Klan, etc.

Ringgold achieves this in a way that feels authentic, touches the reader and is still appropriate for children. This is important American history which we must not sanitize or sweep under the rug. Children need this information  so they can learn the lessons of history. In the absence of this education, we will be doomed to repeat the mistakes and cruelties of the past.

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300Adoption-attuned Lens Standing up for one’s values is not easy but this book reminds us of the important of doing so. It can have particular adoption-related resonance because adoptees must learn how to handle the inevitable onslaught of curious as well as nosy, intrusive and insulting questions regarding their adoptions.

Our theme for this month’s Diverse Children’s Books linkups is Favorite Diverse Author or Illustrator. Who is your must-read author or must-see illustrator? (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, October 15th and on the first and third Saturdays of every month.

Most Clicked Post from Last Time

Our most-clicked post from the previous #diversekidlit linkup features super-talented author-illustrated Kadir Nelson. Miss T’s Book Room shares a brief biography of Nelson and his long-list of awards and amazing picture books. If you are not yet familiar with his work, you are in for a treat!

My #DiverseKitLit Shout-Out

Mark your calendars for Multicultural Children’s Book Day, Jan. 27, 2017! Multicultural Children’s Book Day is an all-day (really, more like all-month) celebration of diverse books. Opportunities are currently available for teachers and bloggers to receive a free diverse book to review as part of the event. Interested parents can also win books through various giveaways. This is another great way to bring attention to diverse books, and I hope you’ll consider joining in!

#DiverseKidLit is Hosted by:

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!

Trees, Roots and Branches Inspire Metaphors

Trees,-roots,-branches-visual-metaphor-peace-tree-from-hiroshima-51jcrygzvml-_sx386_bo1204203200_The Peace Tree from Hiroshima by Sandra Moore. Illustrated by Kazumi Wilds delivers a poignant and inspiring story based on true events. The Yamaki family of Japan donated a three-hundred-year-old bonsai (miniature) tree to the United States in honor of our Bicentennial. Their family had cared for this tree for generations. It had survived the atomic bomb that devastated Hiroshima. The gift serves as a testimony to peace and reconciliation.

Told from the tree’s point of view, the story  creates a sense of connection and admiration for the sturdy tree which survived such devastation. The Yamaki's gift embodies the importance of enemies resolving differences so that peace can reign. Click To Tweet In today’s world rife with terrorism and angry rhetoric, this message is most welcome.

It also offers a chance to talk about world history and how seemingly irreconcilable differences have been resolved between countries or faith communities, ethnic groups, and political parties, etc. This helps place the conflicts of childhood in some perspective to show youngsters, that they too, can pursue peace in preference to fighting or bullying.

The book also includes a glossary and many facts about bonsai trees. The bonsai in the story is over three feet tall. The fact that it has lives for several centuries will amaze kids.

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300Adoption-attuned Lens This story offers a  parallel for adoption. Just as the Miyaki family lovingly nurtured the bonsai for over three hundred years, they placed it into the care of the United States . (While not equivalent to adoption and the significant losses in which adoption originates, the story does convey how the Miyakis continued to care about and be interested in the bonsai even after it was no longer in their family.)

Fall Is Not EasyTrees-roots-branches-visual-metaphor-fall-is written and illustrated by Marty Kelly follows the life cycle of a tree through the seasons. It offers an unexpected twist: in autumn, the tree changes, but not in “normal” colors or patterns. Fall Is Not Easy  reflects a delightful nod to the free-spirits and creativity of children who delight in coloring outside the lines and in rethinking how things ought to look.

Kelly’s simple graphics and very brief text use visual repetition to engage the reader and express the theme that some changes are effortless while others require lots more effort. Each drawing is fundamentally the same yet clearly depicts a seasonal shift. Come autumn, the tree chooses a decidedly non-conformist style which will delight young readers. Yes, we all change. And, thankfully, we all change in different ways and in our own unique ways.

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300Adoption-attuned Lens  This story offers an easy segue into conversations about the variety of families. Like the tree in the book which doesn’t exactly look the way we expect, it is still a tree. Love binds adoptive families together. We may look different or be formed differently from other… Click To Tweet

Trees-roots-branches-visual-metaphor-zora-hurston-chinaberry-tree-51qwbou7cl-_sx427_bo1204203200_Zora Hurston and the Chinaberry Tree

by William Miller and illustrated by Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu is a picture book about the great African-American writer. Her mother encouraged her to break through the bonds which restricted women. Still a child when her mother died, Zora heeded her advice and became one of the foremost writers of our country.

Her biography serves as a great example for boys and girls. Girls and boys are equally talented, capable and interested in following their dreams. Click To TweetBoth deserve the chance to pursue jobs, play sports and acquire an education. In terms of opportunities for women and people of color, great changes have occurred since Zorah was a girl. Still, much work remains.  Stories like this one help persuade boys and girls that they both benefit when each is able to become their best.

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Adoption-attuned Lens Hurston serves as an example of a woman who broke through barriers. Adoptees may find parallel’s in their own lives as they pursue the talents and aptitudes of their DNA. Many times  kids possess abilities and inclinations that are different from the traditional patterns of their adoptive families. It takes courage and the “en-couragement” of their adoptive families for kids to follow their inner compass even if it breaks the family mold. Families can talk about the blessing that their child’s differences infuse into the family. Like a new spice can enhance the flavor profile of a family recipe.

Trees-roots-branches-visual-metaphor-grand-old-tree-51s-qeq7rl-_sx378_bo1204203200_A Grand Old Tree written and illustrated by Mary Newell DePalma, tells of a tree which grows roots deep into the soil, spreads branches, blooms and fruits and how it offers life-giving shelter, food etc to  animals. Child-like illustrations show the seasonal changes which the tree undergoes.

Its’ seeds spread wide until they sprout into “grandchildren” whose “arms reach high into the sky.” The story concludes by coming full circle as “The grand old tree slowly crumbled [and] became part of the earth.”

This sweet story introduces children to the concept of the circle of life and how each creature or plant has a beginning and an end. Young readers can see themselves in the seedling at the end of the story who, like them, is at the beginning of life.

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300Adoption-attuned Lens 

Trees often serve as a metaphor for how adoption grafts a new branch to the family tree. This book talks about the roots and the branches as well as the flowers and seeds which the tree produces. This offers a gentle gateway to discuss a child’s roots and his adoption. It could even be used to open conversations about how the seeds scatter to grow in different places. This can lay the ground for future, age-appropriate conversations about biological siblings who are not a part of their adoptive family.

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Coexisting Viewpoints: Equally True, Wildly Divergent

i-wonder-51xa9vh-4ml-_sx258_bo1204203200_I Wonder  by Annika Harris exquisitely illustrated by John Rowe, walks the reader through a dreamy world of beauty and wonder. The story follows a girl and her mother as they wander through the forest. Several things spark the child’s interest. “I wonder…” she says. Mom encourages the girl’s thoughts and resists offering a pat answer. Instead, she encourages her child to sit with uncertainty and use it to spearhead further exploration.

The book also includes a useful Author’s Note page which explains her purpose for writing the book: to encourage children to admit what they do not know, to not be embarrassed by it but rather to be challenged to explore and learn. She challenges parents to do the same! There is value in learning to sit with wonder and in accepting coexisting viewpoints as equally true even if wildly divergent.

Adoption-attuned Lens magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300Life as an adoptive family is partly steeped in wonder about What if What if I’d never been adopted? What if other parents had adopted me? What if I’d never placed my child for adoption? etc…. Betty Jean Lifton author of Lost and Found describes this world of unknowable possibilities as the Ghost Kingdom: the lost babies [adoptees], the [birth], parents who lost them, and the [adoptive] parents who found them. Each member of the triad wrestles with significant factors that may never be completely known or resolved. A book like this helps open discussion on some very complex issues without putting the child on the hot seat. Begin with the simple, concrete concepts presented in the book and then, if the children  are receptive ask some open-ended questions that, although not specifically adoption-related, can be interpreted as connected to adoption. Follow your child’s lead. Eventually, this book will probably spark some important adoption conversations.

they-all-saw-a-cat-41au1iglll-_sy410_bo1204203200_They All Saw A Cat  written and illustrated by Brendan Wenzel delights the eyes as it explores a variety of encounters with a cat. Each two-page spread features a drawing that depicts the cat from a new point of view, for example, “A Child, a dog … a mouse… snake … worm … until it comes full circle with the cat admiring his reflection in the water.. The imaginative illustrations hilariously capture how perception colors and shapes reality. Each is true. Each is diverse. Each is personal.

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300Adoption-attuned Lens  This story can introduce a conversation about how the same situation can be experienced in drastically different ways. For example, a child, a cook, and a turkey all experience Thanksgiving dinner in wildly different ways. As always, talk about the story on a light-hearted level before moving to deeper conversations. Some logical topics: bullying, immigration, and, of course, adoption.

marta-big-small-51rnntszfgl-_sy498_bo1204203200_Marta! Big & Small written by Jen Arena and illustrated by Angela Dominguez is a bilingual book which explores a similar theme. This time the multiple points of view focus on  the senses: sight, hearing, touch, taste. Compared to a cat, Marta is big. In contrast, an elephant perceives her as tiny! Exuberant illustrations portray the theme well. Spanish words appear in the text and the illustration make it easy for readers to infer the English word. Marta! Big & Small offers a fun romp that will entertain as well as teach.

Adoption-attuned Lens magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300Adoptive families dwell in a Both/And world. The same experience can affect each family member in drastically divergent ways. For example, as parents, we thrilled to welcome our children home. We’d hoped and prayed for this to happen. Our children, however, experience adoption in a more complex way.

multiple-pov-weblinkFor them, adoption, originates with significant loss (their first family.) Even in open adoptions, where children know and interact with birth family, children lost the opportunity for their birth parents to have raised them.

Parents, too, had to move beyond the effort to become pregnant and embrace the commitment to become parents via adoption.

The important point which this book can help families understand is that each person’s respective point of view is real, valid and does not alter the perception of other family members. Again, readers are asked to recognize coexisting viewpoints as equally true even in wildly divergent.

Our theme for today’s Diverse Children’s Books linkup is Favorite Diverse Author or Illustrator. Who is your must-read author or must-see illustrator? (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, October 15th and on the first and third Saturdays of every month.

Upcoming Theme

Our theme for the current linkup is Favorite Diverse Author or Illustrator. Themes are a suggestion only; all diverse book posts are welcome. If you’re interested, you can start planning now for our upcoming themes …

  • October 15th linkup: We will continue the Favorite Diverse Author or Illustrator theme.

Most Clicked Post from Last Time

Our most-clicked post from the previous #diversekidlit linkup is KitaabWorld’s Bilingual Picks. This great round-up post includes bilingual favorites in a range of Asian languages, including Hindi, Bengali, Tamil, and Urdu. There are also links to more titles and more languages at the end of the article.

#DiverseKidLit is Hosted by:

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!

We’ve started a new group board on Pinterest to highlight all the amazing posts and resources for Diverse Children’s Books. Please consider following the board for even more great books!

Real or Fake? Far-out Fibs, Fishy Facts and Phony Photos

real or fake-61nkctrqw7l-_sx497_bo1204203200_

Real or Fake? Far-out Fibs, Fishy Facts and Phony Photos by National Geographic Kids is a fascinating book that helps kids to see through information and identify what is true from what is contrived, faked, tweaked or downright false. With the advent of the Photoshop era and the proliferation of exaggeration on-line, in print and in advertisements, truth competes with persuasive, authentic-sounding lies and fakes. Even adults can be fooled by these stories, “news” reports, photos, and zany factoids and find it difficult to discern the difference between what is real or fake.

It is essential that we help kids develop the ability to see through the trickery and deceit and… Click To Tweet

The book uses a fib-o-meter to help display the range of falseness that an item may contain. Some lies are broader and more serious than others. The bottom line is that it still represents an untruth. We all must be alert for the tricks that people use to fool, confuse and manipulate us. Sometimes the deceit is unintentional, sometimes it is for fun. Many times, however, the intention is to control and trick kids (or us) into doing something or believing something we would not otherwise do or believe if we knew the truth.

Adoption-attuned Lens magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300One of the most demeaning questions posed to adoptees and their families centers of the concept of REALDo you know your REAL parents? Do you have any REAL brothers or sisters? In addition to your adopted children, do you have any REAL ones?  Yikes! These questions strike deep. They doubt the validity of our families, cast us as less than biological families and ask us to defend our “inferior” status. At some level, the REAL question causes kids to worry that perhaps they are right.

This book offers the perfect gateway to discussing what makes a family real. As adoptive families, we know that our families and our relationships are all real. The choice is not binary; both adoptive and biological parents and relatives are real. For a more detailed discussion, read this post on GIFT Family Services blog.