Relationships Comfort across Time and Space

relationships-comfort-across--time-spaceThe transition of summer into autumn marks a twist of time that is familiar to all of us, young and old, student and graduate, parent and child. School bells ring across the country, marking the end of summer. Once again, children will leave their homes for the hubbub of school.

This separation excites some children. They race to rejoin friends whom they haven’t seen all summer. Other children, especially in the younger grades, feel angst, loneliness and, fear.

Change by its very nature, upends the status quo. It demands that we throw off the comfort of the familiar and, step through the open door into the possibility of “next.” Both scary and exciting, change is the gateway.

Emotions run high and we yearn to have witnesses to the events—whether it is to celebrate, encourage or, comfort. Joy shared is joy multiplied. Fear shared is fear halved. Sun Kisses, Moon Hugs offers an engaging metaphor that can reassure little ones that the connections that tie us to the people we love endures across distances of time and space. That they can be invisible witnesses to their lives. Whether their separation concerns focus on parents who are at the office, on the road, across the world—whatever the reason—their presence is constant. Sun Kisses, Moon Hugs shows how that affection can be seen and felt in myriad ways, rain or shine, night or day.

Reassure children that connections to people they love endures across distances of time & space. Click To Tweet

Author Susan Schaefer Bernardo and Illustrator Courtenay Fletcher have created a charming book that will uplift and reassure children. Adults who read the book will find a lovely way of describing the powerful emotions that connect them to the people in their lives. (It’s not just kids who experience the pangs of separation, adults do also.)

 Adoption-attuned Lens:  This story might easily trigger a conversation about the connection, longing and questions about birth parents that adoptees have. They may find reassurance in imagining these important people being present in the constants of sun- and moon-shine, raindrops and snowflakes, butterflies and rainbows, storms or changing seasons.

 

https://www.amazon.com/Kisses-Moon-Susan-Schaefer-Bernardo/dp/0971122814/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1503846427&sr=1-1&keywords=Sun+Kisses%2C+Moon+hugs

We Are All Born Free

we-are-all-born-free-51twoo0uhul-_sx433_bo1204203200_We Are All Born Free: the Universal Declaration of Human Rights edited by Amnesty International illustrated by several award-winning and world-famous artist. It affirms the fundamental rights of all human beings in simplified a child-friendly version. The book builds on this foundation of commonality and depicts it with lavish diversity. Each artist brings their signature style and interpretation to these important words.

The text begins with the words: “We are all born free and equal.” The accompanying illustration by John Burningham features children  bouncing for joy on a trampoline. This captures the exhilaration that freedom offers to each of us.

The next page says, “We all have the right to  life and to live in freedom and safety.” Niki Daly chose “Freedom Park” as the inspiration for his illustration. Children of varied ethnicities and races parade through the park. They march passed a statue of Nelson Mandela, play music fly kites, speak from a soap box and thoroughly enjoy the blessing of freedom.

Page after page, each artist, inspired by one of Amnesty International’s Thirty Universal Rights uses their talent to bring the concept to life in a way to which children can relate. Many of the ideas are complex. Some serious and sad. Each is important, e.g., religious freedom; equal protection under the law; freedom of independent thought; the rights to assemble, to speak out, to work, to rest and relax.

One of the final illustrations accompanies the twenty-ninth right: “We have a duty to other people, and we should protect their rights and freedoms.”

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300 Adoption-attuned Lens: For adoptive families, I propose two additional rights. First, the right to know one’s roots, to embrace all parts of oneself–both birth and adoptive, to have those roots respected and to be encouraged to discuss adoption freely. Second, adult adoptees should have access to their original birth certificates. Sealed files do not serve the adoptee but are relics of a past that sought to shame and isolate.

What Is #DiverseKidLit?

DiverseKidLitDiverse 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 21st 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 …

  • January 21st linkup: 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.
  • February 4th and 18th linkups: Love. Let’s spread our love of diverse books by sharing diverse books about love, families, and relationships.

Most Clicked Post from Last Time:

 5 Positive Picture Books for Ramadan by Katie at The Logonauts. This post shares five different books about the holiday of Ramadan, some that take place in Middle Eastern countries and others in America. All highly recommended!

#DiverseKidLit is Hosted by:

Katie @ The Logonauts     Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Pinterest

Carolina @ 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!

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!

Books Help Kids Handle Grief and Loss

Books helps kids handle grief and loss which are inevitable parts of loving others. Books that both validate the depth of a child’s feelings and ease them over life’s rough patches can help children process their powerful emotions. Their world is small, their life experiences limited, and their life skills are just beginning. They experience emotions on a grand scale: elation, terror, delight, disgust, etc. When they perceive an imminent loss, fear crushes logic. By nurturing emotional literacy in our children, we strengthen them for the journey of life.

Cope love loss grief.wherever you are.51rmSaLK1rL._SY498_BO1,204,203,200_Before tackling the difficult stuff, read books which reassure children and build a firm foundation of security. Nancy Tillman, author of the  NY Times Bestselling On the Night You Were Born, created a wonderful book that would be a great choices: Wherever you Are My Love Will Find You

This sweet book reassures children that the love which connects family bridges time and distance. The delicate illustrations suit the gentle, dreamy tone well. Although it never mentions loss or death, it’s  message would indirectly reassure kids who have faced the loss of a relationship, whether through divorce, death, or adoption.

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Adoption-attuned Lens Adoptees have intimate knowledge of deep loss and benefit from frequent affirmations of love. This book can be interpreted as both a reinforcement of the love of their adoptive family and can lead to conversations about their birth parents as well. Adopted children have a permanent connection to and interest in their birth parents.  They may find comfort in imagining their birth parents thinking about them with a love that can bridge difficult circumstances, distance and time.

Even if they came to adoption because of abuse and neglect, they may find solace in imagining some measure of positive connection with their birth parents. As always, validate the children’s feelings; if they can only conjure heart-broken, hurt or angry feelings. Empathize with how sad that must be for them. Eventually, they may be able reach resolution or forgiveness. Allow them to determine if and when that will happen.

books Help Kids Handle Grief Loss.the way i feel.51YcXIprCeL._SX453_BO1,204,203,200_

Exuberant illustrations dance across the pages of  The Way I Feel  written and illustrated by Janan Cain. It walks young readers through several moods and captures the intensity of their wildest feelings. Text spirals, bends and wriggles across the page. Color reinforces the feelings being described., for example, brilliant reds and oranges for anger, blues and turquoise for sad,

The story describes kid-familiar emotions : an older sib’s jealousy, frustration, disappointment, etc. With respect and validation, it describes these feelings in ways that help kids discern the difference between one feeling and another. This helps kids develop emotional literacy– the ability to accurately recognize, clearly express how they feel and then decide how to handle them. This is a vital life skill.

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Adoption-attuned Lens I began this review by stating: the proverbial Circle of Life inevitably links love, loss and grief. This is particularly true for adoptees whose lives have been uprooted from one family and grafted into another. Adoption requires kids to wrestle with very complex emotions. Having a broad vocabulary of emotions assists them in parsing out this patchwork quilt of feelings, relationships, losses and gains.

Reading a book about feelings helps convince kids that it is a permitted and welcome topic. Conversations can natural evolve from more general things to adoption-specific thoughts and experiences.

books Help Kids Handle Grief Loss. Ida Always. 51Aufwhsr8L._SY453_BO1,204,203,200_Ida, Always by Caron Levis and illustrated by Charles Santoso is a sweet, two-hankie picture book that depicts how loved one’s imprint in our world and on our hearts remains after they die. It deals with death that acknowledges the sadness and grief and celebrates life and relationships.

A pleasure for eye, ear and heart, Ida, Always  focuses on sound to capture the loving relationship of two polar bears, the bustling zoo where they live and the vibrant city which surrounds them. (“Keys clicked and shoes clacked … buses groan,; trucks rumble …children laugh.” This encapsulates the theme: even when the people and places we love are out of sight, the sounds that surround us hold the audio track of precious memories.

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Adoption-attuned Lens Adoptees may find solace in a book like this because it invites them to intentionally search for and preserve good memories about relationships they have lost. Even when they lack actual memories, parents can help them imagine moments that his birth parents “might” have shared with them. Even kids with trauma histories are viscerally connected to their birth parents. They might benefit from finding some positive recollections, (Not to cancel out or invalidate any trauma or the reality of hurtful histories but as the first step to finding a way to heal any damage.)


books Help Kids Handle Grief Loss.Pancakes with Papa.61StzMzilAL._SY352_BO1,204,203,200_
The multi-award-winning book Pancakes with Papa by Dena Albergo Jason and illustrated by Rainer M. Osinger directly addresses a child’s loss of a grandparent. Johnny’s grandparents live with his family. They spend time together and have shared many memory-making moments. So, when his beloved Papa dies, his death leaves a large hole in Johnny’s life. His Nana brings Johnny around the house. She helps Johnny identify smells, sounds and memories of their time together. He learns to use these memories to trigger warm feelings that help ease his grief.

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Adoption-attuned Lens While everyone needs help coping with loss and grief, adoptees have a heavier load to shoulder than most kids their age. Whether they were adopted as infants or older, children may benefit from finding ways to see, hear, and smell the connection of lost relationships. Especially for adoptees with little information in their files, the exercise may rely more on supposition than fact. nonetheless, kids may find comfort in remembering or imagining magical, loving moments with people from their pre-adoptive lives.

My Heart Is Like A Zoo? — Talk About Love

My Heart Is Like A Zoo How would you reply if you asked yourself, “What is your heart like?” What would you predict your child might reply? My Heart Is Like A Zoo written and illustrated by Michael Hall offers a delightful variety of answers to this question. In an additional and entertaining surprise, the illustrations are made of different configurations of hearts– large and small, complete and incomplete. What a wonderful demonstration of creativity!

Kids will giggle and smile their way through this sweet, silly book. Ear-catching rhyme and unexpected descriptions add dimensions of fun. For example, “Silly as a seal/ rugged as a moose/ happy as a herd of hippos drinking apple juice.” Who knew hippos love apple juice? Or how quiet a caterpillar can be when “wearing knitted socks”?  Casey read this book with her second grade class; they enjoyed it tremendously, then created their own zoo-heart animals as metaphors for their own emotions. Five Stars

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AQ Lens:  A fun book like this one makes it easy to talk about upbeat feelings and lays important groundwork for more difficult conversations. Because of the complexities of adoption, adopted children benefit from having a broad vocabulary for describing and identifying their feelings. This helps them discuss their emotions as well as to understand these emotions.  The uniqueness of the illustrations also encourage creativity and showcases the benefit of not thinking/being exactly like everyone else.

One Love.MarleyValentine’s day brings thoughts of love. Add a sprinkle of multiculturalism to your celebrations with the charming One Love by Cedella Marley, daughter of the Reggae artist, Bob Marley. Illustrations by Vanessa Brantley-Newton enliven the text, based on his song, “One Love.” Beautiful multi-media pictures will brighten the reader’s day.  The mood of the story is upbeat and positive and reinforces the idea that we are all part of the community of earth, that we all can choose to work, laugh and love together. Five stars

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magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300AQ Lens:
 This is not an “issues” book, rather it shows people engaging in ordinary tasks, living their normal daily activities. This sweet book easily introduces the idea that we need not look the same in order to be friends, neighbors or family. It depicts people of different races happily playing and working together. People of many shades of color appear throughout the story. Several images of Bob Marley are tucked into the illustrations. Hunting for them  would be fun. Plus, it would be an easy segue to a conversation about birth parents–how they are “present” in a child in ways both subtle and obvious.

 

plant a kiss.517n7oFF8oL._SY351_BO1,204,203,200_

Valentine’s Day brings kisses to mind.  A wonderful book that looks at kisses in a unique way is Amy Krouse  Rosenthal’s gem, Plant A Kiss.  Illustrated brilliantly by Peter H. Reynolds, the very spare text literally sparkles and matches the mood of the story perfectly. Have you ever wondered what might happen if you planted a kiss? No? Well, you are in for a delight when you share this book with your special child. Before you begin, ask your little one to predict what might happen if he or she planted a kiss. The question is sure to fire up their imaginations. It will also open a window into the way they think and feel which helps parents know and understand their children better.  Five stars

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magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300AQ Lens:
 This story line can serve as a wonderful conversation starter. Ask kids what else they might “plant.” Then, have them predict what might happen. Compare the “harvest” of each emotion. Conversations like these can be a wonderful gateway to important conversations about deeply held adoption-related thoughts and feelings. You might be surprised by what your child reveals. This creates a great chance to validate their feelings, clarify confusion and address their worries and concerns.

All Kinds of Children.61bmJzGzaVL._SY406_BO1,204,203,200_A title like All Kinds of Children sets our expectations of inclusivity and multicultural characters and  content. This book delivers on all accounts as it explores “fascinating differences” as well as “all they have in common with other boys and girls.” Written by Norma Simon and deftly illustrated by Diane Paterson, the duo presents similarities and differences in foods, housing, families, playtime activities and work. Many ethnicities and races are depicted although no interracial families are shown which is unfortunate. Still this book deserves a spot on the family library shelf. Five stars.

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magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300AQ Lens: The biggest plus of this book is the way that it depicts the myriad ways in which everyone is both alike and dissimilar. Since many adoptees have a wrestle with the process of blending their identities from a mixture of both nature and nurture, this book opens an easy entry into talking about the many ways in which they are similar to each family as well as the multiple ways in which they differ. A book like All Kinds of Children accomplishes this task without judgment and thus normalizes the conversation.

What Is #DiverseKidLit?

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

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:

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

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

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!

The Gift of Waiting

wait   Adoptive parents know the frustration of waiting for something that has become nearly all-consuming. Waiting allowed us time to prepare emotionally, physically and financially, to become educated for parenting in general as well as  for the unique demands of adoptive parenting in particular.

Once the long-awaited placement referral happens we immerse ourselves in the day-to-day hubbub of family life. As we struggle to balance the demands of family, work, community and church, time becomes singularly precious. We forget how hard it was/is to wait.

One of the gifts our children provide is the opportunity to see the beauty in the ordinary, the miraculous in the mundane. Children operate in the present moment. They want to enjoy it before they race to the next activity on our parental agenda. Tardiness–an adult construct–is irrelevant to them.

Wait by Antoinette Portis offers a gentle invitation to stop and smell the proverbial roses. At the child’s insistence, they pause. The mom gets a chance to appreciate what she would otherwise blindly bypass as she bustles along. Young readers will enjoy scrutinizing the illustrations for hidden treasures. Parents will be reminded to appreciate the world around us but also the enthusiasm and wonder which our children exude. It is a treat to reconnect to that part of ourselves.

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AQ LensAdopted children bear an additional “waiting” burden compared to their non-adopted peers. They must figure out when and how they will incorporate their biological connections into their lives. Depending upon the degree of openness of their adoption, this task may exist more in the present than in the future. But, to a degree, the full flowering of their triangulated family ties will not come until adulthood. It is beneficial to our children and ourselves to develop the ability to be both full of anticipation and at peace with waiting.

In the meantime, we can remain mindful of the challenge and the gift of waiting. Sometimes it is we who must wait and sometimes it is our children!

 

Zen Ties written and illustrated by  John J. Muth introduces the reader to a  panda aptly named Still Water. A gentle giant, Still Water “runs deep and calm” and makes a reassuring, if unexpected friend. His words are wise and often spoken in haiku form.

Muth write with subtle humor and uses word play to add layers to his stories, e.g., when Still Water welcomes his nephew at the train station, he calls out, “Hi, Koo!” Still Water introduces Koo to the neighborhood children and engages them in imaginative play. When one confesses that he’s anxious about an upcoming spelling bee, the bear provides the best distraction:  helping out the neighborhood grump, Miss Whitaker.

Time passes quickly. Instead of focusing on his worries, Michael and the other children immerse themselves in drawing, cooking and otherwise cheering up Mrs. Whitaker. They find satisfaction in their accomplishments. In the process she becomes a true friend who then helps Michael prepare for the spelling bee.

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AQ LensAdoptees shoulder a lot of questions about what it means to walk through life as an adoptee. They wait to assemble the complete picture as parents dole out pieces of their “story” in age appropriate increments.

There is great value in helping kids cope with the mystery and challenge of this task by nurturing their sense of capability and meaning. Just like Koo encouraged the children to engage with their neighbor, parents can encourage their child’s willingness to “help.” Sometimes this assistance increases the work instead of lessening it. However, it is by doing that children learn and experience the pleasure of contributing to the family.

The challenge for parents is to “wait” for their children’s learning curves to work through the inept stage until they arrive at the point where their efforts actually.  Encouraging this burgeoning capability benefits everyone, Admittedly, it isn’t easy for parent or child to wait until mastery has replaced the struggling beginner stage.

 

Waiting is an early picture book written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes. A variety of toys rest on a windowsill. Each awaits something different. As the story unfolds, each finally receives their wish. While they wait they spend their time observing the world around them. During that period of waiting, they appreciate many wonderful things. The pastel illustrations drawn with colored pencils and watercolor exude a dreamy quality that strike a complimentary note to the text.

Young readers will enjoy perusing the illustrations for elements that might normally go unnoticed. Each of the toys finds something to appreciate. Their eclectic interests help children to see and value things that might not immediately come to their mind. As with the other two books reviewed in this post, Waiting depicts a strategy that concentrates on appreciating the present even while anticipating the events of the future.

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AQ Lens: Beyond the other insights offered by the two previous books, Waiting includes a unique story thread: one of the toys is a Russian nesting-type doll in the shape of a cat. The reader is asked to predict what the cat is awaiting. Nothing seems obvious. She does not appear to be waiting for any of the same things as the other toys. Finally, the illustration reveals the little cats inside. This offers an easy segue to talk about pregnancy, birth and adoption and how both the expectant mother and the adoptive parents spent their time waiting for the child to arrive. Always allow your child’s maturity and comfort level to guide your conversation. Create an atmosphere of approachability , openness and acceptance.

 

 

Jack & Emma’s Adoption Journey

Jack & Emma's Adoptee JourneySince November is National Adoption Month, I wanted to highlight a book that speaks about adoption through the adoptee’s personal lens. Jack & Emma’s Adoption Journey does just that. It is a short yet powerful book. Written by Pam Kroskie, an adult adoptee, the story focuses on the thoughts and feelings of Jack and Emma. The text on each page is accompanied by an author’s note addressed to the adoptive parent. This side bar clarifies the moment/issue for the parent and shines light on Jack and Emma’s action or thought being depicted on the page.


magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300 (1)Although this book is brief, it touches on some important adoptee issues, e.g., identity questions, yearning to fit in, anxiety, fear of rejection, wondering about birth parents, ambivalent feelings about birthdays, self blame, anger  and longing to understand biological ancestry. All of these thoughts are common to adoptees. Mentioning them in the story, helps to normalize their thought processes and opens the door to important family conversations in which parents can listen, validate and support their child’s feelings and concerns. Jack and Emma’s Adoptee Journey would be an excellent addition to the family adoption library.

When parents share such conversations, they reassure their children that their love is unconditional and does not require kids to choose between their two families. It affirms that each is an integral and treasured part of the child, and by extension to the entire family.

Pam KroskiePam Kroskie served as the past President of the American Adoption Congress, is a Congressional Angel in Adoption Award Winner, the current president of H.E.A.R. (Hoosiers for Equal Access to Records,) and for many years has raised her voice on behalf of adoptees. She hosts AAC Adoption News and Views on Blog Talk Radio.

The Adoption Summit Experience 2015: Come Climb With Us, An On-line Summit

This post is reprinted from the blog which I wrote for the Long Island Adoption Support Group last week.

Adoption Summit

As an adoptive parent, I know what it is like to feel challenged by the unique and complicated demands of life as an adoptive family. As an adoption coach, I know how other families struggle to locate resources that understand adoption and are attuned to the needs of child and parents–both adoptive and birth parents. Living as an adoptive family has often felt like a trek up the steep slopes of Mt. Everest. I suspect other adoptive families experience similar moments of overwhelm and confusion.

Imagine finding and talking with a knowledgeable guide who’s also walked that path and survived. Imagine feeling heard, understood and supported, with empathy not judgment. Imagine being able to know what will best serve your child, yourself, your partner, and, your child’s birth parents. How might that kind of unified resource help your family? Imagine no more.

On Nov. 10-12, 2015 and Nov. 17, 2015 a collaboration of adult adoptees, birth parents, adoptive parents and adoption professional join together to present “The Adoption Summit Experience.” This free, on-line summit is unique as the three individual perspectives join forces to become one voice—a voice that speaks with respect and compassion for all individuals involved in an option.

 

Our goal is to create an opportunity for anyone, anywhere who is interested in adoption to lean in and listen to conversations from different perspectives,” says Parsons, creator of the event. “Every presenter volunteers their time and energy to make adoption better in some way. These are people who have transformed their relinquishment and adoption challenges into action for positive change. This event is a first of its kind.”

—LeAnne Parsons

adoption both and.6 Summit presenters will address adoption from all “sides” and will share the insights and learnings that we have acquired along the way.  We want to take our hard-won wisdom and infuse it with purpose to create a more collaborative and mutually supportive understanding of adoption. All presenters are directly living adoption either as first parents, adoptees or adoptive parents.

As listeners hear the “other” viewpoints, we hope to awaken empathy and understanding of how we are inextricably and permanently interconnected. Instead of compartmentalizing adoption into adoptee issues, birth parent issues and adoptive parent issues, we accept this interconnectivity as the reality of adoption. By understanding the needs of each part of the adoption triad, we can work together to make adoption better for all involved.

Are you in an open adoption, trying to determine how to make it work? Do you wish you knew how to enjoy and balance your happiness against a backdrop of the grief and loss of your child’s birth parents? Do you wonder how to handle your own triggers? Do you ever wish you could chat with several birth mothers to ask them questions to help you relate better with “your” birth mother/s? Then this summit is for you!

Are you struggling to handle the challenges of adoption and yearn to speak with parents who have “survived” similar events and whose family remained firmly attached and thrived? Do you wish you knew alternative parenting strategies—ones tested by other adoptive families? Then this summit is for you!

L is for LoveAre you looking for guidance on good resources? How do you evaluate which therapists, coaches, social workers, etc. understand adoption and are properly prepared to guide you? Do you know which books truly serve your family and which perpetuate outdated social myths? Then this summit is for you!

Imagine learning from adult adoptees what worked, didn’t work or what they wished their parents had done for them. How might that knowledge help you be a better parent to your child?

Have you ever wished you could talk honestly about your family struggles with no fear of judgment? Imagine confiding in peers who understand the joy, frustration, fear and commitment that adoptees face? Then this summit is for you

Watch this welcome video from Adoption Summit sponsor and adult adoptee, LeAnne Parsons as she invites you to “Come Climb with Us” at the free, on-line adoption summit. All who are interested in adoption are welcome and urged to participate. Register today: http://www.adoptionsummitexperience.com/register

 

Your Family’s Adoption Library.v8.10.07.2015Gayle’s presentation at the summit will focus on books as an ideal resource for introducing and sustaining healthy adoption conversations both within and beyond the family. It will include three bibliographies: one for children, one for parents and one of books written by adult adoptees.

Gayle is a co-founder of GIFT Family Services which provides adoption support before, during and after adoption, an adoption coach, adoptive parent, former foster parent and co-author of the multi-award-winning, “ABC, Adoption & Me: A Multicultural Picture Book.” She blogs regularly at “Growing Intentional Families together” She also writes an Adoption-attuned blog titled, “Writing to Connect” which reviews books through a High AQ lens. While some are specifically about adoption, most are not. She strives to help parents notice teachable moments in whatever books they share with their children.

http://www.adoptionsummitexperience.com/register

Watch this welcome video from Adoption Summit sponsor and adult adoptee, LeAnne Parsons as she invites you to “Come Climb with Us” at the free, on-line adoption summit. All who are interested in adoption are welcome and urged to participate.

Shades of Black: A Celebration of Our Children

 

Shades of Black: A Celebration of Our ChildrenShades of Black is also written by Sandra L. Pinckney with photographs by Myles C. Pinkney. It  is a delightful book that examines race from a slant of color appreciation. In direct contrast to the popular (but ill-placed notion*) of adoptive parents seeking to create “color blind” families, Shades of Black asks the reader to notice race and to notice the diversity that racial identity includes.

The text is a rich blend of vivid and unexpected metaphor. The accompanying photographs bring these novel images to life. The book’s premise is presented with respect and warmth and depicts the spectrum of skin tones of children who identify themselves as black. All families can benefit from reading it as a great way to explore race. Black children will especially appreciate the message of inclusion and celebration which the book offers.

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AQLens: As often stated in this blog, whether we are transracial families or not, adoptive families have a vested interest in cultivating tolerance, inclusion and multiculturalism. We are poster families for “difference” and frequently face the challenges of people questioning the validity of our families, posing intrusive/offensive questions and imposing expectations of gratitude (on our children,) and heroism (on us, for “rescuing” our kids.)

Beyond the obvious message of appreciating the rainbow of humanity’s color, this book invites discussion of race, of difference, of acceptance and of respect. Some might argue that the book reinforces the belief that anyone of a mixed heritage which includes only the slightest bit of African-American ancestry might more accurately consider themselves of mixed race and not simply as black. These are important topics for adoptive families yet they are not easy to introduce; this book offers an excellent gateway.

*Integrating a child’s birth heritage Once a child joins a family, his heritage is grafted to the entire family. It is not something that pertains only to him; the entire family honors and lives it. Beyond an occasional ethnic meal, trip to an exotic restaurant or occasional reading of a cultural fairy tale, families must immerse themselves as deeply as if it were their own natal heritage.

Transracial families must actively develop friendships and expose kids to mentors that share their race. Parents must foster a spirit of curiosity and learning around race. Recognize that a transracially adopted child’s experience as he journeys through the world will differ from yours. Moreover, because of the reality of white privilege, it will vary when you are with him and when he is on his own. Validate his experiences. Help him develop skills and tools to successfully navigate his challenges. Have conversations that empower. Don’t simply fan angry feelings. Avoid the fantasy of “color blindness.” Instead, foster color appreciation. Treating race as if it were irrelevant sends the hurtful message that it lacks value and importance.

Parents and children must walk in one another’s worlds and share the experience of being the minority. Teach kids how to handle prejudice. Explain your coping strategies. Be straightforward about the challenges. Acknowledge the reality of discrimination and work together to prepare them to face a world that notices the skin we are in. Read more of this earlier blog post.