In her seminal book Silent Spring, Rachel Carson raised awareness that contributed to the environmental movement which continues through to today. Rachel Carson and Her Book That Changed the World by Laurie Lawlor and illustrated by Laura Beingessner introduces young readers to Ms. Carson. Since this is both Women’s History Month as well as the cusp of Spring, this book is the perfect choice for this week’s review.
Lawlor does an excellent job oh highlighting the challenges which Carson faced: poverty, lack of educational and employment opportunities for women, the Great Depression, and the effects of World War. The story follows Rachel and her mother as they struggle against adversity and eventually rise. Many factors converge to help Rachel succeed so the story also highlights the importance of helping others.
Her passion for writing and for the environment emerged in her childhood and became her lifelong passion. Rachel Carson and Her Book That Changed the World is an inspiring story that exemplifies how people achieve success: through diligence and determination. It also shows the pivotal influence others have for helping or impeding one’s goals. One must prepare and persist so that when opportunity presents itself, one is prepared to grab for the win.
One theme from this story focuses on the inner forces which drove Rachel to pursue her dreams of becoming a writer and for becoming an advocate for the environment. Parents can ask kids about their own inner passions. This conversation can serve as “permission” for children to speak freely about their dreams for themselves. Since adoptees often bring talents that are dissimilar to the patterns of their adoptive families, this “permission” to be one’s authentic self is profound.
Mama Miti: Wangari Maatai and the Trees of Kenya by Donna Jo Napoli and illustrated by Kadir Nelson features another stalwart woman who shaped the world. She learns from the sacred traditions of her people: cooperation, respect for the trees, engaging in peace. When Mama Miti moved to the city, remembering the beloved trees of her youth, she plants trees to brighten her urban environment. She became renowned for her wise counsel.
When hungry, jobless people come to her for advice, she offers them seeds which they can plant for food. As the trees mature and fruit, they share the harvest with others. These neighbors follow Mama Miti’s example; they plant more trees and share more fruits and berries. The trees provide food, medicine, fodder for animals, materials for shelter and branches for burning.
People refer to Mama Miti as the mother of trees. “A green belt of peace started with one good woman offering something we can all do: “Plant a Tree.” She loves peace, the environment and helping her neighbor. Now that is an awesome example for our children and ourselves.
Kadir illustrations capture the lush landscape and uses many traditional textile patterns to depict them. They add an extra layer of cultural celebration.
This story celebrates African culture and by using the traditional textiles, it implies a respect and valuation of that tradition. Mama Miti also serves as an example of how important a single individual can be in shaping the lives of others. After reading this book, readers can discuss who serves as a mentor in te=their lives. Or, they can talk about the kind of mentor they wish they had–for adoption issues or for other parts of their lives.
If You Plant a Seed is written and illustrated by Kadir Nelson. It also shares a story of planting and harvesting and takes it a step further. When we share our bounty as described in Mama Miti, many people benefit. The blessings expand. Others are inspired to follow the example and so the generosity ripples through the community.
In Nelson also shows what happens when one refuses to share and keeps the harvests only for their own needs. Another crop grows–envy, anger, selfishness–and it overtakes the situation quickly.
Young readers can evaluate the two scenarios and decide for themselves which “crop” they’d prefer to harvest. Kindness or selfishness?
This story exemplifies the concept of choice making and how different choices cause different results. Adults might ask young readers about choices they have made and explore the “alternative reality” that might have occurred had they chosen differently. A logical segue from that conversation is to talk about the biggest “what if” in an adoptees life: What if I had not been adopted? What if I had been adopted by other parents. These are BIG Conversations. Adult adoptees report that they thought about these questions frequently. Usually they struggled alone with the exploration because they either did not know how to raise the issue with adoptive parents and/or they felt that the subject was taboo. This book can serve as a gateway to the topic.
Our theme for #DiverseKidLit in March is the Changing Seasons. Please consider sharing diverse books and resources that support love and families. (As always, the theme is only a suggestion. Diverse posts on alternate topics are always welcome.)
What Is #DiverseKidLit?
Diverse Children’s Books is a book-sharing meme designed to promote the reading and writing of children’s books that feature diverse characters. This community embraces all kinds of diversity including (and certainly not limited to) diverse, inclusive, multicultural, and global books for children of all backgrounds.
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We hope this community will grow into a great resource for parents, teachers, librarians, publishers, and authors! Our next linkup will be Saturday, April 7th and on the first and third Saturdays of every month.
Upcoming Theme & Chat
Our theme for the current month is Changing Seasons. Themes are a suggestion only; all diverse book posts are welcome. If you’re interested, you can start planning now for our upcoming themes …
- April 1th and 18th is our one-year anniversary of #diversekidlit! Our theme with be Favorites. Share your top diverse books or authors or topics.
- Join us on Monday, April 10th from 8-9 pm Eastern Time for a Twitter chat about Diverse Children’s Books! In honor of one-year of the #diversekidlit linkup, we’ll be discussing issues and challenges facing diverse books, as well as sharing our favorites. We hope you’ll join us!
Most Clicked Post from Last Time
The most-clicked post from the previous #diversekidlit is Priya’s review of LadooBook. LadooBook is a new series, aimed at introducing very young children to Indian life, through the eyes of a dog named Ladoo. The book also introduces children to the Hindi names for various animals. You can read Priya’s full review (including coupon code) here.
#DiverseKidLit is Hosted by:
Blog / Twitter / Facebook / PinterestCarolina @ La Clase de Sra. DuFault
Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Google+Gayle Swift, Author of ABC, Adoption & Me
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Blog / Twitter / InstagramMarjorie @ Mirrors Windows Doors
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