Let the Party—and the Learning Begin!

Let the party—and the Learning Begin!.Let's Celebrate HoliChildren love festivals and celebrations–don’t we all!

What better way to expand cultural literacy than through learning about unique holidays marked by other cultures. Let’s Celebrate Holi, India’s Festival of Colors by Ajanta [Chakraborty] and Vivek [Kumar] brings to live a delightful holiday celebrated throughout India. The traditional observances vary throughout the country but all include bonfires and drenching one another in vividly colored water. Let the Party—and the Learning Begin! Celebrate Holi. This charming book will teach you how.

Kids will delight in discovering a holiday that provides the perfect excuse for drenching themselves and others in brilliant color, hurling buckets of water, exuberant dancing and, watching bonfires. While these elements will certainly grab their attention, children will simultaneously absorb information about the story behind the festivities. This knowledge will help build a foundation of awareness of and respect for, the traditions and beliefs from other cultures. This is a delightful and engaging book which help awaken interest in other cultures and will broaden their cultural awareness.

Let the Party—and the Learning Begin!.holi.3In this book (the third in the series) Maya and her brother Neel visit relatives in India. Their arrival coincides with the festival of Holi which provides the perfect opportunity for the cousins to explain the holiday. As Maya and Neel learn about their heritage and the various ways the people celebrate throughout the many regions of India, readers will also. They will discover that India is an immense country with many states, each of which observes the holiday in unique ways. The book also includes a pronunciation guide which demonstrates the proper ways to speak the Indian words.

The authors of the series also maintain a website which features additional resources, Bollygroove dance classes, etc. Check it out.


AQ Lens: An appreciation for one’s cultural heritage is probably the most obvious Adoption-attuned opportunity which Let’s Celebrate Holi, India’s Festival of Colors provides. Because of the inherent elements of fun, color, dancing and water play most kids will find the story appealing. It may even make it easier for adoptees to share their culture with others–and feel safe about that sharing.

Be sure to read the other books in the series:

Let's Celebrate Diwali.Holi.Let the Party—and the Learning Begin!


Let’s Celebrate Five Days of Diwali 



Let's Visit Mumbai.Let the Party—and the Learning Begin!.61aW9I8-2vL._SX384_BO1,204,203,200_


Let’s Visit Mumbai 

Marisol Rhymes with Parasol

Colorful rainbow umbrella isolated on white background. 3D illustration

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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.



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.


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!

Taking Root in America

We Came to America.61njY+LjBmL._SX385_BO1,204,203,200_A refrain repeats throughout the picture book We Came to America : “We came to America, every color, race, and religion, from every country in the world.” Written by Faith Ringgold and illustrated in her signature style, this timely book reminds us that unless we are Native American all of our family lines began elsewhere. We are grafted into the dream of this country. Each of us yearns for the fruits of  education, opportunity, upward mobility, and religious freedom. “In spite of where we come from…We are all Americans.”

This is a good reminder to all readers, youth and adult, that we must stand up for the American ideal “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Each of us must work to ensure that all Americans enjoy equal freedoms. Equality is a group endeavor.


AQ Lens: 
Kids who have been adopted internationally may especially appreciate this retelling of the universality of our nation’s immigrant roots. Starting a conversation on this topic would be easy.



Black, White, Just RightBlack White Just Right.51x+J+mQ16L._SX428_BO1,204,203,200_ by Marguerite W. Davo introduces us to a multi-racial family; Mom is black and dad is white. Told through a young girl’s words, the reader learns various ways she is a blend of the differences between her parents: race, personality, size, music preferences, etc. For example, Dad’s got a taste for rap. Mom prefers ballet. Mom bustles. Dad strolls. Mom enjoys African art while dad likes Modern Art.

The little girl discovers that her preferences are a blend of both her parents; she’s able to appreciate her mixed heritage and select her own favorites. Her choices and she, herself, are all “Just right.”

This book offers a surface look at a biracial child’s experience and focuses only on the positive. It does not address some of the more challenging feelings and experiences which biracial children face as they learn how to parse their dual racial identity.


AQ Lens: 
For kids with a racially mixed heritage, parents might want to extend the conversation to explore the more challenging aspects that result from their diverse heritage. It is important to encourage children to voice the totality of their experiences and emotions and to avoid an exclusive focus on the positive.



Mixed: Portraits of Multiracial Kids by Kip Fulbeck is a photo essay on the many “faces” of multiracial ethnicity. The author strove to offer kids a chance “to define themselves” in their photos. The book includes a few of the children’s written comments.

It also includes commentary from many parents which addresses their personal life experiences around their own racial mixtures and how they hope their children’s experiences will be better. Parents reveal memories of isolation, discrimination and being “othered.” They hope this book will support their children so they do not feel alone, diminished, discredited, or discriminated.

Author Kip Fulbeck wanted to advance the cultural conversation directed at people of mixed race beyond being perceived as exotic or aesthetically intriguing. He hoped to communicate one’s uniqueness as a person beyond skin color and yet still recognize that race is a constant. I think part of the value of this book lies in the broad array of racial mixtures among the featured children. Kids will enjoy searching for kindred spirits and will enjoy a sense that they are not the only one is racially mixed.


AQ Lens: 
Kids often believe that their personal experience defines the experiences of others. This book introduces them to a vast array of racial mixes and encourages thinking, wondering about the experience of these other children. Kids can enjoy browsing this book simply to “see” the faces of diversity.

They can also benefit from the potential conversations that it can open regarding both the gifts and challenges of a racially mixed heritage.

Beautiful Rainbow World.51uMsGRrx1L._SX497_BO1,204,203,200_

The dedication page of Beautiful Rainbow World by Suzee Ramirez and Lynn Raspet, includes this quote from Mister Rogers:

  We want to raise our children so that they can take a sense of pleasure in both their own heritage and the diversity of others”  –Mister Rogers.

Infused with a sense of wonder and beauty for the diversity of people and places, this little book overflows with joy. It includes a free download for the song which provides the simple text. A visual delight, the book’s message is one which is important to repeat regularly. When we truly embrace this belief, the world will indeed be even more beautiful.


AQ Lens: 
The adoption-attuned value of this book is pretty similar to the previous book. This one is shorter and emphasizes the beauty of diversity of both people and places. It can trigger similar conversations about diversity, prejudice, standards of beauty, etc, all of which are important topics for adoptive families to hold on a regular basis. Kids need constant reassurance–by action and specific invitation–that all of their thoughts, emotions and experiences are valid, valuable and welcome.

My Chinatown.610aTgEkJFL._SY385_BO1,204,203,200_

My Chinatown: A Year in Poems by Kam Mak will delight the eye and the ear. The imagery of the poems convey an appreciation for the energy and culture of Chinatown. Readers of any ethnicity will enjoy the boy’s stroll through the fascinating and exotic city. The homesick boy struggles to understand how he can live in America and still honor, appreciate and feel connected to his native home in Hong Kong. Chinese culture exists in Chinatown but its different from the way things are observed back “home” in Hong Kong. Any child who has ever moved, will identify with his longing for “home” and the security and familiarity it represents.

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300AQ Lens: 
This book will resonate with internationally adopted kids via the boy’s sense of yearning for “home”–for the way it smells, looks, sounds, and the way things are done there. His struggle to feel at home in America will connect with that rootlessness that many adoptees feel, (even those who were adopted domestically.)

Another “note” which will connect with many adoptees is that struggle to blend a dual heritage into a unified whole that results when valuing and merging both.

Lola's Fandango.61sLCL5MpeL._SX397_BO1,204,203,200_Lola’s Fandango by Anna Witte and illustrated by Micha Archer captures both a child’s struggle with sibling rivalry and a yearning to shine as well as a celebration of one’s culture. Lola idolizes her sister Clementina and is also jealous of her skills, talents and position in the family. She wonders how she will ever be able to compete.

In a moment of mischief, Lola sneaks into her mother’s closet and discovers an old pair of Flamenco dancing shoes. The shoes prompt her curiosity. She learns that her mother had been a Flamenco dancer. Lola persuades her Papi to teach her how to dance.

She practices diligently and proudly surprises her Mami with her performance. Together they celebrate in Flamenco style. Bold illustrations exude energy and color and perfectly capture the zest of the Flamenco style. The rhythm of the language makes one want to snap fingers and tap feet.

One criticism: Lola throws a bit of a tantrum over her lack of a special dress to wear for her dance. Papi surprises her with the ruffled dress of her dreams. I wish the author had omitted Lola’s fit of pique and simply included Papi’s surprise as an acknowledgment of Lola’s efforts and interest in being  like her Mami. Still, Lola’s Fandango is a charming read with a Latin flair.

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300AQ Lens: 
This book celebrates a cultural tradition that is vibrant, connects through the generations and which brings joy to all. It presents a great opportunity to talk about whatever traditions are in an adopted child’s history as well as in the adoptive families. Perhaps it might start a family activity inspired by an interest in recapturing and honoring one’s cultural traditions.

Dreaming UP: Dazzling Blend of Fantasy with Reality Celebrates Diversity

Dreaming Up.51I-nQ9NtqL._SY498_BO1,204,203,200_Dreaming UP: A Celebration of Building written and illustrated by Christy Hale pairs child-built fantasy constructions with photographs of startlingly similar constructions from around the globe.  The result is a magical trip around the world in a way that simultaneously celebrates the diversity of architectural memes with an equally diverse presentation of characters. Hale illuminates the connection between child’s play and world architecture with delightful concrete poems that also mirror the constructions.

The book subtitled, A Celebration of Building   serves as an excellent metaphor for building community, creativity and relationships. The illustrations feature a diverse characters who create universal kid creations: sofa forts, sand castles, blocks, etc. The accompanying architectural photographs bring those imaginary designs to life in real buildings from all around the world. The similarities between fantasy and reality are stunning. Some of them are so unusual it is difficult to believe that they are real. Such fun to see them!

The author has included end notes on each photo which provide fascinating information.

This book can inspire on many levels. Imagine a child’s delight to see constructions similar to many they have created during playtime come to life. Perhaps it might even stimulate  their interest in becoming an architect or engineer so that they too can build such wonderful things.

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300AQ* Dreaming UP: A Celebration of Building written and illustrated by Christy Hale  is a great celebration of world community. It obviously values the aesthetics of the many cultures featured. This reinforces the important role of diversity and how it enhances and strengthens our world. Just as in nature, diverse communities are healthy communities. And it serves as an excellent jumping off point for a family project exploring aspects of an adoptee’s home culture and/or the ancestral culture of the adoptive parents.

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

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


We hope this community will grow into a great resource for parents, teachers, librarians, publishers, and authors! Our next linkup will be Saturday, July 16th and on the first and third Saturdays of every month.

Most Clicked Post from Last Time

Svenja takes “most-clicked” honors again this time with her post on 30 Multicultural Books about Immigration in honor of June as Immigrant Heritage Month. The post is divided into books geared for preschoolers and elementary students, and the elementary recommendations are further subdivided by the continent of origin. You can find more great posts by revisiting the previous linkup here.

#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.)

Summer: Time for Dreaming, Exploring Boundaries, Nurturing Awareness

Summer offers a break in routines, a chance to explore, relax, have adventures and spend time with family and friends. Kids can daydream, play, enjoy hobbies and use this break to discover things about themselves, their world and the people around them. Here are a few wonderful “summer reads” for kids. Each one is a winner.

someday.2.Someday by Eileen Spinelli and illustrated by Rosie Winstead strikes a dreamlike tone through its delicate collage illustration.  Using a classic style of repetition, Spinelli highlights the broad possibilities pairing various Somedays and Todays. A young girl shares her dreams for the future and contrasts them with ways she spends her days. Unbridled imagination infuses her dreams for her future. But this celebration of possibility does not diminish her willingness to live her todays with joy and adventure. This provides a balance of finding contentment in the now while imagining and pursuing the future.

For example, she imagines herself Someday unearthing dinosaur bones and being featured on the news. Today, by contrast, she is”digging for coins under the sofa cushions.” She also fantasizes Someday befriending dolphins and learning  “all the secrets of the sea” from them. This contrasts with a Today in which she feeds her goldfish who remain silent keeping their secrets to themselves.

Someday is a pleasant read that invites the reader’s imagination to soar while it reminds them to enjoy the delights of the present moments. Five stars

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300AQ Lens: This is a great book for adoptive families to read. Its very premise invites exploration of the future, the present and how one can build on the other. It can be an easy segue to invite a child to consider their past and how they can hold both a reality=based awareness of what occurred as well as their own ideas about how they wish it might have been different. This is not an effort to deny or diminish any trauma but rather to affirm what the child should have experienced. (In a previous blog, which i wrote for GIFT Family Services, we explored the power of therapeutic narratives. “You may wonder how reading books differs from sharing a therapeutic narrative. Denise B. Lacher wrote a terrific book on the subject: Connecting with Kids Through Stories: Using Narratives to Facilitate Attachment in Adopted Children

Finding Wild.51R62x1vg7L._SY401_BO1,204,203,200_

Written by Megan Wagner Lloyd Finding Wild was illustrated by Abigail Halpin who brilliantly captures the unbridled, untamed, free spirited energy of life. Ostensibly about the wildness of nature, it’s about so much more than that, more than wild creatures in their natural habitat, more than locations unchanged by humans. It is scent and sound, places and dreams, full of challenge and possibility, risks and rewards. It is determination and persistence. It is flowers growing in sidewalk cracks, trees shattering through boulders doggedly pursuing survival. Life thriving under the most inhospitable of circumstances. It is indomitable human spirit. Though the text is brief, the possibilities it suggests are immense.

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300AQ Lens: This book also is an excellent potential conversation starter for adoptive families.  Kids feel freer to explore a story that is not overtly their own yet may bear similarities in terms of difficulties, danger or survival. This added layer of dissociation enables them to explore events without fully awakening their own struggles, tough situations, harsh circumstances. Tread lightly. Let kids take the lead. Unless kids choose to speak of their personal events, focus conversation of how “some kids” faced these challenges and survived.

Freedom Summer.519FE8c4wyL._SY453_BO1,204,203,200_Freedom Summer by Deborah Wiles and illustrated by Jerome Lagarrigue won both the 2002 Ezra Jack Keats Award as well as a Coretta Scott King Award. It begins with two friends enjoying the leisurely pace of summer, hanging around, being friends together, swimming in a local creek. “John Henry swims better than anybody” the narrator knows. They ecstatically anticipate the prospect of the local community pool’s opening day. But, when they arrive at the gates, the boys discover that the facility has been bulldozed. No one will swim there again.


Because this story takes place in a segregated America. In 1960, laws ensured blacks could not share facilities with whites. After desegregation legislation passed, instead of complying, Mobile, Alabama opted to close the town pool, ice cream parlor, and roller rink. Hate and prejudice blinded people to fairness and the rights of all citizens to equality and access to facilities. To deny blacks access, they denied the entire community access.

This award-winning book splendidly captures the boys’ friendship so when they encounter the closed pool, the reader feels dazed by the community’s betrayal. The conversations this book might open are important one on issues such as racism, prejudice as well as loyalty, friendship and thinking for oneself.

The forward by the other offers additional insights about her motives for writing the book as well as her personal encounters with segregation during her own childhood.


AQ Lens:

The potential for adoption-related conversations is broad. In addition to racial and cultural bias, adoptive families frequently encounter bias against their families. Our family ties are often questions in terms of permanency, depth and reality. This book can help families talk about standing up for ourselves as well as being a voice for others who face discrimination and bias.


wolf camp.61Z0WYk-GDL._SY387_BO1,204,203,200_Wolf Camp written and illustrated by Andrea Zuill will delight both adults and young readers. Zany illustrations ripe with energy and humor chronicle the journey of one lovable dog as he tries to get in touch with his inner wolf. His fellow campers include a charming group of canine companions–a chihuahua named Pixie and a golden retriever named Rex. Together they learn to punch through fear, master new skills and make new friends and pull together–all admirable tasks whether you are a dog or a human!

One illustration depicts Homer’s letter to home. It’s a classic. Any parent who’s sent kids to camp has probably received a similar letter. Wolf Camp is a delight with an important–and very subtle–message  about daring to face fears, take on new experiences, make new friends, and grow into a stronger person.


AQ Lens:

Like the other books reviewed in this post, readers will see the value of friendship, the benefit of being open instead of limited by bias and the willingness to dare–to be stronger, braver and more open-minded. These are great lessons for all kids but especially for adopted children who throughout their lives will frequently be treated as “other” simply because they were adopted.

The conversations which this book might open can include topics like defeating fear, trying new things, and walking in the “shoes” of others.


The Richness of the Melting Pot: Adding an Asian Flavor to the Bookshelf

The social climate today is increasingly nativistic so this is an important time to expose children to literature that affirms diverse cultures and expands limited horizons. This group of books includes newer titles as well as some classics and reflects both Chinese and Japanese culture.  

Red Is A Dragon.51w9jo8sHdL._SX474_BO1,204,203,200_Red Is A Dragon: A Book of Colors by Roseann Thong will delight readers of any culture. Grace Lin’s illustrations rendered in brilliant colors and bold illustrations will captivate readers . One need not be Asian to appreciate the artistry and enjoy the simple rhyming text. Red Is A Dragon: A Book of Colors is a delightful way to learn how to recognize colors while being exposed to a hint of Asian culture: dragon kites, fire crackers, jade bracelets, incense sticks and Chinese opera. At the same time, many illustration reflect universal elements like going to the beach, flying kites, etc. This book does an excellent job serving as both mirror and window and is a visual delight that teaches more than colors. Includes a glossary that to further explain the cultural elements. Five Stars!

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300AQ* Lens This concept book uses elements of Chinese culture to deftly show how one can simultaneously celebrate one’s heritage and be “American.” This is a subtle but important message for adoptees who spend a lifetime braiding the diverse threads of their life into a healthy tapestry, of which they can be justifiably proud. Every “thread” has value and contributes to who they are.

Grandfather Tang.51oPetR0aBL._SX400_BO1,204,203,200_Grandfather Tang’s Story: A Tale Told in Tangrams  by Ann Tompert and illustrated by Robert Andrew Parker is a unique book which uses tangrams–the traditional Chinese art form– to expand the lovely pastel illustrations. The plot line features a sweet moment between granddaughter and her grandfather. The little girl requests her grandfather to tell a story so that they can both bring it to life with their tangrams.

Readers can easily duplicate the tangram shapes and then mimic each illustration themselves which offers a unique interactive element to the story. Or, they can simply enjoy the illustrations without taking on the challenge–and fun–of manipulating the tangram pieces.

Grandfather Tang’s Story: A Tale Told in Tangrams offers a good example of families connecting across generations, creating fun from their imaginations — without depending on elaborate tech. It highlights a subtle message of loyalty, friendship and learning from mistakes.

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300AQ* Lens This tale can easily digress into a conversation about the many ways we try to change ourselves, something many adoptees struggle with as they try to figure out how to fit in. Readers can discuss how each transformation brought risks and rewards; most importantly the foxes recognize they must be true to themselves. This is such an important lesson for all of us but especially for many adoptees who are tempted to reshape themselves to fit their idea of what they believe their parents “wish” them to be.

The story also shows how the little girl “read” the cues her grandfather gave so she recognized when he needed to end their game and rest.  This plot points can leading to talking about reading social cues which is an important skill that all kids need.

More-Igami. 51dH3wl9xwL._SY495_BO1,204,203,200_More-igami by Dori Kleber and illustrated by G. Brian Karas celebrates origami–the art of traditional Japanese folding. In a fresh spin on the topic, the main character, Joey, is African-American. After a classmates mother, Mrs. Takimoto visits his class to demonstrate how to fold paper cranes, he becomes obsessed with origami. Joey embraces her instruction :”If you want to become an origami master, you’ll need practice and patience.”

He practices folding shapes from his homework, the newspaper, gift wrap, recipes cards… until his exasperated mother insists that Joey stop. Eventually Joey solves his problem by folding napkins into origami shapes for the local Mexican restaurant.

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300AQ* Lens In this simple, charming story, readers find several cultures interacting respectfully and finding delight in the richness of diversity.  More-igami is not an issues book, nonetheless is does an excellent job of depicting  people of many races and ethnicities working together and enjoying snippets of each other’s cultures. This story models cultural harmony and also shows individuals valuing their heritages proudly. Like Red Is A Dragon: A Book of Colors this book quietly lobbies for diversity. It’s not a placard-carrying stand, not an “issue” book and not an primer on any culture. It is a story well told with an important message brilliantly integral to the story without being the story.

And now on to the classic books…

I Don't Have Your Eyes.51R+1Y9LtGL._AC_US160_I Don’t Have Your Eyes by Carrie A. Kitzie presents a variety of parent/child racial and ethnic pairings that reflects great diversity. Its simple, spare text details the ways  individual children differ a parent and then follows with another way in which they are same. Kitzie’s message: each of us is unique and have traits that are valued by families. Our differences enrich the family while our commonalities knit us together. This book appears on many lists as a favorite among adoptive families. It has broad appeal for many diverse families, not just a single ethnicity. It is relevant even to families who share ethnicity, race and culture because each of us are unique and in some ways each of us differs from our other family members.

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300AQ* Lens

The key message here is that differences do not need to divide families nor do they need to be minimized or dismissed; differences can be noticed, appreciated and valued. An adopted child most know, feel & believe they are accepted for whom they authentically are. Because Rob Williams’ illustrations display such a broad spectrum of “looks” , children from many ethnicities and diverse backgrounds can enjoy this book.

Shining Star. Anna May Wong.51QB+bZoUXL._SY387_BO1,204,203,200_Shining Star: The Anna May Wong Story by Paula Yoo and illustrated by Lin Wang is particularly apt in today’s social political climate as it follows the career of performer Anna May Wong. It chronicles her career as an actress in Hollywood. For many years she struggled with a dilemma: the only roles offered to her as a Chinese-American were demeaning stereotypes. In order to fulfill her dreams and to help support her impoverished family she accepted the caricature roles. But, she worked consistently to demand better portrayals of Chinese characters in film.

The book effectively captures Anna May’s passionate dreams, her humiliations, her compromises and her ultimate success as well as the sacrifices her parents made when they immigrated to the United States. This riff on the immigration theme is a pertinent read for current times.

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300AQ* Lens: Shining Star: The Anna May Wong Story depicts a character immensely proud of her heritage. The daughter of Chinese immigrants, Anna May faced racial discrimination, gender limitations, knew poverty and hard labor. She spent a lifetime carving out a place for Chinese American performers. Through her efforts in the cinema, she helped to spread acceptance and understanding of her culture. This pride and willingness to stand up for one’s roots is a key message for adoptees.

Paper Crane.51U52Hx9lNL._SY444_BO1,204,203,200_


The Paper Crane retells an ancient Japanese fairy tale. Written and illustrated by Molly Bang it is a delightful read that reveals the importance of both hard work and kindness. It pairs well with More-igami because it hints at some of the cultural backstory that the reader of that story might otherwise not know. This book was a Reading Rainbow selection.




Asian culture.PicMonkey Collage

Tall Tales Can Be Tell Tale Windows to the Heart

 This post reviews 

H.O.R.S.E. by Christopher Myers and  Imani’s Moon by JaNay Brown-Wood

Diverse Children’s Books is a brand new 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, May 21st and will continue on the first and third Saturdays of each month.

Most Clicked Post from Last Time

The most clicked post from our previous #diversekidlit is Diverse Children’s Books for Earth Day by Rebekah at The Barefoot Mommy. The post provides a great overview of six different, diverse picture books that can help kids appreciate and celebrate the Earth.

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Shoumi Sen, Author of Toddler Diaries
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HORSE.51r8Mq9hcDL._SY372_BO1,204,203,200_ H.O.R.S.E. written and illustrated by multi-award-winning author, Christopher Myers  riffs on the tall tale tradition of folk heroes like Paul Bunyan. It also connects to kid’s admiration of contemporary basketball heroes. One part poetry and ten parts hyperbolic imagination, this delightful book entertains and inspires.written and illustrated by multi-award-winning author, Christopher Myers connects to kid’s admiration of contemporary basketball heroes. One part poetry and ten parts hyperbolic imagination, this delightful book entertains and inspires.

Kids will get discern the difference between utter fantasy and all out fun. They’ll also see their own thoughts about wanting to be the best, the champion that outshines all the competition. Readers will delight in the dare-and-double-dare s exchanged between the two characters as each tries to out shine the other’s assertion of superiority. The chest-puffing story unfolds with good humor and a complete absence of bullying and intimidation.

The text of H.O.R.S.E. is a visual delight as it twists and spins, bounces and stretches across the pages. The illustrations enhance the soaring and exaggerated words in a perfect partnership of color, stroke and energy.

The accompanying CD delivers are vibrant narration of alternating voices which bring the story to life and offer a listening treat for readers.

Imani's Moon.61YPVqXJl2L._SX398_BO1,204,203,200_

Imani’s Moon by JaNay Brown-Wood touches on a topic all too familiar to children: teasing or bullying. Imani is unusually small and the other children in her village tease her about her diminutive size and disparage her efforts to accomplish things. Their dismissive taunts hurt but Imani is unbroken. Instead, she is galvanized into action. Determined to outshine her larger–and less compassionate–peers, Imani sets a goal and then doggedly pursues it.

Mimicking her tribes famous jumping dance the adumu,  Imani practices and practices jumping as she strives to achieves her goal of touching the moon. Readers will enjoy Imani’s spunk and can identify with wanting to prove themselves. The taste of Masai culture is an added bonus. Vividly colored illustrations serve the story well.

Imani’s Moon has won Children’s Book of the Year Principal’s Award from the National Association of Elementary School Principals.

#AAQ Spin: Adoptees have the unique experience of knowing their lives might have been vastly different had they been raised by their birth families instead of being adopted. This reality lends itself to wondering various possible scenarios of their alternate, “unadopted” lives. Sometimes these thoughts are wildly thrilling and include royal lineage, lavish wealth and indulgent parents. Sometimes these fantasies can be more conservative while other versions may include dire circumstances, and tragic figures.

A light-hearted story like this one could segue into conversations that explore how they might spin a tall tale about their own lives. Adoption needn’t be mentioned but it might seep into the story at the edges. Parents can assess if it makes sense to insert it into the discussion.

Discaimer: I won these books and have received no compensation in exchange for these unbiased reviews.

A World of Color, Shapes and Beauty–with a Latino Flair

Diverse Children’s Books is a brand new 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, May 7th and will continue on the first and third Saturdays of each month.

Most Clicked Post from Last Time

The diverse post that received the most clicks from the last #diversekidlit is … Diverse Children’s Book Celebrating Cultural Traditions by Adrienne at Reading Power Gear. She shares seven great picture books focusing on different cultural traditions including Divali, Chinese New Year, and more!

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April marks the twentieth anniversary

of National Poetry Month.

National Poetry Month.PicMonkey CollageBoth Round Is a Tortilla, and Green Is a Chile Pepper by Roseanne Greenfield Thong and illustrated by John Parra and From the Bellybutton of the Moon and Other Summer Poems by Francisco X. Alarcón make delightful choices to mark the observance and are good additions to your family reading list.

When searching for other good book suggestions, look for the hashtags


#ReadYourWorld and



Round is a tortilla.61bzAGqWvTL._SY498_BO1,204,203,200_Both Round Is a Tortilla, and Green Is a Chile Pepper are a visual delight that captures the joy of family, the importance of culture and the distinctions of basic concepts (color and shape.). And it do it all with an exuberant celebration of Latino culture.

Round Is a Tortilla is a concept book that accomplishes dual goals well. While it depicts the distinctions of the basic shapes, it accomplishes this with a lively Latino flair. Thong artfully sprinkles Spanish words throughout the text. Readers will easily decrypt their meaning from the context and illustrations. Both books include a glossary to further clarify their meaning.

Green is a chili pepper.61qSNkL1RAL._AC_AA160_Similarly, Green Is a Chile Pepper a Pura Belpré Honor Book by the same author/illustrator team captures the beauty of color, cuisine and culture in this nod to Mexican heritage and family life. This is a treat for the eyes, the ears and the heart. Kids will enjoy this peek into this colorful world.




Bellybutton of the Moon.51Zxc1GLf7L._SX353_BO1,204,203,200_Alarcón’s From the Bellybutton of the Moon and Other Summer Poems is a bilingual book. From it’s kid-friendly title to its unbridled celebration of the world–especially Mexican culture, this book delivers. Children can enjoy the beautiful imagery and poetic rhythms in both languages.

This will help them acquire an appreciation of each and can help trigger an interest in learning to speak more than one language. The brilliantly colored illustrations add to the the sensory wallop of this entertaining book.





AQ Lens: Each of the previous books celebrates and therefore, values Latino culture.  Any time we can expose young readers to messages of tolerance and inclusivity, we all benefit. Whether as members of minority families or not, we all benefit from expanding the cultural appreciation for difference and appreciating the value such difference delivers.

Adoption is one obvious way families can be different but it is hardly the only one. We want our families to be equally valued and respected so must we teach our children to hold other people, families, and cultures with respect and acceptance too.

We Must Come Together in Community

sea astersSpring officially arrived on March 20, 2016. With the return of warmer temperatures, new plant life and longer days our hearts lift. Good thing, because in today’s political climate optimism and collaboration are in short supply. Today we review four books sure to rekindle our spirits and to remind us that we share more in common than not. We rededicate ourselves to seeing the humanity in others. Through that lens, we seek to build a better world for ourselves and the people we love.

Music Everywhere Music Everywhere1i2rfcs3eL._SY388_BO1,204,203,200_displays a wide variety of instruments from cultures around the world. Photographs capture the joy that music brings to both musicians and audiences. Kids will especially appreciate that it features children in the photos. Brief text highlights the energy, movement and joy that music contributes. Music Everywhere is a five star book from Global Fund for Children. Five Stars.


What We Wear.51zbLGwDTVL._SY381_BO1,204,203,200_Also written by Maya Ajmera, Elise Hofer Derstine and Cynthia Pon, What We Wear is another Global Fund for Children Book. Similarly, the photo illustrations include images of children in a dazzling array of colors and designs. Brief text explains that “dressing up means celebrating who we are … and what we believe.” This book exudes energy and joy and will delight children while it reinforces a message of commonality. Five Stars.

HomeHome.51KaHSS1A7L._SX412_BO1,204,203,200_ by Carson Ellis is a  delightful riff on this theme of  commonality in diversity. The dramatic, oversize pencil and watercolor illustrations feature homes both real and whimsical, human and animal, local and exotic.  Cottage or castle, pirate ship or underground lair, palace or apartment, homes are as varied as the people and animals who create them. A fun, lighthearted read with an important core message: home is wherever we live.

Five Stars.



AQ Lens: Each of the previous books delivers an important message of inclusivity and commonality. I have repeatedly mentioned that adoptive families have a vested interest in broadening tolerance and stretching the cultural understanding about what is “normal,” “real,” and “valued.” Each of these books offers an appealing read that support this goal.


Everywhere Babies.51UqMGF3LyL._SX496_BO1,204,203,200_Everywhere Babies written by Susan Meyers and illustrated by Marla Frazee (She also wrote and illustrated Rollercoaster which I reviewed here earlier.) Is there anything as endearing, as heart-tugging as babies? This delightful book captures the everyday moments–and charms–of babies around the world. The sweet illustrations depict babies of  every color and culture as well as the families and communities that nurture them. Children will enjoy remembering when they were babies and seeing how “busy” they kept their families. Parents will identify with the exhausted folks who love and care for their children regardless of country or culture. A sweet and satisfying read. Five Stars.


AQ Lens: Like each of the books reviewed today, Everywhere Babies illustrates the common thread of humanity that people and families around the world share. It also offers a unique chance to explore conversations with adopted children about their early start in life. For children adopted in infancy, it can repeat family stories of their arrival and early years. For kids adopted internationally, Everywhere Babies offers a chance to look at how the culture of origin might have welcomed and supported your child until they were adopted. For kids adopted from foster care or after other trauma, it opens an important window to talking about how adoptive parents wished they could have been there and might suggest ways they would have nurtured  children.