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.

DiverseKidLit

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.

Why?

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.

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300

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.

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300

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.

 

Making Room for All: Diversity in Action

baseball saved us.61-dEXqKjLL._SY393_BO1,204,203,200_

Baseball Saved Us by Ken Mochizuki and illustrated by Dom Lee is especially relevant in today’s climate of intolerance and anti-immigration. Baseball is considered by many to be our national past time. In 1942, the United States gathered Japanese Americans, stripped them of their property, forcibly relocated them, and temporarily housed them in horse stalls! Ultimately these families were interned in isolated desert camps.

With little to do, few resources and the constant surveillance of armed guards, tensions grew between the authorities as well as among the internees themselves. It is ironic that these citizens turned to baseball as a way to cope.

Baseball Saved Us  serves as both a cautionary tale of how unbridled hate and suspicion can destroy lives and lead countries astray. It is also a brilliant story about how to confront and survive bullying. Four Stars!

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300AQ* Lens Chock full of potential leads to conversations about overcoming difficult circumstances and/or ethnic differences as well as bullying, this story can be read many times. Each visit can explore these talking point from a fresh vantage point. The story describes how the young people rejected their elders, turned to disrespect and anger as a response to their difficult circumstances. Since many adoptees also follow this strategy, the story provides a chance to scrutinize this choice from a less personally direct angle.

Weedflower.51VUwRNliVL._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_For families with teens, Weedflower by Newbery medal-winning author  Cynthia Kadohata is also an excellent book on  the unjust internment of Japanese-Americans. The characters are well drawn. By narrating the story through a child’s eyes, young readers can identify more easily with her plight and with the injustice that created this shameful part of American history.

In addition to the challenge of coping with internment, the teens face the universal issues of adolescence: peer intolerance, family dynamics, young love, and interracial relationships. (The camp at which this story is set is adjacent to a Native American reservation. They too, face challenging circumstances because of their confinement to the inhospitable location.) This plot point explores intolerance and prejudice from an additional angle.

Four Stars!

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300AQ* Lens This book targets an older audience and offers a chance to explore the same themes mentioned above from a greater depth, e.g, interracial dating. This is an experience that many adoptive families will face. A story like this one allows discussions to occur long before it becomes a reality within a family. Such conversations can help both young reader and parent to explore their thoughts and feelings and perhaps unmask information that might otherwise remain unexplored and unexamined.

Sixteen Years.61tDb7FK3ZL._SY400_BO1,204,203,200_In Sixteen Years in Sixteen Seconds by Paula Yoo and illustrated by Dom Lee sport again features as the tool that both highlights and ultimately triumphs over prejudice and bigotry. Students may be familiar with the history of banning African-Americans from parks, restaurants, hotels, schools, community pools, etc. Students may not realize that people of other races also faced similar discrimination.

Sammy Lee’s life story is inspiring from the angle anti-discrimination but also as an example of dedication and determination to succeed.

Four Stars!

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300AQ* Lens This book recounts how important persistence and dedication to one’s dreams can be. It also sets a backdrop about the history of anti-Asian sentiment in this county. This provides an important chance to explore cultural beliefs and myths about Asians which Asian-American adoptees face on a daily basis.

 

Strictly No Elephants.61v2C6aJBZL._SX449_BO1,204,203,200_Strictly No Elephants by Lisa Mantchev and illustrated by Taeeun Yoo presents a heart-warming riff on friendship, inclusion and tolerance.  The story opens with a young boy interacting with his special pet: a tiny elephant. They do lots of things together, help one another and share experiences as best friends always do. When the boy decides to bring his pet elephant to the local celebration of Pet Club Day, he  discovers elephants are not welcome.

Forlorn, he  trudges off. On his way home he encounters another child whose pet skunk also had been banned from joining the Pet Club festivities. They comfort one another and develop the perfect solution. They establish their own club, a place where “All are welcome.”

Yoo’s charming illustration suit the story well and depict an array of ethnicities–and animal species!–which reinforces the story’s message of inclusivity and tolerance. The text flows reveals a lovely telling of friendship-in-action that every reader can understand and emulate. Five Stars!

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300AQ* Lens While making some very important points about inclusion and acceptance, this book accomplishes its goal with great subtlety. Instead of becoming angry, the two main characters face their situation with action and partnership. They are problem solvers not victims! This is a great model for all kids, especially those whose histories include difficult and/or traumatic starts.

 

separate is never equal.61+DUdFaUSL._AC_US160_Separate Is Never Equal, a multi-award-winning book written and illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh tells the story of Mexican-American Sylvia Mendez and how her family fought for desegregation. They were instrumental in ending school segregation in California seven years prior to the  historic Supreme Court Case, Brown v. Board of Education. They demonstrated great bravery in the face of discrimination

Separate Is Never Equal, provides an excellent companion story to Strictly No Elephants because it debunks the falsity that separate can be equal, and points out that isolation and division lead to misunderstanding, fear and inequality. This story models the importance of standing up for one’s rights, for being willing to demand the civil rights that every person deserves.

Tonatiuh’s gorgeous artwork is reminiscent of Mayan glyphs, an important element of cultural pride for Mexican-Americans. Five Stars!

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300AQ* Lens What a great example of ethnic pride and valuing all parts of one’s history. For adoptees from other nations or cultures, this is a good story about preserving culture while insisting on having one’s full measure of their rights as Americans. All parts of their story have value. All parts of themselves have value.

The same is true for others. Just as each of us deserves to be respected and accepted, we must offer the same respect and acceptance in return.

All Sing Same Voice.51k2csmqwfL._SX398_BO1,204,203,200_We All Sing in the Same Voice by J. Philip Miller and illustrated by  Paul Meisel celebrates harmony and commonality. Because it is told in the first person, it reinforces the shared humanity of all people.  “I” am…” each of these people, “I am … ” mankind and mankind is me. And “I am …” the one who can demonstrate acceptance and respect for each of these aspects of diversity.

Joyous illustrations depict a broad array of people, each of whom has similar needs, thoughts, desires and inclinations. This book is based on the Sesame Street song of the same title.

A digital sound track is available on Amazon. Five Stars!

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300AQ* Lens This book is a delight. Exuberant illustrations capture individuals, families, locations and activities of every stripe. This warm celebration of diversity and acceptance is an important theme for adoptees.

 

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

Being Family–Nuclear and World

On the heels of Mother’s Day we review books that expand our understanding of what it means to be part of a family and that validate the spectrum of family constellations in our children’s world.

The Family Book .51eLY1EkfZL._SY498_BO1,204,203,200_ The Family Book  written and illustrated by Todd Parr with his signature bold style and brevity, captures the variety and importance of family. His illustrations include diverse “races” (pink, blues, yellow, green, etc.), numbers, and configurations–including single parents as well as same-gender parents. The colorful illustrations catch the eye, hold the reader’s attention and affirm the idea that family is about love and connection.

 

 

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300 AQ Lens: For adopted children this book can offer a way of discussing differences like race and/or family composition in an abstract way: pink, green and blue people which offers an insulating layer that may make it feel less “personal” and those “safer” to explore. #AAQ

 

Who We Are. 61AGqwNYmoL._SX451_BO1,204,203,200_Who We Are by Robie H. Harris and illustrated by Nadine Bernard Westcott, is subtitled: All about Being the Same and Being Different, is straightforward in its efforts to validate diversity in individuals and in their families. It goes into greater detail than Parr’s The Family Book and is appropriate for a slightly older reader. Using the concept of visiting “Funland” as a logical place to encounter an array families, Who We Are focuses on the commonalities that we share and still affirms that each of us is unique.

The illustrations are broadly inclusive in terms of ethnicity, race, ability, family constellation and body type and activity preferences. The text describes how sometimes differences can make us hesitate or be afraid of people who differ from us in some way. It explains how melanin influences eye, hair and skin color and then reassures readers by highlighting the commonalities of fundamental humanity that we share.

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300 AQ Lens: For adopted children this book can offer an easy opening to discussing race as well as the many ways in which children can be both different and similar to their adopted families–and/or their birth families if they have an open adoption or knowledge of their birth information. The tone of the book is both affirming and supportive. #AAQ Kids can be both different & similar to both their families--adopted & birth. Click To Tweet

 

All the World.51vxq61dL0L._SY478_BO1,204,203,200_All the World  is written by Liz Garton Scanlon and illustrated by Marla Frazee, strives to picture the universals that all people and families share: family love, the pleasure of play–and its variety, parental nurturing, etc.  The book repeats the refrain: “All the world is …” then the detailed illustrations capture many ways in which each concept is embodied. The vignettes overflow with examples of variety; we see types of cars, boats, gardens, byways, weather, foods, etc. There’s truly something for everyone. The delicate rhymes conclude: Hope and peace and love and trust/ All the world is all of us.” Children will appreciate that the world surrounds us and is within ourselves as well.

I predict that this moody book will be one which readers will select from their shelves again and again.

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300 AQ Lens: adopted children this book can offer a chance to see diversity in a larger swath because the double spread illustrations depict many ways of seeing or experiencing a concept. Instead of seeing difference in an isolated moment or single example, it is seen as part of a complex fabric that holds the varying elements of the spectrum simultaneously.#AAQ Lens

 

Here Is the Baby here is the baby.51Vrd+LHFnL._SX436_BO1,204,203,200_ I predict that this moody book will be one which readers will select from their shelves again and again.by Polly Kanevsky follows a baby throughout his day. Readers travel with him from Mama retrieving him from his crib until she eases him down for his evening’s rest. During baby’s busy day, his parents and sibling, feed, care for and play with him. Clearly he is a well-loved and nurtured child.

Daddy is the one who walks sister to school, strolls baby around the neighborhood and brings him to the library for story time and plays with him at the park. This is a welcome depiction of hands-on fathering!

Although the family is Caucasian, some limited diversity is represented in the characters who appear in the background.

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300 AQ LensFor adopted children this book shows both parents as involved caretakers. though the story depicts a two-parent family, much of the story shows Dad doing the parenting. This may help it appeal to families that have only a father (or fathers). #AAQ Lens

 

 

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.

DiverseKidLit

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!

Hosted By:

Katie @ The Logonauts
Blog / Twitter / Facebook / PinterestBeth @ Pages and Margins
Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Pinterest

Carrie @ There’s a Book for That
Blog / Twitter

Crystal @ Reading Through Life and co-blogger @ Rich in Color
Blog / Twitter / Google+

Gayle Swift, Author of ABC, Adoption & Me
Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Google+

Marjorie @ Mirrors, Windows, and Doors
Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Pinterest

Mia @ Pragmatic Mom
Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Pinterest / Instagram

Myra @ Gathering Books< Blog / Twitter / Facebook

Interested in joining as a host or an occasional co-host? Contact Katie at 1logonaut (gmail).

Want to be notified when the next #diversekidlit linkup goes live? Click here to subscribe for notification emails.

(Never participated in a linkup before? Please click here for a more detailed step-by-step.)

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

#DiverseKidLit,

#ReadYourWorld and

#WNDB

 

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.

 

 

 

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300

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.

 

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300

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.

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300

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.

What Is Seen Depends on Where One Looks

As adoptive families we frequently experience the assault of being “othered.” Some people view our families with suspicion and with a subtle judgment of inferiority. Frequently this prejudice reveals itself in off-hand comments such as:

Bigotry word cloud concept

“What do you know about her “real” mother?

“Do you ever wish you had children of your “own”?

“How could she give him away?”

“How much did he cost?”

“He brings such chaos, why not just send him back?”

“You’re amazing; I could never love a child who wasn’t my own.”

I believe most people don’t intend to be hurtful or offensive but in their ignorance, they are. Their mistrust of anything perceived as “other” magnifies their fears. They demean what they do not know or understand. Their prejudice appears on levels both minor and major.

Bias is undeniably obvious in the temperature of current political discourse which grows increasingly less civil, less tolerant, and less respectful day by day. The easiest response is to tighten ranks around the status quo, esteeming that which is most similar to one’s circumstances, thoughts and experiences. It takes work to understand and familiarize oneself with the unknown. But it is work that must be done. To thrive as a family, as a community and as a country, we must pull together with mutual respect. We must not tolerate hits on our children’s culture, race, ethnicity, etc. We cannot afford to crush the dreams and talents of those who are different from the norm. We must not condone the “cloak of invisibiltiy” which traps children and people of color in pigeonholed boxes.

Rarely has the influential role of books loomed more pivotal. View this wonderful video by Grace Lin. She is the award-winning author of many books, among which is the classic, Dim Sum for Everyone. She focuses her Ted Talk on the needs of our children, however, her point is crucial for us all. Please watch her brief presentation and then review your family bookshelf. What changes would benefit your family?

Look for my future reviews of Grace’s many books.

 

where the montain meets.grace lin.Starry River.grace lin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dim Sum.51UFjAVVC4L._SY382_BO1,204,203,200_

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happiness Is…

happy. Pharrell.510abOYfFcL._SX407_BO1,204,203,200_It feels appropriate to conclude the month of February with a final nod to affairs of the heart. Beyond romance, each of us yearns to love and be loved. We wish to be seen and accepted as our authentic selves. We need to be appreciated for our differences as much as for what we have in common with family and friends. It is our differences that make us unique. This acceptance is difficult to achieve.

Ironically, it is often our own selves who are the most challenging to convince. That’s why a book like Happy by Pharrell Williams is an excellent choice to read as a family. The lyrics of Pharrell William’s song form the text of the book. Before reading this book, play the song. Can you feel your body itching to jump up and move? Go for it! Encourage your child to do the same.

The photo illustrations are wonderfully diverse and capture the energy of the song well. The notes included as back matter are n added bonus. Pharrell invites readers to become a Happy Helper, sprinkling seeds of happiness and contributing to the creation of a better world. This book is a delightful five star read!

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300AQ Lens: It is easy to get lost in the habit of waiting to be happy. We clutch the negative aspects to our hearts and minds to focus on what is missing; on some event/result that awaits us in the future; on the the conclusion of some restriction; on the accomplishment of some goal, etc..

We must teach our children to take the time to enjoy the blessings of what and who are in their lives in the present moment. This is not to invalidate their losses, yearnings and unfulfilled needs. Rather it is to teach them to hold a both/and mentality. (Although in adoption circles we usually think  about this concept in relation to valuing and respecting both birth family and adoptive family, this mindset is beneficial for all aspects of their lives.)

We truly bless our children when we succeed in teaching them how to hold and enjoy their life in spite of their trials, disappointments and losses–those rooted in adoption as well as those losses and frustrations originating elsewhere. To some extent, happiness is a practice we must learn to cultivate. It is an important skill we can teach our kids. Along the way we can carve out time to connect through having fun together which is a proven way to strengthen the ties that bind families together across time and distance.

Remember to look for reasons to be joyful; our personal example is our most effective teaching tool.

 

Happy in our skin.61UbYd7biJL._SX458_BO1,204,203,200_

The title Happy in Our Skin by Fran Manushkin, illustrated by Lauren Tobia pretty much captures the message of this book. Richly diverse illustrations capture children and their families in various activities. Readers will notice that regardless of ethnicity, culture or physical ability, families interact and love the same. Children will also learn that skin has important function: “It keep the outsides out and the insides in.” All people have this in common. Skin presents obvious differences as well: color, texture, freckles, dimples, even goose pimples.

Happy in Our Skin can create an easy opportunity to have some important conversations about race. This can help parents lay the groundwork for tolerance, acceptance and for the end of racism.

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300AQ Lens:Race matters. “Color blindness” is a misguided strategy for nurturing racial harmony and racial identity. It is essential for transracial adoptive families to have consistent conversation on the topic. Parents must ensure that they are encouraging a reality-based discourse not one that is sanitized because it is easier to pretend race is less of an issue than it is.

Adult adoptees who were adopted into transracial and/or trans-cultural families have raised their voices to proclaim the absolute necessity to tackle issues of race with courage and openness. Happy in Our Skin offers an easy conversation starter. Like many difficult adoption-connected conversations, it is best to begin discussions at a young age.

This accomplishes two things. First, it affirms that parents want to talk about it and are capable of hearing the real story. The good. The bad. And the ugly. This allows parents to provide loving support for children facing tough experiences themselves. It also educates children who are not transracial adoptees to have empathy, understanding and a willingness to be part of the solution instead of part of the problem.

Second, it prepares children with information, strategies and validates their true experiences.

 

Life’s Path: One Heart, One Compass

Heart-shaped pond in a tropical forest

More than any other month, February focuses our attention on affairs of the heart. Usually this conjures thoughts of romance or affection. Let’s consider instead, another vital role our hearts play: they help us to connect with our core Purpose and values. Our hearts have an inner knowing that recognizes the what and why of our lives. Of course, children are not consciously aware of such conceptual thoughts. Yet they have an intuitive ability to understand metaphor and the way it can explain big ideas.


North Star.border.3The North Star
written and illustrated by Peter Reynolds, is a gem of a book that explores the notion of a guiding purpose, a compass to follow throughout our lives. As the boy travels through life, he recognizes that he is on a journey. He comes to understand that everyone must  follow the inner knowing of one’s heart to carve out a life.

Sometimes one is content to follow a well-trodden path commonly pursued by many. Blindly “following the well-worn path, he had a growing feeling that he was lost.” He discovers the importance of taking the path less traveled, the one that only he can blaze. He comes to appreciate that each of us journeys on our own path.

Beautiful illustrations in ink and watercolor perfectly capture the dreamy and magical quality of the story. Five Stars

star

starstarstarstar

 

 


magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300

AQ Lens:  In an effort to “fit in,” adopted children often find it easier to follow the traditional patterns of their adoptive family. They may  do this for many reasons: to “please” parents; to avoid looking different; because they believe they aren’t “allowed” to be different; or for another reason.

The North Star opens an easy opportunity to talk about remaining true to oneself, of listening to that quiet inner voice that frames the core of who one is. Parents might want to directly reinforce their desire to nurture their child’s talents, both those they have in common as well as those that stem from the child’s biology.

Adoptive families must constantly convey that both/and attitude that emphasizes love, acceptance and appreciation of their child’s dual heritage and reassure children that they need not surrender or suppress part of themselves in a mistaken notion that it is unwelcome.

You Be You.51zzPRl18oL._SY439_BO1,204,203,200_
You Be You
 by Linda Kranz is a riotous fest of color and whimsy with a big message. It celebrates individuality and commonality in equal measure. Some “fish” are big, some little; some swim with the group; some swim on a solitary journey. Each is following their compass. “We all have something special that only we can share.” There’s a place for all.

Graffitti-style messages decorate the end papers. Each one invites discussion.

Five Stars

star

starstarstarstar

 


magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300

AQ Lens:  Adoptive families will want to frequently explore concepts like individuality, commonality and difference. Each stands as an important part of the dynamics in adoption. Conversations can, in age-appropriate language explore the idea of being genuine–often a “hot” topic for adoptive families.

Questions worth exploring are: What is a “real” family? “Real parent” “Real” sibling? How is each family member both unique and different? Why do both have value? How does difference/similarity enrich families?

Readers might want to check out, Only One You also by Linda Kranz which also focuses on the importance of being one’s best self.

Only One You.51799cG5plL._SY426_BO1,204,203,200_