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.

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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.

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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!

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

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(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.

 

 

 

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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.

 

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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.

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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

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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

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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_

 

My Heart Is Like A Zoo? — Talk About Love

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

What Is #DiverseKidLit?

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

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

DiverseKidLit

We hope this community will grow into a great resource for parents, teachers, librarians, publishers, and authors! Our next linkup will be Saturday, February 18th and on the first and third Saturdays of every month.

Upcoming Theme

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

  • February 18th linkups: Love. Let’s continue to spread our love of diverse books by sharing diverse books about love, families, and relationships.
  • March 4th and 18th: Changing Seasons. As we eagerly await the beginning of Spring in the Northern Hemisphere and Autumn in the Southern, let’s share favorite books and resources on the seasons.

Most Clicked Post from Last Time

Our most-clicked post from last time was Marjorie’s review of IBBY Review: Roses Are Blue by Sally Murphy and Gabriel Evans on Mirrors Windows Doors. This novel in verse shares the struggles of a young girl trying to process her new life after her mother is severely injured in a car accident.

My DiverseKidLit Shout-Out

Now more than ever, we need to share and promote books by and about Muslims, and a great place to start is Kitaab World‘s new series on Countering Islamophobia through Stories. The first entry is a book list featuring Muslim Kids as Heroes. I am also delighted to welcome Gauri, CEO and co-founder of Kitaab World, as a co-host!

#DiverseKidLit is Hosted by:

Katie @ The Logonauts   Blog / Twitter / Facebook / PinterestCarolina @ La Clase de Sra. DuFault   Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Google+

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

Jane @ Rain City Librarian   Blog / Twitter / Instagram

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

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

Myra @ Gathering Books   Blog / Twitter / Facebook

Guest Hosts for February

Gauri @ Kitaab World   an online bookstore for South Asian children’s books, toys and games
Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Instagram

Shoumi Sen, Author of Toddler Diaries   Blog / Twitter / Facebook

Want to be notified when the next #diversekidlit linkup goes live? Click here to join the mailing list. Interested in joining as a host or an occasional co-host? Contact katie at thelogonauts.com.

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

Get #DiverseKidLit Recommendations on Pinterest!

Our Pinterest board highlights a wide range of amazing posts and resources for Diverse Children’s Books. Please consider following the board for even more great books!

Changing One’s “Spots” and Other Compromises

naughty nice.A slender and wiggly thread divides contrariness from being true to oneself. As our kids learn to discern the difference, we parents must deal with the confusion, frustration and—Dare we say it?—the irritation. Teaching our kids how to think for themselves, choose well and not follow the crowd takes patience and practice.

Lots. And. Lots. Of. Patience. And. Practice.

Theirs and ours!

This requires us as parents to encourage kids to explore, make choices–and mistakes–so they can discover their talents, manage their emotions and, nurture resilience and perseverance.

This post will review several picture books that focus on the inherent conflict between conforming and standing out in the crowd. A tall order for a simple picture book, right? But this group accomplishes the task with humor and fun.

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Little Pea and Little Oink, both written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and illustrated by Jen Corace invert the “normal” behavioral expectations children face. Little Pea must eat his candy–such a trial!–before his parents allow him to savor his vegetables! How’s that for a backwards and fun switcheroo? Kids will delight in this silly twist.

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Little oink.419Y2Va9sbL._SX482_BO1,204,203,200_Amy Krouse Rosenthal reprises a similar premise in Little Oink which features a neatnik pig who yearns to leave the mandatory messiness behind and settle into the comforting refuge of his spic-and-span tree house. (Sounds inviting and positively zen, doesn’t it?)

Most everyone yearns to fit in. While compromise and flexibility have their place, some kids feel compelled to sacrifice themselves so others will accept them. Kids must learn to set and hold boundaries about themselves and know when they must stand true and unchanged.

Five stars  ∗∗∗∗∗

spots in a boxSpots in a Box by Helen Ward tells of a guinea fowl who lacks any spots which is disastrous, if you’re a guinea fowl. He can’t fit in and feels “made him odd/ cause the others had lots.” Young readers know what it feels like to be odd one out, so they can easily identify with the story line. The young fowl creates a solution–he ends out a letter asking for others to send him some spots. His request yields some unexpected and fun results. Fowl comes to understand that the best way to attract friends, is to be content with himself. Five stars  ∗∗∗∗∗

 


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AQ Lens: Adopted children consistently report feeling “othered”, like they don’t quite fit in their families, circles of friends, classrooms, etc. It is essential that these feelings be validated, not dismissed or minimized. It is equally important that our kids experience the richness and joy that results when everything and everyone is not cookie-cutter-identical.

Books like those included in this post help kids see the value in being comfortable being themselves. These books also invite them to wonder what might happen if things unfolded in unexpected and unique ways.

Read more about adoptees feeling “othered.” 

 

 

 

Vanilla & Chocolate-A Bilingual Book Looks at Racism

Vanilla&Chocolate.51RjBCxYlML._SX348_BO1,204,203,200_Increasingly, adoptive families have come to understand the importance of talking about race, of awakening ourselves to the subtleties of white privilege, microagressions and how color blindness is a misguided solution to racism.  Chocolate & Vanillaillustrated  by Estella Mejia and written by Maritza Mejia, explores racism for readers ages 5-8. A teacher, Mrs. M, notices that Vanilla and Chocolate, two former friends no longer play with each other. She learns this is because Vanilla’s parents did not approve of their son’s interracial friendship.

To combat this problem the teacher organizes, “Black and White Day,” a special parent-child activity day at the park. Families bring traditional foods which they share. Watching their children play peacefully together, hearts and minds open. They come to understand that a friend is a friend whether they are the same race or not.

Because Mejia’s simple story unfolds in both English and Spanish, it also serves double duty as a way to assist readers of either language improve their non-native vocabulary. Four stars

Maritza 91m+DIWpqtL._UX250_Grandma's Treasure.51gVem2naBL._UY250_Maritza Martinez Mejia a bilingual substitute teacher born in Colombia lives in Florida with her husband and their two teenagers. For her active participation and service to the community, she is the recipient of the “Crystal Apple Award 2006.”

Maritza published her memoir “Hazel Eyes” (2010), “Vanilla and Chocolate” (2012), “Grandma’s Treasure” (2014), and “Poems, Thoughts and More” (2015). She won the FAU Treasure Coast Poetry Contest Spring 2010 and Virtue Christian Book Awards for Best Poetry 2015. Both Bilingual Children Books received a FIVE Stars Seal Review by Reader’s Favorite.

 

MCBD Logo

 

 Multicultural Children’s Book Day has 12 amazing Co-Hosts. View them here.

MCBD.Mission

The Mission of Multicultural Children’s Book Day is: to spread the word and raise awareness about the importance of diversity in children’s literature. Our young readers need to see themselves within the pages of a book and experience other cultures, languages, traditions and religions within the pages of a book. We encourage readers, parents, teachers, caregivers and librarians to follow along the fun book reviews, author visits, event details, a multicultural children’s book linky and via our hashtag (#ReadYourWorld) on Twitter and other social media.

MCBD.Co-creators

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2016 Medallion Level Sponsors!

Platinum: Wisdom Tales PressStory Quest Books, Lil Libros

Gold: Author Tori Nighthawk, Candlewick Press Bharat Press

Silver: Lee and Low Books, Chronicle Books, Capstone Young Readers New York Media Works,LLC/KidLit TV

Bronze: Pomelo Books, Author Jacqueline Woodson, Papa Lemon Books,

Goosebottom Books, Author Gleeson Rebello, Shout Mouse Press,

Author Mahvash Shahegh, China Institute.orgLive Oak Media

Multicultural Children’s Book Day has 12 amazing Co-hosts and you can view them here.
Teachers, we invite you to spread the word to your teacher/librarian/classroom connections so; get them involved in this program. There is no cost to teachers and classrooms. You can help by tweeting the below info:
Teachers! Earn a FREE Multicultural.MCBD.2#Multicultural Kids Book for Your Classroom!
#teachers, #books #teacherlife  http://ow.ly/UUy96

The Classroom Reading Challenge has begun! Teachers can earn a free #Diversity MCBD.Diversitybook! #teachers, #books  http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/?p=1796

Classroom Reading Challenge:Help spread the word on our  Classroom Reading Challenge . This very special offering from MCCBD offers teachers and classrooms the chance to (very easily) earn a free hardcover multicultural children’s book for their classroom library. These books are not only donated by the Junior Library Guild, but they are pre-screened and approved by them as well.

MCCBD 2016 Classroom Reading Challenge!

Multicultural Children’s Book Day Classroom Reading Challenge-

Get a FREE Diversity Book for Your Classroom Library!

MCCBD Classroom Reading Challenge

Teachers! We want to help you build your classroom library with diverse, inclusive and multicultural books! Here’s how to get a free book through Multicultural Children’s Book Day on January 27th. You can also win a Skype author visit with a children’s book author! We will draw a winner from the teachers who signed up. This year the Skype author visit is with (to be announced).

LATEST EXCITING UPDATE! Junior Library Guild has agreed to sponsor this portion of the MCCBD 2016 event and donate up to 200 books for classrooms and teachers!

Junior Library Guild

The Classroom Reading Challenge is a new project for us but it is a way for teachers to sign up, read up to four multicultural books in their classroom and earn a free multicultural book from us. Having Junior Library Guild on board assures that the free book classrooms earn from MCCBD is a pre-screened, library-quality book that maps to Common Core. This is a HUGE and exciting benefit for this project.

Multicultural Children’s Book Day: Diversity Classroom Reading Challenge for Teachers

Step 1: TEACHERS sign up your classroom here.

Step 2:Read books! (Diversity picture book list for 4th grade, 5th grade, 6th grade, 7th grade, 8th grade tied to Core Curriculum.) No quota. No catch. Just read :)

We will send you a diverse title FOR FREE!!

Want to win more diversity books?

Get your students involved in our reading competition! Have your students submit the books they read during the month of January.

We will hold raffles of book packages for everyone who submits. PLUS we will award book packages to the top 10 classrooms. Click HERE for a printable PDF of the above information

Teacher Sign Up is below:

Thank you so much for your support!

 

For questions or concerns, email MCCBD Project Manager, Becky Flansburg at Becky@AudreyPress.com

2016 Author Sponsors

Introducing our Author Sponsors for MCCBD 2016!

Lisa YeeJoseph BruchacJacqueline JulesValerie TrippDebbie DadeyTodd DeBonisMaría de Lourdes VictoriaSherrill CannonPack-n-Go Girls®D.G. DriverJanet BallettaJ. J. ParsonsCharlotte RiggleMiranda PaulLeza LowitzAnn BerlakMarti DumasCarl GundestrupCarole P. RomanCathleen BurnhamHeidi Smith HydeGreg RansomKeila DawsonStephanie WorkmanGloria D. GonsalvesStephen HodgesQuentin HolmesJeaninne Escallier KatoKarl BeckstrandFrancesca FostP.J. LaRueFrancesca ForrestDiana Lee SantamariaTerrie HoopsCerece Rennie MurphyZ. AltugHoliday House PublishingMaria DismondyMichael SmithIcy SmithAphrodyi AntoineElsa TakaokaErik NielMarimba BooksKaren Leggett AbourayaShout Mouse PressKaneMiller EDC PublishingShweta AggarwalDurga Yael BernhardLorRonCoHeather GoetzDania Ramos Daryl OConnell, Zetta Elliot,Effie Hill,Firoozeh Dumas ,DuEwa Frazier, Ben Woodard,Susan Ross, Sandra L. Richards, Dania Santana, Author Kala Sambasivan, Elizabeth Atkinson, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for Young Readers, Scavenger Hunt Adventures, Year of the Cat Books,Sarah J. Stevenson,Gayle H. SwiftPatrick Hill, Bruce Hale,