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.

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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!

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.

 

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 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,

 

Filling Your Child’s World With Color

 

Father reading book to daughter

There is a new level of understanding of the role of race in adoption. We now understand that color blindness is both a myth and a folly. Instead, adoptive families must remove the blinders and have the courage to talk about race in myriad ways. Books offer an easy way of opening and exploring these conversations.

It is a truism that books serves as both mirrors and windows–mirrors of our child’s particular experience and windows onto the wider world. We must include books that perform both tasks. Share books that reflect our child’s life and books that also reveal alternate communities, cultures and, experiences. The first type of book connects children to their own world, helps them to understand and function in it. The second type showcase people, places and activities that are different. Reading such books expand  children’s horizons, nurture empathy and allay fears of difference.

global babies.2Humans beings tend to fear that which is different and unfamiliar. Technology and the internet have exploded the old confines of living in a small world. It is important to help our children develop the ability to live in the global world that is their reality.

Commit to choosing books that include a range of characters. Explore stories about other cultures. As reported in this CNN article, the American Academy of Pediatricians advises parents to read daily to their children from birth! We can begin fulfilling this intentional commitment to diversity even when reading with our babies!

Global Babies by the Global Fund for Children is a sweet board book that features close-up photographs of babies’ faces, each from a different country around the world. Global Babies is my five-month-old grandson’s favorite book. He squeals with delight with each page turn.

Whose toes.51nLIrSf+3L._AA160_Whose knees.3.51+A-sReFuL._AA160_Charmingly illustrated by LeUyen Pham, two books written by Jabari Asim: Whose Toes Are Those? and Whose Knees Are These? connect with my grandson in two ways: they mirror his world because like most babies, he has toes and knees and has experienced the activities depicted in the book. Since the illustrations feature African-American characters, the books also serve as a window onto another culture, thus blending both the familiar and the different. (Since both author and illustrator are not Caucasian, these two books offer an added diversity bonus!)

Peekaboo Morning.51UIgUdfHpL._AA160_Peekaboo is a universal game so it is not surprising that my grandson also enjoy Peekaboo Morning by author-illustrator, Rachel Isadora. The illustrations primarily feature an African-American family but also include the toddler’s friend who is Caucasian.

These four board books have universal appeal and make a fabulous and important addition to the family library and help lay the foundation for multiculturalism early in a child’s life.

 

“Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas”– A Twisted Fairy Tale

In Natasha Yim’s picture book, Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas, a familiar fairy tale is retold through a Chinese cultural lens and presents readers with a delightful riff on the traditional Goldilocks yarn. All the basic memes appear: the bowls of porridge, the chairs and the beds but with an Asian twist. Several elements of Chinese culture appear scattered throughout the story: Chinese New Year,  turnip cakes fried to perfection, red envelops, almond cookies, dumplings and so much more. Illustrator Grace Yong uses bright acrylics to bring the story to life. Subtle details reinforce the Chinese flavor of the story.

The ending delivers a delightful surprise: Goldy Luck returns to the “scene of the crime” to make things right. Her effort is warmly received and she becomes friends with Little Chan.

The Author’s Note at the end of the story includes additional information about the Chinese Zodiac and the traditions surrounding Chinese New Year holiday observances which follow the lunar calendar. I rate Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas five stars

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magnifying lens AQ.2AQ Lens: Young readers will immediately recognize the Goldilocks similarity in  Goldy Luck and the Three Pandasand will enjoy this ethnic spin on the familiar tale. This book highlights the fun and richness of experiencing the ordinary and familiar through a new lens. The difference transforms and enlivens the tale.

It is an easy segue into discussions about what other parts of an adoptive family are fundamentally the same yet different.  Talking points can highlight that different does not mean less than or better than but simply different. Difference can be seen as an added facet, like the way sugar enlivens the taste of food.

Zong’s detailed illustrations invite exploration as readers search for the cultural spin on the ordinary backdrop of daily life. Challenge them to find something in every illustration. Ask them to imagine Goldilocks meeting Goldy Luck and have them tell you what the two might say and do.

A Full Moon Is Rising focuses on other moon festivals around the world and introduces children to a broader, world-wide sense of how people celebrate feasts and festivals. Commonalities and differences abound–we all celebrate events and cycles, we simply accomplish the observances in different ways. Once again, difference is served up as something to be appreciated instead of scorned.

Marilyn Singer’s poems which vary in style and length capture the flavor of the culture being highlighted. Julia Cairns’ watercolor illustrations create a dreamy mood and complement the poetry well.  As with any good picture book, the illustrations invite exploration for details that are not specifically stated in the text. I rate A Full Moon Is Rising four stars

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AQ Lens: Young readers respond to poetry and can find connection in this lovely book  as they recall celebrating various holidays, festivals and family traditions in their own families. Adoptive families can further their discussions by talking about the many ways adoptive families observe adoption-connected events.

(Parents should keep in mind that some adoptees find celebrations of their birthdays, arrival days, etc., to be emotional landmines. Some kids like to celebrate; others find themselves very stressed by them. And sometimes, they don’t even recognize the adoption connection as the trigger. Parents will need to be sensitive to this possibility. Please read another blog I wrote on Homecoming/Gotcha Day for additional discussion. )

 

Counting Books: “This Jazz Man” & Caldecott Winner: “Ten, Nine, Eight”

This Jazz Man.51p9J7dvhlL._SX383_BO1,204,203,200_This Jazz Man by Karen Ehrhardt and illustrated by R. G. Roth is a high energy, retelling of  the classic children’s song, “This Old Man.” It introduces readers to several famous black musicians and does it in a fun and appealing way. The catchy tune reverberates in your mind’s ear–or better yet, in your read-aloud voice as you sing the text to life.

Bold illustrations pair with a text rich in onomatopeia. Kids will itch to replicate the plinks, thumps and bob-de-bops. The counting aspect of the story is an added bonus. The end pages include biographical information which parents can share with their young readers. This Jazz Man succeeds on several levels: it delivers a powerful punch of fun, introduces readers to some of the great figures in Jazz and expands children’s knowledge of the contribution of black performers to the American musical lexicon.

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300 (1)The AQ lens: This is an excellent choice for adding a multicultural element to the family library. The educational and entertainment value are valid for all readers, regardless of race. For adoptive families committed to supporting diversity, this is a winner. For families touched by transracial adoption, it affirms the positive role blacks have played in the American music scene.

Music serves a special connection to emotions. Since this book almost insists on being “performed” as it is read, it opens a channel to a child’s interest in self-expression. Nearly all youngsters enjoy music. This Jazz Man is an excellent choice for beginning a process of encouraging music in a family.

Ten, Nine, Eight.61ecp0UXzwL._SY429_BO1,204,203,200_“Each year, the Caldecott Medal … is awarded … to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children.” (Quoted from the ALSC –Association for Library Service to Children website.) The 1984 winner, Ten, Nine, Eight illustrated and written by Molly Bang  stands the test of time. It offers simple text  and features an African-American child.

I particularly appreciate the illustrations depict Daddy and daughter together. Many books feature moms and their children. When one shows an involved dad, it is always welcome!  The scenes depicted have a gentle, nurturing tone that follow  the little girl from bath time to bedtime. A sweet, relaxing book, it would be an excellent choice not only for multicultural families but for any family.

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300 (1)The AQ lens: This is a quality book that includes an African-American child. The language is straightforward and free of slang or dialect; the setting is a cozy home that could be urban or rural, thus open to the child’s interpretation. The colorful illustrations invite exploration and offer great conversation opportunities. Although adoption is never mentioned, because the dad is depicted but not mother, it could be especially well suited to a family parented by a single adoptive dad and/or two dads.

 

“You Can Do It!

You Can Do it.61Sy9tW0zOL._SX218_BO1,204,203,200_QL40_FMwebp_“You can do it!”  Those are words we all like and need to hear. The belief which others have in our ability fuels one’s own courage, willingness to try and persist through to success. This is especially true for children. They need our focused attention and thrive under the positive expectations of parents and teachers. (Equally true, kids who constantly hear negative, discouraging or demeaning messages, absorb those as well. They soon learn to expect little of themselves.) The self-fulfilling power of expectations is well documented.

What a delight it was to discover You Can Do It which was written by #1 New York Times best-selling author and professional football player Tony Dungy and illustrated by Amy June Bates. In the story, Linden wrestles with feelings of doubt and shame. Teachers mistake his restlessness for mischief. Linden can’t seem to figure out who he is and who he wants to be.

With the mentorship of a patient older brother, the encouragement of his parents, and the compass of the family’s Christian faith, Linden learns to notice and value his unique talents. Now, the success of those around him inspire him instead of making him feel inferior.

You Can Do It is upbeat and not overly preachy.  The wonderful illustrations by Amy June Bates depict Linden and his family feature a middle-class African-American family living in a multicultural community. I like that You Can Do It  depicts African-Americans in successful, professional occupations, e.g., Linden’s dad is a scientist and the family dentist is also black. This is an important for all readers, regardless of their own race.

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300 (1)AQ Lens: I believe this book transmits an important message for kids who were adopted. Because information is frequently missing, they may have to struggle harder to recognize and appreciate their talents. The message of You Can Do It  is that sometimes it takes time for one’s gifts to manifest themselves and it doesn’t lessen their importance. Parents must be alert for indicators of potential talents that their children may possess and will want to nurture them–especially those that diverge from the adoptive family’s “typical” choices. Be intentional about encouraging children to be their best selves, so they develop all their abilities even those which “stand out” from the family’s history. Both parents and children will be enriched by this diversity.

For families who have adopted transracially, it is a plus to see a family of color that is not the stereotypical struggling urban family. This is also an important example for families who are not racially mixed as it helps them step beyond the limited view of success as primarily limited to Caucasians. All families can benefit from the earnest values espoused: hard work, persistence, faith, community, studying etc.

A five star read.

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Tony Dungy has written fifteen books. In addition to his children’s books, he has written several for adults as well. He  supports many charitable causes. Visit his author page on Amazon for details.

Libraries Open Worlds and Conversations

Lola at library.51iJdPufLuL._SX433_BO1,204,203,200_ Lola at the Library written by Anna McQuinn and illustrated by Rosalind Beardshaw, has garnered numerous awards*. It deserves each one of them. The story is engaging and features Lola, a sweet African-American girl as the main character. Lola is so excited about her weekly visit to the library, she can’t sleep. She awakens her mother early so they can get ready (with plenty of time to spare!) Lola packs her bag with the books she needs to return, grabs her library card and walks to the library with her mother. Once they arrive, Lola hands the books to the librarian, then she enjoys visiting with the other children. They sing songs, listen to story time, and then choose new books to take home. Lola and her mother enjoy their walk home. At bedtime, they snuggle together and read Lola’s new books.

Lola at the Library portrays three strong messages. The most obvious: the library is a fun place to visit. Second, Books captivate Lola’s imagination and she loves choosing and reading.  Third, mother certainly values reading. After all, she’s spending her time and energy to take Lola to the library and to read her selections to her. A fourth important, although more subtle, message is that mother values reading for herself too. Young readers will intuit this because each time mother and Lola visit the library, mother also selects her own reading material.

We know that parental actions teach our children more persuasively than our words. Mother’s actions live out how she values reading. This reinforces Lola’s interest. Kids who love reading and are exposed to lots of books before they attend school usually fare much better in school. They have broader vocabularies and tend to learn how to read more easily and more quickly. his in turn, reduces stress and encourages kids to like school.

Finally a subtle but pivotal message threads through the story: Lola is repeatedly shown as capable and self-reliant. She gathers her own books. She fills her own backpack. She hands the books to the librarian. When kids are small, they enjoy helping and doing for themselves. Their initial efforts are usually clumsy, time consuming and less-than-perfect. Busy parents may find it hard to “watch and wait” as kids struggle to handle tasks. Patience pays off when kids master tasks. They build a pattern of self-sufficiency that nurtures independence. In the long run, it pays off for the entire family. When kids learn responsibility and independence, this frees parents from having to shoulder it.

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magnifying lens AQ.2AQ Lens*: Nurturing capability is an exceptionally important practice especially for adoptees who often wrestle with feelings of not being good enough. Building self-reliance results when the family approaches life as a learning conversation. Failure is accepted as the channel for mastery.

Another benefit of reading Lola at the Library  is the message it telegraphs that books create a shared moment between parent and child as they read together. This creates a model for young readers. If the family book shelf  has a wide selection including some on adoption children will see them as a great chance to open adoption conversations!

Beardshaw’s delightful illustrations include a mix of ethnicities in the library, story time and when Lola is out in the community.

 

AWARDS*

Bank Street College of Education’s The Best Children’s Books of the Year

Book-of-the-Month Cub, Alternate Selection

EarlyChildhoodNews Director’s Choice Award–Judges Selection

National Parenting Award, Honor

 

Anna McQuinn and illustrated by Rosalind Beardshaw have written two more Lola books. Lola Loves Books features Lola and her daddy while Lola Reads to Leo, tells how Lola reads to her new baby brother. Check them out!

 

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Lola Reads to Leo.51007CEiUpL._SX442_BO1,204,203,200_

 

 

 

 

 

One Family

one familyOne Family by George Shannon and Blanca Gomez presents a fascinating introduction into counting with a twist. The reader meets many types of family; each is one example of one kind of family.

We discover that a family can include a range of individuals, colors, ethnicities, and even species and still be one family! This offers a delightful riff on inclusion when it comes to recognizing the many types of families that are common today–and a few more unusual ones. The concept is clear: each is one  example of a family. The story concludes,

 

“One is one and everyone.

One earth. One world.

One Family.”

As adoptive families, we have a vested interest in this kind of acceptance and inclusion. The detailed and upbeat illustrations invite exploration–and counting–as well as identifying other “collective” nouns. Blanca Gomez, an internationally recognized illustrator, lives in Madrid, Spain.

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AQ Lens: The obvious message that families need not look similar, is one that adoptive families are wise to reiterate on a regular basis. This story has a wonderful sense of joy and humor in addition to its message of tolerance and acceptance. Parents might want to highlight the Hispanic heritage of the illustrator as a way of raising awareness and overtly supporting diversity in our families, books, communities through in our purchases.

we need diverse booksFor more information on the We Need Diverse Books  movement, visit their official website.

Making Dreams Come True

ballerina dreamsDreaming comes easily to most people but manifesting dreams requires more than wishing. As adoptive parents we are familiar with the power of a dream to motivate a relentless dedication of time, energy, resources and money. In Ballerina Dreams by Michaela and Elaine DePrince, readers meet two inspirational dreamers: the mother daughter authors who collaborated on this book. It follows Michaela’s dream to become a ballerina–something few black girls accomplish.

When Michaela began imagining this goal she was an orphan in Sierra Leone; it seemed improbable, a far-fetched possibility.  Most people would believe it an unachievable goal. But not Michaela. She believed in herself. She believed in her dream. And she knew how to work.

Challenges filled her life. In addition to losing her parents to war, Michaela suffered from a visible skin disease that destroyed some of the pigment in her skin. This left her looking “spotty” and vulnerable to teasing by the other children in the orphanage. Still, Michaela remained undeterred and held onto her dream to become a dancer.

Meanwhile far across the world in the United States, Elaine DePrince, an equally determined woman, dedicated herself to fulfilling  her own dream: to adopt a child war-torn from Sierra Leone. Ballerina Dreams shares their amazing story.

Michaela’s persistence and discipline matched the immensity of her dream. She moved far beyond wishful thinking and invested herself completely as she pursued he goal. Eventually, she became a featured performer in the documentary film, First Position, then a principal ballerina with the Dance Theatre of Harlem–the youngest ever. She built on this success and eventually joined the  Dutch National Ballet, a prestigious ballet company

 

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AQ Lens:   Michaela’s story is one of resilience in the face of adversity and dogged persistence of an important goal. Inspired by her dream, she allowed nothing to prevent her from realizing her heart’s desire. This book clearly shows that her success did not come easily. It resulted from her hard work augmented by collaborative resources and a team of people who supported Michaela.

Her story exemplifies another important adoptee lesson in trust: to rely on others, to depend on their support and to believe that they will be there when needed. Many adoptees have an abiding fear of rejection. This can tempt them into hiding their true wishes and/or replacing their own dreams with the wishes of others. Michaela’s story provides an inspiring model for following one’s own path. It also shows that success is usually a team effort. Many people supported Michaela along the way. She had to agree to let them in, to expose her innermost dream and be vulnerable to their response.   starstarstarstarstar

 

Firebird

Firebird: Misty Copeland written by ballerina Misty Copeland has won numerous awards:  

2015 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award
Ezra Jack Keats Book Award New Writer Honor
An NPR Best Book of 2014
An Amazon Best Book of 2014 – Ages 6-8
An Amazon Best Book of the Month, September 2014
Essence Magazine Best Children’s Book of 2014

Glorious illustrations bring this poetic story to life. Evocative metaphors capture a dazzling mood. Watching Misty dance, a young child is overwhelmed by her performance and thinks “the space between you and me/ is longer than forever.” She fears that such accomplishments lie beyond her reach. But Misty counters: “I was a dancer just like you/a dreaming shooting star of a girl/with work and worlds ahead.” As with Michaela’s story, readers will feel both inspired and awed by the fruits of determination and hard work.

magnifying lens AQ.2AQ Lens: This book repeats the message of diligence, persistence and teamwork. It also offers another wonderful example of an African-American child succeeding in arenas previously unavailable to girls like Misty. Firebird: Misty Copeland indulges the eye and the ear and is a great book to add to the collection of any family interested in an expanded multicultural perspective.     starstarstarstarstar