Wardrobe Choices: An Annual Back to School Challenge

Wardrobe Choices: An Annual Back to School Challenge Suki's KimonoSuki’s Kimono by Chieri Uegaki and illustrated by Stephanie Jorisch makes a perfect choice for reader’s who will soon be returning to school. As first-grader Suki selects her clothes for the first day of school, the spunky heroine of the story makes a dramatic decision.”  Rather than choose a predictable outfit as her older sisters suggest, she decides to wear a beautiful kimono. She ignores their predictions that kids will laugh at her. More importantly, her outfit reminds her of the wonderful day her  obachan (grandmother) gave it to her. Young readers will identify with her desire to “dress up” at school. While parents will chuckle as they consider times when they resisted a child’s wish to wear a tutu, cowboy outfit or, superhero cape to school.

Suki’s two sisters advise her to change her wardrobe choices and to opt for “something cool.”  But, Suki feels beautiful in the traditional garb and remains undeterred.  Confident about her decision, she follows her sisters out the door. The older girls race ahead and pretend they don’t know their dramatically dressed sister who clatters behind them in her red geta (clogs).  The breeze flutters Suki’s voluminous sleeves like butterfly wings. Memories of her special day with her obachan warm Suki’s heart. She doesn’t mind looking unusual; she revels in it!

Of course, once she gets to school, the other children quickly judge her outfit. Some simply note that it is unusual. Others take a far less tolerant stand. Suki remains confident which is a great piece of modeling for young readers. She doesn’t allow the other kids’ assessments to spoil her feelings about her choice. Click To TweetWhen it is her turn to share  a summer memory with her class, she amuses them with the tale of her special day with her obachan: the street festival, the dancing, the traditional foods and the booming thud of the taiko (drums.) Lost in her precious memory, Suki dances  for them. Her confidence and joy win over her classmates.

At the end of the day the sisters meet for their walk home. The two older girls trudge home and complain that no one noticed their “cool” clothes. In opting to conform, the girls got lost in a sea of sameness. Suki on the other hand, buoyed by her day, “danced all the way home.”

AQ #AdoptionAttunement Wardrobe Choices: An Annual Back to School Challenge Suki's Kimono Adoption-attuned LensThis sweet story offers several paths for discussion. First, to stand up for oneself and “own” one’s choices. By doing this, Suki created a successful day for herself and built on the treasured memory of her day with her grandmother. She did not allow others to spoil it for her. This is a life-lesson which most of us struggle to master. For adoptees, especially those who do not share their adoptive family’s culture or race, Suki’s enthusiasm for her cultural roots is refreshing and inspiring.

Second, Suki resists the temptation to follow the crowd and wear something predictable and acceptable to the group. She takes an important step in thinking for herself. She makes her own decisions and does not allow the crowd to choose for her. This is another essential life skill. The proverbial parental admonition comes to mind: Would you jump off a cliff just because everyone else was doing it? For adoptees who often wrestle with a visceral need to fit in, Suki offers a charming role model. Click To TweetStanding up for oneself can be scary and powerful.

Our theme for this #DiverseKidLit is socioeconomic diversity. Kids from all economic brackets should be able to find themselves in books – as well as to learn about the lives of others in different economic situations. (As always, the theme is only a suggestion. Diverse posts on alternate topics are always welcome.)

What Is #DiverseKidLit?

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

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 serves as a resource for parents, teachers, librarians, publishers, and authors! Our next linkup will be Saturday, September 2nd and the first and third Saturdays of each month.

Most Clicked Post from Last Time

The most-clicked post from the previous #diversekidlit was What is Family? 18 Picture Books about Loving Families in All Forms from Barefoot Mommy. This post includes new books as well as old favorites including multigenerational, multiracial, LGBTQ, foster, adoptive, and divorced families.

#DiverseKidLit is Hosted by:

Katie @ The Logonauts
Blog / Twitter / Facebook / PinterestBecky @ Franticmommmy
Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Pinterest / InstagramCarolina @ La Clase de Sra. DuFault
Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Google+Gauri @ Kitaab World
an online bookstore for South Asian children’s books, toys and games
Blog / Twitter / Facebook / PinterestInstagramGayle Swift, Author of ABC, Adoption & Me
Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Google+Jane @ Rain City Librarian
Blog / Twitter / InstagramMarjorie @ Mirrors Windows Doors
Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Pinterest

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

Myra @ Gathering Books
Blog / Twitter / Facebook

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!

Share Your Link Below


https://goo.gl/UVeO9L

Embracing Differences and Finding Home

Not Quite NarwhalEmbracing Differences and Finding Home. Not Quite Narwhal. 51aFOgA1xkL._SX496_BO1,204,203,200_ by Jessie Sima features Kelp, the eponymous narwhal who can clearly see that he is quite unlike the rest of his family and friends. His tiny horn, his fluffy tail, his atypical skills even his food preferences all differ dramatically from the rest of the narwhals. because they embrace his differences, Kelp feels welcome and “at home.” As a consequence of feeling accepted, Kelp enjoys security and happiness.

Until…

Until one moonlit night, Kelp ventures close to the surface of the ocean. This single heart-pounding event transforms Kelp’s life. All it took was a glance. Atop a distant peak, he spies a creature–not just any creature–one that looks just like him! Never before has he experienced the glorious affirmation of this commonality. Compelled to investigate, Kelp escapes the ocean and scrambles up the cliff. He comes nose to nose with an adult version of himself. In fact, he has discovered an entire community of lookalikes. They introduce him to the world of unicorns!

exhilaration! Delight! They like the things he likes; they look the way he looks. No longer the “square peg,” Kelp finds where he belongs. Or, has he?

Kelp misses his family, his friends, the sea and the life he shared there. After wrestling with a difficult decision, Kelp decides to return home. Doubt besets him. He fears that once his family discovers he’s a unicorn and not a narwhal, they might not be glad to have him back.

A rousing welcome greets Kelp. He’s informed that they ALWAYS knew he was not a narwhal but loved him anyway. Kelp is thrilled. Yet…

Part of him longs for the sense of “fit” that he experienced among the unicorns. Eventually, he comes to realize that he does NOT need to choose between the two. To be complete, he needs both of his halves.

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300Adoption-attuned Lens It’s an easy stretch to view Kelp’s attachment to both his narwhal side and his unicorn side as a metaphor for adoptive and birth families. The simple, brief text captures much of the subtle and unconscious tug of war that adopted kids feel as they strive to integrate their birth and adoptive heritages. This book offers a gentle pathway to very important adoption-attuned conversations. Kids will appreciate the message that each of their two “halves” are valuable for a lifetime.

Everybody knows what it is like to be the odd duck who doesn’t belong, who doesn’t have “the look,” “the clothes,” etc… We know it feels demoralizing and defeating. Learning how to accept and love ourselves while also learning how to meld in with others requires practice. Lots and lots and lots of practice.

Embracing Differences and Finding Home.Chee-Kee A Panda in Bearland.51In21h2ckL._SX497_BO1,204,203,200_Chee-Kee takes a slightly different slant on being “other,” fitting in, and adjusting to a new life. Written and illustrated by Su-Jean Rim, it tackles this issue straight from her own experience. Her family emigrated from Korea when she was a young girl. Her recollection of her experience, the teasing, the lack of acceptance and the yearning to be like everyone else—all these feelings informed the story line about a “Panda in Bearland.”

The plot follows Chee-Kee as he travels to Bearland which is a place which welcomes everybody.” The Bearlanders who greet the Kee family are enthusiastic. They also notice every bit of mismatch between themselves and the Kee Family. And little Chee-Kee feels each and every difference. Homesick for the familiar world of his native land, he yearns for the comforting feeling of belonging. Chee-Kee tries many methods to transform himself into a Bearland-type of person. Nothing seems to work.

Until…

Until a problem arises that only a panda can fix. Get the book to learn the what and the how of the problem! In the end, Bearlanders celebrate Panda the  for the part of him that was most different. What had formerly kept him on the fringe now became his gateway to acceptance by the Bearlanders and within himself.

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300Adoption-attuned Lens: Adoptees often wrestle with feeling like they don’t quite fit—in their adoptive families, extended families, and among their peers, etc. Thus Chee-Kee’s struggles can serve as an apt metaphor for discussing this feeling of “otherness.” The conversation can be direct—specifically adoption-focused—or indirect—focused on the bear’s experience. Either pathway leads to some important conversation.

Another possible topic can address how Chee-Kee’s talents and appearance and how they set him apart from others. This too offers an easy channel to discuss how an adoptee can look different from and possess valuable talents which differ from those common in his adoptive family. Discussion can focus on both reassuring the child as well as validating his struggles and affirming his contributions as a family asset. Again, this discussion can be overt or subtle: obviously about adoption or metaphorically.

DiverseKidLit
Our theme for #DiverseKidLit in February is Love.

Please consider sharing diverse books and resources that support love and families. (As always, the theme is only a suggestion. Diverse posts on alternate topics are always welcome.)

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

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, 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:

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

Marjorie @ Mirrors Windows Doors   Blog / Twitter / Facebook / PinterestMia @ Pragmatic Mom Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Pinterest / Instagram

Myra @ Gathering Books   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!

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

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!

Kids Find Inner Lion: the Strength of the Hero Within

The Lion Inside.51T3oKWEACL._SX398_BO1,204,203,200_

Inside of each of us lives an Inner Lion. Sometimes he is dormant but he is always there waiting for  us to tap into our powerful potential. Even adults often struggle to remember this “hero within” so it is vital for us to help children discover and embrace their Inner Lion. This hero exists in all of us regardless of our stature or age. But he must compete with the other voices inside our heads-the ones who broadcast, fear, self-doubt, timidity and despair

The Lion Inside by Rachel Bright and illustrated by Jim Field brilliantly demonstrates that the most powerful person in my life is me. It also hammers home the truism “Never judge a book by its cover.” So often the face we present to the world hides our genuine selves, the selves that our both brave and fearful, confident and cautious.

When we (both kids and adults) make judgments about others based on externals, we overlook the opportunity to connect with the whole person and all of us lose the chance to be genuine. Ironically, we often treat ourselves no better and criticize ourselves with the same harsh judgment!

Fields’ fabulous illustrations carry a lot of the story’s message. The difference in size between the tiny mouse and the huge lion reinforces the immensity of the mouse’s decision to confront the lion. By connecting to his Inner Lion he awoke the bravery needed to accomplish his goal. Taken from the lion’s perspective, the reader experiences the other side of the equation. Physical size doesn’t protect one from fear. Courage does. Courage acknowledges fear and still chooses to act.

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300 Adoption-attuned Lens: All kids strive to find their niche in school, their neighborhoods, etc. Adoptees also must learn to find their comfort spot in their new families. Sometimes they can feel as mismatched and powerless as this little mouse when he faced the roaring lion. This story invites readers to consider that beyond stature and externals, each of us has important skills and gifts to contribute, fears to overcome, and opportunities to grow. Each family member benefits from being part of the larger whole. Diversity enriches families. And classrooms, neighborhoods and communities.

The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles.51oUYa5gt8L._SY457_BO1,204,203,200_

All of us yearn to be included, to have friends and to be appreciated.  The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles  written by Michelle Cuevas and illustrated by Erin E. Stead tackles this idea from a nuanced perspective. Pastel images convey the watery context of both ocean and fantasy world and strike the perfect note of mystery and dreaminess.

Cuevas writes that the main character–the Uncorker of Ocean Bottles–“Had no name.” This choice is brilliant because his anonymity renders him as “Everyman” that part of all human beings, kids and adults, who crave recognition and validation. The Uncorker dedicates himself to his life task: ensuring that he locates the rightful recipient for every message in a bottle he discovers. Through his diligent efforts, he finds purpose, steps beyond his own loneliness and engages with others. His actions solve his “problem.” He is so pleased with the results of his efforts, he commits to repeating his efforts. Young readers will recognize the great model he sets.

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300 Adoption-attuned Lens: Action is key to overcoming fear, creating connection and displacing loneliness. This book helps adopted children to see the benefits of reaching out instead of waiting for others to reach out first. (This is not to shift the burden of creating family connection from the parents but rather to show kids how they can contribute to the process.)

Poor Little Guy.51A1ZTLGLWL._SX496_BO1,204,203,200_Poor Little Guy  written and illustrated by Elanna Allen also focuses on the relationship between stature, fear and, courage. Allen conveys a lot of information in her illustrations which include only two characters: an octopus and a tiny, tiny wide-eyed, bespectacled fish. Immense disparity in their size highlights why the fish feels threatened by the octopus.

At first glance readers might think the octopus is playing with the fish. The octopus’ immense arms transform into many things–a fish-sketball net, a complex maze, a bird-cage, etc. Soon it becomes clear that he is actually “toying” with the fish. Each transformation is intended to remind the fish of the octopus’ size, strength and power to control the little fish.

Until the octopus mentions how tasty he thinks the little guy will be. His threat awakens the Inner Lion of the fish. He draws on his courage and his ability to defend himself. The reader discovers that the little fish isn’t so helpless after all. He uses his special skill to successfully defeat the octopus’ evil intentions. Read the book to find out exactly how he accomplishes this! Don’t we all love it when the underdog–er, underfish– is victorious?

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300 Adoption-attuned Lens: It is important for kids to recognize how they can stand up for themselves and tap into their ability to be agents of their own success. For adopted children who sometimes encounter bias and bullying because they were adopted, this message of self-advocacy is an important one. Again, this point is not intended to invalidate their experiences. Rather it is meant to add a skill with which they can cope. Dismissing or trivializing bullying does not address the situation!

I wasn't Invited to the Birthday.51QhF7wiBOL._SX428_BO1,204,203,200_I Wasn’t Invited to the Birthday  written by Susanna Isern and illustrated by Adolfo Serra addresses the universal experience of being left out. No one enjoys feeling invisible, inferior or, unaccepted. Among children these slights often occur “publicly” when kids distribute invitations at school. Even in classrooms where that practice is forbidden, kids talk about upcoming events which can leave the uninvited kids feeling bleak and marginalized.

The gift of this book is how it shows kids a way to take control. They can choose to look beyond the ranks of the “in crowd” to find friendship.  (Commonly, a child’s first instinct is to shun others who are on the margins in the hope that they will be “tainted” by befriending an unpopular child. Unfortunately, fear drives them to collude in the ostracizing of other children.)

In this story, however, the uninvited kids band together. The story takes a fantasy vibe and the kids “enjoy an unforgettable afternoon.”

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300 Adoption-attuned Lens: For kids wrestling with feelings of rejection–which almost all adoptees report at some time in their lives–reading a story of finding ones “group” is helpful. Perhaps that means befriending other adoptees, or kids who share the same passion for a common interest–sports, the arts, etc. Whatever that common ground is, it is important to reach out and search for it.

As mentioned in the previous review, this point is not intended to invalidate their experiences. Rather it is meant to add another coping skill. Dismissing or trivializing their experience does not fix the problem.

Our theme for #DiverseKidLit in February is Love. Please consider sharing diverse books and resources that support love and families. (As always, the theme is only a suggestion. Diverse posts on alternate topics are always welcome.)

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

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

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:

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

Marjorie @ Mirrors Windows Doors   Blog / Twitter / Facebook / PinterestMia @ Pragmatic Mom Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Pinterest / Instagram

Myra @ Gathering Books   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!

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

 

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!

Embracing Differences in Ourselves and Others

It's Alll GoodIt’s All Good: A Book ABout Self Acceptance & diversity by Gina I. Humber shares a timely and important message about diversity and acceptance, of embracing differences in ourselves and others. It features a sequence of children who happen to be classmates. Each child is different in a visible way and each experiences prejudice and hurtful comments from classmates. Each also participates in subtle “othering” of classmates.

This is one of the aspects which I appreciate in this book. It reminds readers how easy it is to call out others for mistreating us and simultaneously be blind to the biases and “othering” of which we ourselves may be guilty. This awareness is a vital part of addressing and eliminating any biases we–and our children–might hold, many of which we are not even consciously aware of believing. (Sometimes we even hold biases against ourselves!)

By highlighting this subconscious double standard, we help kids to build bridges of acceptance. Once we admit, that we too, have regarded others as less than, it makes it difficult to cry foul. Awareness allows us to move forward to being a conscious force for kindness, respect and equality. And that is a very good thing.

This book offers a wonderful gateway to important conversations about victimization, the collusion of silence and the courage to stand up for self and others. These are big concepts. Very big. They are also essential topics to explore with kids. It’s All Good is a tad heavy-handed. Still, it is a fabulous tool for parents and teachers to share with kids. (And it offers a good reminder to the adults, that they too, have blind spots, biases and feelings of being an outsider.) It also emphasizes the benefit of valuing differences in ourselves and others because differences are precisely what make each person unique.

diversity-is-a-verb-245b4c_101dacdf52394787be75b8ff2e9a9487-mv2The kindle version of It’s All Good: A Book ABout Self Acceptance & Diversity is available on Amazon and the paperback is sold on her website. Gina’s website is chock full of resources. Please visit and take advantage of her work on Diversity Is A Verb which aims to build “platforms for discussions surrounding topics of: global diversity, self-acceptance, special needs, and body imaging for both young and mature adults. …  Diversity is a Verb strives to be a source of empowerment to all involved; improving environmental and social conditions.”

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300Adoption-attuned Lens This book invites discussion of adoption as it is one profound way that adoptees differ from their non-adopted family, friends, and classmates. It’s also one of the most common ways adoptees find themselves being “othered.” Ask kids about their how they’ve been belittled for being different. Follow this up with explorations of ways they might have been the perpetrators of bias. Conclude with conversations that help them develop action points of to respond and stand up for themselves as well as others. Embracing differences in ourselves and others is a full-circle approach which requires us to live the Golden Rule. How might this principle benefit families, classrooms, schools and our country?

gina-humber-socunow_

Gina I. Humber: “Empowering communities and businesses on global diversity and cultural sensitivity.”

 

http://wp.me/p4vGHg-I6

 

What Is #DiverseKidLit?

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

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

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 4th and on the first and third Saturdays of every month.

Upcoming Theme 

Our theme for the current month is Human Rights. 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 4th and 18th linkups: Love. Let’s 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 a review by Alex of Randomly Reading of Ashes,

book 3 in Laurie Halse Anderson’s Seeds of America trilogy.

#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

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!

Faith Ringgold’s Books: Beauty and Historical Importance

Faith Ringgold collageFaith Ringgold has written and illustrated many important books. Some have won the Coretta Scott King award for illustration and one was named a Caldecott Honor book. They tackle a variety of important historical and cultural themes. Hers is a powerful and courageous voice.

Her website reports that she has won “more than 75 awards including 22 Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts Degrees. 

 

Tar BeachHer stunning work is unique and distinctive, full of brilliant color. Many contain quilt-like motifs which underscore the sense of diverse fragments coming together to create something of beauty and value that exceeds the individual elements.

Several of Faith Ringgold’s books explore important themes and events from African-American history. They contribute a vital window into these events and are important to all readers.

I first read Tar Beach, with my own children decades ago. Captivated by the art, they enjoyed the story and absorbed an appreciation for the world which it depicted and was so unlike their own. The inspired text invites children to dream and to fly into the world of dreams where anything is possible. It also shows that wealth derives not only in terms of money or things.

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300Adoption-attuned Lens This story offers a  chance to discuss what a family values as important and valuable. Although not wealthy in terms of material goods, the Cassie and Be Be have the most important asset: a family who loves them. This can be used to jumpstart an age-appropriate conversation about why an adoption plan was made for a child.

Dinner at Aunt Connie's HouseDinner at Aunt Connie’s House, shows an annual family gathering where Aunt Connie reveals her most recent paintings. While exploring their aunt’s large home, two children happen upon the trove of paintings. Each depicts a famous African-American figure. The children discover that the paintings can speak to them. Each painting reveals a personal story of courage and historic barrier breaking.

As a secondary theme, readers learn that Aunt Connie’s red-haired, green-eyed son was adopted. Connie challenges his “right” to feel pride in these African-American figures. This can easily lead to conversations that remind us that all Americans should be proud of the achievements of the people in the paintings. Fundamentally, regardless of their specific ethnicity or race, the history of each and every American contributes a “patch” to the “quilt” that is America’s story. This book can also open conversations about race and racism.

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300Adoption-attuned Lens Since this story focuses on Aunt Connie’s art it offers a chance to discuss family talents. Some may trend through generations and be prized. This can put pressure on adopted children to “take on” this talent in preference to following their own natural abilities. Families can affirm that every family member’s unique talents are valuable.

Aunt Harriet's Underground RailroadIn  Aunt Harriet’s Underground Railroad in the SkyCassie (a child featured in several of Faith Ringgold’s books,) travels the Underground Railroad and experiences the trials, terrors and privations of that long, dangerous route to freedom. In another repeating theme of Ringgold’s books, Cassie’s brother Be Be travels a mythical reincarnation of the Underground Railroad Freedom Train.

Separated from each other,  each child chooses the quest for freedom over security and remaining enslaved. The children eventually reunite. Each now possesses a realization that “Freedom is more important than just staying together.”

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300Adoption-attuned Lens Since this story touches on some difficult parts of American history it lends itself to discussions about the events and politics of all countries. Thus, it can open a conversation about the conditions in an international adoptee’s birth land some of which may have influenced why a child was adopted.

 

if-bus-could-talk-61069zjhfl-_sy429_bo1204203200_

One of Ringgold’s skills is her ability to place the reader in the heart of the historical experience. In  If a Bus Could Talk

Faith Ringgold places young Marcie on a metaphorical bus with Rosa Parks and other historical figures. Each shares their stories in a way that feels present and real. Readers will learn about some of the uglier parts of history: discrimination, slavery, segregation, the role of the Ku Klux Klan, etc.

Ringgold achieves this in a way that feels authentic, touches the reader and is still appropriate for children. This is important American history which we must not sanitize or sweep under the rug. Children need this information  so they can learn the lessons of history. In the absence of this education, we will be doomed to repeat the mistakes and cruelties of the past.

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300Adoption-attuned Lens Standing up for one’s values is not easy but this book reminds us of the important of doing so. It can have particular adoption-related resonance because adoptees must learn how to handle the inevitable onslaught of curious as well as nosy, intrusive and insulting questions regarding their adoptions.

Our theme for this month’s Diverse Children’s Books linkups is Favorite Diverse Author or Illustrator. Who is your must-read author or must-see illustrator? (The theme is only a suggestion. Diverse posts on alternate topics are always welcome.)

What Is #DiverseKidLit?


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

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

DiverseKidLit

We hope this community will grow into a great resource for parents, teachers, librarians, publishers, and authors! Our next linkup will be Saturday, October 15th and on the first and third Saturdays of every month.

Most Clicked Post from Last Time

Our most-clicked post from the previous #diversekidlit linkup features super-talented author-illustrated Kadir Nelson. Miss T’s Book Room shares a brief biography of Nelson and his long-list of awards and amazing picture books. If you are not yet familiar with his work, you are in for a treat!

My #DiverseKitLit Shout-Out

Mark your calendars for Multicultural Children’s Book Day, Jan. 27, 2017! Multicultural Children’s Book Day is an all-day (really, more like all-month) celebration of diverse books. Opportunities are currently available for teachers and bloggers to receive a free diverse book to review as part of the event. Interested parents can also win books through various giveaways. This is another great way to bring attention to diverse books, and I hope you’ll consider joining in!

#DiverseKidLit is Hosted by:

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

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

Get #DiverseKidLit Recommendations on Pinterest!

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

Why Choose Kindness?

the kindness quilt.51Wk4YgNtlL._SX455_BO1,204,203,200_

Our daily lives consists of interactions with others plus conversations within ourselves about who we are, what we value and how that governs the actions  we choose. Emotions influence us and shape what we think and how we act. The way we engage with others affects how they respond and listen to us. Kindness is the WD40© of human relationships. Click To Tweet

Nancy Elizabeth Wallace wrote and illustrated The Kindness Quilt  it uses our love for quilts to help readers see how individual acts of kindness can blanket a classroom, school and community to yield increased acceptance, tolerance and happiness. When kindness becomes a group endeavor, the benefits multiply.

In the story, the teacher proposes that students commit to performing acts of kindness. When they complete the project they share their experiences in a “do-and-draw-and-share Kindness Project.” The children do a variety of deeds and when they gather their reports one child exclaims that it looks like a quilt block. As the kindnesses increase their “quilt” grows larger. It outgrows the classroom bulletin board and expands to the hall. Soon other classes join and ” the kindness kept growing and growing and growing.”

Readers will certainly get the point that kindness begets kindness. Click To Tweet

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300


Adoption-attuned (AQ) Lens: 
Most of us learned that the best way to have a friend is to be a friend. The Kindness Quilt shows readers how “being” a friend can look as well as how it can multiply. Adopted children benefit from the guidance of family, teachers, etc on how to resist any adoption-connected negativity which they experience. Kindness is certainly an important habit for them to include in their “tool box” of social skills.

The quilt also serves as a multi-layered metaphor for creating beauty from diverse pieces. Variations in color, size, texture, etc., ENHANCES the design. This is a healthy and reassuring message for our kids.

Each Kindness.9780399246524Each Kindness a Jane Addams Award Book by Jacqueline Woodson, also was named a 2013 Coretta Scott King Honor Book. This is truly an exceptional book. As I read it goose bumps shivered my arms. E.B. Lewis captured the deep emotion of the story in dreamy water color. The illustrations juxtapose both beauty and heartache because they reveal the children’s lack of kindness, their unwelcoming cold shoulder and judgmental rejection of the new girl.

One might think this replays the classic story line of the challenge that every “new” kid faces. But it is exceeds that think-how-the-shunned-kid-feels meme as the children rebuff her repeated efforts to break into their circle. Instead, it asks the reader to imagine being the child who chose unkindness, who joined the taunting, who derided and jeered.

After the teacher uses a pebble-dropped-in-water to demonstrate how one act ripples in an ever-widening circle, Chloe undergoes a change of heart. She wants to include the outcast girl. She anticipates making amends, only to discover, it is too late. 

The book ends with the words, Chloe “watched the water ripple as the sun set through the maples and the chance of a kindness with Maya became more and more forever gone.” The final illustration shows Chloe in a lush, lovely pond side spot. The beauty contrasts with Chloe’s uncomfortable realization that it is too late to make amends for her ugly treatment of Maya. The reader feels the weight of that understanding. There is no and-she became-Maya’s-best-friend easy answer.

The message is clear. Sometimes, do overs are not possible. Some mistakes and lost opportunities cannot be corrected. Our choices matter. Click To TweetPowerful. True. Important. This book merits every award it won.

Hundred Dresses.517PH8RNkIL._SX401_BO1,204,203,200_(Memories of the classic story The Hundred Dresses  by Eleanor Estes illustrated by Louis Slobodkin popped to mind, because it deals with a similar story line. Each Kindness makes its point with eloquent brevity and contemporary, visually appealing illustrations.)

 

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300Adoption-attuned (AQ) Lens: Our kids certainly understand, in a very personal way that choices have permanent consequences. This book can easily open conversations about the decisions made by their birth parents. (Not in terms of a cruelty done to them but with an intent to help kids understand that adoption was in no way their fault but rather is a decision made by adults for very adult reasons.)

Here I Am.51vpzgChkNL._SX410_BO1,204,203,200_

Here I Am by Patti Kim and illustrated by Sonia Sánchez is a wordless book yet it tells a complex story of one boy’s immigration, and struggle to make America his home. Because it relies on the reader’s imagination to supply the text, it becomes uniquely personal while remaining a universal story as well.

As a wordless book, the success of the story relies on the quality of the artwork. Sánchez’s complex illustrations succeed. They capture the many emotions and struggles which the boy faces. The story begins with the boy peering  out an airplane window. This is not the face of an excited child thrilled to be flying the skies to an anticipated destination. Sadness paints his face.

Subsequent illustrations depict signs with random letters. Their message remains gibberish to eyes unfamiliar with English. We follow the boy through his days as he confronts, confusion, loneliness, fear, sadness and isolation. Until he finds a seed which becomes a talisman for possibility, for hope and positivity.Eventually, the sed brings him friendship and a feeling of belonging. In the final illustration, the boy imagines that he sees the words “Here I am.” Now he not only can recognize and read the English words, he realizes that he belongs.

As part of the backmatter of the book, the author includes comments that explain the back story which motivated her to write “Here I Am.” With her family, she immigrated to the U.S. from Korea. with her family. This is her personal narrative but it is also more global than that. She writes, “If you are an immigrant or maybe just facing something new and different in your life, I hope my story helps you see that you’re not alone.”

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300Adoption-attuned (AQ) Lens: Although this story originates from the author’s personal experience immigrating to this country with her family, it still has the potential to click with kids who were adopted transculturally or transracially. The emotions and the child’s journey learning to cope with being moved to an entirely new life, culture, country and language will resonate with many adoptees. Most adoptees can identify with the struggle to “fit” in a new space–family, school, community or, country.
The Peace Book.0e9574103de7110a0e0a72fcbe23bcb1

The Peace Book by Todd Parr illustrated in his signature cartoon style that features a diverse characters showcases the many faces of peace in action. It opens with “Peace is making new friends.” This highlights one of the most fundamental ways children can be peacemakers: by reaching out and befriending others. When kids stretch to include not only those similar to them but also those who are different, they build relationship bridges and we all benefit from this attitude.

Todd defines peace in many ways, e.g., as environmental respect, as musical, linguistic, and artistic diversity, as sharing of resources so that everyone has a home and cares for their community. Peace is the ability to dream and the freedom to pursue those dreams. This message supports us all. As we teach children to appreciate everyone’s talents and, to validate the needs of all, we all rise to a higher standard of thoughtfulness, kindness, and consideration. This benefits all of us.


magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300Adoption-attuned (AQ) Lens: Peace is a fruit of kindness. Click To Tweet
 Parr includes many aspects of peace. Some focus on externals and others on internal experience.  Both of these angles can lead to conversations about how adoption influences, enriches, and challenges adoptees’ lives. Discussions can then digress to ways in which our children can help themselves nurture inner peace as well as peace in their outer world.

In an earlier post on this blog, I focused on the importance of empathy which goes hand in hand with kindness. (For some practical strategies for nurturing empathy in children, read my review  for GIFT Family Services: “Unselfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World )

The Essential Life Lessons We Must Teach Children

Kindergarten.51CieYvtuXL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Some essential life lessons we must teach kids:

  • Treat others with respect, compassion,  empathy.
  • Disagree without hate
  • Advocate without demonizing other points of view.

As adults, we must work to ensure our country lives up to its promise to provide “liberty and justice for all.” We must ensure our kids understand they are part of the solution and then we show them how to stand up for themselves without stepping on others. We must encourage them to be a force for good and to speak up for others instead of sitting in silence,or even worse–bullying or intimidating others.

Over twenty-five years ago, Robert Fulghum wrote All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. It was a best seller that sold millions of copies world-wide. Today’s social climate demonstrates that we need to relearn these basic lessons of fair play and responsibility. Here are two books that will help us to teach them to our children and will serve as a worthwhile reminder to ourselves.

Ouch Moments.51oze-lcWOL._SX399_BO1,204,203,200_Ouch Moments: When Words Are Used in Hurtful Ways by Michael Genhart, illustrated by Viviana Garofoli tackles the topic of meanness in thought, word, action and inaction. Through very simple text, the author shows readers how to identify ouch  moments and how to respond whether one is the target or a bystander. Key points include:

  • Silence equals approval of the meanness
  • Responding in anger makes things worse
  • Seek out helping adults
  • Avoid replaying mean self-talk in your mind
  • Work together to be kind and resist ouch moments
  • Justifying meanness as funny does NOT erase the hurt

Ouch Moments is published by Magination Press, an arm of the American Psychological Association. Their books stand on firm ground. The multicultural illustrations are engaging and feature diverse circumstances. This would be an excellent read for the entire family; sometimes even adults need to be reminded of the important lessons Ouch Moments  strives to teach. This book includes an informative and practical Note to Parents and Caregivers.

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300AQ Lens: This book offers a fun way to talk about a very serious and painful issue. For adoptees, Ouch Moments can very easily lead to conversations about the adoption-related ouch moments a child has faced. Many children find it difficult to introduce this topic because they want to protect their adoptive parents from this ugliness and hurt. Other kids stuff these experiences but never learn how to handle them and never get the support which parents would willingly offer. Parents must consistently convey a willingness to discuss any difficult topic–whether adoption-related or not. We must reassure our kids that we are strong enough to hear the tough things and eager to be the safe harbor they need.

What were you thinking.51ISMHxAlNL._SY498_BO1,204,203,200_What Were You Thinking? by Bryan Smith and illustrated by Lisa M. Griffin addresses common moments from a child’s life. As many parents and teachers can vouch, the answer to the title question is frequently that the child wasn’t thinking at all; they operated on impulse. Or, they were thinking but their behavior was highly unlikely to produce their expected result.

This book helps kids see that doing the first thing that comes to mind may not be their best choice. It might even accomplish the opposite of their intended goal. It also shows how kids sometimes expect something to be funny when it can actually cause others–classmates, teachers, coaches and parents– to be annoyed instead of entertained. Sometimes the “cost” of the laughter they seek, far exceeds the momentary rush of any attention.

The illustrations invite exploration of the book’s theme and make obvious that Braden’s idea of funny does not necessarily match his classmates” feelings. This can lead to conversations about the range of responses one can see within an entire classroom of kids.

What Were You Thinking? outlines a simple four step strategy which kids can practice to help them smooth out their responses and ensure that the result they get is the one which they want. A brief Tips for Parents and Educators is included which offers further information on how to guide children to develop better impulse control. Can also open conversation about intentions & how humor doesn’t lessen the pain of hurtful remarks/behavior.

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300


AQ Lens:
 
Kids who have experienced trauma, grief and or loss may have weak impulse control, high distractibility. Or they may have been taught negative and/or inadequate behavior strategies. In addition to learning better strategies, these kids may also have to unlearn negative strategies.

This book offers another tool for helping kids fine-tune their emotional literacy and expand their menu of choices. By exploring the gap between intended goal and actual results, families can teach kids to recognize and choose strategies that serves them better.
Diverse Children’s Books is a book-sharing meme designed to promote the reading and writing of children’s books that feature diverse characters. This community embraces all kinds of diversity including (and certainly not limited to) diverse, inclusive, multicultural, and global books for children of all backgrounds.

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

DiverseKidLit

We hope this community will grow into a great resource for parents, teachers, librarians, publishers, and authors! Our next linkup will be Saturday, August 6th and on the first and third Saturdays of every month.

Theme Idea for August

We thought it might be fun to try having a suggested theme for the next linkup. Those who are interested in participating in the theme would have from now until the next linkup (August 6th) to write a post based around the theme and then share it with the rest of us. You do not have to focus on a given theme to participate in the linkup, but we thought it might encourage folks to explore and share new diverse books.

The theme for the August 6th linkup is … Diverse Books for Back to School. Please consider sharing a favorite book (or books) either about school / back to school or that might make a great read aloud during those first few weeks of school. We look forward to seeing your choices!

Most Clicked Post from Last Time

Our most clicked post from the previous #DiverseKidLit linkup comes from Acorn BooksChicken Man by Michelle Edwards. This book is the winner of a National Jewish Book Award and tells the story of a character named Rody, nicknamed Chicken Man, and how his joy in his work makes everyone on the kibbutz want to try his job next. Make sure you read to the end of the post for an incredibly-tasty looking recipe for Teigelach cookies.

#DiverseKidLit is Hosted by:

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

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

 

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.

Little Pea.41Q9WQC99HL._SY498_BO1,204,203,200_

 

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.

Five stars ∗∗∗∗∗

 

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  ∗∗∗∗∗

 


magnifying lens AQ.2
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.” 

 

 

 

EVERYBODY’s Got Talent

jack's talentKids tend to view the world in all or nothing terms and often respond to struggles with discouragement and defeat. It is an all too easy slide to generalizing to “I am a failure.”  From small amounts of data, they form conclusions which often are inaccurate. It takes strong evidence to persuade them this is not true and to regard failure as the stepping stone to success and competency. School is one environment where kids makes such rapid–and inaccurate–conclusions about their abilities. They decide if they are smart or not, capable or not, interested or not.  Maryann Cocca-Leffler’s picture book, Jack’s Talent highlights one of these moments.

The story occurs on the first day of school and unfolds in vivid, cartoon-like illustrations which include a robust multicultural cast. Miss Lucinda, the teacher asks each pupil to introduce himself and tell about their best talent. One-by-one, each student proudly discusses their talent. As each one speaks, Jack becomes increasingly discouraged. He believes he has no talent! Jack’s turn arrives. Brokenhearted and embarrassed, he recounts each of his classmate’s talents with the refrain, “I am not good at … like….”

Reframing Jack’s words, the teacher deftly points out to him–and the rest of the class–how precisely Jack recalled his classmates words. “You are good at remembering.” She reassures Jack who beams with equal measures of relief and pride. The entire class agrees because they have experienced the truth of her assertion. Miss Lucinda transformed what could have been a spirit-crushing experience into an exercise in recognizing and valuing difference. What a valuable lesson!

courage beginnerAQ* Lens: Encouraging and nurturing competence is an essential part of parenting–especially adoptive parenting. Grief and loss issues chip away at self-esteem. It requires intentionality to build confidence, pride and capability on evidence that kids can believe and trust. One tiny step at a time, parents can help children build experiences of success onto success. It takes time to establish this resilient attitude.

Encouraging children’s efforts–instead of praising outcome–focuses children’s attention on striving. Persistence is an essential trait and far outstrips the value of easy success. Instead, parents can help them concentrate on the satisfaction that comes from trying. (You sure are a hard worker, ” versus “You are so smart.” And it is easy to feel the difference between : “You missed,” versus, “You almost succeeded. Next time you’ll come closer.” This dampens a child’s attachment to immediate success with minimal effort (which we know is unrealistic.) Reinforcing a willingness to try things through multiple unsuccessful attempts grows a pattern of resilience and paves the way to mastery.

Parents can allow kids to be privy to their own struggles to learn and master new things. Let them see how many times you have to attempt tasks before accomplishing goals. They can share a kid-friendly version of the inner dialog that adults play inside their own heads. By making this script audible, kids can note that not only do their parents struggle, they also require many attempts before they succeed. Otherwise, they tend to assume that your accomplishments occur without effort.

Stick and Stone: A Story of Friendship

stick and stoneStick and Stone written by Beth Ferry and illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld is a delightfully unexpected spin on the way we usually think about sticks and stones. Instead of being “weapons,” Stick and Stone are two characters in a sweet but powerful story. Sparse prose brilliantly captures the budding friendship of two solitary loners: Stick and Stone. They discover that everything is better when shared with a friend. Lichtenfeld captures the depth and range of their friendship in simple, bright illustrations that pulse with warmth and coziness. When Stone is bullied by a mean and prickly pinecone, Stick comes to his defense, using his words not his fists. “Because that is what friends do.”

Stick’s intervention on behalf of his friend is a model for the power of one individual to make a difference. (Refer to last week’s blog The Power of One.) Stone is surprised by Stick’s brave gesture. Stick replies that is what friends do. Readers will connect with the moment of friendship in action, of loyalty and courage to speak up. Kids know what it is like to need that buddy. They also understand how challenging it can be to stand up against a bully. This story offers a chance to place themselves in both situations and imagine how they might feel, think and act. Later in the story, Stone has the opportunity to return the favor of friendship when he rescues his friend Stick. Again the refrain “That’s what friends do,” is repeated.

The AQ* Lens: We’ve all heard the adage, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” We all know the fundamental untruth of this saying through direct personal experience. Words have immense power—to heal, to connect, to divide and to destroy. As adoptive parents we know we must prepare our kids to face the dreaded day/s when a rude remark about adoption, birth parents, being given away, etc.

We can use words to empower our kids. Provide them with an arsenal of respectful adoption language. Help them to reframe ignorant remarks as an opportunity to educate other kids, even adults. Unfortunately, sometimes the speaker intends to shame, humiliate, or insult. If that is the case, do not minimize the experience. This would invalidate the reality of their experience and create a relationship disconnect. Instead, talk about why other kids might not understand adoption and how that can create fear and misunderstanding.

It’s never too early to teach kids about personal boundaries—especially around their adoption. Help them to understand the distinction between private and secret. Adoption is not secret. Nonetheless, parts of their story are private—not for general discussion with any/every curious person. They need not feel obligated to divulge personal information just because a question is asked. (This goes for us adults as well. The best way to equip kids with firm boundaries is by our own example. As they observe us when we encounter intrusive, inappropriate questions about their adoption, our children can “study” our respectful, courteous “boundary-establishing” response.