My Heart Is Like A Zoo? — Talk About Love

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

What Is #DiverseKidLit?

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

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

DiverseKidLit

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

Upcoming Theme

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

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

Most Clicked Post from Last Time

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

My DiverseKidLit Shout-Out

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

#DiverseKidLit is Hosted by:

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

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

Jane @ Rain City Librarian   Blog / Twitter / Instagram

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

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

Myra @ Gathering Books   Blog / Twitter / Facebook

Guest Hosts for February

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

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

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

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

Get #DiverseKidLit Recommendations on Pinterest!

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

Changing One’s “Spots” and Other Compromises

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

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

Theirs and ours!

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


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

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

Read more about adoptees feeling “othered.” 

 

 

 

Love Is Always in Season

Love.Eric Carle.51cnuPybmDL._SX406_BO1,204,203,200_

 

In the vein of Dr. Seuss, Eric Carle’s new book  Love from The Very Hungry Caterpillar,  is a treasure for all ages not only for children. Pictured in his signature style of  artwork, the sweet message of love is expressed in simple metaphor, brilliant color and spare graphics.

Snuggle close to your special sweetie and share this little gem. The human heart craves affirmation; sometimes a book is the perfect way to do it. Read it often. It’s a great way to get used to expressing the love in your hearts.

 

 

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300 (1)#AQ Lens Too often we forget how important it is to express our love to our family. In this season of gift-giving it is easy to think that the stuff we buy conveys our emotion. Things are appreciated, expected and enjoyed but the thrill of stuff quickly fades. What persists in memory is the way we make our loved ones feel.

It is especially important for our kids not only to hear but also feel our love. Our best gift to them is our undivided attention, attentive listening and willingness to express in words and actions the love we have for them. Often, children who were adopted struggle with doubt, rejection and feeling inadequate. Be intentional about the many ways in which you live the love you feel for them. Help them experience it in words as well as actions. Give them more time than stuff. Connection with you is what they really crave.

When parents freely express their emotions, it provides both a model as well as “permission” for kids to do the same. What a blessing to teach kids that it is not only okay, it is actually encouraged to open up and share their feelings.

Someone Wonderful Is Coming

Something Wonderful.612ElbG3o9L._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_Regardless of specific faith, the holiday season focuses on family, generosity and being a light for others. They Told Us Something Wonderful Was Coming written and illustrated by Bev Stone,  beautifully captures the joy which envelopes a family as they anticipate a new child’s arrival. The narrator explains to the reader that the entire world recognized that “something wonderful was coming.” Animals and insects, clouds and rainbows, all quivered with joyful anticipation. And what could ignite such wonder and excitement? The arrival of a new child of course!  The story concludes creatures, great and small “somehow, they knew about you!”

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300 (1)AQ* Lens: This story serves a feast for the eyes and the heart. Delicate watercolors fill each page depicting the manifest ways that the world brightened in anticipation of a marvelous event. Each page turn delivers a unique moment of excitement that builds the reader’s excitement as he wonders what could provoke such happiness?

All of us–child and adult–love to hear and feel that are arrival was celebrate. The age of the child on whom the story centers is not specified; it could be a baby, toddler, teen or any age in between which makes this story a great fit for adoptive families.  Many books honor the anticipation and arrival of a new baby but rarely do we find a book that expands the arrival of a new family member who is older. As adoptive parents we know how important it is for older children to feel welcome, important and special. Five stars

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Full, full, full of love.51a0ldDzfzL._SY490_BO1,204,203,200_Full, Full, Full of Love by Trish Cole is another story that elicits warm, snugly feelings. It follows a grandson’s visit with his grandmother. Together they prepare the Sunday feast for the extended family. Jay Jay is excited to  spend time with his Grannie. Their tender connection jumps off every page. Grannie keeps Jay Jay busy “helping”  which distracts him until everyone arrives. It also teaches an important lesson about work: it is not a punishment but rather a way of showing how much we care. Young children yearn to “help”; often it is easier for adults to deflect their awkward attempts because it is easier for adult to do it alone. This story shows how if draws the boy closer to his grandma and reinforces the desire to work.

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300 (1)AQ* LensFull, Full, Full of Love depicts an African-American family in a universal  experience. Aunts, uncles, and cousins gather for a home-cooked meal at Grannie’s. It’s not to observe a holiday or some major event but simply to celebrate the blessing of being a family. I appreciate the ordinariness of this.  

This book would be a wonderful choice for any child, regardless of race. It serves to depict the commonalities we share and thus, is a great choice for advancing a multicultural awareness.

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And Here's to You..51ccZotpV8L._SX452_BO1,204,203,200_And Here’s to You,  by David Ellitott and illustrated by Randy Cecil is an exuberant riff on tolerance and respect for others and the universality of our experiences. Cartoon-like illustrations pair with a refrain that carries throughout the book. Whether it is birds, bugs, cats, dogs, bears, or all manner of people, each is wonderful and valued. Now that is a message we all enjoy hearing. Again and again and again.

 

 

 

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300 (1)AQ* LensFull, Full, Full of Love depicts a variety of characters both animal and human and infused with diversity that is the foundation of the story’s premise. It reinforces another important concept of unconditional love: “Here’s to the sweet you/The messy and the neat you/ the funny-way-you-eat you/ The head to your feet you…Oh, how I love you!” Kids can never get enough reassurance that their parent’s love is not conditional on behavior, looks or anything else.

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“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.

The Gift of Waiting

wait   Adoptive parents know the frustration of waiting for something that has become nearly all-consuming. Waiting allowed us time to prepare emotionally, physically and financially, to become educated for parenting in general as well as  for the unique demands of adoptive parenting in particular.

Once the long-awaited placement referral happens we immerse ourselves in the day-to-day hubbub of family life. As we struggle to balance the demands of family, work, community and church, time becomes singularly precious. We forget how hard it was/is to wait.

One of the gifts our children provide is the opportunity to see the beauty in the ordinary, the miraculous in the mundane. Children operate in the present moment. They want to enjoy it before they race to the next activity on our parental agenda. Tardiness–an adult construct–is irrelevant to them.

Wait by Antoinette Portis offers a gentle invitation to stop and smell the proverbial roses. At the child’s insistence, they pause. The mom gets a chance to appreciate what she would otherwise blindly bypass as she bustles along. Young readers will enjoy scrutinizing the illustrations for hidden treasures. Parents will be reminded to appreciate the world around us but also the enthusiasm and wonder which our children exude. It is a treat to reconnect to that part of ourselves.

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AQ LensAdopted children bear an additional “waiting” burden compared to their non-adopted peers. They must figure out when and how they will incorporate their biological connections into their lives. Depending upon the degree of openness of their adoption, this task may exist more in the present than in the future. But, to a degree, the full flowering of their triangulated family ties will not come until adulthood. It is beneficial to our children and ourselves to develop the ability to be both full of anticipation and at peace with waiting.

In the meantime, we can remain mindful of the challenge and the gift of waiting. Sometimes it is we who must wait and sometimes it is our children!

 

Zen Ties written and illustrated by  John J. Muth introduces the reader to a  panda aptly named Still Water. A gentle giant, Still Water “runs deep and calm” and makes a reassuring, if unexpected friend. His words are wise and often spoken in haiku form.

Muth write with subtle humor and uses word play to add layers to his stories, e.g., when Still Water welcomes his nephew at the train station, he calls out, “Hi, Koo!” Still Water introduces Koo to the neighborhood children and engages them in imaginative play. When one confesses that he’s anxious about an upcoming spelling bee, the bear provides the best distraction:  helping out the neighborhood grump, Miss Whitaker.

Time passes quickly. Instead of focusing on his worries, Michael and the other children immerse themselves in drawing, cooking and otherwise cheering up Mrs. Whitaker. They find satisfaction in their accomplishments. In the process she becomes a true friend who then helps Michael prepare for the spelling bee.

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AQ LensAdoptees shoulder a lot of questions about what it means to walk through life as an adoptee. They wait to assemble the complete picture as parents dole out pieces of their “story” in age appropriate increments.

There is great value in helping kids cope with the mystery and challenge of this task by nurturing their sense of capability and meaning. Just like Koo encouraged the children to engage with their neighbor, parents can encourage their child’s willingness to “help.” Sometimes this assistance increases the work instead of lessening it. However, it is by doing that children learn and experience the pleasure of contributing to the family.

The challenge for parents is to “wait” for their children’s learning curves to work through the inept stage until they arrive at the point where their efforts actually.  Encouraging this burgeoning capability benefits everyone, Admittedly, it isn’t easy for parent or child to wait until mastery has replaced the struggling beginner stage.

 

Waiting is an early picture book written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes. A variety of toys rest on a windowsill. Each awaits something different. As the story unfolds, each finally receives their wish. While they wait they spend their time observing the world around them. During that period of waiting, they appreciate many wonderful things. The pastel illustrations drawn with colored pencils and watercolor exude a dreamy quality that strike a complimentary note to the text.

Young readers will enjoy perusing the illustrations for elements that might normally go unnoticed. Each of the toys finds something to appreciate. Their eclectic interests help children to see and value things that might not immediately come to their mind. As with the other two books reviewed in this post, Waiting depicts a strategy that concentrates on appreciating the present even while anticipating the events of the future.

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AQ Lens: Beyond the other insights offered by the two previous books, Waiting includes a unique story thread: one of the toys is a Russian nesting-type doll in the shape of a cat. The reader is asked to predict what the cat is awaiting. Nothing seems obvious. She does not appear to be waiting for any of the same things as the other toys. Finally, the illustration reveals the little cats inside. This offers an easy segue to talk about pregnancy, birth and adoption and how both the expectant mother and the adoptive parents spent their time waiting for the child to arrive. Always allow your child’s maturity and comfort level to guide your conversation. Create an atmosphere of approachability , openness and acceptance.

 

 

Jack & Emma’s Adoption Journey

Jack & Emma's Adoptee JourneySince November is National Adoption Month, I wanted to highlight a book that speaks about adoption through the adoptee’s personal lens. Jack & Emma’s Adoption Journey does just that. It is a short yet powerful book. Written by Pam Kroskie, an adult adoptee, the story focuses on the thoughts and feelings of Jack and Emma. The text on each page is accompanied by an author’s note addressed to the adoptive parent. This side bar clarifies the moment/issue for the parent and shines light on Jack and Emma’s action or thought being depicted on the page.


magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300 (1)Although this book is brief, it touches on some important adoptee issues, e.g., identity questions, yearning to fit in, anxiety, fear of rejection, wondering about birth parents, ambivalent feelings about birthdays, self blame, anger  and longing to understand biological ancestry. All of these thoughts are common to adoptees. Mentioning them in the story, helps to normalize their thought processes and opens the door to important family conversations in which parents can listen, validate and support their child’s feelings and concerns. Jack and Emma’s Adoptee Journey would be an excellent addition to the family adoption library.

When parents share such conversations, they reassure their children that their love is unconditional and does not require kids to choose between their two families. It affirms that each is an integral and treasured part of the child, and by extension to the entire family.

Pam KroskiePam Kroskie served as the past President of the American Adoption Congress, is a Congressional Angel in Adoption Award Winner, the current president of H.E.A.R. (Hoosiers for Equal Access to Records,) and for many years has raised her voice on behalf of adoptees. She hosts AAC Adoption News and Views on Blog Talk Radio.

Souping Things Up

Pumpkin Soup  written and illustrated by Helen Cooper unfolds a reinterpretation of the classic “Stone Soup.”  This retelling features many delightful twists. As in Stone Soup, the characters work together to create a tasty concoction. A bagpiping cat, a banjo-strumming squirrel and a singing duck joyfully prepare marvelous pumpkin soup. “Everyone has his own job to do. Everyone is happy. Or so it seems…”

Then the story shifts to a new direction. No longer about collaboration and pooling of scarce resources, Pumpkin Soup now focuses on the tension among the former friends. Duck isn’t content with her assigned task. She insists on trying her hand at stirring the soup. But, Cat and Squirrel wish for things to stay the same. Duck insists on having her chance to stir. The friends quarrel. Angry and frustrated, Duck leaves the cabin.

The story continues to unfold as Squirrel and Cat come to wish they had given Duck a chance. They worry when Duck doesn’t return. “Not even for lunch.” Young readers will readily identify with this conflict-among-friends scenario because it happens so often in their own lives.

The book does a great job of capturing the character’s frustration, remorse and most importantly their commitment to their friendship as well as their willingness to repair the breach. Their solution provides an excellent template for readers to embrace.

Pumpkin Soup offers an important reminder to parents as well that we must allow kids to try things. Although it takes longer and often results in a mess or in parents having to be satisfied with a less-than-perfect performance. The reward is a child’s increased competency and a reinforcement of their willingness to persevere through multiple “imperfect” attempts to ultimate success.

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magnifying lens AQ.2AQ Lens: Many adopted kids avoid trying new things because they feel that failure will result in loss of acceptance, approval and at their most anxious level of fear, a loss of their family.

As Cat and Squirrel worry about their missing friend, they wonder if Duck has found “better friends.” It would be an easy segue to talking about loyalty among friends and then on to discussions of family permanency.

 

Ditch Perfect. Embrace OK.

the oka bookAmy Krause Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld have collaborated on many delightful books. The OK Book  is another of their quirky and insightful picture books that delivers a powerful message: sometimes “OK” is the channel to excellence not its enemy! Concise text is paired with illustrations that perfectly further the larger story without being preachy.

Rosenthal has an exceptional talent for capturing a simple premise and highlighting it in a way that makes readers think, “It’s obvious and so true. How did I miss that?

Lichtenheld’s brilliant and precise illustrations transform the letters O and  into a recognizable stick figure who serves as the main character. Simple, unexpected and very effective, these graphics bring the story to life!

Young children dream of being the best super hero, athlete, or most-liked friend. Their fantasies overflow with images of themselves shining above the competition. Such magical thinking rarely understands that it takes time consuming effort and practice to achieve such excellence. Much to their chagrin, they must work through the often-discouraging process–and hard work–of being a beginner who struggles and fails through multiple attempts. All too often, their spirits waiver and they give up. This book reinforces the idea that OK is the first step on the long road to expertise. As parents we work to encourage this attitude of perseverance  while they march their way towards mastery.

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magnifying lens AQ.2AQ Lens: Many adopted children struggle with fears of rejection and of not being good enough. Some pursue perfectionism in a mistaken belief that it is the only way to prevent the loss of their adoptive family. After all, their first family rejected* them. Why couldn’t it happen again? This need to be perfect makes them fear failure. Although most kids hate the floundering feeling of being a beginner, for some adopted children this weakness feels threatening and unsafe. To ensure they always measure up, they tackle only what they know they can do well.

The OK Book is an excellent way to talk about the challenge and importance of the uphill journey from beginner to winner. It can help parents uncover their child’s hidden beliefs and fears. Too often kids infer that parental love is conditional on performance. This peek into their hearts and mind offers a wonderful chance for parents to reassure their child and become closer. These types of conversations help to build essential life skills: security and emotional literacy.

Bonus: the message of The OK Book is often one which parents also need to hear and remember.

*Adoptees yearn for frequent reassurance that their adoption did NOT result from the child’s inadequacies but from adult problems, lack of resources and capabilities.

 

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!

 

Lola loves stories.51C6XrXxyNL._SX436_BO1,204,203,200_

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