Peace: Mindset and Heartset in Action

Peace Mindset and Heartset in Action

Peace grows out of a considerate mindset, heartset in action steeped in respect. Even small gestures of kindness add up to build relationships and circumstances where everyone feels heard, accepted and valued. Peace is an Offering by Annette LeBox and illustrated by Stephanie Graegin shows readers how children and adults create peace, one action, thought and emotion at a time.

Peace is too important a subject to leave to chance or to dismiss as a purely adult concern. All of us, young and old, have an abiding interest in nurturing peace. We are each safer, happier and healthier when we live in peace. Whether at home, on the schoolyard or the international stage, peace is benefits all of us. It is the blessing we can share, the dream for which we can strive and the worthy goal which can truly achieve.

Delicate watercolor and pencil illustrations set a dreamy mood that reflect wistfulness as well as possibility. The characters include a diverse ethnicities. One two-page spread depicts the NYC skyline. The text says, “… even in the wake of tragedy …  in the rubble of a fallen tower … you might find her [peace] in the hat of a hero…” The story highlights ways in which we can create peace within our families, classrooms, neighborhoods and towns. While it targets children, adults who read this lovely book will be moved by its eloquent and abiding message: peace begins with each of us individually, one moment, one action, one thought at a time.

Adoption-attuned Lens magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300

On a daily basis news reports on terrorism, terrorists, immigrants, government policies, etc. Children overhear these conversations. with their limited knowledge and life experience, they struggle to make sense of the conversation. They struggle too, to determine their position and safety within families, communities and our country. Often they overhear the negative judgements about immigrants, people of different ethnicities. Many adoptees feel a deep sense of being “other” and will worry that they too will be seen as less-than. Less than welcome. Less than real. Less than American. This book offers a chance for parents to reassure them of their value and permanent place in families.

When families set commit to a mindset and heartset of peace, their actions and choices reflect that commitment and inspire and encourage others.

Peace is an Offering can open conversations about peace–or the absence of it. Parents can elicit children’s thoughts and concerns and then address them. They can also embark on a family project that identifies ways that they can grow peace within their family, schools, etc.

What Will You Do for PeacePeace Mindset and Heartset in Action Do for Peace? written and illustrated by New York City youth ages eleven to nineteen. The text of this book, told in their own words, reflect the actual experiences of young people on the tragic day when terrorists destroyed the Twin Towers.

It captures the confusion, worry, heartache which they experienced as they tried to understand the events of that dreadful day. One child wrote, “It will live like thorns in my heart.” Another wrote, “Was America ever going to be the same? This made me think about peace.” The first half focuses on telling the children’s stories.

The book then shifts to focus on ways they could work to create peace. Each of them understood they could personally make an impact. And, they also realized that this awareness and choice-in-action must extend beyond NYC and the families who lost loved ones. They wanted to challenge all of us to recognize our personal responsibility for growing peace. The logical extension of this idea became the book’s title: What Will You Do for Peace?

Award-winning author-illustrator Faith Ringgold wrote the introduction. The question posed in the title is one which each of us answers every day in the way we think, speak and interact with others. In today’s political climate nationally as well as internationally, we face an immensely important question: What ARE we willing to do for peace? How will each of us individually choose a mindset and heartset in action for for peace? How will we expand that stance when we step into  the wider world?

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300Adoption-attuned Lens 

The AQ suggestions for the previous book can equally apply to this book. Families can also follow the lead  of What Will You Do for Peace and draw their own book depicting what they as individuals and as a family can/will do for peace. Listen to kids ideas. We can learn so much about what they think, feel and believe, especially when they are talking about something about which they feel strongly.


Peace Mindset and Heartset in ActionPeace written and illustrate by Wendy Anderson Halperin delights visually. The delicate and detailed illustrations convey a dreamy quality that suits the premise of the book: peace is an achievable dream. Each of us has a role to play in the creation of peace on a small scale–in families, homes, schools, neighborhoods, etc. These efforts then combine to generate a surge toward peace on a macro scale (state, country, continent, the world.)

Halperin uses text as a drawing element. Each page displays a prominent line of text asserting a peace-connected thought . The balance of the page includes vignettes that expand on the concept. It also includes more sophisticated quotes which further elaborate of the main point.

When reading to youngsters, adults can narrate the main point and skip the more sophisticated material. For more mature audiences narrators can read all the text aloud. The gorgeous illustrations invite discussion and will appeal to all ages. Peace is a lovely book that will plant seeds of thought which can be nurtured into action.

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300Adoption-attuned Lens Some of the comment details mention ideas which adoptees and their families can interpret through an adoption perspective. For example, this quote from Paul Bennett:  “How do we put ourselves in other people’s shoes and really feel what they feel and then use that to fuel solutions?” Families can explore how they to help people to understand adoption better.


Right to Vote Earned Through Bravery

Vote, the Day Gogo Went to .Rights. suffrage51aaST9VCXL._SX382_BO1,204,203,200_TV coverage on the upcoming presidential election floods the airwaves. Children  will certainly recognize importance of voting. Most kids naturally assume that all citizens have the right to vote and that it has always been the case. When children learn that in the past women were banned and minorities were barred from voting, kids are puzzled and shocked by this unfairness.

Unless we share the history of the rocky road to universal suffrage, kids will be completely unaware of the sacrifices made by courageous individuals to ensure that women and people of color had both the legal right and the actual access to cast their ballots. In many countries, including our own, the right to vote did not come easily.

Narrated through the voice of six-year-old Thembi’s eyes, The Day Gogo Went to Vote is set in South Africa. It shares a tender, universal story of the bond between a grandchild and Gogo, her beloved grandparent. Their bond is deep and affectionate. Little Thembe is concerned by her Gogo’s declining health. After recovering from a serious illness, Gogo no longer leaves her home. She falls too weak even to attend church; instead, the priest comes to her

Imagine Thembe’s shock when she hears 100-year-old Gogo announce she will take the bus to the poll and insists that show will walk if she has to do so. No matter what it takes, she will vote. The little girl is stunned by Gogo’s vehemence and her passion. From her grandmother’s stance Thembe understands voting is a very important right. Children will be amazed to learn that the events in this story occurred, not long, long ago but in April 1994 after most of their own parents were born.

Although set in South Africa, this story can easily open conversations about various groups in America who had to struggle for their right to vote. Written by Elinor Batezat Sisulu and illustrated by Sharon Wilson.

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300Adoption-attuned Lens:

Adoptees benefit whenever they reduce feelings of isolation or of being the only one who faces being “othered.” One way to create this sense of shared experience is by learning that there have been many groups who have faced the  trauma of being “othered,” of being treated differently because of the way one’s family was formed, or one’s gender, faith or race. This heart-warming book illustrates that one can succeed in the face of huge difficulties and defeat the prejudices and limitations which cultures impose. It is possible to expect and receive the full measure of one’s rights as person and as a citizen.
Our theme for today’s Diverse Children’s Books linkup is Favorite International Book(s) for Children. Share your favorite book or books that take place in a different country than where you live! (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, September 3rd and on the first and third Saturdays of every month.

Upcoming Themes

Our theme for the current linkup is Favorite International Book(s) for Children. Themes are a suggestion only; all diverse book posts are welcome. If you’re interested, you can start planning now for our upcoming themes …

  • September 3rd linkup: Diverse Book(s) Featuring a Character with a Disability. (Need ideas? Check out past winners of the Schneider Family Book Awards.)
  • September 17th linkup: Favorite Bilingual Book(s). Think about your favorite book or books that are published in bilingual (or multiple language) editions.

Most Clicked Post from Last Time

Our most clicked post from the previous #diversekidlit is Top Ten Tuesday: Books Set Outside of the United States (By Continent) from Ricki and Kellee at Unleashing Readers. They each share a favorite book from the five populated continents, excluding North America.

#DiverseKidLit is Hosted by:

Katie @ The Logonauts
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Try, Try, Try Again, Failing Forward into Success

Timeless Thomas51TxnoesHmL._SX449_BO1,204,203,200_Timeless Thomas: How Thomas Edison Changed Our Lives written and illustrated by Gene Barretta is a fun family read, that focuses on learning through failure. It opens with the lines, “Have you ever thought about inventing something of your own? You’re never too young to try.” What a fun invitation to spark a dream  in a child’s mind. Heck, I will paraphrase that quote and say, “You’re never too old to try.”

Barretta does a great job of connecting specific inventions to how they relate to kids’ lives today. Two-page spreads feature kids enjoying the  current versions of an Edison-shaped-invention on the left and Edison’s lab on the right. This helps to sustain the reader’s interest in a topic which might otherwise be a bit dry. The illustrations are energetic and humorous. Those set in current times include a multicultural cast of characters.

Viewing failure as the stepping stone to success is one foundational theme of the book as reflected in this Edison quote: “I know several thousand things that won’t work.” He learned from failure instead of allowing it to end his dreams. Timeless Thomas conveys this essential life lesson well.

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300Adoption-attuned (AQ) Lens: Throughout their lives, adoptees encounter questions about their origins, the validity and “realness” of their families, and why they were adopted. It is easy to become frustrated and tired of such intrusive questions. This book might help them see that each time they set questioners “straight” they are helping to educate people about adoption. Their efforts contribute to improving our culture’s understanding of adoption.

Young readers might draw another important message: anything worth accomplishing requires great effort, dogged persistence and takes time–lots of it.

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


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.




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.



Summertime and the Living Is … Easy?

firefly nightMy memories of childhood summers conjure thoughts of unscheduled days at the beach, of playing with friends, all  balanced with lots of time to daydream, read and spend time with family. (We had no TV, if you can even imagine that!) Now summer looks and feels quite different. Day care, summer camps, programmed activities and TV dominate many kids’ summer days. Parents struggle to engage their childrens’ attention, to divert them from the various tech and media available to them.

Still, summer offers a wonderful opportunity to build positive memories of time having fun together. Fun is FUN-damental to building strong family ties. From my own childhood, I recall scampering across the grass collecting fireflies. Their glow seemed magical and filled us with wonder. Because It’s a Firefly Night by Diane Ochiltree captures this delightful moment, I truly enjoyed reading it. The little girl’s excitement is palpable when her Daddy tell her, “It’s a firefly night.” The reader senses that this is a special ritual that the child shares with her daddy and something she will treasure down the years of her life. Betsy Snyder’s luminous art brings the rhyming/counting text to life. Children can make a game of searching for and tracking the number of bugs, flowers, etc. And have fun in the process!

Goodnight, fireflyFor another variation on the firefly theme, also consider Goodnight, Firefly by Gabriel Aborozo. Vivid inky black illustrations splashed with small strokes of glowing yellow and apple red set the perfect backdrop for the text. “Nina was scared of the dark…” Children will identify with Nina’s fear, “scary shadows … whispering of monsters…” and her great relief when she spies the welcome light of fireflies “dancing.”

In both books, the girl treasures her captive firefly and yet … she comes to understand that she must release it so that the firefly can live. This is a great concept for children—and parents–to understand. We seek to raise children who grow to be strong and independent, to provide them with sturdy “roots and wings.” Unless we allow freedom, relationships are built on captivity, not trust and respect. Like the firefly, we must release our children and free them to follow their paths. In Albert Schweitzer’s words: “If you love something so much, let it go. If it comes back, it was meant to be; if it doesn’t, it never was.”


Wondering about the science behind a firefly’s luminous glow? Check out this link from National Geographic.

magnifying lens AQ.2AQ*Lens: We parents must balance our roles as leaders, teachers and the family “authority,” with time enjoying one another. For children who struggle to maintain self-regulation, this is especially necessary.  (The challenge is to have fun without devolving into chaos.) Strong relationships weave families together.

If we hope to grow children who absorb and embrace our family values and beliefs, we must build relationships of respect and cooperation then cement them with a hefty dose of fun. In the absence of fun, kids will view parents primarily as the enforcers not the compass, the leaders, and heart of their world. Parents who balance “enforcement” mode with plenty of family fun keep kids engaged and interested in spending time as a family. Spending time “in joy” together is a key component of attachment, a high priority in adoptive families.

How will you create magic family moments? Hunting fireflies? Counting Stars? Watching the sunset? What ideas can you share with us?


A Family Project based on “The Best Part of Me” by Wendy Ewald

Best Part of MeKids sometimes have difficulty appreciating their own “beauty.” This is particularly true of kids who have experienced “Tough Starts.” Consider sharing the book, “The Best Part of Me” a collection of photographs by Wendy Ewald. She asked third, fourth and fifth grade students to choose which part of themselves they liked best and then they shared their thoughts about their choice and posed for a picture.

The prose is not polished. (The text is written by the children.) But, the children’s genuine feelings shine through. Much is revealed about how they view themselves, what they value, and how they identify their place in their families, communities and the world.

This would make a great family project. It presupposes that there is something that the child values about themselves. Perhaps it will assist them in appreciating many. Join in the fun and snap pictures of your “assets.” This is the time to lay down any self-judgments about yourself. Lead the way. Snap a picture of those arms that have embraced your kids, the lap in which they’ve snuggled, the shoulder on which they’ve cried. This exercise can open your mind as much as it inspires the children.

Put aside worries of being “enough” and model an enthusiastic self-acceptance. Write down your thoughts. Consider poetry, a song, a letter. Let the acceptance flow. Gather everything into a family “book.” Decide with whom you will share it. Remember, your kids will be watching; they will sniff out any self-judgment you have. This is the perfect activity to teach them self-appreciation, to break free of arbitrary—and unreasonable—societal standards of beauty. You are the model, the teacher, the leader and they are your most important students. What greater gift can you present them than to value and appreciate themselves.


I’ll lead by example. My favorite parts of me: my smile and …smile.gayle