Relationships Comfort across Time and Space

relationships-comfort-across--time-spaceThe transition of summer into autumn marks a twist of time that is familiar to all of us, young and old, student and graduate, parent and child. School bells ring across the country, marking the end of summer. Once again, children will leave their homes for the hubbub of school.

This separation excites some children. They race to rejoin friends whom they haven’t seen all summer. Other children, especially in the younger grades, feel angst, loneliness and, fear.

Change by its very nature, upends the status quo. It demands that we throw off the comfort of the familiar and, step through the open door into the possibility of “next.” Both scary and exciting, change is the gateway.

Emotions run high and we yearn to have witnesses to the events—whether it is to celebrate, encourage or, comfort. Joy shared is joy multiplied. Fear shared is fear halved. Sun Kisses, Moon Hugs offers an engaging metaphor that can reassure little ones that the connections that tie us to the people we love endures across distances of time and space. That they can be invisible witnesses to their lives. Whether their separation concerns focus on parents who are at the office, on the road, across the world—whatever the reason—their presence is constant. Sun Kisses, Moon Hugs shows how that affection can be seen and felt in myriad ways, rain or shine, night or day.

Reassure children that connections to people they love endures across distances of time & space. Click To Tweet

Author Susan Schaefer Bernardo and Illustrator Courtenay Fletcher have created a charming book that will uplift and reassure children. Adults who read the book will find a lovely way of describing the powerful emotions that connect them to the people in their lives. (It’s not just kids who experience the pangs of separation, adults do also.)

 Adoption-attuned Lens:  This story might easily trigger a conversation about the connection, longing and questions about birth parents that adoptees have. They may find reassurance in imagining these important people being present in the constants of sun- and moon-shine, raindrops and snowflakes, butterflies and rainbows, storms or changing seasons.

 

https://www.amazon.com/Kisses-Moon-Susan-Schaefer-Bernardo/dp/0971122814/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1503846427&sr=1-1&keywords=Sun+Kisses%2C+Moon+hugs

One Family of Man

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

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

“One is one and everyone.

One earth. One world.

One Family.”

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

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

Our theme for #DiverseKidLit in April is Favorites. 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.)

Exciting News!

Becker’s School Supplies has offered a fabulous prize for participating in our upcoming #diversekidlit Twitter chat on Monday, April 10th from 8-9 pm ET. One winner will receive all four of these wonderful diverse picture books: If Kids Ran the World; Golden Domes, Silver Lanterns; I’m New Here; and Same, Same But Different. These would make a wonderful addition to your home, classroom, or library.

You can find all the details about our upcoming chat, including a list of questions that we will be discussing, by clicking here. We hope to “see” you on Monday, April 10th from 8-9 pm ET – and good luck!

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, April 15th and on the first and third Saturdays of every month.

Upcoming Theme & Chat

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

  • April 15th continues the celebration of the one-year anniversary of #diversekidlit! Our theme with be Favorites. Share your top diverse books or authors or topics.
  • Join us on Monday, April 10th from 8-9 pm Eastern Time for a Twitter chat about Diverse Children’s Books! In honor of one-year of the #diversekidlit linkup, we’ll discuss issues and challenges facing diverse books, and share our favorites. We hope you’ll join us!
  • Future hops will take place on May 6th and 20th. Leave your ideas for a theme in the comments.

Most Clicked Post from Last Time

The most-clicked post from the previous #diversekidlit was Gayle’s wonderful list of books for Planting Seeds. Harvesting Change. Making Choices. These three books emphasize the central theme of caring for our environment as a means of both action and activism. A great tie-in to doing some of your own planting too!

#DiverseKidLit is Hosted by:

Gayle 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

#DiverseKidLit Guest Hosts for April

Becky @ Franticmommmy     Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Pinterest / Instagram

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

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

Goodwill to All Lights the Season with Hope and Joy

trees-of-the-dancing-goats-51omzsvscgl-_sx377_bo1204203200_Christians around the world celebrate the Christmas holiday and its beautiful message of compassion, inclusion, hope, and light a season with good will to all.  The Trees of the Dancing Goats by multi-award-winning author/illustrator Patricia Polacco. The curiously-titled book delivers an inspiring story of neighbor helping neighbor, Jew respecting Christian and reveals how one family “rescued”  Chritmas for their ailing community.

The cover features a childhood version of Polacco. In her hands she carries both a menorah and a tiny, decorated Christmas tree. Readers will intuit that the story blends parts of both traditions. They will discover a heartwarming, fact-based story that will inspire children and adults. The story takes place in Michigan where the snow falls deep, the temperatures plummet and neighborliness flourishes. When scarlet fever devastates the community, leaving families too ill to put up and decorate their trees, Patricia’s family saves the day. This  story will touch the hearts of adult and child readers and remind us that the best gifts are intangible.

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300 Adoption-attuned Lens: This book can open conversations about how we live together, first within our families and then beyond to our communities. Adoptive families combine disparate elements–birth and adoptive family heritages and traditions–so they will appreciate this story as a model for blending and respecting both.

Family is a Way of Being, Loving and Caring

Recently diversity has been under siege in our country. More than ever, we must learn about other people, other cultures, other family constellations. Understanding yields acceptance and respect. #DiverseKidLit shines a much needed light on difference. The books reviewed today all focus on what it means to be part of a family, whether in our intimate nuclear families or as part of the family of man. Family is a way of being, of loving, caring, and not just genetics.

The Family Book .51eLY1EkfZL._SY498_BO1,204,203,200_The Family Book  written and illustrated by Todd Parr with his signature bold style and brevity, captures the variety and importance of family. His illustrations include diverse “races” (pink, blues, yellow, green, etc.), numbers, and configurations–including single parents as well as same-gender parents. The colorful illustrations catch the eye, hold the reader’s attention and affirm the idea that family is about love and connection. Whether a family looks like our own or not is irrelevant. What is important is that they consider themselves family and love and support one another accordingly.

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300 AQ Lens: For adopted children this book can offer a way of discussing differences like race and/or family composition in an abstract way: pink, green and blue people which offers an insulating layer that may make it feel less “personal” and thus “safer” to explore. #AAQ

 

Who We Are. 61AGqwNYmoL._SX451_BO1,204,203,200_Who We Are by Robie H. Harris and illustrated by Nadine Bernard Westcott, is subtitled: All about Being the Same and Being Different, is straightforward in its efforts to validate diversity in individuals and in their families. It goes into greater detail than Parr’s The Family Book and is appropriate for a slightly older reader. Using the concept of visiting “Funland” as a logical place to encounter an array families, Who We Are focuses on the commonalities that we share and still affirms that each of us is unique.

The illustrations are broadly inclusive in terms of ethnicity, race, ability, family constellation and body type and activity preferences. The text describes how sometimes differences can make us hesitate or be afraid of people who differ from us in some way. It explains how melanin influences eye, hair and skin color and then highlights the commonalities of the fundamental humanity that we share.
magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300 AQ Lens: For adopted children this book can offer an easy opening to discussing race as well as the many ways in which children can be both different and similar to their adopted families–and/or their birth families if they have an open adoption or knowledge of their birth information. The tone of the book is both affirming and supportive. #AAQ Kids can be both different & similar to both their families--adopted & birth. Click To Tweet

All the World.51vxq61dL0L._SY478_BO1,204,203,200_All the World  is written by Liz Garton Scanlon and illustrated by Marla Frazee, strives to picture the universals that all people and families share: family love, the pleasure of play–and its variety, parental nurturing, etc.  The book repeats the refrain: “All the world is …” then the detailed illustrations capture many ways in which each concept is embodied. The vignettes overflow with examples of variety; we see types of cars, boats, gardens, byways, weather, foods, etc. There’s truly something for everyone. The delicate rhymes conclude: Hope and peace and love and trust/ All the world is all of us.” Children will appreciate that the world surrounds us and is within ourselves as well.

I predict that this atmospheric book will be one which readers will select from their shelves again and again. Each reading will yield a new level of appreciation.
magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300 AQ Lens: adopted children this book can offer a chance to see diversity in a larger swath because the double spread illustrations depict many ways of seeing or experiencing a concept. Instead of seeing difference in an isolated moment or single example, it is seen as part of a complex fabric that holds the varying elements of the spectrum simultaneously.

Here Is the Baby here is the baby.51Vrd+LHFnL._SX436_BO1,204,203,200_ by Polly Kanevsky is a charming book which readers will select from their shelves again and again.  It follows a baby throughout his day. Readers travel with him from Mama retrieving him from his crib until she eases him down for his evening’s rest. During baby’s busy day, his parents and sibling, feed, care for and play with him. Clearly he is a well-loved and nurtured child.

Daddy is the one who walks sister to school, strolls baby around the neighborhood and brings him to the library for story time and plays with him at the park. This is a welcome depiction of hands-on fathering! Although the family is Caucasian, some limited diversity is represented in the characters who appear in the background.
magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300 AQ Lens: For adopted children this book shows both parents as involved caretakers. though the story depicts a two-parent family, much of the story shows Dad doing the parenting. This may help it appeal to families that have only a father (or fathers). #AAQ Lens

Our theme for this month’s Diverse Children’s Books linkups is Favorite Children’s Books Featuring an LGBTQ Character(s). (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, December 3rd and on the first and third Saturdays of every month.

Upcoming Theme

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

  • December 3rd linkup: Favorite Holiday Books. (Please feel free to share any holiday resources, not just winter holidays.) We will only hold 1 linkup in December, which will be open all month long.
  • January 7th and 21st linkups: Human Rights. In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which is celebrated in the US in January, think about your favorite books to share with children about the importance and the history of human rights and/or civil rights.

ABC cover with badges

Most Clicked Post from Last Time

We Need Family for a Lifetime: November Is National Adoption Month.

In addition to the previous #diversekidlit linkup, Gayle shares several great book recommendations about adoption and adoptive families.

This is an important reminder about making sure that all children and all families find themselves in literature. Thanks, Gayle!

#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!

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!

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Cinderella Around the World

family readingFairy tales are a perennial favorite with children. They appear in all cultures. Infused with regional/national flavor and history, they hold common elements. They offer an easy and effective way of broadening your child’s involvement in the greater world. (This is important as technology shrinks our modern world and increasingly reinforces our connection as citizens of the world.)

 

The Cinderella tale, for example has been shared through the generations around the world. While young readers will recognize the fundamental similarities, they will also be fascinated–perhaps even surprised–to see the myriad ways in which the tale can be tweaked. In addition to cultural nuances,  some Cinderella tales spin a yarn with a male hero. This provides a fun and unexpected twist and demonstrates another way in which difference can be embraced instead of feared.

Cendrillon.Caribbean Cinderella.61BFZ1ecydL._SX463_BO1,204,203,200_

Reading several versions of a tale like Cinderella, can also jump start a child’s imagination and help him to understand there isn’t necessarily only one “right” way for things to be. Why not explore the world through Cinderella’s tale? You’ll find many chances to talk about your child’s beliefs about magical solutions, persistence, kindness, bullying etc. These are important topics that you will want to be intentional about nurturing and shaping.

 

Some versions of Cinderella infuse the tale with Cindy Ellen. American West Cinderella.61nQJOTv9IL._SY417_BO1,204,203,200_

regional flavor like, The Salmon Princess: An Alaskan Cinderella, or Cindy-Ellen: A Wild West Cinderella, or Smokey Mountain Rose: An Appalachian Cinderella

 

 

Appalachian Cinderella.518tfdZW0XL._SX367_BO1,204,203,200_Others recast the story the tale in a contemporary light, like Cinder-Elly which is a rap-type retelling with an urban setting. Check out the book cover array for additional suggestions. Invite your child to create his/her own version of the tale. Will the hero be male or female? Contemporary or from times past? Set locally or in a more exotic land? Have fun!

Perhaps your child will rewrite the story so that Cinderella creates her own solution instead of being rescued. Start the project and see where it leads you.

 

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AQ Lens. As I’ve consistently written, adoptive families live with the duality of being seen as both the same and different from biologically formed families. Reading versions on a Cinderella theme can easily segue into conversations about how one’s adoptive family is also a variation of a family–not better or less than–yet none-the-less different. Children may share some of their complex feelings about this “different-ness.” Such big feelings are a lot for a child to shoulder alone. A book that helps kids bring their thoughts into the open and get the support they need is well worth reading.

As you read stories that differ culturally, read with a sharp eye for any bias in the texts and/or illustrations. This too,is an important lesson: look at things with a judicious eye and do not accept something simply because it is in print, on-line, etc. Start early to teach your children to be savvy, critical thinkers.

Rough-face Girl.41PgXz2z3jL._SX380_BO1,204,203,200_

Golden sandal.61FQFW87XTL._SY473_BO1,204,203,200_

Egyptian Cinderella.61WHLPPrxWL._SX389_BO1,204,203,200_

 

 

 

 

 

Adelita. Mexican Cinderella.51A6Y827nOL._SX390_BO1,204,203,200_Anklet for a Princess. India Cinderella.510X4AQ7B8L._SY390_BO1,204,203,200_

Domitila.Mexican Cinderella.513558DVPKL._SX354_BO1,204,203,200_

Abedaha.Philipine Cinderella.61D-X4LuYZL._SX402_BO1,204,203,200_

Shades of Black: A Celebration of Our Children

 

Shades of Black: A Celebration of Our ChildrenShades of Black is also written by Sandra L. Pinckney with photographs by Myles C. Pinkney. It  is a delightful book that examines race from a slant of color appreciation. In direct contrast to the popular (but ill-placed notion*) of adoptive parents seeking to create “color blind” families, Shades of Black asks the reader to notice race and to notice the diversity that racial identity includes.

The text is a rich blend of vivid and unexpected metaphor. The accompanying photographs bring these novel images to life. The book’s premise is presented with respect and warmth and depicts the spectrum of skin tones of children who identify themselves as black. All families can benefit from reading it as a great way to explore race. Black children will especially appreciate the message of inclusion and celebration which the book offers.

Shades of Black: A Celebration of Our Children      starstarstarstar

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AQLens: As often stated in this blog, whether we are transracial families or not, adoptive families have a vested interest in cultivating tolerance, inclusion and multiculturalism. We are poster families for “difference” and frequently face the challenges of people questioning the validity of our families, posing intrusive/offensive questions and imposing expectations of gratitude (on our children,) and heroism (on us, for “rescuing” our kids.)

Beyond the obvious message of appreciating the rainbow of humanity’s color, this book invites discussion of race, of difference, of acceptance and of respect. Some might argue that the book reinforces the belief that anyone of a mixed heritage which includes only the slightest bit of African-American ancestry might more accurately consider themselves of mixed race and not simply as black. These are important topics for adoptive families yet they are not easy to introduce; this book offers an excellent gateway.

*Integrating a child’s birth heritage Once a child joins a family, his heritage is grafted to the entire family. It is not something that pertains only to him; the entire family honors and lives it. Beyond an occasional ethnic meal, trip to an exotic restaurant or occasional reading of a cultural fairy tale, families must immerse themselves as deeply as if it were their own natal heritage.

Transracial families must actively develop friendships and expose kids to mentors that share their race. Parents must foster a spirit of curiosity and learning around race. Recognize that a transracially adopted child’s experience as he journeys through the world will differ from yours. Moreover, because of the reality of white privilege, it will vary when you are with him and when he is on his own. Validate his experiences. Help him develop skills and tools to successfully navigate his challenges. Have conversations that empower. Don’t simply fan angry feelings. Avoid the fantasy of “color blindness.” Instead, foster color appreciation. Treating race as if it were irrelevant sends the hurtful message that it lacks value and importance.

Parents and children must walk in one another’s worlds and share the experience of being the minority. Teach kids how to handle prejudice. Explain your coping strategies. Be straightforward about the challenges. Acknowledge the reality of discrimination and work together to prepare them to face a world that notices the skin we are in. Read more of this earlier blog post.

Sibling Relationships, Learning to Get Along

Peace, Bugs and UnderstandingHelping our children navigate the changing seas of sibling relationships is one of many important tasks faced by parents. Sometimes we intervene while other times we allow our children to work it out themselves. Learning to compromise, to speak up for oneself and to disagree respectfully is an essential life skill. Sibling relationships provide an opportunity to learn these basics. Peace, Bugs and Understanding: An Adventure in Sibling Harmony by Gail Silver and illustrated by Youme Nguyen Ly explores this subject. Lily is tired of her little sister spoiling things and she envies the attention that little Ruby garners from her parents.

When the toddler “ruins” her family’s picnic, anger churns inside Lily and leaves her gruff and frustrated. Luckily, her dad has come prepared. He shares a special book with Lily–her grandfather’s boyhood journal from 1923. The journal describes his experience with a talking frog, an annoying sibling and the overwhelming weight of anger. Exhausted by the burden of his angry feelings, he turns to deep breathing and a series of prayerful meditations:

 

Breathing in, breathing out…

May I be happy’

May I be safe,

May I be strong,

May I live with peace….

May we all be happy,

May we all be safe.

May we all live with peace.”

Lily, immersed in the book, loses track of her little sister. When she looks for Ruby, for a brief moment, Lily cannot find her. In that space, Lily realizes how much she loves her sister.

magnifying lens AQ.2AQ Lens: All children experience feelings of inadequacy, rivalry and anger. For adoptees, this emotion is poignant and frightening. The flip side of “not good enough” is an intense need for attention. Readers will identify with Lily’s frustration. They can benefit from the strategies modeled in the book. The lush, pastel watercolor illustrations evoke a soft contemplative mood. The presence of Asian characters adds a welcome note of diversity.

I rate  Peace, Bugs and Understanding: An Adventure in Sibling Harmony  starstarstarstar

 

A Nest Is Noisy … Like A Family

A Nest Is NoisyFamilies come in such diverse variety. As adoptive families we search for opportunities to highlight this range of difference in a way that equates with “interesting” instead of odd or abnormal.  Diana Hutts Aston’s fascinating book, A Nest Is Noisy delves into the natural world to depict some of the many wonderful ways that animals prepare to house and protect their young. Illustrated with exquisite detail by Sylvia Long, the book is a feast for the eyes as well as a smorgasbord of interesting information.

The illustrations add depth and interest. Children can spend a great deal of time studying them for hidden details. They’ll enjoy a game of “I Spy” if they are challenged to look for tiny details.  Readers will see the many commonalities as well as differences in how various animals prepare for parenthood. After reading the book, challenge your child to look for nests in his neighborhood.

Readers learn about nests: the biggest and smallest, nests built in trees and on the ground, constructed underground and created underwater. It features birds, fish, and snakes, bees, frogs and alligators, turtles, ants and platypuses. Kids will find a favorite among the crowd. They’ll enjoy learning about all the different ways animal parents prepare for the arrival of their offspring.

 The AQ* Lens: A Nest Is Noisy even features two varieties of birds that lay their eggs in a nest and then allow others to nurture and raise them. This offers a chance to segue into a discussion of how some animal parents are not able to nurture and raise their babies. Instead, these birds carefully choose a nest where their little ones will receive the care they need and deserve. The book identifies one nest as “adopted.”

Tread lightly, if you choose to connect this thread to human parents making an adoption plan.  (It is an easy tack to take.) Just remember to speak with respect and empathy for birthparents. Highlight the care with which they identified a new “nest” for their child. Explain that adult reasons and adult shortcomings necessitated an adoption. Make it clear that it was not the baby’s fault or due to any shortcomings on the child’s part. Ask your child what he thinks the animal might be feeling. (This may give you some insight to his own feelings about adoption loss.) Come from curiosity so that you allow them to express genuine feelings and not deliver what they think you want to hear.

A Nest Is Noisy is a beautiful book, chock full of information.I rate it as

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