Families: Each is Special and Unique and Deserves Respect

a family is a family.51FYQ-KDJKL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_Family Is A Family written by Sara O’Leary and illustrated by Qin Leng projects the reader into a moment that overflows with emotion. To show her students that all their families are each special and unique and deserve respect, a teacher asks the class to share what each student feels makes their family special.

Told through the words of a little girl, the story begins, “I went last because…”

What a powerful opening. Who among us hasn’t wanted to go last because we feared not fitting in or felt our situation was something to be embarrassed by, ashamed of, or which others might find inferior in some way? I’m guessing as children we all had some of these kind of moments. (Perhaps even as adults, we’ve had times when our stomach clenched as we imagined how others might judge our looks, our homes, our families … us.)

The story proceeds. Child after child describes his/her family. The reader meets an inclusive array of family configurations. Diversity abounds! We see step-families, interracial families, families with many children, foster families, families with only one child, single-parent families, families with two moms or two dads, families who “match” and families who don’t. The stories premise comes across clearly: all families are unique and… that variety does not make one type of family better or less than others. What counts is that families love, support and connect with one another, not how they look, how they came together, nor whether they “match” or not.

Leng’s delicate illustrations portray the families with a warm and whimsical touch which adds charm and appeal to the book.

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300 Adoption-attuned Lens: Family provides us a space where we feel connected, valued and safe. This book highlights some of the different ways families are formed. This is important for adoptees because they often operate under the misunderstanding that their (adoptive) family is the only one which is “different. Reading about other “alternative” families helps to put the adoptees experience of difference as a source of commonality. Talk about a paradigm shift! It provides children an opportunity to see that other kids may need to feel welcome and accepted and gives adoptees a chance to be the vector of acceptance and welcome. what a refreshing shift for adoptees to be on the giving side of offering acceptance and welcome instead always being the seeker.

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Dragons Need Friends Too.

Dragons need friends-dragons-are-real-61pcxriyl9l-_sy498_bo1204203200_Dragons and dinosaurs fascinate children so they’re predisposed to love Dragons Are Real by Valerie Budayr and illustrated by Michael Welply. It delivers the full inside story on the fire-breathing beasts. Who knew dragons need friends and yearn to be a child’s BFF? Or that they crave sweets as much as any kid dreaming of Halloween? All those stories of treasure hoarding paint the wrong picture of the draco species. It’s just that sparkling things dazzle and things catch a dragon’s attention. In actuality, it’s not jewels they crave and hoard. It’s books. Lots and lots and lots of books.

My favorite newly discovered dragon-fact: they love to read. We’re kindred spirits!  I’ve taken the liberty of naming this special dragon: Draco Bibliophilium which loosely translates from the Latin as “Book Loving Dragon.”) He’s near and dear to my heart because I love books too. (Anyone who has visited my office would know. In fact, it looks like the illustrator used my office for an illustration study.)

Dragons Are Real seeks to clear up many misperceptions that identify dragons as evil, dangerous and, scary. The very idea that dragons yearn to capture hapless maidens is preposterous; they’re simply trying to be helpful and make a friend in the process. Now it is true that dragons breathe fire, but only when they want to be useful like toasting hot dogs or making s’mores. It can be very handy to have a friend with a built-in fuel source and an inclination to help out when needed. Turns out, that dragons are loyal and funny. Apparently they love poetry to an excess which can be a bit tedious. But don’t we all have our quirks and faults?

This story transforms a traditional “monster” figure from children’s folklore into a charming and desirable pal, one who loves to laugh and dance and recite poetry. I love that! By turning the myth upside down, which offers young readers a model for looking at the “monsters” in their own personal lives to reinterpret them in a way which enables them to cope. Since dragons are masters of camouflage, they can be “hiding in plain sight.” This concept can easily lead to discussions about how we can overlook people as well as how we choose to hide ourselves and be small. These are big ideas, but understanding them can help kids notice whom they might be overlooking and or how they themselves might be fading into the background. It also invites readers to think about what it is like to need a friend, how to be a friend as well as how to find a friend. All of these are important skills.

The ability to blend in and be part of a bigger picture can be useful. Sometimes, we even want to blend in so well that we become invisible so we can sit back, observe and determine what we want to do. Dragons Are Real makes an import point: We must embrace our “fire.” Allow it to burn brightly so we can be “seen” and cast a light for others to follow.

The illustrations are amazing and vividly interpret the text. The pictures are an adventure in their own right and compliment the text well. They add the perfect measure of whimsy, humor and ferocity.

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300 Adoption-attuned Lens: It is common for adoptees to spend considerable time thinking about big “what ifs.” (What if I hadn’t been adopted? What if I’d been adopted by someone else? What if my adoptive parents rejects me? And many more.) Many develop chameleon-like skill at blending in and becoming what they think others expect them to be–or do. Adoptees who don’t share a culture or race with their adoptive family may struggle to fit in ad feel “at home” in their adoptive family. Like the proverbial dragon striving to remake his fierce image, adoptees must learn how to blend… Click To Tweet The key is to fit in without losing their authentic selves, like a dragon who breathes fire but learns not to burn down the neighborhood!

 Fun activity

Ask your child to create a dragon from his imagination. Draw it. Paint it. Build it from Legos©, clay or from materials found in your recycle bin. Then give it a name. For an added challenge, try to include a Latin variation as Valerie did.  (J. K. Rowling also included Latin phrases in her beloved Harry Potter series; it sounds ever so mysterious and magical! I’m sure parents and Google, Siri, etc. can provide any needed assistance.) Encourage your child to write his/her dragon’s story; you just might be awakening a dormant talent.

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2017      (1/27/17)

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is in its fourth year and was founded bypragmatic-mom-banner-cropped

Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book

and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom.

Our mission is to raise awareness on the ongoing need to include kid’s books that celebrate diversity in home and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents and educators.
Despite census data that shows 37% of the US population consists of people of color, only 10% of children’s books published have diversity content. Using the Multicultural Children’s Book Day holiday, the MCBD Team are on a mission to change all of that.
Current Sponsors: MCBD 2017 is honored to have some amazing Sponsors on board. Platinum Sponsors include Scholastic, Barefoot Books and Broccoli. Other Medallion Level Sponsors include heavy-hitters like Author Carole P. Roman, Audrey Press, Candlewick Press, Fathers Incorporated, KidLitTV, Capstone Young Readers, ChildsPlayUsa, Author Gayle Swift, Wisdom Tales Press, Lee& Low Books, The Pack-n-Go Girls, Live Oak Media, Author Charlotte Riggle, Chronicle Books and Pomelo Books

Author Sponsor include: Karen Leggett Abouraya, Veronica Appleton, Susan Bernardo, Kathleen Burkinshaw, Maria Dismondy, D.G. Driver, Geoff Griffin, Savannah Hendricks, Stephen Hodges, Carmen Bernier-Grand,Vahid Imani, Gwen Jackson, Hena, Kahn, David Kelly, Mariana Llanos, Natasha Moulton-Levy, Teddy O’Malley, Stacy McAnulty, Cerece Murphy, Miranda Paul, Annette Pimentel, Greg Ransom, Sandra Richards, Elsa Takaoka, Graciela Tiscareño-Sato, Sarah Stevenson, Monica Mathis-Stowe SmartChoiceNation, Andrea Y. Wang

We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also work tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE. Valerie and Mia

Dragons need friends-mcbd-2017-poster-final-875x1024MCBD Links to remember:  MCBD site
Free Multicultural Books for Teachers
Free Kindness Classroom Kit for Homeschoolers, Organizations, Librarians and Educators
Free Diversity Book Lists and Activities for Teachers and Parents:
Hashtag: Don’t forget to connect with us on social media and be sure and look for/use the official hashtag #ReadYourWorld.

You can make a difference. Be a driving force for #Diversity in publishing. Click To Tweet Help ensure that we have a robust range of “windows” and “mirrors” so that all children can see themselves in their literature as well as introduce them to a broad array of cultures. Exposure grows familiarity which in turn, nurtures understanding and tolerance.

#BuyDiversity #ReadDiversity #WriteDiversity Click To Tweet

 

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Holiday Blessings: Beyond Tinsel and Trinkets

Holiday Blessings: Beyond Tinsel, Trinkets to compassion, welcome - Christmas ornamentsAirwaves thrum with familiar holiday tunes and shoppers crowd stores, it is easy to lose the true meaning of Christmas in the quest for the perfect gift. We must appreciate our holiday blessings and see beyond the attention-grabbing sparkle of tinsel and trinkets. We know our most valuable treasures are not wrapped in bows and fancy paper. They reside in our significant relationships, memories and good times shared with those we love and care about. These two books focus on true blessings whose value far exceeds dollars and cents. They depict the Christmas spirit of welcome, generosity and compassion and they highlight the transformative power of acts of kindness both small and large. In our hearts we know that the power of the season lies in the celebration of  “Peace on earth, good will to men.” When that ideal is fulfilled we will be truly blessed.
Holiday Blessings: Beyond Tinsel, Trinkets to compassion, welcome-the-blessing-cup-51ksoujm8zl-_sx258_bo1204203200_

Although not about Christmas, The Blessing Cup  written and beautifully illustrated by acclaimed author-illustrator Patricia Pollacco offers a lovely holiday read. It recounts the history of a treasured family heirloom–a china teacup which belonged to her great-grandmother, Anna. It was a part of a surprise wedding present arrived–a magnificent and delicate china tea set which  Anna’s parents received as newlyweds. An enclosed gift card enclosed promised, “Anyone who drinks from [this tea set] has a blessing from God… Their lives will always have flavor. They will know love and joy.”

Life in the shtetl was difficult. In the face of poverty and worsening persecution, Anna’s family treasures the tea set. Eventually,the Russian czar orders all Jews to leave, so they pack the tea set along with a few meager possessions. When Anna questions why they must leave, her father replies, “Because we are different from them.... They are afraid of what they don't understand. Click To Tweet” (The connection between the “No-room-at-the-inn theme of the Christmas story is obvious as is the similarity to current political climate and attitude towards immigrants and “Others.”)

The story continues and follows the family’s travails. Papa falls dangerously ill. In another parallel to the Christmas story, his life is saved when someone–a kind-hearted doctor–welcomes them and invites them to stay with him. When the political climate becomes too dangerous for the family, the doctor pays for their passage to America. The treasured tea set is the only thank you they can offer for his generosity. They leave this note, “Always remember, dear friend, You are the bread that fed us. You are the salt that flavored our lives…. We kept one cup so that we can still have its blessing…” Patricia Polacco still possesses–and treasures-this precious cup.

This poignant, true story serves to convey the spirit of joy and love that underlies the nativity story and highlights how small acts of kindness can transform heart, minds and, lives. It also reminds us that “things” can hold deep sentimental value that far exceeds their literal value.

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300 Adoption-attuned Lens: This book can open conversations about who is family as well as discussions about the very real challenges some people face in life. In the absence of an “angel” like Dr. Pushkin, Anna’s great-grandmother’s story might have ended tragically.  The Blessing Cup  also vividly demonstrates how something can be a vessel of important sentimental value. It can segue into talking about how almost anything can operate as a trigger of vivid memories, some of which may reassure while others might be quite painful.

Holiday Blessings: Beyond Tinsel, Trinkets to compassion, welcome-my-two-blankets-51eryqdhk0l-_sx418_bo1204203200_My Two Blankets  written by Irena Kobald and illustrated by Freya Blackwood is another story that captures the Christmas spirit without being about the holiday itself. The story follows a child who must move. Moving is never easy. Children will readily empathize with this challenge. But My Two Blankets is not about an ordinary move from one neighborhood or one state, but a move from one country to another which magnifies the uprootedness experienced by a young girl who had been so full of joy that her aunt nicknamed her  “Cartwheel.” When she emigrates her war-torn country, Cartwheel feels overwhelmed, confused and sad.  She misses the familiar sights, smells and language of home. “Even the wind felt strange.” She no longer feels like herself. To escape the outside world, Cartwheel wraps herself in her favorite blanket.

Eventually she meets another child who strives to befriend her. They share a smile, Cartwheel holds back and resists the girl’s overtures. The girl overcomes Cartwheel’s caution and they play together on the swing. They meet several times. Cartwheel yearns to tell the girl that she’s glad to have her as a friend but she can’t speak the language. The girl’s English words land on Cartwheel’s ears, hard and indecipherable. Fear and longing for the comfort of her old life bubble up within her. Frustration and loneliness turn to anger. Cartwheel ponders “When I went home, I hid under my old blanket. I wondered if I would always feel sad. I wondered if I would ever feel like me again.”

When she returns to the playground, her new friend is not there. Cartwheel is surprised by her own disappointment and overjoyed when the girl returns with carefully folded pieces of paper. Eventually, they bypass the barrier of language and connect. Cartwheel weaves a “blanket” from the papers on which the English words are written. She comes to understand “My new blanket grew just as warm and soft and comfortable as my own blanket.”

Compassion and acceptance offered by the girl in the park transformed Cartwheel's life. Click To TweetThis child’s actions embody a “room-at-the-inn” approach that fulfills the Christmas message.

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300 Adoption-attuned Lens: This book can open important conversations for adoptees–especially those adopted trans-racially or trans-culturally. Adoptees often talk about feeling isolated from their birth culture/race and struggle to learn how to absorb and integrate this part of their identity. Due to current political climate regarding immigrants and other races, many kids worry what this… Click To Tweet My Two Blankets can help start the conversation that will enable parents to reassure their children.

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Food Bridges Cultures and Nurtures Friendships

Rice & Rocks by Sandra L RichardsIn today’s divisive climate, I appreciate books that highlight our commonality instead of our differences. We have more things in common with other people and cultures than things that separate us.  In all cultures around the world, families come together to share meals, make music, celebrate joys and shoulder sorrows. Rice and Rocks written by Sandra L. Richards and illustrated by Megan Kayleigh Sullivan uses food as a theme to bring home this point.

Like most kids Giovanni seeks his friends’ acceptance and fears their disapproval of his family’s traditional Jamaican rice and beans dish which he disparagingly calls “rice and rocks.” His fear of being an outsider cause him to feel shamed by this cultural tradition.  Jasper, his chatty pet parrot, intervenes to set Giovanni straight. With a bit of magic, Giovanni, his aunt and his two dogs shrink and become small enough to ride on Jasper’s back. They embark on a journey around the globe.

In every country which they visit, the boy and his parrot meet the national bird and learn about the local version of “rice and rocks.” (These various national symbols serves as another way differing cultures are alike. Each has a national bird but the particular species varies by country.)  Sullivan’s elaborate illustrations complement the fantasy story line. Variations in scale enhance the sense of dream-world magic.

When Giovanni’s friends join his family for a meal, one of them asks if they are celebrating anything. The story comes full circle because “Rice and Rocks” no longer embarrass him. He understands that they reflect the common desire of people to gather together at table and enjoy one another. So, Giovanni responds with pride, “We are celebrating family, friends, and traditions,” I said. I grinned, glad that my friends liked rice and rocks. “It’s really nice to spend time with all of you.” That is indeed something worth celebrating.

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300Adoption-attuned Lens: Trans-national and transcultural adoptees will particularly appreciate a book that validates the unique traditions of many cultures. This book does a good job of showing how similar the individual traditions are which reinforces the universality that all people and cultures share. This story can lead to conversations about the specific cultural and family heritage of all adoptees whether trans-racially, trans-culturally adopted or not.

Sandra L Richards Sandra Richards’ Social Media links:

Twitter:  Facebook:    Goodreads:   Instagram:   LinkedIn:

 

 

Megan Sullivan Megan Sullivan

Value Difference and Diversity, Fit In, Stand Up

Yearning for acceptance, apprehension about difference, the search for common ground…Here are three books which tackle these big concepts with humor and emotion. They open perspectives and minds while entertaining. Great selections for readers of ANY age.

Bob the artist. 41jSl9F6mzL._SX367_BO1,204,203,200_Embarrassed by his appearance, Bob, the gangly main character of Bob the Artist by Marion Deuchars strives to fit in with his short-legged peers. He tries several approaches to alter his appearance: exercise, diet, and costume. Still he peers continue to tease him. Fitting in is exhausting work.To escape his peers’ relentless teasing, Bob roams the neighborhood alone.

Until… he wanders into an art museum. Inspiration strikes. Convinced that this camouflage will distract the other birds and end the bullying he decides to transform his lovely red beak into works of art that honor the famous artists featured in the museum.

Bob discovers he has a talent for art. (Kids won’t even realize that they’re receiving an art history lesson as a bonus!) Proud of his talent, he comes to realize he no longer cares about the rude taunts. He’s happy with himself.

This delightful book entertains and makes its point so well. Young readers will understand two things. First, they can–and should–choose kindness and inclusivity. Second, they need to value their own talents and gifts. This must be done without a sense of superiority but simply as affirming everyone has value.

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Adoption-attuned (AQ) Lens: 
As I have written many times in other posts, adoptive families have a vested interested in expanding our culture’s definition of what is “real”, “normal” and, “acceptable” Kids naturally yearns for acceptance, fear being ostracized and judges as different. As parents and teachers, we have the chance to teach kids how to own their own uniqueness and how to value the differences of others.

In the story, Bob’s legs caused him to be “othered.” As adoptees, kids experience a level of “otherness” that cuts deep. Non-adopted children and adults often lack appropriate language to express their thoughts and questions and therefore unintentionally say or ask things that come across as especially cruel. Adoptees benefit from adult help in learning how to listen for the speaker’s motive. Giving them the benefit of the doubt may be overly generous; it also may assist our kids in having the confidence to speak up for themselves and “set things right.”

Bob the Artist is delightful and easily lends itself to deep conversations on many topics in addition to adoption.

My Name Is Octicorn. 417MjBeAKSL._SX440_BO1,204,203,200_Hello, My Name Is Octicorn by Kevin Diller and illustrated by Justin Lowe invites readers to consider befriending Octi, a creature whose mom was an octopus and whose dad was a unicorn.  Octi has trouble finding friends because he is so unique. Everyone shuns him. Because they fear his differences, they miss out on the pleasure of knowing him.

Octi showcases his many unique talents he has because he is half unicorn and half octopus. At parties he can juggle and dance with the best. At campfires he can toast marshmallows on his horn!…if he were invited. Ah, but that is the situation. Octi doesn’t get invited.

After presenting his case, Octi concludes his story with an invitation: “Will you be my friend? Yes or No?” This is brilliant writing because the question lands directly in the reader’s personal world. And hopefully, in their heart. Octi challenges them individually. They must make a choice–even if only in their mind. Will they choose friendship or rejection?

Justin Lowe’s quirky, unsophisticated, child like illustrations further the sense that this story is a personal conversation between Octi and the reader. This is a short, easy read with a message that packs an important punch.

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Adoption-attuned (AQ) Lens: 
This book has an obvious and easy segue into discussions of  the challenges, realities and benefits of being biracial and/or multiracial. So, kids who are bi-racial or multi-racial may feel a special resonance with the theme of this book. One illustration shows a genealogical diagram depicting Octi’s parents. (Dad is a unicorn; mom is an octopus.) This illustration might lead to conversations about the heritages of each birth parent. Parent and child can discuss both the reality and the cultural beliefs of both groups.

The book highlights the benefits of Octi’s dual heritage. This is an important point for all adoptees. There is a richness that comes from muti-ethnicity. We see it as an additive experience instead of as a subtractive one.

Friendshape.51IJjwW9liL._SX496_BO1,204,203,200_
Friendshape–An Uplifting Celebration of Friendship by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld asserts that friends “shape who we are.” They provide many benefits. They help us divide our troubles,  create fun, share our celebrations, and stand by us in good times and in bad. They remember to apologize and forgive each other. That’s a lot of goodness!

But the real message of this book is: Friends do not have to look alike. And yet both children and adults struggle to learn to befriend individuals whom they perceive as “other.” In fact their differences often help us in significant ways. They influence to grow and change in response to the relationship.

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Adoption-attuned (AQ) Lens: 
Adoptive families will find an easy and obvious segue to discussions about racial and cultural differences among friends and even families. How do these differences inform who we are and how we interact with one another? How does difference influence the way our families are received in school? Whom we choose to befriend? How does the way our friends view us and our families influence our own inner dialog as well as the interactions we all share.

Life’s Path: One Heart, One Compass

Heart-shaped pond in a tropical forest

More than any other month, February focuses our attention on affairs of the heart. Usually this conjures thoughts of romance or affection. Let’s consider instead, another vital role our hearts play: they help us to connect with our core Purpose and values. Our hearts have an inner knowing that recognizes the what and why of our lives. Of course, children are not consciously aware of such conceptual thoughts. Yet they have an intuitive ability to understand metaphor and the way it can explain big ideas.


North Star.border.3The North Star
written and illustrated by Peter Reynolds, is a gem of a book that explores the notion of a guiding purpose, a compass to follow throughout our lives. As the boy travels through life, he recognizes that he is on a journey. He comes to understand that everyone must  follow the inner knowing of one’s heart to carve out a life.

Sometimes one is content to follow a well-trodden path commonly pursued by many. Blindly “following the well-worn path, he had a growing feeling that he was lost.” He discovers the importance of taking the path less traveled, the one that only he can blaze. He comes to appreciate that each of us journeys on our own path.

Beautiful illustrations in ink and watercolor perfectly capture the dreamy and magical quality of the story. Five Stars

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AQ Lens:  In an effort to “fit in,” adopted children often find it easier to follow the traditional patterns of their adoptive family. They may  do this for many reasons: to “please” parents; to avoid looking different; because they believe they aren’t “allowed” to be different; or for another reason.

The North Star opens an easy opportunity to talk about remaining true to oneself, of listening to that quiet inner voice that frames the core of who one is. Parents might want to directly reinforce their desire to nurture their child’s talents, both those they have in common as well as those that stem from the child’s biology.

Adoptive families must constantly convey that both/and attitude that emphasizes love, acceptance and appreciation of their child’s dual heritage and reassure children that they need not surrender or suppress part of themselves in a mistaken notion that it is unwelcome.

You Be You.51zzPRl18oL._SY439_BO1,204,203,200_
You Be You
 by Linda Kranz is a riotous fest of color and whimsy with a big message. It celebrates individuality and commonality in equal measure. Some “fish” are big, some little; some swim with the group; some swim on a solitary journey. Each is following their compass. “We all have something special that only we can share.” There’s a place for all.

Graffitti-style messages decorate the end papers. Each one invites discussion.

Five Stars

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AQ Lens:  Adoptive families will want to frequently explore concepts like individuality, commonality and difference. Each stands as an important part of the dynamics in adoption. Conversations can, in age-appropriate language explore the idea of being genuine–often a “hot” topic for adoptive families.

Questions worth exploring are: What is a “real” family? “Real parent” “Real” sibling? How is each family member both unique and different? Why do both have value? How does difference/similarity enrich families?

Readers might want to check out, Only One You also by Linda Kranz which also focuses on the importance of being one’s best self.

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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.

Five stars ∗∗∗∗∗

 

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

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

Five stars  ∗∗∗∗∗

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

 


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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.” 

 

 

 

Vanilla & Chocolate-A Bilingual Book Looks at Racism

Vanilla&Chocolate.51RjBCxYlML._SX348_BO1,204,203,200_Increasingly, adoptive families have come to understand the importance of talking about race, of awakening ourselves to the subtleties of white privilege, microagressions and how color blindness is a misguided solution to racism.  Chocolate & Vanillaillustrated  by Estella Mejia and written by Maritza Mejia, explores racism for readers ages 5-8. A teacher, Mrs. M, notices that Vanilla and Chocolate, two former friends no longer play with each other. She learns this is because Vanilla’s parents did not approve of their son’s interracial friendship.

To combat this problem the teacher organizes, “Black and White Day,” a special parent-child activity day at the park. Families bring traditional foods which they share. Watching their children play peacefully together, hearts and minds open. They come to understand that a friend is a friend whether they are the same race or not.

Because Mejia’s simple story unfolds in both English and Spanish, it also serves double duty as a way to assist readers of either language improve their non-native vocabulary. Four stars

Maritza 91m+DIWpqtL._UX250_Grandma's Treasure.51gVem2naBL._UY250_Maritza Martinez Mejia a bilingual substitute teacher born in Colombia lives in Florida with her husband and their two teenagers. For her active participation and service to the community, she is the recipient of the “Crystal Apple Award 2006.”

Maritza published her memoir “Hazel Eyes” (2010), “Vanilla and Chocolate” (2012), “Grandma’s Treasure” (2014), and “Poems, Thoughts and More” (2015). She won the FAU Treasure Coast Poetry Contest Spring 2010 and Virtue Christian Book Awards for Best Poetry 2015. Both Bilingual Children Books received a FIVE Stars Seal Review by Reader’s Favorite.

 

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 Multicultural Children’s Book Day has 12 amazing Co-Hosts. View them here.

MCBD.Mission

The Mission of Multicultural Children’s Book Day is: to spread the word and raise awareness about the importance of diversity in children’s literature. Our young readers need to see themselves within the pages of a book and experience other cultures, languages, traditions and religions within the pages of a book. We encourage readers, parents, teachers, caregivers and librarians to follow along the fun book reviews, author visits, event details, a multicultural children’s book linky and via our hashtag (#ReadYourWorld) on Twitter and other social media.

MCBD.Co-creators

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2016 Medallion Level Sponsors!

Platinum: Wisdom Tales PressStory Quest Books, Lil Libros

Gold: Author Tori Nighthawk, Candlewick Press Bharat Press

Silver: Lee and Low Books, Chronicle Books, Capstone Young Readers New York Media Works,LLC/KidLit TV

Bronze: Pomelo Books, Author Jacqueline Woodson, Papa Lemon Books,

Goosebottom Books, Author Gleeson Rebello, Shout Mouse Press,

Author Mahvash Shahegh, China Institute.orgLive Oak Media

Multicultural Children’s Book Day has 12 amazing Co-hosts and you can view them here.
Teachers, we invite you to spread the word to your teacher/librarian/classroom connections so; get them involved in this program. There is no cost to teachers and classrooms. You can help by tweeting the below info:
Teachers! Earn a FREE Multicultural.MCBD.2#Multicultural Kids Book for Your Classroom!
#teachers, #books #teacherlife  http://ow.ly/UUy96

The Classroom Reading Challenge has begun! Teachers can earn a free #Diversity MCBD.Diversitybook! #teachers, #books  http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/?p=1796

Classroom Reading Challenge:Help spread the word on our  Classroom Reading Challenge . This very special offering from MCCBD offers teachers and classrooms the chance to (very easily) earn a free hardcover multicultural children’s book for their classroom library. These books are not only donated by the Junior Library Guild, but they are pre-screened and approved by them as well.

MCCBD 2016 Classroom Reading Challenge!

Multicultural Children’s Book Day Classroom Reading Challenge-

Get a FREE Diversity Book for Your Classroom Library!

MCCBD Classroom Reading Challenge

Teachers! We want to help you build your classroom library with diverse, inclusive and multicultural books! Here’s how to get a free book through Multicultural Children’s Book Day on January 27th. You can also win a Skype author visit with a children’s book author! We will draw a winner from the teachers who signed up. This year the Skype author visit is with (to be announced).

LATEST EXCITING UPDATE! Junior Library Guild has agreed to sponsor this portion of the MCCBD 2016 event and donate up to 200 books for classrooms and teachers!

Junior Library Guild

The Classroom Reading Challenge is a new project for us but it is a way for teachers to sign up, read up to four multicultural books in their classroom and earn a free multicultural book from us. Having Junior Library Guild on board assures that the free book classrooms earn from MCCBD is a pre-screened, library-quality book that maps to Common Core. This is a HUGE and exciting benefit for this project.

Multicultural Children’s Book Day: Diversity Classroom Reading Challenge for Teachers

Step 1: TEACHERS sign up your classroom here.

Step 2:Read books! (Diversity picture book list for 4th grade, 5th grade, 6th grade, 7th grade, 8th grade tied to Core Curriculum.) No quota. No catch. Just read :)

We will send you a diverse title FOR FREE!!

Want to win more diversity books?

Get your students involved in our reading competition! Have your students submit the books they read during the month of January.

We will hold raffles of book packages for everyone who submits. PLUS we will award book packages to the top 10 classrooms. Click HERE for a printable PDF of the above information

Teacher Sign Up is below:

Thank you so much for your support!

 

For questions or concerns, email MCCBD Project Manager, Becky Flansburg at Becky@AudreyPress.com

2016 Author Sponsors

Introducing our Author Sponsors for MCCBD 2016!

Lisa YeeJoseph BruchacJacqueline JulesValerie TrippDebbie DadeyTodd DeBonisMaría de Lourdes VictoriaSherrill CannonPack-n-Go Girls®D.G. DriverJanet BallettaJ. J. ParsonsCharlotte RiggleMiranda PaulLeza LowitzAnn BerlakMarti DumasCarl GundestrupCarole P. RomanCathleen BurnhamHeidi Smith HydeGreg RansomKeila DawsonStephanie WorkmanGloria D. GonsalvesStephen HodgesQuentin HolmesJeaninne Escallier KatoKarl BeckstrandFrancesca FostP.J. LaRueFrancesca ForrestDiana Lee SantamariaTerrie HoopsCerece Rennie MurphyZ. AltugHoliday House PublishingMaria DismondyMichael SmithIcy SmithAphrodyi AntoineElsa TakaokaErik NielMarimba BooksKaren Leggett AbourayaShout Mouse PressKaneMiller EDC PublishingShweta AggarwalDurga Yael BernhardLorRonCoHeather GoetzDania Ramos Daryl OConnell, Zetta Elliot,Effie Hill,Firoozeh Dumas ,DuEwa Frazier, Ben Woodard,Susan Ross, Sandra L. Richards, Dania Santana, Author Kala Sambasivan, Elizabeth Atkinson, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for Young Readers, Scavenger Hunt Adventures, Year of the Cat Books,Sarah J. Stevenson,Gayle H. SwiftPatrick Hill, Bruce Hale,

 

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.

Five stars starstarstarstarstar

 

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.

 

EVERYBODY’s Got Talent

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

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

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

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

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

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