Children and the Fight for Social Justice

Children-and-the-Fight-for-Social-JusticeThe Youngest Marcher by Cynthia Levinson and illustrated by Vanessa Brantley Newton introduces the remarkable story of how children helped amplify the tide of the civil rights movement. This book is sure to impress young readers with an understanding that even children can stand up for what is right. Kids can work for social justice in ways both large and public as well as small and personal.

 

Kids can work for social justice in ways both large and public as well as small and personal. Click To Tweet

The social justice movement dominates the news lately. Kids certainly hear the reports and discussions. Some children may feel fearful and powerless. Others may yearn to make a difference, to participate in the solution-making process. Most will probably assume that they can’t do anything because they’re young. This push and pull between the call to action and feeling constrained will frustrate and distress them.

But Audrey’s story shows them that their assumption is false. Children can do something to effect change and to shine a light into the dark corners of society. The courage and righteous indignation of children can often awaken reluctant adults to take action. In a case like the Birmingham Children’s March, children acted when the potential cost to families–job loss, eviction, beatings– prevented adults from acting.

The courage and righteous indignation of children can often awaken reluctant adults to take action. Click To Tweet

Newton’s illustrations and Levinson’s text depict the privations and insults of segregation in powerful and revealing ways: the dirty fountains, the humiliating trek to the back of the bus, being relegated to the freight elevator instead of the passenger elevator used by whites, etc. Kids will feel Audrey’s humiliations and understand her reactions.

Audrey embodies the earnestness, purity of heart and trust of a child raised with faith, love and, respect.  She listens to the words of the famous civil rights leaders who dine at her family’s table. They share food, friendship and, a mission. Audrey takes their words to to heart. In spite of her fear, she takes action and responds with courage.

The story depicts  Audrey’s jail experience effectively yet without overly frightening young readers. The sense of loneliness, hunger, privation come across. One illustration which spreads across two pages, depicts the first time Audrey speaks to a white man. A group of them tower over her and spew questions: “Are you against America? … Why do you march?”

Audrey’s honest response: “To go places and do things like everybody else.” Young readers will understand Audrey’s stance. Kids believe in fairness; they lobby for it regularly. Their protestations start at home where they want to ensure that they and their siblings get equal treatment (and yes, the same “stuff” too.) Eventually, they expand their horizons to include friends, classmates, etc.

Most kids would be horrified at the thought of risking jail but they can understand less shocking and dramatic ways to stand up for right like standing up to the class bully or befriending the new student in class. The Youngest Marcher can open many important conversations about civil rights, respect and equality. Click To Tweet

Children and the Fight for Social JusticeAdoption-attuned* Lens This story can offer an easy way to introduce discussions about fundamental equality and universal rights. Most adoptees encounter instances where people imply that their family isn’t quite as “real”  as families exclusively built through adoption. Trans-racially and trans-culturally adopted children may feel a particular resonance with the struggle for equality.

The Climb to the Top

Sky Dancers-the-climb-to-the-top-climb-fear-skill-familyI loved climbing trees as a child, that exhilarating, terrifying race to the top. I can still remember the thrill of reaching hand over hand until I found myself high in the canopy of leaves. The world appeared smaller, less intimidating. Hidden from sight, ensconced in a private world, my imagination soared. To this day heights both fascinate and intimidate me.

So, when I came across Sky Dancers written by Connie Ann Kirk and illustrated by Christy Hale, I was particularly intrigued. It tells the story of a young Native American boy’s family tradition as steel workers on some of New York’s largest, tallest and most famous constructions. It is a fictional piece based on history.  The boy’s family represents many Mohawk tribe members who actually worked the high steel in the early years of the twentieth century.

The story opens with John Cloud trying to talk himself into climbing a tree beyond where his fear holds him in place. He thinks about his dad, who at that very moment was walking the girders of a Manhattan sky scraper building it higher and higher into the sky.  John replays memories of his grandfather‘s tales of his own time as a sky walker.

The boy wonders if he’ll ever be as brave and strong as his dad and grandfather. He also wonders if his grandfather will ever fulfill his promise to bring him into the city and actually see his dad on the job. When that day finally comes, John is overawed with pride.

This is a sweet story of inter-generational links that bond families together. Click To Tweet It offers a welcome window onto an ethnic group that tends to be under served in children’s literature. The story is a refreshing break from the typical themes we see associated with Native Americans: riding horses, hunting, etc. And, it is not an “issues” book. On the contrary, it depicts these Americans as normal families who do the typical things all families do: love on another, share family stories, go to work, etc.

AQ #AdoptionAttunementSky-Dancers-the-climb-to-the-top-climb-fear-skill-family Adoption-attuned Lens:  This story easily lends itself to discussions of generational family patterns which could include both those of the birth and adoptive families. Each has value, attraction and contributes to making the child who he is and who he will choose to become.

Sky Dancers prods us to ponder the way we overcome our fears, grow our skills and develop mastery. One of the cultural memes about the Native Americans historical role in the high steel construction industry attributes their skill to their having a special aptitude. Some people feel that categorizing their bravery and skill as an unearned “gift” that comes to them effortlessly diminishes the personal fortitude and persistence it takes to overcome instinctive fear and perform in dangerous conditions. Sky Dancers offers an easy path to discussions about talent, perseverance and achievement and how each contributes to one’s success.

What Is #DiverseKidLit?

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

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

DiverseKidLit

We hope this community serves as a resource for parents, teachers, librarians, publishers, and authors! Our next linkup will be Saturday, October 7th and the first Saturday of each month.

Upcoming Theme

Our theme for October (7th) will be #ownvoices. The #ownvoices hashtag was created to draw attention to diverse authors and illustrators who are creating books that honor their own heritage and experiences. Please share your favorite titles or authors / illustrators with us!

Most Clicked Post from Last Time

The most-clicked post from the previous #diversekidlit was one I am sure we all could use: 19 Multicultural Children’s Books teaching Kindness & Empathy. This fabulous collection of picture books covers a wide range of cultures and topics including issues around immigration, acceptance, jealousy, and more. Thanks for sharing, Svenja!

#DiverseKidLit is Hosted by:

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

Carolina @ La Clase de Sra. DuFault
Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Google+

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

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

Jane @ Rain City Librarian
Blog / Twitter / Instagram

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

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

Myra @ Gathering Books
Blog / Twitter / Facebook

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

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

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

Get #DiverseKidLit Recommendations on Pinterest!

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

Share Your Link 

Wardrobe Choices: An Annual Back to School Challenge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Is #DiverseKidLit?

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

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

DiverseKidLit

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

Most Clicked Post from Last Time

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

#DiverseKidLit is Hosted by:

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

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

Myra @ Gathering Books
Blog / Twitter / Facebook

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

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

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

Get #DiverseKidLit Recommendations on Pinterest!

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

Share Your Link Below


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Let the Party—and the Learning Begin!

Let the party—and the Learning Begin!.Let's Celebrate HoliChildren love festivals and celebrations–don’t we all!

What better way to expand cultural literacy than through learning about unique holidays marked by other cultures. Let’s Celebrate Holi, India’s Festival of Colors by Ajanta [Chakraborty] and Vivek [Kumar] brings to live a delightful holiday celebrated throughout India. The traditional observances vary throughout the country but all include bonfires and drenching one another in vividly colored water. Let the Party—and the Learning Begin! Celebrate Holi. This charming book will teach you how.

Kids will delight in discovering a holiday that provides the perfect excuse for drenching themselves and others in brilliant color, hurling buckets of water, exuberant dancing and, watching bonfires. While these elements will certainly grab their attention, children will simultaneously absorb information about the story behind the festivities. This knowledge will help build a foundation of awareness of and respect for, the traditions and beliefs from other cultures. This is a delightful and engaging book which help awaken interest in other cultures and will broaden their cultural awareness.

Let the Party—and the Learning Begin!.holi.3In this book (the third in the series) Maya and her brother Neel visit relatives in India. Their arrival coincides with the festival of Holi which provides the perfect opportunity for the cousins to explain the holiday. As Maya and Neel learn about their heritage and the various ways the people celebrate throughout the many regions of India, readers will also. They will discover that India is an immense country with many states, each of which observes the holiday in unique ways. The book also includes a pronunciation guide which demonstrates the proper ways to speak the Indian words.

The authors of the series also maintain a website which features additional resources, Bollygroove dance classes, etc. Check it out.

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300

AQ Lens: An appreciation for one’s cultural heritage is probably the most obvious Adoption-attuned opportunity which Let’s Celebrate Holi, India’s Festival of Colors provides. Because of the inherent elements of fun, color, dancing and water play most kids will find the story appealing. It may even make it easier for adoptees to share their culture with others–and feel safe about that sharing.

Be sure to read the other books in the series:

Let's Celebrate Diwali.Holi.Let the Party—and the Learning Begin!

 

Let’s Celebrate Five Days of Diwali 

and

 

Let's Visit Mumbai.Let the Party—and the Learning Begin!.61aW9I8-2vL._SX384_BO1,204,203,200_

 

Let’s Visit Mumbai 

Birthday Celebration, Tree-style

Americans celebrate many beloved holidays  During February we mark Valentine’s Day, President’s Day, and Groundhog Day.  Jewish people celebrate an additional holiday, Tu B’Shevat, “The New Year of the Trees or “the Birthday of the Trees.” In 2017,  Tu B’Shevat is observed from sundown on Feb. 10 to sundown on Feb. 11. 

Happy Birthday Tree.51w8spMfTjL._SX396_BO1,204,203,200_Happy Birthday, Tree: A Tu B’Shevat Story by Madelyn Rosenberg and illustrated by Jana Christy is a charming book centered on “The Birthday of the Trees.”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          While resting in the branches of her favorite tree,  Joni a little girl living in Israel, ponders how to help celebrate it’s “birthday.” She struggles to find the perfect gift gor her tree.

Lightbulb moment– water, trees need water!

She carefully waters her tree. Although she knows her tree requires water she feels like she wants to give it more. Another idea pops into her mind. Decorations! After she adds them, the tree looks festive but Joni is still not satisfied.

What else does a tree need? Knowing how much she enjoys her own friends, Joni decides her tree needs a companion. She enrolls friends and families to help her. They plant a new tree and she presents it with the perfect gift. Joni promises to care for it well and to “… be good to the trees of the world.”

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300Adoption-attuned Lens: This story can jump-start many  conversations, for example, that kids can be problem solvers and can awaken adults to take action. This is important to all kids. Adoptees particularly benefit from experiencing competency and acting as agents of their own choices.

The idea to celebrate an obscure holiday might trigger an adoptee’s interest in observing a holiday tradition from their birth culture. Even if they resist the idea of celebrating the event publicly, kids may enjoy learning about it. At the very least the suggestion conveys an interest in and a valuation of their birth culture. That type of validation is vital to adoptees.

 

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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We Are All Born Free

we-are-all-born-free-51twoo0uhul-_sx433_bo1204203200_We Are All Born Free: the Universal Declaration of Human Rights edited by Amnesty International illustrated by several award-winning and world-famous artist. It affirms the fundamental rights of all human beings in simplified a child-friendly version. The book builds on this foundation of commonality and depicts it with lavish diversity. Each artist brings their signature style and interpretation to these important words.

The text begins with the words: “We are all born free and equal.” The accompanying illustration by John Burningham features children  bouncing for joy on a trampoline. This captures the exhilaration that freedom offers to each of us.

The next page says, “We all have the right to  life and to live in freedom and safety.” Niki Daly chose “Freedom Park” as the inspiration for his illustration. Children of varied ethnicities and races parade through the park. They march passed a statue of Nelson Mandela, play music fly kites, speak from a soap box and thoroughly enjoy the blessing of freedom.

Page after page, each artist, inspired by one of Amnesty International’s Thirty Universal Rights uses their talent to bring the concept to life in a way to which children can relate. Many of the ideas are complex. Some serious and sad. Each is important, e.g., religious freedom; equal protection under the law; freedom of independent thought; the rights to assemble, to speak out, to work, to rest and relax.

One of the final illustrations accompanies the twenty-ninth right: “We have a duty to other people, and we should protect their rights and freedoms.”

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300 Adoption-attuned Lens: For adoptive families, I propose two additional rights. First, the right to know one’s roots, to embrace all parts of oneself–both birth and adoptive, to have those roots respected and to be encouraged to discuss adoption freely. Second, adult adoptees should have access to their original birth certificates. Sealed files do not serve the adoptee but are relics of a past that sought to shame and isolate.

What Is #DiverseKidLit?

DiverseKidLitDiverse 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, January 21st and on the first and third Saturdays of every month.

Upcoming Theme

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

  • January 21st linkup: 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.
  • February 4th and 18th linkups: Love. Let’s spread our love of diverse books by sharing diverse books about love, families, and relationships.

Most Clicked Post from Last Time:

 5 Positive Picture Books for Ramadan by Katie at The Logonauts. This post shares five different books about the holiday of Ramadan, some that take place in Middle Eastern countries and others in America. All highly recommended!

#DiverseKidLit is Hosted by:

Katie @ The Logonauts     Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Pinterest

Carolina @ La Clase de Sra. DuFault      Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Google+

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

Jane @ Rain City Librarian      Blog / Twitter / Instagram

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

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

Myra @ Gathering Books      Blog / Twitter / Facebook

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

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

Get #DiverseKidLit Recommendations on Pinterest!

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

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.

Childhood Milestones Celebrated with a Cultural Twist

universal-childhood-milestones-celebrated-with-a-cultural-twist-tooth-on-the-roof-border-51tn8sa6pjl-_sy485_bo1204203200_In today’s strife-ridden global world, it is reassuring to focus on the commonalities that unite us instead of the differences that divide us. Cultures around the world celebrate universal childhood milestones.  Throw Your Tooth on the Roof: Tooth Traditions from around the World by Selby B. Beeler is a fun retrospective of the varied ways cultural traditions that celebrate children losing their baby teeth. Kids will get a tickle reading about the variety of celebrations. Some will feel similar, some quite unusual and some will strike their funny bones.

In the USA we believe the tooth fairy exchanges teeth for cash. In other cultures this job falls to birds, calves, mice, rats (Yikes!?!) and many more take the tooth and replace it with something valuable. Sometimes the tooth is planted, gold-plated, steeped in milk or simply tossed on the roof. Kids will learn how a specific practice is embraced within  different cultures. While it may seem silly to us, it’s folkloric  tradition in each respective culture–unique, mythical and charming. None is sillier than the rest. Taken as a totality, all the traditions are slightly goofy yet still fun to embrace.

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300Adoption-attuned Lens This story offers a chance to talk about differences between families as something interesting not as something to denigrate. Every family and culture, like the patches in a piecework quilt, contribute an integral element that is part of the overall beauty and success of the whole.

at-the-same-moment-around-teh-world-full-borderAt the Same Moment Around the World by Clotilde Perrin takes the reader on a world-wide journey. Under a brilliant cloak of dawn-painted clouds, the book begins at 6:00 a.m in Dakkar, Senegal. Each subsequent  page begins with the same refrain: At the same moment in…

Encourage young readers to repeat the refrain, to scrutinize the illustrations for the details identified in the text. The book presents diversity of characters, locations and activities. The end flap includes a pull-out map of the world.

Help kids to understand that the events occur simultaneously even though the “hour” is different (because of time zone changes.) This story captures this complex concept of time in dreamy, detailed illustrations which carry the reader through twenty-four separate vignettes.

Children can see how similar the human story is regardless of where one lives in the world. Understanding this universality encourages tolerance and respect, something which benefits us all.

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300Adoption-attuned Lens This story offers a window onto the diverse ways people around the globe live. At the same time, it reinforces our commonalities. This is also true for families. Although our families came together  through adoption instead of by birth, we have much in common with all families regardless of the way we formed. This book can open conversations about what kinds of things a child’s birth and adoptive  families might be doing simultaneously. Some will be similar, some will not.

 

 

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.

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Megan Sullivan Megan Sullivan