Teaching Cultural Compassion
I have been trying to work on articles for this blog, but realized I didn't feel right starting 2022 without saying goodbye to those amazing authors and illustrators who died in 2021, but not before gave us these beautiful diverse books. Click on each name for more about them and click the link at the bottom for a list of my favorites of their books.
Eloise Greenfield: A poet and a prophet, I was blessed to have been able to meet her in person a few years ago. Her presence is just as calming and compassionate as you would imagine from her books.
Jerry Pinkney: Illustrator and interpreter, Jerry's amazing artwork brings old stories to life--and all with diverse characters. Whether it's his interpretation of Noah's Ark or The Little Mermaid, people of any age are drawn into the story.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu: A powerful, gentle voice reminding us that we all have worth in the sight of God and that God's Dream is for us to love one another. He made the world a better place through his actions and thankfully left us books for children and adults.
Kathleen Krull: Sought to teach us the history of those we might not have found on our own. Kathleen made sure to find the story of how greatness becomes great in people of all backgrounds!
Bernette Ford: Started Black Creators for Children in the 1970s to ensure that Black creators had an outlet to be seen and heard--and to help change the lives of children like them. Though she mostly did editing and advocacy, she co-authored Bright Eyes, Brown Skin which remains a staple today.
Floyd Cooper: Believed “giving kids a positive alternative to counteract the negative impact of what is conveyed in today’s media is a huge opportunity.” He illustrated and even wrote many award winning books (including some by the authors above)!
All of these talented writers, illustrators, and editors will be severely missed in the world of diverse books. I know I have mourned each of their losses personally and am grateful they were all so prolific so that I can still surround myself with their work.
Click here for a shopping list of my favorites. Reminder that I will receive a small commission for books purchased through my list links.
What Message Are You Giving?
It's that time of year when giving is at the forefront. Whether you're giving books to kids in your life or donating kids you don't know and may never meet, think before you buy. If you have heard me speak, you've heard this before, I'm sure your favorite book from when you were a kid is great, but is it the best book for the recipient?
If you haven't seen it, check out this infographic from the Children's Cooperative Book Center at the University of Wisconsin is a great representation of how kind of mirror children's publishing gives to our children of all demographics.
If we want our kids to see value in themselves (and in others) we have to make sure we know what message we are sending. If you are getting books for kids in your life, consider what books they already have. Are their books diverse? Find something they don't already have! If you're buying a book for a kid you don't know, look at the demographics served by the organization collecting the books. If the main community served is a Latinx community, think about buying bilingual books! This allows for more family time at home as well as being a great book to read. Consider what the kid receiving the book might want to see most in a book before you buy. If you don't know, pick a book that represents multiple cultures and ethnicities!
The books I have chosen here should be in lots of local bookstores, national bookstores, and some of them even at TARGET! So, look for them in person. If you can't find them in person, you can always order online!
After the last inauguration, almost everyone knows who Amanda Gorman is. Change Sings is a new book that combines her moving poetry with the ever imaginative and colorful illustrations of Loren Long (known for his Otis the Tractor books). The story reminds us all that when we join our voices together, we can truly make change for our communities and the world.
This is the perfect book to have by your bed and read first thing every morning. I Will Be Fierce! by Bea Birdsong & Nidhi Chanani walks the reader through the day of the character starring in the book as she makes the fierce decisions to stand up for fairness, do her best, and take on the day!
When Lucia is told by kids on the playground that girls can't be superheroes, it makes her sad...until she tells her Abuela and, as grandmothers often do, SHE knows just what to do! Little did Lucia know, she comes from a long line of LUCHADORAS!! She not only CAN be a superhero, she was BORN to be one. Lucia the Luchadora by Cynthia Leonor Garza & Alyssa Bermudez is a Spanish/English bilingual tale that is a lovely intergenerational read!
A Spanish/English bilingual story written by Latin Grammy Winner Lucky Diaz and brilliantly illustrated by Micah Player, Paletero Man is the story of a boy in LA running through his neighborhood to find his favorite Paletero (ice cream man) for a cool treat. Unfortunately, he drops all of his money in his run there--but is supported by his community when they see what he's missing. It even has a very catchy song version!
You can find these books and a few more on my bookshop.org affiliate page by clicking here. Reminder that I will receive a small commission for books purchased through my list links.
November begins with All Saints Day and Dia de los Muertos, so it's only appropriate that it has also been named National Children's Grief Awareness Month. We have all been dealing with more loss and more grief than a usual year. As yet another colleague asked me what books I could suggest to the children in their community experiencing loss, I thought I should write it in a more public way.
My very favorite book about grieving comes from a Buddhist story retold and illustrated by Jon J. Muth. Like the other Stillwater Stories, Addy's Cup of Sugar is about the interaction of a child (Addy) and Stillwater the zen panda. Addy, dealing with the death of her kitten, seeks help and healing from her wise friend. She learns through his round-about-teaching that she is not the only one who has been touched by death--that she is indeed not alone in her grief.
I wrote about Saturdays Are for Stella by Candy Wellins and Charlie Eve Ryan for Grandparent's Day, but it is worth reminding you here. When Stella is a very special person and dies, George has to figure out what to do with his grief and how to celebrate the wonderful memories he mad with his grandmother.
You'll Find Me by Amanda Rawson Hill and Joanne Lew-Vriethoff is less specific about loss, but helps the reader remember that death is not the end of memories or feelings associated with someone special.
Though these are my suggestions, as usual I would also like to point you to resources from actual experts. In this particular situation, I'll point you to a resource created by First Book and the New York Life Foundation that will give even more suggestions of books and other grief resources broken up by age group.
You can find these three books and a few more on my bookshop.org affiliate page by clicking here. Reminder that I will receive a small commission for books purchased through my list links.
Caring about Climate Change
Tomorrow, October 12, I will be talking to a Climate Café community hosted by Faiths4Future about the intersection between my work on diverse picture books and their work with faith communities and climate change advocacy. Unfortunately, that intersection is easier than one would think--the same kids who rarely see themselves in picture books are the same kids (and adults) most likely to be adversely affected by climate catastrophe!
So I'll be sharing with them my personal favorite books about Creation Appreciation and Climate Advocacy that can be used in secular or faith based situations when talking to kids about why we should be advocates for our environment. Click the links in this paragraph for printable .pdf flyers of my top 5 little kid books and top 5 big kid books in each of those categories!
If you would like to join us for the free webinar and discussion, there's still time to register! We will meet at 2pmET/11amPT, click here to register.* I'd love to see you!
You can also find those lists on my bookshop.org affiliate page by clicking here. Reminder that I will receive a small commission for books purchased through my list links.
Looking for resources for Indigenous People's Day or Latinx Heritage Month? Please check out my recommendations from last year by clicking here. I will add that I have a few new favorites since last year including What Will You Be? by Yamile Saied Méndez and Kate Alizadeh, listed just below; Paletero Man by Lucky Diaz and Micah Player, listed in the ice cream article below; When We Are Kind by Monique Gray Smith and Nicole Neidhardt; and We Are Still Here!: Native American Truths Everyone Should Know by Traci Sorell and Frane Lessac.