Teaching Cultural Compassion

June 9, 2023

History of Pride

If you're paying attention to the new titles of the archives on this site, you'll notice that Pride celebration has been categorized with Assisting Advocacy.  Here are some books that exemplify why that decision was made.

For a well written poetic version of this history for even our littlest kids, read Twas the Night Before Pride by Joanna McClintick and Juana Medina.  To the rhythm of a famous old poem, this book tells the story of a family getting ready for baby's first Pride Festival and includes the retelling of the history of the movement.

At a slightly higher word count,  Stonewall: A Building, an Uprising, a Revolution by Rob Sanders and Jamey Christoph and Be Amazing: A History of Pride  by Desmond Napoles and Dylan Glynn are both more detailed, but still age appropriate, tellings of the Stonewall Riots and the movement that followed.

And for more insight on how the rainbow flag came about, check out Pride: The story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag and Sewing the Rainbow: A Story about Gilbert Baker

For more recommendations on the history of this fight for equal rights, go to the Pride book list in my book shop!

Reminder that  a small commission for books purchased through TCC's bookshop.org list links go toward furthering the work of Teaching Cultural Compassion.

April 10, 2023

International Day of Human Space Flight!

I was not aware until this week that April 12 is the United Nations' International Day of Human Space Flight.  But now that I know, I want to help all of you celebrate with biographies and training books and fun stories about humans and our relationship to space.

Most people who have heard of Nichelle Nichols know about her time acting on Star Trek, but fewer know that she was also heavily involved in diversity recruitment at NASA.  To Boldly Go by Angela Dalton and Lauren Semmer tells her story, from her youth performances, her groundbreaking performances on Star Trek, and through her work with NASA.  One of the astronauts encouraged by Nichelle was Mae Jemison.  Mae Among the Stars  by Roda Ahmed and Stasia Burrington is an imagining of her early life. 

She Stitched the Stars by Jennifer Harris and Louise Pigott is the biography of a woman named Ellen Harding Baker.  In the late 1800s, women were not encouraged (or sometimes even allowed) to study science, but that didn't stop Ellen from studying the stars!  Because she wasn't allowed to express her knowledge in a "masculine" way in academia, she chose to embroider the solar system on a quilt.

If you already know you want to go to space someday, you'll need some guidance.  Check out Go for Liftoff  by Dr. Dave Williams and Loredana Cunti, with fun photos and some encouraging illustrations by Theo Krynauw.

Counting on Katherine  by Helaine Becker and Dow Phumiruk and Counting the Stars by Lesa Cline-Ransome and Raúl Colón are two retellings of the now-much-more-famous story of Katherine Johnson, the female, Black, NASA "calculator" who saved the Apollo 13 mission!

And two of my favorites that might aid in pretending while space camp is still far away are Astronaut Training by Aneta Cruz and Olivia Aserr and Love, Sophia on the Moon by Anica Mrose Rissi and Mika Song.

Hope this reading helps you blast off!!

Reminder that  a small commission for books purchased through TCC's bookshop.org list links go toward furthering the work of Teaching Cultural Compassion.

March 6, 2023

International Women's Day and National Women's History Month

When it comes to honoring the history of women, I can't even come close to narrowing it down.  Because feminist movements in this country have often centered on the white women, but certainly aren't only white women, I have chosen to narrow down my recommendations this month to biographies and historical accounts of Black, Indigenous, and other women of color.  Luckily, Bookshop doesn't make me narrow it TOO much more!! You can find a list of my top 25 here.

Here is a little info about the pictures featured here:

Justice Rising by Katheryn Russell-Brown and Kim Holt is a new book that tells the lesser-known stories of 12 female Civil Rights pioneers.

Dancing Hands by Margarita Engle and Rafael López is the true story of Teresa Carreño who played piano so beautifully at the age of 10 that she was asked to travel all the way from Venezuela to play for Abraham Lincoln!   Also available in Spanish.

In Malala's Magic Pencil ,  Malala Yousafzai tells about how, when she was very young, she wished for a magic pencil to erase and redraw all of the world's problems.  Her imagination comes to life with illustrations by Kerascoët.

Red Bird Sings by Gina Capaldi and Q. L. Pearce is the life story of Zitkala-Sa, or Red Bird Sings, who was a Native American author, musician, and activist, singing for the rights of her people.

Stacey Abrams and Kitt Thomas tell a story from Stacey's childhood in Stacey's Extraordinary Words.  She also relates how her love of words has impacted the work she now does.

Queen of Physics by Teresa Robeson and Rebecca Huang is the story of Wu Chien Shiung and her part in figuring out how atoms work.  She came all the way from China to be the first woman to be hired as an instructor at Princeton University!

Estela Juarez has been fighting for her family to stay together in the United States since she was 8 years old.  She has vowed to continue to speak, Until Someone Listens.   Lissette Norman and Teresa Martínez help her tell her story in this beautiful book that is also available in Spanish.

Sharice Davids is a current congresswoman from Kansas who is also the first Native American woman to have that title.  In Sharice's Big Voice  Sharice and  Nancy K. Mays tell the story of how she has never been afraid to speak... and listen.  Joshua Mangeshig Pawis-Steckley is a Native artist who helps tell this story with flare!

Shining Star by Paula Yoo and Lin Wang tells the true story of the first Chinese American movie star, Anna Wong!

When Marian Sang by Pam Muñoz Ryan and Brian Selznick recounts the moving, brave, historic concert Marian Anderson gave at the Lincoln Memorial in 1939.  

I hope you enjoy all of these books for Women's History Month, both those in the past, and those making history now!  

Reminder that  a small commission for books purchased through TCC's bookshop.org list links go toward furthering the work of Teaching Cultural Compassion. 

January 24, 2023

Holocaust Remembrance Day

International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which happens this week is the yearly remembrance of those who suffered (and especially those who died) during the Holocaust.  As survivors get older and older and there are fewer and fewer, the charge to Always Remember, Never Forget relies on our next generations.  In order to help you start talking about the Holocaust with kids, here are some picture books to read together.

One of the newest additions to this topic of books is Nicky & Vera: A Quiet Hero of the Holocaust and the Children He Rescued by Peter SísThe story of a young man from England who helped resettle over 700 children in his native country.  Not many words per page makes this a good choice for young readers. 

Passage to Freedom: The Sugihara Story  by Ken Mochizuki and Dom Lee is an award winning book of the true story of a Japanese diplomat in Lithuania who helped thousands of Jews escape through Japan.

Hidden: A Child's Story of the Holocaust by Loïc Dauvillier is a graphic novel about a fictional French-Jewish girl whose story is like many told, hiding with neighbors until the end of the war.  A graphic novel based on a true story of a family who was able to leave is Maurice and His Dictionary by Cary Fagan.  It is his father's story of running from the Nazis from Belgium, through France, Spain, Portugal, and eventually Jamaica before being allowed to go to university in Canada.  And if you like graphic novels, be sure to preorder Hour of Need: The Daring Escape of the Danish Jews During World War II: A Graphic Novel by Ralph Shayne and Tatiana Goldberg coming later this year.

If you have older children at home who would like to read personal accounts on their own, I would always recommend Night by Elie Wiesel and The Diary of a Young Girl: The Definitive Edition by Anne Frank.  Also recommended for older kids are Parallel Journeys by Eleanor H. Ayer, I Have Lived a Thousand Years by Livia Bitton-Jackson, and Tutti's Promise by K. Heidi Fishman.

I realize there are several others in the bookshop.org list that are on backorder currently and even more that are no longer in print.  I have created a longer suggested list with library links here.

Special thanks for the recommendations in this post that came from Amanda Friedeman, Associate Director of Education at Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center.

On this day may we remember, and may these stories and the memories of those who inspired them be a blessing.

Reminder that  a small commission for books purchased through TCC's bookshop.org list links go toward furthering the work of Teaching Cultural Compassion. 

January 24, 2022

In Memoriam

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.

August 23, 2021

Get Schooled by Picture Books

I know my experience is not universal--no one has that.  However, I know that, particularly generationally, we learn different things in school.  I truly hope that kids now are learning more diverse stories than when I was in school.  Every time I read a biography or historical picture book, I'm reminded of how many stories were silenced for so many years.  It makes me a little mad to know that I didn't know these sides of history before--but also grateful that amazing picture book writers and illustrators are making them come alive for me now, and that kiddos now get to grow up knowing these stories!  I figured I would pass along a few of my favorite books that can be added to the "today I learned" category of my life.

As we fear going back to classrooms, remembering those who feared going to school in the time of de-segregation.  What you might not know much about is Lemon Grove and its history!  Todos Iguales - All Equal by Christy Hale tells the story of how immigrant children were needlessly taken out of public schools in Lemon Grove, CA in 1931, and how they won the right to go back!

When I was a kid, I didn't see a lot of women in STEM as role models.  We have recently learned more in pop culture about Katherine Johnson and the women of Hidden Figures, and that was eye opening for so many of us! To add to that list, I'll also share Queen of Physics by Teresa Robeson, illustrated by Rebecca M Huang and Instructions Not Included  by Tami Lewis Brown and Debbie Loren Dunn.

In an example of African American lives who are important to our culture but remain untold in most schools, I want to offer two.  One of a slave who was also an amazing artist.  If you don't know about Dave the Potter, you're not the only one.  Luckily, Laban Carrick Hill and Bryan Collier fixed that for me!  Before the Civil Rights Movement of the 20th century, there was a firecracker journalist paving the way in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  You can get to know her like I did in Yours For Justice, Ida B. Wells by Phillip Dray and Steven Alcorn.

I can't possibly list all of them here, but I CAN list more of them in my bookshop list that you can find here.  Particularly at the bottom of that page, you'll find a few multi-biographies of groups of inspiring people you didn't know enough about before!!

I hope you feel as educated and inspired by these books as I do,


November 9, 2020

History Made Yet Again

This weekend made a special kind of history for the United States, for the first time, a woman of color has been elected Vice President.  Author Nikki Grimes and illustrator Laura Freeman want your kids to know a little more about our new VP in Kamala Harris: Rooted in Justice, their new book that was published before the groundbreaking news was confirmed.

Though Kamala is the first to make it to this point she’s not the first woman to make a difference in politics.  From Sojourner Truth’s Step-Stomp Stride to Lillian's Right to Vote: A Celebration of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to Yours for Justice, Ida B. Wells to She was the first!: the trailblazing life of Shirley Chisholm, black women have influenced voting and political offices in this country.  (You can also learn more from Vashti Harrison’s Little Leaders and Little Dreamers .)

In Vice President-Elect Harris’s speech on Saturday, she also made sure to say that though she’s the first, she certainly won’t be the last.  How do we raise kids to know that anyone can be president?  Well, Kamala Harris herself wrote a book about just that, Superheroes are Everywhere.  Other books to keep kids interested in making a difference in politics include Sofia Valdez, Future Prez and Grace for President.

Who inspired you?  Tell your kids!

September 19, 2020

In Memory of a "Notorious" Woman

On Friday, we lost a small of stature woman who was a giant of justice.  Ruth Bader Ginsburg was not only a Supreme Court Justice, but became a pop icon and inspiration to many people, especially women in the United States.  Growing up in Brooklyn, being asked to work so that her younger brother could pay to go to college, fighting her own way through school, trying to work while raising a family, and eventually rising to the top of her field (just like she rose to the occasion for everything in her life), RBG's story is truly inspiring.  There have been many books written about her (and even two recent movies).  I would love to suggest my favorite two. I Dissent by Debbie Levy with awesome pictures by Elizabeth Baddely tells her whole story while Ruth Bader Ginsburg: The Case of RBG vs. Inequality by Jonah Winter with fun pictures by Stacy Innerst focuses on her legal legacy.  Both are excellent additions to your bookshelf and I highly recommend reading them over and over in her memory.

July 20, 2020

Remembering Rep. John Lewis

This week, we lost the last of the Big Six of the Civil Rights movement.  John Lewis was a man who always sought to speak out for others, even as a young child.  In Jabari Asim's book Preaching to the Chickens (with lovely illustrations by EB Lewis), your kids can learn how even they can take a stand.  They might not grow up to speak in front of lots of important people or see the kind of resistance Rep. Lewis saw, but they can speak up.  If you also work with older kids and youth, I would highly recommend March, a series of graphic novels by the man himself.  It will give them an inside look on what it was like to be there, in the middle of the movement when it was new.

January 13, 2020

Kids and King

Every Year around Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday, the same books are on hold at the local library.  The same ones are on display at the bookstores. This year, rather than defaulting to the same title, I urge you to look at the Civil Rights Movement through the eyes of children.  Kids certainly grasp the stories of history better when they are from another kid’s experience.

My first recommendation this year is Love Will See You Through.  The most traditional MLK book on this list, it is written by Dr. King’s own niece, Angela Farris Watkins, Phd, including some of her memories of him from her childhood. Its easy reading and powerful illustrations (by Sally Wern Comport) walk your kids through the six guiding beliefs of Dr. King and his legacy.  

The next two are true or based on true stories of kids marching with Dr. King.  One of the most moving moments of the Civil Rights Movement was when the children marched. The biographical book The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, a Young Civil Rights Activist is told masterfully by Cynthia Levinson and illustrated beautifully by Vanessa Brantley Newton.  Audrey Faye Hendricks was only nine years old when she was arrested for marching—far younger than the rest of those with whom she was held.  But she stuck to her beliefs. Our kids can learn a lot from her story.

Inspired by people like Audrey Faye Hendricks, Angela Johnson captures the possible experience of two sisters at the Million Man March in a sweet smell of roses.  Eric Velasquez’s dynamic illustrations give us an up front seat in the audience with the girls and give your kids a feeling of what it might have been like to be with Dr. King that day.

This year, I also encourage you to take a step into the six guiding beliefs of Dr. King and explore nonviolence with your children.  Nonviolence is not simply a lack of physical violence. Be the Change is an accessible story of what nonviolence actually looks like in practice.  Told by Arun Gandhi, it is the story of learning that lesson the hard way from his loving grandfather.  Dr. King was greatly influenced by Gandhi, and this book will help you and your kids take the next step to be the change.

For a new book on how to help your kids live King’s legacy of protest, Martha Freeman wrote a lovely book called If You’re Going to a March.  A mostly non-partisan book about what a protest is like, this book gives tips like wearing comfortable shoes and taking snacks or bottled water.  (The only slight political bent is shown with what topics are or are not represented by the marchers in the inside cover illustrations.) Living just outside our nation’s capital, this book seems like a must have for activist families on any side of a platform!

Enjoy the holiday and sharing the memory of a great man,