Teaching Cultural Compassion
Celebrating Grandparents Day
Intergenerational relationships are so important. We have so very much to learn from one another. Unfortunately, I did not get to know my biological grandfathers because they both died before I was born. I did, however, get to know both of my biological grandmothers and adopted many many others as "grandparents" throughout my childhood and even into adulthood. The grandparent/child relationship is a very special one. For Grandparents Day, I thought I would bring your attention to some of my favorite books featuring that relationship, biological or otherwise.
What Will You Be? by Yamile Saied Méndez and Kate Alizadeh features a little girl asking her Abuela what she will be when she grows up. No one could be more imaginative about the future than her Abuela. (Also available in a Spanish edition!)
Saturdays Are for Stella by Candy Wellins and Charlie Eve Ryan walks the reader through the special relationship of a boy and his Stella, and the loss of his Stella. It completes the circle of life with the birth of a new Stella.
In Birdsong by Julie Flett, a girl who has just moved finds an unexpected friend in the older woman next door. (Julie Flett has several grandparent books.)
You'll find yourself giggling at the fanciful adventures of Skyfishing: (A Grand Tale with Grandpa) by Gideon Sterer and Poly Bernatene. A little girl finds a way to help her grandfather be more comfortable in his new city home.
Sometimes, we don't know how to relate to our elders, but Minh Lê and Dan Santat have a creative solution for such a situation in Drawn Together. When language is a barrier between this boy and his grandfather, they find that art can build a bridge!
Lastly for this list, the story of another young person adopting an older friend in Swashby and the Sea by Beth Ferry and Juana Martinez-Neal. A salty old sea dog wants to be left alone... till he refinds his smile with a small visitor!
There are so many more great books and you can find them on my BookShop list. There are books about loss of memory and loss of relationship, stories of acceptance and growth, stories of lessons that couldn't be learned from anyone but a grandparent. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!
Just a reminder, I will make a small commission if you buy any books through the BookShop links above.
National Craft Month
If you didn't know it, March has also been National Craft Month--don't worry, there's still time to add some crafting to your life--you can implement that at any time! For inspiration, here area few of my favorite books about crafting and crafters:
As an avid knitter myself, I have to start with two great books about knitting and intergenerational love. A Hat for Mrs. Goldman: A Story about Knitting and Love by Michelle Edwards and G. Brian Karas is a story of two neighbors, young Sophia who thinks knitting is hard and Mrs. Goldman who knits for everyone she knows. Sophia learns about taking care of others from her older neighbor... and knows just what to do when Mrs. Goldman gives her own hat away. Nana in the City by Lauren Castillo tells the story of a loving grandmother who lives in the city, the grandkid who is wary of the city, and the knitted cape that gives them the bravery to explore together!
Crafting can also be part of one's heritage and tell a family story, the next two recommendations include family quilts and family visits to school. In both The Arabic Quilt: An Immigrant Story by Aya Khalil and Anait Semirdzhyan and Nana Akua Goes to School by Tricia Elam Walker and April Harrison, kids are able to teach their classmates about their heritage through the beauty of their family's quilts.
Crafting doesn't just have to be knitting, crocheting, quilting, etc, but envelops many forms of creative expression. The last two recommendations are less traditional crafting stories. Ari Arranges Everything by Katie Vernon is about a kid who loves to arrange things (and animals and even people!) to create a different vision. Unbound by Joyce Scott (Judith's sister), Brie Spangler, and Melissa Sweet tells the true story of mixed media artist Judith Scott who was born deaf and with Down Syndrome, and didn't let that stop her from creating inspired art! You can see a little more detail about her art here.
There are a few more titles I couldn't leave out on the list at bookshop.org, check them out, too. March may be almost over, but let your creative juices flow and find a craft to try!
Reminder that a small commission for books purchased through TCC's bookshop.org list links go toward furthering the work of Teaching Cultural Compassion.
Will You Be My Valentine?
Though Valentine’s Day commercializes itself as a holiday celebrating romantic love, I want to suggest some books that remind us of other kinds of love!
I have to plug ONE romantic love book. Though it seems silly, Worm Loves Worm by J. J. Austrian is a poignant story about loving someone for who they are and not letting anyone else change that love. Love is love.
After romantic love, the first love one might think of is the love of family. While there are a lot of amazing Mom books out there; Dad books are harder to find. Dad by My Side by Soosh is one of the most beautiful books that fits that bill. Written and illustrated by a father daughter team, it exemplifies the best moments of love between a father and daughter.
The love of a grandparent is a special thing. Julián is a Mermaid by Jessica Love shares this love in a tentative way at first, not knowing if it can stand the test of Grandma knowing the truth. But (SPOILER) Grandma comes through! Another lovely Grandma book is Grandma’s Purse by Vanessa Brantley-Newton. (This link even has a read-out-loud link right there on the author’s site!) A granddaughter sharing Grandma’s history and life through the items in the purse show this unique bond in a fun, colorful way!
Kids also certainly understand the love of animals, as beautifully illustrated by Claire Keane in Love is by Diane Adams. Knowing that love can be caring for something you know isn’t yours and will someday have to leave is an integral part of growing up. This book says it perfectly.
Kids also love other people without asking too many questions-- My Best Friend by Julie Fogliano & Jillian Tamaki shares a story of exactly that. These two kids ARE best friends, aren’t they? (SPOILER) Even if they just met today and don’t know each other’s names? A story about love in perhaps its purest form, My Best Friend is a new joy to add to any bookshelf!
Lastly, even if there is no specific contact, a kid can still show love through a wave or a smile. Because Amelia Smiled by David Ezra Stein is a great story about how one simple gesture can change the world. In the world today, we need more smiles!
So, I hope you’ll be my valentine and read some of these books with your kids!