Have you heard all of buzz about the inaugural 2019 National AntiRacist Book Festival yet? This ticketed event will be taking place on Saturday April 27, 2019 on AU’s Washington College of Law campus in the neighborhood of Tenleytown, Washington, D.C. The event is hosted by American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center.
Along with nationally renowned writers, journalists, poets, and scholars who have recently published critically acclaimed books, the festival will include workshops for aspiring writers with leading literary agents and book editors. This year’s inaugural festival primarily features authors of anti-black racism and its intersections. There will also be free workshops for educators and youth, and workshops on photography and self-care.
“The inaugural Antiracist Bookfest will offer one of the most distinguished lineups of anti-racist authors ever assembled for a book festival,” said National Book Award-winning author Ibram X. Kendi, the founding director of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University. “We are making history with this incredible collection of bestselling, award-winning and popular authors, who often headline events. We are delighted they each agreed to come together and launch the Antiracist Bookfest, while supporting our work in the Antiracist Research and Policy Center.”
Sample of authors in attendance:
National Book Critics Circle Award-winning historian Carol Anderson
National Magazine Award-winning reporter Shane Bauer
Bancroft Prize-winning Yale historian David Blight New York Times bestselling-author Robin DiAngelo
National Book Award Finalist Erica Armstrong Dunbar
Award-winning Harvard professor and filmmaker Henry Louis Gates New York Times bestselling-author Morgan Jerkins
Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Tyehimba Jess
Award-winning Washington Post editor Steve Luxenberg
Nationally renowned Campaign Zero Co-Founder DeRay McKesson New York Times bestselling author Ijeoma Oluo New York Times bestselling author Jason Reynolds
Award-winning poet and writer Clint Smith
PEN Open Book Award winner Nafissa Thompson-Spires New York Times bestselling author D. Watkins
National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature Jacqueline Woodson Very Smart Brothas Cofounder Damon Young
Ticketed portions of the festival will include author panel discussions and workshops for aspiring writers. All proceeds from ticket sales for the Antiracist Bookfest will go to the work of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center, started at AU in fall 2017. The center is based on a new vision of change that’s grounded in historical revelation and focuses on policy change.
Disclaimer: I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own and have not been influenced in any way.
Lovely by Jess Hong
Publisher:Creston Books Pages: 32 Format: Hardcover Age Range: 3 – 7 Grade Level: Preschool – 2 Publication Date: October 1, 2017 Available for pre-order now by clicking here!
Synopsis Big, small, curly, straight, loud, quiet, smooth, wrinkly. Lovely explores a world of differences that all add up to the same thing: we are all lovely!
Reflection Growing up, I was regularly exposed to people, ideas and foods from other countries all over the world. Now that I’m a parent I try to encourage my children to be open-minded about people who look, act or think differently than they do. It’s central to our family beliefs.
I think this forthcoming picture book does a good job embracing diversity and inclusion across race, ethnicity, capability and sexual preference for younger readers. It starts off by asking the question: What is Lovely? The simple one sentence per page or one word per page answers the question by letting little readers know that lovely is different and comes in many forms. All people are lovely in their own way.
Lovely is you. Lovely is me. Lovely is different, weird and wonderful.
What makes this book stand out to me is the colorful and striking illustrations since the story itself is quite simple, yet poignant. Little readers will be exposed to a little girl with two different eye colors (one blue, one brown), a child wearing braces, a person in a wheelchair, someone wearing a prosthetic leg and more. Recommended for ages 3-7.
Your turn: What makes you lovely? Feel free to share in the comments?
Publisher: Lee & Low Books Pages: 32 Format: Hardcover Age Range: 4 – 8 years Grade Level: Preschool – 3
Synopsis Casey loves to play with his blocks, puzzles, and dump truck, but he also loves things that sparkle, shimmer, and glitter. When his older sister, Jessie, shows off her new shimmery skirt, Casey wants to wear a shimmery skirt too. When Jessie comes home from a party with glittery nails, Casey wants glittery nails too. And when Abuelita visits wearing an armful of sparkly bracelets, Casey gets one to wear, just like Jessie. The adults in Casey’s life embrace his interests, but Jessie isn’t so sure. Boys aren’t supposed to wear sparkly, shimmery, glittery things. Then, when older boys at the library tease Casey for wearing “girl” things, Jessie realizes that Casey has the right to be himself and wear whatever he wants. Why can’t both she and Casey love all things shimmery, glittery, and sparkly? Here is a sweet, heartwarming story about acceptance, respect, and the freedom to be yourself in a world where any gender expression should be celebrated. Sparkly things are for everyone to enjoy!
Reflection Little Casey likes dressing up in shimmery skirts, wearing glittery nail polish and sparkly bracelets. But Casey’s older sister Jessie does not approve. She thinks only girls are allowed to do those things.
When Casey is bullied and laughed at one day in the library, his sister protects him and she finally learns to accept her brother for who he is. In the end, Casey is free to be himself and revel in the love of his parents, his abuelita (grandmother) and his sister.
In addition to Sparkle Boy tackling the issues of diversity, acceptance and respect, there are also elements of sibling rivalry, bullying and the freedom to be yourself. Why shouldn’t boys like sparkly and glittery things and girls like trucks? Who made up those rules? Sometimes boys like pretty stuff and that’s ok. Sometimes girls are tomboys and that’s ok too.
While some may think it’s a bit harsh, I appreciate that little readers are shown the difficult sides of self expression from others in this book. For example, when Casey is being made fun of by the older boys in the library. To me, it reflects a real life situation that many boys who were dressed like Casey in a public place may have also experienced. Because, let’s face it, kids can be very cruel and you can’t always shield and protect your kids from others. That’s life.
I also like that this book celebrates the uniqueness of Casey without tagging it with a label. It honors his desire to wear girl’s clothing and other things traditionally worn by girls. I think this book would be good for children who are gender non-conforming, but also other kids to promote understanding and tolerance. One to check out during Pride Month with your little readers.
Your turn: Have you read this book with your little readers yet? Feel free to share in the comments.
Esquivel! Space-Age Sound Artist by Susan Wood, illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh Publisher: Charlesbridge Age Range: 6 – 9 years Grade Level: 1 – 4 Hardcover: 32 pages Available for Sale: September 6, 2016 Pre-order here!
Juan Garcia Esquivel was born in Mexico and grew up to the sounds of mariachi bands. He loved music and became a musical explorer. Defying convention, he created music that made people laugh and planted images in their minds. Juan’s space-age lounge music–popular in the fifties and sixties–has found a new generation of listeners. And Duncan Tonatiuh’s fresh and quirky illustrations bring Esquivel’s spirit to life.
Reflection I just love a good children’s non-fiction biography book! Especially when I learn something completely new that I never knew before. Have you ever heard of Juan Garcia Esquivel? I hadn’t either until I read this book with the kids. Juan who later became known simply as Esquivel! (with an exclamation point), the king of space-age pop, was born in Tampico, Mexico in 1918. He loved music and grew up to the sounds of mariachi bands. Defying convention, he created music that made people laugh and planted images in their minds.
A self-taught player (he learned how to play the piano on his own), composer, and arranger, he to be proved a musical prodigy, and was soon leading the station orchestra. Esquivel! also became a pioneer in the innovative style of space-age music popular in the 1950s and ’60s. This unique style of music is full of brilliant, bizarre, and exciting sounds, which are particularly striking to ears. It’s a mixture of Latin, jazz, instruments and human voices combined.
During his career, Esquivel! became popular in both Mexico and the United States, and he wrote many songs for TV shows and movies. He passed away in 2002, but even today he remains an inspiration to artists in many fields from musicians to animators to filmmakers who appreciate his originality and imagination.
Recommended for children ages 6 – 9, but it makes an informative and fun read aloud for younger kids too – you may just have to break it up into a couple of reading sessions like we did. The illustrations are bright and cheerful – they really complement the story well as the characters are dressed in outfits from the 50’s and 60’s era.
I think the kids favorite thing about this book is repeating all the unique musical sounds like: “rah-rah-rah-ree”, “blop-bleep-bleep-blop” and “squiddle diddy squee”! It would have been fun to have all of the different musical sounds on CD to accompany this book as I’m sure our little musical rendition was way off key! My favorite thing about this book was learning about someone completely new (and lesser known) from a diverse background. We don’t see too many books about successful Mexicans so this was a real treat for me to read.
The back matter contains both an author’s and illustrator’s note as well as a list of additional resources. Highly recommended for music lovers as well as Mexican or Mexican-American children to allow them to see themselves represented in a book. I think many little readers will be inspired by Esquivel! to follow their dreams just like he did.
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.
Your turn: Do you think your little readers will enjoy this book? Feel free to share in the comments.
Summer break is just a few weeks away for my kids. With summer comes lazy days, relaxation, vacation, camps, boredom, and lack of recall of everything our kids learned in school this year. I’m a firm believer in reading and keeping kids engaged in learning activities over the summer to keep their minds from turning to a bowl of mush.
Although I read a variety of different books with my kids, I wanted to create a diverse/multicultural summer reading list for parents and caregivers since I am often asked about diverse books for kids. I’m always on the lookout for more good diverse books to read and promote!
The following is a list of books that I believe provide wonderful multicultural reading experiences for kids. This compilation is filled with many books that I have personally read with my kids (or plan to read) and have impacted my life in some way. They made me laugh, they made me cry, they made me think, they made me imagine, they made me hungry!
I’ve included books for African-Americans, Asians, Latinos, Peruvians, Brazilians, Native Americans and Pacific Americans. I realize there are so many other great diverse books out there, but I hope you and your kids find some books on this list that resonate with you. Happy Summer Reading!
Shades of black : a celebration of our children by Sandra Pinkney Using simple poetic language and stunning photographs, Sandra and Myles Pinkney have created a remarkable book of affirmation for African-American children. Photographic portraits and striking descriptions of varied skin tones, hair texture, and eye color convey a strong sense of pride in a unique heritage. A joyous celebration of the rich diversity among African-Americans.
The sun on your face. The smell of warm bannock baking in the oven. Holding the hand of someone you love. What fills your heart with happiness? This beautiful board book, with illustrations from celebrated artist Julie Flett, serves as a reminder for little ones and adults alike to reflect on and cherish the moments in life that bring us joy.
Every child’s life is filled with milestones. Some happen easily; others need a little extra support. Artist and mom Maria van Lieshout has been there. Drawing upon her own experiences, she has created an engaging series of books that are just right for children on the brink of major changes and the caregivers who encourage them.
In this story a toddler boy plays peekaboo with everyone from his grandparents to his puppy, until its finally time to snuggle into bed with his blankie. The kids loved having this book read over and over again until it was finally time to bring it back to the library.
The pastel illustrations in this book show the fun and playfulness of this father and daughter sneaking a little special time together as Mommy sleeps nearby. Babies will love the rhythm — and the excuse for a little extra time with Daddy.
Reach: a board book about curiosity by Elizabeth Verdick Wiggly baby on the floor. What is baby reaching for? Celebrate the many ways that babies reach out to discover and learn about the world around them. With lively rhyming text and vivid black-and-white photos of babies in action, this book is sure to engage babies and grown-ups alike. A great baby board book for floortime or anytime!
This book was gifted to us as a Christmas gift a few years ago. Both kids favorite part of this book is the “this little piggy” rhyme. This book also has easy and fun rhymes, vibrant colors and cute illustrations…just look at those toes on the cover! A wonderful book for both infants and toddlers.
The fun, rhyming language, and the overall simplicity of the story itself make it perfect for infants and toddlers alike. I like the fact that this book also promotes body awareness, introduces the concept of left and right, and encourages positive self-image and familial bonds.
Global Babies by The Global Fund for Children Appealing photos of babies from seventeen cultures around the globe are woven together by simple narration. GLOBAL BABIES presents children in cultural context. Diverse settings highlight specific differences in clothing, daily life, and traditions, as well as demonstrate that babies around the world are nurtured by the love, caring, and joy that surround them.
Baby Parade by Rebecca O’Connell
Here come the babies! It’s a baby parade! Wave to the babies as they go by in wagons, in backpacks, on foot, and in the arms of mommies and daddies. This adorable parade will be irresistible to toddlers (and caregivers) everywhere.
Mary Had a Little Glam by Tammi Sauer
This little Mary has STYLE! In this fun take on Mother Goose, fashion-forward Mary helps some of childhood’s most beloved characters go glam. From the kid who lives in a shoe (and dons some fab footwear, too) to Jack, who breaks his crown but gets a great new one, Mary’s school friends look fantastic in their finery. But are they now too well dressed for recess? Not to worry—Mary always shows her flair for what to wear!
Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood by F. Isabel Campoy and Theresa Howell
What good can a splash of color do in a community of gray? As Mira and her neighbors discover, more than you might ever imagine! Based on the true story of the Urban Art Trail in San Diego, California,Maybe Something Beautiful reveals how art can inspire transformation—and how even the smallest artists can accomplish something big. Pick up a paintbrush and join the celebration!
Ada Ríos grew up in Cateura, a small town in Paraguay built on a landfill. She dreamed of playing the violin, but with little money for anything but the bare essentials, it was never an option…until a music teacher named Favio Chávez arrived. He wanted to give the children of Cateura something special, so he made them instruments out of materials found in the trash. It was a crazy idea, but one that would leave Ada—and her town—forever changed. Now, the Recycled Orchestra plays venues around the world, spreading their message of hope and innovation.
Rattlestiltskin by Eric A. Kimmel
Rosalia is in debt to the strange little snake man Rattlestiltskin after he teaches her how to make tortillas so light they float in the air! Can she outsmart the trickster and keep her freedom? From renowned children’s book author Eric A. Kimmel comes this delightful reimagining of the classicRumplestiltskin with a Southwestern setting and Spanish vocabulary.
Normal Norman by Tara Lazar and S. Britt
What is “normal?” That’s the question an eager young scientist, narrating her very first book, hopes to answer. Unfortunately, her exceedingly “normal” subject—an orangutan named Norman—turns out to be exceptionally strange. He speaks English, sleeps in a bed, loves his stuffed toy, goes bananas over pizza, and even deep-sea dives! Oh, no: what’s a “normal” scientist to do?
What Does It Mean To Be an Entrepreneur? by Rana DiOrio & Emma D. Dryden When Rae witnesses an ice cream-and-doggie mishap, she’s inspired to create a big-scale solution to help get dogs clean. Rae draws on her determination, resilience, and courage until she―and everyone else in her community―learns just what it means to be an entrepreneur.
On a hot day at the end of summer in 1973 Cindy Campbell threw a back-to-school party at a park in the South Bronx. Her brother, Clive Campbell, spun the records. He had a new way of playing the music to make the breaks―the musical interludes between verses―longer for dancing. He called himself DJ Kool Herc and this is When the Beat Was Born. From his childhood in Jamaica to his youth in the Bronx, Laban Carrick Hill’s book tells how Kool Herc came to be a DJ, how kids in gangs stopped fighting in order to breakdance, and how the music he invented went on to define a culture and transform the world.
Jazz Day: The Making of a Famous Photograph by Roxane Orgill When Esquire magazine planned an issue to salute the American jazz scene in 1958, graphic designer Art Kane pitched a crazy idea: how about gathering a group of beloved jazz musicians and photographing them? He didn’t own a good camera, didn’t know if any musicians would show up, and insisted on setting up the shoot in front of a Harlem brownstone. Could he pull it off? In a captivating collection of poems, Roxane Orgill steps into the frame of Harlem 1958, bringing to life the musicians’ mischief and quirks, their memorable style, and the vivacious atmosphere of a Harlem block full of kids on a hot summer’s day.
Tito Puente, Mambo King/Tito Puente, Rey del Mambo by Monica Brown
In this vibrant bilingual picture book biography of musician Tito Puente, readers will dance along to the beat of this mambo king’s life. Tito Puente loved banging pots and pans as a child, but what he really dreamed of was having his own band one day. From Spanish Harlem to the Grammy Awards—and all the beats in between—this is the true life story of a boy whose passion for music turned him into the “King of Mambo.”
My Best Friend Likes Boys More than Me by Sulma Arzu-Brown
Meet Aisha and Helen. They are best friends. They are both intelligent and very attractive. However, Helen just got bit by the “boy crazy” bug. Find out how Aisha keeps Helen focused on her grades in school. The book is a great way for parents to start that unavoidable conversation about “boys.” You will love how the book prioritizes education in a fun, cool and relatable manner.
The Quickest Kid in Clarksville by Pat Zietlow Miller
It’s the day before the big parade. Alta can only think about one thing: Wilma Rudolph, three-time Olympic gold medalist. She’ll be riding on a float tomorrow. See, Alta is the quickest kid in Clarksville, Tennessee, just like Wilma once was. It doesn’t matter that Alta’s shoes have holes because Wilma came from hard times, too. But what happens when a new girl with shiny new shoes comes along and challenges Alta to a race? Will she still be the quickest kid? The Quickest Kid in Clarksville is a timeless story of dreams, determination, and the power of friendship.
Daniel Finds a Poem by Micha Archer What is poetry? Is it glistening morning dew? Spider thinks so. Is it crisp leaves crunching? That’s what Squirrel says. Could it be a cool pond, sun-warmed sand, or moonlight on the grass? Mmaybe poetry isall of these things, as it is something special for everyone—you just have to take the time to really look and listen.
A Morning with Grandpa by Sylvia Liu
Mei Mei s grandpa is practicing tai chi in the garden, and Mei Mei is eager to join in. As Gong Gong tries to teach her the slow, graceful movements, Mei Mei enthusiastically does them with her own flair. Then Mei Mei takes a turn, trying to teach Gong Gong the yoga she learned in school. Will Gong Gong be able to master the stretchy, bendy poses?This book celebrates, with lively spirit and humor, the special bond between grandparent and grandchild and the joy of learning new things together. Readers of all ages will want to try out some tai chi and yoga too!
Have You Seen Elephant? by David Barrow Elephant wants to play hide and seek. See if you can help the others find him?he’s very good! Have You Seen Elephant? is an assured and exciting debut from a top emerging talent.
Malaika’s Costume by Nadia L. Hohn and Irene Luxbacher It’s Carnival time. The first Carnival since Malaika’s mother moved away to find a good job and provide for Malaika and her grandmother. Her mother promised she would send money for a costume, but when the money doesn’t arrive, will Malaika still be able to dance in the parade?
Dario and the Whale by by Cheryl Lawton Malone and Bistra Masseva
When Dario and his mother move to Cape Cod from Brazil, Dario has a hard time making friends since he doesn’t speak English well. But one day Dario meets someone else who has just arrived in New England and he doesn’t speak any English at all…because he’s a right whale! Day after day Dario and the whale meet at the beach. But what will happen when it’s time for the whale to migrate?
Freedom in Congo Square by Carole Boston Weatherford This poetic, nonfiction story about a little-known piece of African-American history captures a human’s capacity to find hope and joy in difficult circumstances and demonstrates how New Orleans’ Congo Square was truly freedom’s heart.
Twenty Yawns by Jane Smiley and Lauren Castillo Featuring lyrical text and beautiful illustrations, this bedtime tale from Pulitzer Prize winner Jane Smiley and Caldecott Honor recipient Lauren Castillo evokes the splashy fun of the beach and the quietude of a moonlit night, with twenty yawns sprinkled in for children to discover and count.
As her mom reads a bedtime story, Lucy drifts off. But later, she awakens in a dark, still room, and everything looks mysterious. How will she ever get back to sleep?
Maria Carluccio’s playful fashion alphabet celebrates the fun of getting dressed—and getting dressed up! From a sophisticated bow tie to a warm wool hat, this diverse celebration of what we wear from A to Z invites kids to get creative and embrace their own unique style.
Tiny Stitches: The Life of Medical Pioneer Vivien Thomas by Gwendolyn Hooks Vivien Thomas’s greatest dream was to attend college to study medicine. But after the stock market crashed in 1929, Vivien lost all his savings. Then he heard about a job opening at the Vanderbilt University medical school under the supervision of Dr. Alfred Blalock. Vivien knew that the all-white school would never admit him as a student, but he hoped working there meant he was getting closer to his dream.
As Dr. Blalock s research assistant, Vivien learned surgical techniques. In 1943, Vivien was asked to help Dr. Helen Taussig find a cure for children with a specific heart defect. After months of experimenting, Vivien developed a procedure that was used for the first successful open-heart surgery on a child. Afterward, Dr. Blalock and Dr. Taussig announced their innovative new surgical technique, the Blalock-Taussig shunt. Vivien s name did not appear in the report.
Overcoming racism and resistance from his colleagues, Vivien ushered in a new era of medicine children s heart surgery. Tiny Stitches is the compelling story of this incredible pioneer in medicine.
City Shapes by Diana Murray
From shimmering skyscrapers to fluttering kites to twinkling stars high in the sky, everyday scenes become extraordinary as a young girl walks through her neighborhood noticing exciting new shapes at every turn. Far more than a simple concept book, City Shapes is an explosion of life.
A Unicorn Named Sparkle by Amy Young
When Lucy sees an ad in the newspaper for a unicorn, she sends in her twenty-five cents and waits four to six long weeks for her very own unicorn to arrive. She imagines the flowers that she’ll braid into his beautiful pink mane, and she even picks the perfect name for him: Sparkle. But when Sparkle arrives, his ears are too long, his horn is too short, he smells funny–and oh, he has fleas. Lucy isn’t pleased, but in the end she warms up to Sparkle and realizes that even though he wasn’t exactly the unicorn she wanted, he might be just the one she needs.
The Summer Nick Taught His Cats to Read by Curtis Manley
Nick loves to read books—and he loves to play with his cats, Verne and Stevenson. So naturally Nick decides it’s a great idea to teach his cats to read. But Verne and Stevenson don’t appreciate when Nick wakes them up with a flashcard that says NAP. Nick finally piques Verne’s interest with words like MOUSE and FISH. But not Stevenson’s. While Nick and Verne go to the library, Stevenson hides under the porch. Will Nick ever find a way to share his love of reading with his feline friends?
As trees sway in the cool breeze, blue jays head south, and leaves change their colors, everyone knows–autumn is on its way!
Join a young girl as she takes a walk through forest and town, greeting all the signs of the coming season. In a series of conversations with every flower and creature and gust of wind, she says good-bye to summer and welcomes autumn. Read my review here.
I Love Your Brown by Daneya L Jacobs In this love letter from mothers to brown daughters everywhere, little girls are reminded to love the skin they’re in. Girls come in all different colors, shapes, and sizes. Some have long hair, some have short, and others have straight hair or curly. Still, despite the differences, there is something all little brown girls have in common …they have the power to be anything!
Real Sisters Pretend by Megan Dowd Lambert
This warm, engaging story, which unfolds entirely through the conversation of two adopted sisters, was inspired by the author’s own daughters, whom she overheard talking about how adoption made them “real sisters” even though they have different birth parents and do not look alike.
Maggie and Michael Get Dressed by Denise Fleming It’s time for Michael to get dressed! Maggie will help.
Michael knows where each piece of colorful clothing should go. Yellow socks on feet, brown hat on head. But who will end up wearing the blue pants?
Miles & Mia A to Z by Michaela Alexander
Miles & Mia A to Z is an educational, picture book that teaches children different letters of the alphabet in a fun way. Featuring rhyming text and colorful original illustrations.
Thunder Boy Jr. by Sherman Alexie and Yuyi Morales Thunder Boy Jr. is named after his dad, but he wants a name that’s all his own. Just because people call his dad Big Thunder doesn’t mean he wants to be Little Thunder. He wants a name that celebrates something cool he’s done, like Touch the Clouds, Not Afraid of Ten Thousand Teeth, or Full of Wonder. But just when Thunder Boy Jr. thinks all hope is lost, he and his dad pick the perfect name…a name that is sure to light up the sky.
One Day in the Eucalyptus, Eucalyptus Tree by Daniel Bernstrom With its striking cast of forest creatures, One Day in the Eucalyptus, Eucalyptus Tree is Daniel Bernstrom’s amusing and original tale of a plucky little boy who is gobbled up by a giant snake.
Over the Ocean by Taro Gomi
Renowned children’s book creator Taro Gomi has created another masterpiece. In this beautiful testament to wondering, a young girl gazes out to where the water meets the sky and wonders what lies beyond the waves. Boats filled with toys? Skyscrapers filled with people? Houses filled with families? Or, maybe, over the ocean stands someone not so different from the girl herself, returning her gaze. In this celebration of imagination’s power, young readers will find joy in the mystery of the faraway, the unknown, and the just-beyond.
The Stone Thrower by Jael Ealey Richardson African-American football player Chuck Ealey grew up in a segregated neighborhood of Portsmouth, Ohio. Against all odds, he became an incredible quarterback. But despite his unbeaten record in high school and university, he would never play professional football in the United States.
Joseph’s Big Ride by Terry Farish and Ken Daley A refugee boy’s determination to ride a bicycle leads to an unexpected friendship. Joseph wants only one thing: to ride a bike. In the refugee camp where he lives, Joseph helps one of the older boys fix his bike, but he’s too small to ride it. Joseph and his mother travel to America, where everything is strange and new. One day, he spots a red bike that seems just right for him! It belongs to a girl with a whoosh of curly hair.
We March by Shane W. Evans On August 28, 1963, a remarkable event took place–more than 250,000 people gathered in our nation’s capital to participate in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. The march began at the Washington Monument and ended with a rally at the Lincoln Memorial, where Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his historic “I Have a Dream” speech, advocating racial harmony.
The Airport Book by Lisa Brown In a book that is as intriguing as it is useful and entertaining, we follow a family on its way through the complexities of a modern-day airport. From checking bags and watching them disappear on the mysterious conveyor belt, to security clearance and a seemingly endless wait at the gate to finally being airborne.
But wait! There’s more! The youngest family member’s sock monkey has gone missing. Follow it at the bottom of the page as it makes a journey as memorable as that of the humans above.
More games, more races, more tickles, more books—little Henry can’t get enough! When a toddler is armed with that useful word and the world is full of brand-new things, his family just doesn’t stand a chance. Follow Henry on his exhausting and all-too-familiar day filled with play . . . and a lot of love!
More-igami by Dori Kleber
Joey loves things that fold: maps, beds, accordions, you name it. When a visiting mother of a classmate turns a plain piece of paper into a beautiful origami crane, his eyes pop. Maybe he can learn origami, too. It’s going to take practice — on his homework, the newspaper, the thirty-eight dollars in his mother’s purse . . . Enough! No more folding! But how can Joey become an origami master if he’s not allowed to practice? Is there anywhere that he can hone the skill that makes him happy — and maybe even make a new friend while he’s at it?
Fish for Jimmy: Inspired by One Family’s Experience in a Japanese American Internment Camp by Katie Yamasaki
For two boys in a Japanese-American family, everything changed when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor and the United States went to war. With the family forced to leave their home and go to an internment camp, Jimmy loses his appetite. Older brother Taro takes matters into his own hands and, night after night, sneaks out of the camp, and catches fresh fish for Jimmy to help make him strong again.
Might-E by Jordan J. Scavone
What do you do when you start preschool? You play! You learn! But sit in the corner and refuse to speak to anyone?… Unfortunately if youre as shy and nervous as Emma, this is what you do. Or, you can stand up, put your mask on, and firmly place your hands on your hips and stand proud. Stand and be Might-E!
A Ride on Mother’s Back: A Day of Baby Carrying Around the World by Emery Bernhard
Through a steamy rain forest in Brazil, along a river in Papua New Guinea, across a frozen inlet in the arctic, this book takes young children on a far-reaching journey to discover how babies worldwide are carried and what they see from their unique vantage points. “This is an exquisite book, for the detailed, folk-art style gouache illustrations, its overall design, and the wealth of information it includes.”–Kirkus Reviews
Come On, Rain! by Karen Hesse
Tess pleads to the sky as listless vines and parched plants droop in the endless heat. Then the clouds roll in, and the rain pours. And Tess, her friends, and their Mamas join in a rain dance to celebrate the shower that renews both body and spirit. Through exquisite language and acute observation, Karen Hesse evokes this refreshing experience, and Jon J Muth’s lyrical artwork perfectly reflects the spirit of the text.
Emmanuel’s Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah by Laurie Ann Thompson
Born in Ghana, West Africa, with one deformed leg, he was dismissed by most people—but not by his mother, who taught him to reach for his dreams. As a boy, Emmanuel hopped to school more than two miles each way, learned to play soccer, left home at age thirteen to provide for his family, and, eventually, became a cyclist. He rode an astonishing four hundred miles across Ghana in 2001, spreading his powerful message: disability is not inability. Today, Emmanuel continues to work on behalf of the disabled.
Abigail’s Dream Adventures: My Friends and Me (Kindle edition) by Karen E. Franks It’s time for bed- and for sleepyheads all over the world to dream! Each night, Abby’s dreams take her to faraway places to visit her friends in never seen places and countries near and far. Places with fairies, unicorns and pink cherries, shimmering mermaids and seahorses that twirl, wild leafy jungles, frog ponds and Bayan trees with mossy curls—fun adventures all shared with her best friend, Pearl. Abby climbed into bed and snuggled down into her soft, warm blankets, her mind drifting off to those exotic places.
Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music by Margarita Engle
Long ago on an island filled with music, no one questioned that rule—until the drum dream girl. In her city of drumbeats, she dreamed of pounding tall congas and tapping small bongós. She had to keep quiet. She had to practice in secret. But when at last her dream-bright music was heard, everyone sang and danced and decided that both girls and boys should be free to drum and dream. Inspired by the childhood of Millo Castro Zaldarriaga, a Chinese-African-Cuban girl who broke Cuba’s traditional taboo against female drummers, Drum Dream Girl tells an inspiring true story for dreamers everywhere. Read my review here.
A spunky girl has a hula-hooping competition with her friends in Harlem, and soon everyone in the neighborhood—young and old alike—joins in on the fun.
The Cazuela That the Farm Maiden Stirred by Samantha R. Vamos
This is the story of how the farm maiden and all the farm animals worked together to make the rice pudding that they serve at the fiesta. With the familiarity of “The House That Jack Built,” this story bubbles and builds just like the ingredients of the arroz con leche that everyone enjoys. Cleverly incorporating Spanish words, adding a new one in place of the English word from the previous page, this book makes learning the language easy and fun.
Abuela by Arthur Dorros
While riding on a bus with her grandmother, a little girl imagines that they are carried up into the sky and fly over the sights of New York City.
Mango, Abeula and Me by Meg Medina
Mia’s abuela has left her sunny house with parrots and palm trees to live with Mia and her parents in the city. The night she arrives, Mia tries to share her favorite book with Abuela before they go to sleep and discovers that Abuela can’t read the words inside. So while they cook, Mia helps Abuela learn English (“Dough. Masa“), and Mia learns some Spanish too, but it’s still hard for Abuela to learn the words she needs to tell Mia all her stories. Then Mia sees a parrot in the pet-shop window and has theperfectoidea for how to help them all communicate a little better.
Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match by Monica Brown
Marisol McDonald has flaming red hair and nut-brown skin. Polka dots and stripes are her favorite combination. She prefers peanut butter and jelly burritos in her lunch box. And don t even think of asking her to choose one or the other activity at recess—she ll just be a soccer playing pirate princess, thank you very much. To Marisol McDonald, these seemingly mismatched things make perfect sense together.
Everyone knows about Mary and her little lamb. But do you know Maria?
With gorgeous, Peruvian-inspired illustrations and English and Spanish retellings, Angela Dominguez gives a fresh new twist to the classic rhyme. Maria and her mischievous little llama will steal your heart.
Bebe Goes Shopping by Susan Middleton Elya
A quick trip to the supermercado? Not with Bebe in the shopping cart. Just as Mama is ready to throw up her manos, she gives sweet Bebe a box of animal cookies. A dulce, at last! Then they’re off to the checkout line, smiling all the way.
Ruby’s Wish by Shirin Yim Bridges
Ruby is unlike most little girls in old China. Instead of aspiring to get married, Ruby is determined to attend university when she grows up, just like the boys in her family. Based upon the inspirational story of the author’s grandmother and accompanied by richly detailed illustrations, Ruby’s Wish is an engaging portrait of a young girl who’s full of ambition and the family who rewards her hard work and courage.
Apple Pie Fourth of July by Janet S. Wong
Shocked that her parents are cooking Chinese food to sell in the family store on an all-American holiday, a feisty Chinese American girl tries to tell her mother and father how things really are. But as the parade passes by and fireworks light the sky, she learns a surprising lesson.
Dancing in the Wings by Debbie Allen
Sassy is a long-legged girl who always has something to say. She wants to be a ballerina more than anything, but she worries that her too-large feet, too-long legs, and even her big mouth will keep her from her dream. When a famous director comes to visit her class, Sassy does her best to get his attention with her high jumps and bright leotard. Her first attempts are definitely not appreciated, but with Sassy’s persistence, she just might be able to win him over.
Marvelous Me: Inside and Out by Lisa Bullard
Alex is a marvelous little boy who is just like other people in some ways, such as getting angry sometimes, but also unique because of his special laugh, his grizzly hugs, and his own interesting thoughts. Includes activities.
Ron’s Big Mission by Rose Blue
Nine-year-old Ron loves going to the Lake City Public Library to look through all the books on airplanes and flight. Today, Ron is ready to take out books by himself. But in the segregated world of South Carolina in the 1950s, Ron?s obtaining his own library card is not just a small rite of passage?it is a young man?s fi rst courageous mission. Here is an inspiring story, based on Ron McNair?s life, of how a little boy, future scientist, and Challenger astronaut desegregated his library through peaceful resistance.
This is the Rope by Jacqueline Woodson
The story of one family’s journey north during the Great Migration starts with a little girl in South Carolina who finds a rope under a tree one summer. She has no idea the rope will become part of her family’s history. But for three generations, that rope is passed down, used for everything from jump rope games to tying suitcases onto a car for the big move north to New York City, and even for a family reunion where that first little girl is now a grandmother.
For the Right to Learn: Malala Yousafzai’s Story by Rebecca Langston-George and Janna Bock
She grew up in a world where women were supposed to be quiet. But Malala Yousafzai refused to be silent. She defied the Taliban’s rules, spoke out for education for every girl, and was almost killed for her beliefs. This powerful true story of how one brave girl named Malala changed the world proves that one person really can make a difference.
Bee-Bim Bop! by Linda Sue Park
My kids and I adore this book! Bee-bim bop (“mix-mix rice”) is a traditional Korean dish. In bouncy rhyming text, a hungry child tells of helping her mother make bee-bim bop: shopping, preparing ingredients, setting the table, and sitting down to enjoy a favorite meal. The enthusiasm of the narrartor is conveyed in the whimsical illustrations, which bring details from the artist’s childhood in Korea to his depiction of a modern Korean-American family. The book includes Linda Sue’s own bee-bim bop recipe!
Big Hair, Don’t Care by Crystal Swain-Bates
Lola has really really REALLY big hair, much bigger than the other kids at her school, but that doesn’t stop her from telling anyone who will listen just how much she LOVES her hair! It´s not always easy being a kid. Designed to boost self-esteem and build confidence, this beautifully illustrated picture book is aimed at boys and girls who may need a reminder from time to time that it’s okay to look different from the other kids at their school. “Big Hair, Don’t Care” is available in English, French, and German.
Lorraine Gets Her Crown by Erica V. Walton
Lorraine’s 8th birthday is just two days away. She can hardly wait because she knows her parents will be giving her a special gift. When Lorraine finally gets her gift, she’s disappointed to find out it’s a gold tiara with pink stones. It isn’t until her mother explains the reason why she gave her a crown does she understand and appreciate it more. A story based on an affirmation taught to me by grandmother. The message about positivity and teaching kids how special and important they are. Every little girl deserves to be treated like a princess until she grows into a queen.
Heart Picked: Elizabeth’s Adoption Tale by Sara Crutcher
Six-year-old Elizabeth is excited to have her dad visit school today but worries some of her classmates might notice they don’t look alike. How will Elizabeth respond when her friend says, That’s your dad? You don’t look like him.
In a Village by the Sea by Muon Van
Written in a spare, lyrical style using fresh, evocative imagery, In a Village by the Sea tells the story of longing for the comforts of home. A perfect book for teaching about diverse cultures and lifestyles through rich pictures and words, moving from the wide world to the snugness of home and back out again.
Cora Cooks Pancit by Dorina K. Lazo Gilmore
Cora loves being in the kitchen, but she always gets stuck doing the kid jobs like licking the spoon. One day, however, when her older sisters and brother head out, Cora finally gets the chance to be Mama’s assistant chef. And of all the delicious Filipino dishes that dance through Cora’s head, she and Mama decide to make pancit, her favorite noodle dish.
The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi
Being the new kid in school is hard enough, but what about when nobody can pronounce your name? Having just moved from Korea, Unhei is anxious that American kids will like her. So instead of introducing herself on the first day of school, she tells the class that she will choose a name by the following week.
My Name is Yoon by Helen Recorvits Yoon’s name means “shining wisdom,” and when she writes it in Korean, it looks happy, like dancing figures. But her father tells her that she must learn to write it in English. In English, all the lines and circles stand alone, which is just how Yoon feels in the United States. Yoon isn’t sure that she wants to be YOON. At her new school, she tries out different names―maybe CAT or BIRD. Maybe CUPCAKE!
The Sandwich Swap by Queen Raina
Lily and Salma are best friends. They like doing all the same things, and they always eat lunch together. Lily eats peanut butter and Salma eats hummus-but what’s that between friends? It turns out, a lot. Before they know it, a food fight breaks out. Can Lily and Salma put aside their differences? Or will a sandwich come between them?
A Beach Tail by Karen Williams
This wonderful read-aloud book brings to life a summer experience that is all too familiar for young children. Karen Williams’s rhythmic text has been paired with Floyd Cooper’s brilliant illustrations, revealing the trip down the beach entirely from a child’s point of view. A gentle father-son bond is shown in both text and art, reassuring young readers even as they share in Greg’s moment of worry at finding himself lost and alone.
Max and the Tag-Along Moon by Floyd Cooper
Max loves his grandpa. When they must say good-bye after a visit, Grandpa promises Max that the moon at Grandpa’s house is the same moon that will follow him all the way home. On that swervy-curvy car ride back to his house, Max watches as the moon tags along. But when the sky darkens and the moon disappears behind clouds, he worries that it didn’t follow him home after all. Where did the moon go—and what about Grandpa’s promise?
Hush! A Thai Lullaby by Minfong Ho
This book contains a lullaby which asks animals such as a lizard, monkey, and water buffalo to be quiet and not disturb the sleeping baby. 1997 Caldecott Honor Book
Peek!: A Thai Hide-and-Seek by Minfong Ho
Baby knows that Jut-Ay means morning has come, and it’s time to play. But where is Baby hiding? Eechy-eechy-egg! crows the red-tailed rooster. Is Baby near? Hru-hruu! Hru-hruu! whines the puppy dog. Is Baby crouching there? Jiak-jiak! Jiak-jiak! screeches a monkey in the banyan tree. Is Baby swinging there? Hornbill and snake, elephant and tiger — who can finally lead Papa to Baby’s hiding place?
The Girl Who Wore Too Much (A Folktale from Thailand) by Margaret MacDonald
Like most young girls, Aree likes fine clothing and jewelry. But she is just a wee bit spoiled and has more dresses and accessories than she needs. So when word comes of a dance to be held in the next village, Aree can’t make up her mind: Now I can show off my fine clothes! But which color shall I wear? The pink, the fuchsia, the scarlet? The sky blue or aquamarine? Maybe violet? Deep purple? Magenta? Maybe chartreuse? Or emerald green?
The Book Itch: Freedom, Truth, and Harlem’s Greatest Bookstore by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson
And as far as Lewis Michaux Jr. could tell, his father’s bookstore was one of a kind. People from all over came to visit the store, even famous people Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X, to name a few. In his father’s bookstore people bought and read books, and they also learned from each other. People swapped and traded ideas and talked about how things could change. They came together here all because of his father’s book itch.
Lemonade in Winter: A Book About Two Kids Counting Money by Emily Jenkins
A lemonade stand in winter? Yes, that’s exactly what Pauline and John-John intend to have, selling lemonade and limeade–and also lemon-limeade. With a catchy refrain (Lemon lemon LIME, Lemon LIMEADE! Lemon lemon LIME, Lemon LEMONADE!), plus simple math concepts throughout, here is a read-aloud that’s great for storytime and classroom use, and is sure to be a hit among the legions of Jenkins and Karas fans.
Summer Days and Nights by Wong Herbert Yee
On a hot summer day, a little girl finds ways to entertain herself and stay cool. She catches a butterfly, sips lemonade, jumps in a pool, and goes on a picnic. At night, she sees an owl in a tree and a frog in a pond, and hears leaves rustling. Before long, she’s fast asleep, dreaming about more summer days and summer nights.
Two friends, Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass, get together for tea and conversation. They recount their similar stories fighting to win rights for women and African Americans. The premise of this particular exchange between the two is based on a statue in their hometown of Rochester, New York, which shows the two friends having tea.
Do you have a relative who seems to pray forever when they’re blessing the food? This hilarious book is about a group of family and friends gathering together for Sunday dinner at Auntie Mabel’s house. Before they begin to eat, Auntie Mabel has to bless the table. The only problem is she wants to bless everything from the yams, to the tables and chairs, to the President of the United States! Meanwhile, the food is getting cold and everyone just wants to eat. Will dinner ever be served? I’m sure most families have someone like Auntie Mabel who loves to bless the table, but doesn’t know when to stop.
Harriet Powers learned to sew and quilt as a young slave girl on a Georgia plantation. She lived through the Civil War and Reconstruction, and eventually owned a cotton farm with her family, all the while relying on her skills with the needle to clothe and feed her children.
Later she began making pictorial quilts, using each square to illustrate Bible stories and local legends. She exhibited her quilts at local cotton fairs, and though she never traveled outside of Georgia, her quilts are now priceless examples of African American folk art.
Leo Can Swim by Anna McQuinn
Leo and Daddy go to swim class where they kick, bounce, and dive like little fish. Joining other babies and their caretakers in the pool is a guarantee for unforgettable fun. Read my book review here.
Whoosh!: Lonnie Johnson’s Super Soaking Stream of Inventions by Chris Barton You know the Super Soaker. It’s one of top twenty toys of all time. And it was invented entirely by accident. Trying to create a new cooling system for refrigerators and air conditioners, impressive inventor Lonnie Johnson instead created the mechanics for the iconic toy.
A love for rockets, robots, inventions, and a mind for creativity began early in Lonnie Johnson’s life. Growing up in a house full of brothers and sisters, persistence and a passion for problem solving became the cornerstone for a career as an engineer and his work with NASA. But it is his invention of the Super Soaker water gun that has made his most memorable splash with kids and adults. Read my review here.
Joseph Boulogne, Chevalier de Saint-George was born on Christmas Day in 1739 on the tiny island of Guadeloupe in the West Indies. He was the son of a white plantation owner and a black slave. On the day of his birth the midwife predicted one day Joseph would meet the king and queen of France. Joseph loved music especially his violin. When his family moved to Paris, Joseph decided to devote himself to music. He soon became known as the most talented violin player and musician in France. During one of his performances, young Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was in the audience. This was before Mozart was well-known. In the end, Joseph does indeed perform for the king and queen of France and is invited back on several occasions. In 2001, a street Rue du Chevalier de Saint-George was named in his honor. An awesome historical non-fiction book for children and music lovers.
Poems for the Smart, Spunky, and Sensational Black Girl
by Rachel Garlinghouse, illustrated by Sharee Miller
Today’s girl has a lot going on! From beads, bullies, and birthdays, to school, sunglasses, and siblings, Poems for the Smart, Spunky, and Sensational Black Girl resonates and inspires! From Rachel Garlinghouse (author and mom) and Sharee Miller (owner of Coily and Cute) comes this one-of-a-kind poetry collection that will certainly bring a smile to your little lady’s face and heart.
Not only is dancing all the fun, it’s universal! Peruse the pages of this book to brush up on your ABCs and see how people all around the world get down and groove to the beat. When you’re finished reading, put on your favorite song and try out a few moves of your own and some you’ve learned from the book!
I Know I Can! by Veronica N. Chapman
While giving a speech at her high school graduation, Faith, the class valedictorian, shares her childhood dreams, and the lessons that served as the foundation for her courage.
I Had a Favorite Dress by Boni Ashburn
As the year passes, the narrator’s favorite dress goes through a series of creative changes, from dress to shirt to tank top to scarf and so on, until all that’s left of it is a good memory. Assisted by her patient and crafty mama, the narrator finds that when disaster strikes her favorite things, she doesn’t need to make mountains out of molehills—she “makes molehills out of mountains” instead! Structured around the days of the week, the story is also illustrated to show the passing of the seasons, a perfect complement to the themes of growing older and keeping hold (and letting go) of special mementos.
This is a great book for little African-American/bi-racial girls with natural hair. My daughter adores this book and so do I. We purchased this book and added it to our book collection. Emi is a creative 7-year-old girl with a BIG imagination. In this story Emi shares a positive message about her Curly, Coily, Cotton Candy Hair and what she likes most about it. The vibrant illustrations and fun story teach basic natural hair care techniques and tips in a playful and memorable way.
How cute is the cover of this book? If you have a little daughter, granddaughter, niece, cousin or friend read this book to them. Better yet, why not purchase it and add it to their own personal library. I love reading this to my daughter and she loves this book too.
One Love by Cedella Marley
Adapted from one of Bob Marley’s most beloved songs, One Love brings the joyful spirit and unforgettable lyrics of his music to life for a new generation. Readers will delight in dancing to the beat and feeling the positive groove of change when one girl enlists her community to help transform her neighborhood for the better.
I had no idea what the book was about when I picked it up from the library. It’s a heartwarming story about a boy who happens to be autistic, based on actress Holly Robinson Peete’s son, who has autism. Princess Cupcake Jones and the Missing Tutu by Ylleya Fields
Princess Cupcake Jones has lost her beloved tutu. In her quest to find it, Cupcake learns the importance of tidying up and putting things in their proper place. As an added bonus in each book of the series, children will also have fun finding the hidden word in each inviting illustration. Helpful hints are a part of the book’s website, which also features downloadable color pages and other activities.
What a fantastic book! Each day features a different influential figure in African-American history, from Crispus Attucks, the first man shot in the Boston Massacre, sparking the Revolutionary War, to Madame C. J. Walker, who after years of adversity became the wealthiest black woman in the country, as well as one of the wealthiest black Americans, to Barack Obama, the country’s first African-American president.
Mazie is ready to celebrate liberty. She is ready to celebrate freedom. She is ready to celebrate a great day in American history ― the day her ancestors were no longer slaves. Mazie remembers the struggles and the triumph, as she gets ready to celebrate Juneteenth.
This is a very cute book that the kids like to read over and over again. This is the first book in the Lola series we’ve read and I look forward to reading more and purchasing them to add to our collection. Lola has a big smile on her face. Why? Because it’s Tuesday–and on Tuesdays, Lola and her mommy go to the library.
This historical children’s book is definitely a must-have and a must-read for both children and parents. This book was given to me as a gift from my baby shower when I was pregnant with my daughter. The illustrations throughout are absolutely beautiful – so vibrant and rich. It’s so inspiring to read and learn about all the accomplishments the First Lady has achieved. What a great book to illustrate to children that they can do anything – the sky is truly the limit!
Barack by Jonah Winter
Jonah Winter and AG Ford re-create the extraordinary story behind the rise of America’s first African-American president, Barack Obama, in this stunning picture book.
I Like Myself by Karen Beaumont
High on energy and imagination, this ode to self-esteem encourages kids to appreciate everything about themselves–inside and out. Messy hair? Beaver breath? So what! Here’s a little girl who knows what really matters. At once silly and serious, Karen Beaumont’s joyous rhyming text and David Catrow’s wild illustrations unite in a book that is sassy, soulful–and straight from the heart.
I just adore books for little girls about natural hair! This is another one to add to your collection if you have a daughter with natural hair. Miss Jackie just wants to go to sleep, but not before going through her night time hair routine. What a cute story to read to reinforce the importance of taking care of your hair and following a consistent regimen.
Happy Hair is a call and response picture book that promotes positive self-esteem and hair love to girls of all ages! Happy Hair covers different shades and hair types all while being fun and fashionable! This book is the foundation to building Happy Hair.
Every Sunday after church, CJ and his grandma ride the bus across town. But today, CJ wonders why they don’t own a car like his friend Colby. Why doesn’t he have an iPod like the boys on the bus? How come they always have to get off in the dirty part of town? Each question is met with an encouraging answer from grandma, who helps him see the beauty—and fun—in their routine and the world around them.
Peter’s Chair by Ezra Jack Keats
Peter has a new baby sister on the way and is not happy about it! All of his belongings are being painted pink and he knows his favorite chair is next. He decides to run away with his chair and faithful sidekick and pet, Willie. However, he soon realizes he’s too big for his chair and maybe a baby sister is not so bad after all.
A young boy, Miles, makes his first trip to the barbershop with his father. Like most little boys, he is afraid of the sharp scissors, the buzzing razor, and the prospect of picking a new hairstyle. But with the support of his dad, the barber, and the other men in the barbershop, Miles bravely sits through his first haircut. Written in a reassuring tone with a jazzy beat and illustrated with graceful, realistic watercolors, this book captures an important rite of passage for boys and celebrates African-American identity.
Summer Jackson Grown Up by Teresa E. Harris Summer Jackson, a stylish, sassy 7-year-old is ready to be an adult, or so she thinks. Summer tackles “adulthood” with confidence — donning blazers and high heels, reading the newspaper, and talking on her cell phone. However, Summer soon learns that being a grown-up is not all it seems, and returns to the joys of being seven.
The narrator of this charming picture book loves her summer hat, but as the seasons change, her hat isn’t always appropriate for every occasion. She must use her crafting skills to turn the hat into a work of art, perfect for every season and holiday. Featuring the same characters from the first book, I Had a Favorite Dress, along with the hip, eye-catching art style that won it so many fans, this book is perfect for young crafters and their stylish parents.
Plastic bags are cheap and easy to use. But what happens when a bag breaks or is no longer needed? In Njau, Gambia, people simply dropped the bags and went on their way. One plastic bag became two. Then ten. Then a hundred. The bags accumulated in ugly heaps alongside roads. Water pooled in them, bringing mosquitoes and disease. Some bags were burned, leaving behind a terrible smell. Some were buried, but they strangled gardens. They killed livestock that tried to eat them. Something had to change. Isatou Ceesay was that change. She found a way to recycle the bags and transform her community. This inspirational true story shows how one person’s actions really can make a difference in our world.
Monster Trouble by Lane Fredrickson
Nothing frightens Winifred Schnitzel—but she DOES need her sleep, and the neighborhood monsters WON’T let her be! Every night they sneak in, growling and belching and making a ruckus. Winifred constructs clever traps, but nothing stops these crafty creatures. What’s a girl to do? The delightfully sweet ending will have every kid—and little monster—begging for an encore.
Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts Jeremy just wants” those shoes”. A pair of black high-tops with white stripes. The same pair of shoes all his other friends have. When Jeremy finally gets a pair of “those shoes” what he does with them is very touching. I’m convinced children’s books have the best messages! This book delivers powerful lessons on topics like: being grateful, sharing, kindness, friendship, and generosity.
A cute story about a girl who only has one true desire for her birthday. She wants a giraffe. Sophia gives a compelling presentation to her family complete with pie charts to try and persuade them.
Mixed Me by Taye Diggs
Meet Mike, a mixed-race kid who has an awesome head of thick and curly hair and lots of energy! He’s the perfect blend of both of his parents, but not everyone feels that way. That doesn’t bother Mike though because he thinks he’s just right. Written by actor Taye Diggs who has a mixed-race son named Walker.
Effa always loved baseball. As a young woman, she would go to Yankee Stadium to see Babe Ruth. Effa never dreamed she would someday own a baseball team, yet alone be the first and only woman ever inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. An inspirational story for girls and boys who love baseball.
BEAUTIFUL breaks barriers by showing girls free to be themselves: splashing in mud, conducting science experiments, and reading books under a flashlight with friends. This book will encourage all girls to embrace who they are and realize their endless potential. Read my review here.
Maya Angelou (Little People, Big Dreams) by Lisbeth Kaiser
In the Little People, Big Dreams series, discover the lives of outstanding people from designers and artists to scientists. All of them went on to achieve incredible things, yet all of them began life as a little child with a dream. The book follows Maya Angelou, from her early traumatic childhood to her time as a singer, actress, civil rights campaigner and, eventually, one of America’s most beloved writers. This inspiring and informative little biography comes with extra facts about Maya’s life at the back.
Dear Dragon: A Pen Pal Tale by Josh Funk
A sweet and clever friendship story in rhyme, about looking past physical differences to appreciate the person (or dragon) underneath.
George and Blaise are pen pals, and they write letters to each other about everything: their pets, birthdays, favorite sports, and science fair projects. There’s just one thing that the two friends don’t know: George is a human, while Blaise is a dragon! What will happen when these pen pals finally meet face-to-face?
When I started my read aloud journey three years ago I had two rules:
1. I vowed to read to my children daily.
2. I promised to read them stories that had characters who looked like them that they could relate to.
Let’s face it, finding good, quality books featuring people of color is hard! Today, it’s a lot easier than it used to be years ago, but the struggle is real.
Many of the books with Black characters are either related to the Civil Rights era, slavery, natural hair, or historical biographies of famous people’s lives like Martin Luther King Jr., Harriett Tubman and Malcolm X. Don’t get me wrong, some of those books are great, but I don’t want to read my children books about slaves or natural hair all the time. Besides, those types of stories are not always appropriate for bedtime. If you’re a parent of a Black or Brown (multicultural) child, you’ll understand what I mean.
If I see one more children’s book about Civil Rights, slavery or how much Black girls love their natural hair I’m going to scream! Where are the quality books like The Boxcar Children and Harry Potter for Black and Brown children?
When I think back to my own experiences growing up, particularly my early childhood literary memories I don’t ever recall reading a children’s book where a Black child (or a child of another multicultural race) was the main character. Luckily, there were several television shows in the 90’s that featured positive Black role models that I admired.
So, I decided to try and make it different for my children. I read a wide array of books that includes everything from classics to non-fiction books. In addition, my goal is to fill their experiences with a full spectrum of Brown and Black characters in a variety of books. I want their experiences of story and representations of the world to include people of color, particularly people whom they can imagine being like Oprah Winfrey, Barack Obama, Misty Copeland, Michelle Obama or some of the fictional characters we read in books like Lola (from Anna McQuinn’s series).
Of course, I believe all children should be exposed to a wide range of people, experiences, and cultures. Wouldn’t it be nice if all parents and educators felt that way? The bottom line is we still need greater diversity in children’s books. But, even more importantly, we need people actually to buy and read them to their children and grandchildren so publishers will continue to publish them.
If you’re looking for some book suggestions for African-American children check out some of our favorites here.
Your turn: Do you expose your children to a wide range of characters in books? Or, do you just stick to your own race or culture? What are some of your read aloud rules when reading to your children? Feel free to share in the comments.