Category Archives: Diverse Children’s Books

Top Ten Tuesday – Top 10 Books to Explore Themes of Immigration and Refugees

top 10

With the recent events in the US, immigration has become an increasingly important topic to explore and discuss with our students.  I am currently working with a grade 6 class at my school exploring immigration through picture books.  Many of these books are based on the authors’ family experience and  are the perfect opportunity to discuss the many issues surrounding immigration: different reasons why people leave their homes to seek new land (the “pull” – some are drawn to new opportunity; the “push” – others fleeing war and oppression); refugee camps; the challenges of adjusting to so much “newness” – country, friends, language, school, culture.  And yes,  Donald Trump was brought up in today in our class discussion.

At at a time when we need to be talking about and modelling kindness and celebrating diversity,  here are my top 10 picture books about immigration and refugees.

                                                     

                                                             1. I’m New Here – Anne Sibley O’Brien

The school where I teach is made up of over 30 different cultures so this book is a must have “connect” book for our library!  We follow three immigrant children as they face the challenges of adapting to their new school and community while trying to maintain their  language, identity and sense of “home”.  Thoughtful, heartfelt and realistic with simple text and colorful illustrations. 

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Here I Am – Patti Kim

What must it be like to move far away from your home, across vast waters, to another country, culture and language?  Through this wordless picture book, we experience this  adventure through the eyes of a young Asian boy as he experiences the unknown city streets and cityscapes for the first time.  Gorgeous illustrations.

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2. The Arrival Shaun Tan

Beautiful, haunting, wordless picture book told from the perspective of a new immigrant. We see and experience everything he does  –  the heartbreak, fear, confusion, and enlightenment.  Sometimes strange, surreal and magical – this is a must share immigration book.

3. Sami and the Time of the Troubles Florence Parry Heide

Lebanon Civil War from a young boy’s point of view. Sami and his family spend much of their time in the basement trying to keep safe while the fighting goes on right outside his home.  To pass the time, they share happy memories.  This book is beautiful, moving and filled with hope.   Amazing illustrations.

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4. Gleam and Glo – Eve Bunting

Narrated from the perspective of an eight-year-old boy, this story is based on an amazing true story of what happened in a village in the 1990s as the Bosnian war.  The family  flees, leaving behind their home and belongings.  They spend time in a refugee camp and return to find their home destroyed, but their pet fish thriving and multiplying in their pond.  Beautiful, hopeful, inexpressibly sad – a must-read book.

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5. Stepping Stones: A Syrian Refugee Story – Margriet Ruurs

This unique picture book was inspired by the stone artwork of Syrian artist Nizar Ali Badr, discovered by chance by Canadian children’s writer Margriet Ruurs.  Stunning artwork, a simple, poignant story about a Syrian family’s departure from their homeland written in both English and Arabic, and a wonderful story behind the story.

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6. Adrift at Sea – A Vietnamese Boy’s Story of Survival – Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch

This is the beautiful true story of a family’s survival in the face of overwhelming odds as they leave Vietnam in search of a new life.  In 1981, just at the end of the Vietnam war, sixty Vietnamese refugees, among whom is six-year-old Tuan Ho and his family, endure days at sea in horrific conditions. They are eventually rescued and finally reach Canada.  The amazing life-like illustrations and large format makes it an engaging read-aloud.  I appreciated the historical facts and real photos of Tuan in his family included at the back of the book.

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7. Let’s Go See Papa! = Lawrence Schimel

This is a powerful story that many of my students made connections to.  Told from a young child’s perspective, it  is about what it’s like to have an absent parent living and working overseas and then to have to leave your home, country and those you love for a new life.

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8. How I Learned Geography – Uri Shulevitz

This story is based on the author’s own boyhood when his family lived as refugees after  fleeing war-torn Poland at the onset of WWII.  One evening, instead of their ration of  bread, his father brings home a world map.  After the initial disappointment, the young boy see that there are places in the world beyond his home, allowing him to dream and imagine beyond his hardships.

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9. Four Feet, Two Sandals – Karen Lynn Williams

Taking place in a camp in Pakistan for Afghan refugees, this is a story of friendship, sharing and compassion.  When relief workers bring used clothing to the refugee camp,  two young girls race to grab whatever they can find, and discover they each have one sandal from a pair of shoes. Through their plan to share the shoes, the two become friends.   Powerful, heartbreaking and gives voice to the refugee experience.

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  One Green Apple Eve Bunting

This is a powerful and meaningful story about a Muslim immigrant trying to find her way in a new school without friends or words to connect to.   Important book about inclusion and one that we will be using for “point of view”.

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Anna and Solomon – Elaine Snyder

This is a true story of author Elaine Snyder’s grandparents’ immigration from Russia to the U.S. in 1897. It is a fascinating story of patience, understanding, and love. After Anna and Solomon are married, they choose to leave Russia during the Czar’s persecution of the Jews, and immigrate to the USA.  Having only enough money for one ticket, Solomon goes first.  After working hard to earn enough for a second ticket, he sends for Anna, only to discover she sends her brother.  Four more attempts bring 4 other family members, until eventually, Anna and Solomon are reunited.

Thanks for stopping by!  What are your favorite books about immigration?

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Filed under Diverse Children's Books, immigration, New Books, Picture Book, Social Studies, Top 10 Tuesday

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? Last day of summer reading

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It’s Monday and I’m happy to be participating in a weekly event with a community of bloggers who post reviews of books that they have read the previous week. Check out more IMWAYR posts here: Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers

Well, summer is officially over.  School begins tomorrow and, to be honest, I’m actually excited.  As much as I enjoyed every moment of the summer break, I am looking forward to the new school year ahead.  I read so many wonderful new books this summer that I’m looking forward to sharing… So here is the last of my summer book bliss…

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A Family is a Family is a Family – Sara O’Leary

The way schools care about children is reflected in the way schools care about the children’s families. – Joyce L. Epstein

Wow.  This book.  This book.  When a teacher asks her students to think about what makes their family special, the variety of answers have one thing in common.  This book celebrates all that family is – every shape, size and every kind of relation.  Diversity at its finest, this is a special book that needs to be shared.

  Because of an Acorn – Lola M. Schaefer

A poetic look at the inter-connectedness of an ecosystem and the circle of life.  A simple introduction for primary students.

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Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn – Kenard Pak

Gorgeous illustrations in this book about the transition from one season to another.  As a  young girl takes a walk, she notices changes in weather, animals, and landscape.  Lovely book for visualizing!

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What Do Grown-Ups Do All Day? Virginie Morgand

A great book for exploring different occupations of grown-ups in the community.   Explore fifteen detailed, busy scenes set in diverse work places, then turn the page to find out what each person’s job entails. This is a book you can pour over and find something new every time.

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The Lines on Nana’s Face – Simona Ciraolo

Lines on a grandma’s face hold her memories – each wrinkle a precious moment in her life.  This book made me miss my mum.

Branch, The by [Messier, Mireille]

The Branch – Mireille Messier

When an ice storm breaks a young girl’s favorite branch, she refuses to throw it away until a kind neighbour helps her transform it into something special.  Vibrant illustrations.  I would pair this book with Solomon’s Tree by Andrea Spalding.

The Not So Quiet Library – Zachariah Ohora

You gotta love books about libraries – and here is the perfect new book for your school library this fall!  An entertaining, quirky read-aloud following Oskar and Theodore as they are dropped off at the library while dad goes to the ‘nap section’ (LOL!)  Lots of things to love about this book, including a very enthusiastic librarian, an unlimited check-out rule and an awesome car!

They All Saw A Cat – Brendan Wenzel

“And the cat walked through the world, with its whiskers, ears, and paws”.  And so this repeating phrase grounds us through a wonderfully effective lesson on perspective as it delivers a whimsical little story about a wandering cat.    Clever, unique, enchanting, poetic.  LOVE!

Super Happy Party Bears: Gnawing Around by [Colleen, Marcie]

Party Bears: Gnawing Around – Marcie Colleen

The first book in a funny new beginner chapter book series filled with full color illustrations and adorable animals!  To the Super Happy Party Bears, everything is a good thing. They love doughnuts, dancing – basically their entire attitude can be summed up in one word: YAY!

Nine, Ten: A September 11 Story by [Baskin, Nora Raleigh]

Nine, Ten: A September 11 Story – Nora Raleigh Baskin

This moving middle grade novel addresses themes of racism, prejudice, terrorism, fear, love, and healing.  In it, we follow four middle graders in the days and hours leading up tot the 9/11 and how the day impacts their lives.  Beautiful, heartfelt, important.

Thanks for stopping by!  Would love to know what book has caught your eye!

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Filed under Beginning Chapter Book, Diverse Children's Books, Fall, Family, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, New Books, Novels, Picture Book, Read-Aloud, Seasons

IMWAYR – It’s Monday! What are You Reading? – Hot Off the Press: More Amazing New Releases

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It’s Monday and I’m happy to be participating in a weekly event with a community of bloggers who post reviews of books that they have read the previous week. Check out more IMWAYR posts here: Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers

It’s hard to keep up with all the amazing books that are being released this summer!  Here are some of the new picture books I read this week.

1. The Summer Nick Taught Cats to Read – Curtis Manley & Kate Berube

An adorable story about a determined boy who teaches his two cats to read.  A perfect way to illustrate that not all readers learn the same way and that finding the ‘just right book’ for every reader is an important part of the process.  A delightful book to celebrate reading!

2. Follow the Moon Home: A Tale of One Idea, Twenty Kids, and a Hundred Sea Turtles

– Deborah Hopkinson & Philippe Cousteau

WOW!  Take note of this book!  It is ah-mazing!  So much to love about this book, written by the grandson of Jacques Cousteu.  I especially love that it combines so many amazing ‘teachable’ themes including: creative problem solving, animal activism, young people making a difference, community as well as fascinating sea turtle facts woven into the story. This one’s a winner!

3. On The Farm, At The Market – G. Brian Karas

A delightful, informative look at how produce gets from the farm to the farmers market to a restaurant.  This book would make a great introduction to farmer’s markets, gardening, community and farming.  Charming illustrations.

4. More-Igami – Dori Kleber

This book totally surprised me when I read it!  It is the story about a little boy named Joey who loves folding things.  When he tries to make an origami crane, his determined effort unfortunately results in a lot of frustration and crumpled paper.  (Think ‘Most Magnificent Thing‘) A lovely book about perseverance and passion and would also inspire some origami art! Lovely illustrations by G. Brian Karas – who has been busy as the previous book was written and illustrated by him as well!  Instructions in the back to make an origami ladybug (a little odd because the book was about a crane! )

5. Come Home, Angus – Patrick Downes

Great book dealing with how to manage when sometimes our small frustrations can lead to big emotions.  Clever clues in the illustrations to help capture the growing emotion in Angus.  I like that even when Angus runs away, Mom is never far behind him.

6. The Class – Boni Ashburn

Well, I know that there are hundreds of ‘BACK TO SCHOOL’ books to choose from but I couldn’t help myself – this one is must have this year!  What makes this one special is we follow 20 different students from 19 different homes as they get ready kindergarten.  This book is a true celebration of diversity with children from many different backgrounds, morning rituals, routines, families, and ways of getting ready to go to school. Adorable illustrations and a perfect ‘CONNECT’ book!

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This is My Dollhouse – Giselle Potter

A celebration of imagination and creativity!  A young girl creates a detailed dollhouse out of a cardboard box but worries her friend will not like it as much as a ‘real’ dollhouse.  When I was younger, my sister and I spent hours designing houses for our dolls and stuffies – I would have loved this book then, and I love it now!  Would be a great book to inspire creative thinking and play!

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Yaks Yak – Animal Word Pairings – Linda Sue Park

A funny, playful look at homophones through animal pairings and word play.  On each page, animals act out the version of their names as verbs – Fish fish with lines and hooks; Bats swing bats at baseballs; Slugs try to slug one another with boxing gloves.  I loved the chart at the end of the book which gives the etymology for each of the words.   Great fun and if you love words, like I do, you will love this book!

7. Madeline Finn and the Library Dog – Lisa Papp

This is a delightful little story which highlights the use of therapy dogs in libraries to help reluctant readers. Madeline Finn doesn’t like to read because she doesn’t read well.  But Bonnie, the beautiful dog who comes to the library, listens patiently and doesn’t laugh when she stumbles on some of the words.  Unconditional love and suppport goes a long way when you are struggling reader.

8. Ada’s Violin – The Story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay – Susan Hood

For those of you who do not know this story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay- it is a must read and a must share with your class.  This non-fiction picture books tells the remarkable true story about a visionary teacher who finds a way to help children escape their lives of extreme poverty through music. A beautifully told, hopeful, inspiring story with gorgeous colorful collage art.  My personal connection to this book is that my next-door neighbour is involved in a recycled instrument campaign here in Vancouver and hosted this group when they came to play here in May.  When they left, they presented him with one of their recylcled instruments – one of only 4 that they have ever given away.  The documentary film Landfill Harmonic about this extraordinary journey will be released this fall.  You can watch (and share) an inspiring 4 minute video, with the ‘real’ Ada  here or a longer report 60 Minutes did on this story here.

9. Be the Change: A Grandfather Gandhi Story – Arun Gandhi & Bethany Hegedus

This book has not yet been released but I was fortunate enough to read the a copy of the ARC that Kidsbooks had. It is a powerful and poignant story of the damage of wastefulness.  It is an important one to share with your students and would be a great companion book to Ada’s Violin.   With the help of his grandfather, Arun learns how every wasteful act, no matter how small, affects others. “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”  This is definitely a Transform book and I would use the ‘one word’ activity with it – using the word WASTE.  

THANKS FOR STOPPING BY!

Which book or books have caught your eye?

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Filed under 2016 releases, Back to School, Diverse Children's Books, Emotions, Family, Farmer's Market, homographs, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, New Books, Picture Book

Diversity Saturday- Food Around the World!

I’m excited to be participating in Diverse Children’s Books, celebrating diversity in children’s literature hosted by Katie @ The Logonauts;  Myra @ Gathering Books, Mia @ Pragmatic Mom, Crystal @ Reading Through Life and co-blogger @ Rich in Color and Carrie @ There’s a Book for That.   If you have your own diverse children’s books you’d like to share, head over to Katie’s blog to link up.

Today I am celebrating diversity through picture books about FOOD – a delicious way to learn about different cultures!  Many of the students in my school come from diverse backgrounds, so these books are excellent anchors for making connections, a starting point for a inquiry unit on food and cultures around the world, or creating a multicultural cook book filled with recipes and stories.

Hot, Hot Roti for Dada-ji – F. Zia  (India)

A lively, lovely story about grandparents visiting from India.  Many cultural traditions are shared through the grandfather’s stories, great illustrations and playful tone.  This is a perfect connect book for my students!

What Shall I Make? – Nandini Nayar  (India)

Sweet imaginative story originally published in India.  Neeraj’s mother gives him some chapati dough to play with while she cooks. “What should I make?” he wonders? His little ball of dough morphs into a snake, a mouse, a cat, and a lion, until finally – a big round chapati hot and puffy from cooking on the tavawho.

Bee-bim Bop! Linda Sue Park  (Korea)

This lively rhyming book follows a young girl as she and her mom make a traditional Korean dish called Bee-bim bop, which translates to “mixed-up rice.”  From the grocery store to the kitchen, this book shows diverse characters, foods and language. A wonderful recipe is included that even has parts for a child and parts for the grown up. Love the language in this one.

Duck for Turkey Day – Jacqueline Jules (Vietnam)

Excellent book for explaining diversity and inclusion as a young girl worries that her family is having duck on Thanksgiving instead of the traditional turkey.   A great message that no matter how you celebrate or what you eat, it’s the gathering of family that is important.  This would make a perfect book for making connections for my students.

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Dumpling Soup  – Jama Kim Rattigan (Hawaii)

Marisa gets to help make dumplings this year to celebrate the New Year.  Set in the Hawaiian islands, this story celebrates the joyful mix of food, customs, and languages from many cultures representing the diversity that is Hawaii;  Korean, Japanese, Chinese, Hawaiian, and haole (Hawaiian for white people, according to the book:)

Dim Sum for Everyone!– Grace Lin  (Asian-American)

Wonderful, simple story that follows a family sharing the many small  dishes in a traditional dim-sum restaurant.  I enjoyed the explanation of some of the dishes as well as the history of this Asian tradition.  A perfect connect book!

Too Many Tamales – Gary Soto (Mexico)

A touching story of a young girl named Maria who loses her mother’s wedding ring as she makes traditional tamales for a holiday celebration during the Christmas season. Problem solving, family support and culture all woven together.

What Can You Do with a Paleta? – Carmen Tafolla   (Mexico)

Children will make many connections to the ice cream truck when reading this book about a young girl who is waiting for the “Paleta truck” to arrive in her neighbourhood one hot summer day.  I love the colorful, lively illustrations in this book and the writing that focuses on the many senses of the “bario” (neighbourhood).  This would be an excellent anchor book for writing about place and using your senses.

Cora Cooks Pancit – Dorina K. Lazo Gilmore (Philippines)

This story is about a young Filipino-American girl, named Cora, who finally gets the chance go help her mother cook her favorite Filipino Dish,  Pancit.   I enjoyed how both the process of cooking and the heritage of the dish are woven through the mother’s stories while they are cooking.  Beautiful illustrations and recipes included!

The First Strawberries A CHEROKEE STORY – Joseph Bruchac

Traditional Cherokee legend which tells the story of how the first strawberries came to be.  Respect, kindness, relationships and nature are all themes included in this book.  Gorgeous illustrations.

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Eat, Leo, Eat! – Caroline Adderson  (Italy)

When Leo doesn’t want to eat Nonna’s lunches she comes up with an intriguing tale for each dish. The pages of this book are filled with vivid illustrations, tradition, and the love of food and family.  I loved the additional glossary of Italian words and the spread about pasta names with their Italian origins.

Mama Panya’s Pancakes: A Village Tale from Kenya Mary and Rich Chamberlin (Kenya)

When a young boy and his mother go to market to buy ingredients for her famous pancakes, he generously invites the whole village to join them!  Now Mama is worried they won’t have enough to go around.  Wow… this touching book contains so many themes besides food, it’s hard to list them all:  sharing, generosity, hunger, culture, community, Kenya, market.  An important book about sharing what little resources you have.

Latkes, Latkes, Good to Eat! A Chanukah Story – Naomi Howard

Wonderful story celebrating Chanukah with a Russian Jewish version of the magic cooking pot. Would be great to pair with Strega Nona and the Magic Porridge Pot.  Colorful, expressive illustrations similar to Patricia Polacco.

Hiromi’s Hands – Lynne Barasch  (Japanese-American)

The true story of Hiromi Suzuki, a Japanese American girl who defied tradition to train at her family s restaurant, and became one of the first female sushi chefs in New York.  Great introduction to sushi and would be a great segue into a discussion about immigration with older students.

Everybody Cooks Rice – Norah Dooley    (Multicultural)

A young girl discovers a multitude of different traditional rice dishes in her neighbourhood from all different countries.   This book is from a series which includes Everybody Brings Noodles and Everybody Serves Soup.  It would be a great launch for an inquiry into the history and uses of rice around the world.

No More Beige Food – Leanne Shirtliffe (multicultural)

When Wilma Lee looks at her boring plate of beige food she decides it’s time to take action. She visits her neighbors where she learns how to cook colorful food from Thailand, Mexico, Lebanon, and Paris. Told in rhyme with vivid illustration this fun book is perfect for discussing diversity and trying new dishes.

Hungry yet?  Hopefully hungry for some of these delicious picture books to share with your students and celebrate diversity through food!  What are your favorite food books?

THANKS FOR STOPPING BY!

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Filed under Diverse Children's Books, Food, making connections

Diverse Children’s Books – Celebrating Cultural Traditions

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Diverse Children’s Books is a brand new book-sharing meme hosted by Katie @ The Logonauts;  Myra @ Gathering Books, Mia @ Pragmatic Mom, Crystal @ Reading Through Life and co-blogger @ Rich in Color and Carrie @ There’s a Book for That.  Designed to promote the reading and writing of children’s books that feature diverse characters, this community embraces all kinds of diversity including (and certainly not limited to) diverse, inclusive, multicultural, and global books for children of all backgrounds.  Every Saturday, I hope to be joining other book bloggers sharing diverse picture books!  If you have your own diverse children’s books you’d like to share, head over to Katie’s blog to link up.

Diversity is certainly evident if you were to walk into any classroom in my school in Vancouver, where over 30 different cultures are represented.  Each culture is unique and rich in traditions, customs and celebrations.  Writing about cultural celebrations is a wonderful way for children to celebrate diversity.  Here are some of the anchor books to inspire my students to write about their own cultural celebrations.

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Sona and the Wedding Game – Kashmira Sheth

A richly illustrated book that teach children about Indian and Hindu cultural traditions.

Divali Rose – Vashanti Rahaman

The meaning of the Hindu “festival of lights” becomes clear to a young boy.

Bringing in the New Year – Grace Lin

Follow a Chinese American family as they prepare for the Lunar New Year.

Hanukkah Lights – David Martin

From showing the menorah with a new candle, to spinning the dreidel, singing, dancing, and giving thanks, this book introduces readers to this important Jewish holiday.

Lighting Our World – A Year of Celebrations – Catherine Rondina

This beautifully illustrated book explores light – in different forms – as  vital parts of many celebrations around the world.

Filipino Celebrations – A Treasury of Feasts and Festivals – Liana Romulo

Japanese Celebrations: Cherry Blossoms, Lanterns, and Stars! – Betty Reynolds

Thanks for stopping by!  Which book or books have caught your eye?

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Filed under Cultural Celebrations, Diverse Children's Books