First you have to believe that it’s possible. Can a person of color become a professional dancer? These diversity dance picture books plant the seed … but not for my kids.
I could never coax my girls into dancing. My oldest did one year at the Boston Ballet School when she was four. I was thrilled. She seemed really great at it. I envisioned her gliding gracefully into years of ballet culminating in a small part in the Nutcracker. Instead, her ballet shoes got a tad small with just two classes to go before the summer break. I let her just dance in them. She promptly quit after that, saying that ballet hurt her feet.
Grasshopper and Sensei’s first ballet class at Boston Ballet School.
I tried again when we moved to the suburbs. The ballet class included tutus, stuffed bears, sunglasses and a juice box break. “Open like a birdie,” they’d tell the kids before popping the straw into their mouths so the juice box wouldn’t spill. Neither the tutus nor the stuffed animals tempted my girls away from the wall where they stood and watched for over an hour each week. They would only participate for the juice box.
PickyKidPix messing around with a tutu that came in the mail with a picture book. She pairs it with her soccer uniform.
Even though my kids don’t dance, I’ve tried to include a picture book about dancing with reference to their Korean, Chinese and Japanese heritage. Who knew that this would prove to be so challenging? Did you know that modern gymnastics that you see in the Olympics has its roots in classical Chinese dance?!
It’s interesting that there are a plethora of ninja themed picture books but nary a ballet one with an Asian American character. Not even a minor one. It’s as if Asian American children don’t dance at all.
How about you? Do your kids like to dance or just read about dancing? My kids like watching kids dance as well via reality TV shows. Is there a better dance picture book about Asian culture that you like? Please share! Thanks! Read more…
Right about now, you are probably ready for a trip to the beach or a dip in a pool? Or maybe you are planning a trip to NYC to check out the sights? I have three beautiful Asian American wordless picture books that will take you there with just a flip of a page.
What amazing diversity wordless picture books do you love? Please share! Thank you! Read more…
I know very little about the continent of Africa so today I wanted to explore it through picture books. These five books show different perspectives from the story of young Masaii girl who wants to touch the moon to visiting family in Tanzania and The Gambia. I was surprised to learn that the people in Mauritania, West Africa are Muslim and that Jackie Robinson’s daughter wrote a book about her mother. Finally, there’s the true story of Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia who turn trash into treasure with an ecological bent.
I hope you enjoy this five book trip to Africa too! What are your favorite books on Africa? Please share! Thank you!
When a country is at war, it’s easy to get a distorted view of the “enemy”. The media also plays a role in showing a certain point of view meant to stir the populace into support of their government backing the war effort. But this kind of distortion trickles down to oversimplifying things to a black and white point of view. That never does justice to the true situation and is a hurdle for our kids to overcome in order to get a more balanced world view.
One way to demystify the Middle East as religious fanatics bent on destroying the free world is to let them see the many, many stories of the Arab people, both past and present. This collection of picture books about the Arab nation attempts to gather up these stories so please help me out by suggesting you favorites! If we all teach our children that Muslim families are no different from ours, this might pave the way for a generation that can find a way to figure out world peace. Thank you!
It’s amazing how a single piece of art can have a ripple effect, inspiring others all around the world and for many generations. Hokusai’s iconic blockprint The Great Wave is one of the best recognized works of Japanese art in the world.
Here are some of the spin offs from Hokusai’s The Great Wave …
When I read an action adventure fantasy that has time travel, it’s easy to believe that it’s just a made up story. Sure, Hatshepsut is a real person but she’s from so long ago that she seems like a mythical person. Until I ran into her at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts…
And so I have a lesson plan around The Pharoah’s Secret in three parts:
Part I: Learn about Hatshepsut
Part II: Read The Pharoah’s Secret by Marissa Moss for ages 8 and up
I’m part of the Between the Lines by Claudia Whitsitt blog tour, a historical fiction chapter book. Today, I have Claudia posting on her Top 10 favorite historical fiction chapter books for kids. This came about because my 10-year-old son in 4th grade has been on a steady diet of action adventure chapter books, mostly by Rick Riordan.
His teacher this year wanted him to branch out into different genres and he discovered that he also likes historical fiction after reading The Watsons Go to Birmingham — 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis, So Far From Home: The Diary of Mary Driscoll, An Irish Mill Girl, Lowell, Massachusetts, 1847 (Dear America Series) by Barry Denenberg, and Joshua’s Song by Joan Hiatt Harlow. We will picking summer reading books from this list!
How about you and your kids? What favorite historical fiction chapter books have you enjoyed? Please share! Read more…
My favorite way to learn about other cultures is through food. It can be intiminating to cook a new ethnic cuisine for the first time, so consider this list a menu of sorts to decide if there is anything you want to make at home. What wonderful multicultural picture books about food did I leave out? I’d love your favorites! Please share! Thanks!
Too Many Tamales by Gary Soto and Ed Martinez
One of my best friends growing up in Southern California is half Mexican and I would go to her house after opening presents at my house to eat tamales that her family purchased. Soon, my whole family would join me. My friend’s parents didn’t mind. I always heard that tamales are a bit tricky to make and I have always purchased them and steamed them at home.
In Too Many Tamales, Maria and her family make tamales for Christmas but she tries on her mama’s ring even though she’s not supposed to and loses mama’s diamond ring in the masa dough. Before mama finds out, she must get the other kids to help her eat the 24 tamales to locate the ring. It’s a lot of food but no ring appears. Did someone accidentally eat it? When Maria goes to confess to her mother, she makes a happy discovery … and now they need to make more tamales! [picture book, ages 4 and up]
A batch of Mexican tamales in the tamalera. Image from WikipediaRead more…
It was such a challenge to entertain all three of my kids with just one book when they were smaller given their age differences. When my oldest, Grasshopper and Sensei, was in first grade, age 6 with younger siblings clocking in at 4 and 2, I read them all piles of picture books. That worked really well in terms of content, but we could read 10 picture books in one sitting so I was going to the library three times a week, searching for the “good books.”
Another approach which I wish I had thought of is to read a gentle chapter book to all. I compiled a separate list for girls and boys, but, upon reflection, wanted a list to share of diversity/multicultural/inclusive chapter books that would also work for kids ages 6 and up. The plot must be riveting but the action not too scary or confusing. Read more…
Hi! I'm Mia Wenjen. I blog excessively about children's books. I am also the co-founder of Multicultural Children's Book Day on Jan 27th.
I'd love to chat with you. Let's connect! PragmaticMomBlog (at) gmail (dot) com.
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The Lost Bicycle by Cory Hills
When Mother Earth's son loses the first bicycle ever made, he embarks on a journey that leads him deep into the forest. Cory Hills, an award-winning percussionist storyteller, takes us through many twists and turns with a surprise ending! To learn more, please click image.