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…
Please welcome Maria Gianferrari today who is making lists of her favorite books in honor of her debut picture book out next week! You might recognize Maria from blog comments here; she always has the best book recommedations!
Mia kindly agreed to participate in my blog tour to celebrate the release of my debut picture book, Penny & Jelly: The School Show, illustrated by Thyra Heder, which will be published by HMH Books for Young Readers on July 7th.
In honor of my main character, Penny, who’s a list-maker, here are my Top 5 book recommendations pertaining to some of the book’s themes. Since Penny’s best friend is her canine companion, Jelly, these are some of my go-to picture books that highlight friendship. Read more…
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!
Today I have two beautiful ABC books that feature photographic images. It was hard to choose one for the Picture Book of the Day but in the spirit of summer exploration, I had to go with The Alphabet of Bugs. Here’s hoping that your kids will discover some insect gems from this book in your garden (but not your house!). 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…
I’m grateful to the participants at the Multicultural Children’s Book Day Twitter party who suggested book topics that they were having trouble finding. One such topic was about personal space. When I mentioned it to my mom friends, they laughed because our friend Penny gets very uncomfortable when our boxing trainer comes in too close. And that’s the thing about personal space; it’s the space between you and a person that keeps you feeling safe. I’m sure we are hardwired from the time of living in caves to keep a certain distance for the sake of safety.
For kids who don’t have a sense of personal space and boundaries, I found three books (just three — there are not many on this topic!) to introduce this topic. Personal space also segues into safety for children whether it’s the social-emotional trauma of moving or regarding inappropriate touch. I have books to cover all of this.
How about you? Do you have a funny personal space or boundary story? Please share! Read more…
I think kids are naturally compassionate and it only takes a single story or book to motivate them to help out in someway. But can a child truly make a difference? I’m hoping these books will help demonstrate that, like a ripple effect, a small act of kindness, can make a big difference.
I didn’t set out to find books centered around bicycles but there are a few here that demonstrate how such a simple means of transportation can change lives. In fact, it’s this idea of how small things (and single ideas) can change lives that inspired this list.
What books for kids inspire you and your kids to change the world? Please share!
My boxing friend Mark has an idea for a reality tv show that is both of our fantasies-come-true. The show would set up you and your bully in a boxing ring. It would be a real fight with a set date so that you could train, a pre-determined number of rounds and a referee. Of course, your bully opponent might not have been training for a fight for years … and that’s what makes this a fantasy! In reality, it would probably be depressing to fight those middle school bullies thirty plus years later (though putting up a good fight would earn my respect of my bully tormentor).
My kids have each had a few incidences of bullying over their short life. It was nothing too momentous, especially by my childhood standards. It’s no longer politically correct to solve conflict through physical fights (my boxing trainer laments; he’s pretty old school) and anti-bullying training in school with greater awareness by teachers has made bullying less blatant. It still exists though … and the rise of cyberbullying probably is one result of not letting kids solve conflicts through physical fighting. I suspect there is an innate primal drive for humans, much like wolf packs or chickens, to assert pecking order in order to establish an alpha leader and perhaps bullying is one negative outcome of that impulse. Read more…
Today’s Picture Book of the Day comes from the Multicultural Children’s Book Day Twitter Party. We asked participants to tell us what inclusive, diversity and/or multicultural children’s books they having trouble finding. It’s a heartbreaking topic but kids who live in an alcoholic home was one such request. I researched and found these books at my local public library. Some of these books are still in print. I hope these books find their way into the hands of the kids who need this.
It’s interesting that there are so few books for kids about living in an alcoholic home as alcohol use disorders affect 16% of adults in the U.S., and more than 10 percent of U.S. children live with a parent with alcohol problems, according to a 2012 study. I would imagine kids who live in an alcoholic home feel very alone with this kind of problem and would benefit for books that show them that there are others facing this problem and give them ideas to help them cope.
I think the most important thing for kids who live in an alcoholic home to realize is that they are not the cause of their parent’s problem and that their parent has a disease which is no one’s fault.
Am I missing any books you recommend? Please share! Thank you! 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.