Archive for May, 2017

Environmental Nonfiction Picture Books That Call Kids to Action

Environmental Nonfiction Picture Books That Call Kids to Action

Please welcome my guest author, Patricia Newman! She has a list of nonfiction books that gets kids involved in environmental issues. I added two books to her list: Rainbow Weavers/Tejedora del Arcoiris which pairs nicely with One Plastic Bag, and Follow the Moon Home which pairs with Mission: Sea Turtle Rescue.

Her book, Sea Otter Heroes: The Predators That Saved an Ecosystem, shows how these delightful sea mammals were able to save an ecosystem in Monterey Bay. That’s personal to us because it’s my husband’s hometown!

Patricia Newman talks about the accumulation of plastic and I wanted to share this article that I just read with fascination and horror:  The Atlantic’s article, A Remote Paradise Is Now a Plastic Junkyard! It’s made my family and I start a compost bin!

The Atlantic: A Remote Island is Now a Plastic Junkyard

“Henderson Island is isolated and uninhabited—but its beaches are still covered in garbage.” 

From The Atlantic. Photo by Jennifer Lavers.

How about you? Are you and your kids concerned about the environment? What kinds of things do you talk about and do?


This is a topic close to my heart. Ever since I read an article about young scientists sailing 1,000 miles into the Pacific Ocean to study the accumulation of plastic, I’ve been on a tear to tell kids the truth about our impact on the environment. In order for Earth to continue to support us, we have to support Earth. Kids (and adults) can celebrate Earth Day every day with the following titles.

Environmental Nonfiction Books That Calls Kids to Action

Environmental HERO stories show ordinary people making an extraordinary difference.

Mama Miti by Donna Jo Napoli, illustrated by Kadir Nelson

Wangari Muta Maathai founded the Green Belt Movement that empowered African people to fight deforestation by planting trees. Expressive text and stunning illustrations bring this powerful story to life. [nonfiction picture book, ages 4 and up]

One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia by Miranda Paul, illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon

A beautifully written tale about how one woman cared enough to rid her village of plastic waste that attracted disease-carrying insects and killed local animals. Young readers will love the solution! [nonfiction picture book, ages 6 and up]

Rainbow Weavers/Tejedora del Arcoiris by Linda Elovitz, illustrated by Elisa Chavarri Marshall

Pair this book with One Plastic Bag. It’s a similar story about the Mayan women in Guatemala. [nonfiction picture book, ages 6 and up]

Read more…

A Forgotten Camera Gets Dylan Reading

A Forgotten Camera Gets Dylan Reading

If you’ve been reading my blog, you might remember a long time reader, Dee, whose son was (operative word!) a reluctant reader.

She wrote me in 2012:
Hi, Mia!

Over the summer, I’m trying to spark an interest in history and social studies with Dylan.  He’s going into fifth and finds the subject so boring.  I’ll admit, the way they teach it is not exciting.

This past year, it was American social studies, mainly focused on regions.  He came alive when we’d read the snippets of stories, like the one recently about a young girl moving with her family from the city to the prairie.  So I was thinking of Willa Cather for that.  But it could be about the Gold Rush, about pilgrims, about the Alamo, you name it.  Anything history or culture related.

I envision us reading them together and I’ll definitely end up doing a lot of the actual reading.

“If a child can’t learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn.” – Ignacio Estrada

I wrote a post for her on 5th Grade Chapter Books To Make Social Studies Exciting but it didn’t help Dylan much.

forest school

image from The Friends of Tower Hamlet Cemetery Park

Over the years, I learned through the comments that she left, that she put Dylan into a summer camp called SOAR, a movement that teaches kids using nature as the classroom. She might have done this as he entered Middle School or perhaps the year after that. It really changed Dylan. This was a great learning environment for him and his self esteem got a boost. But still, he wasn’t reading for pleasure (like my son as well).
Read more…

Recognizing Children's Books for #AAPIHeritageMonth

Recognizing Children’s Books for #AAPIHeritageMonth

For #AAPIHeritageMonth, I wanted to recognize Asian Americans in children’s books. I’ve tried to include all the Asian American authors and illustrators I can think of, including Asian Canadians for all books except young adult. This list grew out of trying to recognize this group on my Instagram (@PragmaticMom) and on the new Multicultural Children’s Book Day Instagram (@ReadYourWorld MCBD).

I’ve included a few YA authors that my kids personally recommend but for the most part, this is list is picture books, early chapter books, middle grade chapter books, graphic novels, and novels in verse. I’ve also tried to limit this list to books published within the last 12 months.

Who am I missing? Thanks for your help!

Asian American Picture Book Biographies

It turns out that very few picture book biographies were published this year featuring an Asian American.

Maya Lin: Artist-Architect of Light and Lines by Jeanne Walker Harvey, illustrated by Dow Phumiruk

I’m excited to read this picture book biography. I have long admired Maya Lin’s public art monuments and it’s wonderful to see her in a children’s book. I’ll also happy that Dow Phumiruk is the illustrator; I loved her #KidLitSafetyPin artwork.

As a child, Maya Lin loved to study the spaces around her. She explored the forest in her backyard, observing woodland creatures, and used her house as a model to build tiny towns out of paper and scraps. The daughter of a clay artist and a poet, Maya grew up with art and learned to think with her hands as well as her mind. From her first experiments with light and lines to the height of her success nationwide, this is the story of an inspiring American artist: the visionary artist-architect who designed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. [picture book biography, ages 4 and up]

Surfer of the Century: The Life of Duke Kahanamoku by Ellie Crowe, illustrated by Richard Waldrep

Growing up in Honolulu with the Pacific Ocean as his backyard, Duke Kahanamoku learned to swim and surf at a young age. By his early twenties, Duke’s lightning-fast swimming won him a place on the 1912 United States Olympic team and a gold medal in the 100-meter freestyle race. Over the years Duke struggled with racism and financial troubles, but by the end of his twenty-year Olympic career, he was a six-time medal winner. Although a swimming champion, Duke’s passion was surfing. He traveled the world, introducing surfboarding to Australia and the east and west coasts of the United States. Considered the father of modern surfing, Duke spread his love of the ocean and Hawai’i wherever he went. Throughout his life Duke Kahanamoku was beloved for his modesty, sportsmanship, and amazing skill in the water. [picture book, ages 7 and up]

Fred Korematsu Speaks Up by Laura Atkins and Stan Yogi, illustrated by Yutaka Houlette

Fred Korematsu liked listening to music on the radio, playing tennis, and hanging around with his friends—just like lots of other Americans. But everything changed when the United States went to war with Japan in 1941 and the government forced all people of Japanese ancestry to leave their homes on the West Coast and move to distant prison camps. This included Fred, whose parents had immigrated to the United States from Japan many years before. But Fred refused to go. He knew that what the government was doing was unfair. And when he got put in jail for resisting, he knew he couldn’t give up. [picture book biography, ages 8 and up]

Step Up to the Plate Maria Singh by Uma Krishnaswami

Nine-year-old Maria Singh longs to play softball in the first-ever girls’ team forming in Yuba City, California. It’s the spring of 1945, and World War II is dragging on. Miss Newman, Maria’s teacher, is inspired by Babe Ruth and the All-American Girls’ League to start a girls’ softball team at their school. Meanwhile, Maria’s parents–Papi from India and Mama from Mexico–can no longer protect their children from prejudice and from the discriminatory laws of the land. When the family is on the brink of losing their farm, Maria must decide if she has what it takes to step up and find her voice in an unfair world. In this fascinating middle grade novel, award-winning author Uma Krishnaswami sheds light on a little-known chapter of American history set in a community whose families made multicultural choices before the word had been invented. [chapter book biography, ages 8 and up]

Chef Roy Choi  and the Street Food Remix by Jacqueline Briggs Martin and  June Jo Lee, illustrated by Man One

Yukari Reads on Instagram gaves me the heads up on this one.

Chef Roy Choi calls himself a “street cook.”
He wants outsiders, low-riders,
kids, teens, shufflers and skateboarders,
to have food cooked with care, with love,
with sohn maash.

“Sohn maash” is the flavors in our fingertips. It is the love and cooking talent that Korean mothers and grandmothers mix into their handmade foods. For Chef Roy Choi, food means love. It also means culture, not only of Korea where he was born, but the many cultures that make up the streets of Los Angeles, where he was raised. So remixing food from the streets, just like good music—and serving it up from a truck—is true to L.A. food culture. People smiled and talked as they waited in line. Won’t you join him as he makes good food smiles? [picture book biography, ages 4 and up]

Read more…

Rethinking & Examining Dr. Seuss' Racism

Rethinking & Examining Dr. Seuss’ Racism

Dr. Seuss and Dr. Seuss Enterprises profited profoundly off of the sales of this book, it’s Broadway rendition, the Horton Hears a Who! movie (which grossed $297 million dollars) and associated merchandise. None of it went to the Japanese community, including those still impacted by cancer and leukemia from the atomic bomb blasts. Dr. Seuss never directly apologized for his anti-Japanese work and this book doesn’t hold up as a meaningful, indirect one.

I’ve had the privilege of working with Katie Ishizuka-Stephens, Executive Director of The Conscious Kid Library. She is also Japanese American and her parents were forced into internment camps during WWII. This makes us both sensitive to the dehumanizing racism against Japanese-Americans during WWII that allowed the American public to accept putting innocent civilians into concentration camps in which Dr. Seuss’s political cartoons played a large role.

Japanese Internment Books for Kids & My Family's Story

She found me when I posted on The Racist Side of Dr. Seuss That You Didn’t Know About. We both objected to the National Education Association’s (NEA) Read Across America’s choice of using Dr. Seuss as the featured author.

Slap That Jap and Dr. Seuss racist cartoonsNow there is a Dr. Seuss museum that is opening near me in Springfield, MA. There are no plans to include Dr. Seuss’s racist political cartoons as part of his legacy. The museum is carefully orchestrating hiding this side of Dr. Seuss that no one knows about. Ostensibly, their excuse is that they don’t have any original political cartoons of his, and the artwork featured is all original. This is not a very high hurdle given that Dr. Seuss’ sad political cartoons have no marketRead more…

Baby Bunny Nest in Our Yard & GUESS HOW MUCH I LOVE YOU? Giveaway

Baby Bunny Nest & GUESS HOW MUCH I LOVE YOU? Giveaway

My husband ordered 6 cubic yards of mulch for our yard and we went to town for three days. While he was raking off the dead leaves to prepare for the mulch in our front yard, he happened upon a bunny nest with four baby bunnies inside!

wild bunny nest in our yard

He showed me the bunny nest, and one bunny popped out and ran for it. Luckily the bunny was  slow, so my husband was able to catch it and stuff it back inside the nest.

runaway bunny

The next day, PickyKidPix, caught wind of the bunny nest and asked to be shown it. This time when they peeled off the top which was made of leaves and brush, the bunny took off. It took them twenty-five minutes to catch the baby bunny.

baby cottontail bunny in our yard Read more…

Diverse Children's Books

#DiverseKidLit Global Books

Our theme for this #DiverseKidLit is Global Books. Please share your favorite diverse books that take place in countries other than your own. (As always, the theme is only a suggestion. Diverse posts on alternate topics are always welcome.)

What Is #DiverseKidLit?

Diverse Children’s Books is a book-sharing meme 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.

We encourage everyone who shares to support this blogging community by visiting and leaving comments for at least three others. Please also consider following the hosts on at least one of their social media outlets. Spread the word using #diversekidlit and/or adding our button to your site and your diverse posts.


Read more…

Kid Lit Blog Hop Now MONTHLY!

KidLit Blog Hop

Hello, welcome back to another month of terrific children’s literature. We welcome you to the May 2017 Kid Lit Blog Hop. This hop takes place every 3rd Wednesday of the month. It is designed to engage a  group of people who love everything that has to do with children’s literature. Everyone is welcome to join us: bloggers, authors, publicist, and publishers!

Have you seen the Kid Lit Blog Hopper Facebook fan page? This page has all the news and information related to the hop plus ongoing posts, giveaways, news articles, etc. related to Kid’s Lit. Check it out and of course, please like the page. Read more…

Understanding Transgender with LGBTQ Books for Kids

Understanding Transgender with LGBTQ Books for Kids

In searching for LGBTQ books for kids and teens, I realized how many different permutations a child might encounter and tried to find books for all different kids of LGTBQ families. Personally, I found the concept of Gender Fluidity to be the most confusing, so I’ve included Rick Riordan’s Magnus Chase series that does a terrific job of depicting this.

How about you? What LBGTQ books are your favorites? What LGBTQ books are missing from this list or need to be published? Thanks for sharing!

Understanding Transgender with LGBTQ Books for Kids

Picture Books with LGBTQ Parents

The Family Book by Todd Parr

Todd Parr’s inimitable voice assures readers that whether your family has two dads, two moms, or something else, every family is special in its own unique way. [picture book, ages 2 and up]

Stella Brings the Family by Miriam B. Schiffer, illustrated by Holly Clifton-Brown

This gentle story of Stella’s dilemma for her school Mother’s Day event showcases her loving family with two dads. [picture book, ages 4 and up]

Heather Has Two Mommies by Lesléa Newman, illustrated by Laura Cornell

Heather has a lot of things in that come in pairs: arms, legs, pets … and moms! She has Mama Jane and Mama Kate. When she starts kindergarten, she realizes that she might be the only one without a daddy. But when her class draws a picture of their family, Heather realizes that every family is special and that it doesn’t matter how many mommies or daddies your family has. [picture book, ages 4 and up]

Read more…

Gratitude Flags Public Art at My Dog Park

Gratitude Flags Public Art at My Dog Park

I happened up on this public art display at Weston Reservoir where we take our dog every day. There’s a wooded mile and half path that winds around the reservoir. Metaphorically and literally, the gratitude flags take you from the beaten path up to a little ridge where there is a winding display tied to a few trees.

Gratitude Flags Public Art at My Dog Park

Once you are there, you might notice the plastic bin of cut up sail cloth, Sharpie pens, and clothespins. You are invited to write on a flag about what you are grateful for, and add it to the display. Periodically, I noticed, someone comes to add more lines. Steadily, the flags have grown.

Here are some of my favorite:

Gratitude Flags Public Art at My Dog Park Read more…