To say that Grace Lin speaks to the Asian American experience is probably not specific enough and, simultaneously, also much greater than that. As a sensei (sorry, I’m half Japanese and this means second generation in Japanese), Grace speaks poignantly of the pushes and pulls between her homeland and her “Americanization” conflicts that stem from trying to find the space where she fits in and yet connects with her ethnicity. I especially love Grace Lin’s Pacy series. The Year of the Dog is where Pacy discovers her career path in writing and illustrating books. The Year of the Rat has Pacy dealing with big changes coping from the loss of her best friend — the only other Asian American girl in her class who moves away to California. In real life, this happens to Grace as well, and this best friend turns out to be her future editor!
In honor of Martin Luther King, Junior, I have selected ten children’s and young adult books, both fiction and non-fiction, to help us all to understand exactly the magnitude of achievement that Martin Luther King, Jr. accomplished during his too short life. Happy Martin Luther King, Junior Day! And thank you to all the unsung heroes out there who stand up to injustice every day!
Please give a warm welcome to my librarian/blogger extraordinaire/Mom Friend The Fourth Musketeer! She graciously agreed to guest post on her her favorite books of 2011. I really, really wanted her list because she’s an expert in children’s and young adult historical fiction, and selfishly, I wanted this list for myself and my kids! We will work our way through it in 2012! How about you? What is your favorite historical fiction picture book, chapter book or young adult book?
The Penderwicks on Gardam Street brings up research on Dark Matter. Here’s more information on Dark Matter to draw out the scientist in your child.
Learning about our differences can be a powerful way for children to see from another person’s point of view. I encourage all parents to introduce some of these books or others like these to their children and use these stories as a reference when children bring up differences in school, particularly with special needs classmates. Because how great would it be if it were OUR child who can reach out like MacKenzie in The Friendship Puzzle?! The Friendship Puzzle and My Brother Charlie are a particularly powerful combination for anyone who has a sibling or classmate with autism and would be a great pair of books for any child starting kindergarten.
I keep hearing how Middle School is all about socialization and that is a complex world for girls. I was grateful for these books to cross my path — three are from publishers and one from my child’s book club — because they shine a light through this three year minefield. Some of these characters actually are in bands, but they all rock. Hard. In their own way. And isn’t that what we all want for our girls as they round this next corner?
Please welcome my Mom Friend and yoga teacher’s daughter Ajani who is a voracious reader, reading secretly in bed with a flashlight under the covers, way past her bedtime. She reviews four books that she borrowed from me this past summer and returns them to me along with her book reviews. Thanks Ajani!
My middle child, and her entire third grade class it seems, loved Roald Dahl. She worked her way through most of his books before moving on to new authors. There is something about quirky characters, children who are single parented or orphaned, and a seemingly impossible challenge that is central to a Dahl book. These books that those qualities plus that je ne sais qois of a select group of unusual children who, as fate would have it, must find a way to work together in order to do something monumentally important. It’s nice to see more books in the spirit of Roald Dahl!
The Schneider Family Book Awards honor an author or illustrator for a book that embodies an artistic expression of the disability experience for child and adolescent audiences. I really like how these books let kids walk in the shoes of another and I find the themes of “trying to fit in versus accepting themselves and their family members” to be universal for all children.