Teaching Cultural Compassion

December 14, 2020

Do you REALLY know Little Red Riding Hood?

Firstly, Happy Hanukkah for those who celebrate.  Hanukkah is actually why I thought about writing this article!  One of my very favorite versions of Little Red Riding Hood is Little Red Ruthie  by Gloria Koster and Sue Eastland.  I love this book because it envelops the story of Hanukkah as part of Little Red's way of escaping the wolf! (SPOILER: Latkes taste WAY better than little girls.  It even includes Ruthie's recipe for those much tastier latkes!!)   Ruthie is able to outsmart the wolf in kindness, love, a good story, and lots of great fried food!

Another wintery take on the old tale is Little Red Gliding Hood by Tara Lazar and Troy Cummings.  In this version of the story, Little Red desperately needs a new pair of ice skates and there is a contest to win them--but she needs a partner!! Again, she figures out how to deal with the "Big Bad" Wolf with kindness and an open mind.  I won't tell you the ending. 

If you're looking for other less-traditional Little Red stories, my other favorites are Little Roja Riding Hood by Susan Middleton Elya and Susan Guevara which adds a Latina twist to the story (mixing Spanish and English as well as coming from a Latinx cultural setting) and Ninja Red Riding Hood by Corey Rosen Schwartz and Dan Santat in which the Wolf decides to have ninja training because all of the kids are too hard to trick.  But So has Little Red.  So if you like fairy tales, but are looking for an update, I hope I gave you some good ideas.  If you haven't taken the step into updated fairy tales before, I hope these are a good introduction for you---there are lots more out there.

Again, Happy Hanukkah, and remember, latkes definitely taste better. 

November 29, 2020

Alzheimer's Awareness

Alzheimer's Disease isn't easy to talk about at any age, but two authors in particular have done a great job working with the feelings of young kids and their grandparents.

In The Remember Balloons, Jessie Oliveros and Dana Wulfekotte take on how memories are passed from generation to generation.  They find ways to console young ones in knowing that even if a grandparent forgets their stories, the next generations can keep them alive.

Pat Mora and Alyssa Bermudez give us another aspect of memory loss in a story about the little things that ARE remembered.  Billy helps his grandmother remember through song and even for just a little while, she's his regular Nana again.

If you're looking for a book to help a child understand a grandparent needing to move to a Memory Care Facility, I recommend forget me not by Nancy Van Laan and Stephanie Graegin or Still My Grandma by Veronique Van den Abeele and Claude K. Dubois.

Looking for "Teaching Cultural Compassion in an era of righteous anger"? 

November 9, 2020

History Made Yet Again

This weekend made a special kind of history for the United States, for the first time, a woman of color has been elected Vice President.  Author Nikki Grimes and illustrator Laura Freeman want your kids to know a little more about our new VP in Kamala Harris: Rooted in Justice, their new book that was published before the groundbreaking news was confirmed.

Though Kamala is the first to make it to this point she’s not the first woman to make a difference in politics.  From Sojourner Truth’s Step-Stomp Stride to Lillian's Right to Vote: A Celebration of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to Yours for Justice, Ida B. Wells to She was the first!: the trailblazing life of Shirley Chisholm, black women have influenced voting and political offices in this country.  (You can also learn more from Vashti Harrison’s Little Leaders and Little Dreamers .)

In Vice President-Elect Harris’s speech on Saturday, she also made sure to say that though she’s the first, she certainly won’t be the last.  How do we raise kids to know that anyone can be president?  Well, Kamala Harris herself wrote a book about just that, Superheroes are Everywhere.  Other books to keep kids interested in making a difference in politics include Sofia Valdez, Future Prez and Grace for President.

Who inspired you?  Tell your kids!

October 22, 2020

Beyond Indigenous Peoples' Day and Latinx Heritage Month

We just finished Latinx Heritage Month and passed through Indigenous People’s Day.  That doesn’t mean we can stop focusing our reading time on these two groups.  To keep up your reading list, I have a few of my favorites to suggest!

I’ll start with books for our littlest ones, I highly recommend (in board book or other forms) Little You by Richard Van Camp, illustrated by Julie Flett who also illustrated My Heart Fills with Happiness by Monique Gray Smith.  Both give a lovely sense of self-worth and the dignity of all with beautiful illustrations of American Indian families.

For some historical, #ownvoices books, When the Shadbush Blooms by Carla Messinger, Susan Katz, and David Kanietakeron Fadden tells the story of a young Lenni Lenape girl’s experience now in comparison to what her great-great-grandmother may have experienced.  Tim Tingle brings all of his Chocktaw storytelling tradition to Crossing Bok-Chitto: A Choctaw Tale of Friendship & Freedom, illustrated by Jeanne Rorex Bridges.  He beautifully weaves a tale of a Choktaw girl helping an enslaved family to freedom across the river’s border. (If you have Middle Grade readers, he has also expanded this story in Stone River Crossing.) 

Fry Bread by Kevin Noble Maillard is a new favorite of mine.  It was even featured on NPR this past December.  Not only does it honor the many traditions around fry bread, it gently tackles the horrible history that began the tradition.  It is beautifully illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal who segues me into Latinx Heritage Month with her wonderful title Alma and How She Got Her Name, taking a young girl through her heritage to be proud of her many names (Available in both English and Spanish).

To take a step beyond just finding bilingual stories into true and based on true stories, I recommend Dear Primo by Duncan Tonatiuh, in which we see the struggle to assimilate while honoring heritage and roots in another country through letters between cousins in two different countries.  Monica Brown takes us for a history lesson in Side by Side/Lado a Lado: The Story of Dolores Huerta and Cesar Chavez and their struggle to help farmworkers and the Chicano Civil Rights Movement (this link includes a curriculum guide) beautifully illustrated by Joe Cepeda

And to transition your reading into other books that can become fall favorites, I highly recommend Yum! Mmmm! Que Rico! America’s Sproutings by Pat Mora and illustrated by Rafael López, a poetic wander through traditional fall foods from the Americas that will certainly leave you hungry!!  And to move all the way into Dia de los Muertos, Yuyi Morales has written and illustrated a beautiful introduction to Mexican culture and counting in Spanish while Abuela Beetle tricks the Trickster in Just a Minute.

I hope you enjoy all of these titles as you share them with your little people.  And remember, if you want more suggestions, sorted by age group or topic, or ethnic background, or more titles by these authors, you can always use the Book Search feature to find more!