Tag Archives: children’s books

Random Acts of Poetry Day

7 Oct

Today is Random Acts of Poetry Day! I think poetry often gets a bad rap as people remember poetry for being inaccessible and difficult to understand. People remember having to memorize poetry in school or trying to study poetry to understand what the poet what truly trying to say.

Many kids flock to Shel Silverstein and Jack Prelutsky for their silly, nonsensical poetry, but somewhere along the line, kids start pushing poetry away and by the time people become adults, they’ve pushed poetry out of their realm of reading possibilities.
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My favorite poem in the book occurs in August:

One my favorite poetry books in recent years is called When Green Becomes Tomatoes: Poems for All Seasons by Julie Fogliano and illustrated by Julie Morstad. It has fairly short poems about the seasons – with each poem’s title being a specific date. It works well for me because I live in an area of this country that has four distinct seasons. Plus, you can’t go wrong with the adorable illustrations that match each poem.

If you want to be sure

That you are nothing more than small
Stand at the edge of the ocean
Looking out

I absolutely love water in al forms – creeks, rivers, ponds, lakes and the ocean and this poem completely connected with me! Reminding me that I am a small part of a much larger world out there.

So, take sometime today to read a poem, borrow a book of poetry from the library, or find something online! Enjoy!

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So Much More Than “Just” a Picture Book

28 Sep

IMG_20170927_210501.jpgDan Santat dedicated his most recent book, After the Fall to his wife. That’s adorable enough. But, check out his interview with Colby Sharp and get ready to melt at his obvious love and respect for his wife and the journey they have taken.

The way Dan talks about anxiety and postpartum depression – from his own family’s perspective, really shows what an emotional, mental and physical toll it can take not only on a single person, but on the other’s in their life. Her strength to seek help for herself and tackle her fear inspired Dan in so many ways and After the Fall is a love letter to his wife.

Mental health is just as important as physical health, yet there is a stigma in this country that asking for help is weak. But, if the help can allow you to live your fullest life, then why is that weak? If I have a sprained ankle, I’m going to go to the doctors who can help me heal, why isn’t it the same for your mental health?

Dan Santat – I’ve loved your children’s book, but this interview is a beautiful glimpse into your personal life and I want to thank you for sharing it with the world.

Weekend Plans – Princeton Children’s Book Festival

23 Sep

092317CBFSavedate3I’m hanging out at the Princeton Children’s Book Festival this weekend with a TON of authors, illustrators and book lovers! I’ve got Christmas and birthday gifts checked off my list for the next year or two for all the awesome kiddos in my life and I couldn’t leave without adding a few titles to my personal library! If you’re in the Princeton area, check out this awesome event!

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Loved During the First Year I Started My Blog

12 Sep

beginning of blog

It’s hard to believe that I’ve been blogging since 2011 and it’s amazing to think that I didn’t have anything in my mind worth sharing with the world. It’s been an awesome journey and one I know that will continue to change as I change and it was fun to look back at what I was reading when I first started this journey!

  1. Starry River of the Sky by Grace Lin
  2. One for the Murphys by Lyda Mullaly Hunt
  3. Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage
  4. Wonder by R.J. Palacio
  5. See You At Harry’s by Jo Knowles
  6. The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen
  7. Almost Home by Joan Bauer
  8. Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz
  9. Young Sherlock Holmes: Death Cloud by Andrew Lane
  10. Dear Blue Sky by Mary Sullivan

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Book

Racism, Children’s Classics and the World Today

18 Aug

newshour.jpgThis post has been in my heart and mind for a few days now and after seeing Grace Lin speak about this very issue on PBS NewsHour and in light of recent events, I think it’s an important subject that kids, parents, teachers, librarians and everyone in between should be thinking about and discussing.

Grace Lin’s talk was titled, “What to do When You Realize Classic Books From Your Childhood Are Racist.” Recently, I’ve seen a number of posts about The Little House on the Prairie books being labeled as racist (and they are). So this wasn’t a new idea to me, but one I hadn’t really thought about much before and that’s where my white privilege comes in. I loved reading The Little House books when I was younger, in fact, historical fiction was one of my favorite genres – Caddie Woodlawn (also racist), Anne of Green Gables (relatively forward thinking) and the American Girl books were my bread and butter. As a child, I don’t think the fact that Ma hated Indians was something I saw as racist, I knew the history of the migration of European settlers onto Indian land and understood that Ma’s hatred grew out of her fear for her family as wrong as it was. The same way I knew that you didn’t use the words that Mark Twain used to describe black people in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn or how I have a fond memory of a teacher reading aloud The Indian In the Cupboard, but now as an adult see how truly incorrect the depiction of Native Americans truly was in this story. It’s not that I read them and accepted them as truth, I knew that because they spoke of the past, there were things that didn’t bear repeating in the world today.

You have to realize that many of these classics were written during a time (50+ years ago) that this vocabulary, depiction, illustration, language was, if not widely used, accepted by many. That doesn’t make these stories any less racist, but it does in fact leave an opening for an adult in a child’s life to open up conversation about history (and presents times as we’ve been seeing lately). It’s a chance to teach kids why we don’t use certain words, why a certain depiction is incorrect or why an illustration is offensive, hurtful and just plain wrong.

Does it mean we clean up these stories, removing language, illustrations and whitewashing our history? No. Does it mean we ban these books from children, never letting them read what we grew up reading? No. In fact, I think it’s a great way to teach children current events, history and so much more. I have a teacher-friend who recently shared this story on Facebook – a few years ago he had the most difficult class of children he has ever taught, a fifth grade class that wasn’t afraid to throw racial slurs around the cafeteria and playground like it meant nothing. So he paired the kids up and had them interview each other with a list of predetermined questions and a Venn diagram to illustrate their differences and similarities. Of course it didn’t take long for the kids to realize they had more in common with each other than they thought and were surprised by this revelation.

Kids aren’t born hating people that are different from them. They are taught hatred and  books are a great door in which to show kids the effects of racism, sexism, and just about every other -ism out there, but it’s also about showing them what it means to have respect, empathy, kindness, compassion and hope – all things we need a little more of in this world.

Each summer we offer a book discussion for middle grade students and on more than one occasion, I’ve offered a title with a character who is portrayed as having a disability. Kids are open in a book discussion to asking questions to better understand a character’s life and they feel comfortable in the book club space to be able to ask these questions. I know that asking questions can be microagressive to people who are different from yourself and I think there’s a way to ask questions respectfully and insightfully (which is a whole other post), but I think what this world could use is more instances of kids being comfortable asking the questions they have to understand the world around them, after all they’ll be here longer than we will and I’d love to see acceptance become the norm instead of the exception. So don’t be afraid to talk to kids about what they’re reading, kids want to be able to ask questions and to understand, but if no one is there to ask the questions to, how will they find their answers?

Okay, so this post has been meandering for much longer than I anticipated, but if you’re still with me…. check out Grace Lin’s absolutely astounding Tedx Talk or her books, including Where the Mountain Meets the Moon and so many others, she’s pretty awesome.

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