The Story I’ll Tell: Book Review for Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2017

story i'll tell.jpg

In celebration of Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2017, we reviewed The Story I’ll Tell, by Nancy Tupper Ling, illustrated by Jessica Lanan, and published by Lee & Low Books (the largest multicultural children’s book publisher in the country). This lyrical and gorgeous picture book subtly touches upon adoption, the wonderful ways families come together, and the love shared between parent and child. I was excited to read this book to my k/1 class since it tied in nicely with our Social Studies theme, Families & Homes.

sit_spread2.jpg

We read, The Story I’ll Tell, several times and had many heartfelt conversations. A few even picked up on the adoption slant of the story and shared personal stories. While the rest of the class didn’t understand this concept, we did come to an understanding that families come together through close friendships, religious institution, neighborhoods, school communities and work relations. Also, that families come together in many special ways and the most important thing is love.
heart activity.png

We asked families to share with their children how they came to their home. We said that their “coming home” stories could be factual, magical, or a hybrid of both. Most of the little ones found inspiration from this story, saying that they came to their home on a hot air balloon, or on an ocean wave. But some shared very specific and factual events to tell how they came to their home. As they narrated their stories I laughed, cried and felt much joy to be privy to them. Then they chose a sentence from their “coming home” story that best described their journey home. Their complete stories were pasted on the back of the heart mobiles.

Priceless…

family

One day at work my parents met. Later, up in Big Sur, at Pfeiffer Beach, they made a wish for me. I came on a whale and found them. They took me home and I became part of their family. We are a fun family with a lot of laugher.

rainbow-star

I was on a rainbow star and I slid down the rainbow. The same star came back and took me to my parents. They screamed because they were so excited. And then, another star slid down and brought my twin brother, Grant. I brought rainbows and rainbow stars to my family.

football

They were at my grandma’s, my dad’s mom. My mom wanted to wash laundry but grandma’s washing machine was broken. So she went to their old house and washed the laundry there instead. She was washing the clothes, and sitting on the couch with her cat, Whiskers. My mom felt contractions, so she had to gather all the clothes, but they were wet. She put them into the car. And then she went back to my grandma’s house and told my dad and they went to the hospital. And then, when it was time, I came out like a football! My dad thought the doctor would miss, but he was wrong because the doctor did catch me. My parents were so happy.

sparkly-ocean

One magical night I was in an invisible hot air balloon. It drifted over the sparkly ocean. The wise wind blew the hot air balloon to my family. When my mom saw me, she smiled and held me to her heart. My brothers were excited! My dad was sleeping so he didn’t see me ‘til the next morning. When my dad saw me he smiled and hugged me.

 

twitter-mccbd2017

 

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2017 (1/27/17) is in its fourth year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom. Our mission is to raise awareness on the ongoing need to include kid’s books that celebrate diversity in home and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents and educators.

Despite census data that shows 37% of the US population consists of people of color, only 10% of children’s books published have diversity content. Using the Multicultural Children’s Book Day holiday, the MCBD Team are on a mission to change all of that.

Current Sponsors:  MCBD 2017 is honored to have some amazing Sponsors on board. Platinum Sponsors include ScholasticBarefoot Books and Broccoli. Other Medallion Level Sponsors include heavy-hitters like Author Carole P. RomanAudrey Press, Candlewick Press,  Fathers Incorporated, KidLitTVCapstone Young Readers, ChildsPlayUsa, Author Gayle SwiftWisdom Tales PressLee& Low BooksThe Pack-n-Go GirlsLive Oak MediaAuthor Charlotte Riggle, Chronicle Books and Pomelo Books

 Author Sponsor include: Karen Leggett AbourayaVeronica AppletonSusan Bernardo, Kathleen BurkinshawMaria DismondyD.G. DriverGeoff Griffin Savannah HendricksStephen HodgesCarmen Bernier-Grand,Vahid ImaniGwen Jackson,  Hena, Kahn, David Kelly, Mariana LlanosNatasha Moulton-LevyTeddy O’MalleyStacy McAnulty,  Cerece MurphyMiranda PaulAnnette PimentelGreg RansomSandra Richards, Elsa TakaokaGraciela Tiscareño-Sato,  Sarah Stevenson, Monica Mathis-Stowe SmartChoiceNation, Andrea Y. Wang

We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also work tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE.

 

Free Multicultural Books for Teachers: http://bit.ly/1kGZrta

Free Kindness Classroom Kit for Homeschoolers, Organizations, Librarians and Educators: http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/teachers-classroom-kindness-kit/

Free Diversity Book Lists and Activities for Teachers and Parents: http://bit.ly/1sZ5s8i

 

Int’l Latino Book Awards 2016: Picture Book Winners

unnamed

The ILBA ceremony was held on Thursday, September 8, 2016 at Cal State University Dominguez Hills. A large community of Latino authors came together to celebrate the work and progress made in the literary world. Monster Slayer was awarded Honorable Mention: Best Latino Focused Children’s Picture book – Bilingual.

Here is a list of winners in the Children’s Picture Book Categories. Hopefully these books will make their way into classrooms and your homes.

Best Latino Focused Children’s Picture Book – Bilingual

519NEG-68IL._SY391_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

          Best Latino Focused Children’s Picture Book – English

61oEl-5aAfL._SY498_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

Best Latino Focused Children’s Picture Book – Spanish
Las Estrellas de los Reyes Magos, Tere Rodríguez-Nora; Illustrator: Walter Torres; Ediciones Norte, Inc.
Best Children’s Fiction Picture Book – Bilingual
Robbie’s Big Soccer Game ~ La gran final de fútbol de Robbie, Jill Barletti;
Illustrator: Jelena Brezovec; Snowflake Stories, LLC
Best Children’s Fiction Picture Book – English
61NhfU+6qYL._SY498_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg
Best Children’s Fiction Picture Book – Spanish
61bb-jMgZHL._SY498_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg
Best Children’s Nonfiction Picture Book – English
61cPtu2iC5L._SX418_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg
Best Children’s Nonfiction Picture Book – Spanish or Bilingual
                                                &
Best Educational Children’s Picture Book – Bilingual
61Zu7oEgtsL._SX384_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg
Best Educational Children’s Picture Book – English
61CMjToD1sL._SX387_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg
Best Educational Children’s Picture Book – Spanish
Mi Práctico Líbro de Escritura: Un Nuevo Método Divertido y Fácil para escribir Historias, Amada Irma Pérez, Ilustrado por: Lili Sosa; Writers’ Groups of Ventura & Beyond
Most Inspirational Children’s Picture Book – Bilingual
615jjBO8TML._SX473_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg
Most Inspirational Children’s Picture Book – English
51TsFlvev5L._SX398_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg
Most Inspirational Children’s Picture Book – Spanish
51djMLqRx3L._SY421_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg
Here is a complete list of winners in all categories:
Congratulations to all the ILBA 2016 winners!

Writing Summer Camp For Young Children

e4c96e7f-5d6a-49ff-967a-d03b9a8645da.jpgThis week I taught a writing class at a summer camp to incoming first and second graders. We read several picture books where we discussed and wrote about them. We also had daily shared writing activities where each student gave their input and ideas as I scribed their words. We explored “juicy words” or expanded vocabulary like epic, wonderful and melancholy and encouraged each other to use “brave spelling” or invented spelling.

One of the stories we read was I Feel a Foot! written by Maranke Rinck and illustrated by Martijn Van Der Linden.

i-feel-a-foot.jpgBetween two trees, high above grass and ground, Turtle, Bat, Octopus, Bird and Buck are sleeping in a hammock. Suddenly, Turtle opens his eyes. “Hey,” he whispers. “Do you hear what I hear?”  Each animal’s imagination runs wild with what wild creature may be making the sound they all hear. Is it a giant turtle? Or a bird with a giant beak? Perhaps it is Bat-Tur-Octo-Bird- Buck. Luckily for the small animals, it isn’t any of these creatures. It is just their old friend Elephant who was out wandering around. The animals invite him to join them in the hammock and soon the wild imaginings about the night noises begin all over again.

The illustrations are magnificent with gorgeous black backgrounds and a collage type feel. The look of the illustrations was the inspiration for our final writing project. Our little writers watercolored the scenes of their stories, which were then pasted on black construction paper. Their stories included mermaids, Pokemon, a lost octopus, family, cycles, bad guys, destruction and American flags in the jungle! It was a pleasure to work with these little writers. They were an incredibly talented group with lots of enthusiasm and wild imaginations.

in the rainforest

In the Rainforest

in the desert

In the Desert

the search

The Search

eevee vs the bad guys

Eevee Vs. the Bad Guys

the great day at the beach

The Great Day at the Beach

in the field

In the Field

the lovely night at the beach

The Lovely Night at the Beach

 

 

 

 

 

Alma Flor Ada: Author Study

alma floor booksOur little ones have been learning about Alma Flor Ada for our author study. Alma Flor Ada is an award winning author of notable children’s books of poetry, narrative, folklore and non fiction. As an educator, I am a huge fan of her work, especially of her work in promoting immigrant students and parents to recognize how powerful their family stories truly are. Alma Flor Ada, Professor Emerita at the University of San Francisco, has devoted her life to advocacy for peace by promoting a pedagogy oriented to personal realization and social jus­tice.

We began our author study by watching parts of this video. After getting a visual of what Alma Flor Ada looks like and sounds like, my little ones had a host of questions. One of them was, “Is she a grandma?” To which another student answered,”Yah, because she has white hair.”

Since Alma Flor has written over 200 books, we narrowed them down to the following:

After the Storm, How the Rainbow Came to Be, The Kite,  In the Cow’s Backyard,

Friend Frog, Jordi’s Star, The Rooser Who Went to His Uncle’s Wedding,

The Unicorn of the West, The Three Golden Oranges

I had never read Jordi’s Star, and my heart just fell in love with this story. During our book discussions I asked what had transpired in the story. A student said,”Jordi didn’t notice things (his environment) but when he started to do things just because he started to notice how beautiful things were around him.” What a wonderful book to use to emphasize how important it is to do things with love and to be present and mindful of NOW.

We also did a Reader’s Theater based on the book, After the Storm.

With the help of the Sun and the cooperation of Wind, Clouds, and Rain, a little seed grows up to be a beautiful plant. This story about the cycle of growth also lends itself to discussions of cooperation and interconnectedness.

55e3d267-dff4-4b5f-b8eb-5549ec27581b

We performed for our third grade buddies and we will perform for our families our last week of school. The students also made animal masks using left over material from the visual arts room (keep your should pads!). Every student had a line and with much support, they were able to retell this beautiful story. The students noted that Alma Flor Ada’s books had many “juicy words” and her books were often about nature and magical stuff.

b4715fbb-0b7b-4231-aaa3-d54e87d6ffaa.jpg

24f19134-3d75-4653-9bfc-fa85d4f73878.jpg686fab3f-bc5a-43bf-b3d1-785309fc4abd.jpg

The students also got inspired by Alma Flor Ada’s books. This little kinder blew our minds when she wrote this story. This student even wrote on the top – INSPIRED BY ALMA FLOR ADA – How special is this!

f145b7be-a95a-41aa-a4af-f00db38b2dc0.jpg

4dee006d-827b-4e0c-b223-13d0ea41c263.jpg

We have enjoyed the magic of Alma Flor Ada’s stories.  Again, the hope is for students to see the magic of words, pictures and the sense of belonging to something bigger.

Alma Flor Ada, thank you for your stories. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Magical Day: Book Review

the magical dayThe over arching K/1 social studies theme in class this school year is the World of Work, an investigation of how different community systems work together to keep them thriving. Since we have been discussing and investigating at length, the essential components necessary to maintain a thriving community, I was eager to read The Magical Day, by Sandra Elaine Scott and Illustrated by Jasmine Mills.

Prior to reading this beginner chapter book, we have read several books that lend themselves to discussing the concept of community. Students listed what they believed to be important factors in having a well run community.  They noted that shelter, health, education, safety, water and food were important components of a thriving community.

When I read, The Magical Day, my little ones quickly made many types of connections. In this story, 8 year old Donovan visits his cousin in the US and spends a day connecting with several community members who teach him various life skills. Donovan, an 8 year old who is multi-ethnic, curious and independent visits with a firefighter, a soldier, a graffiti artist, an athlete, a nun, a librarian, and a gardener.

d6df6c2a-f6eb-484c-b736-65842d378c5b.jpg

As I read the book, my students made the connection with the firefighter since we had recently visited the fireboat station. Another student said, “This reminds me of the book, Pink Fire Trucks. It’s about being brave!” When we read the chapter of the little girl in a wheelchair who was practicing to be in the Olympics – my students said the little girl had grit. And what I found most amazing was what they had to say about the gardener. In previous book discussions we learned that some communities don’t have access to healthy fruits and vegetables, also known as food deserts. Students said that food deserts are a broken system and that they would like to do something to remedy the problem. They are now doing odd jobs at home and earning money to support SoLa Food Co-op (South Los Angeles Food Co-op).

We watched this video and 5th graders even did some research on food deserts. The students compiled a powerpoint and shared their findings to our little ones. It was a wonderful and organic example of community, and how we are all interrelated and dependent on each other.

The Magical Day was a great addition to our study, the World of Work. It sparked great conversations, connections and motivated our students to be agents of change. I really liked the last page where students were able to use the diagram provided to retell the story. This resource is especially beneficial for struggling readers since the chart provides some support in retelling the main ideas of the story. I also really appreciated that the characters in the story showed varied and diverse members in our communities.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Community of Picture Book Writers

d7721fa0-4b4f-49d0-8d30-296ddb65cd25

Yesterday, Barbara Lieberman celebrated her new children’s book, Ben’s Little Acorn A handful of children’s authors came to support and celebrate with Barbara at Sandpiper Books, a local bookstore. I thought this was a kind and generous gesture because as she said, “My book might not be the perfect book for a child, but there might be another that could be the right fit.” Barbara’s comment reminded me of a saying we tell the little ones in class, “Are you doing ME thinking, or WE thinking?”

During my time with Barbara I experienced several wonderful “gifts”. The first was that my new picture book, Monster Slayer was the name of her MS group. We also got a chance to talk about the need for picture books to show the myriad of ways children, adults, families, and communities experience life. She shared this was the driving reason behind  Ben’s Little Acorn not having an illustration of a little boy. This way, the reader could have the opportunity to visualize themselves in the story.

e9d1aee6-5782-4654-8864-2cb8a21edc6e

As we talked about the issue of diversity and the lack of picture books portraying people who are out of the “norm” box, Barbara shared a tender moment in her children’s life. I saw the lightbulb go off and gave her a hug saying, “Oh my stars, we just had a moment of inspiration!” I look forward to reading this story because as an educator, these stories are not being told and children are asking, “What about me and my family?

Barbara handed children an acorn of their own (a plastic version) and had them write their dreams or wishes. I wish Barbara and the other children’s writers lots of success, health, inspiration and prosperity. Barbara – thank you for your spirit. The world needs more like you.

Learning About Multiple Perspectives in the Primary Grades

FullSizeRender.jpg

I see chess.

One of the most important elements of being an active reader is understanding that people’s experiences, cultures and family dynamics very much impact our perspective and understanding of life.  In an effort to convey this reading element to my students, I introduced the concept of PERSPECTIVE by reading several picture books. We read, It Looks Like Spilt Milk  by Charles G. Shaw and watched a video version of Zoom by Istvan Banyai. Then students painted half of their blue paper with white paint and folded it together – making for interesting figures. Using their perspective, they wrote what they saw.

FullSizeRender-1

I see a butterfly.

The Zoom video really helped bring to life that things aren’t always what they seem. We discussed that having a global perspective means looking at situations from various viewpoints, requires flexibility and an open mind. In my estimation, these skills help create compassionate individuals so as not to always look at situations as black or white, good or bad, or beautiful or ugly.

Most recently, we read the book Something Beautiful by Sharon Dennis Wyeth. A little girl walks through her run down community and finds beauty, where most would not. In the beginning of the book she says:

When I look through my window, I see a brick wall.

There is trash in the courtyard and a broken bottle that looks like fallen stars. 

something beautiful picture book

Something Beautiful truly surprised me because it made my heart move with so many emotions, the strongest being hope. At the end of the story, the little girl takes her hope and puts it into action.

I go upstairs and a get a broom and a sponge and some water. I pick up the trash.

I sweep up the glass. I scrub the door very hard.

When DIE disappears, I feel powerful.

Someday I’ll plant flowers in my courtyard. I’ll invite all of my friends to see.

If we are open to changing our perspective and hopeful about creating a better tomorrow – then as this little girl discovers, all is possible.

I’m not really sure if my little ones wholly understood the concept of multiple perspectives. But I’m hopeful that if we keep discussing it, pointing it out via picture books or classroom situations that maybe, just maybe, they too will put hope into action.