Books by Topic
Christmas Day in the Morning
by Pearl S. Buck
Money is tight at Christmas and a young boy wonders what he can possibly get his Dad to show him how much he loves him. After lot of anxiety and stress, he finally comes up with the best present of all and this tale of a quiet, love-filled Christmas will totally inspire and warm your heart.
Written by author and humanitarian, Pearl S. Buck, this older book (originally published in 1955) has been reissued with beautiful, full color paintings as the illustrations. If you’re looking for a book that focuses on the holiday spirit of love and giving – this is a perfect Christmas book to pick!
How Dalia Put a Big Yellow Comforter Inside a Tiny Blue Box: And Other Wonders of Tzedakah
Written By Linda Heller, Illustrated By Stacey Dressen McQueen
Do you know about the Jewish tradition of Tzedakah? This enchanting and inspiring book will tell you all about it.
Dalia is a young girl whose teacher encourages her to start a little fund in a box and her fellow students are intrigued by what their contributions could create. Dalia shares her ideas with her younger brother who doesn’t want to be left out of the fun. And when it’s all said and done, there’s an amazing party that takes care of someone special in their community changes her life!
Although this is a book is about a specific, beautiful tradition of Judaism, it is a wonderful books for people of any faith as it delves into up the topic of giving, sharing with others and good deeds. It’s a great book for talking to kids about empathy, compassion and how meaningful it can be to express love for humanity and community.
by Carolivia Herron, Illustrated by Jeremy Tugeau
Sometimes family histories are complicated. And exciting. And amazing!
“Always An Olivia” is written as the story of an elderly African-American grandmother who lovingly passes along the details of an incredible tale to her granddaughter. It’s the story of the journey their family made as Jews escaping persecution in Spain. Then there’s a pirate ship and a brave young girl and a landing in the US Georgia Sea Isles in a community of descendants of West African slaves. And so much more! But throughout all this, one thing remains the same. There is always an “Olivia” in each generation of the family.
Critically-acclaimed author Carolivia Herron shares this amazing tale that is actually based on her own unique family history and how one daughter in each generation is given the name “Olivia” to honor the past.
Along with being an exciting and informative read, the book is a good conversation starter on topics such as multiculturalism, tolerance, Jewish history, family history and discovering your roots.
Written by Sandy Eisenberg Sasso, Illustrated By Diana Bryer
What a wonderful book!
It starts as young Jacobo enjoys life with his grandmother (Abuelita) in a small town in New Mexico in the United States. Although the young boy and his grandmother love their community and are active in their Catholic church, some things do seem out of place to Jacobo. Abuelita cooks differently than her neighbors and she has her own special rituals, like lighting candles on Friday nights. When a new family moves into the neighborhood who are Jewish, Jacobo starts asking more questions and finds out about his family history – one that started with an exodus of Sephartic Jews from Spain, centuries ago.
This short but powerful tale written by a woman rabbi and scholar; Sandy Eisenberg Sasso, is a perfect way to begin discussions on topics such as multicultural families, Jewish history, tolerance, religious identity and family secrets.
Read it in Spanish:
Las Matzas Secretas de Abuelita by Sandy Eisenberg Sasso
Writer, poet and essaying, Julia Alvarez has crafted a great book for young readers. When Miguel’s family moves from New York City to rural Vermont, he must come to grip with a world where he is different. And he’s not so sure how he feels about it.
To make matters worse, his Aunt Lola comes to visit from the Dominican Republic. Although he loves her, he worries his friends will not accept her wonderfully colorful personality and this will might make things even more difficult with his new friends. What will it take for Miguel to understand how special his family and their cultural heritage is?
I particularly liked this book because it talks frankly about language. In the beginning Miguel understands Spanish but refuses to speak it. And Tia Lola isn’t too comfortable learning English. This book is a great conversation-starter about how hard it can be to bridge a cultural gap by learning a new language – but how incredibly meaningful it is!
Find it in English on Amazon.com here:
Or, read it in Spanish:
De como tia Lola vino (de visita) a quedarse
Who hasn’t sung the rhyme or played the game of “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes”? This adorable book shares that popular kids rhyme and game in both English and Spanish.
Although a few parents I knew were bothered that the author substituted the words “legs” for “knee” and “foot” and toes”, the Spanish lyrics work within the song perfectly and are super-singable for kids of any age.
A wonderful little board book that not only teaches new words but encourages kids to get active with language and play!
A beautiful little “first book” for young children, especially those learning in both English and Spanish. Colorful illustrations of animal families are used to share the concepts of loving and caring that children will relate directly to their own lives.
I especially appreciated how this book focuses on the simple interactions that are so meaningful to both parent and child: listening while a child talks, tucking them into bed, singing a song for them, etc. Whether you’re adding this book for home or the early education classroom, you’ll get get hours of enjoyment from this wonderful board book for bilingual babies and toddlers!
Find This Book on Amazon.com here: Quiero a mi Mama Porque (I Love my Mommy Because Eng/Span ed) (Spanish Edition)
Abuelita (Grandmother) has come to stay in Jose’s house and changes are afoot! In this beautifully illustrated book, we see the world through Jose’s eyes as Abuelita comes to stay and life transforms in the most wonderful and meaningful ways. For instance, José has to share his room with his grandmother, but he doesn’t mind it because she tells him stories long into the night. New smells appear in the kitchen but also delicious hot chocolate for José in the mornings! Things are different, but they are good, and Abuelita adds so much to the household because she is so “full of life”!
This is a great book for starting conversations about ancestry, relatives and cultural backgrounds. It’s also a good book for discussing what happens when new members come or go from a household. Each page (or set of pages) has the text in English and Spanish, making it a great book for both bilingual readers as well as those learning either Spanish or English.
Written by Michael Rose Ramirez
There’s a certain magic to hummingbirds that makes them popular in folktales wherever they are found. But how did this unusual bird first come to be?
The hummingbird myth from Taino cultures tells of a beautiful young girl and a brave young man. Unfortunately their parents did not feel they should be friends and so they are separated.
Do they find a way to be together? And how does the hummingbird come into the story? This tale of young love and devotion weaves a magical tale around a beautiful creature and may make you think twice the next time you see hummingbird in real life!
Written and Illustrated By George L. Crespo
If you lived on an island, the sea would probably be an important part of any legend or creation tale. This creation tale; retold and illustrated by George Crespo, was collected over 500 years ago by a Spanish friar who came to the island now known as Puerto Rico.
Author, painter and sculptor; George Crespo, changed a few minor details but kept a powerful story of how the ocean came into being. The story involves a family, a great hunter, a big storm and four boys who could not do as they were told.
How did one giant expanse of land turn into a series of islands in a deep blue sea? You’ll have to check out “How The Sea Began” to get the full story!
Written by and Meera Sriram and Praba Ram, Illustrations by Koel Basu
One of the great things about books is that they can take you and your family around the world. You can visit another country or explore a different culture. And some books – like Bijoy and the Big River – have just the right combination of great information, rich photography and an engaging story.
In this book you get to visit with a young boy from the state of Assam in Northeast India. Their family lives close to an important river that flows out of the Himalaya mountains and past their village. A great deal of their lives revolves around the river as well as their occupation of raising silkworms and making silk. On one special day, Bijoy gets to accompany his dad on his first ferry trip to a village famous for making some of the finest silk in the land.
Traveling with Bijoy, the wonders of this area unfold, combining details of day-to-day life with exciting experiences such as seeing river dolphins, a beautiful sunset on the river or passing a cruise ship bound for a nearby wildlife park. Bijoy and the Big River is a wonderful, children’s book that will intrigue readers of any age and encourage them to discover more about this exciting and important region of the world.
You can purchase this book from Tulika Press, a publishing house offering exceptional books for young readers in a variety of languages including English, Telegu, Bengali, Gujarati and Tamil. Find out more here:
Sophia is off on an adventure with her family. They’ll be taking an airplane to Costa Rica and exploring the jungle and the rainforest. As you can imagine, her whole family will explore an exciting new world. And, as the story unfolds, we watch to see how certain activities, objects or animals remind Sophia and her little brother of yoga postures they know.
Although yoga is an art form that dates back centuries, it can be practiced by very young children in a way that immediately inspires and delights. This book is a perfect way of sharing yoga poses and practices as well as a love and curiosity for our beautiful, bright planet.
I reviewed the Spanish version of this book and recommend it highly to my readers, especially those with “all abilities kids”. Link for the Spanish language version is below.
Sofia En Una Aventura Por La Selva
Give Your Children the Healthy Benefits of Yoga with this Kids Yoga Stories Adventure Book!
Join Sophia on her jungle adventure! Fly like a toucan, slither like a snake, and flutter like a butterfly as you act out this journey through a Costa Rican jungle. What else might you see?
Kids Yoga Stories introduce you to engaging characters who will get your child laughing, moving, and creating. Reading is good for the mind AND body! The story links several yoga poses in a specific sequence to create a coherent and meaningful story.
This book for ages 3 to 7 is more than a storybook, but it's also a unique experience for children.
Sophia's Jungle Adventure is also available in Spanish, French, Portuguese, Chinese, Italian, Russian, and German. See the author's page for the whole list of yoga stories (including the complementary, Sophia's Jungle Adventure Coloring Book) at www.amazon.com/author/giselleshardlow.
Written by Deborah Hopkinson, Illustrated By James Ransome
What if you were a child during the terrible time period of slavery? How would you endure the hardship and challenges?
This book is a realistic portrayal of a young girl named “Sweet Clara”. At the age of 12, she’s taken from her mother to work on another plantation as a field hand. But her kind “aunt” Rachel has a plan to get her away from that difficult and back-breaking work. She teaches young Clara how to sew.
As a young seamstress in the big house, Clara hears about many things in larger world around her, such as the Underground Railroad and the prospect of freedom in Canada. But how can a young girl without a plan or a map hope to make it to freedom?
Clara finds a way to combine her sewing skills with both courage and patience and the chance to make a break toward freedom appears. Can her quilt guide her and the ones she loves to a place of safety and peace? Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt is an unforgettable story sure to inspire readers of any age or background.
2013 marks the 20th anniversary of Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt!
As a seamstress in the Big House, Clara dreams of a reunion with her Momma, who lives on another plantation--and even of running away to freedom. Then she overhears two slaves talking about the Underground Railroad. In a flash of inspiration, Clara sees how she can use the cloth in her scrap bag to make a map of the land--a freedom quilt--that no master will ever suspect.
One Easter morning, Katy and Carl went on an egg hunt through Grandmom's house. Katy couldn't find anything until she went up to the attic. And there she discovered a very special set of eggs...
Grandmom had painted them when she was a little girl. And now, she hung them from the branches of a tiny tree -- an Egg Tree! So began a very special Easter tradition.
This Caldecott Medal-winning story of a Pennsylvania Dutch Easter will surely inspire children to make Egg Trees of their very own.
Everyone’s heard of a Christmas tree – but what about an Easter egg tree?
In this older story, author/illustrator Katherine Milhous takes you on a trip to Pennsylvania Dutch country. You get to visit with young Katy and Carl as they have their first Easter on their Grandmother’s farm, complete with an egg hunt. But Katy has not been too lucky. In fact, she hasn’t found a single egg and she retreats to the attic where she finds a real treasure – Easter eggs her grandmother had created when she was a little girl!
Katy’s discovery and the special “egg tree” they made is a wonderful story about family and creating meaningful holiday traditions. The designs are inspired by authentic Pennsylvania Dutch motifs and the book ends with an egg tree activity that is fun for homes, libraries and classrooms as a special way to celebrate the Spring.
Written/Retold by Eric A. Kimmel, Illustrated By Katya Krenina
On a cold, wintery morning, Katrusya and her grandfather discover something alarming. Small birds had been caught in an unexpected snowfall and are in danger of freezing to death. The young girl and her grandfather pick up as many as they can and bring them inside. So does the rest of her family and her entire village. Even the priest from the local church invites the birds to come inside and have a safe refuge from the cold.
The little birds brighten the spirits of all the villagers during an especially long winter until they need to fly away in Spring. Can the villagers let them go? What will come of this simple act of kindness? Perhaps an Easter miracle?
This is a beautiful book about how small actions can create big results and transform even the bleakest situation. Illustrated by Katya Krenina, a native of the Ukraine, this book is charming and uplifting, especially in Spring or before the Easter holidays.
Villagers take in a flock of golden birds nearly frozen by an early snow and are rewarded with beautifully decorated eggs the next spring.
The greedy Leprechaun King has locked away all the luck in Ireland and the whole country has fallen in to despair. Through clever charades, Fiona outwits the Leprechaun King and restores luck to the land.
Luminous illustrations add to the magic and wonder of this original folktale.
Written by Teresa Bateman
Illustrated By Kelly Murphy
What would you do if suddenly all the luck in the world disappeared?
This is an enchanted and enchanting story about the wee folk of Ireland and one clever heroine named Fiona. The book tells the tale of a Leprechaun king who decides to hide all the luck in the world away from the humans. The results are terrible as cows will not give milk, chickens won’t lay eggs and potatoes won’t grow in the fields. And people simply don’t know what to do. All except clever Fiona.
How can a human outwit a Leprechaun king and make things right? Pick up this charming book and find out how a good heart and a clever mind can sometimes change even the more dire situations.
Don Pedro wants to care the best radish sculpture for the Nigh of the Radishes. One radish won't cooperate. Written in a style reminicent of the Gingerbread Man. Based on the annual festival in Oaxaca, Mexico. Bilingual edition in English and Spanish.
Written by Janice Levy
Have you heard about the Christmas custom in Oaxaca, Mexico called The Night of The Radish (El Noche de Los Rabanos)? As part of the special festivities, people carve large radishes into elaborate scenes – most of which have a Christmas or Nativity theme. And some are amazing works of art.
In this story, one radish decides that she does not want to become part of this festival and runs away. A huge chase ensues and a cast of characters chase the radish in a way that resembles the story of the gingerbread man.
Funny, cute and a nice way to talk about how holiday customs differ from place to place, the Runaway Radish is a great book to add a touch of mirth to the holiday season!
Written by Michelle Edwards, Illustrated By Stacey Schuett
It’s really hard to celebrate a holiday after a loved one has passed away. And this family of a dad and two children miss their mom terribly as Chanukah approaches. Dad wants to come to the rescue and make the special treats – potato latkes – with his kids, but the experience is just not the same.
How does the family come to understand the miracle and beauty of the holiday, despite the sadness? This story weaves a wonderful, sweet, sensitive Chanukah tale.
Suggested Reading Level – Ages 5 – 7
A family prepares to celebrate Chanukah for the first time since Mama died — in this heartfelt, bittersweet tale that will resonate with anyone who has ever faced an empty chair at the holiday table.
Three plates, Selma reminded herself. Just three plates this Chanukah.
For Selma and her little sister, Dora, this is their first Chanukah without Mama. When Papa comes home carrying a big bag of potatoes and all the ingredients for latkes, Selma is worried. Mama always made the Chanukah latkes. Could they make them without her? In Michelle Edwards's poignant story, illustrated with Stacey Schuett's warmly glowing artwork, Selma comes to realize that while Chanukah — and especially latkes — will never be the same without Mama, Selma can still celebrate, and will always remember.
Written By Verma Jatinder, Illustrated By Nilesh Mistry
This book is less about the holiday of Diwali and more about the exciting story behind it. The book is a retelling of the “Ramayana”, an age-old Hindu epic tale of how Prince Rama overcomes the Demon King. Full of adventure, magic and miracles, this story will delight both young and older readers.
Perfect for reading as part of a Diwali celebration or as a way to learn more about India and Hindu folklore.
The Story of Divaali is a wonderful rendition of the "Ramayana," an age-old Hindu epic filled with magic, miracles and adventure. The compelling story tells of a young prince Rama who overcomes Ravana the Demon King. Out of his triumph, Divaali, the Indian festival of lights, is born. The powerful narrative is perfectly complemented by the jewel-like illustrations of Nilesh Mistry. Drawing on the versions told to him in childhood by his parents, Jatinder Verma brings the essence of this great Indian epic to life for a new generation.
Written By John Steptoe
Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters is a Cinderella tale beautifully in Zimbabwe. Written by John Steptoe, the story was inspired by a folktale of that region published in the late 1800’s and the names of the characters are from the Shona language of Zimbabwe.
The book tells the tale of a village elder and his two daughters whose personalities are as different as night and day. When a King from a nearby town declared his intention to find a wife, the real action of the story begins. As both girls travel to the main city to meet the King, they encounter obstacles that turn out to be tests of character. How both girls handle the situations determine who is seen as fit to marry the King. And there’s another plot twist that will surprise you, but you’ll have to pick up the book to find out what it is.
Although the “Cinderlla story” is well known, this book is so well written and lushly illustrated that you may find yourself lost in the tale or rereading it time and time again. It’s just that good.
The tale of Mufaro's two daughters, two beautiful girls who react in different ways to the king's search for a wife - one is aggressive and selfish, the other kind and dignified. The king takes on disguises to learn the true nature of both girls andof course chooses Nyasha, the kind and generous daughter, to be his queen.