By Culture

peaceful huntsvilleSeeds of Freedom: The Peaceful Integration of Huntsville, Alabama
Written by Hester Bass, Illustrated by E.B. Lewis

There are many great books for children that bring the civil rights era alive for children. This book does just that – but with a wonderful twist. The author tells the story of segregation and prejudice in the deep South with a special emphasis on how people in the town of Hunstville, Alabama used peaceful means to make meaningful change in their community.

Beautiful illustrations mark the pages that show not only what people faced; like being unable to be measured for shoes if you were African-American, but also events such as the “Blue Jean Sunday” protest, a Mother’s Day celebration in an “all-white” park and a sit-in at lunch counter where the police had to arrest a mother and her baby. Over and over, the residents of Huntsville found powerful and creative ways to show their neighbors and the world that an unfair and unequal life was simply not acceptable.

This well-researched book is a great read for older children, especially when studying this era of American history. It’s an up-close and personal look at segregation and one town that chose to follow a non-violent path to making positive and permanent change.

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Meet The ObamasMeet The Obamas, America’s First Family
Written By Andrea Davis Pinkney

Get a fascinating look behind the scenes into the White House and it’s first African-American President.  And read on to meet the entire first family, plus the presidential dog, “Bo”.

Do you know how many people work at the White House?  That there’s a swimming pool, children’s garden and much more that might surprise you?  This “short but sweet” Scholastic book is a beautiful tour of President Obama’s White House complete with lots of information about the first family and moving photographs, like one young boy who asks to touch the Presidents hair to see if it was like his own.

Don’t miss the chance to chance to share these details and important aspects of the US presidency with your child through this easy-to-read, first family portrait.

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always oliviaby 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.

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Screen shot 2014-09-03 at 1.48.17 PMWritten by Amy Costales, Illustrations by Martha Avilés

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.

 

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NZ bookWritten and Illustrated By Peter Gossage

This short but fact-filled book tells the complete history of the island of New Zealand through illustrations and one or two page descriptions of important events.

It starts with the  arrival of the first Polynesians peoples around 800 BC and the volcanic eruptions that shaped the island and moves forward to more modern times of British and European settlers.  It describes the culture clash between the old and the new, with a special emphasis on Maori history.

Written and illustrated by a graphic designer from NZ TV, this is an amazingly complete cultural history of New Zealand.   My only complaint is that there are not similar books for other countries all over the globe – this book is a great mini-lesson in world history!

 

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AUST BOOK COVERWritten by Deborah Underwood

Can you imagine playing a conch shell trumpet? What about a “nose flute” or a didgeridoo made from a hollowed out tree branch?

Although this book is a bit older (written in 2008) it provides a thorough look into the culture, traditions and music of this important region of the world accompanied by exceptional photography. Written with respect and intelligence, this book shares both ancient musical customs and more modern cultural expressions including pop stars, music made by missionaries, a Maori opera diva and “protest rock” groups such as Yothu Yindi from Australia.

Countries included in this “World of Music Series” book are Australia, New Zealand, Micronesia, Samoa, Tonga, the Solomon Islands Hawaii, Fiji and Guam.

Related Resources

bilma this oneHear, Color or Create A Recycled A Didgeridoo

http://www.dariamusic.com/didgeridoo.php

Make Your Own Australian Bullroarer

http://www.tinytappingtoes.com/uncategorized/outdoor-musical-play-make-your-own-bullroarer/

Legend Of The Didgeridoo

http://makingmulticulturalmusic.wordpress.com/2012/08/24/the-legend-of-the-didgeridoo/

Step-By-Step Bilma (Australian Clapsticks) Instructions from DARIA’s store at TeachersPayTeachers

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Australian-Instruments-Make-Your-Own-Bilma-Clapsticks-1133140

Color A Ukulele Poster from DARIA’s store at TeachersPayTeachers

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/The-Ukulele-A-Stringed-Instrument-from-Hawaii-Mini-Poster-and-Coloring-Page-1095283

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Written By Michael Dorris

What if you lived on a beautiful island before the time that Europeans came to the New World?  This book is set in just that time and place.

Morning Girl and her brother, Star Boy, live in a close-knit family and clan on an idyllic island.  But they are as different as night and day.  Set in Taino culture, the story follows both children as they discover who they are and how they belong to their family and their world.

Michael Dorris; the author, is a member of the Modoc tribe and an exceptional writer as well as a trained anthropologist.  His portrayal of life in this early Native American setting is both accurate and unforgettable.  This is a beautifully written and memorable book with an interesting historical twist at the end.

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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!

 

 

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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!

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Sophia's Jungle AdventureWritten by Giselle Shardlow, Illustrations by Emily Gedjyk

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

 

 

 

 

 


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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.


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Written And Illustrated By Patricia Polacco

A kindly old woman named Babuska is famous for her special Easter Eggs.  Each year she wins first prize for the beautiful creations she has crafted over the long cold months of winter in Russia.  But this year may be different.  Babuska has rescued a goose with a wounded wing and; by mistake, it’s broken all her marvelously crafted eggs.  Can an Easter miracle brighten the life  of the little goose and sweet, patient Babuska?

The word “Babuska” in Russian and Polish can mean old woman or grandmother.  You’ll love this tale of a special grandmother and how her kindness and faith make for the most heart-warming Easter ever.

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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.

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Written By Virginia Kroll

Illustrated By Sally Wern Comport

Although Easter is usually a happy time of year, this year seems like it will be quite a challenge for Anya.  Her father has gone off to war and the family has lost their grey goose that lays the eggs they use to make beautiful pysanky – traditional Ukrainian Easter Eggs.  Can an Easter miracle save the day?

This book with it’s soft, heart-warming illustrations is a gentle story showing great love between the family members and a deep abiding sense of God’s presence and love.  The book also shares background information about the art of Ukrainian pysanky and has several easy crafts for bringing this story alive.


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Written by Deborah M. Chocolate, Illustration by Cal Massey

What happens when it’s Kwanzaa time?  This book tells the exciting story of this holiday from the perspective of a young boy.  Throughout the days of Kwanzaa, this family dresses in special ways, greet relatives and visitors, listen to stories about the family and from Africa and share wonderful activities that bring everyone together in a very meaningful way.

A beautifully written story, this book for young readers shares special moments in a family’s celebration plus the seven principles of Kwanzaa and a history of the holiday that will inspire any reader.

Highly recommended!


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Written and Illustrated by Karen Katz

Although written for earliest readers, this is a beautiful, informational and inspirational book for any age!  Karen’s Katz’s beautiful illustrations take you through the seven days of Kwanzaa and the activities that one family does to celebrate each day.

It’s wonderful to watch principles or concepts such as “creativity, faith, self-determination, and helping our neighborhood grow” come alive on the pages of this book.  A great book for reading or reading aloud at holiday time to inspire the question… what do the holidays mean to you?

Suggested Reading Level – Ages 3 and up.


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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.

 


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Written By Margaret Musgrove, Illustrated By Leo and Diane Dillon

Africa is a large and diverse continent.

This beautiful book takes an ABC approach to exploring some of the cultures found throughout Africa.  Although a short book can’t tell a complete story of African heritage, the beautiful illustrations and short descriptions of various cultures are enough to make any reader – young or older- want to learn more.

How do people live? What do they like to grow and eat?  How do people dress and what are their families or celebrations like?  What games do the children play?  This book allows you to take a whirlwind trip throughout Africa as an introduction to its rich and diverse cultural heritage.


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Written By Margy Burns Knight

Illustrated By Anne Sibley O’Brien

Africa is a broad and diverse land.  This book shares short vignettes of how life is different in 53 countries that make up the African continent.

Bright illustrations share everyday activities such as going to school on a busy street in Cairo, practicing a traditional dance in Nigeria, children drawing their impressions of the war in Rwanda and kids dreaming of being professional runners in Kenya. Although it’s hard to compress so many traditions and cultures into a short title aimed at young readers, this book is a welcome starting point to explore the diversity of the continent in a way that encourages the reader to want to learn more.


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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.


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