Early/Elementary

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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Christmas DayChristmas 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!

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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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daliaHow 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.

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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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tia lolaWriter, 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:

How Tia Lola Came to (Visit) Stay (The Tia Lola Stories)

Or, read it in Spanish:

De como tia Lola vino (de visita) a quedarse

De como tia Lola vino (de visita) a quedarse (The Tia Lola Stories) (Spanish Edition)

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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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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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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:

http://www.tulikabooks.com/book_details.php?mid=2&c_id=4&s_id=17&b_id=327

 

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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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Mar
30

The Egg Tree


Egg Tree CoverWritten And Illustrated By Katherine Milhous

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.

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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.


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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 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


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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 by Bhakti Mathur

Illustrated By Maulshree Somani

Several teachers I know recommended this book as a fun way to learn about the holiday of Diwali – through rhymes!  They felt the book was fun, age appropriate and also culturally accurate and respectfully written!  Text and illustrations are adorable and introduce this holiday to readers in a way that is as exciting and understandable.

Highly recommended!


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Written And Illustrated by Dav Pilkey

It’s Fall and class trip time!

Eight adventurous young students set off to visit a farm in the country and come home with a surprising new love for turkeys.  How will the teacher respond?  And the farmer?  In a wonderful and whimsical turn of events, the turkeys become part of everyone’s Thanksgiving celebration  – as invited guests instead of main dishes!

I really enjoy books like this that are simple and fun and incorporate kids of various colors and nationalities into a lively story.  This is a sweet, funny, light-hearted book, perfect for reading as part of Fall festivities.

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Written and Illustrated By Jeanette Winter

Where do you get your books?

If you lived in the Northern mountains of Colombia, it might be hard to visit a library or even have any books at all.  But that was before the Biblioburro – a library carried by a donkey!

Based on a true story, the Biblioburro traveling library was created by a teacher named Luis Soriano who loved kids and loved books.  He was so dedicated to reading and literacy that he has been willing to take his two special donkeys (Alfa and Beta) into remote and even dangerous places.

Although Luis started with about 300 books years ago, stories like this one have shared his amazing work and he now has thousands of books to share with kids – mostly donated by people who love reading about him from all over the world.

 


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