Category Archives: Global Community

Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote: A Migrant’s Tale

Written & Illustrated by: Duncan Tonatiuh

For ages: 6-9 years

Language: English, Spanish.

Topics Covered: Latinx Families, Immigration, Courage, Bravery. 

Summary: Pancho is a rabbit whose father left two long years ago to travel to the North, to find work in lettuce and carrot fields to earn money for his family.  On the day Pancho’s father is supposed to return, the Rabbit family has a big party and cooks all of his favorite foods.  Papá Rabbit does not return that night, or the morning after.  When Pancho’s dad does not return when he is supposed to, Pancho sets out to find him. While following the stars northward, Pancho meets a coyote.  The coyote offers to take Pancho to the North, if he shares the food he brought with him.  Pancho agrees, and they hop aboard the roof of a train to move more quickly.  After jumping off the train, the coyote says they must cross a river but Pancho can’t swim.  The coyote offers to pull Pancho while he floats on a tire, but only after sharing more of his food.  Pancho agrees, and they travel on.  Soon Pancho and the coyote reach a huge wall that separates the South from the North, and the coyote tells Pancho he must give the rest of his food to the snakes that watch over a secret tunnel that goes underneath the wall.  Pancho does not want to, but he agrees.  Now that they are in the North, the pair spends the night in a small shack before going to the fields where Pancho’s papa is working.  The coyote demands more food, but it is all gone.  The coyote tells Pancho he will roast and eat him, and Pancho is too weak to run away and huddles in a corner, very afraid.  Suddenly, Pancho’s father and the others that left their village burst through the door and chase the coyote away!  They had been attacked by a gang of crows that stole all of their money they were bringing back to the village.  Pancho is able to lead the group home, and there is a celebration!  Papá says if rains do not come the next year, he will have to leave again to earn money.  Although the family says they will go together, the book closes with their mother hoping it will rain.

This book is an introduction to the choices many must make to cross borders undocumented, to make money. The coyote helping Pancho is a reference to the slang term of an individual that will help people cross those borders for money, but that often extorts the people they lead.  In an Author’s Note, Tonatiuh speaks of the harrowing journey many families and single individuals undertake, both documented and undocumented.  He closes the note with a list of resources for more information.

Reflection Questions:

  • Do you think that Papá Rabbit was scared to cross the desert to go to the North?
  • What do you think helped him be brave?  What about Pancho?
  • What helps you be brave?
  • How could you help others that might be feeling nervous about something?

Continuing the Conversation:

  • Do you know anyone that has had to move to a different country?  Think about what would be the hardest things to adjust to in a new life.  How could your classroom or community to be kind and welcoming to a new family?
  • Make a Neighborhood Guide for a new family.  What languages do you think it should be in?  Maybe if you don’t know, draw lots of pictures so it wouldn’t matter.
  • Learn more about the immigration process, and how it affects families.  Sometimes, not everyone in the family moves at once.  How could you help?
  • Not everyone follows the plan to become a “documented” immigrant, and are known as an “undocumented person”.  This person goes through a lot of risks to try and have a better life, even though some government agencies do not always agree with their choices.  What could you write in a letter to the government to make them more sympathetic to the plight that individuals face that makes them choose the undocumented path?

About the Author & the Illustrator:

duncan tonatiuhDuncan Tonatiuh (toh-nah-tee-YOU) is the author-illustrator of The Princess and the Warrior, Funny Bones, Separate Is Never Equal, Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote, Diego Rivera: His World and Ours and Dear Primo. He is the illustrator of Esquivel! and Salsa. His books have received multiple accolades, among them the Pura Belpré Medal, the Sibert Medal, The Tomás Rivera Mexican-American Children’s Book Award, The Américas Award, the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award and the New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Book Award. Duncan Tonatiuh is both Mexican and American. He grew up in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico and graduated from Parsons School of Design in New York City. His artwork is inspired by Pre-Columbian art, particularly that of the Mixtec codex. His aim is to create images and stories that honor the past, but that are relevant to people, specially children, nowadays.

Counting on Community

Written and Illustrated by: Innosanto Nagara

For Ages: Infant and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: Community, Activism, Literacy.

Summary: This book is a companion to A is for Activist, focusing on numeric literacy coupled with characteristics of a strong community. Most bold on the pages are the diverse illustrations which have the number hidden within it as well as a duck for the reader to find. The words have a lyrical quality to them, and help the audience get into a rhythm while reading. “Eight picket signs showing that we care” for example, has the number 8, the written word, and the visual representation of eight picket signs. All of these together aid in the development of algebraic thinking, a crucial developmental stage for all young children. Nagara truly is a visionary in children’s literature, and Counting on Community is a must for every young reader’s library.

Reflection Questions:

  • What is the highest number you can count to?
  • What is something you can think of that you have a large number of? Example: grains of rice, blocks, family members, or street signs.
  • How are you an important part of the community?

Continuing the Conversation:

  • Make your own list of numbered things that you have in your community that goes along with the themes in the book.
  • Make a book for young readers that is also a guide to being a part of your neighborhood or school!
  • Think of a way you can help your community. What is something it needs, and who can you talk to about it? A new playground slide, a fixed sidewalk for better accessibility, or something else!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

Children's book author Innosanto Nagara
Innosanto Nagara , author of two children’s books he says is “for the next generation of progressives” that introduce young readers to concepts including activism, environmental justice and civil rights, is photographed at his workplace, Design Action Collective in Oakland, Calif., on Monday, Nov. 16, 2015. Nagara works at the Design Action Collective a community of artists creating graphic designs and communications for progressive, non-profit and social change organizations. (Laura A. Oda/Bay Area News Group)



Innosanto Nagara was born and raised in Jakarta, Indonesia, and moved to the U.S. in 1988 to study zoology at UC Davis. A couple of decades later, he is a graphic designer. He is a founding member of Design Action Collective, a worker-owned cooperative design studio in Oakland that is dedicated to “serving the Movement for social change”. He’s very lucky to be able to do what he does best (graphic design) for the people and organizations he respects the most (activists) who are working towards a better world.

Hot, Hot Roti for Dada-ji

Written by: F. Zia

Illustrated by: Ken Min

For ages: 4-8 years

Language: English, Hindi.

Topics Covered: Family, POC-Centric Narratives, Indian Culture & Traditions.

Summary: Aneel’s grandparents have come all the way from India for a visit!  They do lots of fun things like burn incense and practice standing on their heads for yoga.  Dada-ji, his grandfather, tells the best stories of when he was young.  Dada-ji tells Aneel he gets superpowers from roti and Aneel must learn to make them to find out if Dada-ji still has superpowers!  Aneel can’t find anyone to help him make hot, hot roti so he decides to try himself.  It turns out Aneel’s superpower is making perfect roti, and Dada-ji feels strong enough to go on an adventure like when he was young.  Since there are no water buffalos to wrestle, or cobras to tie in knots, Dada-ji and Aneel must make due with swinging on swings and gathering apples for a pie.  The book ends with the pair stargazing in lotus position, looking at the stars.

Reflection Questions:

  • Aneel loves the things his grandparents do when they visit.  What do your grandparents or other family friends do that you love?
  • Do you think that Dada-ji had real superpowers?
  • Have you ever eaten roti before?
  • What is something that your family loves to cook together?

Continuing the Conversation:

  • Learn about your own families cultural traditions.  What do they cook and eat?  Is there something that your could learn how to cook and share?
  • Have a potluck with your classroom or community.  Make something that is very special to your family, and share it with everyone!
  • Make up your own superhero, and draw a comic about them.  What gives them superpowers?  Is it eating something, petting a cat, or something else?  Your creativity is the limit!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

farhana zia


Farhana Zia is an elementary school teacher who grew up in Hyderabad, India. Her stories blend humor and tradition, memories and contemporary moments. Her first picture book, Hot, Hot Roti for Dada-Ji, received a starred review from Kirkus Reviews. She lives in Massachusetts.




ken minKen Min grew up on the works of Margret & H.A. Rey, William Joyce, and DC Comics. He was born and raised in Los Angeles and studied illustration at Art Center, College of Design. He has storyboarded for various commercials and animated TV shows such as The PJs, Futurama and Fairly Odd Parents. His illustration work has been recognized numerous times by the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI). In 2012, the first picture book he illustrated, Hot, Hot Roti For Dada-Ji, received the Picture Book Honor Award for Literature from the Asian Pacific American Librarians Association (APALA). These days, you will find Ken illustrating, storyboarding, writing, and dreaming up stories for children.

A Lady Has the Floor

Written by: Kate Hannigan

Illustrated by: Allison Jay

For ages: 7-10 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: Historical Figures, Women’s Rights, Activism, Trailblazers, Women in Politics.

Summary: Belva was smart and wild, unafraid of everything.  When she was 14, she became the head teacher in the one-room schoolhouse in her hometown in New York.  On her first payday, Belva was appalled to find out she only made half the salary of the male teachers!  Against her father’s wishes, Belva enrolled in college and took classes that typically only men were allowed to take.  Science, math, politics, Belva took them all and excelled!  In 1857, she graduated with honors.  Belva began teaching again, all around New York.  Everywhere she went, girls were not allowed to do all sorts of things like speak in front of the school or play sports.  Belva started all-girls physical activity classes where she taught, demanding equality for her students.  Wanting more, Belva moved to Washington DC and applied to law school.  After finally finding one that would accept women, she found that they still wouldn’t let female students attend lectures or study with the men.  Even during graduation, the men refused to sit next to them! When the school refused to give her a diploma, she wrote to Ulysses S Grant and demanded she receive one.  Belva became an attorney and began to help freed slaves, veterans, and widows.  Unfortunately, some courts would not allow women lawyers so Belva protested at the Supreme Court for equal rights.  It took her five years, but Belva won!  She also became the first woman to ride a bicycle in Washington DC, and fought for women’s suffrage.  Belva and her friend Marietta even decided to run in a presidential election!  She could not vote, but she could be voted for.  In the end, she received over 4,000 votes, but it was not enough to beat Grover Cleveland.  Belva worked tirelessly to help those marginalized communities in our nation and should be remembered as the strong activist she was.

In the back of the book, there is an Author’s Note, timeline of events in Belva’s life, and bibliography.  Especially in a time when women of color and freed slaves were not viewed as human, Belva’s determination to help these populations is refreshing.  This is a great book for a young elementary student learning about government as well as women’s suffrage.  Belva Lockwood is a great role model for young women, aspiring lawyers, or activists!

Reflection Questions:

  • What do you think would be the hardest achievement that Belva managed?
  • How would you like to help people like Belva did?
  • Do you think you would like to run for president some day?
  • How do you think Belva felt when she lost the presidential race?

Continuing the Conversation:

  • Learn about how to run for office.  What do you have to be good at, and work for?  What are some of the responsibilities once elected?  How is holding a government office helpful for the communities you wish to help?
  • Find a lawyer to visit your classroom.  What are some things they do everyday?  Have they heard of Belva Lockwood? Why did they decide to become a lawyer, and what do they do to help people?

About the Author & the Illustrator:

img_0668Kate Hannigan is the author of the Cupcake Cousins series. She is a former journalist and lives in Chicago with her family!







Alison Jay is well known for her children’s books, including ABC: A Child’s First Alphabet, Picture This . . . , and Welcome to the Zoo. Her book William and the Night Train was nominated for the Kate Greenaway Medal and won the Transworld Children’s Book Award.

Grandad Mandela

Written by: Zazi, Ziwalene & Zindzi Mandela

Illustrated by: Sean Qualls

For ages: 4-10 years

Language: English 

Topics Covered: POC-Centric Narratives, Historical Figures, Activism, 

Summary: This book is written from the perspective of Mandela’s great-grandkids asking questions about their great-grandfather Mandela to their grandmother Zindzi. He went to jail when his daughter was just a toddler, for fighting against apartheid. Details of life during apartheid are described, such as being forced to live apart from white people and endure police brutality. Because of this, Zindzi and her siblings couldn’t go to school. They were sent to boarding school in Swaziland to receive education. Zindzi tells her grandchildren that you must be strong in the face of hardship, because the enemy will be happy if they see you cry and be sad. Zindzi goes through their family tribal history, and how that lifestyle shaped Grandad Mandela to be the man he was. He grew up and studied law, wanting to bring justice to his home country of South Africa. When imprisoned, the government hoped he would give up his activist lifestyle. Instead, the opposite happened and people all over the world began to join the fight to end apartheid. When Mandela was finally released, thousands of people celebrated his release by dancing in the streets! Mandela became the president of South Africa and continued to fight for justice. Zindzi tells her grandchildren that she honors his memory by volunteering and helping others.

This book is a unique narrative frame, with gorgeous artwork! It honors the social-justice legend of Nelson Mandela and links his past work to current day. Such an important part of global history is immortalized with this conversation between family members, and this book should be in every classroom library.

Reflection Questions:

  • Have you ever heard of apartheid or Nelson Mandela?
  • How has he helped people all over the world?
  • What can you do to help people in your community?

Continuing the Conversation:

  • Learn more about Mandela and his contributions to history. What can you do to volunteer in your community? What is something you care about?

About the Author & the Illustrator:


Ambassador Zindzi Mandela is a South African freedom fighter, diplomat, writer, speaker, cultural advocate and favorite Grandma. She is the last born child of Mrs Winnie Madikizela- Mandela and President Nelson Mandela, and was only 18 months old when her father went to prison. In 1985, when she was 25 years old, she read Nelson Mandela’s famous refusal to accept the offer of conditional release from President P. W. Botha to a packed football stadium in Soweto, saying his words, ‘I cannot and will not give any undertaking at a time when I and you, the people, are not free.’ The Ambassador lives in Copenhagen where she serves as South Africa’s ambassador to Denmark.

Zazi Mandela (8) and Ziwelene Mandela (6) are the great-grandchildren of Mrs. Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and President Nelson Mandela. Zazi is a storyteller and an aspiring performer. Ziwelene is a storyteller and a maverick.

sean-quallsSean Qualls finds inspiration everywhere. Growing up in the 70’s in central New Jersey, his family didn’t have much money for art supplies but he made the best of what was available; discarded paper, blank end pages from old books and sometimes walls much to his mother’s chagrin. Some of his earliest inspirations were the crayons and coloring books his mom would buy for him and his older sister, drawing and handwriting competitions with classmates and an illustrated bible he received for Christmas in the 2nd grade. He moved to Brooklyn to attend art school at Pratt Institute. After only a year and a half he dropped out but continued to educate himself while working full-time at the Brooklyn Museum. Sean’s books and illustrations often explore history and non-fiction subjects. His fine art focuses on race & identity and the intersection of history & mythology, ultimately examining how we create our own identities or allow them to be scripted to for us.  Together his paintings and illustrations reveal  simultaneously unique and universal moments that reveal the human spirit. Sean’s most recent books include Why Am I Me?The Case for Loving and Two Friends all of which he illustrated with his wife, illustrator/author Selina Alko. He has also illustrated Emmanuel’s Dream (Schneider Award recipient) written by Laurie Ann Thompson, Giant Steps to Change the World written by Spike Lee and Tonya Lewis Lee and Before John Was a Jazz Giant (Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor) written by Carole Boston Weatherford. He lives in Brooklyn (where you can find him DJing on occasion) with his wife and their two children.

How Mamas Love Their Babies

Written by: Juniper Fitzgerald

Illustrated by: Elise Peterson

For Ages: 4-8 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: Family, Acceptance, Love, Activism.

Summary: This book is a tribute to motherhood and the myriad of ways mothers care for their children.  A fantastic a broad look at the things a mother might do-carry their baby inside of them, protest to get better childcare centers, stay home, or go to work.  All of the different things mothers do to help their children grow up happy, healthy and strong.  Some mothers wear uniforms to work and clean other mothers houses, while some mothers use their brains, and some mamas farm.  Some work at restaurants and some fly planes around the world, but the work they do help their children “dream big”.  The book talks about uniforms that might be worn-big and baggy or small and tight like a scuba diver’s.  At this point in the book is where the revolutionary material happens-the book addresses sex work and dancing as a type of job.  “Some mamas dance all night long in special shoes.  It’s hard work”!; this normalizes all types of jobs that women do to provide for their family, and shows a woman holding a protest sign advocating for living wages for strippers. This book’s art style is collaged, with a huge array of mothers and their children doing a variety of activities like hugging, doing hair, skateboarding, reading, and playing. The photos are diverse and show the tender ways that mothers care for their children, asking at the end how the reader’s mama cares for them.

The simple words and creativity of this publication is what makes this book a quiet revolution. Normalization of every person’s and family’s structure and wage earning is crucial to create an inclusive society that uplifts all citizens.

Reflection Questions:

  • What does your mother do for you to show love?
  • How do you show your family you love them?
  • What does your mama do for a job?
  • What do you think you might want to do for a job when you grow up?

Continuing the Conversation:

  • This book is all about how mamas love their children, but not everyone has a mother. What are some other family structures that are represented in your community, classroom, or your own family?
  • Make your own collage of how your loved ones care about you!
  • Rewrite a page or two to include other family members and how they might show love for their children.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

JuniperFitzgerald-WebJuniper Fitzgerald is a mother, former sex worker, and PhD based in Omaha, Nebraska. Her academic work focuses on sex work, sex workers’ rights, and alternative methodologies informed by feminist theories and the queering of intellectual spaces. For more than a decade, Juniper worked as a sex worker in various contexts and she continues to work as sex workers’ rights advocate. She has contributed to several sex workers’ rights cultural productions, including: The Red Umbrella Diaries, a spoken word event for sex workers created by Audacia Ray; The Red Umbrella Babies, a collection of writings by parents in the sex industry; SWOP, the Sex Worker Outreach Project; and CHANGE, the Center for Health and Gender Equity, a non-profit that supported Fitzgerald in her petition for congress to eradicate the Anti-Prostitution Loyalty Oath.

elise r petersonElise R. Peterson is a writer, visual artist and educator living and working in New York. Writing clips have appeared in Adult, PAPER MAGAZINE, ELLE, LENNY LETTER, and NERVE among othersShe previously served as the founding Music Editor of Saint Heron. Her written work doubles as storytelling and investigating the nuance of identity and sexuality as it relates to marginalized communities. Her multidisciplinary visual work is informed by the past, reimagined in the framework of the evolving notions of technology, intimacy and cross-generational narratives. Socially, it is her aim to continue to use art as a platform for social justice while making art accessible for all through exhibitions of public work and beyond. Elise is the host of MANE, a online video series highlighting the intersection of culture and hair as told through the narratives of women via Now This News.

Crescent Moons and Pointed Minarets: A Muslim Book of Shapes

Written by: Hena Khan

Illustrated by: Mehrdokht Amini

For Ages: Infant and Up

Language: English and Arabic

Topics Covered: Muslim Culture, Historic Narratives, Islam, Global Community, Geometry and Shapes.

Summary: This rhyming book intertwines shapes with Muslim culture and religion.  Additionally, each page features a different country where an Islamic community exists and thrives.  This aspect shows the true diversity of the religion and introduces the reader to Arabic terminology.  Shapes covered include: hexagon, triangle, rectangle, octagon, and oval.  Muslim and Arabic terminology introduced includes: iftar, jannah, the Ka’aba, and salaam.  This themed book is an interesting way to combine several topics at once, and the illustrations are beautiful.  For an individual that does not follow this religion, it is a helpful introduction a new global community.  The only point of improvement that could be noted is although that back of the book says a different country is featured on each set of pages, they are not labeled.  The illustrations are incredibly diverse, but a signifier would be helpful for a reader that does not know the deeper cultural meaning for these symbols written about.  There is a helpful glossary in the back of the book of the Arabic words used throughout.

Reflection Questions:

  • What other shapes do you know that aren’t in this book?
  • Have you ever been to any of these places mentioned in the book, like a mosque?
  • The characters in the book seem very happy celebrating their faith, does your family celebrate their beliefs in any way?

Continuing the Conversation:

  • Many different people all over the world share religions.  What are some different holidays people in the class celebrate?
  • Write your own book teaching a subject you know a lot about.  Animals, vegetables, trees, what do you want people to know more about?

About the Author & the Illustrator:

hena khanHena Khan is a Pakistani-American Muslim who was born and raised in Maryland, and enjoys sharing and writing about her culture and religion. She has also written about a bunch of other topics, from spies to space travel, that take her out of her reality and on adventures. While not quite as thrilling, she’s had a few adventures of her own, managed to get to some pretty fantastic places on our planet, and met incredible people. She’s slightly obsessed with Spain, ceramic tiles and pottery, food, flamenco, and good coffee. When she’s not cooking up a story, she’s often actually cooking food or baking treats. She also spends time writing and editing for international organizations that work to improve the health and lives of people around the world.

mehrdokt aminiMehrdokht Amini has illustrated several books for children including Chicken in the Kitchen by Nnedi Okorafor, which won the 2016 Children’s Africana Best Book Award, and Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns by Hena Khan. She has illustrated books published in Iran, Poland, Korea, Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Mehrdokht grew up in Iran and now lives in Surrey, England. Visit her website at!