My Heart Fills With Happiness

Written by: Monique Gray Smith

Illustrated by: Julie Flett

For Ages: Infant and Up

Language: Bilingual-English and Plains Cree; English.

Topics Covered: Indigenous Voices, First Nations, Happiness, Family, Community, Culture,  Love.

Summary: This adorable board book celebrates happiness and the little things in life.  Baking bread, walking in the grass, drumming on the lap of a family member, and dancing.  The end invites the reader and audience to think about what fills their heart with happiness, and encourages joy in all aspects of life.  This book is light, positive, and celebratory.  The illustrations show happy faces and cultural elements of Indigenous life-dancing, drumming, watching narwhals from the shore.  A simple book for early readers, and a quick bedtime story.

Reflection Questions:

  • What makes you happy?
  • Who in your life fills your heart with happiness?
  • Who in your life do YOU want to make happy?

Continuing the Conversation:

  • Draw a picture of the things that make you happy.  Are there people in the picture? Could you draw a picture of you both doing something that makes you both happy? Do you think it would make them happy to receive the drawing?
  • Do something nice for someone in the community that makes you happy.  A phone call, visit, small gift, or good deed like bringing in their mail are all easy ideas for young children!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

c4-0502-smith-jpg

Monique Gray Smith is a mixed heritage woman of Cree, Lakota, and Scottish descent and is the proud Mom of twelve year old twins. She is an award winning author, international speaker and sought after consultant. Her career has focused on fostering paradigm shifts that emphasize the strength and resiliency of the First Peoples in Canada. She is well known for her storytelling, spirit of generosity and focus on resilience.

 

julie flett

Julie Flett is a Cree-Metis author, illustrator, and artist. She has received many awards including the 2017 Governor General’s Award for Children’s Literature for her work on When We Were Alone by David Robertson (High Water Press), the 2016 American Indian Library Association Award for Best Picture Book for Little You by Richard Van Camp (Orca Books), and she is the three-time recipient of the Christie Harris Illustrated Children’s Literature Award for Owls See Clearly at Night; A Michif Alphabet, by Julie Flett, Dolphin SOS, by Roy Miki and Slavia Miki (Tradewind Books), and My Heart Fills with Happiness, by Monique Gray Smith (Orca Books). Her own Wild Berries (Simply Read Books) was featured in The New York Times and included among Kirkus’s Best Children’s Books of 2013. Wild Berries was also chosen as Canada’s First Nation Communities Read title selection for 2014–2015.

Little You

Written by: Richard Van Camp

Illustrated by: Julie Flett

For Ages: Infant and Up

Language: Bilingual-English and Plains Cree; English.

Topics Covered: New Baby, Indigenous Voices, First Nations, Family, Love, Celebration.

Summary: This rhyming board book celebrates a new baby’s arrival in a family.  The illustrations show a happy family mostly in nature, exploring the natural world.  The child is often being held, and shown new things-a starry sky, flowers, or in a boat watching fish.  A quick read, these beautiful illustrations ignite happiness within the reader, awakening the desire to show a new life all of the beauty in the world.

Reflection Questions:

  • What do you love most about being in nature?
  • What would you like to show someone new about your community?
  • What are some of the things you like to do with your family?

Continuing the Conversation:

  • Draw pictures of things you do with your family, may you could even make your own book!
  • Learn more about rhyming and poetry.  Write a poem by yourself, with your classroom, or with your family.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

c4-0502-smith-jpg

Monique Gray Smith is a mixed heritage woman of Cree, Lakota, and Scottish descent and is the proud Mom of twelve year old twins. She is an award winning author, international speaker and sought after consultant. Her career has focused on fostering paradigm shifts that emphasize the strength and resiliency of the First Peoples in Canada. She is well known for her storytelling, spirit of generosity and focus on resilience.

 

 

julie flettJulie Flett is a Cree-Metis author, illustrator, and artist. She has received many awards including the 2017 Governor General’s Award for Children’s Literature for her work on When We Were Alone by David Robertson (High Water Press), the 2016 American Indian Library Association Award for Best Picture Book for Little You by Richard Van Camp (Orca Books), and she is the three-time recipient of the Christie Harris Illustrated Children’s Literature Award for Owls See Clearly at Night; A Michif Alphabet, by Julie Flett, Dolphin SOS, by Roy Miki and Slavia Miki (Tradewind Books), and My Heart Fills with Happiness, by Monique Gray Smith (Orca Books). Her own Wild Berries (Simply Read Books) was featured in The New York Times and included among Kirkus’s Best Children’s Books of 2013. Wild Berries was also chosen as Canada’s First Nation Communities Read title selection for 2014–2015.

You Hold Me Up

Written by: Monique Gray Smith

Illustrated by: Danielle Daniel

For Ages: 3-6 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: Social-Emotional Learning, Family, Kindness, Community.

Summary: This book uses the title phrase “you hold me up” to speak about kind acts loved ones do for one another.  This book is great for young children to learn acts of kindness, and become introduced to what a caring community does for one another.  These tender illustrations by Daniel accompany sweet words about the importance respect, listening, comforting, and laughing.  The unique illustration style is simple and Daniel uses the cutest heart shapes for mouths, reinforcing the idea that love and holding others up can be done with kind words.

Reflection Questions:

  • How do your loved ones hold you up?
  • How do you hold others up?
  • What can we hold others up in our community every day?

Continuing the Conversation:

  • Draw a picture of a time when someone held you up.  What were they doing?  How can we do that for others?
  • Write a list as a class of ways to help and hold others up that you don’t see very often.  No answer is too small!
  • What are some community members that may need some extra support?  Think about some ways you could hold them up, or some ways you could help that part of the community as a whole.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

c4-0502-smith-jpg

Monique Gray Smith is a mixed heritage woman of Cree, Lakota, and Scottish descent and is the proud Mom of twelve year old twins. She is an award winning author, international speaker and sought after consultant. Her career has focused on fostering paradigm shifts that emphasize the strength and resiliency of the First Peoples in Canada. She is well known for her storytelling, spirit of generosity and focus on resilience.

 

danielle danielDanielle Daniel was born and raised in a mining town where nickel is golden. She wishes she could live in the depths of the forest— Swiss Family Robinson style, but winterized. She is haunted by the stories of her ancestors; the ones that exist within her DNA.  She was once an elementary school teacher but now she writes, paints and illustrates stories in her tiny studio. She wrote and illustrated a children’s book called: Sometimes I Feel Like a Fox (Groundwood Books), winner of the 2016 Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award (CCBC), finalist for the First Nation Communities Read Award, the 2017 Blue Spruce Award and one of NY Public Library’s Most Notable Titles in 2015. Her second children’s book, Once in a Blue Moonwas released fall 2017 (Groundwood Books). Her book, The Dependent A Memoir of Marriage & the Military  was published fall 2016,  (Latitude 46 Publishing)  shortlisted for the 2017 Louise de Kiriline Lawrence Award. She is currently working on two novels; one for adults and one for children. She has a B.A Arts, B.A.Ed, and she is currently an MFA candidate in creative writing at the University of British Columbia. She is Métis and she lives in Sudbury Ontario Canada, the traditional territory of the Atikameksheng Anishnaabeg, with her husband Steve, son Owen and their dogs Frodo and Suzie.

 

 

 

When We Were Alone

Written by: David A. Robertson

Illustrated by: Julie Flett

For Ages: Infant and up

Language: English and Cree

Topics Covered: Indigenous Voices, Residential Schools, First Nations,

Summary: This tender board book explores the history of residential schooling that was inflicted upon Indigenous and First Nations people.  A young girl helps her grandmother in the garden and asks questions about things her grandmother does, such as wearing bright colors, having long hair, and speaking in Cree.  The narrator’s grandmother tells of the times in her childhood that she was forced to live in a residential school, and had her autonomy, culture, and language taken away.

The book’s typography changes colors when speaking about past and present, which is a beautiful representation and goes well with Flett’s illustrations.  The book approaches this time in history in an accurate and easy to understand way for young children.  It is a story of a young girl subverting authority with an emphasis on explanation and healing; a grandmother living her truth despite those that tried to steal her culture demanding submission from the Indigenous children they took from their families under the guise of education.

Reflection Questions:

  • How would you feel if you were told not to do things important to your family and culture?
  • How do you think the children feel when they sneak away and remind themselves how important their culture is to their identity?
  • Do you think the children feel better once they’re back with their families instead of at the residential school?

Continuing the Conversation:

  • Residential schooling is an important part of Indigenous history. Learn about all types of schooling as part of an in-depth unit about schools around the world, as well as in your community.
  • Invite a classroom guest to come and talk about their culture!
  • Talk with elders in your community about how they grew up.  What things are different from how you’re growing up today?  What things are the same?

About the Author & the Illustrator:

david a robertsonDavid A. Robertson is an award-winning writer. His books include When We Were Alone (Governor General’s Literary Award winner, McNally Robinson Best Book for Young People winner, TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award finalist), Will I See? (winner of the Manuela Dias Book Design and Illustration Award Graphic Novel Category), and the YA novel Strangers. David educates as well as entertains through his writings about Canada’s Indigenous Peoples reflecting their cultures, histories, communities, as well as illuminating many contemporary issues. David is a member of Norway House Cree Nation. He lives in Winnipeg.

julie flettJulie Flett is a Cree-Metis author, illustrator, and artist. She has received many awards including the 2017 Governor General’s Award for Children’s Literature for her work on When We Were Alone by David Robertson (High Water Press), the 2016 American Indian Library Association Award for Best Picture Book for Little You by Richard Van Camp (Orca Books), and she is the three-time recipient of the Christie Harris Illustrated Children’s Literature Award for Owls See Clearly at Night; A Michif Alphabet, by Julie Flett, Dolphin SOS, by Roy Miki and Slavia Miki (Tradewind Books), and My Heart Fills with Happiness, by Monique Gray Smith (Orca Books). Her own Wild Berries (Simply Read Books) was featured in The New York Times and included among Kirkus’s Best Children’s Books of 2013. Wild Berries was also chosen as Canada’s First Nation Communities Read title selection for 2014–2015.

Snowboy and the Last Tree Standing

Written by: Hiawyn Oram

Illustrated by: Birgitta Sif

For ages:3-7 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: Environmental activism, social-emotional development, independent thought

Summary: Snowboy is playing a game by himself one day when approached by Greenbackboy.  Greenbackboy has an idea to play a game called KA-CHING, and invites Snowboy to the forest.  Greenbackboy wants to cut down all of the trees, but Snowboy saves one by hiding it under his magic cloak.  Greenbackboy shows Snowboy the KA-CHING he received in exchange for all of the cut down trees-glowing chests of gold.  Snowboy looks uneasy about this exchange, but Greenbackboy explains that they should want more KA-CHING and thus must go to the oceans.

Greenbackboy tells Snowboy to help him catch all of the fish in order to get more KA-CHING.  Snowboy does this, but thinks “what’s a sea without fish? A dead sea, that’s what” and sneakily returns two fish when Greenbackboy’s back is turned.  Snowboy is sitting on the dock looking glum when Greenbackboy returns with a pile of KA-CHING he got in exchange for the fish.  He begins to tell Snowboy what they can do for more golden when suddenly a “terrible storm blew up, drowning his words”. Greenbackboy’s KA-CHING is swept into the sea!  Snowboy leaves Greenbackboy, and travels back to his hidden tree.  He nurses the tree to grow big and strong and helps to heal the ravaged landscape.  Snowboy checks in on the fish he released, and sees that they have been growing up and having little fish of their own!  Snowboy is returning the landscape to it’s previously thriving environment, and tells Greenbackboy to ask nicely from nature and to leave some for the next day in order to thrive himself.  Snowboy falls asleep, knowing that for now at least his beloved forest is safe.

This book is whimsically illustrated, and subtly drives home the importance of natural resource conservation.  It teaches the importance of standing up for what’s right, and Snowboy reaches these conclusions quietly yet independently.  This style shows that activism does not have to be loud, it just has to be done.  Even a single person can have a drastic impact on the world around them, Snowboy saves the forest and the ocean with his animal companions.  This book is a fantastic example of independent thought and doing what’s right, even if you’re all alone at first.

Reflection Questions: 

  • Why do you think Snowboy plays KA-CHING with Greenbackboy?
  • What do you think makes Snowboy stop playing KA-CHING?
  • Think of something in your community you could help grow big and strong, like the tree that Snowboy saves.
  • How do you think Greenbackboy feels at the end of the book when Snowboy helps him one last time?

Continuing the Conversation:

  • Visit your community’s forestry department and learn about which trees are planted in your area, and how the department takes care of them.
  • Plant a tree as a class, somewhere it can grow big and strong!
  • Learn about trees notice to your area, and how they keep the landscape healthy.
  • Go on a nature scavenger hunt to find different kinds of leaves; make some art with the leaves!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

hiawyn oramHiawyn Oram was born in South Africa. A childhood filled with space, wildlife, books and ideas but plagued by the cruel apartheid regime which only came to an end in 1993, many years after she’d left. She did a BA in English and Drama at the University of Natal, now the University of Kwa Zulu. After graduating she became an advertising copywriter for J. Walter Thomson in Johannesburg and then, exiling herself to London with barely a penny to her name, she wrote ads for toothpaste, chocolate bars and Lucozade at Leo Burnett. Skittlewonder and the Wizard was her first children’s book, published in 1977. She has published over 100 books including Snowboy and the Last Tree Standing.

birgitta sif

Birgitta Sif‘s books have been published in UK, USA, Iceland, Sweden, Greece, Germany, Turkey, Italy, Norway, Australia and Canada. She received her BFA in Drawing and Design from Cornell University in 2003, and her MA in Childrens Book Illustration from the Cambridge School of Art in 2011. Her illustrations were featured in the Peters Book of the Year, Miss Hazeltine.

My Princess Boy

Written by: Cheryl Kilodavis

Illustrated by: Suzanne DeSimone

For Ages: 4-8 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: Gender Identity, Acceptance, Self-Expression, POC-Centric Narratives, Love, Family.

Summary: This book is written from the perspective of a mother, describing her Princess Boy and all of the things he loves.  This Princess Boy loves his brother, climbing trees in a tiara, and dancing in a green leotard.  The mother tells of a time when her Princess Boy wore a dress to his birthday party, and dressed up as a princess for Halloween.  Once, he was laughed at by a woman because he was wearing a dress.  His mother told him that some people don’t think boys should wear dresses, but he will not be laughed at by her.  Kilodavis asks the reader if they see a Princess Boy, what will they do?  Will the reader laugh and call him a name, or will they play with him and like him for who he is?

Reflection Questions:

  • Do you know any Princess Boys?
  • How would you feel if someone laughed at what you were wearing?
  • Do you like wearing princess outfits and fancy crowns? Any answer is OK! Everyone likes to wear different things.
  • How could you stand up for someone that you see being made fun of?

Continuing the Conversation:

  • Design a new piece of clothing that you like to wear best.  What color would it be?  What would it feel like?
  • Think about how you can make your classroom a safe space for anyone to wear what they want.
  • Have a discussion about what acceptance means, and how it can be shown to every personal expression choice.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

cheryl-kilodavisCheryl Kilodavis is the award winning author of the break-through bestseller My Princess Boy and is an expert on acceptance, diversity and inclusion. Her controversial book, aimed at both kids and parents, explores acceptance and gender expression. An internationally renowned speaker and corporate change strategist, Cheryl has been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, the London Times, People Magazine and on the Today Show, Dr. Drew, Dr. Phil and many other media outlets. Cheryl speaks to corporations worldwide, as well as government groups, universities, and parenting organizations, providing thought-provoking perspectives and relevant tools for change.   An avid women’s soccer player and non-fiction reader, Cheryl lives in Seattle with her former high school sweetheart turned husband, and her two young sons.

 

 

Who are you? the kid’s guide to gender identity

Written by: Brook Pessin-Whedbee

Illustrated by: Naomi Bardoff

For Ages: 3 years and above

Language: English

Topics Covered: Gender Identity, Self Expression, Acceptance.

Summary: This book is written in a conversational format with the reader, letting them know that whatever they like and however they feel is ok and even celebrated!  The reader has some terminology explained to them-such as sex assigned at birth, and the fact that gender is “much more than the body you were born with”.  More vocabulary covered are terms like cisgender, non-binary, two-spirit, and gender neutral.  The book introduces the idea of gender as a spectrum rather that the binary system of “boy” one one end and “girl” on the other.  The reader is given the opportunity to look at pages filled with options of toys and clothes to choose the ones they like to wear and play with.  The book then explains that things a person likes can change from when you’re a kid to an adult, or even the next day!  There is emphasis on the reader knowing themselves the best, because they know how they feel inside.  This is a beautiful reinforcement of the message, and because sometimes children’s feelings are discounted or told “it’s just a phase” that they’re going through.  The book ends by explaining there are lots of ways to be a boy, a girl, and a kid, and the reader should be who they are.  In the back of the book there is also a Guide for Grown-Ups with several book and song recommendations for further exploration, and a page by page guide to key concepts and discussion points.  There are example reflection questions and more information to point out on topics such as: Body, Expression, Identity, and Gender Diversity.  There are a myriad of additional resources that range from books to films to organizations individuals can work with.  Lastly, there is an interactive wheel broken into three categories of body, identity, and expression.  An individual can turn the wheel and look at different options in an effort to help define their personal identity.

Reflection Questions:

  • What do you like to tell people about yourself, what is important that people know about you?
  • What do you feel most comfortable wearing and playing with?
  • Do you think anyone can play with anything they want?
  • How can you show respect to someone that likes different things than you do?

Continuing the Conversation:

  • This book has an amazing resource section, including lessons for varying ages.  They are on page 24!
  • Have a Special Share Day, where everyone brings in something that’s important to them.  The object could be a book that a loved one reads with them, an article of clothing that makes them feel comfortable, or a photograph.
  • Learn about kids that are changing the world!  Find a role model that believes in equality, or does work to help immigrants in our country.  Maybe there is a new hero to look up to that lives in your community that could come visit and talk about how they live their lives and work to help people.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

brook pessin-whedbeeBrook Pessin-Whedbee is an educator, family advocate, and author of the new book, Who Are You?: The Kid’s Guide to Gender Identity. She is the founder of the Gender Inclusive Schools Alliance in Berkeley, where she works as an elementary Reading Specialist and as a supervisor in UC Berkeley’s Developmental Teacher Education program. Brook is also an active member of the Gender Spectrum community and proud mama to three little ones who joyfully bend and break the gender boxes.

 

naomi bardoffNaomi Bardoff lives, works, blogs, and draws in the San Francisco Bay Area. Born in Oakland, Naomi considers herself a Bay Area native despite a hiatus in Dallas for adolescence and one in the Hudson Valley for college. Other than drawing, painting, (and otherwise getting pigment under her fingernails), Naomi spends her time making handmade books, experimenting with vegan baking, thinking about manatees, and hanging out with her dog. Visit her portfolioblog, and Instagram to see more of her illustration work.