Tag Archives: identity

IntersectionAllies: we make room for all

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Written by: Chelsea Johnson, LaToya Council, Carolyn Choi

Illustrated by: Ashley Seil Smith

For ages: 6 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: Intersectionality (as you may have already guessed), diversity, solidarity, activism, identity, activism, disability, protest.

Summary: 

This book is incredible! Written in an accessible way, the reader is introduced to a group of friends that have unique intersections of identity without it feeling like they were manifested to teach us a lesson about diversity.  There is not only a forward by Kimberlé Crenshaw herself (who coined the term ‘intersectionality’) but a letter to grownups about how to introduce concepts to kids like empathy.  Having this book address presumably the adult reader of the book prepares them for how to talk in-depth about the topics within the book, and frame them in a helpful way for the younger readers/listeners.  The letter emphasizes the importance of teaching solidarity and intersectionality to children from a young age, which is something we couldn’t agree more with.

When reading the story, we meet characters like Allie, the basketball fiend who also uses a wheelchair, and Kate who is non-binary and likes to wear a cape.  Adilah is an avid dancer and hijabi, taking ballet classes with some of her friends.  Nia participates in the Black Lives Matter movement, and the reader learns about protesting.  The kids featured in the book are dynamic and friendly, with bilingual identities reflected as well.

In the back are more resources and a vocabulary guide that mentions specific page numbers, giving valuable and robust information for further discussion.  It is refreshing to have such care taken, thoroughly underscoring the learning that this book provides for all who open its covers.  We cannot say enough good things about it, this book should have a space on every bookshelf and it’s praise shouted from the rooftops.

About the Authors & the Illustrator In their Own Words:

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Dr. Chelsea Johnson

“As a kid, I was often the only Black girl in my classrooms. Growing up as an “outsider within” my mostly white schools piqued my interest in how race, class, and gender shape social life. I gained the tools to understand my experiences as an undergraduate at Spelman College, an Historically Black College for women in Atlanta, Georgia.  It was at Spelman that I became a feminist. I went on to earn a PhD in sociology at the University of Southern California. My dissertation explored how fashion, politics, and culture relate. I traveled around the world, interviewing women with African roots in South Africa, Brazil, The Netherlands, France, Spain, and the United States about their lives. I now use research to help companies design products with underrepresented groups in mind. When I’m not researching or writing, I enjoy watercolor painting, reading fiction, and eating my way through new cities.”

 

LaToya Council

photo_1056258“I was raised in a single-parent mother-headed home. I would often stare at my mother in awe of her super-shero abilities to manage so many family demands while holding multiple jobs to make ends meet. These memories inspired my vision for a more inclusive world and drove me toward studying sociology at Spelman College, where I first learned about the concept of intersectionality. After graduating from Spelman, I studied the inequalities in love and how race, gender, and class intersect to inform relationship experiences for my master’s at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs. I am currently working on my dissertation at the University of Southern California, which examines time use and self-care among Black middle-class couples. Intersectionality and the power of love frame how I do allyship and research. When not researching, I enjoy practicing meditation, cooking, and hanging with my cat Mimi.”

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Carolyn Choi

The Los Angeles Riots were a defining moment in my childhood that shaped my identity as a person of color and brought me to feminism later in life. My interests in gender, culture, and immigration led me to study sociology and Korean literature at UCLA. After graduating from college, I began community-based organizing and advocacy work as an intern at Koreatown Immigrant Workers’ Alliance, a non-profit civil rights organization in Los Angeles. I earned my master’s degree at the London School of Economics and Political Science in 2009. A few years later, I began doctoral study in sociology at the University of Southern California. My research tackles issues around migrant labor, human trafficking, and international education and has taken me across the United States, South Korea, the Philippines, and Australia. In my spare time, I enjoy spreading greater awareness about the Korean arts through performing pansori, a form of traditional folk music.”

Ashley Seil-Smith

lighter“I grew up one of five girls (and a twin!) in Southern California and Texas. My conservative roots prompted questions about privilege and feminism, which led me to study cultural anthropology as an undergraduate, including ethnographic research on women’s health in South India. I eventually moved to New York City and helped launch The Period Store as a vehicle to educate women about all of their options for period management, while also earning my MFA from the School of Visual Arts. When I’m not drawing, painting, or print making, you can find me outside being active or caring for my menagerie of adopted senior animals with the help of my husband, Nate.”

Jamie is Jamie

Written by: Afsaneh Moradian 

Illustrated by: Maria Bogade

For ages: 3 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: Self-Expression, Gender Stereotypes, Identity, Friendship, Kindness, Self-Esteem.

Summary: This book is absolutely adorable!  Jamie has just moved, and is starting a new school. When they get to school and join in free play, Jamie moves about the classroom looking for new friends and fun activities.  Jamie is completely ungendered throughout the bookend when asked by other classmates if Jamie is a boy or girl, they answer “I’m Jamie!” The entire book is about how it truly doesn’t matter, any kid can like any activity and dress however they want.  Jamie is a good friend, and that’s what matters! The illustrations are diverse and fun, we really enjoyed seeing Jamie’s story come to life.

This was sent to us by the author for Children’s Multicultural Book Day to review, but all opinions are our own!  We believe along with Afsaneh that children shouldn’t be strongly stereotyped, and gender neutral activities are the way to go in a classroom.  This means that an educator allows and promotes every activity to every child equally, based on what that child is interested in.  We really loved this book and were so glad to be paired with Afsaneh for the event!

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2020 (1/31/20) is in its 7 th year! This non-profit children’s literacy initiative was founded by Valarie Budayr and Mia Wenjen; two diverse book-loving moms who saw a need to shine the spotlight on all of the multicultural books and authors on the market while also working to get those book into the hands of young readers and educators.  Seven years in, MCBD’s mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in homes and school bookshelves continues.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

AfsanehMoradianWe are excited to learn more about Afsaneh Moradian, author of the book!  Here is her “about me” section from her website:

“I grew up between Washington, D.C., northern NJ, and New York City. I spent my childhood reading, writing, singing and watching tv.

After college, I started working at a Montessori preschool and my career as an educator began. I went on to get a Master’s in Education and am in the process of finishing a PhD in Education.

For more than 15 years, I have had an amazing time combining my love of writing and creativity with teaching students of all ages (from preschool to graduate school) in a variety of educational levels and settings between the United States and Mexico.

I love sharing my ideas with students, teachers, school administrators, parents, and anyone who will listen.

I write children’s books, poetry, short stories, essays and articles, in addition to writing about education.”

maria-bogade-web-1Maria Bogade is an illustrator and author with an animation background. She loves creating illustrations with a strong narrative, colorful and beautifully composed to entertain children and adults alike. Her work is internationally published and is also found on greeting cards and products such as chocolate. With her three children and spouse, she lives in a tiny village in southern Germany where fox and hare bid each other good night (we don’t know what this means, but it sounds lovely!).

A Boy Like You

Written by: Frank Murphy

Illustrated by: Kayla Harren

For ages: 4-8 years 

Language: English

Topics Covered: Social-Emotional Learning, POC-Centric Narratives, Gender Stereotypes, Toxic Masculinity, Diversity, Acceptance, Kindness, Friendship, Identity, Self-Esteem.

Summary: This is a very sweet book about being a good human with an amazingly diverse group of children depicted in the illustrations.  The book opens talking about how unique every person is, and how the world needs someone exactly like each and everyone one.  Our main character (a young boy of color) demonstrates the many attributes a person can have, and how everyone is different.  Everyone is smart, but in different ways.  Some are more gifted athletically, and some artistically.  But everyone should be kind, polite, and help others.

This book is geared towards boys, to help dismantle the stereotypes that force boys and men to feel pressure to embody a single type of masculinity, which can become toxic.  Murphy tells the reader to leave every place and every person, better than you found them.  We really like this book, and it’s message about the importance of being true to yourself but also a kind and sensitive human being.  Although the words in the book could easily be shifted to include “people” instead of “boys” all the time, the text is sending a profound message to boys that they don’t have to be macho and emotionless in order to be seen as a man.

This book was sent to us by Sleeping Bear Press as part of the Best Books of 2019 list, but all opinions are our own.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

Murphy_Head_ShotFrank Murphy has taught a wide variety of grades at the elementary and middle school level. A popular speaker, Murphy is the author of many fun historical fiction books for young readers. He lives in Holland, PA and still teaches full-time!

 

 

 

 

website+headshotKayla Harren graduated from the School of Visual Arts (SVA) in New York City with a BFA in illustration.  Books she has illustrated include A BOY LIKE YOU (winner of the 2019 EUREKA gold award) and THE BOY WHO GREW A FOREST (winner of the EUREKA silver award.) Kayla’s work has been featured in the Society of Illustrators, American Illustration, Communication Arts, 3×3 Magazine, and she’s won the Highlights for Children Pewter Plate Award.

Kayla loves animals, playing volleyball, hiking, and eating cookies with frosting. She lives in Minnesota with her husband, Peter Harren, and their adorable dogs.

Happy in our Skin

Written by: Fran Manushkin

Illustrated by: Lauren Tobia

For ages: 2-5 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: Global Community, Skin Tones, Science, Independent Thought, Identities, Friendship, Kindness.

Summary: This is a really cute, short rhyming book that celebrates not only different skin colors but different families as well!  Throughout the book the reader learns all about the wonderful things that skin does for a person, and how it can look differently for everyone.

We really love the diverse representation present in these illustrations.  Right off the bat, the cover image shows a young girl of color in a wheelchair with a soccer ball playing with other kids running and scootering outside!  There are other fabulous examples of diverse families with gay parents, different families with religious head coverings, a child with a large birthmark on their cheek, and a long-haired child with very strong eyebrows.  Lauren Tobia has illustrated an incredibly fantastic representation of what life really looks like in many different environments.  The text is simple and the rhymes would be really fun to say out loud with a group!  This is a book that truly celebrates kindness, community, and loving the unique skin you were born in.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

FranM_0Fran Manushkin is a prolific writer that has been at it for many years!  Here is an excerpt from her website, so you can get to know a little more about her:

“I wasn’t born in a log cabin, although I do come from the Land of Lincoln–Illinois. I grew up in Chicago with five brothers and sisters and one dog, Snowball. I loved to read, but had absolutely no inkling that I could grow up to be a writer. I thought all writers had triple names, like my favorite, Maud Hart Lovelace, and that they had entire books waiting in their heads, and simply wrote them down, lickety-split.

I always knew I wanted to work with children, so I got a B.A. in education from Chicago Teacher’s College. After graduation, I moved to New York City. My great good fortune came when I met Ezra Jack Keats (author-artist of THE SNOWY DAY), who told me about an editorial assistant’s opening in the children’s book department of Harper & Row. I was hired, and for ten years I worked with two of the most brilliant editors in publishing: Ursula Nordstrom and Charlotte Zolotow.

After  becoming a junior editor, I soon had the great pleasure of discovering new talent: I did Bruce Degan’s first book, AUNT POSSOM AND THE PUMPKIN MAN, Myron Levoy’s classic, ALAN AND NAOMI, and  I also worked with Lillian Hoban on her first Arthur books.

It was Charlotte Zolotow who urged me to write my own stories, and my first book BABY (later titled BABY, COME OUT!) was published in 1972. Since then I’ve written many many books, but no thrill has ever matched that moment when I became a writer.

Because I was such a late bloomer, I am always eager to help children recognize and appreciate their gifts and begin using them NOW. When I speak at schools, I show children my messy manuscripts, the artist’s many sketches, and talk about how much stubbornness and good humor it takes to accomplish anything in life, including writing.”

Lauren_TobiaLauren Tobia was born in Bristol and have been there longer than Concord.  She doesn’t’ have a personal website that we could find, but here is some information we found from the Walker Books website:

” When I was small I would always ask for felt pens and paper for Christmas. For a short while we lived on a boat in Cornwall and my bed was in the wheel house. I could look out for miles over a huge and exciting estuary full of seabirds, interesting worms, a few scary swans and a goat that did not like me much. Although I spent much of my childhood in the city, I still got to roam a lot as a child and spent a lot of time looking at things under stones.To this day I would much prefer to draw a picture of something than write about it.

As an adult I spent many years working as an intensive care nurse in Bristol but when my children grew up I thought it was time for me to follow my dream. I went to the University of West England (U.W.E) and joined their amazing illustration course where I had the chance to learn, experiment and have a lot of fun. I live in a tiny house in south Bristol with my husband and our two unruly Jack Russell rescue dogs. When I am not drawing I am at my allotment. I have a little table and a patch of lawn where I can sit and drink tea when I should be weeding.

As an artist I draw all the time and never go anywhere without my sketchbook. I feel uncomfortable without it. I mostly draw in pencil for speed and flexibility. I get much of my inspiration from the people and places around me. I draw my family continuously and objects that I come across, from teapots to crisp packets. I love to draw animals and use them to imply human emotion and body language. Although I enjoy painting with watercolour, I work in my sketchbook most of the time and use a computer to arrange and add colour and textures to the images, which I find gives me freedom to play and experiment.”

Things you didn’t know about Lauren Tobia

  1. I am happily Dyslexic
  2. My dogs’ names are Poppy and Tilly.
  3. I can’t drive a car.
  4. I have two daughters who are very clever and wonderful (they will probably tell me off about this).
  5. On sunny days hot air balloons drift past my window.
  6. I really like cake.
  7. My favorite sandwich as a child was sausage and marmalade.
  8. I almost always wear odd socks.
  9. One of my favorite books as a child was a dog’s medical dictionary.
  10. I used to have a cat that liked to be hoovered.

 

Top 5 Books We Read in 2018

2018 was a rollercoaster of a year, with so many opportunities for growth and learning all over the place! We launched this site as a passion project, and we have been so lucky to connect with many people from all over the globe, sharing our mutual love of diverse literature!

We have no idea what 2019 will bring,

but we resolve to fight injustice,

to spread love and liberation,

and to lift up the voices of those most marginalized.

In 2019, we will educate to empower!

Without further ado, here are the Top 5 books we read in 2018:


5) A Day With Yayah  

Words by Nicola I. Campbell, Pictures by Julie Flett

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Click here for more about Indigenous Voices!

Why We Loved This Book:

-It promotes multilingualism & discusses the cultural significance of certain traditions

-Teaches about respecting and revering natural resources

-Julie Flett’s illustrations are stunning


4) Captain Starfish 

Written by: Davina Bell, Illustrated by: Allison Colpoys

captain starfish

Click here for more about Neurodiversity!

Why We Loved This Book:

-The protagonist Alfie learns about himself from the natural world-the aquarium is the place for him!

-Alfie learns to manage his anxiety on his own timeline, with his parent’s support

-Anxiety is described in a very understandable way, so children can identify times that they may have felt anxious


3) Life Doesn’t Frighten Me

Poem by Maya Angelou, Paintings by Jean-Michel Basquiat

life doesnt firghten me

Click here for more about POC-Centric Narratives!

Why We Loved This Book:

-It introduces poetry and art to readers at the same time

-It highlights two incredible artists of color and brings them together in a way that appeals to children

– It’s easy to use this book in a variety of ways in the classroom as well as the home (see our full review for ideas!)


2) Neither

Written & Illustrated by: Airlie Anderson

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Click here for more about Gender Identity!

Why We Loved This Book:

– The imaginative illustrations draw the reader in, where they then encounter a lovable cast of characters

-Diversity and individuality is celebrated in a simple way that effectively communicates what can be a complex topic

-It opens the door for further conversation and self-reflection about identity!


#1 : Interstellar Cinderella

Written by: Deborah Underwood, Illustrated by: Meg Hunt

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Click here for more about Social Emotional Development!

Why we loved this book the most:

-It has a strong female protagonist who thinks for herself, and an interracial friendship

– Cinderella is a STEM-loving role model for young girls who beats the odds

– It switches up the typical fairy tale ending of marriage being the ultimate goal- Cinderella gets the job of her dreams and a new best friend who understands her!


Happy New Year, and may the year 2019

bring you more amazing books!

Neither

Written & Illustrated by: Airlie Anderson

For ages: 4-7 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: Community, Acceptance, Identity, Friendship, Self-Acceptance.

Summary: This story takes place in a world where there are only blue bunnies (this) and yellow birds (that), the Land of This and That.  Until one day, a self-described ‘both’ hatches.  This little critter is green, with bunny ears and bird wings.  The others tell Both that they can’t be both, so they must be Neither.  Looking sad, they aren’t allowed to join into any of the rabbity games, or birdy activities.  Neither flies away to find Someplace Else to live, at the birds and rabbits suggestion.  Landing in a new place, Neither first spots a purple cat with butterfly wings, and they show Neither around at all of the combination critters that live in the land.  Called The Land of All, many colorful animals are playing games together.  Inviting Neither to play, Neither is still concerned because no one is green, and they still don’t fit in.  “Exactly!” the other animals shout, smiling and happy.  All of a sudden, a blue bunny and a yellow bird call to the group, they are looking for somewhere else to live.  Neither tells the bunny and bird that they told Neither to find Somewhere Else, looking hurt.  In a twist (and a headstand), Neither tells the other animals that everyone is welcome in the Land of All!

This book can be used in so many different scenarios.  Talking about a new student joining the class, talking about exclusion, differences, gender identity, or any situation where someone might be feeling a little different.  Cute, brightly colored illustrations capture how the animals are feeling, helping with mood identification and empathy development for young children by learning to read expressions.  Overall, an adorable book that teaches a great lesson of inclusion and being yourself!

Reflection Questions:

  • How do you think that Neither felt when the other animals told them to go live Somewhere Else?
  • How would you feel if everyone in your community told you that you didn’t belong?
  • How do you think Neither feels when they find the Land of All?
  • How do you feel when people accept and understand you?

Continuing the Conversation:

  • Make up your own dual-animal combination!  In the book there are all sorts of creative and unique critters, design one to also live in the Land of All.
  • Neither was afraid they would never fit in anywhere.  Write a “Welcome Guide” for a new student or community member!  Include important information, landmarks, and public transportation information that a newcomer would find helpful.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

1089609668Airlie Anderson is the author and illustrator of Neither, Cat’s Colors, Momo and Snap Are Not Friends, and many other children’s books. Feathers in my cap: the Moonbeam Children’s Book Award, the Independent Publisher Book Award, and the Practical Pre-School Award. Airlie graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design and now live in New Jersey.

Airlie creates her illustrations using gouache (opaque watercolor) on hot press watercolor paper (the smooth kind). Airlie also doodles aimlessly in her sketchbook whenever she can.