Category Archives: Bookish thoughts

Multicultural Children’s Book Day is Jan 27!

Did you know that census data that shows 37% of the US population consists of people of color, only 10% of children’s books published have diversity content?

Children’s reading and play advocates Valarie Budayr from Jump Into a Book and Mia Wenjen from Pragmatic Mom have teamed up with 60+ bloggers to create an ambitious national event: Multicultural Children’s Book Day!

January 27th will be the first ever Multicultural Children’s Book Day as a way of celebrating diversity in children’s books. Mia and Valarie’s mission is to not only raise awareness for the kid’s books that celebrate diversity, but to get more of these types of books into classrooms and libraries. Another goal of this exciting event is create a compilation of books and favorite reads that will provide not only a new reading list for the winter, but also a way to expose wonderful new books to families, teachers, and libraries!

Here are some ways YOU can help celebrate Multicultural Children’s Book Day:

– Have children bring in their favorite multicultural book to school on this day and share it with the class.
– Suggest a special Multicultural Children’s Book Day book read aloud time at your school or library.
– Suggest a Multicultural Children’s Book Day classroom or library display.
– Take a trip “Around the World” by reading children’s books about or from each continent.
– Visit the Multicultural Books for Kids Pinterest Board for more reading ideas.
– Do a craft or activity which relates to the many cultures in our world.
– Pick a new multicultural children’s book to read for bedtime on Jan 27!

Reading Rainbow + Jimmy Fallon + The Doors = AWESOME

I’m heading to NYC tomorrow to celebrate and learn about the relaunch of Reading Rainbow. In my pre-event excitement, I stumbled upon this little bit of awesomeness.

Jimmy Fallon impersonating Jim Morrison singing “Reading Rainbow”… can’t believe I hadn’t seen this before!

10 Multicultural Books for Children

Here are 10 children’s books to enjoy celebrating the multicultural world in which we live.

1. Motherbridge of Love
Cherish the special bond between parent and child with this beautiful, anonymously written poem. Through the exchanges between a little girl and her adoptive parent, this poignant selection celebrates love and family.

Text royalties from this book are donated to Mother Bridge of Love, a charity that reaches out to Chinese children all over the world in order to develop a connection between China and the West, and between adoptive culture and birth culture. Xinran, the acclaimed Chinese author, broadcaster and journalist, is the founder of Mother Bridge of Love.

For all ages
Illustrated By: Josée Masse

2. African Tales
A Barefoot Collection

Explore this colorful continent and uncover the rich ways of life of the many peoples who live there. The eight stories in this collection, each from a different African country, feature educational facts and information about the cultures from which they are chosen. The stories are retold by award-winning Xhosa storyteller Gcina Mphlope, from Durban, South Africa. Includes a full-color map.

10% of the proceeds from the sale of this book will be donated to Books for Africa, an organization that collects, ships and distributes books to children across the African continent.

Ages 8 and up
Written By: Gcina Mhlophe
Illustrated By: Rachel Griffin

3. We All Went on Safari – A Counting Journey Through Tanzania
Learn to count in Swahili while discovering African animals on an exciting safari through the grasslands of Tanzania. Facts about Tanzania, Swahili counting, the Maasai people and a map are included at the end.

A portion of the proceeds from the sale of each book will be donated to the African Wildlife Foundation, to aid in their wildlife conservation and community building efforts in Tanzania.

Ages 4 to 10 years
Written By: Laurie Krebs
Illustrated By: Julia Cairns

4. If You're Happy and you know it! children's book singalongIf You’re Happy and You Know It! – hardcover with music CD ON SALE THIS MONTH!
In this multicultural version of the traditional song, children from cultures all over the world clap their hands, stomp their feet, pat their heads, and much more. Your child will also learn how to say “Hello!” in several languages.

Paperback with Enhanced CD edition includes an animated video with audio singalong sung by Susan Reed.

Ages 3 to 7 years
Written By: Anna McQuinn
Illustrated By: Sophie Fatus
Sung By: Susan Reed

Pair If You’re Happy and You Know It with the Children of the World Memory Game to make a perfect gift set! The game was inspired by the book and encourages memory and matching skills. The object of the game is to match the boy and girl pairs according to the traditional dress, country name and color featured on each card. You’ll also learn 36 ways people say, “Hello!” all over the world.

5. Barefoot Books World Atlas
Embark on a mind-expanding journey across the planet. Your guide is earth enthusiast and TV presenter Nick Crane. Your map-maker is artist David Dean. Divided by geographical region, the Barefoot Books World Atlas looks at the way in which communities and cultures across the world have been shaped by their natural environment, and at the ideas and initiatives which are shaping the future. An atlas for the twenty-first century, it shows how all parts of the planet are interconnected and looks at the challenges which face us all in creating a sustainable future.
Include “lift-the-flap” fun facts and a pull-out wall map.

For all ages
Written By: Nick Crane
Illustrated By: David Dean

(Purchase of the companion iTunes app is not trackable and therefore won’t count for The Sparrow Fund donation this month. The hardcover book is amazing!)

6. Indian Tales – A Barefoot Collection
Venture to a country that is bursting with color, life and contrasts in these lively folk tales. The eight stories in this anthology, each from a different Indian state, feature educational facts and information about the cultures from which they are chosen.

Ages 8 and up
Retold By: Shenaaz Nanji
Illustrated By: Christopher Corr

7. Tales of Wisdom & Wonder
Prepare to be amazed, intrigued and enchanted by these astonishing tales. The seven stories gathered from sources around the world, including Haiti, Russia, America (Cree), and Ireland are full of magic, mystery and transformations. Book with CD editions include stories read by Hugh Lupton.

Ages 5 to 11 years
Retold By: Hugh Lupton
Illustrated By: Niamh Sharkey

8. Off We Go to Mexico! – An Adventure in the Sun
Swim in turquoise seas, admire grey whales and monarch butterflies, trek to native villages and sing and dance to the music of Mariachi bands. Along the way, you can learn Spanish words and phrases and discover Mexican culture. Enjoy your journey!

Ages 4 to 10 years
Written By: Laurie Krebs
Illustrated By: Christopher Corr

9. Stories from the Silk Road
Journey along the ancient trade route between East and West. The seven intriguing tales in this collection each feature an important city along the Silk Road, and are filled with adventure and drama, as the merchants, muleteers, spies and shepherds travel this exotic route.

Ages 8 and up
Retold By: Cherry Gilchrist
Illustrated By: Nilesh Mistry

10. The Barefoot Book of Blessings from Many Faiths and Cultures
Cultivate a reverence for life’s gifts and the varied ways of receiving them. This elegant collection of prayers and blessings is selected from a wide range of countries, cultures and world religions.

Ages 5 and up
Compiled By: Sabrina Dearborn
Illustrated By: Olwyn Whelan

Carnival of Children’s Literature – March

Welcome to the March 2012 edition of the Carnival of Children’s Literature!

March started off with Dr. Seuss’s Birthday and the release of The Lorax. I loved seeing everyone excited about Seuss, reading, and the environment this month because of that.  I, myself, received free tickets to The Lorax and took my son to see his first ever movie. While I still prefer the book and the 1972 animated special, I have to admit the movie was better than I expected. I hope many families were inspired to buy the actual book or check it out at the library.

More importantly, March is Women’s History month! There’s no doubting that when you see the fantastic lineup of reviews this month either. Yet, we still have a nice bit of variety outside of Seuss and women’s history. I put a number of new titles on our MUST READ list and I think you will too after hopping through these posts.

Early Literacy






Book Projects

I hope everyone had fun at this month’s Carnival of Children’s Literature. Join the fun again in April over at A Curious Thing!


Gerald McDermott Trickster Tales – A Foundation for Oral Storytelling…and Dance

Hi. My name is Chrissie DiAngelus and I own and run a performing arts agency, Piccadilly Arts. I represent several imaginative dance and theatre companies that create programs specifically for families and young audiences. One of my artists, The Treehouse Shakers, is a dance theatre company based in New York City. They create dance plays that introduce young audiences to the language of movement and modern dance through meaningful storytelling. Modern dance can be tough to comprehend, even for the experienced art goer and trained dancer – so how fortunate that the Treehouse Shakers have choreographed imaginative dance plays around cultural folklore – fables and folktales that each of us knows – so we might be introduced and grasp the communal nature of dance.

The Treehouse Shakers take centuries old trickster tales and script them out into a play and present them onstage as narrations. They easily tie into the many Gerald McDermott stories. One of my favorites is the story of Coyote, a trickster tale from the Native American Southwest. In Gerald’s story, Coyote is a trouble maker. He has a nose for trouble! He sees the crows and wants to be like them – flying freely. The crows agree to teach him to fly but when Coyote learns, he becomes full of himself, bragging and boasting. The crows decide to teach him a lesson.

The “trickster” in the stories is personified and takes on human traits and characteristics. They remind us of our own quests, successes, failures, and lessons. It is how and why we can all relate – to Coyote’s desires, mischievous ways, pride, fall, and of course, many lives.

McDermott writes, “The trickster has special appeal for children because of his ability to triumph over larger foes not by physical strength but by wit and cunning. In addition, tales of the trickster still speak to us in a gentle, humorous way about the strengths and weaknesses of humankind.”

This book is beautifully illustrated in a very Southwest style: Bold colors, harsh angles, and a Native American landscape mark the layout.

The Treehouse Shakers bring the story to life on stage with gorgeous handcrafted costumes, live percussion, and a play that stays true to the nature of storytelling. The essence of true (and good) storytelling is the ability of the storyteller to orally create the scene – the setting – and lead us via narrative – beginning, middle, end – through the journey. Of equal importance is the ability to evoke suspense and surprise. Stories need to be set up, need a character, need a quest, a conflict, and a resolution. Trickster tales like Gerald McDermott’s are perfect for oral storytelling and stage adaptation. And the best stories are challenging ones, the ones that speak to the human condition.

Gerald McDermott books are available in your local library or online at Amazon.

Chrissie DiAngelus is an Artist Manager and Communications Consultant. She founded Piccadilly Arts in 2006 as a freelance marketing and branding consultant to small businesses and nonprofits. Since 2010 has grown the company into a performing arts agency that specializes in managing the careers, tours, and projects of family focused theater and dance companies. For the 12/13 season, the roster includes imaginative artists Do Jump! Extremely Physical Theatre; The Treehouse Shakers; The VonOrthal Puppets; and Zany Umbrella Circus.

Piccadilly Arts values imagination, community, experience, and social change, particularly as it relates to art and education. We envision a better model of family, youth, and children’s programming: one that embraces sophisticated, thought-provoking and imaginative productions that are artistically and technically proficient as well as emotionally and intellectually challenging. Our mission is to raise the visibility and status of family programming in this country by embracing our values and seeking meaningful relationships, collaborations, tours and residencies, and opportunities with those that share our vision.


The Adventures of Captain Underpants – Banned Books Week

Heather, from Diapered Daze and Knights, shares a virtual read-out of The Adventures of Captain Underpants. She also talks about why even potty-humor books, like the Captain Underpants series, are important.

Diapered Daze and Knights is one of my new favorite blogs. Heather is a literacy professor who has a special fondness for motivating boys to read. Check out her series of posts tagged “Little Knights Read” for tips on getting your boys excited about reading!

Whoopi Reads Banned Books

In celebration of Banned Books Week, Whoopi Goldberg reads a Shel Silverstein poem from A Light in the Attic.

A Light in the Attic is a long running best seller that was challenged a number of times in the 1980′s for encouraging disobedience, suicide, cannibalism, and for glorifying Satan.

“If you have to dry the dishes
(Such an awful boring chore)
If you have to dry the dishes
(‘Stead of going to the store)
If you have to dry the dishes
And you drop one on the floor
Maybe they won’t let you
Dry the dishes anymore”

By the way, a new collection of Shel Silverstein’s kid-friendly poems was just released last week, 12 years after his death. The newest book, Every Thing On It is already receiving great reviews.

YA author Cheryl Rainfield on Banned Books

Banned Book week is September 24−October 1, 2011. Get the discussion started early and watch this new video by YA author Cheryl Rainfield where she talks about banned books. Hear her thoughts on why we should read them, banned books she loves (including And Tango Makes Three), and about her own book SCARS which was challenged. Cheryl Rainfield is the author of SCARS, HUNTED, and other books for teens.

Find out more about Banned Book Week at the American Library Association’s website.

Also, see my previous post on the 10 top challenged books of 2010 here.

Happy reading!

Organizing Children’s Books

One can never have too many books, or so I like to say. But the reality is if you’re raising a budding book lover you’ll have an ever growing collection. It can quickly become overwhelming. I mean, here’s a portion of my son’s home library. He’s only 2 and I’m not planning on quitting our book habit anytime soon. So, we had to come up with a system of some sort to manage his books.


A Shelf Full of Books

Hi! I’m Melissa and I’m so excited to be guest posting for Nichole today. Normally you can catch me on my blog, making life simple again, or as a contributor on Cape May County Moms. Raised in suburban Philly, I now live in rural Cape May County with my husband and 2 young boys. We try to appreciate the little things in life and strive to “just keep it simple”. After all, this fast-paced world is crazy enough already. Why make it more complicated?

A few months ago, a good friend of mine and I got into a discussion about iPads and kids. She was so excited about the idea of her kids being able to have an entire library contained within one small electronic device. I, on the other hand, shuddered at the thought.

I’ll admit, not having to clean up all the books my 2 year old has pulled off the shelf is very appealing. But then I watch him flipping through the books. Trying to find just the right one. Pointing at the balloons on the page and trying to count them. Laughing as he finds Blue’s clues or lifting the flap to see Elmo. Patting the bunny rabbit’s fur and feeling the dinosaur’s rough scales. Just sitting on the floor submerged in a sea of books. These are the things that our kids will be missing out on by converting their entire libraries to e-book readers.

One of our favorite books is Cars and Trucks and Things that Go, by Richard Scarry. It’s a classic. My mom used to read it to my brother, my sister, and me when we were younger. We would laugh at all the crazy vehicles. (I mean, a carrot car – how zany is that?) Being the highly competitive older sibling, I’d always race to be the first to find Goldbug and usually win. (Haha, James & Cath!) And now, 30 years later, my (almost) 4 year old just can’t get enough of it. It’s a great, oversized book full of so many interesting pictures. Pictures that, by no means, would translate well at all on an e-book reader.

Maybe I’m just old-fashioned. I enjoy bringing my kids to the library for story hour. I love snuggling up with them on the couch at bedtime ready to read the armful of books they’ve chosen from the shelf. I treasure the books that I grew up with and look forward to sharing even more of them with my kids as they get older.

What do you think? Will you replace your child’s bookshelf with an e-book reader? Can traditional books and electronic books co-exist?

I’m happy that Melissa from  making life simple visited us today to guest post.  Since Melissa has things covered here today, you’ll find me I guest posting over at A Magical Mommy! Head on over to read my post on Organizing Children’s Books!