Picture books exert a unique influence on their audience for a variety of reasons. Most significantly, the audience receives the messages in the text at a point in their lives when they are expecially impressionable and when they first begin to formulate ideas about culture, society, and values. ~ Joy Worland
This year’s annual ‘Popcorn n’ Picture Books” event focused on multicultural children’s picture books. El día de los niños/El día de los libros, Children’s Day/Book Day, a Latino celebration of multicultural children’s books and reading, served as the perfect theme for our event. This special day, established by children’s author, Pat Mora, is celebrated in libraries throughout the United States on April 30th.
We started off the party with a “bilingual orchestra” to the words of Pat Mora’s Book Fiesta, a book specifically about El día de los niños/El día de los libros, illustrated by Rafael López’. Book Fiesta won the 2010 Pura Belpré medal award for illustration.
During the presentation, we discussed the development and history of multicultural picture books, the importance of these books, collection development and selection issues, as well as activities to promote them. A “Journey through Cultures” included discussions about history, selection issues, literary pioneers, and readings from new award-winning books pertinent to specific ethnic groups in the United States, religious minorities, disabilities/ challenges, family compositions, same-sex parent families, sexual orientation, global awareness & peacemaking, and the universal nature of folklore.
The event was a success thanks to several guest speakers/ readers. Sterling Friering and Temperance Pearson Storm did a special presentation on children’s picture books depicting same-sex parent families and sexual orientation which opened up a lively debate among the teachers in the crowd. HCL’s Linda was an excellent guest reader.
The event ended with a special reading from a local storyteller (yea right!), Jacksonville’s own “Lookout” Mountain Girl. Adding her own unique version to over 5,000 Cinderella stories which have been documented worldwide, Lookout amused, bored, or tortured the audience with “Sugar Magnolia and the Rope Sandal: a Peace Loving, Tree Hugging, Hippie Cinderella Story.”
I created the following resource guide on multicultural children’s literature which includes specialized bibliographies, multicultural award Web sites, journal articles and books on multiculturalism, tools for selection criteria, and more! Let me know if you know of other great resources to add to this list. Equally ever Afteresources2
A special thanks to Dr. Engley, Dr. Hilber, and Dr. Staubs for their support and interest.
Books featured during this year’s program:
Book Fiesta by Pat Mora, Illustrated by Rafael Lopez
This bilingual picture book is a celebration, in beautifully illustrated vibrant colors, of El Día de los niños/El Día de los libros, Children’s Day/Book Day held on April 30th. Notes by the author, at the end of the book, suggest ways families, librarians, and schools can celebrate this day of “book joy.” For our program, we put on a “bilingual orchestra” of the book. See Pat Mora’s Web site for more information on El Día de los niños/El Día de los libros, Children’s Day/Book Day. This book won a Pura Belpre Medal for its illustrations.
Ashley Bryan: Words to My Life’s Song by Ashley Bryan, Photographs by Bill McGuinness
Award-winning children’s author and illustrator Ashley Byran is an amazing artist. His joy for telling stories and getting young children interested in art is what really stands out in this book. Listen to Ashley Bryan talk about the inspiration for the book in the this video.
Bad News for Outlaws: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves: Deputy US Marshall by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson, Illustrated by R. Gregory Christie
Vaunda Micheaux was always interested in the wild, wild, west when she was young. However, African Americans never starred in western movies. To her delight, the author discovered the true story of Bass Reeves, a black man, who was elected Deputy U.S. Marshall. Born into slavery, Reeves was a remarkable marksman. He was so remarkable that the slave master would take him hunting. After a fight with the slave master, Reeves ran away and escaped slavery. He lived with an Indian tribe in Arkansas, moved out west, and became a highly-feared and respected marshall, bringing justice to the wild west. This book won a Coretta Scott King Medal.
The Negro Speaks of Rivers by Langston Hughes (Author), Illustrated by E. B. Lewis
Langston Hughes, literary talent of the Harlem Renaissance, was also an essential pioneer in the shaping of children’s literature for African Americans. In the 1920s he contributed poems and essays to W.E.B. DuBois’ The Brownies Book, one of the first magazines written specifically for African American Children. It is appropriate that two adaptations of Langston Hughes poems, “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” and “My People” for children both won Coretta Scott King Awards this year. E.B. Lewis interprets this famous Langston Hughes poem with breathtaking watercolor illustrations. In this video, listen to Langston Hughes discuss the origin of this poem and read it, in his own voice, while you turn the pages of this beautiful book.
My People by Langston Hughes, Photographs by Charles R. Smith Jr. Winner of a 2010 Coretta Scott King honor award, My People, is another artistic adaptation of a Langston Hughes poem. Charles R. Smith Jr. uses photography to capture the images of “My People.” Through photography, Smith sought to depict the wide range of images that depict the African American race; women and men, young and old, dark-skinned and fairer-skinned and all colors in between. This is a beautiful book that brings to real life the spirit of this beloved Langston Hughes poem.
Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice by Phillip M Hoose
Have you heard of Claudette Colvin? I had never heard of this almost-forgotten Civil Rights leader until I read this book. Thankfully, Phillip Hoose heard her about her, did some research, and brought this remarkable story to light. Before Rosa Parks refused to give up her bus seat, Claudette Colvin, a teenager from Montgomery, had the courage to do it first. She was arrested and later testified in Browder vs. Gayle (1956) with Rosa Parks and several other women. Amid violent threats, hatred, and hostility, Colvin bravely testified in this case which ruled that segregation on public buses was unconstitutional. During that course of time, Ms. Colvin became a single mother. The Civil Rights leaders did not seem to think she would make a good spokesperson given the hostile environment of the time and, although she had risked her life and was the first to take a stand in the Montgomery Bus Boycotts, she was not well- known. This is an amazing book filled with primary documents, interviews with Claudette Colvin, photographs, and illustrations. In this video, listen to Claudette Colvin talk about the book and her life. This book is a winner of the National Book Award.
The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney
Pinkney’s rendition of this famous Aesop’s Fable is beautifully illustrated and inspired by the wilderness of Africa’s Serengeti and Tanzania. Except for animal sounds, such as a screech owl, a mouse, a lion’s mighty roar, the book is, otherwise, wordless. The talent of Pinkney is that he is able to fully convey the lesson of, not only the meek overcoming the mighty, but the mutual respect that can be shared by both powers, through his sweet and moving illustrations alone. Who needs text to win a Caldecott Medal (the highest honor for children’s book illustration) anyway?
Other books featured in the program, include the following (click on the titles to view book covers and information about the titles):
My Diary from Here to There /Mi diario de aqui hasta allá by Amada Irma Perez , Illustrated by Maya Christina Gonzalez
Pura Belpré Honor Award Winner
Diego: Bigger than Life by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand, Illustrated by David Diaz
Pura Belpré Honor Award Winner
Explore Diego’s “big” art at CCSF’s Diego Rivera Mural Project
Crossing Bok Chitto: A Choctaw Tale of Friendship & Freedom by Tim Tingle, Illustrated by Jeanne Rorex Bridges
American Indian Youth Literature Award Winner
The Littlest Sled Dog by Michael Kusugak, Illustrated by Vladyana Krykorka
Listen to Inuit children’s storyteller, Kusugak, discuss the inspiration for his work.
Alego by Ningeokuluk Teevee
View an exhibit of Inuit artist, Ningeokuluk Teevee’s work at the Spirit Wrestler Gallery in Vancouver, Canada.
What Shall I Make? by Nandini Nayar, Illustrated by Proiti Roy
Cora Cooks Pancit by Dorina K. Lazo Gilmore, Illustrated by Kristi Valiant
American Pacific Librarians Association Picture Book Winner
As Good as Anybody: Martin Luther King Jr. and Abraham Joshua Heschel by Richard Michelson, Illustrated Raul Colon
Sydney Taylor Book Award Winner (Association of Jewish Libraries)
Watch a short video of Heschel’s daughter discussing her father’s relationship with Martin Luther King Jr.
The Grand Mosque of Paris: A Story of How Muslims Rescued Jews During the Holocaust by Karen Gray Ruelle , Illustrated by Deborah Durland Desaix
Middle East Book Award Winner
The Librarian of Basra: a True Story from Iraq by Jeanette Winter
Django: World’s Greatest Jazz Guitarist by Bonnie Christensen
Schneider Family Book Award Winner
Listen to 5 Django Reinhardt Solo’s. Fun fact: Did you know that Jimi Hendrix named his “Band of Gypsys” after Gypsy jazz guitarist, Django Reinhardt?
All Families are Special by Norma Simon & Teresa Flavin
In Our Mothers’ House by Patricia Polacco
Listen to the Wind: the Story of Dr. Greg & Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson, Illustrated by Susan Roth
Two Bobbies: A True Story of Hurricane Katrina, Friendship, and Survival by Kirby Larson & Mary Nethery, Illustrated byJean Cassels
Henry Bergh Children’s Book Award Winner (ASPCA)
Watch a short trailer on this book.
All the World by Liz Garton Scanlon, Illustrated by Marla Frazee
Click on this video to view the book trailer.
ALA Notable Children’s Book
I practiced singing this book’s verse to the tune of The Beatle’s “Across the Universe” which seems to flow really well with the words.