Thursday, November 11, 2010

Book Junkie Returns

Ok, so, I read a lot all the time, but when I'm in school, its mostly text books and I'm kinda smart so I know that no one really wants to hear about text books.  In fact, unless you're in school, you probably don't read them, and if you are in school someone else is picking them for you.  So, Book Junkie takes a break during the semester and makes little piles of books around the house in anticipation of breaks in between semesters.

But this semester...

This semester I had to take a class to meet a graduation requirement.  And it could have been Ancient Greek History or The Ancient Near East, but Multicultural Children's Literature just sounded soooo much more engaging, and (lets be honest) applicable.

So, I've spent the last 10 weeks reading picture books, a few selections from juvenile literature, and critiquing Disney films from a culturally authentic perspective. Its been fun!

Here's what I learned:

  • They deal with some heavy subjects in books designed for 5-8 year olds.  Subjects I'm not entirely sure I want my children exposed to before they can really understand it.  
  • There are a lot of bad children's books out there.  Just in general, but specifically when they attempting to be representative of a specific culture. 
  • It is pretty close to impossible to find a good picture book for many different cultures:  Thai, Hmong, Cambodian, Indonesian, Muslim, American Indian (specific to a tribe), Irish, Italian, East Indian, Polish, Romanian.... the list goes on.  I'm sure in those countries they have awesome literature (god, I hope so), but not here, not that I could find.   
  • I cry when the stories are touching... every time.  Seriously.

I've also learned that there are some really good books out there for children. So, today, this Book Junkie is going to share with you a list of my favorite multicultural children's picture books.

Annie and The Old One by Miska Miles is a beautifully written, yet simple book. This is essentially a story about a child who is struggling with the concept of death (specifically her grandmother's impending death), this girl kind of happens to be Navajo. Still, I love it.

The Butterfly by Patricia Polacco is not for the faint-of-heart!  Set in France during the German Occupation, it is a compelling tale about a courageous little girl and the development of friendship in unusual circumstances.

By the same author, Babushka's Doll is a cute little story about an impatient girl and her grandmother's energetic doll.  (Russian)

I can't lie, My Grandmother's Journey made me sob, uncontrollably.... but in a good way.  A very touching story told as a bedtime story from a grandmother to her granddaughter about her experiences in Russia during the Revolution. (author John Cech)

A German fable about a Raven who is unhappy with his appearance, until it changes. The Royal Raven by Hans Wilhelm reminds us that looks aren't everything!

A beautiful story about a little girl who is a recent Vietnamese immigrant.  At first the main character was ostracized by her schoolmates for dressing differently, but the ending is both beautiful and heart warming.  Once again, I cried... Angel Child, Dragon Child is a sweet story with a beautiful, happy ending from author Michele M. Surat.

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