Childrens Book Reading Extravaganza 2010: Multicultural Books – the Preschool Edition

 Talk about getting my read on!  One of my fabulous readers suggested I take a look at the Top 50 Multicultural Books Every Child Should Know as well and I thought to myself, “Self, what a wonderful idea!”  I mean, who doesn’t want to read 250 childrens picture books and novels, right?

So, let’s get things started with the books recommended for our smallest friends – the preschoolers.  I mean, they are often the cutest kids in the school, but talk about herding cats!  I give big props to all the teachers out there who are rocking it with the small fries!

First on the list is Pio Peep! Traditional Spanish Nursery Rhymes selected by Alma Flor Ada.  I love Ada’s books, but since I have always taught first and second grades, I’ve never come across this one before.

Pio Peep! (rpkg): Traditional Spanish Nursery Rhymes (Click the image for links and hold onto your credit cards!)

I wish I had known about this book!!!  Oh I love it, love it, love it!  First of all, it is FILLED with nursery rhymes…There are so many to choose from!  And each one is presented in both Spanish and English – how fabulous is that?!  Second of all, the illustrations are gorgeous.  GORGEOUS!!  And third, I LOVE THIS BOOK!  I would totally use these with preschool, kindergarten AND first grade friends.  The rhyming patterns are fantastic (Hellooooo, Word Study!), the topics are accessible and the content is easy to understand.  Children could easily add their own illustrations to a photocopied version to keep at their seats.  Chart these nursery rhymes and you have a fabulous Shared Poem to read together and discuss.  And, if you are so inclined, sing the heck out of these puppies!

Next on this list for our preschool friends is Quinito, Day and Night = Quinito, dia y noche by Ina Cumpiano.  This is also a new one for me.  Word on the street is that this book is written in both English and Spanish.  I’m going to tap into my Spanish language skills and see if I can read it only in Spanish.  Wish me luck- many college dollars were spent…let’s hope I’ve still got it!

Quinito, Day and Night/Quinito, dia y noche

So, slow going in Spanish but (snaps to me!) I read it all!  Of course, the story is written in English as well, which I think is pretty cool.  The book tells the story of a day in the life of a little boy named Quinito.  We meet his family, follow him to the park, and stay with him until it’s time for bed.  The story line is extremely simple, so probably perf for those friends in PreK or K.  Fun fact though, opposite words are highlighted in bold on each page (day/night, awake/asleep, early/late, high/low to name a few). The illustrations are pretty colorful too.
Onto One Afternoon by Yumi Heo.  Yet another new book to add to my list!

One Afternoon (Venture - Health & the Human Body)

Minho and his mother are running errands all over Chicago.  They go the laundromat, the beauty salon, the ice cream store…all over town amid the hustle and bustle.  With very simple text and really interesting illustrations, we follow Minho and his mother all over town, getting a glimpse into life in the city and how nice it is to return home to a quiet apartment and a nap!  (Brother, do I know THAT feeling!)  This book would make a nice read aloud with kindergartners or early first graders studying community or cities.

Another book on this list geared for preschoolers is Baby Rattlesnake by Ata Te.  Seriously people, I can see my Barnsey bill growing by the minute in front of my eyes!

Baby Rattlesnake

This is a Native American folk tale and boy, is it pretty fabulous!  Baby Rattlesnake was born without a rattle, which made him cry and cry. His mother and father told him he would grow one when he was older, but still Baby Rattlesnake cried.  The council came together and decided to give him a rattle, even though he was too young to know how to use it, and see if it would teach him a lesson.  Baby Rattlesnake was thrilled and went around scaring all the animals.  Despite being warned by his family that he was never to use his rattle in this way, Baby Rattlesnake went off to scare a chief’s daughter.  When Baby Rattlesnake popped out to scare her, she promptly stepped on his rattle and crushed it.  Baby Rattlesnake went home without a rattle.  Lesson learned.  I think this story has a great lesson about patience and responsibility.  However, the text and story line are easy enough for the little guys to follow.  This might be a great book to use to start having class conversations about books…

Rounding out the list is Round Is a Mooncake: A Book of Shapes by Roseanne Thong.  (Totally just realized my use of the term “rounding out” combined with the title of this book about shapes.  Lame, I know, but so leaving it.)

Round is a Mooncake: A Book of Shapes

A little girl finds circles, squares and rectangles in various places around her house.  Some of the objects are commonly found in most households, while others are specific to Asian culture (abacus, dim sum, mooncakes, lucky money and inking stones for example).  The book also has a nice rhyming patter and you know how Mrs. Mimi loves a good Word Study intervention!  I think this book is perfect for the little guys but can’t really imagine using with the older ones in any way.  Preschoolers and kindergartners – -this one is just for you!

Also on the list is I Love My Hair! by Natasha Tarpley.  The title reminds of that semi-controversial book Nappy Hair.  I’ve never read this one before but I know I’ve seen it around and I’m excited to truly check it out.

I Love My Hair!

Um, LOVE this story!  It’s about a little girl’s hair (am I just stating the obvious?)  We see her mother care for her hair (even when it’s tangled and hurts!) and the many ways she can wear her hair.  (The way the illustrator imagines corn rows and an Afro style are insanely creative.)  One day, when the girl wears her hair in an Afro style and other children make fun of her, she is comforted by her teacher who tells her that wearing her hair that way shows that she is proud of who she is.  At the end, the girl wears her hair in two ponytails and imagines they might help her take off and fly.

Does it get any cuter?  I know in my classroom, if a little girl came in without her hair perfectly done, other children might make fun of her – this is the perfect book to handle that one!  This would make a great kindergarten or first grade read aloud.  However, I’m thinking if you are working on encouraging show not tell in writing, this book would be a great mentor text. At the beginning, when it hurts to comb her hair, the author beautifully shows how the little girl is feeling!  Two birds with one stone, people!

Interestingly, this next book also made the list of Top 100 Children’s Picture Books of all time (oddly at #101…not sure how there’s a number 101 on a list of 100, but whatevs.) Please forgive the repeat review.  I totally used the old cut and paste.    Mrs. Mimi has a thing or two going on!

More More More Said The Baby by Vera B. Williams.  (Heart her!! Am expecting an appearance from A Chair for My Mother later on in the list but being the uber-dork that I am, did not let myself peek ahead.  For real.
"More More More," Said the Baby (A Caldecott Honor book)
Oh my word, what a sweet book!!  Probably not something you should have a weepy pregnant woman read at the end of her third trimester. (Cut to me imagining Mr. Mimi with Mini Mimi and then waddling to get a tissue.)  This lovely book shows three adorable little ones as they play with dads, moms and grandmas.  With fairly simple and somewhat repetitive text (Which has a good number of first grade high frequency words by the by…do I smell a Shared Reading?), this story would make a great read aloud for kindergarten to maybe second grade friends studying family (according to the Book Wizard).  Although, honestly, I think my second grade friends would think it’s a bit babyish and I tried not to do that to them too often.  However, talk about GORGEOUS illustrations and text – I would totes use this as an example for making our Writer’s Workshop bits of brilliance even more beautiful during our illustration week. 

Last but not least, Baby Says by John Steptoe made the list.  I’m not including a link to this puppy because the only one on Amazon is retailing for over $55 via a third party seller.  Um $55 for a picture book?  Better be signed by the author, come with it’s own DVD and maybe include a gift card for a free pedicure for $55!  Also, I’m finding this one is difficult to find in the library.  I’ve had a request in for it for two weeks already and NOTHING.  So…stay tuned.  Hoping to iron out these “availability kinks” as we go.

Oddly enough, I’m finding it next to impossible to track down one title in particular.  It’s like it doesn’t exist in the library.  You see, I’m trying to do this via public libraries and my own collection instead of going out and buying each and every book.  (Although it is taking all kinds of restraint to not run screaming to Barnsey but Mr. Mimi’s wary glances and the fact that I can no longer run – it’s really more of a waddle at this point in my pregnancy – seem to be keeping me from that inevitable fate thus far.) Anyhow, another title I can’t seem to find anywhere  for freesies is Just a Minute: A Trickster Tale and Counting Book by Yuyi Morales.  I loves me a good counting book too, so I’m disappointed.  Here’s the image link:

Just a Minute: A Trickster Tale and Counting Book (Pura Belpre Medal Book Illustrator (Awards))

It looks pretty cool and is only $3.11 on Amazon right now.  I’d order it, but it wouldn’t get here in time for this review.  (Who am I kidding?  I’ll probably post this, click over, order the book and share it with Mini Mimi.)  However, as of this moment, I have nothing to say…any takers?  We’d all love to hear what you think!

Up for next weekend are Multicultural picture books for grades K-2!

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  • we have the book In a minute! I like it! If I was feeling better I would give you more of a review!

    May 16, 2010 at 8:09 pm
  • I love Oh No, Gotta Go! (and its sequel). It does a great job using Spanish vocabulary in context and the rollicking rhymes are fantastic. I read it to preschoolers, but I can see it read in K and 1, too. It would be great to see how many kids could figure out the meaning of the Spanish words using context clues and illustrations. The best part is that it appeals to the commonalities we all have, regardless of our cultures: we all have to pee! 🙂

    May 16, 2010 at 8:09 pm
  • Hi Mrs. Mimi! So glad you are doing multicultural books too! What a great idea. I took a global literature course last fall and loved some of the books I came across. My university also offers a multicultural literature course but I think I will just take yours! Haha!


    May 16, 2010 at 8:29 pm
  • Ironically someone at my school dropped "In a Minute" in my lap last week. I read it to the class (K and 1) and they loved it. The only thing is that the skeleton, I'm assuming, is supposed to be death taking the old woman and she finds all these reasons not to come with him, as she prepares for her birthday party. Despite the morbid undertones, it's lovely. Great for memory and sequencing…we played a memory game at the end.

    PS should I send my bookstore bill directly to you?

    May 18, 2010 at 1:29 am

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