CBRE 2010: Multicultural Books – For Friends Ages 7-9 Part One

Whew!  Had to shorten up that title….I mean, talk about getting a little out of control!!  I also decided to break up this next group of books so that a) the post doesn’t become something that you click off of instantly while thinking, “Is she freaking insane?”  need 45 minutes to read and b) it doesn’t take ME a billion years to finish it because frankly, some of the books are getting longer and Mrs. Mimi is not a skimmer.

(Did that last bit sound dirty to anybody else?)

Also, apologies all around – this SHOULD HAVE been posted on Sunday but that would have meant I didn’t get to finish the draft of my ENTIRE DISSERTATION (insert high fiving here) last week and/or I would have had to walk away from the grilled meats this weekend.  

Must.  Eat.  Grilled.  Meats.

Anyhoooowwww… back to the CCBC’s list of 50 Multicultural Books Every Child Should Know. So, this first (belated) edition (a.k.a. Part One) is all picture book related.  I’ll save the chapter-ish books for next time.  I like to think this draws out our relationship a bit longer…wish is just what you were hoping for, right?

Anyhow, here we go in no particular order.

The first book recommended is Show Way  by Jacqueline Woodson, the genius who brought us The Other Side.  A book I totally heart by the way.  I have not, however, checked out this Newberry Honored gem. 

Show Way (Newbery Honor Book) (Click on the image for links my friends…links and endless shopping possibilities.)

Can I just say, “Holy crap, I love this book?”  I mean, I LOVE THIS BOOK.  It starts off with Soonie’s great grandmother being sold as a slave when she was only seven years old.  The only things she took from her family before she left were some muslin, two needles and thread.  She made beautiful quilts – a skill she passed down to her daughter who was also sold into slavery.  The story continues across generations of the brave women in this family and we watch them get sold as slaves, find freedom, go to school, march for civil rights, go to college.  Each generation achieves more than the last and each generation knows how to quilt their history and beauty.  In the end, we are left with a new generation, full of advantages those before her didn’t have and a history laid out in beautiful quilts. 

You.  Must.  Get.  This.  Book.  The story is inspiring, the language is beautiful, the illustrations are to die for. I can imagine using this book in so many ways – as part of a unit on slavery, family history, life long ago, quilting or during Black History Month….you name it!  Plus, the opportunities to have juicy discussions with your little friends along the way are endless. This book:fabulous as Jacqueline Woodson:gifted writer.

Next up is another Must Have title for every classroom – Tar Beach  by Faith Ringgold. 

Tar Beach

I know a lot of us out there have read this one, so I’ll keep the summary brief.  A little girl loves to spend time on the roof of her building (hence the name Tar Beach) in New York City (And no, she’s not tanning like Mrs. Mimi in her post college days.) imagining herself flying over the buildings….especially the George Washington Bridge.  She imagines a better life for her family although she is quite happy where she is for now. 

A classic story and absolutely fan-freaking-tastic illustrations makes this book a no brainer for your classroom.  Read it as part of a family story telling unit, as part of a series of lessons on city life…whatever.  Just read it.  This read aloud works with a wide range of friends too.  I’m thinking second grade through at least fourth. 

Moving right along, we have another new title for me.  It’s From the Bellybutton of the Moon and Other Summer Poems by Francisco X. Alarcon.

From the Bellybutton of the Moon: And Other Summer Poems / Del Ombligo de la Luna: Y Otros Poemas de Verano (The Magical Cycle of the Seasons Series)

Talk about some fabulous poems I could’ve used during my Poetry Study!  Shoulda, woulda, coulda, right?  Anyhow, these poems are all about summer, family and Hispanic American culture.  With short poems about an aunt making eggs for breakfast and longer poems where elder family members share their wisdom, this book has a lot to add to your classroom.  Written side-by-side in both English and Spanish, these poems are also accompanied by some super colorful illustrations.  While some of the poems ARE shorter and about simple topics (rainbows, the rain, etc.), I really think this book would work best with friends ages 7-10 since some of them ARE a bit meatier.  All in all…hot.

The next book I found from this list is John Henry by Julius Lester. 

John Henry (Picture Puffins)

The story of John Henry is certainly an interesting one- very tall tale-esque.  As soon as John Henry was born, he was different.  He leapt out of his mother’s arms, grew six feet in one day, could talk to the sun and the moon and had super human strength.  He lived his life helping other people (think turning bullies into kind people, moving boulders that dynamite couldn’t move, and digging tunnels for trains in the matter of days… you know, usual stuff like that.)  He died one day while helping people and although everyone was sad, they swear they heard the rainbow whisper, “Everybody dies.  It’s how you live your life that matters.” 

Talk about killer life lesson to share with your friends, right?  I really enjoyed this one, although I think it would work best with older friends who could a) appreciate the lesson and b) have the stamina to sit through a fairly long read aloud with long pages of text.  Illustrated by Jerry Pinkney, the pictures are lovely to look at too. 

There are a bunch of books on this list that are not available of any of my local libraries.  I have holds out for all of them, so hopefully I’ll have an update for you soon soony soon.  Here they are, just for ha has:

Indian ShoesThe People Shall ContinueShinchi's Canoe

Coming soon (meaning hopefully next Sunday but by then Mini Mimi will be here so I’m not making any promises….hope you understand) is the next installment…chapter books for ages 7-9! 

Party on!

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  • Thank you so much for sharing we have a learning center in Santa Barbara and we are doing a read-a-thon this summer with the kids. Passing on your list to the parents.

    The reviews are great 🙂


    June 4, 2010 at 1:01 pm
  • I know this is an old post, but somehow I just ran over it…and I had to share. I did a Jacqueline Woodson author study last year with my second graders around Novemberish…the time when I was thinking, "Will these kids ever be able to get through a book and make a comment that's NOT about their grandmother's friend's cousin's cat?!" Well, thanks Jacqueline Woodson, because that was the turning point for our entire year.

    Did you notice that on the cover of Show Way, the girl holding the candle and standing on the stool is an allusion to the statue of liberty? No? Me either. But one of my SECOND GRADERS NOTICED! I mean, what the HECK?!?!?!? Talk about AMAZING conversations…head exploding quality stuff.

    January 26, 2011 at 12:02 am

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