Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

On May 14, 2010, in Biracial, by Honeysmoke

The coming week will be filled with beginnings and endings.

Simone will have breakfast at her new elementary school one day and “graduate” from preschool the next.

At the breakfast, she will meet the school’s kindergarten teachers, tour the building, and otherwise become acclimated with what we call the Big Kid School. We have driven by the school several times in the last few weeks, and we point out the school bus as it rumbles through our neighborhood each morning. Simone is excited about making the transition. I, though, am surprised by a bit of melancholy that is surfacing as I write this.

Simone and Nadia will then show us just how much they have learned this year during a preschool program, and Simone and a dozen other rising kindergartners will “graduate.” I have seen two of these programs before, and I don’t know whether to celebrate or cry. I plan to celebrate with big hugs and kisses. At the same time, I am not making any promises.

By the way, what do parents think of the graduation kit pictured above? It is designed for infants and preschoolers, and I saw it recently at the local bookstore. The kit has: a keepsake box, greeting card, graduation journal, graduation banner, diploma, photo frame, stickers, magnets, doorhanger, jigsaw puzzle and bookmark. My first impression was how cute and thoughtful, but then I wondered whether it was a bit much for a preschool graduation. Weigh in.

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My Name is Celia

On April 28, 2010, in Biracial, by Honeysmoke

My Name is Celia/Me Llamo Celia

Written by Monica Brown

Illustrated by Rafael Lopez

Boom boom boom! beat the congas.

Clap clap clap! go the hands.

Shake shake shake! go the hips.

This is one of the many musical lessons Simone and Nadia learned when they attended a bilingual reading of My Name is Celia/Me Llamo Celia. Author Monica Brown and illustrator Rafael Lopez entertained a diverse crowd of parents and children with this vibrant book about the Cuban-born Queen of Salsa. Brown read in English, while Lopez read in Spanish. Azucar, or sugar, was one of the many Spanish words Simone and Nadia understood.

The book’s lyrical writing reveals the life of of Celia Cruz. She learns as a child in Havana that she has the gift for song, rhythm and dance, and she rises to worldwide musical acclaim. Celia shows how hard work overcomes adversity. For example, Cruz couldn’t participate in some singing contests because of the color of her skin. She didn’t let that stop her and was honored by presidents. In the end, she sold gold records, won Grammy awards and earned a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame.

I fell in love with the book, because the lines read like those often heard at poetry slams.

Close your eyes and listen, the book begins. My voice feels like feet skipping on cool wet sand, like running under a waterfall, like rolling down a hill. My voice climbs and rocks and dips and flips with the sounds of congas beating and trumpets blaring.

Of course, I purchased a copy of Celia for our library at home and asked Brown and Lopez to sign it for the girls.

“May your smiles fly across the sky,” wrote Brown, referring to a line in the book.

“Keep on reading and fall in love with books,” Lopez wrote.

No problem, no problem at all.

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Playing Loteria

On April 14, 2010, in Biracial, bookshelf, by Honeysmoke

Playing Loteria / El Juego De La Loteria

By Rene Colato Lainez

Illustrated by Jill Arena

Playing Loteria is a library find and tells the story in English and Spanish of a boy and his grandmother. Simone and Nadia love this book and enjoy hearing the Spanish words.

The boy visits his grandmother in Mexico. There is only one problem. He knows very little Spanish, and she speaks little English.  His concern begins to disappear when he learns his grandmother runs a lotería booth, a game similar to Bingo. The boy is intrigued and wants to learn how to call the cards. His grandmother wants to teach him, as long as he teaches her English. By the time he leaves, the boy is the best caller in San Luis, and his grandmother knows more English.

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Children’s Lit

On October 10, 2009, in Biracial, by Honeysmoke


The Cooperative Children’s Book Center is a resource for children’s books and features several book lists. Below is one I will use over and over again.

50 Multicultural Books Every Child Should Know

Compiled by Ginny Moore Kruse and Kathleen T. Horning
Updated by Kathleen T. Horning and Megan Schliesman
© 2006, 2001 Cooperative Children’s Book Center


    Ada, Alma Flor and F. Isabel Campoy, selectors. English adapations by Alice Schertle . ¡Pio Peep! Traditional Spanish Nursery Rhymes.. Illustrated by Viví Escrivá. HarperCollins, 2003. 64 pages. Ages birth – 6 years

    Heo, Yumi. One Afternoon. Orchard, 1994. Ages 2 – 4

    Morales, Yuyi. Just a Minute: A Trickster Tale and Counting Book. Chronicle, 2003. Ages 4 – 7

    Reiser, Lynn. Margaret and Margarita/Margarita y Margaret. Greenwillow, 1993. Ages 3 – 6

    Steptoe, John. Baby Says. Lothrop, Lee & Shepard, 1988. Ages 1 – 3

    Tarpley, Natasha. I Love My Hair!. Illustrated by E. B. Lewis. Little, Brown, 1998. Ages 4 – 8

    Te, Ata. Baby Rattlesnake. Illustrated by Mira Reisberg. Children’s Book Press, 1989.

    Thong, Rosanne. Round Is a Mooncake: A Book of Shapes. Illustrated by Grace Lin. Chronicle, 2000.

    Weiss, George David and Bob Thiele . What a Wonderful World. Illustrated by Bryan Ashley. Atheneum, 1995. Ages 2 – 8

    Wheeler, Bernelda. Where Did You Get Your Moccasins? . Illustrated by Herman Bekkering. Peguis, 1986.

    Williams, Vera B.. More, More, More, Said the Baby: Three Love Stories. Greenwillow, 1990.

Ages 5-7

    Cheng, Andrea. Grandfather Counts. Illustrated by Ange Zhang. Lee & Low, 2000. Ages 4 – 8

    Cisneros, Sandra. Hairs/Pelitos. Illustrated by Terry Ybånez. Knopf, 1994. Ages 3 – 7

    Dorros, Arthur. Abuela. Illustrated by Elisa Kleven. Dutton, 1991. Ages 4 – 7

    Greenfield, Eloise. Honey, I Love, and Other Poems. Illustrated by Leo & Dianne Dillon. Harper, 1978.

    Harjo, Joy. The Good Luck Cat. Illustrated by Paul Lee. Harcourt, 2000. Ages 4 – 7

    Hausherr, Rosemary. Celebrating Families. Scholastic, 1997. Ages 4 – 9

    Look, Lenore. Uncle Peter’s Amazing Chinese Wedding. Illustrated by Yumi Heo. Anne Schwartz / Atheneum, 2006. 32 pages. Ages 3-7

    McKissack, Patricia C.. Mirandy and Brother Wind. Illustrated by Jerry Pinkney. Knopf, 1988. Ages 4 – 8

    Pinkney, Sandra L.. Shades of Black: A Celebration of Our Children. Illustrated by Myles Pinkney. Scholastic, 2000. Ages 3 – 11

    Swamp, Jake. Giving Thanks: A Native American Good Morning Message. Illustrated by Erwin Printup, Jr. Lee & Low, 1995.

    Vyner, Tim. World Team. U.S. edition: Roaring Brook Press, 2002. Ages 4 – 9

    Waboose, Jan Bourdeau. Morning on the Lake. Illustrated by Karen Reczuch. Kids Can Press, 1998. Ages 5 – 8

Ages 7-9

    Ada, Alma Flor. My Name Is Maria Isabel. Atheneum, 1993. Ages 8 – 10

    Alarcon, Francisco X. From the Bellybutton of the Moon, and Other Summer Poems / Del ombligo de la luna, y otros poemas de verano. Illustrated by Maya Christina Gonzalez. Children’s Book Press, 1998. Ages 7 – 10

    Cha, Dia and Chue and Nhia Thao Cha . Dia’s Story Cloth: The Hmong People’s Journey to Freedom. Denver Museum of Natural History/Lee & Low, 1996. Ages 8 – 11

    Hamilton, Virginia. The People Could Fly: American Black Folktales. Illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon. Knopf, 1985.

    Krull, Kathleen. Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez. Harcourt, 2003. Ages 5 – 9

    Lester, Julius. John Henry. Illustrated by Jerry Pinkney. Dial, 1994. Ages 4 – 12

    Look, Lenore. Ruby Lu, Brave and True. Illustrated by Anne Wilsdorf. Atheneum, 2004. 105 pages. Ages 5 – 9

    Ortiz, Simon. The People Shall Continue. Illustrated by Sharol Graves. Children’s Book Press, 1988.

    Ringgold, Faith. Tar Beach. Crown, 1991. Ages 5 – 11

    Smith, Cynthia Leitich. Indian Shoes. HarperCollins, 2002. Ages 6 – 9

    Walter, Mildred Pitts. Justin and the Best Biscuits in the World. Lothrop, 1988.

    Woodson, Jacqueline. Show Way. Illustrated by Hudson Talbott. Putnam, 2005. 40 pages. Ages 5-9

Ages 9-12

    Bridges, Ruby. Through My Eyes. Scholastic, 1999. Ages 9 and older

    Curtis, Christopher Paul. Bud, Not Buddy. Delacorte, 1999. Ages 8 – 13

    Erdrich, Louise. The Birchbark House. Hyperion, 1999. Ages 8 – 12

    Grace, Catherine O’Neill and Margaret M. Bruchac, with Plimoth Plantation . 1621: A New Look at Thanksgiving. Photographed by Sisse Brimberg and Cotton Coulson. National Geographic, 2001. 48 pages. Ages 8-14

    Hamanaka, Sheila. The Journey: Japanese Americans, Racism and Renewal. Orchard, 1990. Ages 9 and older

    King, Casey and Linda Barrett Osborne . Oh, Freedom! Kids Talk About the Civil Rights Movement with the People Who Made It Happen. Knopf, 1997. Ages 8 – 14

    Nye, Naomi Shihab, editor. The Tree Is Older Than You Are: A Bilingual Gathering of Poems & Stories from Mexico with Paintings from Mexican Artists. Simon & Schuster, 1995. Age 8 and older

    Park, Linda Sue. A Single Shard. Clarion, 2001. Ages 9 – 12

    Ryan, Pam Munoz. Esperanza Rising. Scholastic, 2000. Ages 10 – 14

    Shange, Ntozake. ellington was not a street. Illustrated by Kadir Nelson. Simon & Schuster, 2004. 32 pages. Ages 8 and older

    Skarmeta, Antonio. The Composition. Illustrated by Alfonso Ruano. U.S. edition: A Groundwood Book/Douglas & McIntyre, 2000. Ages 9 – 16

    Taylor, Mildred D.. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry.. Dial, 1976.

    Yep, Laurence. The Rainbow People. HarperCollins, 1989.

    This list may be reproduced and distributed by educational and/or nonprofit organizations so long as credit is given to the Cooperative Children’s Book Center, School of Education, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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