The devastation in Haiti has captured the attention of the world. Like many, I wanted to pack my bags, descend on the island nation and do whatever I could to help. I still feel that way, and I am developing a plan for how I can help the country with some dogged reporting later this year. As we all know, another story will break, the light of the media will shift elsewhere, and the struggle to rebuild that country will not end for years, maybe decades.
The photos and stories of children affect me the most. I want to scoop up as many Haitian children my arms can hold and bring them back to my home. I know it is not feasible and may not be the best way to help. I just feel for the parents and their children. For now, I hug Simone and Nadia a little tighter, give them a few more kisses and count my blessings.
Such devastation makes me think about how much information about the world we share with our children and at what age. I vividly remember understanding and taking an interest in the news when I was 9. I think I will use that as my guide for when and how much information I will share with Simone and Nadia.
When Barack Obama became the 44th president of the United States, I attempted to wake up then 3-year-old Simone so that somehow she might remember the night her mother made a big fuss about something happening on television. As you may remember, the returns came in early. Simone had been asleep a little more than an hour, and I could not wake her. I cuddled with her instead. When Michael Jackson died last summer, Simone informed me of his death a few days after it happened. She had heard about it at preschool, and she knew it was big enough news to share with me. I could tell, though, that death and its meaning did not resonate with her. She did not ask any questions, and I did not offer an explanation.
Simone and Nadia have not spoken a word about the earthquake in Haiti, and I have no plans of sharing what happened with them. I do wonder how other parents have approached such issues in the past and what plans, if any, they have for discussing the world in the future.
What do you say? How do you say it ? And when?
A quick search turned up this resource for teacher and parents.
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.
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
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
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.