Game Day

On December 9, 2009, in Biracial, bookshelf, by Honeysmoke

Game Day

By Tiki and Ronde Barber

We have one serious football fan and two blossoming football fans in our home. With this in mind, I picked up Game Day at the library for some father-daughter bonding time.

In the book, NFL stars Tiki and Ronde Barber play for a Pee Wee league. Ronde, a defensive back, blocks players, while his twin brother, Tiki, scores a winning touchdown. After the game, a reporter visits the brothers at home, interviews Tiki and ignores Ronde and his contribution to the game. Ronde is disappointed and wonders why no one notices how he helped his brother score. After Ronde suffers a minor injury, Tiki struggles in the game. Meanwhile, their coach tells Ronde the reason Tiki is struggling is because he is missing his “main man.”

During football practice, the coach tells the brothers about his plans for a new play, which involves both of them.  The twins use the play in the next game and propel the team to victory.

Simone and Nadia understand the book’s universal message of teamwork even though they do not understand all of the football terms. The story illustrates the strength, abilities, and differences of two brothers and can be used to start discussions about all three.

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If You Give …

On December 2, 2009, in Biracial, by Honeysmoke

If You Take A Mouse To The Movies, If You Give A Pig A Party, If You Give A Cat A Cupcake, and If You Give A Moose A Muffin

By Laura Joffe Numeroff and Felicia Bond

If you are looking for an affordable gift for a child this season and live near a Kohl’s, these books give and give. The hardcover books are $5, and the net profit will be donated to children’s health and education initiatives, according to the Kohl’s Cares for Kids blurb on the back of each book.

Two of these books and the $5 plush animals that complement them showed up at our house over the weekend. We do not have a Kohl’s in our town, but there is one near Grandma’s house.

Just before Christmas, Simone and Nadia will exchange one wrapped book with another child at preschool. These books would be perfect for that. Alas, I scoured and could not  find the books listed on the site.

For the uninitiated, the If You Give books start with a simple premise and then all sorts of hilarity ensues. You cannot read just one. I guess that is why we have several of them in our library.

Simone and Nadia giggle when we read these books to them, and we often play I Spy with the richly detailed illustrations. There is no pressing lesson to learn in the pages of these books, unless you count having fun.

One World, One Day

On November 17, 2009, in Biracial, bookshelf, by Honeysmoke

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One World, One Day

By Barbara Kerley

Here is the proof that our world is small, big, similar, and different all at the same time. This picture book follows children around the world from dawn to sunset.

The book features 60 photographs that show and tell how children in every corner of the world spend one day. What is so striking is how similar the day is for children. They all eat breakfast, go to school, spend time with their families, conduct chores, and fall asleep at night to do it all over again.

The pictures in this book can be used to tell stories and teach children about other cultures. There is a map in the back of the book that shows where all of the pictures were taken. Simone and Nadia like to point to where they live, and then I point to where some of the pictures were taken. This is a wonderful little book. We don’t own it yet, but it will find its way to our bookshelf soon.

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For The Boys

On November 4, 2009, in Biracial, bookshelf, by Honeysmoke

The numbers are startling.

Of the 5,000 children’s books published every year, no more than 5 percent are written by or about blacks, Asians, Latinos or Native Americans, reports Catalyst Chicago.  Last year, the Cooperative Children’s Book Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison catalogued 172 picture books, novels and nonfiction books published that were about Africans or African-Americans.  Of those, 83 were written or illustrated by blacks.

Given those figures, I had to feature three books about black boys.

For You Are A Kenyan Child By Kelly Cunnane — A Kenyan child roams his village and forgets he has chores to do.

Fly By Christopher Myers — A look at the unlikely friendship between a boy and a homeless man.

Be Boy Buzz By bell hooks — Explores what it means to be a boy.

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Panda & Polar Bear

On October 28, 2009, in Biracial, bookshelf, by Honeysmoke

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Panda & Polar Bear

By Matthew J. Baek

This little book comes highly recommended by our local children’s librarian.

When a polar bear falls over the edge of an ice cliff, he finds panda, who assumes the mud-covered polar bear is just like him. The two play together and become friends. They are the same, until panda offers polar bear some bamboo. Polar bear is not impressed with the bamboo and instead takes a dive in the water and catches a fish. Panda immediately notices his friends “splotches” have washed away. No matter. Panda helps his friend get home, where they can be seen playing in the snow.

This book gets a high score from me because it takes the subject of differences and translates it into words and pictures the preschool set can understand. It also gains points for not being preachy. As for Simone and Nadia, there is no wrong when it comes to bears. They aren’t so cuddly at the zoo, but in a book bears will grab — and hold — their attention every time.

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Beyond Black

On October 19, 2009, in Biracial, by Honeysmoke

Beyond Black

By Kerry Ann Rockquemore and David L. Brunsma

The authors conducted extensive research and document how biracial children develop racial identities and how racial identities are obtained from several areas, including historical, contemporary social and cultural methods.

I recently interviewed Kerry Ann Rockquemore. We talked about her research, her biracial identity and how parents raising biracial or multiracial children can do to help their children form healthy identities.


While conducting research for Beyond Black, Kerry Ann Rockquemore heard one comment over and over again from biracial children.

“They wished their parents had given them the tools to deal with racism,” said Rockquemore, an associate professor in the Department of Sociology and African American Studies at University of Illinois in Chicago.

Rejection, they told her, came from every angle.  For example, children were teased about the color of their skin. They couldn’t spend the night at a friend’s home, and they felt constant pressure to choose a race.

“Ultimately, we all want to belong,” Rockquemore said. “Whenever we have rejection experiences, whether from whites or blacks, it’s really hard not to internalize it.”

Parents can help their children by keeping an open dialogue in their homes and “creating an environment where kids can talk about anything that happens to them.”

If children’s questions are met with silence, a part of their identity is not resolved. As a result, “a piece of the identity is forged out of being excluded.”

Parents also have to ask themselves some tough questions.

“What do we believe and how are we going to explain our world to our child?“ Rockquemore said.

“Are you going to intervene in the creation of racial understanding? If you are going to intervene, what messages are you going to convey? There is no right or wrong here.”

There’s also no right or wrong when it comes to identity. Rockquemore, 37, is biracial and identifies herself as black. Initially, she thought most of those she interviewed would do the same. What she found, though, is biracial children chose from several identities.

There were those who didn’t choose a race and considered themselves human. Some identified as black, while others identified as white. Some considered themselves “mixed,” while others shifted their race depending on the situation.

Rockquemore has three siblings and each one of them identifies his or her race differently.

All of the choices reveal the complexity of race.

“It’s messy. It’s complicated, and it’s not going away,” Rockquemore said. “We’re at this historical moment. What has worked in the past doesn’t work anymore, and it’s not clear how we’re going to move forward.”

There is hope, though. As the number of interracial marriages increase and more biracial and multiracial children are born, society will change.

“I think because there is so much more acceptance (than when Rockquemore was growing up) it will be easier to construct a racial identity. My hope is that things are changing in a positive direction. It’s just I don’t think we’re quite there yet.”

Skin Again

On October 7, 2009, in Biracial, bookshelf, by Honeysmoke

Cover ImageSkin Again

By bell hooks

Illustrated By Chris Raschka

“The skin I’m in is just a covering. It cannot tell my story.”

These are the opening words for Skin Again. The book offers a way to discuss race and identity with children. It is an invitation to look deeper, to look inside, to look at what really matters.

This book is a library find, and it is a little on the serious side. Simone understood the book’s message, but I don’t think she will request I read it to her. Still, I may purchase this book, in case I need to pull it out to illustrate a point about skin.

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Amazing Grace

On September 30, 2009, in Biracial, bookshelf, by Honeysmoke

cover pictureAmazing Grace

By Mary Hoffman

Simone received this book as a gift. Until then, I had not heard the story of Grace, a little girl who doesn’t let anyone deter her from her dream.

When Grace’s teacher decides the class will present Peter Pan, Grace knows which role she would like to play. One child tells her she can’t be Peter Pan because she is a girl. Another child tells her she can’t be Peter Pan because she is black. Meanwhile, the women in her life remind Grace she can do anything, and she dazzles everyone with her performance.

Simone has asked us to read this book to her so much I can tell the story without reading the words. I suggest it because parents can easily edit a few phrases and make it fit a modern day dilemma and teach their children how they can set their own course toward success.

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Manipulating Parents

On September 25, 2009, in Biracial, by Honeysmoke

Cover ImageHelp – My Kid Is Driving Me Crazy: The 17 Ways Kids Manipulate Their Parents And What You Can Do About It 
By David Swanson

Simone and Nadia manipulate us on a daily basis. I think children come preprogrammed like a computer. There is the whine software, the beg application, and the cry database. That said, the girls aren’t quite as sophisticated as some children in this book, and I am passing this on to a mother or father who can use it. 
A few examples: 
“Let me go just this once, and I promise I’ll do all of my homework.”

“But Dad said …”

“Susie’s parents are cool. What’s wrong with you?”

Sound familiar? Leave a comment by 11:59 p.m. (CST) Oct. 2 about how your child manipulates you, and the book can be yours. Simone will point to the winning entry on my computer screen, and I’ll notify the winner.

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Zen Ties

On September 16, 2009, in Biracial, bookshelf, by Honeysmoke


Zen Ties

By Jon J.  Muth

This is another library find, and it has so many messages within its pages. When summer arrives, Koo visits his uncle, Stillwater.  Koo, a haiku-speaking panda, learns how to conserve resources and help those in need. Stillwater encourages Koo, and his friends Addy, Michael, and Karl to help an elder neighbor, and their kindness is rewarded in ways they could never imagine.

Zen Ties is a story about thoughtfulness and shows children how they can touch lives.

Simone and Nadia always point out how Stillwater, the elder panda, is so much larger than Koo and the children in the book, and I can’t get enough of the haiku.

My favorite:

Nearing my visit’s end

summer now tastes of apple tea

I will keep my cup

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