Tag Archives: Friday Five

Friday Five: Transgender Awareness Week

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The second week in November is always Transgender Awareness Week. Below is a list of five books you can read with your child during that week. However, you should have these on your shelf throughout the year so as to dispel the idea that transgender people only pop up one week a year or need to be relegated to one week in November. It is doubly important this year with the current administration threatening to erase trans people and their rights. 

I Am Jazz1. I Am Jazz written by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings, illustrated by Shelagh McNicholas

This is a must-have for anyone creating or cultivating a decolonized bookshelf. With author Jessica Herthel Jazz Jennings explains how she grew up knowing she was trans. It’s incredibly simple yet complex and will likely open up conversations between you and your child. Don’t be afraid to have those conversations with your child (although read the parent resources at the back first) and don’t be afraid to tell your child you don’t know an answer and will have to get back to them once you’ve done some research for yourself. The illustrations in the book a so sweet and gentle with a bright palate that make it very inviting.  

They She He Me2. They She He Me: Free to Be! by Maya Gonzalez  

They She He Me is a very, very simple reader that has two-page spreads of a variety of children and people with pronouns repeated underneath. It’s a visual of how people who identify as one gender or pronoun can present so differently physically. Gonzalez is always good at being inclusive so there are disabled people as well as a variety of skin tones. This book is fine on its own and, as with I Am Jazz, can be a great jumping off point for talking about how gender is not binary and up to the individual to determine.  

The Gender Wheel3. The Gender Wheel: A Story About Bodies and Gender by Maya Gonzalez

If you want a lot more in-depth coverage of gender, read Gonzalez’ The Gender Wheel which is PHENOMENAL. Be aware that it is much longer and more text heavy than They She He Me which may make it less accessible to younger kids. But don’t let that be the reason you pass it up. You can break it up over a few days or nights or just dip in from time to time. If you are not familiar with talking about gender outside a binary or you are not comfortable with it, buy this book and read it again and again. And if you are familiar or comfortable with it, buy this book and read it again and again. While I personally talk all about bodies and body parts with my kids in an effort to avoid teaching shame around nakedness, your mileage may vary. There are two versions of the book- one with naked bodies and one without. I recommend you go for the naked bodies, but you’ll need to be the judge of that for your family. 

One of a Kind Like Me4. One of a Kind Like Me written by Laurin Mayeno, illustrated by Robert Liu-Trujillo

While this isn’t necessarily about a transgender child, it does show that clothing can be fluid and does not have to be limited to the narrow idea that girls wear dresses and boys wear pants. In One of a Kind Like Me, Danny wants to dress in a purple princess dress for school but he’s having a hard time finding the costume he imagined at the local thrift shop. After a little worrying Danny and his mom realize that they’ll have to get creative to make Danny’s idea a reality. Again, refer to The Gender Wheel to help you frame your conversations. Clothes may or may not be tied to gender for children, but it’s important to get away from the idea of a binary.

Sparkle Boy5. Sparkle Boy written Leslea Newman, illustrated by Maria Mola

This is in a similar vein as One of a Kind. Here Casey likes to wear things that are considered girly- bracelets and a sparkly skirt. What I like about this book is it shows Casey’s sister grappling with the idea of her brother not conforming to what she thinks boys should be wearing. Casey doesn’t seem to notice that he’s not conforming to gender norms which is great and while we don’t really need to center cisgender voices when talking about these things, it’s good to see how his sister struggles because some kids and people will and do struggle to wrap their minds around a new way of thinking about gender. By the end of the story Casey’s sister 

Books to warn against:

Jacob’s New Dress. The dad is kind of a dick in this one and I think the books above do a much better job addressing the issues. 

Julian is a Mermaid. This one just came out and it looked promising, but it’s written by a cisgender white lady and has a lot of problems. Read this critique by Laura Jimenez for more information. 

Friday Five: Interactive Books

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Friday Five is a series that suggests five books around a theme. You can use them to jump off into a themed homeschool unit, guide your reading around an interest, or just as a ready-made set of books to read. 

Interactive Books

Interactive books are books that invite the reader(s) to touch them, shake them and become part of the story. 

Tap the Magic Tree1. Tap the Magic Tree written and illustrated by Christie Matheson

Tap the Magic Tree follows a tree through the four seasons. Children are invited to rub, touch, tap and blow to help the tree change through the seasons. This is a really great way to introduce the change of seasons to young children as they help bring them about. I particularly like all of Matheson’s books with their clean, bright illustrations. This would also be a great addition to a nature or tree study unit. The real message here being that the tree isn’t actually magical, but that it can certainly seem that way. 

Mix It Up2. Mix It Up! written and illustrated by Herve Tullet

Press Here, Tullet’s first title, is sometimes heralded as being the start of this genre, but I prefer the author’s second book Mix It Up! This one focuses on helping children understand color theory through tapping, rubbing, and smashing the book closed. 

Don't Push the Button3. Don’t Push the Button written and illustrated by Bill Cotter

A little purple monster has been charged with not pushing a tempting little red button. But what will happen if it does?! Hilarity ensues as he gives in to the temptation and then tries to fix the results by pushing the button again and again and again. This one makes for a great read aloud, even in a large group. Kids will get a kick out of pointing out what has happened with each push of the button.

 

Don't Wake Up the Tiger4. Don’t Wake Up the Tiger written and illustrated by Britta Teckentrup

Teckentrup is like catnip in our family. We love her stories and her illustrations. This one is no exception. Here a group of animals needs to get from one side of a sleeping tiger to the other. Readers help the animals across the page by blowing them across or helping settle the tiger back into a deep sleep. But with the final animal, a balloon pops. Uh-oh. What is tiger going to do?

This Book Just Ate My Dog5. This Book Just Ate My Dog! written by Richard Byrne

Bella is out for a walk with her dog when something unexpected happens. Bella makes it across the gutter of the book, but her dog does not. After her friend, an ambulance, and fire truck head into the gutter to find out what’s going on and don’t return, Bella has to take matters into her own hands. Except she slips into the gutter too! A page turn reveals a note thrown out by Bella that requests that the reader turn the book sideways and shake everyone and everything out. I have used this book in the library to draw attention to the physical aspects of books and use it to kick off a conversation about all the names of the parts of a book. But it’s also a good interactive book for storytime if you don’t want to be swarmed by children all wanting to tap here, swipe there, and push the button. 

Friday Five: Back to School

Friday Five BannerFriday Five is a series that suggests five books around a theme. You can use them to jump off into a themed homeschool unit, guide your reading around an interest, or just as a ready-made set of books to read. 

Back to School

School's First Day of School1. School’s First Day of School written by Adam Rex, illustrated by Christian Robinson

This book is equal parts funny and sweet. A recently built school worries about the first day of school and meeting the children. While waiting for that fateful day it talks to the janitor. When the first day finally arrives things don’t go exactly as expected, but the school learns a lot and comes to appreciate his place. 

A Hand to Hold2. A Hand to Hold written by Zetta Elliott, illustrated by Purple Wong

A little girl takes comfort in the solid presence and support of her dad. They go everywhere together, the store, the library, and one day, school. But here the girl learns that her dad won’t be playing with her. At first she’s sad and scared, but the teacher steps in a pairs her up with another little girl struggling. Fortunately the little girl knows just what to do to help both of them feel brave enough to run off to play. Just try not to get misty eyed by the end of this one. :) 

I'm New Here3. I’m New Here written and illustrated by Anne Sibley O’Brien

Three immigrant children narrate their experiences of starting out at school in the US. They don’t speak English, can’t read or write in English and haven’t made friends, but come to jump all these hurdles with the help and encouragement of their peers and teachers. This one isn’t technically the first day of school, but it is about starting out in a new school. 

First Day Jitters4. First Day Jitters written by Julie Danneberg, illustrated by Judy Love

This is an older book, but it’s great for the first days of school. It flips the traditional narrative of kids afraid to start at a new school and follows a teacher worried about all the same things kids usually worry about (getting lost, not knowing anyone or anything, etc.). The fact that the character is the teacher is not revealed until the end of the book and makes for a good laugh when kids realize they aren’t alone in their fears. 

5. Ming Goes to School written by Deirdre Sullivan, illustrated by Maja Löfdahl

This is not technically a back to school book, but a book that follows Ming through the school year. The text is very spare and simple, but makes for a really beautiful story of Ming growing up through the year at school (parents, get your tissues ready!). The illustrations are just beautiful watercolors that make the story feel that much more sentimental. The soft lines and bright flowing colors really give you a sense of the passage of time. Well worth a read at the beginning of each school year. As a side note, Ming may be adopted? She looks Asian (she’s fairly generic) plus her name is Chinese, but the man, who drops her off, looks white. And the first part of the text says that school is where she learns to say hello which could simply mean she’s shy, but to me seemed more literal. Just a thought. That could be more of an interpretation based on the illustrations combined with the text rather than something actually implied by the text. She could also be bi-racial. My point being, children may be able to read a little more diversity into the story and see some representation. 

Friday Five: Lighthouses

Maybe it’s the cheerful colors of lighthouses or the fact that they’re so iconic of costal places, but they signify summer time to me. In honor of July here’s a Friday Five dedicated to lighthouses.  

Hello LighthouseHello Lighthouse written and illustrated by Sophie Blackall

Watch the days and seasons pass as the wind blows, the fog rolls in, and icebergs drift by. Outside, there is water all around. Inside, the daily life of a lighthouse keeper and his family unfolds as the keeper boils water for tea, lights the lamp’s wick, and writes every detail in his logbook.

We recently bought this one and love it. I have mixed feelings about Blackall since the fiasco with A Fine Dessert, but this one is a winner. It’s got intricate, beautiful illustrations and the story is fun too. The form factor of the book is especially neat- long and tall like a lighthouse itself and many of the illustrations contain circles and circle motifs echoing the rooms of the lighthouse.

 

Keep the Lights BurningKeep the Lights Burning, Abbie written by Peter and Connie Roop, illustrated by Peter E. Hanson

In the winter of 1856, a storm delays the lighthouse keeper’s return to an island off the coast of Maine, and his daughter Abbie must keep the lights burning by herself.

I remember reading this book in either first or second grade. I loved it then because it was such an exciting story and I was so struck by how brave and tenacious Abbie was. Even better, the story is based on a real storm and a real girl- the end has a note about the true events. Cam and I pulled out our copy of this after we stayed in a lighthouse keeper’s quarters back in February of this year. Keep the Lights Burning is actually an easy reader, which might make it good for emerging readers to partner up with a parent or older sibling to read through. But even if your child isn’t reading yet, give it a try. 

 

Little Red LighthouseThe Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge written by Hildegard H. Swift, illustrated by Lynd Ward

If you like sentimental, classic stories this is one to try. A little red lighthouse happily keeps watch over the mouth of the river in New York City until one day a large gray bridge it built, towering over the little lighthouse. The new bridge also has a bright light on the top of one of its towers. Feeling forgotten and replaced the lighthouse believes it is no longer needed until a storm blows in a familiar tug boat wrecks on the rocks. The bridge calls out to the lighthouse telling it the light on the tower is for planes and that the lighthouse is still needed. The lighthouse keeper also appears and is grumbling about his keys being hidden by some naughty boys. The lighthouse beams out once more and finds its purpose again. The full sentiment of the story may be lost on most children, but I don’t think that will take the enjoyment out of the story. To me it’s reminiscent of Virginia Lee Burton’s books and it is from the same era so it isn’t surprising that it does bring those to mind. I love that the book is a small nearly square rectangle much like the little lighthouse squatting on the edge of the river. 

 

The Abandoned LighthouseThe Abandoned Lighthouse written by Albert Lamb, illustrated by David McPhail

This was such an interesting book. It felt a little existential, a little dreamy, and a little magical. Definitely give it a read if you like gentle, but exciting stories. Also, strangely, most of the lighthouse books I have read feature girls (not complaining) or animals. This book has a little boy (and a bear) as the protagonist. The two are brought together by a row boat and an empty lighthouse for a quick overnight adventure.

 

 

 

Gracie the Lighthouse CatGracie, the Lighthouse Cat written and illustrated by Ruth Brown

Gracie is a great study in how illustrations can convey an entire story not written in the text. This is even more interesting as that second story shown in the pictures is a true story of a ship wreck and a lighthouse keeper and his daughter rescuing the stranded survivors. The text in this book is short and simple, but also very dramatic. Be aware that the kitten is swept out in the storm and the mother looks frantically for it. But all is well in the end, for both the cats and the people. 

Friday Five: Families

I’ve talked before about how different our family structure looks when you take in all the grandparents. Even though divorce seems to be fairly common it isn’t the majority of families and I think this generation of children is seeing it in the grandparent generation more than, say, my generation did. That being said, there are all kinds of family structures out there when it comes to parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, etc. Today I’m going to feature five books (plus a bonus book) that reflect different family structures. Be sure to share these with kids who have a “traditional” family structure, too. Even if their home doesn’t look like these, their friends’ homes might and we need to build awareness, empathy, and competency around that for those kids.  In other words, don’t hesitate to read this even if you have a “traditional” family. 

families-families-families1. Families, Families, Families written and illustrated by Suzanne and Max Lang

We got this one out of the library and it was a hit. Instead of using people the book uses animals to reflect all kinds of families- step, adoptive, “traditional”, same sex, single parent, grandparent, lots of kids, only children, etc. Each family is shown in some kind of portrait or snapshot that is framed on a mantel or wall and it’s fun to pay attention to the decor in each house you glimpse. After seeing all the different families the point is made that it’s love that binds families together, not what they look like. As much as I hate the idea that animals can count as diversity, I think it’s handled well here and I know for my animal-loving, people-shy kid this book hit home more than any other. 

 

two-is-enough2. Two is Enough written by Janna Matthies, illustrated by Tuesday Mourning

As you might guess from the cover and title this book features families that have only two people. I actually bought this one for my library and haven’t spent a lot of time with it. As you can see there is racial diversity in the families as well as gender. Some are single dads and some are single moms. What I don’t remember is if this book implies that any of the single parent families are single because of divorce. Either way I think a child living with one parent at a time would also find themselves in the pages of this book. 

 

 

one-family3. One Family written by George Shannon, illustrated by Blanca Gomez

This is an interesting take on the counting concept book. Instead of a simple 1-2-3 counting pattern One Family counts parts of a whole. Everything is always one family, but then it counts up to ten looking at things like cookies shared in a family. While kindergarten and younger children will enjoy the predictability of the pattern of the text, older kids (up into first grade) will enjoy the peek into such a range of families. My daughter enjoyed finding all the animals and pets in the pictures, but she also really enjoyed “checking” the math and counting the objects shown in the illustrations. I find the sharp digital illustrations really modern and appealing, too. 

 

 

stella4. Stella Brings the Family written by Miriam B. Schiffer, illustrated by Holly Clifton-Brown

Stella’s first grade class is going to have a Mother’s Day celebration, but Stella doesn’t have a mother in the traditional sense. She thinks a lot about what she’s going to do about the party. In the end she brings all the people who “mother” her and it ends up being the whole family. I particularly like the message that we needn’t be so rigid in how we view parental roles. A mother is someone specific, but mothering people can be done by many people in our families. And I think Stella’s dilemma will familiar to single parent families and families where it isn’t a mother or father who cares for the children (like a grandparent or aunt/uncle family). Be sure to notice the little boy thinking of his two moms on one of the last pages when the kids take home an invitation to a Father’s Day celebration.

 

home-at-last5. Home At Last written by Vera B. Williams, illustrated by Chris Raschka

This one just released a week or so ago and I haven’t had a chance to read it, but it’s about a little boy adopted by two dads. It unabashedly shows the little boy crawling into bed with them when he’s scared at night, just like any child with a mom and a dad would. The little boy, Lester, is scared at night and needs help feeling secure. Despite all his dads’ efforts to make him comfortable and secure it’s the dog who solves the problem. Nighttime uncertainty and fear are not reserved for adopted children and while the story may have special significance for two-dad families and adoptive families, I think plenty of kids will know how Lester feels. 

 

 

After creating this list I realized I have two books with two dads and no books with two moms. (I was going for adoption with Home At Last.) in-our-mothers-houseNecessary Bonus Book: In Our Mothers’ House written and illustrated by Patricia Polacco.

I have not read this one, but I do know Polacco’s work. She often writes books that are a bit longer and deeper than picture books traditionally are. That being said I don’t think there is any reason you can’t share this will young children. I think it really means that it will have appeal much further up the age range. Here the children of two moms are challenged by a lack of acceptance in their neighborhood. They need to rely on the love their family has built to help them feel confident and secure. As I haven’t read it, I can’t be sure, but knowing Polacco I suspect this is a lot more about the love and fun in the house than it is about the negative attitudes of the neighbors.

 

misadventures-of-the-family-fletcherBonus chapter book: If you’re looking for a read aloud that is funny and sweet be sure to check out The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher. It features two dads and their adopted kids. It follows them through all kinds of hilarious and eye-opening situations during the course of a school year. It’s what you would expect from a funny family book, but just happens to feature a two-dad family. It’s well worth reading.  

Friday Five: Trucks and Big Machines

I think all kids love trucks and big machinery and my daughter is no exception. It’s always an exciting experience when there is road construction going on. We peer out the window every time I hear the street sweeper go by. Here are five books that celebrate trucks and construction equipment:

Truck Talk1. Truck Talk : Rhymes on Wheels written by Bobbi Katz

I’m sorry to say this one is out of print. I do belive you can find it used and we were lucky to find it a couple years ago reprinted through the Scholastic school market (in one of those book orders that schools always have). It’s a collection of short, clever poems. Each one focuses on a different type ot truck and it explains what it’s purpose is. Our favorite, the car transport truck that carries cars piggyback. Each poem also includes a picture or two of the truck in action.

 

 

 

 

Stanley the builder2. Stanley the Builder written and illustrated by William Bee

I’ve talked about Stanley before I think. He’s a busy little rodent. The text in these books is incredibly simple as are the illustrations and yet, they are so appealing. We read these all the time and neither of us gets tired of them. In this book Stanley is helping build his friend Hattie’s house. In the process he uses several trucks/machines to help out including that orange bulldozer that is on the cover. 

 

 

 

 

Construction Site3. Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site written by Sherri Duskey Rinker, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld

I don’t particularly like this book. For one, it’s a bestseller and that usually indicates average to low literary quality and high marketability. But Cam loves this book and so do a lot of young children I know. The story says goodnight to all the different machines found on a construction site. Pretty basic premise. The illustrations are cute. 

 

 

 

 

 

Diggers go4. Diggers Go written and illustrated by Steven Light

This one is a little young, but it’s just so much fun! Especially that wrecking ball. I think it was this book that inspired Cam to ask if they would be using a wrecking ball to tear down the house behind us. Ha! It makes an excellent read aloud with all the noises that the machines make. Get silly and really make the sounds. Have your child join you. The form factor is interesting on this one. It’s short and long. Sometimes it’s fun to mix up the size of the books you interact with. 

 

Truck5. Truck by Donald Crews

I love Crews illustrations. They have such clean, neat lines in them. Truck follows a truck on it’s journey to deliver tricycles. It’s wordless so you can make up the story as you flip through the pages. There are lots of things to look at and speculate about. I know wordless books seems like they’re for very young children, and they certainly can be, but don’t rule them out for kids who can read. They give children the opportunity to tell a story and focus on their visual literacy. It’s a good place to ask them why they think a certain action is happening (what clues are in the illustrations) or why they think something is part of the story. 

 

 

 

Bonus titles: Here are a few other books you might want to check out.

  • Trucks written and illustrated by Byron Barton
  • I’m Dirty, I’m Fast, I Stink, I’m Brave by Kate and Jim McMullan
  • Demolition and Construction by Sally Sutton, illustrated by Brian Lovelock

Friday Five: Potty Training

There are a lot of different facets in potty training, from underwear to pee and poo to sitting on the potty, and my daughter has struggled with each one. She is still not fully trained at nearly five. Over the past few years I have gathered a number of potty training books to help her process through her worries. Here are five, plus one bonus book that we’ve found helpful. 

Underwear Book1. The Underwear Book by Todd Parr

Todd Parr was on last week’s list too because all his books are wonderful. This one is great for kids who are unsure about wearing underwear. He tells you a list of dos and don’ts that are guaranteed to make you laugh hysterically. It also features a wide range of (oddly) colored people, male and female, human and animal. The underwear are in all different styles, maybe some more comfortable and plausible than others. 

 

 

Vegetables in Underwear2. Vegetables in Underwear by Jared Chapman

 Another one that is meant to convince reluctant underwear-ers that they’re the bees knees. This one is totally hilarious showing all different vegetables modeling their skivvies. The broccoli on the cover walks you through different kinds and when you wear them. Then he finds some babies. But wait, babies don’t wear underwear. Sorry, babies! 

 

 

 

The Saddest Toilet3. The Saddest Toilet in the World written by Sam Apple, illustrated by Sam Ricks

For those kids that are a bit hesitant to sit on the potty. I think adults will appreicate this one as much as the kids. There are plenty of subtle nods to potty humor. Danny won’t sit on the potty, he’s not sure he’s ready. The toilet is saddened by this and runs away from home. Danny and his mom go out to find him in the city and Danny finally feels ready to sit on the potty. 

 

 

Ruby's Potty4. Ruby’s Potty by Paul and Emma Rogers

A rhymed book about sitting on the potty and using it as intended. Ruby does a lot of things with her potty. Everything maybe. It goes in the bath tub, it goes to the park, it even carries art supplies. The one thing she doesn’t do is sit on it and pee. Will she be able to figure out just what a potty is for? I suspect she knows all along, but hasn’t chosen to use it yet. The end features a triumphant Ruby holding the potty up. A good book for sharing what exactly that funny little pot it used for. The book is sadly out of print, but if you can find it used it would make a good gift with a new potty. 

 

 

Time to Pee5. Time to Pee! by Mo Willems

Okay it totally walks you through what to do when you get “that funny feeling”. Hoardes of mice holding signs, wearing crazy headgear, and hanging in different poses present the words in the book and help the little friends along to the potty where they pull their pants and undies down and pee. Ends with hand washing which surprisingly not all potty books do. 

 

 

Polar Bear's UnderwearBonus Book: Polar Bear’s Underwear by Tupera Tupera

Polar Bear can’t find his underwear so his friend mouse vows to help him. They go through the book finding various pairs of undies, but none of them are Polar Bear’s. This book is absolutely hilarious. Kids who love to laugh at underwear will be on the floor with this one. Each page features a cut out of underwear and the page turn reveals who is wearing it. But it’s the conclusion that is the best. Polar Bear has been wearing his tighty-whities all along! He just couldn’t see them because he is also white. Oops. The humor in this just might convince reluctant underwear-ers to put on a pair. 

Friday Five: Be Yourself

This week I thought I would highlight five books that encourage children to be their own person. I think this is something many kids (and adults!) struggle with so sending the message that you are okay just as you are is incredibly important. 

You Be You1. You Be You by Linda Kranz

This one is pure inspirational fluff. It has an incredibly obvious message. And that’s okay. Plus the pictures are what make this book for kids. The fish are all painted rocks and they make for something incredibly visually engaging to look at. Cam will pore over these pictures finding different sizes of fish, different patterns, and different colors. As a parent I love hitting that message that it’s okay to be unique. 

 

Doo-Wop Pop2. Doo-Wop Pop written by Roni Schotter, illustrated by Bryan Collier

This book is not overtly about being yourself. A group of shy kids come together with the help of the school janitor who teaches them to sing doo-wop. The group slowly comes out of their shells and connects with their class, their school and their community. The book shines in its themes of friendship and finding your place and encourages kids to find what their passionate about, even if it’s not what everyone else is about. Collier’s illustrations, as always, are beautiful. 

 

 

It's Okay to Be Different3. It’s Okay to Be Different by Todd Parr

Todd Parr’s book also have messages loud and clear, but they are so positive and affirming. His illustrations are delightfully simple and bright. And many of the differences he highlights are funny and endearing. But don’t be fooled. There is depth here too. He encourages children to really be themselves even if it’s different from their peers or from what they are taught is “normal”. 

 

 

A Color of His Own4. A Color of His Own by Leo Lionni

 Chameleon changes color to match his surroundings, but he wants to have a color that belongs just to him. So he tries staying put in one place. On a leaf. You can guess what happens as the seasons progress. Then the chameleon finds a friend and he discovers that being himself is a lot better with a friend. 

 

 

 

Let Me Help5. Let Me Help! by Alma Flor Ada, illustrated by Angela Dominguez

Perico just wants to help his family celebrate Cinco de Mayo, but all the activities he joins he makes a mess of. After flying down the street and out into the town Perico finds his family on their rented boat and discovers how he can be helpful just by being himself. Cam loves this book and the pictures are bright and colorful and inviting. The ending is very sweet as the parrot finds his place. 

Friday Five: Grandparents

With summer here many kids may be over at the grandparents’ house while out of school or the whole family may head off to visit grandparents. Here is a list of five great books about grandparents.

Tea with Grandpa1. Tea with Grandpa written and illustrated by Barney Saltzberg

This is such a darling story about a little girl having a tea party with her grandfather. They pour tea and nibble on cookies together every week at the same time. The text is simple and the illustrations are lovely and gentle. A clever page turn at the end reveals, though, that the two are having tea over Skype. A great story for kids whose grandparents aren’t nearby. 

 

 

 

Sunday Shopping2. Sunday Shopping written by Sally Derby, illustrated by Shadra Strickland

This is the kind of book that I would have loved as a child. Every Sunday night Evie and her grandmother get out the sale papers, some glue and a pair of scissors. Together they go through and cut out things they would love to buy, from a ham for dinner and lunches that week to a special jewelry box. Sunday Shopping is such a lovely story about creativity, storytelling, and a special time spent each week with a grandparent. It isn’t stated whether Evie lives with her grandmother or just visits, but there is a picture of Evie’s mother on the night stand that shows her in uniform. I think a lot kids would love to try out the game after reading this story. 

 

Love as Strong3. Love as Strong as Ginger written by Lenore Look, illustrated by Stephen T. Johnson

Katie loves to eat the delicious food her GninGnin prepares for her. She also loves stories of the crab factory where GninGnin works. One day she is able to join her grandmother, rising early and watching what it is GninGnin does as the crab chong. Katie discovers that the day is long and hard, but that her grandmother continues so that Katie will have a better future. While the book is about the sacrifice the grandmother is willing to make for her granddaughter, it’s also about Katie’s realization of how much her grandmother loves her and how she shows it. 

 

 

The Airport Book4. The Airport Book written and illustrated by Lisa Brown

A family packs up their suitcases and heads for the airport. The text follows them through the various stops and processes that are involved with airports and flying and makes a good introduction for kids headed to the airport for the first time. The trip culminates in a beach vacation with their grandparents. The text is okay in this one, it certainly offers a lot to children curious about airports and flying, but it’s the pictures that make the book shine. There is so much to look at in them and lots of untold stories that you can follow through the book (be sure to keep your eye on Monkey who has an adventure of her own!). A good one for families headed on a plane to visit grandparents. 

 

 

Gooligulch5. My Grandma Live in Gooligulch written and illustrated by Graeme Base

I have loved this book since I was girl. It’s just plain wacky and fun, like most of Graeme Base’s books. The story introduces a particularly eccentric grandmother who lives in a tiny town in Australia and then follows her on an ill-fated trip to the seaside. Grandma has all kinds of animals that come visit her tiny home in Gooligulch and she encounters more on her vacation. There is a lot to look at in the illustrations (again, this is typical of Graeme Base’s books) and makes for a great time poring over. The end leaves the reader with the question, was any of this real or is it wishful thinking on the narrator’s part? It’s also fun to imagine if this was your own grandmother!

Friday Five: Ramadan

Ramadan started on June 5th and because of a very cool book and set we’ve been celebrating it. 

Ramadan Date Palm1. The Ramadan Date Palm written by Fatemeh Mashouf, illustrated by Vera Pavlova

This is the book that started it all, so to speak. Through one of my best friends I saw a crowd funding project for a book, stuffed toy, activity cards, and plate set that was intended to foster pride in Muslim children as well as excitement around Ramadan (i.e. not Christmas, watch their story here, you’ll see what she means). When the box arrived on our doorstep Cam was intrigued. After reading the book she asked to read it all over again right away. Then she started asking when Ramadan would start so we could do the cards and celebrate. The book is darling and while intended for Muslim kids would mostly make sense to kids of any faith. It does a good job of explaining what the holiday is and what it means for Muslims. For more on the story read my full review over on my library blog. You can hear the full story on their website as well as order a copy/set for yourself.

Under the Ramadan Moon2. Under the Ramadan Moon written by Sylvia Whitman, illustrated by Sue Williams

This makes the perfect bedtime story during Ramadan. It has simple rhythmic text and gentle pictures. It isn’t very long or involved either which makes it good for winding down or for sharing with young children. While it does give a bit of information on Ramadan, it’s not really intended to teach about the holiday. There isn’t a story here per se, but it does celebrate all the fun things that go on during the month. 

 

Party in Ramadan3. A Party in Ramadan written by Asma Mobin-Uddin, illustrated by Laura Jacobsen

This book is a bit longer and might be better suited to slightly older children (although Cam enjoyed it).  Leena decides to attend a birthday party on the day she is fasting for the first time. At first she thinks it will be no problem, but as the party wears on and she runs around and sees chocolate cake, Leena isn’t so sure going to the party was such a good idea. The ending is very sweet as Leena has a conversation with her dad about how hard fasting can be. And it turns out her friends have saved her some cake and they drop by to share it after the fast has been broken. For older children this may be a familiar story, but it celebrates Leena’s accomplishment and strength in sticking with her fast despite the tempting chocolate frosting. 

Nabeel4. Nabeel’s New Pants: An Eid Tale retold by Fawzia Gilani-Williams, illustrated by Proiti Roy

This story is just plain funny. Nabeel, while out buying Eid presents for his family, buys himself a new pair of pants. But there isn’t time to have the tailor hem them up. Nabeel goes around to his wife, mother and daughter handing out gifts and asking for help with his pants, but no one has time. They’re too busy making food for Eid. Finally Nabeel goes home and does the sewing himself. Feeling guilty, though, each woman sneaks over and hems Nabeel’s pants up a little more. A well-timed page turn reveals Nabeel in his new shorts! Oops. Fortunately they have saved the fabric scraps and are able to repair his pants. The text is a bit long, but so much of it repeats that it doesn’t feel long. It also gives kids the chance to jump in and say it along with you. I think this ties in with the idea from Rafiq and Friends that Ramadan should be fun for children and this will certainly help bring an element of humor! 

Ramadan Moon5. Ramadan Moon written by Na’ima B Robert, illustrated by Shirin Adi 

 Another sweet book that celebrates all the fun things that happen during Ramadan. I absolutely love the illustrations in this one. They are made with different types of paper and fabric, plus some pen and ink details. They are so arresting. I also appreciated that this book is set in Iran with an Iranian family. A lot of the books about Muslims feature Arab characters and it isn’t only Arabs who are Muslim. The story is a little longer than Under the Ramadan Moon, but is similar in content so if you have a slightly older child this might be a better fit. 

 

 Please note, there are other lists out there of Ramadan books. Many of them are fine lists. The books I have listed here, however, are appropriate both for Muslims children and non-Muslim children, meaning they don’t over explain the faith. Books with lots of extra information and definitions are not meant for Muslim kids, they’re books to help non-Muslims understand and I didn’t want a list like that. The other thing to be aware of is that at the end of Ramadan there is an Eid. Eid simply means holiday or celebration in Arabic, but the full name for Eid after Ramadan is Eid al-Fitr. There is a second Eid, Eid al-Adha which is the time when many Muslims make hajj, or the pilgrimage to Mecca. I have noticed that there are a couple books about hajj and Eid al-Adha that have been lumped, I suspect unknowingly, into Ramadan book lists. This indicates that the person making the list wasn’t especially clear on Islam. Am I saying I know all there is to know? No, not at all. Is exposure to books about Eid al-Adha a bad thing? No, but it kind of alienates Muslim kids who would know the difference. I tried to be sensitive in this list by adding books that Muslim kids can enjoy as much as their non-Muslim friends.