Just Ask! by Sonia Sotomayor

Image result for just ask sotomayorjust-ask_int-4p3_custom-63ec8a35354e0a7da252a177c02c365753c7a126-s800-c85

Be different. Be brave. Be you. These are the messages and themes in the picture book  Just Ask! by United States Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Just Ask is a wonderful book about  communicating to learn about one another’s differences. In the book Justice Sotomayor teaches children about how some kids with special needs use special tools to help them with illness or disabilities – tools such as canes, wheelchairs or a service animal.

Children that read the book will leave with a better understanding of the “quirks” of kids with special needs including:

  • Why a child with Tourette syndrome has ticks
  • Why a child on the autism spectrum doesn’t speak
  • Why children with diabetes have to take insulin

Children will finish the book understanding that kids with special needs can be just as smart and “normal” as those without special needs.

If you want the child in your life to grow up empathetic and tolerant of those different than themselves, Just Ask! is a wonderful book to begin a discussion. It is also available in Spanish under the title Solo Pregunta! which can be purchased on amazon.com.


Posted in Being different, Disability, diversity, Friendship, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Everyone Cooks Rice by Norah Dooley

61ouazkboll._sy420_bo1204203200_Thanksgiving is almost here, and it’s a great time to read a book about food! Everyone Cooks Rice is a picture book that celebrates diversity by showing how our differences are more similar than we realize.

The book introduces children to several cultures including Barbados, Vietnam, Haiti and Italy – all through food. Kids learn new words related to rice dishes, such as what rice is cooked in. The book doesn’t simply mention the dish or foreign word – it describes the dish and it’s significance to the culture from where it came.

Everyone Cooks Rice presents immigrants as hardworking, bilingual people with the ability to speak more than one language, which is great way to teach children tolerance and multiculturalism. To further kids’ multicultural learning, the back of Everyone Cooks Rice features recipes mentioned in the book including Biryani, an Indian dish, and tofu with vegetables, a Chinese dish. It’s a fun, educational book that children and adults can both learn from!

Everyone Cooks Rice
Author: Norah Dooley,  Illustrator: Peter J. Thornton



Posted in Bilingual, Family, International, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Halloween ABC

Halloween ABCHalloween is upon us and what better way to introduce this fun holiday to the youngest of children than with a book! Halloween ABC has lots of cute illustrations and also helps toddlers just learning to speak to learn the alphabet in a fun way.

Halloween ABC is also great for children who have a limited vocabulary, such as children with autism or other special needs.

The book uses silly words that will make children laugh, (E is for Eyeballs), (U is for Underpants) and even introduces action verbs (J is for Jump), (R is for Run) that encourage children to be active.

My only criticism of the book is that some words are too advanced; words like cauldron, invisible and quiver are words that even the most intelligent of parents or teachers would have difficulty explaining to a one or two-year-old child. The difficult words are few; the adorable illustrations and fun words make up the majority of the 26 words featured throughout the book.

Halloween ABC is a wonderful holiday book that any young child would love, and can be found at amazon.com or wherever books are sold.



Posted in ABC, board book, holidays, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

My Cancer Days

My Cancer Days_cover image

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, and in honor of children with cancer,  calicokidz.com is reviewing My Cancer Days – a sweet story of a young girl with cancer who describes her ups and downs of living with the disease.

The little girl tells of her good days – her yellow days which are the days that she feels good and is able to play like other kids. Then there are her purple days, the ones where she feels scared about her disease. But those don’t compare to her orange or red days which are the days she feels sick or angry.

This simple, yet beautiful book brilliantly describes all the feelings that a child with cancer can have through colors. But what makes My Cancer Days a wonderful book is that instead of focusing only on the horror of disease, the book teaches children how to cope with difficult circumstances in a positive way, showing children that it is OK to have different feelings about being sick; that it is perfectly normal.

My Cancer Days is simply a book of emotions about a child’s day-to-day feelings in her fight with cancer. It is a straightforward, yet tender story told in a way that will not frighten children. It is a book every child with cancer should have, as it validates their feelings of fear, sadness, joy and everything in between. Healthy children can also benefit from reading the book, as it can teach them to be sensitive to children who are terribly sick.

My Cancer Days is published by the American Cancer Society and can be purchased at https://acs.bookstore.ipgbook.com/ or on Amazon.com.

My Cancer Days
Written by Courtney Filigenzi | 
Illustrated by Nicole Tadgell


Posted in Courage, Family, Fear, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Nola the Nurse Remembers Katrina

00002_scha_rs_cover_frontThirteen years ago today, Hurricane Katrina devastated the U.S. city of New Orleans. Nola the Nurse Remembers Hurricane Katrina tackles this delicate subject in a sweet picture book that tells the story of how a little girl deals with the life-changing event.

One day Nola tells her dolls a story about how Hurricane Katrina, and how it affected her family, friends, and her neighborhood. It’s a sad story, but also one of kindness and survival told in a way that will educate children, not scare them. Rather the book helps to create empathy for what happened that fateful day.

Nola is a young girl from New Orleans who wants to grow up to be a nurse like her mother. She begins to mend the dolls and stuffed animals of friends that were ruined by Hurricane Katrina. She tells a story to her dolls all about how the hurricane, and how her mother helped to restore dolls of her neighbors that were destroyed because of hurricane floods.

Hurricane Katrina happened over several days and ravaged the city of New Orleans terribly. Homes were lost, and people also lost their lives. Nola the Nurse Remembers Hurricane Katrina addresses the terrible events in a tender way that is both educational sensitive, so as not to scare young children. Nola the Nurse Remembers Hurricane Katrina is just one of the books in the Nola the Nurse series of books by Scharmaine Lawson, a nurse practitioner from New Orleans, Louisiana.

Nola the Nurse Remembers Hurricane Katrina
Written by Dr. Scharmaine Lawson, FNP, FAANP, FAAN |Illustrated by Marvin Alonso

Posted in Activism, Family, Friendship, Historical | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ron’s Big Mission

Rons Big Mission_cover image_91Ax4+FyBDLThis week has been celebrations of the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 moon landing on the moon by astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins. But what you may not know is there are other astronauts that have also done amazing things! One of those astronauts is Ron McNair.

One day in the 1950’s young nine year-old Ron McNair works to be treated the same as every other human being. The story begins with Ron’s eagerness to visit the library; even being tempted to eat a donut does not halt his mission to get to the library.

Ron arrives at the Luke City Library, and when he’s ready to check out a book, he’s told he cannot check out a book because only white americans were allowed. This is just one example of racism children and adults endured before the Civil Rights Movement. Ron defends himself, and insists he should be able to check out a book, even after law enforcement is called.

Ron doesn’t back down, and continues to argues his case, and with the help of a kind desk clerk, Ron is able to check out his library books. 

Later in life Ron McNair becomes a successful pilot and astronaut, breaking barriers for African-American astronauts and all people of color. Ron also has an achievement program named in his honor at the New Jersey Institute of Technology.

The book teaches a valuable lesson that all children – black or white can benefit from: despite obstacles, if you stick to your beliefs, and stand up for yourself, anything is achievable.

Ron’s Big Mission
Authors: Rose Blue and Corinne J. Naden | Illustrator: Don Tate

Posted in Courage, Goals, Historical, Racism, STEM, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Freedom’s Gifts: A Juneteenth Story

JUNETEENTH_Freedoms Gift_cover imageToday commemorates another Juneteenth observance. If you’ve never heard of the holiday, there is no time like the present to learn!

Set in 1943 Texas on a hot summer day, Freedom’s Gifts: A Juneteenth Story, by acclaimed author Valerie Wesley, tells the story of two young girls, June and her cousin Lillie celebrating Juneteenth, an African-American celebration that commemorates  when Texas slaves were freed on June 19, 1865 (2 years after President Abe Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation).

Lillie, a pre-teen from New York, is none to pleased to be visiting family in Texas to celebrate Juneteenth, a holiday she describes as an “old timey” holiday. Lillie changes her tune however after hearing her great Aunt Marshall tell the story of how her sister Sophie was taken from her when they were both slaves, and how Sophie then found Aunt Marshall when Texas slaves were finally set free.

The book gives a realistic portrayal of children’s rebellious nature as well as the southern lifestyle of respecting one’s elders. And i’ts honest portrayal of living the pain of living through slavery, as described by Aunt Marshall’s character is realistic without being over-dramatic. The story also shines with watercolor illustrations by Sharon Wilson, whose pictures colorfully depict the south.

This story is one that every child should read, regardless of their race. Why? Because children and teenagers are so far removed today from the struggles of African-American’s of the past, that they are unaware of the significance of a holiday like Juneteenth.  Freedom’s Gifts: A Juneteenth Story was released in 1997, and can be found in local libraries and online at Amazon.com

NOTE: Juneteenth is no longer just celebrated in Texas, but also throughout the United States, including our own nation’s capital, which hosts many Juneteenth celebrations this year along with its neighboring suburban communities. Information for Washington, DC Juneteenth events can be found at www.nationaljuneteenth.com/Calendar.html. To find Juneteenth celebrations in your state, visit http://www.juneteenth.us/events/. For more information about the Juneteenth holiday, visit http://www.nationaljuneteenth.com/.

Posted in Historical, political, Racism, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Flower Garden

Garden in a shopping cart –
Garden on a bus –
Garden going up the stairs –
Can you guess what’s next?

In Flower Garden, a little girl rides the bus to a plant store to buy flowers to create a window garden for her mother’s birthday. What a great idea for a Mother’s Day gift!

In this delightful story, a father takes his daughter to the local market where they buy a variety of flowers that he and the little girl take home and turn into a window garden. The two ride the bus to the market then hop back on the bus to go home where they go to work cutting and trimming the flowers, putting the potting soil in pots, getting the flowers all ready to set in their apartment window. The mother is surprised with her beautiful gift and birthday cake.

Flower Garden has beautiful illustrations and wonderful rhythmic prose. It’s a shows the love a daughter has for her mother, while also showing the love a man has for his wife and daughter by involving his daughter in getting a gift for his wife’s birthday. It is a positive family story without trying to be, all while showing gifts don’t have to be grandiose and fancy as long as it comes from the heart, an important lesson today’s children could greatly benefit from!

Flower Garden: Author: Eve Bunting

Posted in Family, nature, Rhyme, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Since We’re Friends: An Autism Picture Book


Since We’re Friends: An Autism Picture Book
addresses autism spectrum disorder in children, giving a truthful yet tender view of what it’s like to have a friend with autism. The book also demonstrates the struggles with acceptance that kids with autism frequently face.

Matt suffers from  autism spectrum disorder or ASD, and because of this, he acts different than most normal functioning kids. But Matt is a friend to his neighbor across the street, who is the narrator of Since We’re Friends, who tells how he and Matt play basketball, go swimming and play on the jungle gym like other kids. But how Matt responds to situations is different from other children and seen as strange to many. Children with autism can be in a constant state of anxiety because they are overwhelmed or overstimulated by things like loud noises at a basketball game – things that don’t normally adversely affect normal functioning children.

The narrator explains that since he is Matt’s friend, he helps him in these situations, by being supportive and helping to distract Matt so he doesn’t get too upset. The book also discusses the importance of routine is to those with ASD, and when an autistic child’s routine is change, his or her behavior can be misinterpreted as bad behavior or a tantrum.

Since We’re Friends also addresses behaviors such as getting overly excited which can lead to hand flapping, or other characteristics that others classify as odd.  It addresses bullying and being treated like an outcast by children that don’t understand the way autism children speak differently, or why they may not speak at all.

Since We’re Friends  is an excellent book for teaching both children and adults to understand how and why autistic children are different, and why those differences should be respected and not labeled as “weird” or bad behavior. School Library Journal describes the book’s message as  “not to be ignored” and the Autism Science Foundation lauds the book as a “major step in building a more compassionate community for all our children.”

April is Autism Awareness Month . As kids with autism can have a tough time making friends due to behaviors and characteristics normal functioning children categorize as odd or weird, this book is an excellent choice for educating the children in your life that autism is something to be understood, rather than feared.

For activities to help in explaining autism to children, take an Autism 101 course online or check out these Books for Kids, Parents, and Teachers.

Since We’re Friends: An Autism Picture Book 
Author: Celeste Shelly; Illustrator: David Harrington

About CalicoKidz.com
CalicoKidz.com reviews books that celebrate diversity and culturally educate young children ages 1-10. Its mission is to celebrate children’s books that educate to promote diversity, and to give educators, librarians, and parents access to books that promote cultural, religious, racial diversity as well as those with special needs. Our vision is that one day we will live in a world of acceptance of all.

Posted in Being different, Disability, Friendship, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A is for Abigail: An Almanac of Amazing American Women

A is for Abigail: An Almanac of Amazing American Women  is a fantastic picture book that tells of the many historical achievements made by women in America. It is a great book to read to young girls and boys alike.

The book begins with the author’s introduction that tells how women were not able to vote, own property or have jobs at one time – a fact that is not always taught or emphasized in elementary education, but one that girls should know. Readers are then introduced to Abigail Adams, the wife of second U.S. President, John Adams, and mother to the sixth president, John Quincy Adams. It goes on to tell of over 100 women who made an impact on American history, including Harriet Tubman, Rosie the Riveter, Susan B. Anthony, and Sacagawea. The book does not go into great detail about any one particular woman, instead it describes in brief sentences or one paragraph the achievements of great women in different occupational fields or groups.

For example, when you get to the part of the book for the letter “E”,  it describes several educators in American history including Mary Lyon who found Mount Holyoke College, Anne Sullivan, who taught deaf and blind student Helen Keller sign language and to speak, and Mary McLeod Bethune, who found Bethune-Cooke College, a school for African-American girls.

The book also tells of prominent women in math and science in the  “Y is for Roslyn Yalow” section. It tells not only of Yalow, but also of the achievements of other women in science like Barbara McClintock, and other women who won the Nobel Prize in science or mathematical fields.

For young girls who have dreams of doing something that many women may not be well known for doing, this book is great for giving them the confidence and self-esteem to go for their dreams. There are so many admirable and amazing women in this book, it would be hard for a young girl not to dream big after reading it. And because it describes women who came from all walks of life, it can be appreciated by young girls and women of all walks of life today. For more books about awesome women in history, visit our women’s history page.

A is for Abigail: An Almanac of Amazing American Women: Author: Lynne Cheney, Illustrator Robin Preiss Glasser

Posted in Historical, Uncategorized, Women in History | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment