Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters

Of Thee I SingIt’s almost President’s Day, which is the perfect time to review of THEE I SING: A Letter to My Daughters by former president Barack Obama. The book honors many historical figures who made a difference in America, and more importantly it is a beautiful letter from a father to his daughters about his love for them and hope for their future. For that reason, it is sure to be a much loved American classic.

of THEE I SING highlights activists and social reformers, artists and inventors, presidents and others that children may or may not have heard of, but should know about. Reading the book to your children will not only educate them, but empower them, giving them confidence to want to make their own mark in this world.

In of THE I SING, Obama tells his children stories of trailblazers who remind him of their own wonderful traits – bravery, creativity and strength. He tells of artistic, political and even scientific strides made by different trailblazers from the United States and abroad. Some of the people featured are Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., Helen Keller and Sitting Bull. He tells of their work and the extraordinary progress each made that made our world a better place.

The last page of Of Thee I Sing includes mini bios of each extraordinary individual’s beginnings. The beautiful prose and colorful illustrations by Loren makes the book a treasure. I highly recommend it, because it is a great history lesson for children, it promotes respect for all people, and it acknowledge the contributions and gifts that all people, regardless of race, disability or religion have brought to our world, and to our lives.

Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters | Author:Barack Obama Illustrator: Loren Long
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Celebrating Chinese Festivals

51-zqeupehl._sy435_bo1204203200_I bet you didn’t know that Chinese New Year is upon us! That’s right, Chinese New Year is tomorrow, February 6th, and the picture book Celebrating Chinese Festivals is the perfect book to learn about this annual celebration!

The book educates readers about seven different Chinese festivals and street celebrations.

For Chinese New Year, the book tells of the couplets (banners) that are hung with the word “fu” meaning fortune, and how people celebrate by setting off firecrackers and doing the lion dance in the streets. Families also prepare sticky rice cakes and dumplings to eat during the celebration. Kids are also told the story of a dragon-like monster named “Xi” who wreaked havoc on the world, and the how the monster was defeated by Nian;  the first day of the New Year is named after Nian (xin nian). This folk tale is featured along with others in the book.

Not only does the book highlights the seven celebrations with folk tales, it also features recipes, poems, and even riddles associated with the festivals to make learning about the celebrations extra fun. Other festivals featured in the book where folk tales or poems are shared include:

  • Qingming Festival: features a poem written over 1,000 years ago by Du Mu of the Tang Dynasty.
  • Lantern Festival: features riddles told at the lantern festival.
  • Mid-Autumn Festival: features a folk tale about an archer named Houyi who saved the people from starvation and was made immortal by the Heavenly Emperor.

Celebrating Chinese Festivals is an incredibly fun picture book for any parent or educator who wants to expose children to another culture. It’s also written so that children can read it on their own – making it extra special. The book makes learning about Chinese traditions fun as well as informative. I found this wonderful book at Barnes and Noble, but it can also be purchased on the publishers website or at amazon.com.

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A Child of the Civil Rights Movement

A Child of the Civil Rights Movement by Paula Young-Shelton, tells the story of the civil rights movement with mention of Dr. King, and the role he played, as seen through her then four year-old eyes. Young-Shelton, the daughter of Civil Rights activist and former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Andrew Young, begins the story begins with Paula and her family moving from New York, where there were no Jim Crow laws, to the south, where inequality and Jim Crow laws ran rampant. She describes Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in a way many of us have rarely seen – a man full of joy with a twinkle in his eye –  a man that the media rarely portrayed, but a man that no doubt did exist in the presence of his loved ones.

In the story, Young-Shelton refers to Dr. King as “Uncle Martin,” because while he was not her blood uncle, she explains that like her father Andrew Young, Dr. King was part of the American civil rights movement family – a family she describes as frequently eating dinner together at one another’s homes, where like a biological family, they would have heated discussions together, many times about the next steps to take in the civil rights movement; and like a a family, they struggled through the era of inequality together, they worried together, and  they marched together like a family from Selma, Alabama to Montgomery, Alabama – an event she is proud to have been a part of, since it led to the signing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

A Child of the Civil Rights Movement is beautifully told, and the illustrations by Raul Colon add to beauty of the book. From the expressions on the faces of the characters to the corn rows in young Paula’s hair, the illustrations vividly capture the essence of the story and those in it.

A Child of the Civil Rights Movement is an interesting re-telling of the civil rights movement that children can understand, that will also keep adults interested. It is a thoughtful introduction to the civil rights movement, and stirs up emotions you don’t expect from a children’s picture book. I felt sorrow for the loss of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., but I also felt pride in the African-American leaders he worked with who like Dr. King, sacrificed time with their families; who were beaten and thrown in jail so that they and African-Americans could have the right to vote like those of white Americans.

This book touches on these subjects and more in a way that will not scare children, but make them think about and realize how much they have to be thankful for – and those who helped them have the basic human rights they are able to live with today.

Child of the Civil Rights Movement: Written by: Paula Young Shelton and Raul Colon

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Feast for 10

Image result for feast for 10 board book Feast for 10_snippet

 

Thanksgiving day is just three weeks away, and what better time is it to celebrate food and family!  In anticipation of the holiday, calicokidz.com is reviewing the delightful counting board book book Feast for 10.  This delightful counting book shows a family shopping together for a meal that they all prepare together. The book also shows the steps it takes to prepare a special meal – from the trip to the grocery store to food prep, to putting the food in the oven to cook, and setting the table.

Feast for 10 introduces special foods used to prepare pumpkin pie as well as southern foods like collard greens. Most importantly, the book presents a counting lesson for children while addressing the importance of helping one another with cleaning up after a meal, instilling a sense of responsibility in the reader. Colorful illustrations  that give detail to both children’s and adult ethnic hairstyles, and positive portrayal of a happy family that enjoys being together makes Feast for 10 an enjoyable book for both kids and parents to read.

Throughout the book, there are smiles on the children’s faces, presentation of healthy foods, with a recycling message at the end. Feast for 10 is a wonderful book, not only for African-American families, but any family that wants to teach counting in a fun way to a child, as well as families who want to promote healthy eating. Available at Target and and Amazon.com, Feast for 10 is the perfect book to read during holidays that prepare special meals, including Thanksgiving and religious holiday meals.

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Night Creepers

Night Creepers by [Stanek, Linda]Halloween is almost here! Halloween is one of the most fun nights of the year and since night animals are frequently featured in Halloween stories, it’s a great time to teach kids about the nocturnal animals that come out at night!

In Night Creepers  picture book, children learn all about nocturnal animals and their behaviors. With lots of awesome illustrations, it is a great STEM story for bedtime.

Some of the animals featured in Night Creepers include the flying squirrel, the red fox, skunks, fireflies and more.

Here are a few facts that children learn in the book:

  • The flying squirrel does not actually fly, but glides with its parachute-like arms.
  • Bats eat mostly insects but also fruit and some small animals.
  • White-tailed deer that are mothers, are called does; they leave their babies, called fawns alone sleeping during the day to keep them safe from predators.
  • Owls don’t have eye muscles, which is why they have to look around with their heads. They have both excellent night vision and great hearing.

At the end of the book is more information about the night habits of the animals featured in the book, along with educational sorting and matching activities. If you know a child who loves animals, especially the mysterious kinds of animals, Night Creepers is the perfect book to introduce them to the world of nocturnal animals. Find more information on nature and wildlife for kids here; for more books on STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathmatics) subjects, visit http://calicokidz.com/category/stem.

Nocturnal Animals: Author: Linda Stanek l Illustrator: Shennen Bersani

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Whoa, Baby, Whoa!

Whoa Baby Whoa

Did you know that it’s Baby Safety Month? And  Whoa, Baby, Whoa!, about a baby who gets into all sorts of mischief is the perfect book for children to teach them of the importance of being careful around babies. The book is a delightful and humorous one, giving a good reminder of why it’s so important to keep your eyes on babies at all times.

Have you had the pleasure to watch a baby grow from crawling to toddler? If so, you remember how quickly they can get into trouble. Whoa, Baby, Whoa! depicts a super speeding crawling 1-2 year old who wants to get into everything his legs will allow him. In the book, the curious unnamed baby is bi-racial – his mother is African-American, and his father is white – but that tidbit is never mentioned throughout the story. The author treats this fact as normal, not unusual, focusing instead on the antics of the baby – something any parent, black or white can relate to.

Whoa, Baby, Whoa! features the little baby getting into all kinds of things he shouldn’t; from mom’s makeup top of the bookshelf – that is until mom or dad, or another family member catches up with him in time to keep him out of harm’s way. Baby, however, still manages to get into the newspaper and rip it to bits, grab grandpa’s glasses off his nose, and get mashed potatoes all over his face while eating in his high chair at the dinner table.

The author’s ability to portray a typical day in the life of a baby – whose family just happens to be mixed-race, is both humorous and heartwarming, and sure to give both children and adults a giggle. It’s a great book for those seeking a tale about life with baby, but also a great book to read to a young child to prepare him for a new sibling that’s on the way.

Illustrator Eleanor Taylor provides wonderful details in depicting of the mischievous baby, with pictures that show the baby sitting in a high chair with one shoe on and one shoe off, adding to the heart and humor of the story.

Whoa, Baby, Whoa! was is a joyful read for any parent or person who has babysat an energetic baby and great for teaching young siblings the importance of keeping baby out of trouble.

Whoa, Baby, Whoa!
Author: Grace Nichols Illustrator: Eleanor Taylor

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ODDphabet – Ripley’s Believe it or Not!

ODDphabetSchool is back in and many children will be entering kindergarten and learning their ABCs. In this weird and wonkey board book, children will learn about animals they’ve never heard of before and some downright strange animals that are noone knew existed in nature.

ODDphabet will give children a good laugh and will stretch their imaginations farther than ever before!

Some of the different and unusual animals kids learn about in the book include:

  • A blob fish –  a pink sea animal
  • A  Frog with six-legs
  • An Iguana – a lizard that looks like a mini dinosaur
  • A Narwhal – a medium-sized toothed whale with a long, pointy tusk-like tooth

Not only does ODDphabet  help children learn their ABCs, it teaches them all about animals they may not have known existed. With its fun rhymes and silly illustrations it also gives little ones a good giggle . If you want to find a fun way to teach the alphabet to a young child, ODDphabet is a great book to begin with!

About CalicoKidz.com

CalicoKidz.com reviews books for young children ages 1-10 that celebrate diversity and promote education. Our mission is to review children’s books that give parents, librarians, and educators of children from diverse communities including those with special needs, an place where they can find cultural and educational books that feature or represent diverse communities.

Our vision is to one day live in a world where love of diversity is the norm, and all cultures, races and religions exist together in harmony.

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