Apparently, today Book Lovers Day.
Reading a book allows you to escape into another world, and see the world from a different person’s viewpoint. It allows you to empathize with their situation and think from a different perspectives. This blog post is about some amazing books for kids that I have read to our son.
We’re different, We’re the same is a book with the Sesame Street cast of characters in it to illustrate that no matter, what the size of your body, the colour of your hair or skin, we are all the same. We all feel sad, happy, or mad at different times, just like everyone else.
Thunderboy Junior tells the story of a boy who is named after is Dad, but yearns for his own name that reflects his own story. The illustrations are gorgeous and the story is really engaging and funny.
Interstellar Cinderella is a modern twist on the story of Cinderella. This young woman escapes a bad situation with her stepmother and starts a career as a space ship mechanic.
Duncan the Story Dragon tells the story of a dragon who loves to read books and drink hot chocolate, but can never finish a story because his books always catch on fire from his fiery breath. Really, this is a logistical challenge I have never considered. Duncan goes on quest for a friend who can help him read his stories, without the need for a fire extinguisher.
Amazing Grace is a book about a girl who absolutely loves to act in plays. She wants to try out for the lead of Peter Pan in her school play but one of her classmates tells her she can’t because she is a girl, and another one tells her she can’t because she is black. She tries out, is cast as the part, and shines beautifully as an extraordinary Peter Pan. I really love this book, especially the cover. The art conveys her love of acting so brilliantly.
Morris Mickelwhite and the Tangerine Dress is the story of Morris, a boy who loves to wear the tangerine dress in his classroom’s dress up box. His is teased by his classmates, avoids school, and his classmates don’t want to sit with him at lunch. The first time I read this book to our son, he said “This is silly, boys don’t wear dresses”. I said “Sure, they can, you are free to wear what you want.” Kids, like adults, look for patterns in the world. Since he had never seen a boy wearing a dress, he assumed it didn’t happen.
From Far Away is by Canada’s prolific and perhaps most famous children’s book author Robert Munsch. It is the story of a family who flees their country that’s besieged by war and immigrates to Canada and start a new life. It also touches on the difficult transition for the children as they attend they new school, worried about their safety due to their fears from their experience living in a war zone.
Ready Set Go is a another Munsch book, this one about a girl who accidentally runs a marathon while trying to give her Dad his water bottle for the race. As a long distance runner myself, it illustrates some pretty funny runner stereotypes.
The Paperbag Princess is story that is not just applicable to kids. I actually had a friend give me a copy when I was in my 20s. A girl and boy are supposed to get married but he is unfortunately kidnapped by a dragon. She rescues him, but is wearing a paper bag because the dragon burned all her clothes. He doesn’t thank her for rescuing him, and tells her that she looks terrible wearing a paper bag. She breaks up with him. A timeless story!
Continuing along with stories that feature dragons, Raising Dragons tells the story of a girl who lives on a farm and finds some dragon eggs. So she decides that her job is to raise the dragons as her parents raise the animals on the farm. It’s really engaging story, with surprise plot twists that you would expect from having dragons on the family farm.
The Great Big Book of Families gives talks about families and how they can come in different configurations – a mom and dad, grandparents raising their grandchildren, two moms or two dads, fostering and adoption. It touches on how some people go on vacation to far away places, some people go on vacations in their backyard, some people cook a lot and some people order take out. It also discusses how some families are homeless, some people live in apartments, some people are looking for jobs. Everyone is different and we should all help each other.
I am Jazz is based on the real life story of Jazz Jennings, a transgender teen girl. She talks about how her transition as a young girl, how her friends and teacher reacted and how difficult it was for her at school. Eventually most people accepted her as Jazz and she became much happier.
Our son was born in Thailand so we prepare Thai food, and learn about Thailand’s history and culture. All About Thailand is a beautiful book that talks about the geography of Thailand, the language, games, folk stories and culture. The recipe for Thai chicken soup with rice noodles is 💯 too!
I have always found the art in Barbara Reid’s books stunning. She takes plasticine and makes the most intricate pieces of art that are then photographed for her books. Picture a tree is especially detailed with all the leaves of the trees.
Happy in our Skin talks about the what our skin does for our body, and how everyone has different skin, and it’s all wonderful.
Elephant and Piggie are two friends with very different interests. One is full of adventure, one is very cautious. They learn a lot from each other and try new things. This series is really good for kids who are just learning to read because there is a lot of repetition.
Rosie’s story was given to us by our adoption agency. It looks like it’s out of print. It talks about the issues regarding adoption through the eyes of a puppy who is in an adopted family, including feelings about grief and loss regarding the birth family. The story of adoption is an ongoing conversation in our family so this is a good book to revisit every so often.
The Most Magnificent Thing is a story about a girl who sets out to invent something new and all the struggle it takes to move from prototype to actual working product. I think one of the most important things you can teach a child is to have tenacity, to keep going when discouraged and things don’t work the first time. Especially important if you want to pursue a career in software or engineering!
Another story with a similar theme is Rosie Revere, Engineer. A girl who loves to build things, and learns how to persist and keep going when her experiments fail. The author Andrea Beaty, actually has a series of three stories where a different child from the same school classroom is featured as the main character in each book. A very unique approach!
Ada Twist, Scientist is the latest story in this series. The picture with Ada writing out calculations on the board strongly reminds me of the scenes of Katherine Johnson writing equations at NASA in the Hidden Figures movie. (The Hidden Figures book is even better than the movie!)
I really love this entire series, and it is a favourite that I give when my son is invited to birthday parties. I want kids growing up today to see women in science and engineering and giving these stories to kids in my community is a small step in that direction.
What are your favourite books to read to kids?