It's April! This week, we're cleaning (so boring and yet so annoyingly necessary), cooking (asparagus! hooray!), and beginning to read 31 children's books featuring people of color.
As I have mentioned in several previous posts, springtime means clearing out our house. This weekend left me feeling old and dusty. We all cleared out the attic, which is where everything old (other than Marc and me) lives, and I continued on to the bathroom vanity and Wyatt's closet. I still hate the process. Also? ACHOO. But I am pleased with how our acquiring less stuff makes clearing out easier every year. And I love how when I finally get rid of a thing, it stays gone. I can't tell you the number of times I opened a box or door this weekend and thought, "Oh boy. I'm going to have to decide whether to keep [that thing I don't really want but feel bad getting rid of] this year," only to find that it was already gone! What a delightful surprise! And such a contrast to the repetitive nature of day-to-day life and all the things I do every day that get undone, or need to be done again (like cooking, or applying sunscreen), or the things I avoid doing, like repairs on shabby household items.
One of those shabby household items used to be our kitchen cart. It was one of the first things Marc and I bought for our house, and after eleven years of nearly continuous use, the finish on the top was beginning to fade away in the most unattractive dirty grey kind of way. Over a year ago, I bought the stuff to refinish it, and I have been putting off doing the work ever since. This weekend was sunny, not too windy, and we had time. So Wyatt and I washed, sanded, varnished, wet-sanded, and varnished the top some more.
The cart looks great now. In fact, it looks way better than the rest of our kitchen. Sigh.
Springtime also means asparagus. I made this recipe for Absurdly Addictive Asparagus (sans pancetta) and it's fabulous. I advise making it now.
Springtime is about renewal, too. It's a time to think about things in new ways, challenge old patterns, and make new friends. Wyatt and I participated in our first racial justice playdate last weekend. We met lots of new people, learned about each others' families, and did art projects about our ancestors while having a potluck lunch. I've also started following Embrace Race, an organization dedicated to "building an online community to discuss and share best practices for raising and caring for kids, all kids, in the context of race." Their emails are full of excellent resources, including podcasts, articles, and more.
Our family is also about to start reading some terrific books that, in one way or another, champion diversity. The other day, I was chatting with my favorite Cheese Monger/Elementary School Librarian over the cheese counter (of course). She was bursting with excitement because she had just been to Marcus Books ("Offering books by and about black people everywhere, since 1960") in Oakland. For her own reference, she had taken photos of the covers of many of the outstanding children's books she had found, all of which feature people of color. Because I am shameless around cheese and books (and she is infinitely patient), I took a photo of each of the 31 photos of books in her phone. Then, I compiled a list of all those books. That list appears below. Some of the books tackle challenging subjects. For ease of reference, I have included the publisher's recommended age or grade ranges.
I have read very few of these books, and I can't wait to dive in. It will also be fun to find more by the same authors and illustrators. If you have more suggestions for similar books, please leave them in the comments.
Happy spring reading (and cleaning and cooking, too)!
(When I checked, listings for individual books were limited on Marcus Books' website. I've included links to Amazon here. Please remember to support your local library and local booksellers by borrowing or purchasing from them whenever possible.)
- Drum Dream Girl, by Margarita Engle (Author), Rafael López (Illustrator) - Grades 1-4
- My Name is Celia/Me llamo Celia: The life of Celia Cruz/la Vida de Celia Cruz, by Monica Brown (Author), Rafael López (Illustrator) - Grades 2-4
- This Is the Rope: A Story from the Great Migration, by Jacqueline Woodson (Author), James Ransome (Illustrator) - Grades K-3
- A Dance Like Starlight, by Kristy Dempsey (Author), Floyd Cooper (Illustrator) - Grades 1-4
- Kenya's Song, by Linda Trice (Author), Pamela Johnson (Illustrator) - Ages 4-8
- Buffalo Bird Girl: A Hidatsa Story, by S. D. Nelson (Author) - Grades 1-5
- Hiawatha and the Peacemaker, by Robbie Robertson (Author), David Shannon (Illustrator) - Ages 4-8
- Sweet Music in Harlem, by Debbie A. Taylor (Author), Frank Morrison (Illustrator) - Ages 6-9
- I and I Bob Marley, by Tony Medina (Author), Jesse Joshua Watson (Illustrator) - Ages 8-11
- My Night in the Planetarium, by Innosanto Nagara (Author) - Grades 2-5
- Jimi Sounds Like a Rainbow: A Story of the Young Jimi Hendrix, by by Gary Golio (Author), Javaka Steptoe (Illustrator) - Grades 4-8.
- Leontyne Price: Voice of a Century, by Carole Boston Weatherford (Author), Raul Colon (Illustrator) - Grades 2-5
- Dear Primo: A Letter to My Cousin, by Duncan Tonatiuh (Author) - Grades K-3
- The Girl Who Helped Thunder and Other Native American Folktales, by James Bruchac (Adapter), Joseph Bruchac Ph.D. (Adapter), Stefano Vitale (Illustrator) - Grades 3-6
- Esquivel! Space-Age Sound Artist, by Susan Wood (Author), Duncan Tonatiuh (Illustrator) - Grades 2-6
- There is a Flower at the Tip of My Nose Smelling Me, by Alice Walker (Author), Stefano Vitale (Illustrator) - Ages 4-8
- The Princess and the Warrior: A Tale of Two Volcanoes, by Duncan Tonatiuh (Author) - Grades Preschool -2.
- Joelito's Big Decision: La Gran Decisión de Joelito, by Ann Berlak (Author) - Grades 2-4
- Thunder Rose, by Jerdine Nolen (Author), Kadir Nelson (Illustrator) - Grades K-3
- Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote: A Migrant's Tale, by Duncan Tonatiuh (Author) - Ages 6-9
- The Upside Down Boy/El nino de cabeza (Rise and Shine), by National Geographic Learning (Author) - Grades 2-5
- Her Stories: African American Folktales, Fairy Tales, and True Tales, by Virginia Hamilton (Author) - Ages 4-8
- Hip Hop Speaks to Children: A Celebration of Poetry with a Beat, by Nikki Giovanni (Author), Alicia Vergel de Dios (Illustrator), Damian Ward (Illustrator), Kristen Balouch (Illustrator), Jeremy Tugeau (Illustrator), Michele Noiset (Illustrator) - Grades 4-8
- Ruby's Wish, by Shirin Yim Bridges (Author), Sophie Blackall (Illustrator) - Ages 4-8
- When the Slave Esperança Garcia Wrote a Letter, by Sonia Rosa (Author), Luciana Justiniana Hees (Illustrator), Jane Springer (Translator) - Grades 3-6
- Rad Women Worldwide, by Kate Schatz (Author), Miriam Klein Stahl (Illustrator) - Grade 6 and up
- The Story of Ruby Bridges, by Robert Coles (Author), George Ford (Illustrator) - Ages 5-9
- Of Thee I Sing, by by Barack Obama (Author), Loren Long (Illustrator) - Grades 2-5
- Tasi & Matina: The Story of the First Clown Fish, by Alison Taimanglo Cuasay (Author) - No age range listed
- Just the Two of Us, by Will Smith (Author) - Ages 4 and up
- Daniel's Ride, by Michael Perry (Author), Lee Ballard (Illustrator) - Grades 2-4