Category Archives: Picture books

multicultural children's picture books

Picture it in Books – Our Multicultural World – #readilearn

One of the things that brings most joy to our world, that inspires imagination and sparks creativity, is variety. The richness of our multicultural world is to be celebrated and the current recognition of the need for diverse picture books in which children from every culture and family background can find themselves is long overdue. The collection, though still small, is growing.

Multicultural Children’s Book Day (MCBD) is an organisation that has been promoting multicultural children’s books for the past nine years. Founded by Valarie Budayr from Audrey Press Books and Mia Wenjen from Pragmatic Mom in 2012, MCBD has a mission ‘To raise awareness for children’s books that celebrate diversity by getting more of these books into classrooms and libraries. This non-profit also strives to shine the spotlight on the diverse books and authors that often get overlooked by mainstream publishing and media.’

On the last Friday of January each year, Multicultural Children’s Book Day is celebrated with reviews, promotions and other events. I have been delighted to join in the celebration of multicultural books by sharing reviews for the past three MCBDays.

I participated for the first time in 2019 with a review of I am Farmer by Baptiste and Miranda Paul with illustrations by Elizabeth Zunon.

I Am Farmer is the story of Tantoh Nforba, an environmental hero in the central African nation of Cameroon. Tantoh was bullied as a child and nicknamed ‘Farmer’ for his interest in plants, the earth and nature. He now bears the name ‘Farmer’ proudly as he improves the lives of people in his own community, and others, by improving access to clean water and establishing productive gardening practices.

In 2020, I reviewed two books: The Secrets Hidden Beneath the Palm Tree written by Angeliki Stamatopoulou-Pederson and illustrated by Tety Swlou, and Ribbon’s Traveling Castle by Elizabeth Godley with illustrations by Paige M. Leyh.

The Secrets Hidden Beneath the Palm Tree is about Jacob who hears with the assistance of hearing aids. Jacob tells his friends how the aids help him hear better, just as glasses help people see better. He explains what they (the children) can do to help him hear and understand them better. As children’s understanding grows, so does their friendship.

Ribbon’s Traveling Castle is the story of a girl called Ribbon whose father was uncomfortable with the constantly changing world. He hitched their castle to a truck to take her somewhere happier. On their travels, Ribbon meets a cast of characters, all of whom are scared of changed. She invites them into her castle where they learn to accept change and find that life can still be fun.

This year, I once again had the pleasure of reviewing two books:

Continue reading: Picture it in Books – Our Multicultural World – readilearn

improving children's mental health with picture books by Michelle Worthington

Improving mental health with picture books by Michelle Worthington – #readilearn

Reading picture books to young children is one of the best ways I know of adding joy to the day. Anything that increases joy must be good for mental health, right? But for some children, the joy is momentary as they grapple with worries and other issues. Sometimes, it’s useful to find books that help children identify and discuss the things that trouble them in order for them to find a way out.

In this post, part of a Books on Tour Promotion, I share two books written by Michelle Worthington and illustrated by Adyna Ferre. The books are published by Daisy Lane Publishing for the Willing Kids Program which aims to improve literacy through improving mental health and mental health through literacy.

About author Michelle Worthington

Michelle Worthington author

Michelle Worthington is an international award-winning author and screen play writer. Two-time winner of the International Book Award and finalist in the USA Best Book Awards, Michelle also received a Gellett Burgess Award and a Silver Moonbeam Award for her contribution to celebrating diversity in literature. Michelle addresses mental health through literacy with her picture books.

I previously introduced Michelle to you when I interviewed her about Super Nicholas, a picture book about a little boy with a big heart and a kindness superpower.

About the books

Continue reading: Improving mental health with picture books by Michelle Worthington – readilearn

Kayla: A Modern-Day Princess by Deedee Cummings

Plan to Follow Your Dreams on Multicultural Children’s Book Day #ReadYourWorld – #readilearn

Today, the last Friday in January, is Multicultural Children’s Book Day. I am delighted to participate once again by spreading the word about Multicultural children’s books.

In this post I review the picture book Kayla: A Modern-Day Princess, which will be released in the northern spring of 2021 by Make a Way Media, publishers of diverse books.  The book can be pre-ordered from their website. The author gifted me a copy to review.

About Kayla: A Modern-Day Princess

Kayla: A Modern-Day Princess, written by Deedee Cummings and illustrated by Charlene Mosley, was inspired by the life of Deedee’s own real-life princess, Broadway actress Kayla Pecchioni.

Kayla’s mum is a busy working mum. She wakes Kayla before she leaves for work in the mornings and asks her about her plans for the day. She tells Kayla that plans give you hope and hope gives you dreams. Often, Kayla doesn’t see her mother again as she gets home after Kayla has gone to bed.

But one day, Dad tells Kayla she can stay up late because her mum has some exciting news. When her mum tells Kayla that she has received a promotion that she worked hard to earn, she also gives Kayla a tiara and tells her that it is to always remind her that she is special, regardless of what others might do, say or think. Kayla went to sleep believing the world to be a magical place and knowing that, with a plan, she could make her dreams come true.

This book is the first in a five-part series about Kayla.

What I like about this book

I wasn’t aware of Kayla Pecchioni before reading this book but am delighted to learn about her and her determination to be successful. The story shows the importance of family in developing confidence and providing opportunities for young people to be who they want to be.

Like many, Kayla’s mother felt guilty about not having more time to spend with her daughter. However, the book shows that love and encouragement and being a good role model is equally important as time.

As author Deedee Cummings says, “Daughters learn their place in the world by watching their mothers claim theirs.”

Many young children will be able to identify with Kayla’s situation and be encouraged to feel the same sense of worth, determination and possibility as Kayla does. I especially like the focus on growth and determination to achieve your goals and dreams.

About Multicultural Children’s Book Day

Multicultural Children's Book Day
Used courtesy of Multicultural Children’s Book Day

Continue reading: Plan to Follow Your Dreams on Multicultural Children’s Book Day #ReadYourWorld – readilearn

learning about gender pronounds on Multicultural Children's Book Day

Learning about Gender Pronouns on Multicultural Children’s Book Day #ReadYourWorld – #readilearn

Today, the last Friday in January, is Multicultural Children’s Book Day. I am delighted to participate once again by spreading the word about Multicultural children’s books.

In this post I review the picture book Jamie and Bubbie, recently published by Free Spirit Publishing and gifted to me to review.

About Jamie and Bubbie

Jamie and Bubbie, A Book about People’s Pronouns was written by Afsaneh Moradian and illustrated by Maria Bogade. In a gentle way, it introduces children and adults to the appropriate use of pronouns when another’s gender is unknown.

Jamie loves his great grandmother Bubbie and, when she comes for a visit they go for a walk around the neighbourhood. On the way, they meet some friends and strangers. In her references to or about the people, Bubbie often uses an inappropriate pronoun. Jamie gently explains why the pronoun is inappropriate and what she could use instead.

What I like about this book

Jamie and Bubbie is a book for our times, and a necessary one. It not only educates us adults about the appropriate use of people’s pronouns, it helps us explain them to children in simple language and easy-to-understand ways. I like Jamie’s gentle and tactful approach, and also that it is the child who does the explaining to great grandma in the book.

However, even more than that, I like the notes for teachers, parents and caregivers in the back of the book. The notes explain the importance of using the names and pronouns that individuals choose to use about themselves. They include suggestions for finding out those pronouns and what to use if you don’t know them. Advice for discussing pronouns with children is also provided as are suggested sources of further information.

I think the information provided in this book is important for all of us to know.

About Multicultural Children’s Book Day

Multicultural Children's Book Day
Used courtesy of Multicultural Children’s Book Day

Continue reading: Learning about Gender Pronouns on Multicultural Children’s Book Day #ReadYourWorld – readilearn

interview with Brooke Graham author of Go Away, Worry Monster

Go Away, Worry Monster! — Interview with Brooke Graham #readilearn

It is not uncommon for children to experience some level of anxiety or worry when beginning a new school year or starting at a new school. Many adults experience it too when faced with a new situation. It is important to keep the worries in perspective to avoid having them grow uncontrollably until they take on monster proportions.

Today I am interviewing Brooke Graham, author of a beautiful new picture book called Go Away, Worry Monster! that is not only a tool for discussing these worries with children but also shares strategies they can use independently to chase those worry monsters away.

About the author Brooke Graham

Brooke Graham author of Go Away Worry Monster

Brooke Graham is a children’s author, primary school teacher and mother. She enjoys writing emotive stories that help children cope with life’s ups and downs. Brooke is a member of The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), The Australian Society of Authors, and Write Links, a Brisbane based writers’ group. Brooke teaches in primary schools part-time. She also does author visits in schools and kindergartens. In her spare time Brooke enjoys reading, bike riding, bush walking and spending time with family and friends.

About the book Go Away, Worry Monster!

Go Away Worry Monster, a picture book by Brooke Graham

Worry Monster loves ‘helping’ Archie worry, especially on the night before he starts at a new school. Archie feels so anxious that his head hurts, his tummy flutters and his heart pounds. He soon realizes that the only way to feel better is to make Worry Monster go away. He does his belly breaths and challenges his inner fears by facing facts, and Worry Monster is forced to leave Archie alone! Go Away, Worry Monster! gives children useful strategies to cope with their anxieties and stress, showing them how to make their own Worry Monsters leave, even in highly stressful times.

What I like about Go Away, Worry Monster!

Continue reading: Go Away, Worry Monster – Interview with Brooke Graham – readilearn

We're All in This Together, a picture book by Skye Hughes

We’re All in This Together — a Picture Book by Skye Hughes #readilearn

The refrain ‘We’re all in this together’ echoed around the world in 2020 as we came to grips with the changes that living with a pandemic brought. Teaching online and children learning at home required major adjustments to programs and how they were delivered. Many started talking of the ‘new normal’ while most hoped that 2021 would bring a return to the old familiar ‘normal’. While it may eventually, it is still too soon to get overly comfortable.

Throughout 2020, many were finding creative ways of dealing with the restrictions, lockdowns and changing expectations. Others were using their creativity to help others cope. One of these creatives is Skye Hughes whose beautiful picture book We’re All in This Together illustrates how the changes were shared by many and provides opportunities for discussions between teachers, parents and children that help reduce anxieties and foster empathy.

About Skye Hughes

Skye Hughes was born in Adelaide but spent much of her childhood travelling around Australia in a caravan with her three younger siblings and parents. She is a school teacher, youth program facilitator and big fan of Nutella donuts. Skye currently lives in Melbourne and when she isn’t writing children’s books, looking after her house plants or teaching young people, you will find her travelling the globe and connecting with people from all walks of life. It is these connections that inspire her to keep growing, learning and creating beautiful memories.

About the picture book We’re All in this Together

School friends – Kiana, Amin, Roshan, Casey, Ming, and Tyler all have one thing in common — they can’t go to school. The world changed very quickly and now they have to stay home to keep themselves and their families and friends safe. They discover that even apart, they can find new and fun ways to be together.
At a time when the world looks a little different, this encouraging story promises young readers an opportunity to reflect on their own experience of this unique moment in history while promoting resilience and unity.

The interview

Continue reading: We’re All in This Together — a Picture Book by Skye Hughes — readilearn

book reviews and author interviews from readilearn in 2020

2020 — A Year of Books – #readilearn

 

Books make wonderful gifts at any time and Christmas is no exception. As a child, I loved nothing more than receiving a new book of my own for birthdays and Christmas. While I borrowed and read many books from the school and local library, there was something very special about having a book of my own to enjoy and treasure.

I loved breathing in the smell of a fresh, new book and feeling the smoothness of its fresh, new covers. But even more than that, I loved its promise of escape and adventure. In a book, I could escape the ordinariness of the everyday and participate in adventures at locations and with friends that I would never meet outside its pages.

If you are looking for a book to gift a special child this year, then I’d love to help you choose. In this post, I list all the lovely books I have reviewed or whose authors I have interviewed for the readilearn blog this year. These are only a small selection of wonderful books that are available.

A year of books on readilearn

In this list, I provide you with a short description of each book and a link to the post where you can find further information, including where to purchase the book.

Picture books

Continue reading: 2020 — A Year of Books – readilearn

Introducing Penny Macoun and her picture book Gorkle

Introducing Gorkle and the text message mystery by Penny Macoun – #readilearn

Today it is my pleasure to introduce you to Penny Macoun and her delightful new picture book Gorkle. This interview is part of a Books on Tour promotion.

Have you ever sent a text message that has taken hours or even days to arrive, or never turned up at all? Gorkle is an imaginative and fun picture book that explains just what might happen to those text messages that go missing in cyberspace.

About Penny Macoun

Penny Macoun was born in Sydney, Australia, and has been writing since when her story about a funnel web spider was printed in a school newsletter. Ever since, Penny has loved the ‘other worlds’ that words create, and hopes to continue to create these worlds for many years to come.  Gorkle is her first book.  When she is not writing or editing, Penny dabbles in various forms of visual arts and enjoys being in the garden.

About Gorkle

Continue reading: Introducing Gorkle and the text message mystery by Penny Macoun – readilearn

Understanding Autism Spectrum and ADHD with Kathy Hoopmann

Cats and Dogs — Understanding Autism Spectrum and ADHD with Kathy Hoopmann – #readilearn

Today it is my pleasure to introduce you to Kathy Hoopmann and her delightfully humorous and sensitive books that help to explain how it feels to be on the autism spectrum or to have ADHD — All Cats are on the Autism Spectrum and All Dogs have ADHD.

These books are perfect for use in both the home and classroom settings. Children and adults on the spectrum or diagnosed with ADHD will find themselves in the books, and others will recognise and develop understanding and empathy for their fellows who may travel the world on a slightly different path.

All Cats are on the Autism Spectrum and All Dogs have ADHD are updated versions of Kathy’s previously published and successful books All Cats Have Asperger Syndrome and All Dogs Have ADHD. Kathy explains her reasons for updating them.

“I first published All Cats Have Asperger Syndrome in 2006 and All Dogs Have ADHD in 2009.  Fast forward 11 and 14 years and although both books were still selling well, the layouts were dated and some of the text needed tweaking to represent current views and terminology. The biggest criticism I had was that they were written with male pronouns

And, as many girls have ASD and ADHD, they also wanted to see themselves on the page. With these things in mind, I took the opportunity to freshen up the entire books and revitalized them with all new images as well.

They are definitely beautiful books and delightful to look at, filled from cover to cover with cute cat and dog images.  However, the books are more than just that. Kathy shines a positive light on the sometimes-quirky behaviours that are endearing in pets and helps us recognise the beauty and joy we can discover in diversity. She encourages us to accept ourselves and others just as we are.

A recommendation by Haley Moss

The updated version of All Cats are on the Autism Spectrum has a beautiful foreword written by Haley Moss, Esq., an autistic attorney, author, artist and advocate. Haley writes:

“Me-wow! I was 13 years old when my mom brought All Cats Have Asperger Syndrome home from an autism conference. You’d expect teenagers to think they’re too old for picture books when they so desperately want to be seen as adults, but nope

Continue reading: Cats and Dogs — Understanding Autism Spectrum and ADHD with Kathy Hoopmann – readilearn

Elizabeth Cummings discusses the Sweetest Lollipop Lady in the World

Elizabeth Cummings discusses The Sweetest Lollipop Lady in the World – #readilearn

Today we are talking with Elizabeth Cummings about The Sweetest Lollipop Lady in the World from the Verityville series. This interview is part of a Books on Tour promotion.

I previously introduced you to Elizabeth when I interviewed her about her heart-warming picture book The Forever Kid.

About Elizabeth Cummings

Elizabeth Mary Cummings was born in Manchester, educated in Scotland and has lived in Australia and New Zealand for many years. Starting her professional life as a primary school teacher, Elizabeth’s teaching career has taken her into many different roles, including teaching in both the public and independent sectors, working with refuges, special needs and foreign language teaching. When she moved to Australia in 2008 Elizabeth developed and ran a successful language business before releasing her first picture book in 2015 (The Disappearing Sister- a sibling’s account of anorexia nervosa). Her stories often take a child’s perspective to explain the world and reflect on important life experiences including themes of resilience, grief, equality, the natural environment, kindness, empowerment, anti-bullying and mental health. Elizabeth set up her independent publishing company in 2015 and is also published by Big Sky Publishing.

About the Verityville series

Have you wondered about what other people do? The ordinary, everyday people – the people that make our lives the way they are, those who help us, care for us, look after our town and do the little things that make a difference to our lives. Have you ever caught a little glimpse of their little routines or the daily habits? Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be them?

In Verityville there are many amazing folk, all going about their daily business, making the town what it is. Their work and their efforts make Verityville a marvellous place to be, full of wonder, friendship and adventure!

Come take a trip to Verityville and meet some of the wonderful people who live and work there!

Little tales for little folk about real life in a veritably fabulous place…Verityville.

About The Sweetest Lollipop Lady in the World

Continue reading: Elizabeth Cummings discusses The Sweetest Lollipop Lady in the World – readilearn