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[Monday Reading] 13 Picture Books That Celebrate Diversity, Self-Love, and All Kinds of Families

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Fats here.

It’s Monday, What are You Reading is a meme hosted by Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers (brainchild of Sheila at BookJourney). Since two of our friends, Linda from Teacher Dance and Tara from A Teaching Life have been joining this meme for quite awhile now, we thought of joining this warm and inviting community.

Last Week’s Review and Miscellany Posts

We’re also inviting everyone to join our Award Winning Books Reading Challenge for 2015 (#AWBRead2015)! It’s that time of the year to set new reading goals for the coming year.

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Here is the sign up page and the July-August linky if you already have reviews up. One randomly-selected participant would receive a copy of The Dark Wild by Piers Torday courtesy of Pansing Books.

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Click here to view Myra’s announcement post to learn more details.

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I have with me 13 different picture books that parents and educators can use to teach children about diversity, self-love, acceptance, putting one’s self out there, and all kinds of families. With the ongoing #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign, it is important for people to have access to these kinds of books. I hope that this list will help expand your resource list.

Feel free to click the images to enlarge them.

mraug3aThe Sneetches and Other Stories

Author and illustrator: Dr. Seuss
Publisher: Random House (1961)
Copy owned by: Madison Public Library

Here’s a treat for Dr. Seuss fans! The Sneetches and Other Stories contain four delightful short stories that lightly touch on diversity, acceptance, and reconciling differences. It begins with a group of yellow creatures called The Sneetches. Apparently, there are two kinds of Sneetch: the Star-Belly Sneetches and the Plain-Belly Sneetches. Because they have stars on their bellies, the Star-Belly Sneetches would brag that they are “the best kind of Sneetch on the beaches.” Star-Belly Sneetches would play ball and throw parties, and they wouldn’t invite the Plain-Belly Sneetches. When a Fix-It Up Chappie appears out of nowhere, the Sneetches’ lives undergo a dramatic change. For the better or worse? You’ll have to find out. The other three stories in this book include The Zax, Too Many Daves, and What Was I Scared Of? — all of which are guaranteed to put smiles on your faces.

mraug3bJack & Jim

Author and illustrator: Kitty Crowther
Publisher: Pastel (France, 1996) and Hyperion Books for Children (US, 2000)
Copy owned by: Birchard Public Library

Jack & Jim is Kitty Crowther’s first book to be published in the United States. It tells the story of a special friendship that developed between a blackbird named Jack and a seagull named Jim. Jack the blackbird had always wanted to go out and explore the world. He made his way to the sea where he came across Jim the seagull. Seeing the fascination on Jack’s face, Jim invited Jack to his village. When Jack and Jim arrived at Jim’s village, everyone kept looking at them but none dared speak to either of them. The seagulls didn’t like the blackbird. Jack felt like going home. Will Jim be able to change Jack’s mind? This adorable picture book reminds readers not to judge others based on their appearance.

mraug3cGanesha’s Sweet Tooth

Author: Sanjay Patel
Illustrator: Emily Haynes
Publisher: Chronicle Books (2012)
Copy owned by: Wayne County Public Library

I discovered this book while at work, two weekends ago. Did you know that before the Hindu god, Ganesha, wrote the great Sanskrit epic — the Mahabharata — he was just like any other kid who loved sweets? Ganesha’s Sweet Tooth is loosely based on the story of how the great poet Vyasa asked the great god Ganesha to write the Mahabharata. In the book, Ganesha had an unfortunate accident involving a hard candy and a broken tusk. Ganesha, who loved his tusk dearly, felt devastated. He was afraid that his friends wouldn’t like him anymore. Ganesha’s magical friend, Mr. Mouse, told him otherwise. Ganesha wasn’t convinced. Perhaps an encounter with a poet and a hundred years worth of transcription would do the trick? In this picture book collaboration, Sanjay Patel and Emily Haynes transformed a popular Hindu legend into a stunningly beautiful children’s story with its candy-colored illustrations and sweet storytelling.

mraug3dThe Big Orange Splot

Author and illustrator: Daniel Manus Pinkwater
Publisher: Hastings House (1977)
Copy owned by: Hudson Library & Historical Society

The Big Orange Splot tells the story of Mr. Plumbean who lived in a quiet neighborhood where all the houses looked the same. Everyone in the neighborhood liked it that way, including Mr. Plumbean. One day, a seagull flew over Mr. Plumbean’s house, carrying a can of bright orange paint. (No one knows why.) The seagull dropped the can on Mr. Plumbean’s roof and it made a big orange splot. The neighbors noticed the big orange splot and asked Mr. Plumbean to paint his house. Mr. Plumbean painted his house all night. The next day, the neighbors saw that Mr. Plumbean’s house was like a rainbow! “There was the big orange splot. And there were little orange splots. There were stripes. There were pictures of elephants and lions and pretty girls and steamshovels.” It was an explosion! But Mr. Plumbean did not stop there. He added a clock tower, some palm trees, a hammock, and an alligator! The neighbors had enough so they asked the man who lived next door to Mr. Plumbean to go to Mr. Plumbean’s house and have a talk with him — to tell him that his house had to be the same as the others so they can all have their neat street back. The man did as he was told. The neighbors could not believe what happened the next morning. Curious? Grab a copy of the book and find out! This brilliant picture book is a good reminder for us to dare to be different.

mraug3eSpork

Author: Kyo Maclear
Illustrator: Isabelle Arsenault
Publisher: Kids Can Press (2010)
Copy owned by: Wayne County Public Library

Glad to find this picture book collaboration by Kyo Maclear and Isabelle Arsenault. Spork tells the story of a spork named, well, Spork. Spork is a bit of a spoon and a bit of a fork, so you can imagine how different he must look from the the rest of the cutlery. His parents thought he was perfect, but Spork was a product of a mixed marriage that was quite unusual for cutlery customs. He had been asked so many times what he really was – a spoon or a fork? He was both, of course, but he wished he could only be one because that made things simpler. He tried to join the forks but he was to round and spoonish. He tried to join the spoons but he was too prickly and forkish. He didn’t know what to do until a messy thing arrived one morning. Get a copy and find out what it is! Spork is a cute and charming read. As Kyo Maclear stated in her dedication, Spork is a book that goes out to all the amazing sporks, misfits, and oddballs in the world.

mraug3fIt’s Okay To Be Different

Author and illustrator: Todd Parr
Publisher: Little, Brown, & Co (2001)
Copy owned by: Wayne County Public Library

While I’ve only read two other Todd Parr books – Going Places and The Grandma Book – seeing his works at the library always puts a smile on my face! You gotta love those vibrant colors and illustrations drawn through childlike eyes and with childlike wonder. In It’s Okay To Be Different Todd Parr reminds us that we are special and important just by being who we are. He gives various examples of things that are okay such as needing some help, having an invisible friend, wearing glasses, and even missing a tooth! What’s wonderful about this book is that Todd manages to touch on important issues like race, body image, non-traditional families, and expressing emotions with as few words as possible – and to the level of understanding of a child.

mraug3gRed: A Crayon’s Story

Author and illustrator: Michael Hall
Publisher: Greenwillow Books (2015)
Copy owned by: Hudson Library & Historical Society

I fell in love with Michael Hall’s My Heart is Like a Zoo that I ended up reciting the verses to my boyfriend on Valentine’s Day! It was a lovely surprise finding a copy of Red in our online library. Red was released on February of this year. Michael Hall tells readers about this red crayon that wasn’t very good at being red. Red’s teacher thought he needed more practice. It turned out he couldn’t draw strawberries properly! His mother encouraged him to mix with other colors. Boy, was that a disaster! All the art supplies wanted to help. The masking tape thought he was broken inside. The scissors thought his label was too tight. Could there be a way to fix red? Then again, does he really need fixing?

mraug3hWilliam’s Doll

Author: Charlotte Zolotow
Illustrator: William Pène du Bois
Publisher: Harper Collins (1972)
Copy owned by: Wayne County Public Library

This is probably one of the more interesting finds on my list – and beautiful, to say the least. William’s Doll is one of the titles that popped up when I searched for LGBT picture books/children’s books online. I wasn’t sure what books I’d find but I thought it would be worth a try. And it was. Charlotte Zolotow’s storytelling is pretty straightforward. William wanted a doll. His brother called him a creep while the boy who lived next door said that William was a sissy. William’s father brought home a basketball one day. William played with it and he even got good at it. Still, William wanted a doll. His father bought him a train set. For William, however, a train set was nothing compared to a doll. Nobody seemed to understand William’s reasons for wanting a doll. Except for one person, that is. Charlotte Zolotow did a fine job handling a controversial theme in the most tender way possible. William’s Doll is a good resource in tackling gender roles and stereotypes.

mraug3iMorris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress

Author: Christine Baldacchino
Illustrator: Isabelle Malenfant
Publisher: Groundwood Books (2014)
Copy owned by: Wayne County Pulic Library

I learned about this book through CYBILS Awards. This was my second time reading the book. The first time I read it was at the beginning of this year. I’m glad I was given this chance to share this book with you guys. Kudos to Christine Baldacchino for being brave, for following her heart, and for exploring a topic that few people dare to talk about – even at this time and age. Morris is a preschool boy who loves tangerine dresses because they remind him of his mother’s hair, the sun, and the tiger. He also loves to wear shoes that go “click, click, click.” This is a book that one might consider controversial and a book that can be easily overlooked by most readers. However, I think that Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress is also the kind of book that will remind readers about embracing one’s identity and having the unshakeable courage of being different. Beautiful illustrations by Isabelle Malenfant.

mraug3jThe Boy Who Cried Fabulous

Author: Leslea Newman
Illustrator: Peter Ferguson
Publisher: Tricycle Press (2004)
Copy owned by: Medina County District Library

This book is about a boy who cried fabulous… literally. Meet Roger, a young boy who gets in trouble for being late because he gets distracted by the things around him. Oh, how he enjoys to shout in ecstasy how fabulous these things are! Unfortunately for Roger, his parents do not like it. They especially do not like him using the word fabulous. Oh, no, no, no. That’s one word [they] don’t want to hear. Roger tries his best to do as he is told. But how can he if the world is just too wonderful to ignore? Written in short, playful verses, The Boy Who Cried Fabulous will charm readers – young and old alike – for here is a boy who marches to the beat of his own drum.

mraug3kAll Kinds of Families

Author: Norma Simon
Illustrator: Joe Lasker
Publisher: Albert Whitman & Co (1976)
Copy owned by: Wayne County Public Library

A family is YOU. And the people who live with you, and love you, and take care of you. There are all kinds of families, but your own is the one you know best. In this book, Norma Simon talks about different kinds of families. She talks about families in terms of size, age, and the people that make up certain families. She also talks about families where family members live in the same house and those who live apart. Joe Lasker’s drawings complement Norma Simon’s gentle storytelling. All Kinds of Families is a good material for discussing familial structures in the classroom or at home.

mraug3lAll Kinds of Families

Author: Mary Ann Hoberman
Illustrator: Marc Boutavant
Publisher: Little, Brown & Co (2009)
Copy owned by: Twinsburg Public Library

Similar to Norma Simon’s book, Mary Ann Hoberman’s All Kinds of Families talks about different kinds of families. Unlike Simon’s work, Hoberman’s All Kinds of Families is meant for younger readers because of its unique approach on the topic. With lyrical verses and adorable illustrations that can fuel one’s imagination, All Kinds of Families imparts the message that all sorts of things fit into families. Not just father, mother, and baby. Eggs in a carton can be considered a family, as well as cups and saucers! This book emphasizes “inclusivity” and can be a cute read-aloud for parents and children.

mraug3mThe Great Big Book of Families

Author: Mary Hoffman
Illustrator: Ros Asquith
Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers (2010)
Copy owned by: Cleveland Heights – University Heights Public Library

I like how these books about families are unique in their own way. Of the three, this is the book I enjoyed reading the most. What’s marvelous about this book is that it talks about families beyond size or family members. It provides a more extensive picture of families despite the simple words and short sentences. The Great Big Book of Families recognizes same-sex parenting and adoption, both of which are relevant today. It gets into detail by talking about the different kinds of families in terms of housing, education, jobs, celebrations, food, clothing, and even pets, just to name a few! It’s a fun book that I highly recommend.

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I am currently reading…

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Gracefully Grayson

by Ami Polonsky

mraug3p

The Pig That Wants to Be Eaten
(100 Experiments for the Armchair Philosopher)

by Julian Baggini

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What about you, dear readers?
What have you read? What are you reading?

17 comments on “[Monday Reading] 13 Picture Books That Celebrate Diversity, Self-Love, and All Kinds of Families

  1. Oh my goodness! 13 books! You have outdone yourself baby girl! Lovelovelove this post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fats Suela

      Not sure why this posted on Aug 2nd when it should have been the 3rd! Oh well! And thanks! I wanted to cover most of the books that I have. =)

      Like

  2. The Fabulous book looks interesting. I’ll have to look for that. Gracefully Grayson is a book people have been talking about and I may end up reading it soon.

    Like

  3. I adored Gracefully Grayson, shared it with my students a lot last year, Fats. This is quite a wonderful list, some I know & some are new. Ganesha’s Sweet Tooth sounds wonderful. I love when authors apply real stories to re-create something so good, too. The Big Orange Splot has been a favorite of me and my grandchildren for ages-what a lovely book! And I love the idea of Spork too. Of course one would feel different! Thanks so much!

    Like

    • Fats Suela

      Glad to hear from someone who has read the book in its entirety! I’m only halfway through Gracefully Grayson and I’m having a lovely time reading it. I just want to hug Grayson! I was extremely happy that I discovered The Big Orange Splot, Linda! It was fantastic! =)

      Like

  4. What a great list! Thanks for sharing all of these. The Pig That Wants to Be Eaten sounds fascinating. I may have to check into that one.

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    • Fats Suela

      Thanks so much, Julie! The Pig That Wants to Be Eaten is definitely an interesting read. It’s light and short, with only 2-4 pages per thought experiment! Hope you enjoy the book! =)

      Like

  5. I just love all Todd Parr books! We have both the Mommy Book and the Daddy Book and frquently borrow the grandparent ones as well. I saw you read Echo – it’s been on my TBR list for a long time but I think I may listen to it after I’m done with my current audio. Also – I HAVE to read that Pid Wants to Be Eaen book – I love philosophy books and things that make me think. 🙂
    Corrina
    My list: http://www.allensteachingfiles.com/2015/08/its-monday-what-are-you-reading-8315.html

    Like

    • Fats Suela

      I need to read more Todd Parr! Absolutely wonderful books. Short and funny but also sweet! The Pig That Wants to Be Eaten will definitely make you think. The beauty of it comes from the fact that the author does not force his own beliefs to the readers. He wasn’t exactly being a devil’s advocate in the book but he presents both sides of the coin. Some of the thought experiments can be used for group/family discussions! =)

      Like

  6. So much to talk about here!
    Thank you for the list! I loved Red. Felt it was such a special picture book. I will definitely get it for my son in the future. Also loved the Sneetches–classic! I’ll have to check out some of the others.
    I am so glad Gabi was loved. I am so glad that it was on of our Walden finalists. I think her voice is so strong!
    I have The Wall to read soon–I’m looking forward to it.

    Happy reading this week! 🙂

    Like

    • Fats Suela

      Thanks, Kellee!! I agree on what you said about Red. It was such an endearing picture book. Dr. Seuss and his works are lovely! Myra finished Gabi but I’m also hoping to get a copy of the book. Happy reading to you, too! =)

      Like

  7. Ricki Ginsberg

    Goodness gracious. You read a lot! I love this website. It just sucks me in, every time! I am glad you liked GABI. Kellee has been telling me about it for a long time. I need to get around to getting to the library to find a copy of it. I just have so many other great books on hand! I am looking forward to reading Wall. It is sitting on my nightstand right now! I hope you have a great week!

    Like

    • Fats Suela

      Hi Ricki! Some of the books above were part of Myra’s reading list, but those picture books sure kept me busy last week! They are all wonderful. I hope you enjoy Wall! Have a fabulous week ahead! =)

      Like

  8. Love your mix of new and classic stories for this wonderful theme! Have you seen the new One Family or My Family Tree and Me?

    Like

    • Fats Suela

      Why, thank you! I’m glad you like it! And no, I have not seen One Family or My Family Tree and Me but I will definitely look up those books! Thank you for the recommendation! =)

      Like

  9. Pingback: [Our 2015 In Books – Part Two of Two] Reading Stats, Blogging Life, and Looking Ahead | Gathering Books

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