Books Early Readers Features Genre It's Monday What Are You Reading Lifespan of a Reader Middle Grade Picture Books Reading Themes Voices From The Fringe: Social Justice

[Monday Reading] All The Way Up – Empowering Picturebooks for Children

Hands Up! Get Up, Stand Up!


It's Monday! What Are You Reading

Myra 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 (new host of Monday reading: Kathryn T at Book Date). 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. 

I love how these two picturebooks are uplifting, empowering, and recognize how children are able to make a difference, however small, in their tiny universe.

Hands Up! [Amazon | Book Depository]

Written by Breanna J. McDaniel Illustrated by Shane W. Evans
Published by Dial Books (2019)
ISBN: 0525552316 (ISBN13: 9780525552314). Borrowed from Overdrive. Book photos taken by me.

As can be seen in this bright book cover, the word “Hands Up!” has been reframed by the book creators from something that evokes fear and anger to something that brings about joy and exuberance.

In the Author’s Note found at the end of the book, she explained:

For many people, the phrase “hands up” brings forward difficult emotions like anger, sadness, frustration, and fear. With this story, I wanted to emphasize the ways I’ve experienced that phrase as part of my everyday life: at home, at play, in church, and at protests with young people leading the way.

I enjoyed the rhythm of the narrative, the carefree way in which one’s hands are raised – not in surrender, but in freedom and abandon and faith. The act is voluntary and ultimately empowering. I love the image above as it reminds me of myself, always reaching high to get the books from my shelves.

I also found the Illustrator’s Note to be especially moving:

This brilliant reminder from Breanna helped guide me back to lifting my hands in joy. I stopped being afraid of raising my hands up, and stretching them high felt right. It felt good to celebrate. So, to you all: Celebrate with me. HANDS UP!

I find the image above to be quite powerful – it demonstrates how hands can also be lifted up to lift others. Here’s to raising our hands up collectively as a community – as a form of protest, as a symbol of joy and freedom.

Get Up, Stand Up [Amazon | Book Depository]

Based on the song by Bob Marley Adapted By Cedella Marley Illustrated by John Jay Cabuay
Published by Chronicle Books (2019)
ISBN: 1452171726 (ISBN13: 9781452171722). Borrowed from Overdrive. Book photos taken by me.

In this book, Cedella Marley has adapted her father, Bob Marley’s song to a picturebook narrative for children. This is not the first time she has done this successfully. I have featured her One Love (also based on her father’s song) and illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton (Amazon | Book Depository) here.

In Get Up, Stand Up – the role of young people of color serving as an active defender when witnessing bullying incidents had been portrayed through images, the visual narrative adding another layer to the song lyrics:

It may take awhile to figure out what is happening based on the images, but it also provides spaces for young readers to come up with their own interpretation or derive meaning from what is going on and what it means.

It demonstrates how young people can reach out, “get up, stand up” and do something when they witness another person being ostracized, made fun of, or left out of a group. The dance moves in the image above would be the perfect complement as children listen to the original song of Bob Marley. Here is a youtube live performance of Bob Marley performing “Get Up, Stand Up” in Munich. Enjoy!

#ReadIntl2020 Update: Authors/illustrators of both books are POC.

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

4 comments on “[Monday Reading] All The Way Up – Empowering Picturebooks for Children

  1. I love the inspiration for the second book, thanks for sharing it

    Wishing you a great reading week

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love Bob Marley,am happy to see this book, Myra. And I still need to get Hands Up! Thanks for sharing so much today!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Completely Full Bookshelf

    Both of these books look absolutely wonderful! Thanks so much for spotlighting them!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Both of these books make me smile Myra. I now have Bob Marley’s tune playing in my head.

    Liked by 1 person

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