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.
We made it to 2021, fellow readers! Hooray! That, in itself, is enough cause for celebration.
Hence, #SurvivalStories2021 will be our theme for the entire year. I will be sharing what this means in our forthcoming Saturday post this week.
For the first quarter of the year, we are featuring joy-makers and peace-builders in literature. We welcome all things light and joyful as we embrace positivity for good juju throughout the year. These two picturebooks published in 2020 are perfect for our current theme and awesome books to welcome the New Year.
You Matter [Amazon | Book Depository]
Written and Illustrated by Christian Robinson
Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers (2020)
ISBN: 1534421696 (ISBN13: 9781534421691) Borrowed from Overdrive. Book photos taken by me.
This is a deceptively simple story that begins with “the stuff too small to see” – yet they matter. Simply because one does not see things does not mean they do not exist, and that they do not matter. It also opens to a dedication page that says: “For anyone who isn’t sure if they matter. You do.”
Christian Robinson plays with perspective here: panning in and out from one page to the next, demonstrating scale and magnitude, size and diminutiveness; and one’s place – whether a speck or a whisper – in the scheme of things.
Yet, while it waxes philosophical and grand – bringing the reader to the dinosaur age and outer space – it also brings the narrative down to realities that young people are able to understand fully and appreciate, with feelings that can be touched and held in one’s hands.
There is a lyrical quality to the simple declarations in each page that ended where it started, providing a comforting full circle message of light and love. This will be a staple read-aloud for me now.
All Because You Matter [Amazon | Book Depository]
Written by Tami Charles Illustrated by Bryan Collier
Published by Orchard Books (2020)
ISBN:133857485X (ISBN13: 9781338574852). Borrowed via Overdrive. Book photos taken by me.
Similar to You Matter, Tami Charles begins with a scientific definition of matter:
Then it moves smoothly and poetically to an intimate conversation with the reader, the “dear child” referenced in this very first page. The entire book is a quiet yet voluble exhortation that you are precious and that you are firmly rooted in the history of your ancestors, dreamt of centuries ago, fully part of the fabric of everyone who came before and those who will come after.
I was especially arrested by this page, when I saw words from my own language, Tagalog, calling out to me from the page. Tami Charles explains her attempts to be multilingual in this picturebook in an interview done by Shelf Awareness:
In All Because You Matter, my hope is to honor children of color and the diverse backgrounds from which they come. The phrase “Mahal kita” (meaning “I love you” in Tagalog) is from the Philippines. To my ear, the words literally sound like love. “Barrio” and “montañas” are Spanish for “neighborhood” and “mountains,” each word representing beauty and strength.
I use multiple languages in this text to show that BIPOC are not a monolith. We are multi-dialectal, multifaceted, a full-spectrum rainbow of experiences and talents to share with the world.
I especially appreciated how the narrative also touches on difficulties that most children, especially children-of-color experience throughout their lives. Hence, rather than ending up as a superficial, pat-in-the-back, hollow motivational message – both author and illustrator foregrounded the uplifting message as one that is inextricably woven into a history of marginalization and continuous oppression (Trayvon, Tamir, Philando were mentioned in the pages here).
This courage and boldness of vision has embodied the narrative and suffused it with soul. It breathes truth while reminding the reader of their value and worth. This book is absolutely beautiful and would most likely win all them awards this year.
#SurvivalStories2021 Update: 2-3 out of target 100