For 2022, our reading theme is #DecolonizeBookshelves2022. Essentially, we hope to feature books that fit any of the following criteria:
Postcolonial literature and/or [pre/post] revolutionary stories
Stories by indigenous / first-nation peoples / people of colour
Narratives of survival and healing, exile and migration, displacement and dispossession
Books written or illustrated by people who have been colonized, oppressed, marginalized
While I hesitate to include these two titles as part of our current reading theme, these books still feature children of color in their book covers and as the main characters in the story. While there are still inequalities that need to be addressed in children’s book publication, I do feel that we have come a long way as compared to, say, twenty or thirty years back when children of color can hardly be seen in book covers. Plus, these books are perfect for Valentine’s Day, I felt.
Loving Kindness [Amazon | Book Depository]
Written by Deborah Underwood Illustrated by Tim Hopgood
Published by Henry Holt & Co. (2021)
ISBN: 1250217202 (ISBN13: 9781250217202). Borrowed via Overdrive. Book photos taken by me.
This picturebook is a mantra, a warm welcome to all that is good, and bright, and true. It begins with a heap of blessings – a recognition of all that is light in young ones with their entire lives ahead of them.
The same message is repeated using a different pronoun, an affirmation that one is loved regardless of one’s mistakes. There is the implicit, bright-eyed assumption that one would learn from such mistakes and grow from the experience.
The same message is then used to include all other creatures with the pronoun: “they” – until the message is repeated like a refrain, or a manifestation of what we will to happen, as we understand what it means to be loved.
There is a celebration of earth’s interconnectedness – and how we are bound to each other in spirit and in dreams. While others may perceive the message as maudlin, I now find that I cannot ignore themes that convey “loving kindness” especially while there is so much hatred and ignorance in the world. The repetition feels almost like a prayer, an openness to hope – that brightest of sparks.
Love Is Here [Amazon | Book Depository]
Written and Illustrated by Mike Malbrough
Published by Flamingo Books (2021)
ISBN: 0593203526 (ISBN13: 9780593203521) Borrowed via Overdrive. Book photos taken by me.
This is a story that totally disarmed me. There is a theatricality to the “shh” call for quiet, and the slight “pop!” to the narrative that practically begs this picturebook to be read aloud to young people.
I especially love the fact that it begins with rain – mainly because we hardly have any here in the United Arab Emirates, where I live. There are also lines that tug at my insides – seemingly-simple sentences that adults who read this story to young ones will understand: such as, for instance, the fleeting nature of beauty – and the fact that try as we might, we cannot hold on to those we love – not forever.
Yet, that is perfectly fine – because love transforms, it is infused into something else that is connected to another, and before we know it,
… love is here.
It presses back against the vast darkness.
There is a depth to this story that can bring readers – wherever they may be at specific points in their lives – to where they need to be, because, hey, “love is here.”