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).


For 2022, our reading theme is #DecolonizeBookshelves2022. Essentially, we hope to feature books that fit any of the following criteria:

  1. Postcolonial literature and/or [pre/post] revolutionary stories
  2. Stories by indigenous / first-nation peoples / people of colour
  3. Narratives of survival and healing, exile and migration, displacement and dispossession
  4. Books written or illustrated by people who have been colonized, oppressed, marginalized

Welcome Home [Amazon | Book Depository]

Written by Aimee Reid Illustrated by Rashin Kheiriyeh
Published by Beach Lane Books (2022)
ISBN: 1534438866 (ISBN13: 9781534438866). Borrowed via Overdrive. Book photos taken by me.

I believe this is the first 2022 picturebook I reviewed this year. I borrowed it primarily because I am a fan of Iranian Rashin Kheiriyeh’s art. Her dedication is also bilingual: written in both English and Arabic for parents expecting a baby soon in their home.

The story opens with the mother cradling her baby and positioning the baby snug and tight into the cradle. I love that it isn’t really clear whether the baby is a boy or a girl. There is also a consistency in the coloring scheme throughout, along with the effusive art with the soft colors and muted hues that remain celebratory.

While I am not a fan of rhyming text, there is something soothing in the way the story is written that makes it seem the most appropriate way of narrating this jubilant welcome to a new addition in the family and the community.

I am slightly reminded of Sleeping Beauty with all the fairy godparents sending their wishes – except that there is no pinprick here – just a joyful celebration of a new living and breathing creature being welcomed “to our blossoming lands, to our sheltering care, to our cradling hands.”

First Laugh, Welcome Baby! by Rose Ann Tahe and Nancy Bo Flood and Jonathan Nelson [Amazon | Book Depository]

Written by Rose Ann Tahe and Nancy Bo Flood Illustrated by Jonathan Nelson
Published by Charlesbridge Publishing (2018)
ISBN: 1580897940 (ISBN13: 9781580897945) Borrowed via Overdrive. Book photos taken by me.

I have been seeing this picturebook shared for awhile now, and was thrilled to find it via Overdrive. The Afterword indicates that there is what is known as The First Laugh Celebration in Navajo or Diné tradition which serves as “a child’s first formal welcome in a family and clans.”

Apparently, each family member is excited to have the honor of being the first person to make the baby laugh because it signifies a special relationship with the child, and the person will have the privilege of hosting the First Laugh Ceremony.

I appreciated how seamlessly the traditional customs and practices are interwoven with the usual daily routines in this family’s everyday life. I also found it amusing that this particular baby seems like a tough sell – his smiles and laugh are pretty hard to come by – reminding me of the trite adage: “A watched pot never boils” as each family member waits avidly for that elusive smile and laugh.

As I was finding out more information about this particular title, I came across this American Indians in Children’s Literature blogpost posted by Dr. Debbie Reese of Nambé Pueblo signifying her concerns about the White co-author of this book, Nancy Bo Flood, and issues concerning appropriation.

I strongly believe that conversations like these need to be brought out and openly explored, even as the picturebooks are appreciated for their added value in the canon of diverse children’s literature. The issues raised are thought-provoking and would definitely accompany all my sharing of this book in professional development workshops. It is also particularly germane as our reading theme has to do with decolonizing bookshelves and how this particular encounter with Nancy Bo Flood as shared by Dr. Debbie Reese can be interpreted in light of this.

#DecolonizeBookshelves2022 Update: 18 / 19 out of target 100

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).

6 comments on “[Monday Reading] Welcoming Babies in Picturebooks

  1. Those welcoming new baby picture books are delightful. I remember getting one on the same theme many years ago when my granddaughter was ready to welcome her baby sister home.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. lindabaie

    The first one is beautiful, Myra, looks & sounds very sweet. I have met Nancy Bo Flood here in Denver when the book was coming out. It is a wonderful story. And I had already heard of the tradition of “first laugh” when my class visited the Pueblo Indians one year. I love the book! Thanks for sharing both!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I like the covers of the books! Have a great week!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I feel like both of these would make amazing gifts for expecting and new parents, beautiful new additions to their little one’s libraries. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I read and enjoyed First Laugh. Thanks for the link to Dr. Debbie Reese’s post about the book. I appreciate her analysis most of the time. When I retired I weeded everything that wasn’t an ‘ownvoices’ title from the indigenous stories collection. I don’t always agree with Reese’s take. In Canada too many Indigenous children were taken from their families to be adopted into white homes. They may or may not be able to reconnect to their family of origin, but I would never say that they don’t have the right to tell stories about the indigenous experience.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. What a treasure your Welcoming Baby books are! I remember reading that genre to my son when I was expecting my daughter! This post is a great resource! Thank you for sharing!


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