Diverse Kids Books–Reviews

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Visiting my Father’s Homeland: Book Review for I Lost My Tooth in Africa by Penda Diakité

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Losing teeth is a rite of passage for every child and, based on twelve-year-old Penda Diakité’s I Lost My Tooth in Africa, a visit from the elusive tooth-fairy is a welcome surprise for children all over the world as well—even in Mali, West Africa!

In the story, Amina, a girl born and raised in the U.S., and her family travel from Portland, Oregon to Bamako, Mali, her father’s birthplace and childhood home. Amina’s loose tooth—which she discovers while en route to Mali— tags along. After her father shares with her that the African tooth fairy trades a chicken in exchange for a little boy or girl’s tooth, Amina is determined to lose her wiggly tooth  before this family trip to Africa is over.

Infused with a strong representation of words from Bamabara (a glossary is in the back of the book), the most widely used indigenous language of Mali, and Malian cultural traditions, I Lost My Tooth in Africa is a mildly suspenseful narrative that children between the ages of 5 and 8 who are also going through the “snaggle-tooth” phase could especially appreciate while learning informative tidbits about a new culture and geographical location. The children in your life will be further inspired by the fact that this book, published by one of the five major publisher’s of children’s books, is the creation of a pre-teen author and her illustrator father.

Recommendation: Highly Recommended ages 5-8

Reviewer: LaTonya Jackson

Hello, Lulu by Caroline Uff

Cover Hello Lulu by Caroline UffHello, Lulu is a great book for beginner readers, but not necessarily the ideal book if you’re teaching your little one about diversity. The book introduces the reader to a little girl named Lulu and the important people and things in her life. The reader learns about Lulu and all of the members of her family. The board book itself features brightly colored backgrounds to help Lulu’s family members stand out. So while the illustrations visually cue us in on the family’s interracial composition, it’s never verbally explained. Thus, to bypass this subliminal message, you may want to point out the fact that Lulu’s parents are different races from the beginning. One other note: From learning about what Lulu’s favorite snacks are to how many pets Lulu has, your child is sure to notice a correlation or two in their own life (racial composition aside). 

 Recommendation: Recommended to introduce young readers to diverse-looking characters; Ages 2-5  (buy)

Book Reviewers: Kaitlyn Wells

PBS Kids’ “Superwhy!”

SuperwhylogoIf you have not yet discovered the PBSKids show “SuperWhy,” discover it. The main characters—Whyatt/SuperWhy, PrincessPea/ Princess Presto, Red/Wonder Red, Alpha Pig, and Webster are children and pet superheroes living in storybook village whose special powers are related to literacy i.e spelling, phonics, writing and reading. In each episode they help solve a child’s problems by flying into a classic fairy tale in which the child’s problem parallels that of the fairytale protagonist. Then, the SuperReaders save the day by changing the story so that the child in trouble and fairytale protagonist triumph over their issue. This show helps the toddler and preschooler engage in a fun adventure that builds their valuation of reading and helps the early reader learn reading concepts. They cover a full range of reading comprehension and word construction concepts. This is definitely ELA enrichment in the form of entertainment.
The lead character, Whyatt, as described by the SuperWhy wikis and obvious when you watch the show, is definitively olive skinned as is his family. While their ethnicity is not discussed, he has an appearance that many in the mixed and multiracial communities would see as a reflection of themselves. Princess Pea, a green-eyed, brown-skinned girl with waste length wavy hair is actually mixed. In the second episode of the first season, the team flies into the story of Princess Pea’s mother who is the original Princess of “The Princess and the Pea” where we meet her mother who is of African Descent and father who is Caucasian. We rarely see the families of the Super Readers but every episode is going to be a fun, learning episode.

Recommendation: Highly Recommended

Reviewer: Omilaju Miranda