Diverse Kids Books–Reviews

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This Day in June by Gayle E. Pitman

cover for This Day in JuneThis Day in June by Gayle E. Pitman is an easy way to introduce a child to the joy motivating people to celebrate in Pride Parades every year. Easy to follow, simple, two line rhymes in inconspicuous locations on the pages, which seem to overflow with vibrant illustrations, describe the many sights common in a Gay Pride Parade. Not a part of the sparse text, but present in the illustrations are many of the political messages that are commonly seen at a Gay Pride Parade. While the illustrations are fun, this isn’t like the books we normally review, which represent LGBT-parents leading a family. There are children in a few of the illustrations but most of the illustrations feature adults having parade fun, which means that in addition to images of people with rainbow colored hair, parade floats, flags and Carnivalesque costumes, there are illustrations of men without shirts and adults kissing. When I saw the images of bare chested men, bikini-top wearing marchers and adults kissing, I had a strong oppositional reaction to the idea of showing this to a child however reading the discussion guide in the back of the book helped me to see that a child looking at these illustrations would not read the same sexual context that I see, into these images. (more…)

The Family Book by Todd Parr

cover for The Family Book by Todd ParrTodd Parr makes the idea of family a fun thing to read about in this book illustrated with crayon-colored people. The silly illustrations and simple statements give the reader a feeling of “family” meaning acceptance more than anything else. Using animals and people to represent the many different family structures in our society, this is an easy, sensory stimulating, colorful way to introduce or further conversation on family diversity with your children, especially small children.

Recommendation: Recommended; 2+
Reviewer:  Omilaju Miranda

The Purim Superhero by Elisabeth Kushner

cover for The Purim SuperheroThis is the coolest story book, exceptional in that dialogue is plentiful—it is full of the realistic conversation that goes on between children and their peers as well as the adults in their lives. Nate has to decide what to be for the Purim Celebration at his synagogue but more importantly, he has to decide whether to be himself—a boy who wants to dress up as an alien— or a follower of the crowd. The crowd in this case is the group of boys in his Hebrew class who are dressing as superheroes. His fathers encourage him to be strong enough to be himself and he comes up with a surprise costume that makes him feel like he is true to himself and will be welcome with the boys in his class. I thought we would get through this entire story without discussing the way in which Nate’s family is different but ultimately as a part of the conversation encouraging Nate to be himself, he and his fathers make a reference to his fathers’ dedication to being their true self. However, conversation over his fathers being two dads instead of a mom and dad does not take up much space in this lovely story about an elementary child’s apprehension over being different from the group and the imaginative solution he finds to restore his confidence. A lovely story for every child who at some point will want to resist peer pressure to express him/herself.

Recommendation: Recommended; ages 4-7

Reviewer: Omilaju Miranda

And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson

And Tango Makes Three coverSo, did you know that there was a true story of two male penguins partnering for life, adopting a penguin chick and raising her? Neither did I until I reached the end of And Tango Makes Three, but this all happened at the Central Park Zoo and what a wonderful way for us to see that family takes all constructs in the animal world as in the human world. I think that the fact that this is a true story should have come earlier in the story, to make it more universally appealing as the wonder of it all is that the way the penguins manage their life as a couple and family is very similar to the way that humans find their way, emulating their hetero-normative parents and fellow citizens. Until I knew that this was a true story, I kind of felt like the book was agenda driven which was uncomfortable; once I knew it was a true story I was in awe at the universality of relationship experiences that may very well cross all species. Roy and Silo (the protagonist penguins) are good sitters to the egg given to them by the zookeeper, and when Tango emerges from the egg, they are good parents to her. Because of the straightforward comparative writing, I would say that this book is like a National Geographic story for preschoolers and elementary students with appealing illustration that makes entertaining use of the page. The story is one that everybody of all ages should know to increase awareness and acceptance in society. I tend to like stories that are strong in plot and character internally and independently whereas And Tango Makes Three depends a little too much on comparing the same-gender couple to opposite gender couples and penguin families for my tastes but there is value in informational picture books as well as those grounded solely in good story.

 Recommendation: Recommended; ages 3+

Reviewer: Omilaju Miranda

 

Daddy, Papa, and Me by Leslea Newman

Cover for Daddy, Papa, and MeParenthood through a child’s eyes can’t get any simpler than the way it is presented in this book  Daddies are the people who take care of you, play with you and fix things for you. If you have a child under the age of five who you want to see that having two  daddies is just regular life, this book should be a part of your home library. It is a board books so if your child younger than three-years-old gets attached in a way that they play roughly with the books, the texts are durable.  One father is white and the other father is Asian and the child is white. Because these are books that simply carry the reader through a fun day in the life, there is no discussion of adoption or biology. A few months ago when my daughter was still two, we read Mommy, Mama, and Me  by the same author and my daughter kept trying to figure out which mother was the mommy. However, when we read Daddy, Papa, and Me last night, my daughter, now three-years-old, only had questions about what the father was doing on the page where he is fixing a stuffed animal while a mug of coffee sits on the table beside him. She wanted to know why he was drinking coffee and why he needed scissors. This is a “must have” book, which is easily accessible and enjoyable for kids of all ages.

Recommendation: Highly Recommended; Age 0-5

Reviewer: Omilaju Miranda