Have you ever been to a store with custom made name bracelets, keychains, birthday banners, coffee mugs, notepads and pens and not find your name? Well that is just one trouble with having a unique name. The other part of having a unique name is having others mispronounce. So what do you do? Politely correct them each time or let them give you a pet name? This was the story of the main character Kareemalayyesseenadeen. This story was told creatively, compassionately, and with inspiring and empowering tones. This is a story I recommend for every child, parent, and teacher to read. It highlights issues of self-esteem, self-love, cultural sensitivity, ethnic diversity, childhood teasing, and the role of family in socioemotional development. It is very important for children to see themselves in the books they read and the stories they hear. This one is truly a mirror, window, and door for children to have that experience. Using watercolor illustrations and not mentioning specific countries allows any reader to connect with the story. I highly recommend.
It reminded me of a speech given by Uzomaka Aduma. She shared of an incident where she told her mother the difficulty her American friends had saying her name. Her mother told her “If they can learn to say Tchaikovsky and Michelangelo and Dostoyevsky, they can learn to say Uzoamaka.”
A student asking bravely to have her or his name said correctly is simply a matter of advocating for oneself. It reminded me of a Key and Peele skit, where the subsitute teacher got all the names wrong, and Denise insisted on being called Denise, not Dee-nice.
This amazing book was written by Huda Essa, who has positively influenced countless communities around the nation through her engaging and thought-provoking learning opportunities. Huda utilizes her extensive experience as a Cultural Competency Consultant, former Teacher and English Language Development Specialist to support organizations in successfully meeting their diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives. Her focus is to empower children to take pride in their many identities while showing respect for themselves and others. Huda continues to write culturally relevant children’s books and is also the producer of a series of short films focused on matters of social justice. To learn more visit www.culturelinksllc.com
Written by Lauren Muskovitz Ranalli (2018)
Illustrated by Emily Sivek
The Great Latke Cookoff is a fun story of an extended family competing at making latke. Narrated by the grandson, he tells the story of the cookoff between his family members, how they decided the rules, prepared the latkes, and chose the winner. While reading the story, children will learn about Jewish traditions such as the menorah and Chanukah, about various cooking terms such as gourmet, recipe, cookware, and more importantly what latkes are made of. It is a great story with a message of “Do not fix what’s not broken!” and nice illustrations. Overall, well written, clever, entertaining family story.
Lauren Simone Pubs had the honor of reviewing two books written by the talented Belinda Mays. Check out what Olivia and Dr. John had to say!
Seven Days with Daddy by Belinda N. Mays
This is a fun way to learn the days of the week and to count from 1 to 7. In the book, a little girl spends a week hanging out with just her dad, while her mom is away. Read to find out all the fun things daddy has planned to help his daughter deal with mom being away for so long. Olivia and I liked the book for its fun storytelling and bright beautiful illustrations. The book has captivating and colorful illustrations and is perfect for little brown skinned girls who love their daddies. Best of all, they include age diversity by showing not just young adults, but my including granny. We think it is important for children to have strong positive relationships with different generations. We recommend this book for 2 to 6 year olds.
My Amazing Dad by Belinda N. Mays
This book was hilarious!!! My daughter and I really enjoyed reading about the amazing dad. We were not a fan of the illustrations immediately. However, the story was so good that we overlooked them. In fact, because of the hilarious nature of the story, the illustrations actually worked out quite perfectly. We loved the ending. We recommend this book for 5- 9 year olds because of the metaphors and similes used.
Belinda Mays resides in Houston, Texas with her husband, Dr. Anthony Mays and their two daughters and son. Her books inspired by her father, Berkins Booker, Jr., an Air Force mechanic. Her first book was "My Amazing Dad". Belinda is currently working on her third book entitled "I Am, God's Affirmations for Little Girls".
Bubby’s Puddle Pond: A Tortuga's Tale of the Desert
Written by: Carol Hageman (2017)
Illustrated by Nathaniel P. Jensen
Edited by Conrad J. Storad
Carol Hageman, the author of Bubby’s Puddle Pond, is a lover of wildlife and outdoors. She was inspired to share her observations of animals in the story of a tortoise. Bubby is a desert tortoise from the Sonoran desert in Arizona. He meets many animal friends in his new habitat. Join Bubby on his adventures in his puddle pond. In this story, children will learn what foods desert tortoises eat, new vocabulary words such as burrow, habitat, and hibernate, and learn about the adoption process. The end of the story is followed by very informative material that teaches children even more about desert tortoises and adoption. There is also a glossary, a curriculum guide for teachers and homeschool parents, and hands on activities. I recommend this book to parents with children who love animals and preschool teachers to use during their habitat portion of the curriculum.
Check it Out on Amazon: http://a.co/aogpI99
Written by D. Lovelitt (2018)
Illustrated by Yasu Matsuoka
Amina Arnae and Her Poofy Hair is the debut book in The Adventures of Amina Arnae series, written by D. Lovelitt.
Wonderfully illustrated, in this book, we meet a beautiful, chocolate skinned girl with big poofy hair. The pictures in the story are bright, beautiful, and captivating.
A couple of encounters with nature and children from school cause Amina to not be too confident about her poofy hair. Feeling sad and discouraged, she comes up with a number of solutions to solve her problem. In the end, she doesn’t change her the texture or shape of her hair, but learns how to take proper care of it and sees herself as beautiful. Amina Arnae and her poofy hair is an inspiring and empowering story. In this book, girls of color are taught to love themselves as they are as well as how to take care of themselves. Subtly in the illustrations are sulfate free shampoos, silicone free conditioners, leave in conditioners, shea butter moisturizers. The story also cover other topics outside of beauty and self-esteem, but recognize youth challenges such as childhood teasing, overcoming fears, friendship and the importance of active, caring, and nurturing family members.
The story begins with a note to parents to help in increasing their children’s self-esteem and ends with a detailed hair routine for children with thick, natural, curly hair. It was a pleasure to read this book and I recommend to parents and teachers of children age 2 to 6.