105 Ways to Give a Book

Thursday Three: Diverse Picture Books

Everywhere I go online I am happily seeing references to the cause of diversity in our books. Fantastic! We're going to continue that focus during our 48 Hour Book Challenge coming up on the weekend of June 6th, so please sign-up to participate. I'm hoping in the lead-up to that weekend to share some of the titles I've come across in the library, starting here with three picture books that feature African-American children in stories that have nothing to do with racial issues. I know, what a concept. Enjoy!

Here Comes Trouble!
by Corinne Demas, illustrated by Noah Z. Jones

Scholastic, 2013
Here Comes Trouble! Emma’s dog didn’t like cats, but it seems for good reason as the cats were never in trouble, but Toby was. The neighbor cat was especially irritating, so when she came to stay for a while, well it was a challenge. The cat does things that Toby gets blamed for, so you can see why he’s mad. But when Pandora gets herself stuck in a tree, it’s Toby’s trouble-making ways – and sudden ability to write out words with mud – that save the day. Cartoon illustrations with bright colors make it an easy choice to share in storytime, and there's bits of humor in the background for closer inspection. It's a good story that shows friendship and problem-solving, but honestly my favorite thing is that it features an African-American family for no reason related to their race. Just ’cause.

Ruby’s Sleepover
By Kathryn White and Mirian Latimer

Barefoot Books, 2012
Ruby’s Sleepover Two girls are having a sleepover in a backyard tent, and as they hear noises in the night, one of the girls solves their worries with her “magic” items. Magic beans to grow a stalk to take a giant back home. An egg that the dragon might be seeking. And rings to wear to sleep to “keep danger at bay.” The focus on imagination and the idea of using your own thoughts to face your fears is a great lesson gently delivered. Nice rhyming couplets with a good rhythm, bright, cheerful illustrations and diverse characters make this a wonderful book to share.

by Linda Ashman, illustrated by Christian Robinson

HMH Books for Young Readers, 2013
Rain It’s raining in the city, and two different people – an old man and a child – have entirely different outlooks on the wet weather. The Boy delights in the day with excitement, putting on his green rain gear and froggie hat. The Man frowns and complains as he too ventures outside. At the coffee shop, the two meet accidentally and a good deed by the child clears the Man’s grumpy mood, reminding him of a pleasant way to be. The cute paper illustration is perfect in combination with the subtler paint composition. Excellent diversity in the book, representing a city very well, and featuring a child of color. Simple in language, but great in the message of the power of a positive outlook.

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