Web: Kitaab World

There are several areas of diverse lit that I have very little knowledge about.  I don’t know much about Islamic books, so I rely on bloggers like Notes From an Islamic School Librarian to point me towards good reads or point out flaws in books that I might not notice.  I’m sadly ignorant about indigenous culture, but Debbie Reese from American Indians in Children’s Literature is helping educate all of us about good Native representation in literature.

But until very recently, I didn’t have many ideas about good South Asian books.  Enter the new website Kitaabworld (kitaab means book in many languages).  They curate books and some other children’s items from South Asian cultures, including bilingual and religious books.

In addition to selling South Asian books right there on their website, they offer a lot of helpful content for the clueless but well-meaning non-South Asian, such as their guide to the best books of 2016.

I had only heard of four books on this list before, although Save Me a Seat was one of my favorite books of 2016.  However there are now several I would like to read, including One Half from the East and YA novel Rani Patel in Full Effect.  Mirror in the Sky also looks intriguing.

I hope you are also able to find some new reads from this awesome website!

Awards You Might Not Know About

Book awards beyond the Newberry and Caldecott.

We’ve all heard of the Newberry and Caldecott Awards.  In fact, you might even have done a book report on one at some time in your childhood.  If you’re a savvy librarian or teacher, you might know about some of the other awards like the Giesel or Wilder Medals.

But did you know that there are many awards out there specifically for helping you find the best books and authors for a host of diverse groups?

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The Coretta Scott King Book Awards – 2016
There are four different categories.  This long-running award is probably the most likely to be seen on the shelves of your local bookstore.  The number of honors (vs. awards) seems to change yearly based on what is published.

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Schneider Family Book Award – 2016
“The Schneider Family Book Awards honor an author or illustrator for a book that embodies an artistic expression of the disability experience for child and adolescent audiences.”  Both fiction and non-fiction are eligible but fiction tends to win more.  Categories are Children’s, Teens, and Middle School, and multiple books can win, but there are no honors.

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Stonewall Book Award – 2016  
Running since 1971, this award honors books relating to the gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender experience.  There are currently six categories including fiction and non-fiction for children, YA, and adults, and up to four books can be honored in some categories (it varies by year).

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Pura Belpré Award – 2016  
“The Pura Belpré Award, established in 1996, is presented annually to a Latino/Latina writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth.”  There are winners and honors for authors and illustrators, fiction and non-fiction are mixed with fiction more predominate.

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American Indian Youth Literature Award – 2016   
These awards are given every two years to fiction or non-fiction books in the categories of picture book, middle grades, and YA. “Books selected to receive the award will present American Indians in the fullness of their humanity in the present and past contexts.”

 

Of course, awards are not perfect.  Some years mediocre books win an award, other times modern classics are passed over (Amazing Grace) and don’t win any awards.  However, for parents, teachers, and librarians, these award lists can be a huge help as we try to find quality books in areas we might not be very knowledgeable in.

What major awards am I missing?  Does your local library buy the winners of these awards?

Review: Singing for Dr. King

Learn more about two third-graders who participated in the Selma marches with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Singing for Dr. King by Angela Shelf Medearis, illustrated by Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu.
Produced for Scholastic by Color-Bridge Books, Brooklyn, NY, 2004.
Picture book non-fiction, 32 pages (including back matter).
Lexile: 660L  (for some reason, the illustrator is listed as the author)
AR Level: 3.8 (worth 0.5 points)
NOTE: Part of the Just For You series, level 3.  This book is non-fiction.

This book is about Sheyann Webb and her friend Rachel West, two third graders who marched in Selma with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  These nine year olds also sang for Dr. King and attended civil rights meetings, defying and later inspiring their parents and teachers by doing so.

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Singing for Dr. King by Angela Shelf Medearis

This book instantly stood out from the pile of books because anything about Dr. King is hugely popular in my house.  Then when I opened the book and read the first page, I knew it was non-fiction partly by the way in which the characters were introduced.  Here is the opening:

“In 1965, Sheyann Webb was in the third grade in Selma, Alabama.  She was smaller than most third graders, including her best friend, Rachel West.  //  Rachel was nine.  She lived with her family in the apartment next door to Sheyann’s.” p. 5

Fiction books for young children simply don’t open that way, giving the full names, ages, and year on the opening page.  It happened that I had just been reading A Child Shall Lead Them, so I quickly recognized the names and scenarios from that book.  However, a reader who was not already familiar with these events could easily have mistaken this book for fiction that was written oddly.

Continue reading “Review: Singing for Dr. King”

Review: Case of the Missing Trophy

If you have or know a child between 2nd and 5th grade, go out and get them this book.

The Case of the Missing Trophy by Angela Shelf Medearis, illustrated by Robert Papp.
Scholastic, New York, 2004.
Elementary mystery, 135 pages.
Lexile: 580L
AR Level: 4.0 (worth 3.0 points)
NOTE: This book is a sequel to The Spray-Paint Mystery, but has no spoilers for that book.

Cameron is so excited about the upcoming science fair.  He can’t wait to be in fifth grade so that he can participate and maybe win the trophy back to his school for another year.  The only thing more exciting is solving mysteries like his dad.  But it’s no mystery why Cameron is always losing and forgetting things – it’s not easy shuffling between two houses each week now that his mom is back in Austin, Texas.  Cameron’s spent so much time staring at the trophy in the display case, now it’s up to him and his three best friends to figure out where the trophy disappeared to!

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I grabbed this book from the library because of the cover, blurb unread.  Honestly I’m finding so many wonderful new-to-me authors this way, I nearly feel like I should choose all of my books based on the diversity of the cover.  So I wasn’t aware this was a sequel.  However, it doesn’t matter.  The previous case is referenced a few times, but no details are given, adults just state that the case was solved last year.

Continue reading “Review: Case of the Missing Trophy”

Review: A Child Shall Lead Them

A unique perspective on youth involvement in the civil rights movement, particularly in relation to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

A Child Shall Lead Them: Martin Luther King Jr., Young People, and the Movement by Rufus Burrow Jr.
Fortress Press, Minneapolis, 2014.
Academic non-fiction, 331 pages (including index).

In six chapters, this accessible academic work conveys the history of youth involvement in the Civil Rights Movement, with a special focus on youth interactions with Martin Luther King, Jr.

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A Child Shall Lead Them: Martin Luther King Jr., Young People and the Movement by Rufus Burrow Jr.

As soon as I saw this at the library, I had to check it out.  Children, MLK, and the Civil Rights movement?  All favorite reading topics for me.  But when it came to writing this review, I dithered.  For weeks months I have been thinking about this book, rereading sections, and trying to decide if I’ll write about it here.  I’m simply not knowledgeable enough in this field to assess the author’s arguments and write what I would think of as a proper review.  In the end, I am reviewing it as an interested layperson, since that’s how I read this book.

Continue reading “Review: A Child Shall Lead Them”

Review: Lion/A Long Way Home

“I never forgot my Indian mother and family – and I never will – but being separated from them didn’t create a block that somehow prevented me from pursuing a full and happy life. I’d learned quickly, as a matter of survival, that I needed to take opportunities as they came – if they came – and to look forward to the future.” p. 154

Lion by Saroo Brierley with Larry Buttrose.
New American Library imprint, Penguin Random House, 2013.
Adult memoir, 273 pages + photo inserts.
Not leveled.
NOTE: Previously published under the title A Long Way Home.

Born into an impoverished but loving family in rural India, Saroo accompanied his brother to a nearby train station and got lost, ending up asleep on a train which took him to Calcutta.  Six emotional months later, he was adopted into an Australian family, the Brierleys.  Along the way, he told many people his story.  Some didn’t believe him, others tried to take advantage of him, but none were able to find his family based on his five-year old recollections.

As an adult with the help of Google Earth, he began an obsessive search to find his home town.  Twenty-five years after he got lost, he came home again.  But is any of his family still there?

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Lion (previously A Long Way Home) by Saroo Brierley.

Continue reading “Review: Lion/A Long Way Home”

2016 Favorites – Top Ten

My top ten from the books I reviewed in 2016, across all categories.

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Just looking through the list of books I’ve reviewed so far (26 books in 2016), here are a few of my favorite books.  It’s not a very long list because I’ve only been blogging for a few months – I didn’t set out to make a top ten list but there were only ten books when I finished!  Click the title for my review which has much more info about each book. Continue reading “2016 Favorites – Top Ten”