Sad Book

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Author: Michael Rosen

Illustrator: Quentin Blake

Publisher: Candlewick

Date of Publication: February 3, 2005

Awards: Kate Greenaway Medal, Nestle Children’s Book Prize/Nestle Smarties Book Prize

Age Range: 5 – 11

Grade Level: Kindergarten – 6th

Resources:

  1. Review focusing on the theme of grief and loss
  2. Teaching ideas in the subjects of english, art,  music,  languages, and pshe
  3. Discussion guide focusing on how to discuss philosophy with children

Sad Book is one of the most important children’s books about loss and grief. The book came to be under very sad circumstances when Michael Rosen’s son Eddie died suddenly at 18 due to meningitis. It encapsulates every layer of grief and the unescapable sadness that comes along with it. Throughout the book is the reassurance that it is okay to be sad. It is okay to think of happy times too and it isn’t always necessary to dwell on only the sad times. Michael Rosen eloquently describes how he copes with his own overwhelming sadness, and the illustrations sometimes do not match the text to communicate the complexities of grief. This book is important to introduce to young children the hard topic of sadness and grief, and unlike some other books of this subject matter it does not talk down to them. Although this is a children’s book, Rosen explicitly details on the inside book cover that it is for everyone, and for everyone it is. Everyone who has experienced loss can find comfort in a narrative they know all too well.

The Journey

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Author: Francesca Sanna

Illustrator: Mark Jackson

Publisher: Flying Eye Books

Date of Publication: September 13, 2016

Awards: 2017 Ezra Jack Keats New Author Honor and New Illustrator Honor Award, The New York Times‘ Notable Children’s Book of 2016, Wall Street Journal’s Best Children’s Books of 2016

Age Range: 4 – 11 years

Grade Level: Preschool – 5th

Resources:

  1. Reading and discussion guide about using fiction to explore human rights. Discussion questions are posted right alongside the actual illustrations
  2. Review by Kirkus Reviews

Told from the perspective of a young child, it chronicles the journey many refugees experience leaving their homes in hopes of finding a new one. Although the time period and setting are unspecified, it parallels all too well the modern day Syrian refugee crisis. The text is from the perspective of a young child so the story is told with a fear of the unknown as they travel by car, by bicycle, hidden in the backs of trucks, and on foot. All throughout there is hopes of new beginnings. The illustrations beautifully capture the tone of the book and express what the words cannot. The narrator confides on one page as she is seen being cradled by her mother, “In the darkness the noises of the forest scare me, but my mother is with us and she is never scared.” On the next page it depicts the children now asleep, and tears streaming down the mother’s eyes. This is a book that is necessary and important. It can bring about empathy and compassion about real world happenings. It can spark important conversations about the costs of war and its displaced peoples.

Ghost

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Author: Jason Reynolds

Publisher: Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books

Date of Publication: August 30, 2016

Awards: Finalist for National Book Awards 2016 for Young People’s Literature

Age Range: 9 years and up

Grade Level: 3rd and beyond

Resources:

  1. Reading and discussion guide as well as extension activities designed by the publisher
  2. Review by Kirkus Reviews

Ghost tells the story of 7th grader Castle “Ghost” Crenshaw who lives in an urban neighborhood and is often bullied because of the part of town he resides. On his walk home from school Ghost decides on an impulsive decision to watch a track meet of a team called the Defenders, and running it without any prior sign up or experience. With an innate skill of running Coach Otis instinctively sees himself in Ghost, he then takes him under his wing and becomes committed to investing himself in Ghost’s life. He invites him onto the track team on the condition that Ghost can fulfill all his other duties in life. His journey alongside Coach and his teammates helps Ghost confront both his complicated past and present, propelling him forward. Ghost finds himself with a sense of belonging and purpose after a lifetime of being isolated from his peers and traumatized from the abuse that was present in his early development. These story elements all combine to form themes of bullying and abuse, as well as confronting and overcoming your fear and anger. Any reader who has gone through similar traumas of abusive parents or being bullied at school would see themselves in Ghost and Coach as well. These readers would not only see the pain that comes from it, but the healing that the book also depicts.

 

Worm Loves Worm

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Author: J.J Austrian

Illustrator: Mike Curato

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Date of Publication: January 5, 2016

Awards: Kirkus Best Books of 2016, GLBT Round Table andThe American Library Association 2017 Rainbow Book List, Winner 2017 Minnesota Book Award for Children’s Literature

Age Range: 4 – 8 years

Grade Level: Preschool – 3

Resources:

  1. Review by Common Sense Media including both critic and user reviews
  2. Review commenting on the message of marriage equality within the book

Worm loves worm, and it’s as simple as that! They wish to get married but their friends get caught up in semantics asking questions like who will wear the dress? Who will wear the tux? Worm Loves Worm emphasizes IT DOESN’T MATTER! This whimsical tale of love prevailing all else is expertly crafted through language children will understand, coupled with cute illustrations of all sorts of bug friends. The center point of the book is succinctly summed up when their cricket friend insists, “That isn’t how it’s always been done.” And to that the two in love worms respond, “Then we’ll just change how it’s done.” This will warm you and your child’s heart whether you read this book under the lens that this book is aiming to broach the still considered “tough topic” of marriage equality, or simply as a celebration of creativity, imagination, and unconventionality. In the end, Worm loves Worm, and that’s all that matters! Any person, young or old, will love this book, but as mentioned before it can also serve as a tool to begin the discussion on marriage equality. Many intolerances are learned behaviors. A child’s openness to all the diversity and beauty in the world should never be stifled, and this book only aims to encourage that openness.

This Day in June

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Author: Gayle E. Pitman

Illustrator: Kristyna Litten

Publisher: Magination Press (American Psychological Association)

Date of Publication: May 12, 2014

Awards: 2015 Notable Books for a Global Society Awards, 2015 Stonewall Book Award, Top Ten Title on the ALA Rainbow List

Age Range: 4 – 8 years

Grade Level: Kindergarten – 3

Resources:

  1. Interview with the author about the library board voting to keep her book on the shelves
  2. Review focusing on the diverse themes of the book

This Day in June is written by Gayle E. Pitman, a professor of psychology and women’s studies at Sacramento City College who has worked extensively with the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. Simply saying, this book details the Pride parade that occurs every year in June. It is a great introduction for a young child to the pride of the LGBT community. The vibrant and colorful illustrations go hand in hand with the exuberant joy that jumps off the pages and its overall message of support and unity. The two line rhymes are easy to follow for young children, and additionally present in the illustrations are many messages of love and acceptance commonly found at the festival that adults and children alike will pick up on. This book does not just scratch the surface, it delves into all the subcultures found within the LGBT community within the context of celebration. This book is intended for any parent looking for a fun and informative way to open their child’s world to all its many types of human beings and how beautiful it is to celebrate differences!

**At the end of the book you can find a very informative Reading Guide full of facts about LGBT history and culture in addition to a Note to Parents and Caregivers with information on how to talk to children about sexual orientation and gender identity in age-appropriate ways.