Themes/Topics: hijab fashion, modern Muslim women, religion
Brief Synopsis: UNDER MY HIJAB is written from the point of view of a young girl who observes how, when, and where her modern, independent, female family members wear their individual headscarves for work and play.
Why I like this book: Hena Khan’s story is for anyone curious about modern Muslim women who choose to wear a hijab.
Most often women cover their hair, ears, and neck but to show just how individual that choice is, the cool artist aunt covers her hair and ears pinned with a handmade jewel. Illustrator Aaliya Jaleel adds other details like henna designs worn on the hands of these characters while attending a social event.
At the end of the book, the author shares the cultural and religious significance of wearing the headcover.
I read the ARC for this review. UNDER MY HIJAB would
be a great addition to the home, school, and library.
Today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday pick is Martina & Chrissie: The Greatest Rivalry in the History or Sports [spacer height=”10px”]
This Saturday is the kick-off of the Western & Southern Open Tennis Tournament here in Cincinnati, an exciting week for tennis fans. As a player, I enjoy keeping up with the pros and watching professional tennis. Some of the most thrilling matches in women’s tennis happened between Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert. This dual biography tells their story.
Themes/Topics: Sportsmanship, women in sports, professional athletes, perseverance, resilience, equality, and respect
Brief Synopsis: Two professional female tennis players, Chris Evert from America and Martina Navratilova from Czechoslovakia, had very different upbringings and very different approaches to the game. But both shared the same goal – to be the best in the world.
Why I like this book: Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert were two talented, hard-working athletes who competed for the #1 ranking in women’s tennis . As the top female players on the tour in the 1970’s and 80’s they were often fierce opponents. Martina & Chrissie were also friends. These two talented hard-working athletes competed for fifteen years. Martina and Chrissie met 80 times on the court – 60 of their matches were in tournament finals!
The two best players in the world battled tournament after tournament. One time Martina beat Chrissie, another time Chrissie beat Martina. When Martina started losing often to Chrissie, she decided to train harder. The training paid off and Martina started winning their matches.
Martina beat Chrissie 13 times in a row in tournament finals! But Chrissie never gave up. At one tournament when everyone thought Chrissie would lose, she fought back and won. Chrissie and Martina made each other better players. Their friendship endured the greatest rivalry in the history of sports. And both won the hearts of tennis fans worldwide.
When Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) voiced her objections about the nomination of Jeff Sessions for US Attorney General during his confirmation hearing on February 7, 2017, she was silenced. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) interrupted Senator Warren as she read from theletterwritten in 1986 by civil rights leader Coretta Scott King.That letter helped prevent the confirmation of Jeff Sessions as a federal judge for his home state of Alabama. McConnell accused Warren of making statements that impugn thecharacter of Sessions which he determined was against Senate rules. [spacer height=”10px”]
The senator presiding over the hearing advised Warren that she was out of order under Senate Procedural Rule 19. “I’m reading a letter from Coretta Scott King to the Judiciary Committee from 1986 that was admitted into the record,” Senator Warren argued. “I’m simply reading what she wrote about what the nomination of Jeff Sessions to be a federal court judge meant and what it would mean in history for her.” [spacer height=”10px”]
Senator McConnell asked for a vote. After a 49-43 vote split across party lines, Senator Warren was not allowed to finish nor speak again. Instead, she continued reading theletteroutside the door of the Senate floor. [spacer height=”10px”]
Defending his actions, Mitch McConnell later explained,“She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.” [spacer height=”10px”]
Inspired by that event, Chelsea Clinton wrote this book and featured thirteen other women in America who also faced opposition and or adversity but succeeded because they persisted. [spacer height=”10px”]
Written by: Chelsea Clinton
Illustrated by: Alexandra Boiger
Publisher: Philomel Books (May 2017)
Suitable for ages: 3-8
Themes/Topics: Women in US history, perseverance, resilience [spacer height=”10px”]
Brief Synopsis: In She Persisted, Chelsea Clinton introduces young readers to thirteen American women throughout history who, despite resistance from others or society, made positive contributions to our nation because of their persistence. [spacer height=”10px”]
Opening pages: “Sometimes being a girl isn’t easy. At some point, someone probably will tell you no, will tell you to be quiet and may even tell you your dreams are impossible. Don’t listen to them. These thirteen American women certainly did not take no for an answer. They persisted.” [spacer height=”10px”]
Why I like this book: She Persisted is an inspirational tribute to thirteen women whose contributions to our nation deserve recognition. Some of the women featured are well known and others are not. The colorful illustrations by Alexandra Boiger include a diverse cast of characters, girls and boys, that reflect our nation’s multicultural population. [spacer height=”10px”]
Perseverance, persistence, fairness, and dreaming big are common themes in children’s books. I enjoyed the inclusion of women in a book that also teaches US history. As a non-fiction book, there are endless opportunities for educational use. Students could conduct more in-depth study of each character, or research other lesser known female figures who have also helped shape our nation. The adults in this book are role models children should know about and look up to. The author includes a quote that explains why every child, especially girls, should read this picture book, “You can’t be what you can’t see.” -Astronaut Sally Ride [spacer height=”10px”]
What a fun perfect picture book pair about little girls who love to dress-up. But looking pretty is only one part.
Mary Had a Little Glam by Tammi Sauer (Author)
Vanessa Brantley-Newton (Illustrator)
Published by Sterling (August 2016)
Age Range: 4-8 years.
Mary is a bit of a fashionista but she won’t let her goals interfere with her fun! The ending is delightful.
Every-day Dress-up by Selina Alko (Author/Illustrator)
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers (October 12011)
Age Range: 3-7 years.
Do all girls dress like princesses? Not this one. She dresses like famous female role models. [spacer height=”10px”]
A Perfect Picture Book Pair showcases two books with universal themes, but one must include a diverse setting, or life experience, or main character. My goal is to support books in the market that helps contribute to diversity in children’s literature. [spacer height=”10px”]
Mark Twain said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness…” I believe reading is too! [spacer height=”10px”]
Kids love to see their reflections in books. Join me and #ReadYourWorld!
Anyone celebrating Women’s History Month should take a look at the blog post here from Kid World Citizen. It’s an international celebration of women around the world! Link your titles to her blog.
There are so many wonderful children’s books, including picture book biographies about women and the contributions they have made to our nation and the world. This list happens to feature female scientists.
When I think my mother was born the same year women gained the right to vote in the United States, I really do think, “We’ve come a long way baby!”
Today’s pick for Perfect Picture Book Friday is Harriet Powers’ Journey from Slave to Artist Sewing Stories
Written by: Barbara Herkert
Illustrated by: Vanessa Brantley-Newton
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf (October 2015)
Suitable for ages: 5-8
Themes/Topics: folk-art, quilting, community, survival, determination, resilience, US history, women’s history, slavery, emancipation, Civil War
Brief Synopsis: This story is about the life of Harriet Powers who is not well known, yet whose legacy of early African-American folk art is displayed in the National Museum of American History, part of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Even though she lived her early life enslaved and remained poor throughout her adult life, Harriet believed, “You gotta take what you’ve been given and make something out of it.” And that she did.
After enslaved women labored in the fields and or made textiles for the plantation, they used their craft to create story quilts. Over time, sewing became a source of pride and income for Harriet. I imagine the craft had to have helped strengthen her community during the dark times of unfathomable oppression while living either enslaved or free.
Given the recent discussion about the picture book, A Birthday Cake for George Washington, some question why Sewing Stories has not received the same criticism for “smiling slaves”. In my opinion, this book includes facts in the sidebars that touch upon a shameful part of US history while at the same time weaves a story of hope, resilience, determination, and community, despite the oppression. This author does take liberties in a couple sidebars. In this example she intuits, “For a few daylight hours, they might have felt free.” Although sewing and quilting was done for the master, Harriet and her community made the craft their own. After emancipation she used her skills to eventually earn enough to help buy a small farm. The images of characters smiling shows a universal human emotion. Yes, the enslaved had the ability to feel those same human emotions of joy, pride, and hope too. This story is not only about individual pride, it is representative of the grit and struggle people like Harriet demonstrated.
Opening pages: “See that sweet baby girl lying on a quilt her mama made? What could she be dreaming of?
On a plantation near Athens, Georgia, Harriet’s mama worked from rise to set while Harriet slept between the cotton rows.”
Why I like this book: I recently had a discussion with a fellow writer about depicting slavery in picture books. She told me her 5-year-old mentioned something about slaves one day. When probed, he said, “They ran away. Brave people helped them run away and they were safe.”
In a sense, Harriet ran. She ran toward developing a craft that helped her contribute to her family’s income, create a sense of self-worth, and hope for herself, and her community. At the end of the story, Harriet had to sell one of her quilts after falling on hard times. An art teacher named Jennie Smith purchased it, recorded her story, and kept her promise to exhibit it. Jennie was brave.
As writers, we will make mistakes despite our good intentions. But there are many stories that need to be told. For this bright 5-year-old eager to learn, we must continue to create stories that help him understand sensitive and complex topics. And that will take courage.
*School & Library Journal listed other picture books that celebrate African-Americans in the Arts here.
*KidLitTV shared Librarian Scott Woods’ list of diverse books –28 Black Picture Books That Aren’t About Boycotts, Buses or Basketball can be foundhere.
*Lee & Low’s collection of books to celebrate Black History Monty can be found here.
*Addressing the topic of slavery in the elementary classroom can be found here.
Check out author Susanna’s Hill’s Perfect Picture Book page here.
Swing Sisters: The International Sweethearts of Rhythm by Karen Deans is my pick for today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday in honor of Jazz Fest in New Orleans and Teacher’s Appreciation Week, both celebrated in the month of May.
Illustrated by: Joe Cepeda
Publisher: Holiday House (January 1, 2015)
Suitable for ages: 7-11
Themes: women in music, educational activism, integration, jazz, gender studies, perseverance, inspiration, US history, Jim Crow laws, stereotypes
Brief Synopsis: This book brings attention to the first interracial all female jazz/swing band, The International Sweethearts of Rhythm formed in 1939 at Piney Woods Country Life School in Mississippi. The band became popular in the 1940’s and toured the US and Europe.
The story opens by bringing attention to Dr. Laurence Clifton Jones, a black educator who started a school in 1909 for orphans in Mississippi. Music education eventually became a part of the school’s curriculum and many of the Sweethearts were part of the school band.
Swing Sisters highlights the struggles these women endured from society because of both race and gender.
Opening pages: “Way back in 1909, not far from Jackson, Mississippi, there was a special place for orphans It was called Piney Woods Country Life School.
A man named Dr. Laurence Clifton Jones started the school. He wanted to make sure these African American kids had a place to live, food to eat, clothes to wear, and a good education. In return, the children worked at the school to earn their keep. Some planted seeds and picked weeds outside on the farm; others chopped vegetables in the kitchen or did laundry.”
Why I like this book: A great example of history using a story that inspires and educates. During one of the most difficult times in US history when the intent of oppression from Jim Crow laws was to prevent African Americans from achievement, this band of talented women, black and white, formed and succeeded in entertaining Americans and Europeans.
Further research shows Dr. Jones came from a family of educators, with an uncle who started a school back in 1846. When Dr. Jones learned about a county in Mississippi that had an eighty percent illiteracy rate, he moved there from Missouri and eventually started Piney Woods Country Life School.
Resources: See the Teacher’s Guide here. Listen to their story on NPR. Listen to them play! Dare you not to boogie!