I LOVE reading children’s books! This is a good thing since I teach kindergarten and easily read at least 2-3 books a day to my students. I get (a little too) excited when the Scholastic Book Club order forms come in the mail; I can’t wait to browse this month’s selections, recommending books to parents and creating my own wish list of books to buy with those coveted bonus points I earn from parent orders. I can buy books! For free! Is it possible to have too many books? Never.
I was thrilled to be given the chance to review a new children’s book – That is My Dream! This book beautifully illustrates Langston Hughes’s enduring poem “Dream Variation.” The main character is a boy living in a small, segregated town in the 1950’s. Hughes’s words reflect the dreams of this boy as he hopes for and envisions a world where all are treated equally.
Now, I admit that the symbolism in poetry is often lost on me. Had I read Langston Hughes’s poem without picture cues, I would have had to read it a number of times to make sure I understood the meaning. Daniel Miyares, the illustrator, does a fantastic job of making the words come to life and easy for a child to understand.
When I teach my students about Martin Luther King, Jr., they always have a tough time understanding that schools were once segregated, black kids and white kids didn’t really play together, and people were excluded because of the color of their skin. That is My Dream! is an excellent complement to these lessons and is sure to spark a discussion as kids see the world through the boy’s eyes.
I continue to see more and more books being published that promote diversity. I LOVE this. I try to incorporate these into story time as much as I can. It is so important for kids to see themselves in the books they read, as well see the experiences of others. Here are some other titles I recommend:
- Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena – On his way home one day, a boy realizes he isn’t as privileged as others. His grandmother helps him realize just how lucky he really is.
- Marshall Armstrong is New to Our School by David Mackintosh – Marshall Armstrong is the new kid in school, and the others don’t think he really fits in. Read what happens when everyone is invited to his house for his birthday. This book is full of teachable moments about differences, prejudging and acceptance.
- Happy in Our Skin by Fran Manushkin – This book is darling, reminding all how wonderful it is to be just who you are.
- It’s Okay to be Different by Todd Parr – I love all books by Todd Parr! His illustrations are silly and vibrant so they always catch the kids’ attention. This helps get the point across that we are all different, and that is more than okay. Also, check out Be Who You Are and The Peace Book.