by Trinka Hakes Noble
illustrated by Doris Ettlinger
I have an unintentional tendency to find books to read to my kids that end up with me having tears in my eyes. The Orange Shoes was one such book. Delly Porter, the protagonist, belongs to a poor but resourceful and loving family. Delly goes barefoot to school and elsewhere, which doesn't bother her - she likes the feel of the dirt beneath her feet. At least it doesn't bother her until her school arranges a Shoebox Social to raise money for art supplies, and the callous comments of some of her classmates, whose families are able to afford nice, new shoes, leads her to feel ashamed. Delly is a sweet, sincere and artistic soul, and the further jealous cruelty of her classmates during Delly's moment of pride was a tear-inducing point for me. In the end, Delly draws on her own special and unique talents and the support of her loving family, and rises from the wounds of prejudice and cruelty. I highly recommend this book - it is a touching and beautiful story, with wonderful illustrations. There is a wealth of opportunity for follow-up discussions with kids around poverty, prejudice against the economically poor, bullying, recognizing one's self-worth amidst detraction from others, being resourceful and living simply, determination and more. I've since found that there are lesson plans that have been made around this book, such as this one from the Indiana Library Federation and this one from the Bound to Stay Bound Bookstore.
by Julia Cook
Illustrated by Carrie Hartman
When I first read My Mouth is a Volcano to my kids, Hopper 1 looked at me with a little smile and said, "Mom, I know you got this book for me." Yes, he was right. This book is about a young boy named Louis who has a problem with interrupting, or as he calls it in the book, "erupting." Louis is full of important thoughts that he wants to share, and when he thinks of something he wants to say, his tummy starts to rumble and grumble, his words wiggle and jiggle, then they push against his teeth and erupt. When other kids interrupt Louis' special moment, he begins to realize how upsetting it can be to be interrupted, and his mom helps him develop a technique to help him with his own habit of interrupting. Louis learns how to hang onto his thoughts, and then express them at a more appropriate time. The book was a fun and understanding way to address a bad habit.
by Yangsook Choi
I chose this book from the library as part of my efforts to encourage my kids to appreciate diversity and differences and to be welcoming towards those who are new to a situation. In the story, a young girl named Unhei has just moved to the United States from Korea. After being teased on the school bus because of her name, which sounded strange and unpronounceable to the kids, Unhei decides not to tell her new class her name but instead plans to choose an American name for herself by the next week. Her classmates try to help Unhei choose an American name by creating a name jar with suggestions. In the end, Unhei comes to appreciate her given Korean name and the meaning and significance behind it.
by Monica Brown
illustrated by John Parra
This book has been among the frequently requested titles that we have checked out from the library this summer. The book was inspired by Luis Soriano, a teacher who for years has operated a mobile library on donkeys to take books and reading education to children in a remote area of Colombia. In this tale, Ana is a child in one such remote rural village. Ana has one book which she loves to read, given to her by her teacher, but there is now no teacher in her village to teach the children to read and no more books. But then a man comes to her village on two burros named Alfa and Beto, reading to the children and bringing books for them to borrow until he returns with more books. Ana eagerly awaits the librarian's return, and in the meantime writes her own story to be included in the moving library and to be shared with other children. This was an engaging book with fun illustrations. I want my kids to have a love of reading and an understanding of their privilege in having a wealth of books and reading resources so readily available. My little grasshoppers won't realize all that they have until they are exposed to those who have access to much less. Hopefully, reading stories like this will help them be more willing to part with some of their books and donate them to a local homeless shelter or other charity. Other books with a similar theme, but which I haven't yet checked out and read, are: My Librarian is a Camel: How Books Are Brought to Children Around the World by Margriet Ruurs; The Librarian of Basra: A True Story from Iraq by Jeanette Winter; and That Book Woman by Heather Henson.
by Angela McAllister
illustrated by Alison Edgson
This is a really cute story about a monster family with three children. All three children hatch at about the same time, but whereas the first two monsters are just what monsters are supposed to be and what their parents are delighted with - ugly, frightful and horrid - the third monster seems to be a total misfit - soft, pink and sweet. He is named Little Shock because he is not at all what his parents expected. As the children grow, the older two are wild and rambunctious and love to squash things, but they don't enjoy their tag-along sibling who, instead of scaring and squishing, is frightened of the dark and cuddles small critters. However, the older two siblings come to appreciate their younger brother when his adorableness comes in handy. Both of my older kids loved this book, and I found it to somewhat mirror my own little family at the moment - I have two children who often seem completely monstrous (wild, yelling, rambunctious little beings), and then I have a little wide-eyed gurgling fluffball of a baby.