Diversity

Sandstone lookout at Torrey Pines State Reserve. According to the San Diego Wildfire Education Project, San Diego is the most biodiverse county in North America, and California is in the top ten biodiverse regions in the world.

Sandstone lookout at Torrey Pines State Reserve. According to the San Diego Wildfire Education Project, San Diego is the most biodiverse county in North America, and California is in the top ten biodiverse regions in the world.

A recent tweet from Laurie Halse Anderson (author of Chains and others) quoted Jackie Woodson, “I saw lots & lots of windows and not a whole lot of mirrors. So I said ‘let me write some mirrors.”

The right metaphor is more than a pretty way to say something. It increases understanding.

We hiked at Torrey Pines last week and saw lots of wild blooms from these tiny treasures on the trail to . . .

We hiked at Torrey Pines last week and saw lots of wild blooms from these tiny treasures on the trail to . . .

We need books that mirror ourselves in enough ways to help us see our strengths, weaknesses, and potential. If our gender, race, ethnicity, religion, or some other facet of our personhood is never presented in any but a stereotyped way, our images of ourselves or others may be stunted.

Books that are mirrors for some are windows for others. Some of us live in a world of too many windows and very few mirrors. Others of us, in the same world, have so many mirrors no additional light can enter.

large cactus flowers along the road and the trails.

large cactus flowers along the road and the trails.

We all need both mirrors and windows. We all need diverse books. For too long, the majority has lived in literary houses with mirrors in the places there should be windows. Those of us who have had too many mirrors need to replace some of them with windows.

If we’re going to have those choices for literary diversity, we need to support the authors who give us different world views. I encourage everyone to buy and read books written by people of many backgrounds.

The Torrey Pine is the rarest pine in our country. It only grows here and on Santa Rosa Island.

The Torrey Pine is the rarest pine in our country. It only grows here and on Santa Rosa Island.

My shortest stack of most recently purchased books consists of ten picture books. A couple of days ago, I realized that four of them fit in this discussion.

Lincoln & DouglasLincoln and Douglas: An American Friendship, written by Nikki Giovanni, illustrated by Bryan Collier, and published by Square Fish in 2008, is a picture book for second through sixth graders. It’s the history of the friendship of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglas.

The book opens with Lincoln waiting for the arrival of Douglas at a White House reception. Then the book compares and contrasts their early lives and the paths that brought them together. These two great men forged a relationship on shared values and mutual respect. This book taught me things I’m glad I now know.

As a side note, Douglas is one of the “contestants” for the Golden Halo this year in Lent Madness. He’s won two rounds in what is described as the “saintly smack-down.”

These HandsThese Hands, written by Margaret H. Mason, illustrated by Floyd Cooper, and published by Houghton Mifflin Books for Children in 2010, is also a picture book gem. It’s a poetic telling of historical events as told to the author by an old friend. Children younger than second grade will also learn from this story.

A grandfather tells his young grandson all the things the grandfather’s hands can and have done, but how those hands were not allowed to help bake the bread at the Wonder Bread factory until after the Civil Rights Act in the mid-1960’s.

Workers banded together to end the discrimination. “Now any hands can mix the bread dough, no matter the color.”

The story ends on what the grandson’s hands can do. Don’t miss the author’s note.

Beatrice's DreamBeatrice’s Dream: A Story of Kibera Slum, written by Karen Lynn Williams, photographed by Wendy Stone, and published by Francis Lincoln Children’s Books in 2011, is the story of Beatrice, who lives in Kibera (Kenya), one of the largest slums in Africa.

The book uses Beatrice’s words at age thirteen. She’s an orphan who lives with her older brother. She has worries and a dream shared by many.

While this story is less lyrical than the first two books, it’s inspiring as a portrait of a life in another place under more difficult circumstances than most of us know. With this book also, check out the author’s note at the end. You’ll smile.

Last Stop on MSAnd now for my favorite: my husband’s Valentine’s Day gift to me—Last Stop on Market Street, written by Matt De La Peña, pictures by Christian Robinson, and published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons in 2015.

CJ’s nana helps him learn to find “beautiful where he never even thought to look.” The language creates beautiful images and conveys an important message. And make sure you see the author and illustrator photos on the back flap.

The plan for the next post is to review two adult novels from authors who spoke at Bookfaire last Saturday and add to the diversity discussion . . . just as soon as I read them.

The books I purchased at Bookfaire including the ones for the next post.

The books I purchased at Bookfaire including the ones for the next post.

I can’t believe it! Two kids’ books in Spanish just showed up in our Little Free Library!

Since one of them is the Spanish version of Walter the Farting Dog, I’m not sure it counts as a diverse book. But the other is An Illustrated Treasury of Latino Read-Aloud Stories, both in English and Spanish. The book was edited by Maite Suarez-Rivas, translated by Alma Mora, has multiple authors and illustrators, and was published by Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers in 2004.

View of the ocean from Razor Point Trail.

View of the ocean from Razor Point Trail.

Look Out, History is Gaining On Us

A toy farm stove of the build-your-own-fire-on-the -inside type.

A toy farm stove of the build-your-own-fire-on-the -inside type. (Just to be clear, much older than I.)

The assignment in the writing class was to read a historical novel. I picked one from the list given to us. It was set in the decade that I came of age.

WHAT??? Historical? I am not a historical artifact!

I just reread two middle-grade books about sustaining a friendship when one of the girls moves away. P.S. Longer Letter Later and Snail Mail No More by Paula Danziger and Ann M. Martin, published by Scholastic in 1998 and 2000, weren’t written as historical pieces but as contemporary fiction.

PS Longer LaterThe stories are told first in the form of letters between Elizabeth and Tara*Star and then in e-mails as the two authors took the roles of the two characters and wrote back and forth.

The themes in the books are timeless and a testament to people who persevere in their friendships across distance. Elizabeth and Tara*Star change as they grow in different directions and experience drastic changes in family circumstances. But their friendship endures as they continue to share laughs, tears, occasional angry words, and love.Snail Mail No

The books are worth looking for.

Aside from the quality of the stories, what struck me is that people, who came of age when those books were written, can still be in their 30’s. Our everyday technology has changed so much, I guess these count as historical. And history seems to be getting closer all the time.

WHAT??? Niece and nephew are not historical artifacts either!

Yes, some people still handwrite and treasure letters. People still e-mail. But not many kids the age of Elizabeth and Tara*Star still do.

So it seems that not only does history repeat itself because we have yet to learn our lessons, it’s nipping at our heels. And, if we think about it, we probably all have ways our personal history intersected with History and have to ask ourselves if we helped move our collective story forward?

Does anyone know of a book that uses texts or tweets and finds the same emotional depth of P.S. Longer Letter Later and Snail Mail No More?

P.S. Longer post later!

The first freesia to open.

The first freesia to open.

The first California poppy to bloom this year.

The first California poppy to bloom this year.

Nasturtiums growing from the side of a stump. The freesias, poppies, and nasturtiums all volunteer to reseed (or rebulb in the the case of the freesias) every year in the site of their choosing.

Nasturtiums growing from the side of a stump. The freesias, poppies, and nasturtiums all volunteer to reseed (or rebulb in the the case of the freesias) every year in the site of their choosing.

“Oh, the Places You’ll Go . . . “

Who did you think of when you read that? Need another hint? We just celebrated his birthday this week with Read Across America.

My Many Colored Days by Dr. Seuss, illustrations by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher

My Many Colored Days by Dr. Seuss, illustrations by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher

It’s Dr. Seuss, of course!

You might need to read this if

. . . you live in or will visit San Diego this year.

The San Diego History Center in Balboa Park has an exhibit of Seuss’ work during the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Panama-California Exposition of 1915. The exhibit will be up until the endof the year.

This is the sticker you get for the History Center. It's a bit of history itself.

This is the sticker you get for the History Center. It’s a bit of history itself.

It’s got lots of appeal for kids and adults. There’s a wall of Seussian taxidermy, statues of famous characters, several semi-circle nooks with kid activities, and a room of some of Dr. Seuss’ paintings for adults.

 

 

Heads of some of Dr. Seuss' creatures.

Heads of some of Dr. Seuss’ creatures.

Theodore Geisel’s goal was to write books that would help children learn to read.

It's Yertles all the way down!

It’s Yertles all the way down!

Where Dick and Jane plodded, Yertle the Turtle hollered, “Come on, let’s go!” His rhymes carry a young reader from one line to the next and into the rest of the world of books.

And, even as adults, who can forget lines like, “A person’s a person no matter how small,” or “I do not like them, Sam-I-Am, I do not like green eggs and ham”?

It was very moving to read the story about his refusal to let his work be used in advertising, even when he was offered an amount to get him the world record as the highest paid writer per word. You can read his agent’s take on that.

We even had a great time in the gift shop. I got a book of his stories that had been in magazines years ago, but never made into books. They don’t have the same early reading pull as books such as The Cat in the Hat, but if you want more Horton or Mulberry Street or the Grinch, look for Horton and the Kwuggerbug and More Lost Stories.

New Seuss

Grandparent Alert: We found these cool bibs and dishes.

Grandparent Alert: We found these cool bibs and dishes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The only thing about this exhibit that left me dissatisfied was the photo of Dr. Seuss in his studio. I’m dissatisfied because it’s not mine.

Gate in the Japanese Friendship Garden not his studio.

Gate in the Japanese Friendship Garden not his studio.

Remember: Bookfaire next Saturday at Shannon Center for the Performing Arts at Whittier College, Whittier,

San Diego History CenterSecrets, pub cover

and, while we’re at it, Secrets of the Flame.