Ilsley Library opened its new outside pickup service today!
Children’s Librarian Tricia Allen reports that “a good portion of the children’s item requests that I pulled from our shelves yesterday for our first day of book pickup were titles having to do with race, inequality, and activism.”
We asked Tricia and her fellow children’s librarian Kathryn Laliberte to recommend their favorite books for young readers that address those issues. Here’s what they said.
Three books that I would put in the hands of every family in Middlebury:
A Normal Pig by K-Fai Steele: Pip is a normal pig, who happens to look a little different than the other pigs in her class. A new student starts to point out all the ways Pip is different, making Pip feel like she doesn’t fit in. Her parents take her on a trip to the city, where Pip sees pigs of all shapes, sizes, and backgrounds. Pip returns to school knowing that different does not mean bad. The parallels to life in a VT town were striking, and made me want to plan a family trip to NY, Boston, Chicago as soon as travel is possible once again.
The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander: Although this is a picture book in appearance, I would classify this as an illustrated poem. Like any poem, there is much more to this book than the words (or illustrations) on the page. Described as “a love letter to Black life in the United States…It highlights the unspeakable trauma of slavery, the faith and fire of the civil rights movement, and the grit, passion, and perseverance of some of the world’s greatest heroes.” This is a book that can open any number of conversational doors with kids. There is a great deal of back matter to help parents with facts and background.
I Walk with Vanessa: A Story About a Simple Act of Kindness by Kerascoet: This wordless picture book tells the story of a new girl being bullied and running home alone in tears after her first day of school. Her classmate witnesses this and spends the rest of the day and night thinking about the event. The next day they are up early to arrive at the new girls’ door and walk with her to school, classmates joining their growing group along the way. The question of “What can I do?” is one that is haunting everyone right now. It is easy to feel overwhelmed by the problems and events in our world right now. I love that this book demonstrates that even small acts are important and shows children a very real thing that they can do right now: be there for the people in their community.
Short List of Titles for Young Children:
A is for Activist, written and illustrated by Innosanto Nagara.
All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold, Suzanne Kaufman.
Chocolate Me! by Taye Diggs ; illustrated by Shane W. Evans.
The colors of Us by Karen Katz.
The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson ; illustrated by Rafael López.
Freedom Over Me: Eleven slaves, their Lives and Dreams Brought to Life by Ashley Bryan.
Let it Shine: Stories of Black Women Freedom Fighters by Andrea Davis Pinkney ; illustrated by Stephen Alcorn.
Let’s Talk About Race by Julius Lester ; illustrated by Karen Barbour.
Malcolm Little: The Boy Who Grew Up to Become Malcolm X by Ilyasah Shabazz, illustrated by AG Ford
Rosa by Nikki Giovanni ; illustrated by Bryan Collier.
Separate is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez & Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation by Duncan Tonatiuh
Skin Again written by Bell Hooks ; illustrated by Chris Raschka.
Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Ekua Holmes
The Youngest Marcher: the Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, a Young Civil Rights Activist written by Cynthia Levinson ; illustrated by Vanessa Brantley Newton.