Posts tagged #diversebooks4diversekids
Black History Month Podcast: The Biracial Butterfly
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Happy black history month to you all!

Welcome back to #diversebooks4diverse kids which are podcasts dedicated to sharing stories about diversity from independent authors from around the globe.

Today, I’d like to share with you a special podcast for a book called The Biracial Butterfly by Lennox Benson. The Biracial Butterfly is about a mixed-race boy who was born to two loving parents, an African mother from Kenya and an Caucasian father from England. This story is told from the perspective of a boy who was able to appreciate and find value in both cultures that are unique to who he is.

This book is wildly important, like a lot of the books shared on diversebooks4diversekids podcasts, because many biracial children and adults feel marginalized like they have to choose a race to “fit in” to society. What many people forget, is that race was an idea that was socially constructed to make people feel different or superior to one another. This book is a fantastic reminder that each of us is different and born with unique genetic makeup, but that is what makes all of us so beautiful, like little butterflies!

Listen to the audiobook of The Biracial Butterfly.

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What I’ve learned…

Reviews can make or break a new author, especially on huge platforms like Amazon. Take a minute and share kind feedback about the story you heard today.

Why I Care About Diverse Books, and You Should Too!
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Diversity in books. I talk about it all the time, but why

Well, it's about inclusion. What does it mean to be included? Doesn't it give you a sense of fulfillment and confidence in yourself if someone invites you to participate with them? Have you ever been that kid- the one who didn't receive an invitation to a classmate's party? How would that make you feel to be left out?

That's precisely the feeling that people of color have had with books, especially with children's books. It wasn't until recently that there was a major push to create and distribute books that represented cultures from around the world. Now, it's becoming a fad to add characters of color because many authors are seeing the need when it's always been apparent for people of color. 

I'm African-American and our culture overall has often been limited to family scrapbooking and a love of soul food. Our culture has been lost with name changes, poor record keeping, and familial displacement from slavery. The only books with a black girl on the cover I can remember from my childhood was the "Addy Series" from the American Girl company.

Addy was a character raised during the Civil War period. Books about African-Americans have historically been based on slave narratives and escaping hardships. They were sad, often limited in pictures and filled with somber tales. Our kids are fortunate because they are growing up in a time when kid literature is changing and becoming more inclusive. Also, they are not only "African-American", they are African from their paternal side. Their paternal ancestry is Ethiopian and Ethiopia is a country rich in culture, language, and amazing tradition. 

For me, creating diverse books is about creating characters that represent my kids. I want them to look at the books they read and see dark skin, natural hair that's worn in afros and braids, and the kids have smiles on their faces. I want them to see books and think, "Wow! She looks just like me!" I want them to see happy, beautiful children who teach them to be kind and encouraging people in an often discouraging world.

Why should you care about diverse books? It's simple. Our country is a diverse place, our WORLD is a diverse place. The books that our kids read influence them just as much as the shows they watch, the media that's in their faces, and their kids they spend their time around. Kids books give children a visual of what the world around them looks like around them.

When they go to school they are surrounded by children from ethnic backgrounds who speak different languages and are immersed in widely different cultures at home. Exposing your kids to these backgrounds early empowers them with knowledge of the world. It helps them understand the culture unique to their peers who speak a variety of languages and celebrate holidays that reflect the religions they practice at home. Reading diverse books can teach kids the about geography and regions of the world they've never explored. Heck, reading about the world can even encourage your child to be world travelers and see the all the places they've learned about one day.

Books are just tools parents can use to educate their kids in an engaging way. I found that reading books with positive messages can open up dialogues between parents and children that is different from lecturing to them or instructing them. The reason why I encourage reading diverse books is for everyone-including parents-to have a greater understanding of the colorful world we live in.

I'm sure we all can agree that this world can use a lot more love and understanding. That's why I've started the initiative to share 1000 days of diverse books. 1000 days of diverse books will give families amazing book ideas to order for their homes or check out from the library. Each book will have characters that depict uniqueness or promote cultural understanding of different ethnicities.

If we can learn about each other, we can learn to love each other. 

Do you read diverse books to your kids at home? What are some of your favorites? Share with me below!

Help us encourage this movement by using the hashtag #1000daysofiversebooks and follow @acolebooks to see these awesome titles everyday for the next 994 days!

Say 'Ahoy' to William Hoy!
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William never got much taller than five-foot-five. He couldn’t do anything about that. But maybe they’d give him another chance if he aimed better and ran faster.”
— The William Hoy Story, Nancy Churnin

As most of you know, one of my favorite fellow children's book authors is Nancy Churnin. She tells the tales of magnificent, gifted heroes whose names have been forgotten over time. One of her most notable books is The William Hoy Story which is a book about perseverance and courage.

Her books almost portray historical stories that is beautifully executed so children ages 3-9 can understand and enjoy. Nancy's books focus heavily on diversity and giving characters with marginalized backgrounds a place to shine. This book The William Hoy Story was illustrated by Jez Tuya who transported me back to the 1880's when William Hoy was becoming a Major League Star. The illustrations are a wonderful combination of hand drawn illustration and digital imagery. 

You can get your own copy of The William Hoy Story on Amazon and from the Albert Whitman & Company.

Book Summary

Hoy, was a deaf baseball player who aspired to play in the majors. He practiced his aim on his farm by making targets for himself and using rubber balls to hit them. His parents communicated to him with American Sign Language. His loving mother supported his aspirations while his father scolded him for being unrealistic. He had to practice hard because he was extremely short for a ball player. His skills caught the attention of people in the neighborhood who were not able to communicate with him because of his inability to speak.

When he was finally able to play, he proved he could not only throw well, he could hit well too! He finally earned an opportunity to play for a team and his lack of speech limited him from getting paid equal to what the other players made which did not sit well with him. On other teams, his teammates would gossip and speak badly about him. Pitchers would even play pranks on him in front of the audience. 

He had a brilliant idea to teach the umpire signs for commonly used baseball terms like 'strike' and 'out'. Soon, players used signs often to signal phrases discretely on the field. The happiest day of his life was the day the crowd signed a silent applause to him. It showed William that he had changed the game of baseball forever!

Follow children's book author Nancy Churnin on Facebook and Twitter

Charlie Takes His Shot is a HIT!
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Within a year, Jackie’s teammates and fans of every race cheered for him. Could Charlie do the same for golf?
— Nancy Churnin, Charlie Takes His Shot

Nancy Churnin is a fabulous children's book author who has taken the world of literary non-fiction by storm! Her dynamic children's books are filled with the greatest historical figures that have been lost in American history. These were not the heroes that wore capes, but the ones that broke down cultural and barriers for people of color and those who were considered different.

Nancy knew she had a HIT when she wrote Charlie Takes His Shot. Her historical research into the life of this character showed, and allowed this story to feel authentic and true. The text was perfectly arranged so that the font and the story was together on one page without clashing with one another. The storyline was well-paced so it was exciting, but read it fluidly, which is very important to keep the attention of new readers and young listeners. I would highly recommend this book to parents and educators who are looking for dynamic and diverse books. It is perfectly suited for ages 3-9 years old.

Charlie Takes His Shot absolutely blew me away! The illustrations by John Joven are wonderful, picturesque, and packed with deep color values. John Joven's strong depiction of the scenery highlighted the atmosphere that the character would have been surrounded by.

You can get your own copy of Charlie Takes His Shot on Amazon and from the Albert Whitman & Company.

Book Summary

Charlie Sifford was a young man with humungous dreams who grew up in a time and place where only whites were allowed to golf, much less be a part of a professional golf associations! Charlie learned from the sidelines by being a caddie for the golfers while he patiently waited for his turn to play. He dominated tournaments between other black players, but he still eagerly wanted to play professionally.

When Jackie Robinson became the first black player in the Major League of Baseball to become a star, he inspired all black athletes of that era. If Jackie could succeed and win support in his sport, why couldn't he? Charlie seized an opportunity to talk to his idol, Jackie Robinson in 1948. Jackie warned him about the trouble he would face, but Charlie didn't back down from the challenge. 

Charlie traveled the world as a professional golfer and was eventually compensated for his efforts. In 1957, he won the The National Negro Open. Times were changing and other black athletes were pounding down the barrier that barred blacks from professional organizations like the MLB and NBA. Years later, Charlie Sifford earned his right to play in the PGA as the first black player ever admitted.

He dealt with fierce discrimination from hotels, players, and even tournament attendees. Eventually, he won the PGA tour in front of all the people who both supported and hated him. He thrusted open the door for all of the famous black golfers who were able to join the PGA after him like Calvin Peete, Harold Varner III, and of course, Tiger Woods.

Follow children's book author Nancy Churnin on Facebook and Twitter

Epic City Interview on WOWD-LP 94.3!

Yesterday was my first ever live interview as a children's book author and podcast host. I'm so grateful for the opportunity to share about "When I Grow Up, I Want To Be Myself" and the #diversebooks4diversekids podcasts on WOWD-LP 94.3, an independent radio station in DC.

Who am I kidding?! I was a nervous wreck walking into the interview with notable children's book author and show host Carolivia Herron. It was an honor to speak with her about diversity in kids books. She's been advocating for inclusion and diversity since before her release of Nappy Hair in 1997.

Epic City is a show she began in 2015 and it talks about legacies of authors and movements that shaped the world as we know it today. Diversifying books has been an epic that started centuries ago with slave narratives. It should be a "no-brainer" in this day in age to add diversity to books. Of course parents and teachers should be incorporating stories that teach about ethnicities and culture into their libraries. It seems like kids it has only been until recently that authors, bloggers and other literary critics are are starting to advocate for marginalized voices to be reflected and celebrated outside of Black History Month. Why? These are the voices that speak to American culture which has become a melting pot of every language, culture, and ethnicity. 

That is the point of #diversebooks4diversekids is to spread awareness about the importance of  diverse books to bridge better understanding between us and our neighbors. It's about embracing the communities we live in and overall about loving and accepting one another.

Reading "When I Grow Up, I Want To Be Myself" live was an incredible experience. I also shared about 3 other books that have been featured in past podcasts: "The Remembering Wall" by Laura Sterling, "The Mystery of the Missing Parathas" by Shuchi Mehta and Shweta Chopra, and "Two Halves Make Me Whole" by Tiffany D. Taylor.

Because yesterday went SO well, they have asked me to finish developing my own program that will be airing on Saturdays so I can keep sharing more stories to children and their families! I am so excited that #diversebooks4diversekids is coming to the air in Washington DC this summer. I know I'll feel right at home alongside other talented artists on WOWD-LP 94.3 which is an independent station in DC. Make sure you subscribe to get updates about when the show airs and where to find the audio if you live outside of the DMV (Dc, Maryland, Virginia).

Thank you so much for your support of A. Cole Books and lets keep growing together! To hear a behind the scenes segment of the show, click the audio below!

#Diversebooks4diversekids Podcast 7

Today's lesson for #diversebooks4diversekids is loving who we are! We have to teach ourselves and our children that we can learn to love our flaws and quirky characteristics about each of us, because that's who makes us who we are. Check out these books that promote individuality, acceptance, and most importantly-self love!

1. My Belly Has Two Buttons by Meikele Lee. This story is about a little boy named Nico who was born with a rare condition that requires him to have a feeding tube. He's inspiring because he doesn't complain about his illness or feeding tube, he is just a happy toddler! To buy a copy of this book, shop here.

2. Special Delivery: Love Has No Bounds by Natalie M. Kennedy. This story is about a small  Boston Terrier named Chestnut who was born with a slight limp, he doesn't give up hope that the right forever family will take him home anyway. To buy a copy of this book, shop here

3. I Am Queen by Daryl Davis. This story is about a young girl who listens to her father remind her that she is a queen through all stages of her life, so she will always demand to be treated like one by other people and even herself. To buy a copy of this book, shop here

4. I Can Be by Felicia Lee. This story is about using your imagination to think up all the amazing to think up of all the creative, exciting jobs you could be when you grow up. All of us have the potential to dream and achieve big things! To buy a copy of this book, shop here.

5. I'm Naturally Beautiful by Jerod Simon. This book is about African-American girls learning to love their natural hair and skin and to remind us all our natural hair and brown skin make us beautiful. Jerod Simon's message is that yes- we are all naturally beautiful, but we can accomplish goals we set our minds to! To buy a copy of this book, shop here