Staff Picks 4 Kids Category: For Grades 2-4

Jewish American Heritage Month

Jewish-American heritage books
Jewish-American heritage books

May is Jewish American Heritage Month The Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum join in paying tribute to the generations of Jewish Americans who helped form the fabric of American history, culture and society.

https://www.jewishheritagemonth.gov/

Learn more about famous Jewish Americans, their accomplishments, and Jewish life by checking out some great books we’ve curated for you!

Another good list to check out is the Sydney Taylor Award for Jewish Childrens’ Books Winners, 1990-Present. “The Sydney Taylor Book Award is presented annually to outstanding books for children and teens that authentically portray the Jewish experience. Presented by the Association of Jewish Libraries since 1968, the award encourages the publication and widespread use of quality Judaic literature.”

Pilkey Apologizes for Passive Racism

Asian-American, Pacific Islander experience books

In March of 2021, a Korean American father reached out to Scholastic about concerns he had about racist imagery and negative stereotypes in Dav Pilkey’s 2010 book The Adventures of Ook and Gluk. After several conversations between the father, Dav Pilkey, and Scholastic, on Monday, March 22, 2021, Scholastic halted distribution of The Adventures of Ook and Gluk with support from Pilkey.  

The graphic novel is written and illustrated by characters from Dav Pilkey’s “Captain Underpants” series, and is the story of Ook and Gluk, two cavepeople who live in the fictional town of Caveland, Ohio, in 500,001 B.C. In the book, Ook and Gluk travel through time to the year 2222, where they meet Master Wong, a martial arts instructor who teaches them kung fu.

The author issued a letter of apology via his YouTube channel, acknowledging that his use of stereotypes when it came to the character of Master Wong, kung fu, and Chinese philosophy amounted to “passive racism.” In his apology, Pilkey stated that he had “intended to showcase diversity, equality and nonviolent conflict resolution” with the book, but he had fallen short of these goals. 

Racial stereotypes and passive racism are harmful to all children because it perpetuates the narrative that this is normal for people to be treated this way. It is important for all children to see people of color represented accurately, without racist misinformation, because it fosters positive self-image and reduces the chance that children will internalize harmful stereotypes.   

Scholastic has vowed that they will publish books that represent a diverse society, and the library will continue its journey to learn about the importance of inclusive collections.  

Youth Services staff have curated a list of graphic novels, illustrated chapter books, and picture books that accurately reflect the diversity of Asian American lives and experiences. Please check the list to place holds and learn more.  

Asian-American, Pacific Islander experience books
https://mppldev.org/kids/good-books/?category=current+events&list=The+Asian+American+%2F+Pacific+Islander+Experience

If you would like to read more information on how to talk to children about racism in books and media see here. 

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

Cenus.gov has lots of information about the history of this monthlong celebration: “In 1978, a joint congressional resolution established Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week. The first 10 days of May were chosen to coincide with two important milestones in Asian/Pacific American history: the arrival in the United States of the first Japanese immigrants (May 7, 1843) and contributions of Chinese workers to the building of the transcontinental railroad, completed May 10, 1869.

In 1992, Congress expanded the observance to a monthlong celebration that is now known as Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Per a 1997 U.S. Office of Management and Budget directive, the Asian or Pacific Islander racial category was separated into two categories: one being Asian and the other Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander. Thus, this Facts for Features contains a section for each.”

To celebrate, check out some wonderful picture books by Asian and Pacific Islander authors and illustrators!

And make sure ro register for our Super Saturday program, VIRTUAL Super Saturday: Indian Dance featuring Bharatam Academy. They will feature amazing dances including the Alarippu and the Kolattam and even tell a story through dance! Join in by clapping along, learning a few steps, and practicing bird and animal movements.

You can also enjoy author Joanna Ho reading her book, Eyes that Kiss in the Corners.

Book review: The Voice of Liberty by Angelica Shirley Carpenter

The Voice of Liberty book cover
The Voice of Liberty book cover

The Voice of Liberty, by Angelica Shirley Carpenter 

There was a grand celebration when the Statue of Liberty was presented   to the United States of America. It was a gift from the people of France. This enormous statue of a woman holding a torch was an icon of freedom, and was a symbol of welcome to immigrants arriving by sea, as it is to this day. 

But not all of the citizens believed they were free. Some of the community were troubled enough to say they wanted a real change. The women of the New York State Woman Suffrage Association noticed that they were not even allowed to vote in an election. “How can a statue of a woman represent liberty when women have no freedom in this country?” They wanted women to have the liberty to vote and have their own voice in government.  See what these courageous ladies decided to do to get some attention  and help to make some positive long-lasting changes. Check the facts about this statue and a history timeline of voting rights  which is included in this book. 

Learn more about the book and its author by watching this in-depth interview.

This book could be paired with The Big Day, by Terry Caruthers, about the exciting first day women of color could vote in Knoxville, Tennesee. You can hear the author read some of the book here.

The Big Day book cover

    Review by Darice C., Youth Services Assistant