Staff Picks 4 Kids Category: we need diverse books

The Tulsa Race Massacre

snapshot of books about the Tulsa race massacre

This spring marks 100 years since the thriving Greenwood District in Tulsa, Oklahoma, sometimes called Black Wall Street, was burned down and many of its residents were killed in what became known as the Tulsa Race Massacre. While this is not an easy subject to discuss with children, acknowledging and learning from this violence in our history is important for all Americans to grapple with. These books are best shared and discussed with older children.

The New York Times has also published an interactive article that shows 3D renderings of what the Greenwood District likely looked like before it was destroyed. Survivors of the massacre also testified in Washington D.C. about what it was like to live through such an experience.

snapshot of books about the Tulsa race massacre

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. 

Two Spooky Stories for Spring

The Girl and the Ghost book cover

While many of us associate scary stories with October and cool weather, I think it’s great fun to read scary stories in the spring, especially when there’s a thunderstorm rolling in.

I’d like to recommend two scary books I enjoyed recently, and both of them just happened to be written by Asian American authors.

First is The Girl and the Ghost by Hana Alkaf. This ghost story is inspired by Malaysian folklore. I love folk and fairy tales, so I was excited about a story inspired by Malaysian folk traditions.

When Suraya is very young, a type of ghost called a pelesit comes to her, and says he is a gift from her grandmother. Suraya, who is very lonely, just sees him as a friend. But as she gets older, their relationship begins to change, and other ghosts from her past begin to emerge.

I loved this book. It’s very scary! It is also a beautiful story about family and friendship. I read it all in one sitting because I couldn’t put it down! After you read the book, I recommend reading this interview with Hana Alkaf to learn more about her and the book!

The Girl and the Ghost book cover

The second book is Spirit Hunters by Ellen Oh. In this book, Harper Raine is struggling after her family moves to a new house in a new town, especially since an accident she had at her old school was the reason she had to move. In her new house, strange things start happening, especially with her little brother, who seems to be talking to someone that no one else can see.

Like The Girl and the Ghost, Spirit Hunters is scary while also being a great story about family secrets and the strength of friendship.

Spirit Hunters book cover

The official book trailer is also really cool!

Place a hold on these books and check out other spooky stories for kids today!