Stonewall – Perfect Picture Book Friday for Pride Month

Title: Stonewall: A Building. An Uprising. A Revolution

Author: Rob Sanders

Illustrator: Jamey Christoph

 Publisher: Random House, 2019

Ages: 5-8

Themes: civil rights, lgbtqia+ history, New York, equal rights, Stonewall, 50 years anniversary of Stonewall

Opening:

Two stables houses, side by side.

For more than a hundred years, we witnessed history. Then came a night when we became part of history.

We were built in the 1840’s to board the horses of the affluent in New York City’s Greenwich Village.

Inside our brick walls, horses whinnied and hammers clanged. Outside, passersby bustled as carriages rumbled on the cobblestone streets.

Synopsis:

A rich and dynamic history of the Stonewall Inn and its role in the gay civil rights movement–a movement that continues to this very day. In the early-morning hours of June 28, 1969, the Stonewall Inn was raided by police in New York City. Though the inn had been raided before, that night would be different. It would be the night when empowered members of the LGBTQ+ community–in and around the Stonewall Inn–began to protest and demand their equal rights as citizens of the United States. 

copyright Jamey Christoph

Why I like this book:

As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots this month, this is a beautiful lgbtqia+ nonfiction picture book for all ages on this important piece of civil rights’ history.

Written effectively and creatively from the  POV of the Stonewall Inn, it narrates its own story from its humble beginning as a horse stable to an iconic, historical monument that was the birthplace of the fight for civil rights for the lgbtqia+ community.

It is pitched at young readers and this iconic history is presented with appropriate language and content for its audience. The harsh treatment of the police towards gay and lesbian people and the New York mob owning the bar, as well as some of the brutality of the riots is described though not in detail. The book ends on an optimistic note about some of the equal rights that the lgbtqia+ community now has, for which the Stonewall rioters paved the way. Jamey Christoph’s illustrations are vibrant, colorful and passionate and pair well with this text.

When I moved to New York in 2012, one of the first sites I made a point of visiting was the Stonewall Inn, and I confess this picture book left me with some powerful emotions. It is an important addition to school library shelves.

Activities/resources:

The back matter mentions how trans women of color were instrumental in the Stonewall Uprising, and I can only imagine the decision to include this in the back matter rather than in the heart of the book required some intense discussion within the editorial team. I would have liked to see Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera mentioned, but I hope these choices enable a very wide audience for this important book. There is also: suggestions for further reading, a glossary, additional information about the Stonewall Inn, now designated a National Historic Landmark, and archival photographs, as well as a brief interview with one of the participants in the riots.

Pair this with another picture book Rob wrote –Pride: the Story of Harvey Milk and the rainbow Flag

here’s an interview with the author on Alison Goldberg’s blog.

On June 6th, the NYPD issued a statement apologizing for the raid that lead to the Stonewall Riots.

Each week a group of bloggers reviews picture books we feel would make great educational reads. To help teachers, caregivers and parents, we have included resources and/or activities with each of our reviews. A complete list of the thousands of books we have reviewed can be found sorted alphabetically and by topics, here on Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.

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The Boy and the Bindi – Perfect Picture Book Friday

Title: The Boy and the Bindi

Author: Vivek Shraya

Illustrator: Rajni Perera

 Publisher: Arsenal Pulp Press, 2016

Ages: 3-7

Themes: gender non-conforming, non-binary, bindi, Indians, lgbtqia, Pride, gender identity, South Asia, belonging, identity

Opening:

Have you seen my Ammi’s dot?
It’s a bright and pretty spot.?

Synopsis:

This story showcases a young Indian boy’s fascination with his mother’s bindi, the red dot commonly worn by Hindu women. Rather than chastise her son, she teaches him about its cultural significance and doesn’t flinch when he asks for one himself. Wearing it allows him to joyfully explore and express his difference.

Why I like this book:

I went on a search for more diverse picture books to review during the Pride month of June and was so happy to discover one with South Asian characters. Many young children grow up with the belief that “bindis are for girls”, this book may help open their eyes to a different reality. Though I think it is important to note that historically, bindis have been worn by men as well as women, and in some regions of Asia they still are.

The Boy & the Bindi is about the relationships between a boy and his mother, his family, his culture, his friends, his gender, and social norms. This book sharing the meaning of the Bindi in Indian culture is a celebration of ethnic diversity as well as diversity in gender expression in a non-white cultire, which is very welcome

Whats a bindi What does it do?
My bindi keeps me safe and true.

This would be a great addition to any elementary classroom. The vivid illustrations depict the young boy’s creative internal imagery when discussing the bindi’s significance and cultural meaning. The author is also careful not to generalize the child’s experiences related to gender, religion, or culture by using a first [person POV and internal dialogue (less common in picture books). This is a great text to encourage and support diverse students who are exploring their gender identity. My only small critique is that some of the rhyming is a little forced, which detracted somewhat from the initial reading pleasure for me. If you are reading this out loud, I suggest you do a dry run through first.

Activities/resources:

There is a great free teacher’s guide at vivekshraya.com/bindi or arsenalpulp.com

With older students, you could encourage a discussion of what are typical binary or other gender expression symbols in their cultures.

Each week a group of bloggers reviews picture books we feel would make great educational reads. To help teachers, caregivers and parents, we have included resources and/or activities with each of our reviews. A complete list of the thousands of books we have reviewed can be found sorted alphabetically and by topics, here on Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.

Posted in children's books, Children's literature, Diverse Children's Books, diversity, LGBTQIA, Perfect Picture Book Friday | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

The Earth Gives More – Perfect Picture Book Friday

Title: The Earth Gives More

Author: Sue Fliess

Illustrator: Christiane Engel

 Publisher: Albert Whitman, 2019

Ages: 3-6

Themes: nature, earth, stewardship, earth day, seasons

Opening:

Feel the wind blow through your hair;                                                                                        as you breathe the clean, fresh air.

Synopsis:

From leaves falling and becoming fertilizer to raindrops bringing plants to life in the spring, the cycle of every season has something to enjoy. While delighting in all nature offers, we need to remember to respect and treasure the world around us. This sweet rhyming story follows the change in seasons and illustrates how we can all be stewards of the Earth.

Why I like this book:

Catchy rhyme and a great refrain for a read-aloud to preschoolers. This is a lovely celebration of not just the fun we have in nature but all that this planet offers us for our existence. There’s also a call to stewardship,

Love, respect, befriend, protect.
So the Earth gives more.

This is a terrific addition to your Earth day texts.

Activities/resources:

Each week a group of bloggers reviews picture books we feel would make great educational reads. To help teachers, caregivers and parents, we have included resources and/or activities with each of our reviews. A complete list of the thousands of books we have reviewed can be found sorted alphabetically and by topics, here on Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.

Posted in Children's literature, Earth Day, Perfect Picture Book Friday | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments