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.

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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.

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A Boy Like You – Perfect Picture Book Friday

Title: A Boy Like You

Author: Frank Murphy

Illustrator: Kayla Harren

 Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press, 2019

Ages: 3-7

Genre: Concept picture book

Themes: following dreams, being brave, asking for help, gender stereotypes, ways to be a boy, masculinity

Opening:

There are billions and billions and billions of people on the world. But you are the only YOU there is!

And the world needs a boy like you.

Synopsis:

There’s more to being a boy than sports, feats of daring, and keeping a stiff upper lip. A Boy Like You encourages every boy to embrace all the things that make him unique, to be brave and ask for help, to tell his own story and listen to the stories of those around him. In an age when boys are expected to fit into a particular mold, this book celebrates all the wonderful ways to be a boy.

Why I like this book:

We need books that extol kindness, courage, thoughtfulness, crying is okay, friendliness. This could have come across in a very didactic way, but the author has managed to keep his message gentle and inspirational by focusing on each boy’s unique contribution to his world, and with his emphasis on all our daily interactions and the opportunities they offer for personal growth. Part of me questions the need for a “boy focused” message as, of course this applies to girls too, but maybe this is part of the necessary antidote to the constant bombardment of messages of toxic masculinity many of our young boys receive.

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.

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