by Selina Alko, illustrated by Sean Qualls and Selina Alko
Grades 1- 5
Arthur Levine Books, 2015
Society of Illustrators Original Art Show 2015 * NAIBA Carla Cohen Free Speech Award 2015 * Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2015 * Book Links 2015 Lasting Connection * A New York Public Library Notable Book for Reading and Sharing
Author-illustrator, husband-wife duo Selina Alko and Sean Qualls collaborate to present this celebratory portrait of a bi-racial family in The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage. Through intimate, simple language readers follow the courtship of Richard Loving, a white man, and Mildred “String Bean” Jeter, a woman of African American and Cherokee descent.
The two fall in love, but according to Virginia law in 1958 interracial marriage is illegal, so they exchange vows in D.C. Soon after the newlyweds return home, the police raid their bedroom in the night and arrest them both. “Tell the court I love my wife, and that it’s just unfair that I can’t live with her in Virginia,” Richard told his lawyers.
Their legal battle rose all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, after which Richard and Mildred returned to Central Point, having won the right for themselves and other interracial couples to marry. This book gives young readers the opportunity to reflect upon racial justice, self-identity, and ways in which historical narratives shift over time. A mixed medium of paint and collage contrasts bold, stark images of injustice against whimsical, uplifting panels that leave no doubt about it: love will prevail.
by Kate Beaton
Arthur A. Levine Books, 2015
Kirkus Best Books of 2015 * Publishers Weekly Best Books of the Year * Children’s Choice Book Award * ALA Notable Children’s Book * E.B. White Read-Aloud Honor
Princess Pinecone is nobody’s frilly, silly princess! She’s bold, ferocious, and ready for battle! She’s all set to lead an army except for one key, missing ingredient: a great battle horse of her own.
When Pinecone’s birthday rolls around, does she get what she wants? Nope! No battle stallion for this little lady, at all. Instead, the tiny princess gets a tiny pony. Is he bold, ferocious, and ready for battle like Pinecone? Hardly. Try cute, fluffy, and prone to farting.
Will the princess learn a lesson in diplomacy from her royal steed? After all, who can resist the allure of a pony?
by Andrea Beaty, illustrated by David Roberts
Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2013
Ages 5-7, Grades K and up
Parent’s Choice Award * Amelia Bloomer Project * ReadBoston Best Read Aloud
Have you ever invented something cool but were too afraid to show anyone? That’s how Rosie Revere feels all the time. Rosie is a creative girl who likes to invent new gadgets for her family and then hide them under her bed. She is too afraid of failing or having people think they are not very good.
One day her great-great aunt, Rosie the Riveter, visits and teaches little Rosie that the only time you fail is when you quit trying something new. Not everything always works the way you want it to at the beginning. You just need to keep trying and fixing and NOT be afraid to show off your inventions.
A great tie-in with Rosie the Riveter history, this book reminds us never to give up on our dreams or things we love.
by Misty Copeland, illustrated by Christopher Myers
G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, 2014
Ages 5-8, Grades K-3
ISBN: 13: 978-0399166150
2015 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award * 2015 Ezra Jack Keats Book Award New Writer Honor * NPR Best Book of 2014 * Amazon Best Book of 2014 – Ages 6-8 * Amazon Best Book of the Month, September 2014 * Essence Magazine Best Children’s Book of 2014
In a stirring love letter to young dancers, author and ballerina Misty Copeland welds the seeming divide between the impossible and possible. “The space between you and me is longer than forever,” a young girl bewails about the distance between her own dance dream and the achievements of prima ballerina, Copeland.
Copeland, who began ballet at age thirteen, shares how she struggled to find her place in the world, even within her own family. Through dance she connected to her true self – body, spirit, and soul. What ballet books reflected back to her, however, was that ballerinas weren’t “me, brown with tendrils.” With mentorship from African American ballerina Raven Wilkinson, Copeland forged her own path and transformed ballet.
Firebird speaks to girls (and boys!) who dance under starlight and moonbeams, who hold a dream in their hearts and souls, yet do not yet believe they can cross the divide. Here, Copeland shows them that “forever is not so far away.”
by Edwidge Danticat, illustrated by Leslie Straub
Dial Books for Young Readers, 2015
Picture book, ages 5-8, Grades K – 3
Kirkus Best Books of 2015 * Jane Addams Book Award honor 2016
Saya’s mother has been arrested at work by the “immigration police” and sent to a detention center because she has no papers. Until Papa and the attorney can clear the matter, Saya is without her mother. Short visits are of some comfort, but Saya finds that Mama’s voice fades away from her memory too quickly.
Mama begins recording cassette tapes of Haitian folktales, so that Saya can have a bedtime story. Mama’s voice fills Saya’s heart and dreams with images of soursoup and nightingales, rainbows and sky travels.
As Saya watches her parents struggle to keep the family together and to secure Mama’s papers, she decides that she has her own story to tell. Saya’s story might just have the power to bring Mama home.
Separation with little hope for reunion is every family’s nightmare. Saya misses her mother desperately, and she never gives up hope. Through her parents’ examples of advocating for justice, Saya realizes that her own strong voice has the power to make change.
by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan, illustrated by Brian Floca
Neal Porter Books, Roaring Brook Press 2010
Picture book, non-fiction, ages 7 and up
Robert Silbert Honor Award * NCTE Orbis Pictus Award * ALA Notable Books 2010 * Numerous best books lists for 2010
Additional formats: ebook and audio
This historical picture book is about how Appalachian Spring, one of the most famous dances of all times, came to be. It is a dance about the pioneer movement, and it was a collaboration between Martha Graham, Aaron Copland, and Isamu Noguchi. Martha had to persevere through audiences who didn’t necessarily understand the new language she was crafting in American dance. Martha Graham Dance was the first integrated dance company in the US. Appalachian spring, which earned Copland the Pulitzer Prize for music in 1944.
by Katheryn Russell-Brown, illustrated by Frank Morrison
Lee & Low Books, 2014
Picture book, non-fiction
Aages 7 and up
Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award Honor * Notable Children’s Book, American Library Association (ALA) * Listed on multiple “best books” lists
This is the story of how a little girl born in 1926 fights racism and sexism to become one of our country’s most accomplished musicians.
Melba Loretta Liston was a famed jazz trombone player and arranger who created gorgeous rhythms, harmonies, and melodies in songs for jazz greats like Randy Weston, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Billie Holiday, and Quincy Jones, to name just a few.
The illustrations are delicious. I’d pair this with Acoustic Rooster by Kwame Alexander for a summer study on jazz.