July 18, 2014

Nelson Mandela

Today is International Nelson Mandela Day, celebrated in honor of Nelson Mandela, the beloved civil rights leader of South Africa, who became president after 27 years in exile. In honor of this day, I am re-posting my February review of the children's picture book Nelson Mandela by Kadir Nelson that tells the story of his life. It is one of the most beautifully illustrated children's books I've ever seen, and beautifully told.

Nelson Mandela wasn't always a man who fought to end injustice. Like all men, he was once a boy, who happened to learn that injustice lived, and decided to fight against it. The beautifully illustrated picture book tells Mandela's life story beginning with his childhood, when at age 7, upon his father's death, he is sent to live with a famous African Chief. The Chief tells young Mandela stories of old Africa, where Africans of all colors and creeds lived together in harmony. The story explains how Europeans invaded Africa and began apartheid, where Africans were forced to live separately, based on their race.

The story then chronicles Mandela's journey from college to being a lawyer, and  then a leader of the people, speaking out against apartheid. He organized rallies and the people loved him, but the state hated his defiance, and a warrant was issued for his arrest. Mandela then went into hiding, and visited free African nations - Liberia, Morocco, and Egypt. On his attempt to return home to South Africa to continue his work fighting discrimination, he was arrested and jailed for 27 years. But Mandela stayed strong, and upon his release from jail, he was greeted and cheered on by the people of South Africa, who he told to forget the pain of the past, but to continue to fight for justice. Mandela was later elected by the people of South Africa to lead their nation.

Nelson Mandela is told as beautifully as an old spiritual, and the illustrations are so beautiful, they could be hung on a museum wall. What makes this book great is that it tells Mandela's story in a way that children can understand, even if read on their own. It's ability to emote sadness, anger, and in the end victory and joy, is what makes it so great. It is a story of freedom that all children should know, no matter their race or nationality, and one that could easily become an American classic.

July 13, 2014

Dress Up Day

Come with us as we dress up!
Be a princess, pilot or chef. Maybe you think a policeman is best.
Farm the land, sing in a band, or fight fires like a fireman.
See a teacher, a doctor, an artist too and learn about the jobs they do.
Just like that, with a few things, it's easy to do - just start imagining!

Does your child talk about what he or she wants to be when they grow up? If so, they'll love Dress Up Day, a fun picture book about a little girl who makes a day of fun by dressing up with her friends. The kids try on several different outfits and to visualize all the different careers they could have when they grow up.

Dress up Day has fun rhyme and is a great book for giving children ideas about all the different options they have for their future. With beautifully colorful illustrations depicting both girls and boys of diverse backgrounds, the kids dress up from everything from a doctor, judge, and soldier to a farmer, pilot and firefighter.

Dress Up Day is a great book for encouraging young children to dream and to also create positive, fun, ways to play.  It is written by Tina Marie Kaht and illustrated by Hatice Bayramoglu, and available at Amazon.com.

July 5, 2014

Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes...


Want to take a trip to fun land? Then you must read Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes...by Annie Kubler. In the spirit of the children's song "If you're Happy and You Know it, Clap Your Hands", Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes... is a fun board book that toddlers and adults will both love.

As a supporter of the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign, I was impressed by the illustrations of toddlers from different cultures. Not only does the illustrations show babies moving different parts of the body, the illustrations also show various animals - pigs, rabbits and kittens mirroring the baby's actions finding each body part, a cute addition that will cater to the humor of any young child.

It's an excellent book for teaching very young children about the parts of the body in a fun way. It is also great for teaching toddlers coordination skills which can be a challenge for some children with special needs. For adults who know how to read music, the music for the song is featured on the book's back cover.

If you want to introduce your young one to a fun, musical book, you can go wrong with this one!