Diverse Children’s Books: Water in our world

My students and I are currently learning more about water in our world. Beyond, how essential water is to life, we are talking about access to water and more specifically, children’s roles in gathering water in places in the world where water is scarce or doesn’t flow from indoor taps.

Here are two books we have read together in the past week:

Hope Springs written by Eric Walters and illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes (Tundra Books 2014)

Based on a true story of drought and water shortages in Kenya and what it takes to secure fresh water for a community. This book is about worry and fear. Kindness and forgiveness. In the back of the book are actual photos of the community and people that inspired the book.

Hope Springs Diverse Children's Books: Water in our world

Anna Carries Water written by Olive Senior and illustrated by Laura James (Tradewind Books 2014)

Set in the Caribbean, this is the story of young Anna who strives to master the task of carrying water on her head. Children related to the desire to learn a physical skill and had discussions about the need to have to fetch water every day instead of just turning on the faucet. This story is beautifully illustrated and is, more than anything, a story of childhood: wanting to be grown up, wanting to be able to do what older siblings can do, wanting to face a fear.

Anna-Carries-Water Diverse Children's Books: Water in our world

Diverse Children’s Books is a brand new book-sharing meme designed to promote the reading and writing of children’s books that feature diverse characters. This community embraces all kinds of diversity including (and certainly not limited to) diverse, inclusive, multicultural, and global books for children of all backgrounds.


We encourage everyone who shares to support this blogging community by visiting and leaving comments for at least three others. Please also consider following the hosts on at least one of their social media outlets. Spread the word using #diversekidlit and/or adding our button to your site and your diverse posts.

We hope this community will grow into a great resource for parents, teachers, librarians, publishers, and authors! Our next linkup will be Saturday, May 7th and will continue on the first and third Saturdays of each month.

Most Clicked Post from Last Time

The diverse post that received the most clicks from the last #diversekidlit is … Diverse Children’s Book Celebrating Cultural Traditions by Adrienne at Reading Power Gear. She shares seven great picture books focusing on different cultural traditions including Divali, Chinese New Year, and more!

Hosted By:

Interested in joining as a host or an occasional co-host? Contact Katie at 1logonaut (gmail).

Want to be notified when the next #diversekidlit linkup goes live? Click here to subscribe for notification emails.

If you want to share a favourite or recently read diverse title, please leave a comment with the link (current link up technical difficulties) and then head over to Katie’s blog to share your link on the link up. Happy reading!

Diverse Children’s Books: My Two Blankets

I teach in a small school located in the downtown east side of Vancouver. It is a multicultural school with many different languages and cultures represented. My students are thrilled when a new student arrives at our school. They are excited to welcome a new friend and enthused about learning something new from someone new. As the teacher in the room, I am aware of how rich the learning is when a child from another country arrives. When this child has limited or no English skills, the learning is almost the most rich. It is then that we must be the most gracious, the most open, the most creative. Everything becomes about communication and connection.

This beautiful book – My Two Blankets written by Irena Kobald and illustrated by Freya Blackwood (published in Australia in 2014 by Little Hare Books and in North America in 2015 by HMH books for Young Readers) – portrays the reality of moving to a new country from the perspective of a young girl brand new to a place of strange words and new experiences.

Diverse Children's Books: My Two Blankets There's a Book for That

Cartwheel comes to a new country with her Auntie. They have come to be safe but everything is different. She doesn’t understand the strange words spoken or many of the things she observes. She wraps herself in a metaphorical blanket of home, of comfort, of known. When a little girl reaches out in friendship, Cartwheel is drawn to her smile and her persistent offerings of language and friendship. Soon the new strange language sounds softer and full of possibility.

In the story, where Cartwheel has moved from and where she arrives is never clarified. This could be the story of any child moving to a new place to escape war or conflict. It becomes a story for all of us.

I love the illustrations of Freya Blackwood – the loose lines, the strong imagery, her use of colour. Author Irena Kobald was inspired to write this book because of a friendship between her own daughter and a Sudanese child. Both author and illustrator live in Australia.

This would be a fantastic read aloud in primary/early intermediate classrooms.

Diverse Children’s Books is a brand new book-sharing meme designed to promote the reading and writing of children’s books that feature diverse characters. This community embraces all kinds of diversity including (and certainly not limited to) diverse, inclusive, multicultural, and global books for children of all backgrounds.


We encourage everyone who shares to support this blogging community by visiting and leaving comments for at least three others. Please also consider following the hosts on at least one of their social media outlets. Spread the word using #diversekidlit and/or adding our button to your site and your diverse posts.

Interested in joining as a host or an occasional co-host? Contact Katie at 1logonaut (gmail).

We hope this community will grow into a great resource for parents, teachers, librarians, publishers, and authors! Our next linkup will be Saturday, April 16th.

Hosted By:
Katie @ The Logonauts

Mia @ Pragmatic Mom
Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Pinterest / Instagram

Crystal @ Reading Through Life and co-blogger @ Rich in Color
Blog / Twitter / Google+

(Never participated in a linkup before? Please click here for a more detailed step-by-step.)

If you want to share a favourite or recently read diverse title, please leave a comment with the link (current link up technical difficulties) and then head over to Katie’s blog to share your link on the link up. Happy reading!


Top Ten Books that Celebrate Diversity

It’s time for Top Ten Tuesday, a meme created by The Broke and Bookish.


This week’s topic? Top Ten Books that Celebrate Diversity

I was thrilled to see this topic this week and decided to celebrate a range of books – right from picture books to young adult novels. As readers we need to see both ourselves and others in the books we read. Reading beyond ourselves? It opens up our world, deepens our understanding, makes us think differently. Reading about ourselves? It confirms. It soothes. It makes us feel connected. As a reader I want both of these experiences. As a teacher and a parent, I want these experiences for the children in my life.

Top Ten Books that Celebrate Diversity There's a Book for That We Need Diverse Books logo

The definition of diverse books on the We Need Diverse Books site is one that I always refer to:

We recognize all diverse experiences, including (but not limited to) LGBTQIA, people of color, gender diversity, people with disabilities*, and ethnic, cultural, and religious minorities.

From the Mission Statement on the We Need Diverse Books site.

Diverse Literature Top Ten Books that Celebrate Diversity There's a Book for That

Ten of my favourites:

Viva Frida by Yuyi Morales

A book to savour. To read slowly. It inspires questions about the life of Frida Kahlo – her art, her culture, her passions. I had the pleasure of hearing author Yuyi Morales read this title aloud. Just beautiful.

 Viva Frida Top Ten Books that Celebrate Diversity There's a Book for That

Shin-Chi’s Canoe written by Nicola Campbell and illustrated by Kim LaFave

An emotional story of two Aboriginal children (siblings) who are sent to residential school. Accessible for younger readers. The emotional pain endured by the families and children impacted by residential schools is powerful in this book. Beautifully illustrated.

Shin-Chi's Canoe Top Ten Books that Celebrate Diversity There's a Book for That

No 1 Car Spotter by Atinuke

Much to love in this title: the unique characters, the entertaining dynamics and the beautiful setting of Africa. So very, very good.

 No 1 Car Spotter Top Ten Books that Celebrate Diversity There's a Book for That

El Deafo by Cece Bell

All kinds of honest and vulnerable and powerful and hilarious. I am in awe of how this story is told, how friendship issues are explored and highlighted, how the power and powerlessness of a “disability” was portrayed through a child’s perspective.

El Deafo Top Ten Books that Celebrate Diversity There's a Book for That

Listen, Slowly by Thanhhà Lai

A powerful story about the pull of home, the strength of family, the importance of culture and the complexities of personal and family histories.

Listen, Slowly Top Ten Books that Celebrate Diversity There's a Book for That

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

Verse novels hold so much power to literally wrap us up in evocative images and in this case, personal history. In some senses, it feels like spying to be so close. A beautifully written memoir of a time and a place – oh so personal but yet, with connections and links to many more than young Jacqueline Woodson. A gift to readers.

brown girl dreaming Top Ten Books that Celebrate Diversity There's a Book for That

Golden Boy by Tara Sullivan 

A story that is fictional but not at all. Because Habo’s story could be, might be and in fact, is, playing itself out STILL in Tanzania for other albino citizens. This book speaks to everything both beautiful and horrific about humanity.  A human rights crisis. One that needs attention. One that needs to stop. “Be that one person,” – the words Sullivan leaves us with in her author’s note. Read this book and remind yourself to be more human than less. A story that will never leave the reader. And never should.

goldenboyTop Ten Books that Celebrate Diversity There's a Book for That

Girls Like Us by Gail Giles

I find myself strangely without words on this title about two young women – special education students now living on their own for the first time. The pages are seeped in vulnerability for so many reasons. There are some hard and heartbreaking pages. It’s a quick read that follows you around for days. I can see why the Schneider committee selected this book. A YA read.

Girls like us Top Ten Books that Celebrate Diversity There's a Book for That

When I Was the Greatest by Jason Reynolds 

What characters. What quietly bold and beautifully human characters. Jason Reynolds, these characters you write . . .

 When I was the Greatest Top Ten Books that Celebrate Diversity There's a Book for That

How it Went Down by Kekla Magoon

A shooting of a young teenage boy. Is it racially motivated? Who is at fault? What is the truth? All important questions. More important though -the grieving and the moving on of a community and family impacted by the loss of one of their own. Powerful.

how it went down Top Ten Books that Celebrate Diversity There's a Book for That

What titles would you add to this list?

Monday April 6th, 2015

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

I have been sharing a reading photo of the week each week. This is buddy reading at its best. Kids everywhere. Engaged. Reading. Talking. Laughing. Did I say engaged? Because, really, that’s what it’s all about.

 Monday April 6th, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

I also shared an emotional Celebration post this week. All about how very much I have loved having my current class for (for many of them) a third year. There is much to be said for teaching children over multiple years.

 Celebration post

Join Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers and share all of the reading you have done over the week from picture books to young adult novels. Follow the links to read about all of the amazing books the #IMWAYR community has read. It’s the best way to discover what to read next.


The picture books I loved this week:

Sidewalk Flowers by JonArno Lawson and Sydney Smith

Wordless perfection. I love everything about this book. And I own it. I pick it up everyday and swoon.

sidewalk flowers  Monday April 6th, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Emmanuel’s Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah written by Ann Thompson and illustrated by Sean Qualls

A fantastic nonfiction picture book biography. True inspiration.

Emmanuel's Dream- The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah  Monday April 6th, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Big Red Kangaroo written by Claire Saxby and illustrated by Graham Byrne

I shared this book in my nonfiction post this week.

big red kangaroo  Monday April 6th, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

My Pen by Christopher Myers 

I left this at the bookstore but haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. I always say there is power in the pencil (or pen, or marker, etc) – this book celebrates the creativity on the page. But on the page is so much more. I know this book will soon become part of my collection. I want to share it with each group of children I teach for forever . . .

My Pen  Monday April 6th, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

I Wish You More written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld 

I want any of these wishes to be true. Lovely, lovely, lovely.

I Wish You More  Monday April 6th, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

See You Next Year written by Andrew Larsen and illustrated by Todd Stewart

The illustrations are beautiful – such magic in the way light is shown. Nostalgia, memory inducing book. Power in the “same every year” summer vacation.

See You Next Year  Monday April 6th, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

The Cardinal and the Crow by Michael Moniz

The message? Pride and foolishness go hand in hand. Inspired by Aesop’s fables. For bird lovers, the illustrations are divine.

The Cardinal and the Crow  Monday April 6th, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Chicken Big by Keith Graves

Kids LOVE silly. This book is bursting with it.

Chicken Big  Monday April 6th, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

NonRandom Acts of Kindness (Life of Ty #2) by Lauren Myracle

I am so excited that this young chapter book exists. I started with #2 but will be finding number one and adding both to my classroom collection. Ty is believable, the story line is relevant and I liked the friendship/family dynamics explored.

NonRandom Acts of Kindness (Life of Ty #2)  Monday April 6th, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

We Were Here by Matt de la Peña (YA)

Where to begin? These characters, sigh. I feel like I could go for a walk and I might find them standing on a corner, watching people go by. I would want to run up and talk about courage and honesty and deep morals and true loyalty. I would want to buy them a sandwich. I would want to know that their worlds are all going to be okay. I’m hopeful. Which doesn’t really tell you anything about this book. I will say this, I am fast becoming a de la Peña fan. If you haven’t read any of his books, start here. Soon.

We Wre Here  Monday April 6th, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Updates on my 2015 Reading Goals:

2015 Chapter Book Challenge: 16/80 complete

Goodreads Challenge: 134/415 books read

#MustReadin2015: 7/24 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 29/100 titles

Diverse Books in 2015: 13/50 books read

Up next? I am almost finished The Meaning of Maggie by Megan Jean Sovern And then it is to Gabi, A Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero 

Monday May 5th, 2014

It’s Monday! What are you reading?IMWAYR

Join Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers and share all of the reading you have done over the week from picture books to young adult novels. Follow the links to read about all of the amazing books the #IMWAYR community has read. The best way to grow your TBR list!

I have been busy writing many blog posts to celebrate a lot of literacy related events in my classroom. Blog highlights include:

On my classroom blog Curiosity Racers, I shared about our amazing Skype experience with author Liesl Shurtliff and a photo heavy thank you to the Writers’ Exchange. On this blog, I shared the process of how we got a book full of student stories published through working with the Writers’ Exchange.

My very favourite of the picture books I read:

Ma Jiang and the Orange Ants written by Barbara Ann Porte and illustrated by Annie Cannon

Sorry for the blurry image – had trouble finding an image online (the book was published in 2000) This book is a great read aloud for listeners who can handle a longer title. Set in China many years ago we meet the Ma family who makes a living selling orange ants to the orange growers who use the ants in their orange groves to protect their fruit from insects (the ants eat the pests not the fruit). When Jiang’s father and older brothers are called to serve in the Emperor’s Army, how will the family survive? A fascinating story of ingenuity, history and family ties. My children found this story fascinating when I read it aloud to them.

#IMWAYR May 5th 2014 There's a Book for That

Max’s Magic Seeds written by Geraldine Elschner and illustrated by Jean-Pierre Corderoch 

This book totally speaks to me. A botanist uncle with huge bags of flower seeds. Guerilla gardening of sorts. Making joy and community happen one blossom at a time. Would be great to pair with The Curious Garden by Peter Brown.

#IMWAYR May 5th 2014 There's a Book for That

Ruby’s Wish written by Shirin Yim Bridges and illustrated by Sophie Blackall

I love this title! One little girl in a prosperous Chinese family wants an education like her brothers and male cousins, not a future that includes marriage and motherhood. Based on the life of the author’s grandmother. A beautiful example of a little girl who speaks up and the grandfather who hears her.

#IMWAYR May 5th 2014 There's a Book for That

The Pigeon Needs a Bath by Mo Willems

Oh my, my, this pigeon! He is channeling all children who resist, resist, resist the bath and then, absolutely refuse to get out. My children still do this!

#IMWAYR May 5th 2014 There's a Book for That

Found by Salina Yoon

I read this at the bookstore the other day and it was all I could do to leave it in the store. Absolutely adorable. So sweet that the bear tries so hard to find the owner of the lost rabbit he finds. Can he help it if on this search, he becomes very attached? Sometimes things are just meant to be. There sure is a lot of doing the right thing in this book! 🙂

#IMWAYR May 5th 2014 There's a Book for That

Hi, Koo! by Jon J Muth

I have only one complaint. It is absolutely impossible to pick a favourite poem. Can’t even narrow it to top three. And the illustrations . . . sigh!

#IMWAYR May 5th 2014 There's a Book for That

Dare the Wind written by Tracey Fern and illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully

What a fantastic biography for our nonfiction collections. This book tells the story of Eleanor Prentiss who broke the world record for sailing from New York City to San Francisco around the tip of Cape Horn and its treacherous waters. In 1851, a female navigator was unheard of let alone one that could sail at record speeds. A fantastic story of adventure, determination and absolute bravery.

#IMWAYR May 5th 2014 There's a Book for That

Finished just one novel

All That’s Missing by Sarah Sullivan

I really enjoyed this middle grade novel about Arlo, an eleven year old boy living with his grandfather who is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. With nobody else to care for him when his grandfather ends up in the hospital, Arlo searches for an estranged grandmother who might be able to help. All about finding family, making friends and creating home.

#IMWAYR May 5th 2014 There's a Book for That

What’s up next? I am just about to begin Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee. 

Reading Goal updates:

2014 Chapter Book Challenge: 36/100 novels complete

Goodeads Challenge: 228/650 books read

#MustReadin2014: 15/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 61/65 complete

Celebrating: Truths

Celebrating Truth There's a Book for That

Celebration honoured. This is the loveliest of reasons to share. Join Ruth Ayres who shares a Celebration Link up on her blog each week.

This week I am celebrating truth. Three pieces of the truth.

Truth that just needs to come out. Truth that speaks to our hearts. Truth that is uttered so beautifully by children.

Truth #1 In the last few years I have learned an important lesson a few times over. Sometimes we need to write to have our truths have weight. More than venting, more than organizing our thinking, writing is also about being read. It is about the response. It is about knowing that someone else might feel the same.

Last week I wrote a post, that for me, needed to be written. In fact, it had been brewing for quite some time: The Part That is True This post talks about Harry, a student who needs flexibility, compassion and respect, not judgement and rejection. The amazing response – via twitter, blog comments and sharing gave me strength and hope. There are many Harrys who need us all.

Thank you to everyone for honouring Harry and how much he matters.

Truth #2 Mid week, I came across this brilliant piece by author and parent Anne Ursu. I love Anne’s novels. Her words are magical. But her voice extends far beyond the world of fiction and speaks to how we treat each other and how we raise our children to understand their peers. Thank you Anne for this: On Autism, Birthday Cards and Empathy It is an absolute must read.

Truth #3 Listen to children talk about big issues and it can be kind of amazing. Especially because they have no idea they are talking about something big. They are just talking about their world – what they wonder, what they notice, what they think. So they talk in terms stripped of jargon, careful word choice and apologies. They just call it. This is part of why I love my job. Children’s voices.

Here’s the story I want to share: My Teacher Librarian and I met with our Gr 2/3 book club today to discuss our book Charlotte’s Web. One child talked about how even though it was fiction, it was kind of cool that we were learning about animals. Then we started talking about how many books have animal characters. We actually looked through a stack of picture books recently read by guest readers. Many of them featured animals. The conversation turned to why. Are animals easier to draw? Do authors/illustrators think we don’t want to see human characters in books? This brought us to what had been some of the most powerful books in our class this year. We realized many of these stories had human characters.

This is a long story to get here: One girl shared,

“But why do the illustrators not draw enough mixed/ different skin? Why don’t they show people from different places? It kind of makes me mad because there are lots of different colours of skin in our class. Lots of books don’t look like they have very real classrooms.”

Then these girls (five girls, all from a different ethnic background, it just so happens) put their arms next to each other and smiled about how all of their skin had different colours.

In this discussion about the big topic of diversity or lack of it in our picture books, not one child mentioned race, ethnicity or culture. They just talked about the colour of their skin: celebrated all of the different hues and lamented that they didn’t see this in lots of picture books. Simply, their truth.

I told this to my husband later and he noted how wonderful it is that these children didn’t see colour in a way that leads to judgement. Instead they boasted about how wonderful it is that we have lots of colours of skin in our room.

*Just before our session ended, one girl grabbed a recent read aloud, Emily’s Art by Peter Catalanotto and we all looked at the first few pages of the children sitting at the carpet.

“Oh he did a good job. Look there are lots of skin colours with these kids. This classroom looks real.”

 From Emily's Art Celebrating Truth There's a Book for That

The part that is true

The Part That is True There's a Book for That via Carrie Gelson

I know a boy named Harry.

He may be in my class this year. It might have been last. It may have been ten years ago. For the purposes of this post, I will write about him as if he is a current student. He might be.

He may be a real boy or part of many boys.

Every detail may be exact. Some might be blurred.

This is not the truth that matters here. 

You just need to know this. This child is amazing.

The truth is that there are boys named Harry. You might know one.

The truth is many people miss what is amazing about Harry because they are so worried about the box he doesn’t fit in.

The truth is that Harry brings out ugliness in adults that I never anticipated. I know it mostly stems from fear. But it is ugliness just the same.

The truth is that some people are so worried about why Harry won’t fit in their classrooms or programs, that they have no space to think about how they could help create an environment that might fit him.

The truth is that my life is enriched from having been Harry’s teacher.

The truth is that I feel protective about my Harry and other children like Harry out there.

The part that is true is that as educators we need to look first at ourselves before we welcome students into our classrooms. Each child has the potential to teach us much more than we might teach that child. But it starts with who we are and what we are open to.

In the classroom, my Harry is not always doing what others are doing. Sometimes he is. He is always engaged in something. It is just not always with the lesson at hand. Although, sometimes it is. Some days, it often is. Other days, not so much.  I’m okay with that. Generally, he is following along with what we are talking about – listening with at least one ear. He does many of the activities that we do. Some he doesn’t. As his teacher, I know where he is at. I see growth. I can measure progress.

My Harry loves to read. He makes paper airplanes. He would like to launch rockets. He fashions them out of paper and masking tape and various other things. When lessons happen at the carpet, he is at his desk. Reading. List making. Searching through magazines. He listens with one ear and ignores with the other. When he has an important point to make, he raises his hand and shares. Sometimes his insights and observations stop the room. He is clever. Sometimes he is cheeky. His memory is amazing. 

One might look at Harry and think he is oppositional. He kind of is in the sense that he always likes to be right and that he is quick to argue with anything. Sometimes just because. Some might think he is defiant. Rude. I find his argumentative nature amusing. It is a protective ruse. I pretend to take it seriously but I see the vulnerability underneath. There are reasons he is so guarded.

Harry has lovely manners. He is often polite. Sweet. Charming. If he doesn’t know you, he won’t speak to you. So you won’t know this. You need to earn his trust by not intruding in his space. Once he trusts you, he chatters away, telling you all kinds of things. He shares interesting things he reads. Games he has devised. Wonders about the world. Sometimes he is so open and vulnerable that it breaks my heart.

There are reasons why Harry spends time somewhat differently and needs extra support with interactions and playground play. The reasons were not his choices and they are out of his control. It doesn’t matter exactly why. The truth is that there are some reasons. Reasons that make Harry need some extra support and to be included in our classroom community with more flexibility. Reasons that you don’t know when looking at him. An invisible “disability” that makes it even more important as adults, to protect him from judgement. Even more important to stop thinking about ways to change him and to start thinking about ways to have school work for him.

We talk about being inclusive. We talk about accepting diversity. We talk about being kind. We expect it between children. We expect it between adults. But what happens when the adults don’t offer it to certain children? What happens when Harry is called all kinds of things? What happens when people look at my Harry and other children like Harry and start from a place of discrimination and then use the “different” behaviour they see to not move past that place of judgement? 

The part that is true is that it is not okay to have school be an inhospitable place for Harry. It is not acceptable to have adults speak cruelly and insensitively about him. It is not excusable to not speak up when this sort of thing happens. 
When I look at Harry learning and laughing and taking more risks every day, I know that my job is not to bask in the happiness of his growth and success. My job is to pave the way for more of the same in his future.
The part that is true is this: Every child matters. Children like Harry need you to know this most of all.

Bertha and the Frog Choir

A recent book brought to us by our BLG reader Deborah was Bertha and the Frog Choir written by Luc Foccroulle and illustrated by Annick Masson. 

I admit I have a thing for fictional frogs. They have a certain charm and vulnerability that I find myself drawn to. I even blogged about it: Five Fantastic Fictional (Mostly) Frogs So when Deborah brought this book in to class, I was pretty excited! And it had us from the beginning – oh the poor frogs, described as flabby and slimy, not beautiful as so many other animals are. But. . . they redeem themselves with their chorus, their beautiful frog song! So what happens when you are a frog like Bertha who doesn’t exactly produce lovely sounds when she opens her mouth? Or a tiny frog like Lucy who isn’t even allowed to audition for the frog choir because she is so small? Well . . .

Bertha and Lucy sit at the edge of the pond, both sad and rejected. But then they start to get creative. Bertha could cook up a delicious meal to help Lucy grow and Lucy could give singing lessons to Bertha. Unfortunately, the plan does not seem to work. So the two clever frogs come up with a new plan. One that involves a trick. A trick that works perfectly. Perfectly, until both frogs get tired of pretending and decide that their true talents need to be recognized.

A story that reminds us that good friends are as important as being true to yourself.

There is a song at the back if reading this book puts you in the mood to sing. Twice,  Deborah asked if we wanted to sing along. Each time the students exclaimed “No!” But each time they sang and the second time even louder and sweeter!

Pete & Pickles

Picture Book Love #1

Some picture books knock me off my feet. 32 little pages of big power. So this is book number 1 on this blog in the category of Picture Book Love. A new way to honour and celebrate picture books that are just too good not to gush over.

Pete & Pickles: Picture Book Love

This book created by Berkeley Breathed has many themes I like to address through picture books: courage, friendship, and diversity. But it is also about love. It celebrates love in the happiest and most joyful of ways. But it doesn’t scrimp on the realities of love: loss, pain, frustration, forgiveness, sacrifice. Love is all of it and this book delivers. It takes you on a journey sailing through a myriad of emotions and delivers you on the other side, changed. Better. Brighter. Exhausted. I have read this book now multiple times and it is as lovely shared as it is in a solo reading. It insists on repeated readings. It is a book I had to instantly own so I could revisit it anytime I wanted. I LOVE this book. Let me tell you why . . .

Pete & Pickles: Picture Book LovePete meets Pickles in the strangest of ways. It is a stormy night and Pete is in the middle of a nightmare about drowning when a sudden sound wakes him. Pete has an odd feeling that something is not quite right. And it isn’t. There is an elephant hiding under his lampshade. A soggy, wet elephant (Pickles) who suddenly grabs Pete with her trunk, looks at him with eyes filled with fear and a request:  “Help me.” Things happen very quickly and within moments Pete has given Pickles up to a clown who arrives at the door looking for an escaped elephant. In the morning, Pete realizes that Pickles left behind a gift of dandelions. He deems them ridiculous but he has been touched and before he knows it, he meets Pickles again – this time chained up in a circus tent.

What follows is a beautiful and often wonderfully silly story of break out escapes, changes to Pete’s simple and solo world and struggles between embracing this new colourful, dramatic life with Pickles in it or longing for the quiet simplicity of life before . . .

When Pete’s sensible nature overrules, he sends Pickles packing. But a sudden plumbing disaster changes everything. Both characters need to find safety and it seems there might not be enough safety to go around. How this book turns out must be experienced to be believed. Your heart will be in your throat as you turn the last few pages. Danger and potential of real disaster. Of the heartbreaking kind. But . . . suffice it to say one of the most beautiful moments I have ever experienced in a picture book awaits and in the end you will be smiling in the happiest of ways. Ahhh, what we do for love!

Pete & Pickles: Picture Book Love

Breathed explains that a sketch (above) his five year old daughter had made on a restaurant napkin inspired this book. He asked his daughter Sophie about her sketch of an elephant holding a pig and putting flowers on its head. Why was the elephant doing that? She answered “The pig’s sad. Because he’s lonely.” Then she leaned in and whispered, “. . . But he doesn’t know it.”

Pete & Pickles reminds us that relationships are the antidote to loneliness. And sometimes they arrive in your life in the strangest of ways.

Our school community

At Seymour school, we are fortunate to be surrounded by a diverse group of learners that each enrich the lives of all of us. We have different stories, different histories and different ideas. We all learn constantly from each other.


The reality is is that some of us are at times struggling financially or otherwise and could use some assistance. We learn in our classrooms about being mindful of others, about how to be generous, how to be compassionate and how to be aware. Sometimes I get questions about how to help in both small and big ways. There are so many answers to that very important question but I will try and share just a few here. There are many ways to help, think about what speaks to you.

This post follows up on a letter I recently wrote. Read it here.

  1. If you or your children attend a different school, think beyond your school community. If you get a request for kleenex boxes for the classroom, you can bet other classrooms across the city need kleenex boxes. Drop off an 8 pack to a school that might need it. If your school is asking for money for field trip expenditures, ask your PAC to help fundraise and donate transportation or admission costs to another school that may not have the same means to amass funds. You get the idea.
  2. Involve your friends. Organize ideas, plans and the “nitty gritty” how to. If you want to help a school have fresh fruit snacks once a week, do it! Dropping off bags of apples is wonderful but they will need to be washed, sliced, and distributed. Could your idea be completely carried out by your group? Contact a school for permission, pitch them the plan. Show up every week with chopped fruit on trays and hands to distribute them. Even more amazing.
  3. Give of yourself. Many schools need readers and amazing, committed volunteers. They may not have the volunteers in their own communities. The Big Brothers Program needs male and female “in school” mentors. An hour a week of your time in school hours to connect with a child will change your life. Really.
  4. Every child needs books in home and in hand. Books for children birth to age 5 often are absent in homes of many of our children. Are your children finished with their beloved board books? Call up Family Places, Neighbourhood Houses, Schools that have Strong Start programs. Could someone pass on your donated books to a family?

Some more ideas? That might involve money?

  1. Some students from inner city schools are accepted to District programs at schools that do not have a hot lunch program. Some families turn down the placement exactly for this reason. Is there a district class at your school (or a neighbouring school) that could pass on gift cards (donated by you) to Buy Low, Superstore, etc. to families that may need to supplement the grocery budget?
  2. Many inner city schools have amazing athletes and sports programs organized by dedicated staff. Some of these young athletes could benefit from additional involvement in community or summer sports programs and some help with the equipment. Could you contact a school and help fund a student’s lessons/registration fees and equipment (i.e. soccer cleats or running shoes)
  3. Young students have big dreams. Are you able to help contribute to a RESP fund for a student? Many schools could help put you in touch with families. As could Community Centres. Scholarship funds, even small ones, have impact.
  4. Many students in inner city schools benefit from Speech and Language therapy, Play therapy, Music Therapy, Art Therapy and Counselling. For families that cannot afford to pay for this privately, the only opportunity for service is through the schools. Not all schools have all of these services. Sometimes they do because of private donors. Schools are given staffing according to school population. It doesn’t take much to figure out that an inner city school would have more need even if it has a small population. More need and less service. Does that make sense to you? Make your opinion heard. Be vocal and/or be generous. Offer to fund the services of a therapist for a specific school. Even if it is for part of a day. Challenge your friends to get involved. See what happens.

*Please note that if you do want to make a monetary donation to a school, tax receipts can be issued.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.

Margaret Mead


Do you have more ideas? Please post them in the comment section.