This summer the girls are (almost) 5, 3, and 1. We just raced through about 15 Magic Tree House books last month and are plowing through The Chronicles of Narnia together. Chapter books are new and exciting for Evangeline, and Zelie listens pretty well, too. It’s a fun new world.
I’m enjoying reading books I loved as a kid, and they’ve been starting some good conversations. Well, sometimes it turns into a conversation. Most of the time it’s me making a remark, pointing something out. And then I get the same question over and over again, usually not related to the point I made. Why did Aslan jump on the Witch? Why is Miraz a bad king? How did Miraz die? Why can’t you come back to Narnia when you get too old? Who is Eustace? What’s a poop deck? POOP DECK!!!
But here are some of the things I’ve been noticing and pointing out. We’ll see if they turn into conversations when we reread them again, and again, and again.
Prince Caspian – Caspian’s great-great-great grandfather, Caspian I, invaded Narnia and his people, the Telmarines, silenced and killed the Talking Beasts and the trees, changed Narnia, and tried their best to forget the way it used to be. When Caspian learns this history and that he is a Telmarine, he says sorry and tries to make it right, by fighting to bring back Old Narnia.
Voyage of the Dawn Treader – Caspian discovers that an outpost of Narnia, the Lone Island, has been exporting slaves, and he outlaws slavery. Opportunity to explain what slavery is, how evil it is when we don’t view another person as a precious gift, and see them as something we can use.
In our latest library haul, I picked out books with characters of different ethnicities and tried to find authors of color. I’ve done this before, and I’ll do it again, and I’m mostly writing it here to have a place to keep all the book lists that have been recommended to me, and to look back and see what we were reading and what our conversations about race were like in this moment in time.
The girls’ favorites from this stack and our conversation points:
- Sulwe by Lupita Nyong’o – Beautiful illustrations, a very dark-skinned girl with lighter-skinned family navigates feeling not beautiful and wishing for lighter skin, to loving “the brightness within her.”
- Words are very powerful – they can really hurt someone or make someone feel really good.
- Zelie said, “I wish I had dark skin.” You are beautiful just as God made you. You are beautiful when you are fully yourself.
- What Is Given From The Heart by Patricia C. McKissack – Great story about a mother and son who give to a family in their community from the little they have
- generosity, creativity, gratitude, community
- Where Are You From? by – Yamile Saied Mendez Author is from Argentina, made me think about my own family’s immigration story.
- Gruben, Nono, and Nona are from Argentina. Let’s get out the map and look at where Argentina is. Pampas, gauchos. Why do they speak Spanish?
Book lists and resources I’ve been given lately.
- 10 Picture Books Featuring Children of Color
- Introducing Kids to Race and Bias
- Why the Diversity of Your Reading List Matters (“Mirror” vs “window” books)
- Coretta Scott King Book Award Winners
- Anti-Racism for Kids 101: Starting To Talk About Race
- Laura Ingalls Wilder Is My Hero, But Her Books Tell A Painful American Story (this was helpful to me in framing read-aloud time as an opportunity to pause and address racist comments or attitudes we encounter in books I loved as a kid)
- Freedom Summer by Deborah Wiles
- The Story of Ruby Bridges by Robert Coles
- That’s Not Fair! Emma Tenayuca’s Struggle for Justice by Carmen Tafolia and Sharyll Teneyuca
- And a conversation my friend Annie and I had about talking about race with our littles on the podcast.