One of the big themes of library collection development is diversity-it turns out not all kids are white and middle class (I KNOW!!! I was surprised too! Oh, wait, maybe not so much. My school doesn't look like that!) It turns out that kids like to read about people who look like them and so since our populations are diverse, our collections better be too! This first one fits that bill perfectly. It's called "Joseph's Big Ride" by Terry Farish and illustrated by Ken Daley. It's about Joseph who has been growing up in a refugee camp in Sudan. He idolizes one of the bigger boys who has a bike and dreams of a day when he will be able to ride. He does learn to fix bikes and hen he and his mom move to America, he finds many new things but one his new neighbors has a bike! He goes to school and meets his new neighbor and they connect over the bike. It's a really nice story to get kids thinking about what it might be like to be a refugee. The pictures are terrific. They are vibrant and engaging and help to move the story along. I LOVE the pictures of his new friend that he calls "Whoosh". She is completely adorable- her energy seems to almost leap off the page. I think the kids will like this one a lot.
This second one is non fiction. It's called "Floodwaters and Flames" by Lois Miner Huey. It seems that elementary school students, particularly boys, are VERY interested in disasters. This one, they are going to LOVE. It's about the 1913 flood in Dayton, Ohio. It's told from the perspective of several of the survivors of this calamity. I really liked a piece at the beginning that shows a map of Dayton and then tags all the people telling the story on the map. I think the kids will refer to that a lot during their reading. There are lots of great text features (which will enthrall their teachers) and lots of great period photographs, but the story is also great. The details that each of the survivors contributes helps you piece the story together and appreciate the diversity and complexity of the story. I thought this one was terrific.
Here's some video footage of the flood.
The last one is an experiential book that almost feels like it might be a board book. It's called "Leo Can Swim" by Anna McQuinn and illustrated by Ruth Hearson. You can tell right away this is a book for really little kids because the main character is wearing a diaper! The amount of text is perfect-short simple sentences about going swimming with Daddy. I think this is a really great idea to have a book about going swimming. I live in South Florida where my school is only a mile from a BEAUTIFUL beach with easy access to parking. Many of the homes close by here have pools and I am alarmed at the number of kids who drown every year, so YAY for anything that raises the awareness of the importance of teaching your kids to swim. I love the fact that Leo is African American and that his daddy is swimming with him. I also love the other diverse families shown in the story. The pictures in this are completely adorable and show the story really well. I think this one is terrific.