On October 22nd, I attended an Embrace Race webinar called “Using Books to Engage Young Children in Talk about Race and Justice.” Savitha Moorthy, Sara Rizik-Baer, and Aija Simmons of Tandem Bay Area were the guest speakers. Tandem is a nonprofit organization that has a mission of “engaging the whole community to ensure all families have the resources, skills, and confidence they need to support their children’s kindergarten readiness” (Tandem, 2019). Moorthy, Rizik-Baer, and Simmons were invited to speak by Embrace Race to talk about their new StoryCycles program. The StoryCycles program “provides families with the access they need to high-quality children’s books and also provides information to parents and educators on how to make the most of each book-sharing opportunity” (Tandem, 2019).
Like the Read Aloud Project, StoryCycles provides recorded read aloud videos. I was interested to learn more about the books Tandem is using in their StoryCycles program. On their website, they provide a list of multicultural children’s books to read for at home learning. There were several books that have already been read for the Read Aloud Project, including:
Julián Is a Mermaid by Jessica Love
Summary: “While riding the subway home from the pool with his abuela one day, Julián notices three women spectacularly dressed up. Their hair billows in brilliant hues, their dresses end in fishtails, and their joy fills the train car. When Julián gets home, daydreaming of the magic he’s seen, all he can think about is dressing up just like the ladies in his own fabulous mermaid costume: a butter-yellow curtain for his tail, the fronds of a potted fern for his headdress. But what will Abuela think about the mess he makes — and even more importantly, what will she think about how Julián sees himself?”
Reflective Question: How do you like to or want to express yourself?
Dreamers by Yuyi Morales
Summary: “In dark times, it is a promise that you can make better tomorrows. This memoir looks at the myriad gifts migrantes bring with them when they leave their homes. It is a story about family. And it is a story to remind us that we are all dreamers, bringing our own strengths wherever we roam.”
Reflective Question: What do you think of when you hear the word dreamers?
Thank You, Omu! by Oge Mora
Summary: “Everyone in the neighborhood dreams of a taste of Omu’s delicious stew! One by one, they follow their noses toward the scrumptious scent. And one by one, Omu offers a portion of her meal. Soon the pot is empty. Has she been so generous that she has nothing left for herself?”
Reflective Question: Why do you think that sharing is important?
When Aidan Became a Brother by Kyle Lukoff
Summary: “When Aidan was born, everyone thought he was a girl. His parents gave him a pretty name, his room looked like a girl’s room, and he wore clothes that other girls liked wearing. After he realized he was a trans boy, Aidan and his parents fixed the parts of life that did not fit anymore, and he settled happily into his new life. Then Mom and Dad announce that they’re going to have another baby, and Aidan wants to do everything he can to make things right for his new sibling from the beginning—from choosing the perfect name to creating a beautiful room to picking out the cutest onesie. But what does “making things right” actually mean? And what happens if he messes up? With a little help, Aidan comes to understand that mistakes can be fixed with honesty and communication, and that he already knows the most important thing about being a big brother: how to love with his whole self.”
Reflective Question: How do Aidan’s feelings change from the beginning to the end of the story?
Overall, I am glad to hear about other organizations using children’s books to promote peace and justice work. I was able to discover new books by looking at Tandem’s list and look forward to these books being read for the Read Aloud Project. Here is a link to the webinar if you are interested in learning more about the StoryCycles program: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EzsxM5A4OFE&t=1s. If you are interested in reading a book for the Read Aloud Project, please contact me at email@example.com.