Posts Tagged ‘China’

Discovering Diversity – Princesses in Picture Books

Posted on October 21st, 2013 by Carolyn Hart


Discovering Diversity and Examining Stereotypes - a Look at Princesses in Picture BooksIf you asked children in a preschool or kindergarten, ‘How does a princess behave?’ or ‘What does a princess look like?’ what sort of answers would you get? Would perceptions extend beyond Disney’s version of Cinderella, Ariel and Rapunzel?

How might children describe or draw a princess?

Is she helpless or is she capable?
Is she in danger and waiting for a brave prince to rescue her or is she resourceful and able to take care of herself?
Is she always physically beautiful? What is her hair color?
What sort of clothing does she wear?
Is she intelligent, quick-witted, wise, bold, courageous?
Is she kind to others?

Thoughts of a grade five student ~

A princess is a girl who has a dress and she’s very pretty. She’s the king’s daughter and he can choose someone to be the prince to marry her. Some books have princesses and some don’t have princesses. You might have seen movies about one or maybe you haven’t. Princesses often appear in fairy tales.

Here are some terrific picture books that depict princesses in unconventional ways

Discovering Diversity through Picture Books An African Princess An African Princess written by Lyra Edmonds and illustrated by Anne Wilson
Picture book about heritage and identity published by Random House Children’s House

Lyra’s mama tells her that she is an African Princess but she is not convinced. She and her family in a big city and she has freckles. Her schoolmates tease her and prompt her to question the story she has been told by her mama. One wintry day she learns that she and her family are going to travel to meet Taunte May, an African Princess. Lyra counts the days until the family boards a plane to the Caribbean. Once there, Lyra discovers and embraces her very rich heritage.

An African Princess at

An African Princess at

Discovering Diversity Picture Books Not All Princesses Dress in PinkNot All Princesses Dress in Pink written by Jane Yolen and Heidi E. Y. Stemple, illustrated by Anne-Sophie Lanquetin
Rhyming picture book about individuality, stereotyping, gender roles published by Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers

Vivid illustrations and cheerful text highlight Not All Princesses Dress in Pink, a look at the many ways young princesses express themselves. Perhaps they play baseball or soccer or they roll on the ground. Whether working on a construction site, riding a bike or planting a large garden, these princesses challenge stereotypes and wear sparkly crowns.

Not All Princesses Dress in Pink at

Not All Princesses Dress in Pink at

Discovering Diversity through Picture Books The Paper Bag PrincessThe Paper Bag Princess written by Robert Munsch and illustrated by Michael Martchenko
Picture book about problem solving, courage, self esteem, and gratitude published by Annick Press

When a nasty dragon smashes her castle, burns her clothes and carries away her betrothed, Princess Elizabeth decides she must rescue him. Elizabeth’s wardrobe is in ruins so wears a paper bag as she follows the path of destruction to the dragon’s cave. Once there, Elizabeth uses a series of clever tricks to rescue Ronald. He is not at all grateful for her efforts on his behalf and gets exactly what he deserves.

- Read America! Classic
- NEA’s Cat-a-List for Reading
- Greatest Canadian Books of the Century List, Vancouver Public Library
- 100 Best Books List, Toronto Public Library

The Paper Bag Princess at

The Paper Bag Princess at

Discovering Diversity through Picture Books The Princess and the Pea The Princess and the Pea written and illustrated by Rachel Isadora
Traditional story set in Africa published by Puffin Books

The Princess and the Pea was originally published by Hans Christian Andersen in the nineteenth century. Rachel Isadora sets this version of the traditional story in Africa. A prince wants to meet and marry a ‘real’ princess. His travels take him all over the world but he fails to meet ‘the one.’

One evening there was a terrible storm. Suddenly a knocking was heard at the gate, and the old king went to open it. Sure enough, there is a sodden young woman outside the gate. She claims to be a princess but her appearance suggests otherwise. The queen decides to test her by putting a pea into her bed.

Beautiful collage illustrations nicely match the exotic African setting and costumes.

The Princess and the Pea at

The Princess and the Pea at

Discovering Diversity The Silk PrincessThe Silk Princess written and illustrated by Charles Santore
The legend of the discovery of silk in ancient China published by Random House

Emperor Huang-Ti is very fond of his two sons but never speaks with his daughter, Princess Hsi-Ling Chi. One afternoon, she and her mother visit the royal gardens. When a cocoon falls from a tree and lands in her mother’s teacup, Hsi-Ling Chi notices the cocoon unraveling in the hot liquid and soon sees a long strand of thread. Not realizing the length of the thread, her mother agrees to let her attach one end of the thread to her waist and walk away. Hsi-Ling Chi is astonished as the long, silky thread permits her to travel through the royal gardens, leave the grounds of the royal palace and explore the world beyond its gates. She travels into the mountains, knowing that she must be cautious because there is a dangerous dragon lurking nearby. Despite being careful to cross a bridge quietly, the dragon awakens and frightens Hsi-Ling Chi. The thread is broken and Hsi-Ling Chi is lost. While searching for the thread, she meets an old man. He is weaving thread from silkworm cocoons into beautiful, shimmering fabric. Hsi-Ling Chi learns from him and eventually returns home to share her discovery with her mother. Her mother instructs the royal weavers to create a new robe using the new material. The Emperor is captivated by Hsi-Ling Chi’s discovery and she becomes known as the Silk Princess.

Painterly illustrations are a wonderful match for this story of adventure and discovery. Best suited to kindergarten age (and older) children, there is considerable text – some in white and some in black. The font choice may make this a difficult read-aloud in a large group setting.

The Silk Princess at

The Silk Princess at

Free Printables – Crown Writing Paper and Royalty Picture Dictionary

image of PDF icon  Royalty / Fairy Tale Picture Dictionary

Free printable fairy tale picture dictionary for readers and writers in kindergarten and grade one.

image of PDF icon  Crown interlined paper

picture books about grandparents and family diversityYou will also be interested in our post about grandparents and family diversity.

Emma’s Story – a picture book about families, international adoption

Posted on April 4th, 2013 by Carolyn Hart


image of cover art for Emma's Story a picture book about families and international adoptionEmma’s Story written by Deborah Hodge and illustrated by Song Nan Zhang
Picture book about families and international adoption published by Tundra Books

Emma and her brother are baking cookies at Grandma’s house. They use cookie cutters to make a sweet cookie family and then decorate the tasty treats with candies and dried fruit. When Grandma lifts the cookie tray out of the oven, she admires the cookie family but Emma is surprised to see the cookie that Sam has decorated.

Sam had used raisins and strings of licorice to decorate the Emma cookie. Big tears rolled down Emma’s cheeks. “I want to look like everyone else,” she said.

Emma’s sadness prompts Grandma to cuddle with her in a comfortable chair. She opens a photo album and tells her granddaughter’s story.

This is a story that Emma has heard before. In fact, she helps Grandma to tell the story properly. It seems that Mommy, Daddy, Sam and their dog Marley were very happy but they longed for a baby girl. They waited and waited for a little girl to arrive. Finally, they heard about a baby girl in China who needed a family.

Emma’s Story tells of the family’s excited preparations folowed by Mommy and Daddy’s long trip to meet Emma. We witness the new family’s first night and day together and their trip home to Canada. A large crowd meets the threesome at the airport and joyfully celebrate’s Emma’s arrival.

Emma has heard her story “a million times” and she is reassured by Grandma’s words,

It’s not how we look that makes us a family, Emma. It’s how we love each other,” said Grandma.
“And we love each other a lot!” said Emma.

While perhaps not meant for every bookshelf, Emma’s Story offers a very reassuring message and one that bears repeating. Just as Emma likes to hear her story and be comforted by it, children who share the international adoption experience will be similarly reassured by this book.

Detailed illustrations enhance Emma’s Story, especially when showing facial expressions.

Emma’s Story at

Emma’s Story at

A New Year’s Reunion, An Award Winning Chinese New Year Picture Book

Posted on January 18th, 2013 by Carolyn Hart


image of cover art for A New Year's ReunionA New Year’s Reunion written by Yu Li-Qion and illustrated by Zhu Cheng-Liang
Chinese New Year picture book published by Candlewick Press

Link to Chinese New Year writing paper for kids

Maoman’s papa is a housebuilder. He works far from home and only returns to his family once each year. On the day he arrives home, Maoman is hesitant at first. He looks different to her. Once Papa gets his hair cut, the family makes sticky rice balls and it is time for Maoman to snuggle into bed with her parents.

As firecrackers explode nearby, Maoman drifts off to sleep, The following day, the family enjoys eating their rice balls together. They leave their home and go to visit friends. Maoman discovers that her friends are also outside and visiting.image from A New Year's Reunion

As Chinese New Year unfolds, Maoman sees a dragon dance and she plays outside in the snow with her friends. When she discovers her fortune coin is missing, she is devastated. Fortunately, the coin is not lost in the snow. Maoman finds it in her jacket and uses it to establish a lovely, heartwarming family tradition.

Beautiful illustrations lovingly depict Maoman’s family, her home and community. References to sticky rice balls, hair cuts, new clothes, firecrackers, a fortune coin, house repairs, a red envelope and a dragon dance provide all sorts of information about traditions associated with Chinese New Year.

A New Year’s Reunion was awarded a Best Illustrated Children’s Book Award by The New York Times Book Review in 2011 and it won the Feng ZiKai Chinese Children’s Picture Book Award.

A New Year’s Reunion at

New Year’s Reunion at

This year (2013) New Year’s Day falls on Sunday, February 10

Ruby’s Wish is a Gem With an Important Message for Girls

Posted on November 3rd, 2011 by Carolyn Hart


Ruby's Wish is a Gem With an Important Message for GirlsRuby’s Wish written by Shirin Yim Bridges and illustrated by Sockie Blackall
Picture book published by Chronicle Books

Many years ago, Ruby lived with her grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins in a huge house in a city in China. At that time, girls did not typically have a chance to go to school but Ruby was fortunate. In her household, because there were many children, a teacher came and taught all the boys. Unlike her girl cousins, Ruby did not want to be married; she wanted to go to university. Each day, Ruby worked hard to study with the boys in addition to learning all of the household skills expected of girls.

Ruby’s Wish is beautifully illustrated and lovingly told. Based on a true story, Ruby’s Wish will be enjoyed by children five years and up.

Ruby’s Wish at

Ruby’s Wish at

You may also be interested in our page titled “Diversity.” We highlight picture books and chapter books that celebrate and inform us about human diversity including learning disabilities, physical disabilities, allergies, single parent families, interracial families, same sex parents, aging, death and more.

Don’t miss our page of quotes about diversity.

Storytelling Around the World

Posted on November 2nd, 2011 by Carolyn Hart


This five-book series is written is written by Veronika Martenova Charles‘ and illustrated by David Parkins. Generously illustrated, each book includes three versions of a familiar story and was written with newly independent readers in mind. The books are each 56 pages and contain five chapters. Suited to readers aged five to eight, the series could be used effectively in a classroom with children exploring similarities and differences the ways Snow White, Hansel and Gretel, Red Riding Hood and other stories are told.

It’s Not about the Apple!: Easy-to-Read Wonder Tales at

It’s Not about the Apple!: Easy-to-Read Wonder Tales at

It’s Not about the Crumbs!: Easy-to-Read Wonder Tales at

It’s Not about the Crumbs!: Easy-to-Read Wonder Tales at

It’s Not about the Hunter!: Easy-to-Read Wonder Tales at

It’s Not about the Hunter!: Easy-to-Read Wonder Tales at

Yong Chen’s A Gift, A Special Chinese New Year Picture Book

Posted on February 1st, 2011 by Carolyn Hart


image of the cover art for A GiftA Gift written and illustrated by Yong Chen
Chinese New Year picture book published by Boyds Mills Press

image from the Chinese New Year picture book, A GiftBeautiful, warm illustrations accompany a gentle, heart-warming story in A Gift.

Chinese New Year is usually spent with friends and family but, for Amy’s mom it is a time to feel homesick. Her brothers and sister live in far away China. When a package arrives from China for Amy, she and her mom are excited to open it and read the accompanying letter. The letter explains that, while working in a field, Amy’s uncle found a beautiful stone. Amy’s Uncle Zhong subsequently took the stone to his brother, her Uncle Ming, who spent many days carving and polishing the stone until his work revealed a lovely dragon. The carved dragon, a symbol of China, will be worn by Amy on a red string necklace, symbolizing luck.

Readers will note the contrast between Amy’s western-style family home and her uncles’ rural, Chinese experience. Many important details including an orange tree and a rice cooker in the kitchen, a Buddha statue in the garden, Chinese characters on a wall, sampans in a river, a water buffalo pulling a plow and Amy’s traditional costume will be observed by children and could be explored further.

Best for children aged four to eight.

A Gift at

A Gift at

image of Chinese New Year Writing Paper for Kids

Storytime Standouts offers all sorts of writing paper for kids. You might be especially interested in our free Chinese New Year early learning printables:

image of PDF icon  Writing paper for kids - Chinese New Year #1

Chinese New Year theme interlined paper for beginning writers.

image of PDF icon  Writing paper for kids - Chinese New Year #2 (with Dragon)

Chinese New Year theme interlined paper for beginning writers.

image of PDF icon  Five Chinese Dragons Chant

Please visit Storytime Standouts’ Chinese New Year Pinterest Board

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