Posts Tagged ‘diversity in children’s books’

A picture book about teasing and acceptance, Yoko by Rosemary Wells

Posted on October 31st, 2012 by Carolyn Hart

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Yoko written and illustrated by Rosemary Wells

Picture book about teasing and acceptance

published by Hyperion Books for Children

Be sure to check out our page about anti-bullying picture books for children, our page about anti bullying chapter books, graphic novels and novels for children , and our Pinterest anti bullying board

When Yoko’s mom packs her favourite things for lunch, Yoko happily boards the school bus and enjoys the morning with her classmates. At lunchtime,

Yoko opened the willow-covered cooler. Inside was her favourite sushi. Tucked in the rice rolls were the crispiest cucumber, the pinkest shrimp, the greenest seaweed, and the tastiest tuna.

When a classmate notices Yoko’s lunch, he remarks, “What’s in your lunch? … Ick! It’s green! It’s seaweed!”

Poor Yoko, before long all of her classmates are laughing about the food in her lunch and she is heartbroken. Fortunately, her teacher, Mrs. Jenkins is alert to the problem and she devises a solution. She announces there will be an International Food Day at Yoko’s school.

Sadly, on the day of the special event, all her classmates avoid Yoko’s sushi. Finally, Timothy gives it a try. He loves the delicious sushi and he’d like to eat it again the following day. Yoko has found a friend. The following day, they push their desks together and enjoy a lovely lunch.

Yoko is a heartwarming picture book about teasing and acceptance. It lends itself well to discussions about tolerance and celebrating our differences. Yoko will appeal to children in preschool and kindergarten.

For fans of this book, Yoko also appears in Yoko’s Show and Tell, Yoko Writes Her Name, Yoko’s Paper Cranes.

Add this anti bullying picture book to your bookshelf –

Yoko at Amazon.com

Yoko at Amazon.ca

Watch Yoko


My Brother Charlie, an Autism Picture Book, informs and Inspires

Posted on October 29th, 2012 by Carolyn Hart

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My Brother Charlie written by Holly Robinson Peete and Ryan Elizabeth Peete with Denene Millner, illustrated by Shane W. Evans
Autism picture book published by Scholastic Press



You will also be interested in our page featuring picture books about Autism and Asperger Syndrome

“Charlie has autism. But autism doesn’t have Charlie.”

My Brother Charlie is written from the perspective of Charlie’s twin sister. She explains that she and her brother share many things. She also explains that there are some ways they are different.

“Charlie is skinnier and goofier than me.
He hates math.
When he looks at the sky, he finds jets and helicopters.
And sometimes my brother gets very quiet.”

Charlie’s sister explains how he was different as a baby and that the differences between the two twins caused his parents to be concerned. She explains, “It’s harder for Charlie to make friends. Or show his feelings. Or stay safe. One doctor even told Mommy that Charlie would never say I love you.” We learn that it can be difficult to be Charlie’s sister and that she would love to be able to change him.

The story of My Brother Charlie is told candidly, respectfully and lovingly. It is an excellent book to share with children aged four and up. My Brother Charlie could be used to introduce a discussion about Autism or to encourage tolerance for those who may appear or behave differently.

My Brother Charlie at Amazon.com

My Brother Charlie at Amazon.ca


Understanding Sam and Asperger Syndrome

Posted on October 27th, 2012 by Carolyn Hart

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Storytime Standouts looks at Understanding Sam and Asperger Syndrome, a picture book about a young boy who is diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome.Understanding Sam and Asperger Syndrome written by Clarabelle van Niekerk and Liezl Venter, illustrated by Clarabelle van Niekerk
Picture book about a child with Asperger Syndrome published by Skeezel Press



You will also be interested in our page featuring picture books about Autism and Asperger Syndrome

Sam, his sister Emma and their parents live in a house with a red door. Sam was a happy boy but he was a little different. We follow Sam through his week and learn that he has difficulty making friends, he can become “stuck” and reluctant to change. Sam notices when his clothes feel scratchy and when his classmates tease him. He finds being in school challenging at times.

One evening, without his parents knowing, Sam leaves his house and walks away. His family worries as they scramble to find him and to keep him safe. This incident, together with his difficulties at school, precipitates a visit to the doctor. Sam is assessed and, before long, the family learns that Sam has Asperger Syndrome, a form of autism.

Understanding Sam and Asperger Syndrome is an appropriate story for children in preschool, kindergarten and early primary grades. It provides readers with perspective on the challenges faced by Sam, his family and his classmates. As well, Understanding Sam and Asperger Syndrome celebrates Sam’s abilities.

At the conclusion of the story, readers are offered 10 Helpful Tips including Treat your friend as a regular kid, take turns, and “change is hard, hang in there.” The tips are each accompanied by a one or two paragraph explanation.

Understanding Sam and Asperger Syndrome was a Seal of Approval Winner Holiday 2008 from The National Parenting Center

It was also nominated for Speech Pathology Australia’s Book of the Year in the lower primary category

Understanding Sam and Asperger Syndrome at Amazon.com

Understanding Sam and Asperger Syndrome at Amazon.ca

Mirror by Jeannie Baker, an almost wordless picture book

Posted on June 13th, 2012 by Carolyn Hart

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Storytime Standouts looks at an almost wordless picture book about families. One family lives in a village in Morocco and and the other lives in Sydney, Australia.

Mirror created by Jeannie Baker
Almost wordless picture book published by Candlewick Press

Our page about Wordless and Almost Wordless Picture Books

Designed to be read side by side, Mirror is essentially two picture books. Once the reader opens the cover, she discovers a wordless picture book about an Australian family on one side and a parallel story about a Moroccan family on the other. Both stories begin at dawn.

We meet an Australian boy who lives comfortably in the suburbs with his mother, father and a baby. After breakfast, he and his dad climb into the family van and drive on crowded streets to ‘Hardware Planet.’ They buy construction materials and a beautiful woven carpet.

The Moroccan boy’s day begins with a breafast of fresh eggs, plucked from a hen’s nest, and milk just collected from the family cow. After breakfast, he and his father pack up a handmade carpet, climb onto a donkey and travel dusty roads to an open-air market. Once at the market, they make a trade that will likely surprise and delight young readers.

Mirror features remarkable collage illustrations and a fascinating concept. The book will be enjoyed by children aged five and up and offers ample opportunities for discussion – how individuals and families are alike and different and how seemingly very different cultures may not be “different” at all.

Mirror includes introductory comments and afterwords written in English and Arabic.

Joint Winner 2011 Children’s Book Council of Australia Picture Book of the Year
2011 Australian Indie Award Best Children’s Book
2011 The English Association and the UK Literary Association 4-11 Award Best Children’s Illustrated Book (non fiction)

Mirror at Amazon.ca

Mirror at Amazon.com

Our page about Wordless and Almost Wordless Picture Books

I’m Here by Peter H. Reynolds

Posted on April 2nd, 2012 by Carolyn Hart

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Storytime Standouts looks at I'm Here by Peter H. Reynolds, a picture book that encourages children to embrace those with autism spectrum.I’m Here written by Peter H. Reynolds





You will also be interested in our page featuring picture books about Autism and Asperger Syndrome

Written with a goal of encouraging children and adults to reach out, embrace, and appreciate children in the autism spectrum as well as anyone who is different from ourselves, I’m Here suggests that young readers rethink their ideas about a child who prefers solitude or who is not skillful at social interactions.

At recess, a young boy sits, by himself. The loud, playground voices are too much for him, I hear it all like one big noise. A big drum. Boom. Boom. Boom Boom.

Sitting away from the crowd he feels the touch of the wind, notices a floating leaf. When a piece of paper lands near him, he knows, This is not where the paper wants to be.” He folds the paper into an airplane and launches it heavenward. Soon, the young boy is flying in the plane, exhuberant at the adventure.

A thoughtful, metaphorical picture book, I’m Here explores themes of friendship and acceptance and encourages children to look for opportunities to smile and be a friend.

I’m Here at Amazon.com

I’m Here at Amazon.ca

April 2, 2012 is World Autism Awareness Day

Organizing a Personal Library

Posted on January 15th, 2012 by Carolyn Hart

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This year I am determined to find the best way to organize my personal library. At the same time, I hope to “weed out” a few titles. After all, there is only so much space I can devote to picture books – especially as my boys are now fourteen and sixteen.

But going on a “book diet” is no easier than reducing carbs or eating low fat. Most every book I pick up has a memory attached or has some redeeming qualities: I love the illustrations or the narrative promotes diversity and acceptance, the animals are charming or funny, the rhyme is clever or the lesson imparted is an important one.

After careful consideration, I finally think I have arrived at the perfect measuring stick for picture books: ‘Will I want to read this book to my grandchild?” Of course, grandchildren are unlikely for the foreseeable future so the books that are permitted to “stay” need to have a timeless quality. Also, since I have no idea whether my grandchild will be a boy or girl, I will have to keep books for boys and books for girls as well as those that appeal to both. Since I don’t know whether my grandchild will be an only child or one of many, books about family life and siblings are definite “must haves.” Anything, anything that hints at a loving relationship between grandparent and grandchild will definitely stay.

At the moment, my personal library includes close to three thousand children’s books, chapter books and young adult titles. I have it organized as follows:

Picture books (excluding seasonal) arranged alphabetically by author
Concept picture books (alphabet, counting, time, etc.)
Wordless and almost wordless picture books
Poetry
Seasonal and holiday picture books – arranged by month and then by title
Chapter books and young adult novels – arranged alphabetically by author
Easy Readers and books for emergent readers – arranged according to difficulty

Of course, this sounds really quite well organized but it fails to include the various “piles” that dominate my office floor, waiting to be read. It also ignores my “workshop” books which are always “at the ready” in easy-to-transport Rubbermaid totes.

This month, I am hoping to reread about one hundred of the picture books and decide which of them should stay on the picture book shelf but, then again, maybe I ought to tackle one of the “piles.” At least the former books are currently on a shelf! If I deal with a “pile,” I will have more floorspace and will feel just a tiny bit better about my ability to organize. I might actually “reduce” my library footprint.

Stay tuned as I work on this project throughout 2012 and post about it monthly.

A Simple “Hello” Can Make a World of Difference – So Close by Natalia Colombo

Posted on November 11th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

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So Close written and illustrated by Natalia Colombo
Picture book published by Tundra Books





With a message that will resonate with adults as well as children, So Close reminds us that the possibility of meeting a new friend is often not far away. Mr. Duck and Mr. Rabbit rush past each other every day, not realizing what they are missing in their haste. Beautifully illustrated with painterly artwork, So Close offers a gentle message that a smile and a friendly, “Hello” can make a world of difference.

I use this title at the beginning of my Celebrating Diversity workshops. I think we have all had the experience of missing an opportunity for a friendship or discovering a friendship under surprising circumstances. So Close is well-suited to classroom use. It could be used to encourage discussion of friendship, loneliness, social situations, hurrying and over-scheduling.

Well suited to children 4 years and up. Also available in a Spanish edition.

So Close at Amazon.com

So Close at Amazon.ca


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.

Two Delightful Picture Books: Guess Again and Violet

Posted on November 10th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

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Guess Again written by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Adam Rex
Guess Again written by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Adam Rex
Picture Book published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers





Phonemic awareness is a key to early reading success for young children. It is the understanding that words are made up of sounds and the ability to pick out and manipulate those sounds. When we read rhyming books to young children, we help to develop their phonemic awareness.

Guess Again is nothing at all like a “typical’ rhyming book – there are far too many surprises in store – especially if you listen carefully to the clues. Really good fun!

Guess Again! at Amazon.com

Guess Again! at Amazon.ca

Violet written by Tania Duprey Stehlik, illustrated by Vanja Vuleta JovanovicViolet – written by Tania Duprey Stehlik, illustrated by Vanja Vuleta Jovanovic
Picture book about an interracial family published by Second Story Press




When Violet attends her first day at a new school, she meets red, yellow and blue children but she doesn’t see any purple children. Upon returning home, her mother explains, “I am red and daddy is blue and you, my beauty, are a bit of us both.” Together, they play with paints and discover that many beautiful colours are created through mixing. Simply told, Violet is a lovely story about an interracial family. It reminds us of the richness and splendor of a diverse community.

Violet at Amazon.com

Violet at Amazon.ca

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.



Giving Voice to Willow’s Whispers

Posted on November 5th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

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Storytime Standouts recommends Willow's WhispersWillow’s Whispers by Lana Button, illustrated by Tania Howells
Picture book about finding one’s voice published by Kids Can Press



Willow is a lovely soft spoken girl with ideas, opinions and dreams. Unfortunately, her quiet voice is so soft that it is often overlooked. As a result, her teacher and her classmates miss hearing Willow’s thoughts and choices. For Willow, this means lost opportunities for companionship at lunchtime, being fiven orange juice instead of applie juice, disappointment at playtime and standing at the end of the line once again.

Dad has very good advice for Willow. He tells her, “Your big, strong voice got stuck way inside you, Willow. That happens sometimes. But one day your voice will wiggle its way out.”Lana Button picture book Willow's Whispers

Thinking about Dad’s words gives Willow an opportunity to devise a plan. The following morning, Willow gathers some materials together and designs her very own magic microphone. Initially, the microphone helps Willow to express herself but before long she must manage without it and does so very successfully.

Willow’s Whispers is a charming story that will be enjoyed by boys and girls ages four and up.

Note, although Willow’s Whispers invites discussion of finding one’s voice and having confidence when speaking, it does so very sensitively and without reference to “shyness.”

Willow’s Whispers Facebook page

Willow’s Whispers at Amazon.com

Willow’s Whispers at Amazon.ca

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.



Zero by Kathryn Otoshi offers Countless Treats

Posted on November 4th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

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Storytime Standouts looks at Zero by Kathryn Otoshi, a counting book that explores self worth.Zero by Kathryn Otoshi
A counting picture book that examines themes of self esteem and self worth published by KO Kids Books



Kathryn Otoshi’s picture book, One, was a delight from cover to cover and won many awards. Her latest picture book is titled, Zero and it will certainly be a strong contender as well.

When Zero looks at herself in a mirror, she sees ‘nothing’ and ‘emptiness.’ She compares herself to other, larger numbers and finds herself lacking. She longs to have value. Self-conscious about her roundness, Zero lacks social skills. When she tries to participate, she is clumsy. Unfortunately, she flattens the other numbers in her exhuberant attempt to join in their fun.

Vibrant, colourful and bold illustrations support a thought-provoking story that can be enjoyed on many different levels. Whether read simply as a counting book or used as to elicit discussions about individuality and self worth, Zero by Kathryn Otoshi belongs on every child’s bookshelf.

Zero at Amazon.com

Zero at Amazon.ca

You will 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.


You can be whoever you want to be – The Boy in the Dress

Posted on November 3rd, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

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Storytime Standouts writes about middle grade fiction, The Boy in the DressThe Boy in the Dress written by David Walliams





I really didn’t know quite what to expect when I picked up The Boy in the Dress. I guess you could say I was pretty much, ‘ready for anything.’ What I discovered was a thoughtful, poignant and humorous look at the life of a twelve year old boy who loves to play football (soccer) and whose best friend is a young Sikh. Dennis lives with his older brother and his heartbroken father. He misses his mum (mom) terribly and can’t seem to come to grips with the idea that she won’t be coming back to the family. Dennis enjoys sports and has many friends but he finds his day to day existence extremely ‘ordinary.’

After accidentally heading a ball through a school window and into the headmaster’s office, Dennis is told he must go to detention after school. When he arrives in detention, he discovers that he won’t be alone. Lisa, the most beautiful girl in the school, is also in the room. Dennis finds Lisa extremely attractive. He is delighted when they become friends and he has an opportunity to walk her home after school. Lisa and Dennis discover a mutual love of fashion and Vogue magazine which leads to Dennis attempting to disguise himself as a girl and assuming a rather extraordinary identity at school.

Superbly illustrated by Quentin Blake, The Boy in the Dress is very reminiscent of Roald Dahl’s wonderful books. It provides a humorous, thoughtful affirmation that, “You can be whoever you want to be.”

The Boy in the Dress at Amazon.com

The Boy In The Dress at Amazon.ca

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.

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

Posted on November 3rd, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

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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 Amazon.com

Ruby’s Wish at Amazon.ca

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.



Exploring Themes of Adoption and Family in Post War Italy

Posted on October 30th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

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Storytime Standouts looks at Take Me With You by Carolyn Harsden, middle grade historical fiction about adoption and familyTake Me With You written by Carolyn Marsden
Chapter book for middle grades published by Candlewick Press





Last evening I finished the last few chapters of Take Me With You by Carolyn Marsden. It was a particularly satisfying ending to an enjoyable “read.” The concluding chapters left some questions unanswered but were both positive and hopeful in tone.

Take Me With You tells the story of two orphaned young girls who both live at Istituto di Gesu in post-war Naples, Italy. The girls are best friends who each long for life as part of a family. Susanna and Pina live in poverty within the four walls of church-run orphanage, seldom venturing into town.

Susanna is referred to as a mulatta. Her mother was an Italian, her father was an American soldier. Susanna fears that her hair and skin tone will deter potential adoptive parents as she does not look like other young Italian girls.

Pretty, blond, Pina wants deperately to be adopted but discovers that her mother has not yet signed the documentation that would allow an adoption to go ahead. Pina is heartbroken when she finally meets the woman who abandoned her. She is forced to come to terms with her mother’s indifference and does so with the help of her friend and one of the nuns at the orphanage.

Recommended for middle grade readers, Take Me With You deals with serious issues with tenderness and sensitivity. The outcome is optimistic while remaining realistic. The book will primarily appeal to girls although it is entirely suitable for both boys and girls.

Take Me with You at Amazon.com

Take Me with You at Amazon.ca


Picture Books to Help Children Deal with Challenges –

Posted on October 29th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

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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.

As parents and teachers, there are many moments when we must help our children to deal with challenges. These books deal with important information and themes. A well written book can often be enormously helpful. Today, I would like to introduce you to a number of picture books that may assist you to guide your children.



David and the Worry Beast (Anne Marie Guanci and Caroline Attia) was written especially to help children cope with anxiety. David’s worry beast causes him to worry when he plays basketball, when he’s at home and when he is at school. His anxiety grows and grows until he learns specific steps to cope with his worries. In addition to providing tips for children, the authors also have suggestions for parents.


David and the Worry Beast: Helping Children Cope with Anxiety at Amazon.com

David and the Worry Beast: Helping Children Cope With Anxiety at Amazon.ca


The Friendship Puzzle: Helping Kids Learn About Accepting and Including Kids With Autism Written by Julie L. Coe, inspired by Jennifer Maloni, and illustrated by Sondra L. Brassel
Published by Larsian Publishing, Inc.

When Mackenzie meets a new boy in her class, she tries to be his friend but he seems a little different. At recess, Dylan spends alot of time on the swings and, althought he apparently wants to play soccer with his classmates, he does not seem to know how to join in and play.

Dylan is bothered by the noise in the cafeteria and he sometimes waves his hands and makes noises. Mackenzie decides to find out how to be Dylan’s friend. She learns that Dylan ‘doesn’t have a lot of words and that it is hard for him to tell people he wants to play or be friends.’

In addition to telling the story of Dylan and Mackenzie, The Friendship Puzzle includes discussion questions and suggested activities. The authors also remind readers that it is important to praise children who reach out to and are inclusive of others.


The Friendship Puzzle: Helping Kids Learn About Accepting and Including Kids with Autism at Amazon.com

The Friendship Puzzle: Helping Kids Learn About Accepting and Including Kids With Autism at Amazon.ca


Miss Little’s Gift (Douglas Wood and Jim Burke)– Douglas is in grade two and he doesn’t like to sit still. He interrupts his teacher; he has problems with reading and on the playground. He is very resistant to staying after school in order to get extra help but Miss Little is firm and determined. She finds a book to match his interests, she encourages him and she gives him just enough help. Miss Little’s Gift is a celebration of the difference a wonderful, caring teacher can make.



Miss Little’s Gift at Amazon.com

Miss Little’s Gift at Amazon.ca


All Kinds of Friends, Even Green (Ellen B. Senisi)– Here we accompany Moses on a school day. When he is given an assignment to write about friends, he carefully considers all of his friends and all the fun things he does with them. Ultimately, he decides to write about an iguana named Zaki whose toes were poisoned by mites. Moses likes Zaki because ‘she figures out how to get where she wants to be in different ways.’ Moses understands that friends may different on the outside but may be very much alike on the inside.


All Kinds of Friends, Even Green! at Amazon.com

All Kinds of Friends, Even Green! at Amazon.ca


Mousse and Nut usually love to spend time together, a picture book about friendship

Posted on September 17th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

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Encouraging children to learn about getting along, a story about friendship

Mousse and Nut usually love to spend time together, a picture book about friendshipJane Simmons is a favourite author/illustrator for many youngsters. You may be familiar with ‘Daisy’ a charming young duck that appears in many of her books.

Together by Jane Simmons
Picture book about friendship published by Knopf Books for Young Readers






Together is the story of two very good friends; Mousse and Nut. Usually they love to spend time together but one day they can’t agree on anything. As dark clouds gather, they decide they are no longer best friends. In this story about friendship,it takes some time apart to remind each that differences are okay and friendship can endure even when pals are apart.

Together at Amazon.com

Together at Amazon.ca

Picture Books Exploring Individuality – Both Set in Scotland

Posted on September 7th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

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Introducing two picture books exploring diversity and celebrating individuality


Picture Books Exploring Individuality – Both Set in Scotland - ArgyleArgyle written by Barbara Wallace and illustrated by John Sandford
Picture book about individuality and self acceptance published by Boyds Mills Press

Argyle’s life was exactly the way he wanted it. He was the same as all the other sheep and that was just fine with him. While roaming the highlands, Argyle discovered some especially tasty grass and some very colorful flowers. Day after day he ate the flowers until… “One day MacDougal’s wife, Katharine, said, “Why dinna ye tell me about the many-colored sheep, MacDougal?” The ensuing fuss is not at all to Argyle’s liking. Placed in a pen by himself, he can’t roam and he can’t eat the delicious, colorful flowers. Thankfully, it does not take long in the “special” pen for him to lose his many colors. He returns to looking and feeling like a sheep and that is just fine with him.
Argyle is a lovely, gentle folk tale that reminds us being different may not be all that it seems. Sometimes being the same as everyone else is just fine.

Argyle at Amazon.com

Argyle at Amazon.ca

Picture Books Exploring Individuality – Both Set in Scotland - Katie Morag and the Dancing ClassKatie Morag and the Dancing Class written and illustrated by Mairi Hedderwick
Picture book about individuality published by Transworld Publishers

Katie Morag & the Dancing Class is a new and delightful picture book from Mairi Hedderwick. Also set in Scotland, it has been decided that the Isle of Struay children will benefit from dancing classes. Despite the efforts of her two grandmas, Katie Morag has more interesting things to do than learn ballet. Much to Granma Mainland’s dismay, Katie prefers wellies to ballet slippers and never manages to arrive at her ballet class on time.

One Saturday morning, Katie misses the entire class, arriving just as The Big Boy Cousins begin their tap dance class. As those who know Katie might suspect, she is more inclined toward tap dancing than ballet and before long Grannie Island is rummaging in her cupboards for metal tacks.

Katie Morag has long been a favourite in our household. We first me her in Katie Morag Delivers the Mail and have enjoyed her many adventures and misadventures very much. There is a gentleness to the stories and a wonderful sense of community. In this book, the contrast between the two grandmas (Granma Mainland and Grannie Island) is highlighted. Of course, both want what is best for Katie but it is Grannie Island who understands her best.

Katie Morag and the Dancing Class at Amazon.com

Katie Morag and the Dancing Class at Amazon.ca

For further ideas about celebrating diversity, be sure to visit our Celebrating Diversity with Picture Books page and our page with Quotes about Diversity.

If you are pulling together resources about sheep and lambs, you may be interested in our Baa Baa Black Sheep nursery rhyme printable.

image of PDF icon  Baa Baa Black Sheep


Establishing a sense of community in my split grade classroom, I will try something different this year

Posted on September 4th, 2011 by Jody

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One of my favourite parts of the school year is the first few weeks. I love mapping things out and getting to know my students. I love choosing my first read aloud and getting them hooked. In the past I have done Tuck Everlasting (I just love this story), Zebra Wall, and Sixth Grade Secrets (one of the funniest books). This year I have decided, thanks to a great workshop I attended, to try something different.

I generally start with a novel as a way of introducing reading strategies, such as predicting, questioning, and summarizing. However, instead of a novel, I am going to start with a book called,  Shi-shi-etko by Nicola I. Campbell and  illustrated by Kim LaFave. It is actually a picture book recommended for ages 4-7. I am teaching grade 4/5 this year but I think that in addition to being able to introduce reading strategies, this story will allow me to establish a stronger sense of community right from the start.

Shi-shi-etko tells about a child’s experience with residential schools. It’s heartbreaking and beautiful. It will give me the opportunity to introduce themes of community, diversity, anxiety, family, and inclusion. These are all topics that need to be present in any classroom, but more so in a split grade classroom I think. In general, split classes are viewed negatively. Parents don’t want their child working below or beyond their capabilities and kids who have waited to experience certain things offered to their grade (like field trips) resent having to share these adventures. These thoughts seem at odds with the growing awareness of the need for differentiation in the classroom. Split grade or straight, more than one level of need is being met in all classrooms. It is important for teachers to find a way to motivate all learners and to do this, a community of acceptance needs to be established as quickly as possible. A classroom that students feel accepted, trusted, and safe in will promote positive learning experiences.

When my students come to my class this year, I want them to worry less about whether or not the work is really grade four work or grade five work. I want them to focus on contributing to a positive community atmosphere. I want them to feel safe to explore what kind of learning best suits them. I want them to accept the ideas, feelings, and beliefs of others and have this reciprocated. While I have grade level curriculum to teach, my hope is that we will go beyond that. I want them to be able to achieve academic success, but more importantly, I want them to acquire the tools that will help them become lifelong learners that accept and appreciate the unique backgrounds of others. I hope that in addition to powerful reading strategies, Shi-shi-etko will pave the way to a safe, strong sense of community in our class, built on trust, tolerance, and acceptance.

Shi-shi-etko at Amazon.com

Shi-shi-etko at Amazon.ca

Storytime Standouts recommends picture books that celebrate diversity

If the World Were a Village – Revealing the Incredible Diversity of our World

Posted on May 11th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

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If the World Were a Village – A Book about the World’s People
written by David J. Smith and illustrated by Shelagh Armstrong

You will also be interested in our page highlighting picture books about caring for our environment, the water cycle, reducing our environmental footprint and more. Terrific resources for Earth Day and Arbor Day.



Imagine you lived in a village of one hundred people and that the village represented our entire planet. “Five of the villagers would be from Canada and the United States, three villagers would speak Russian, seventy-six would have electricity and thiry-two would breath polluted air.” Part of the Citizen Kid series of books, If the World Were a Village does a marvelous job of making difficult concepts easy-to-understand and helping young readers to become mindful and appreciative of the diverse world community.

Two page spreads explore the world’s nationalities, languages, ages, religions, food, air and water, school and work, money and possessions, energy, and health. The author’s straightforward approach enlightens and is supported with detailed endnotes. Bright, bold and detailed illustrations beg readers to pause, explore and understand the wealth of factual information represented.

A valuable resource for children five and up.

Kids Can Press Teaching guide for If the World Were a Village

If the World Were a Village – Second Edition at Amazon.com
If the World Were a Village – Second Edition at Amazon.ca

Introducing: Quotes About Diversity

Posted on April 2nd, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

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Just a quick note to highlight a new “page” on the Storytime Standouts website. We’ve gathered together some favourite quotes about diversity and paired the quotes with some great children’s books.

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.

As well, you could check out Diveristy in Children’s Books post tag.

Family Diversity, Anticipating the Weekend – Monday is One Day

Posted on March 29th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

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Storytime Standouts looks at Monday is One Day, a picture book about families and family diversityMonday is One Day – written by Arthur A. Levine and illustrated by Julian Hector
Picture book published by Scholastic Press





Monday through Sunday,
the whole week through,
each day I count the ways
I love to be with you!

Monday is One Day shows young readers that it is not easy to go to work especially when earning a living means spending time away from those we love. Illustrations depict family diversity including one parent, two parent, young parents and old, living in rural, city and suburban homes. The message of unconditional love flows beautifully throughout Monday is One Day and it is lovely to see all the families enjoy leisure time together on Saturday and Sunday.

Printable T Rex as seen in the story

Monday is One Day at Amazon.com

Monday is One Day at Amazon.ca

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.


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