From the Library: Happy Children's Book Week!

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Did you know that it's Children's Book Week? In honor of the occasion, I asked around the office to find out what everyone's favorite children's books are. I've compiled a few of our favorites. Whether we read them as kids or read them to our kids now, these books definitely get our stamp of approval!

Andi's Pick:

10,000 Dresses by Marcus Ewert, Illustrated by Rex Ray
Andi's a fan of 10,000 Dresses, a story about a trans girl named Bailey who wants nothing more than to be accepted for who she is: a girl who wants to wear dresses! Despite the dreams she has about wearing elaborate dresses, her parents tell her she can't wear them because she's a boy. But then she finds acceptance in a dress-loving friend...


Kjerstin's Pick:

Lift Every Voice and Sing by James Weldon Johnson, Illustrated by Elizabeth Catlett
Illustrated with amazing wood block cuts by artist and activist Elizabeth Catlett, this transforms the song "Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing," to a beautiful book for all ages, literally drawing out the lyrics of this powerful song with scenes from African-American history.


Ashley's Pick:

Two Girls Can by Keiko Narahashi
This book has a really empowering message for young girls: you are capable and fun, and you can be both of these things with other girls. In addition to writing about how girls can climb trees and share jokes together, Narahashi acknowledges that two girls can "get really, really mad" and then make up and be brave together. On top of the important messages that this book presents, the watercolor illustrations are simply stunning.


Julie's Pick:

The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes by Dubose Heyward, Illustrated by Marjorie Flack
Cottontail, a little country bunny, proves all of the big white bunnies and Jack Rabbits wrong when she grows up to become a mother and gets the job of her dreams: becoming one of the Easter bunnies. Julie says that she loves the way The Country Bunny touches on feminist and class issues.


Deb's Pick:

The Adventures of Isabel by Ogden Nash, Illustrated by James Marshall
"The Adventures of Isabel" is a poem by Ogden Nash that has been adapted into a children's story a few times over the years. Deb read the one illustrated by James Marshall as a kid. She says, "The stories this poem tells, of bears, witches, and sadistic doctors (among others!) should be terrifying, but Isabel is capable in every disaster. As a fellow little girl, she made me feel as if I could do anything."


Emily's Pick:

The Wizard of Oz books by L. Frank Baum
Emily was a big fan of these books as a child: "I loved the Wizard of Oz series because many of the main characters were young girls—like me! They were interesting, curious and confident. In one of the books, Dorothy meets a snobby princess who steals people's heads, and Dorothy just tells her off and decides to leave...and then, of course, adventure ensues."


Ashley's Second Pick:

Tar Beach Faith Ringgold
This was one of my favorite books as a kid. Set in 1939 Harlem, this book follows a girl named Cassie as she imagines herself taking flight from Tar Beach, the rooftop of her family's apartment building. She flies over important landmarks in the city: the George Washington Bridge that her father helped to build, the union building her father isn't allowed to be a part of because he isn't white, and the ice cream factory that she imagines her family being able to eat ice cream from every night. While flying over the city, she imagines erasing social injustices and ensuring that her family has access to the things that have been kept from them. This book provides an opportunity to discuss racial discrimination and talk about what you would change if given the chance. It's also downright beautiful—each page of acrylic nighttime NYC is framed in pictures of Ringgold's own 1988 fabric story quilt.

What children's books are you a fan of? Let us know in the comments!

Do you have a collection of feminist children's books that are no longer in use? Consider donating then to our library, which is always in need of more children's books! For a list of children's books that we're currently in need of, go here.

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Comments

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The Country Bunny is one of

The Country Bunny is one of my all time favorite books. I have my grandmother's original copy from the 1940's. She was a very poor immigrant, and this was one of only 3 books she owned (she got others from the library) as a kid. It's such a special book.

Girls A to Z by Eve Bunting!

Girls A to Z by Eve Bunting! It shows girls from different ethnicities, abilities, and such playing dress up. They dress up as professions beginning with the letter A all the way to Z.

Amelia and Eleanor Go for a Ride by Pam Munoz Ryan, it's pretty self explanatory.

A Sweet Smell of Roses by Angela Johnson about two African American girls who sneak out of their house to march with MLK! So freaking rad!

My Hippie Grandmother by Reeve Lindbergh about a girl who hangs out with her wise, fun, bad ass grandmother.

Nobody Owns the Sky: The Story of "Brave Bessie" Coleman by Reeve Lindbergh. A cute rhyming book about the true story of Bessie Coleman deciding to learn to fly despite all the obstacles that get in her way.

Hooray for being a feminist nanny!

Books

The Paper Bag Princess, by Robert Munsch, The story of a girl who saves a boy from an evil dragon, then tosses him out out on his ear when he comments on her looks and clothes.

There's more!

While a lot of reprintings of "The Adventures of Isabel" match the version on the Poem Hunter page, the book illustrated by James Marshall includes two more verses at the end:

Isabel once was asleep in bed
When a horrible dream crawled into her head.
It was worse than a dinosaur, worse than a shark,
Worse than an octopus oozing in the dark.
"Boo!" said the dream, with a dreadful grin,
"I'm going to scare you out of your skin!"

Isabel, Isabel, didn't worry,
Isabel didn't scream or scurry.
Isabel had a cleverer scheme;
She just woke up and fooled that dream.

Whenever you meet a bugaboo
Remember what Isabel used to do.
Don't scream when the bugaboo says "Boo!"
Just look it in the eye and say, "Boo to you!"
That's how to banish a bugaboo;
Isabel did it and you can too!

"Boooooo to You!"

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The Children's Literature of bell hooks, and more

I recently discovered that bell hooks has been writing children's literature! So far, my favorite book is Skin Again, which addresses how race is an important part of an identity, but is not the sum of who a person really is, or as the book says, "it cannot tell my story." Her other titles are Happy to be Nappy, Be Boy Buzz, Homemade Love and Grump Groan Growl. It's lovely stuff.

There's another book I ran across recently, titled Finn Family Moomintroll, that presents difference in a really interesting way. Diverse fictional creatures live together as a family, even though seemingly not all related by blood, and go on fun adventures together. The book may not directly challenge certain systems of gender, but there is one character named the Hemulen, and he likes to wear dress-type garments. His attire is just brushed off with a "that's just the way he is" type-attitude, and his love of collecting stamps, classifying flora, and his overall personality are framed as more significant to his character than his clothing preferences.

For those who enjoy really incredible artwork, Shaun Tan's "The Arrival" is an excellent depiction of the experience of immigration. It documents how the main character feels as he travels to another land and tries to find a place for himself and his family there.

CinderEdna I forget the

CinderEdna I forget the author. She's Cinderella's next door neighbor & far more practical & willing to work for what she wants.

Blueberry Girl by Neil

Blueberry Girl by Neil Gaiman--a blessing for a newborn girl

Weave of Words by Robert San Souci--fairy tale where the weaver refuses to marry the prince until he learns to weave and read, and in exchange, he teaches her to fence and hunt.

Molly Bannaky by Alice Mcgill--fictionalized biography of one of the first European women to own land in America after buying her way out of indentures, she then married a freed slave (when interracial marriages often meant slavery for both parties), and became the grandmother of astronomer Benjamin Bannaker.

Rimonah of the Flashing Sword by Eric Kimmel--retelling of Snow White with a proactive heroine set in North Africa

Ozma of Oz

It should be mentioned that the Princess Ozma was once transformed into boy named Pip by dark magic. I loved how the other characters don't bat an eye when Pip turns into back into Princess Ozma. Ozma just sails down the stairs, kisses Dorothy, and the two remain friends. It's certainly not unproblematic, but is very interesting.

I think I loved the Wizard of Oz books because of all the quirky characters that were loved and accepted.

I'm about to have a baby and

I'm about to have a baby and really really excited that I'm going to have so many amazing books to read to her!!

Pirate Girl

My just turned five year old and I love Pirate Girl by Cornelia Funke.

"Rosie Revere Engineer" by

"Rosie Revere Engineer" by Andrea Beaty is another good one!

Rosie Revere, Engineer

Thanks for recommending Rosie Revere, Engineer. The book is really connecting with kids--especially girls--who then want to get busy inventing things! It's very exciting. Here's more information: http://andreabeaty.com/rosie-revere-engineer.html

Best wishes,
Andrea Beaty
author of ROSIE REVERE, ENGINEER