picture books: 3 Articles

Representation Matters: The Power of Finding Yourself in a Book

Throughout my life, I have discovered that reading provides an almost miraculous way of changing the way I think. There is no medium that better offers insight into the perceptions, feelings, and humanity of someone who is different from us. Through reading we become empathetic. Through reading we evolve. I have often emerged from reading a book, and felt like I was changed. In that, even in this digital age, I know I am not alone.  As children, reading shapes how we see the world. The characters, places, and stories we come to love in our books inform us as to what life might offer us as we grow up, and our world begins to expand beyond our own backyards.  For that reason, representation in all books, and particularly in children’s books, can have life changing meaning. Just as it benefits us all to see and read about characters who have little in common with us, we all deserve characters in books who reflect our lives and our own varied experiences, as well. ...we all deserve characters in books who reflect our lives and our own varied experiences... I grew up in the early 1990's. I do not remember reading any children’s books with LGBTQ characters. I know some—though not many—were out there, and I am grateful for the writers who paved the way. Yet even with those books in existence, I do not remember being aware of them until I was an adult. As a kid, I did not see LGBTQ characters in books, which became one more subtle, but powerful, factor in making me feel abnormal, my life impossibly out of the mainstream. I have spoken to countless other LGBTQ people who reflect on similar experiences, and I know that is true across the spectrum of identities, as well. If they all feel a similar absence, one thing is clear: Fill it, and many young readers will feel far less alone. Since losing myself in a book was one of my favorite parts of growing up, I always dreamed of writing for children once I had the chance. Even so, when the time came to actually do it, I kept trying ideas that somehow lacked resonance. Eventually, frustrated, I almost gave up. What changed everything was a piece of simple yet profound advice from a friend: “Why don’t you write something that you wish had been around when you were a kid, or a book you want to exist once you have kids of your own?” From that piece of advice, Papa, Daddy, & Riley was born.  For me, this book, which follows a young girl named Riley’s journey of emotional discovery after she is asked which of her two dads is her “real dad,” meets the two thresholds my friend wisely put forth. I am grateful for the opportunity to write a book that answers a question pondered by many children, especially once they start attending school and meet people whose lives can look so different

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Representation Matters: The Power of Finding Yourself in a Book 2020-05-16T15:44:48-04:00

Magination Press Learning at Home: Celebrate Children and Books!

El día de los niños/El día de los libros is Children's Day/Book Day. It’s a celebration of children, families, and reading that happens all over the world, culminating yearly on April 30. Commonly known as “Día,” it celebrates the importance of literacy for children from all linguistic and cultural backgrounds. “As celebrated by libraries and librarians, Día is an enhancement of Children’s Day, a celebration which took hold in 1925 following the World Conference for the Well-being of Children in Geneva, Switzerland as a day to bring attention to the importance and well-being of children. Each country selected its own day for the celebration with Mexico and many other Latin American countries choosing April 30.” (Pat Mora, About Día) The observance of Día in the United States was founded by Magination Press author, Pat Mora, after she heard how Children’s Day was celebrated in Mexico. She wanted to link the celebration to literacy and bilingualism. The first El día de los niños/El día de los libros was celebrated in April 1997. Seeing their experiences and cultures positively reflected in books they read builds children’s self-image as well as reading motivation. Magination Press publishes books for children reflecting diverse families, cultures, and experiences.  In honor of El día de los niños/El día de los libros, Magination Press highlights books featuring Latinx families. Each one celebrates family and highlights the richness of culture. Enjoy them with your child! Three accordions, two grandpas, one family! Accordionly: Abuelo and Opa Make Music by Michael Genhart, PhD Abuelo speaks Spanish. Opa speaks German. Both play the accordion. The little boy in Accordionly:Abuelo and Opa Make Music, shows great creativity and wisdom as he finds a way to help his grandfathers connect through music. Colors make the world pretty, colors make the world interesting and beautiful. Marvelous Maravilloso: Me and My Beautiful Family by Carrie Lara, PsyD  Our colors make us beautiful and unique. Explore the colors of the world, including the peoples’ beautiful and unique colors, with a little girl and her family. Always amigos! My Singing Nana by Pat Mora Billy and his Nana are very close. They love to sing together. When Billy notices that his Nana is forgetting things, his mom explains that she sometimes needs help. When Nana is having a hard day, Billy draws on his special connection with her to include her in a family event. Reference List The American Library Association: Together with Dia Pat Mora: What’s Dia

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Magination Press Learning at Home: Celebrate Children and Books! 2020-04-29T11:16:44-04:00

Finding Connection Through Music and Books

As the world faces the COVID-19 pandemic, many families find themselves being brought together or forced to be apart. Everywhere, people are looking for ways to stay positively connected. The little boy in Magination Press' book, Accordionly:Abuelo and Opa Make Music by Michael Genhart PhD, shows great creativity and wisdom as he finds a way to help his grandfathers connect through music. This post, from Dr. Genhart, explores the way picture books and music can help children and grown-ups connect with others. It’s a timely and timeless idea. Accordionly: Abuelo and Opa Make Music is the story of a boy who brings the two cultures of his family together through the music of the accordion – with the help of his two grandfathers, who do not speak each other’s languages but do speak the universal language of music. Based on my own family and memories from my childhood, this book is a joyful celebration of family and how common threads connect us all. More and more American families are multicultural, where different cultures come together to form a union of diverse languages, food, clothing, tradition, and ritual. Since children can sometimes feel like they are “not enough” of any one culture, it is important to offer them opportunities to celebrate the richness of all the cultures that make them unique. Children’s books are in a special position to affirm a child’s experience of being multicultural. The concept of “mirrors and windows” in children’s books highlights the many wonderful ways children can see the world, reflecting their own lives (mirrors) as well as introducing them to the lives of others that are not like themselves (windows). Similarly, the notion of “sliding doors” shows that stories for children can enable them to “walk into” other worlds. Accordionly: Abuelo and Opa Make Music is an example of how a children’s book can show all children that the world is a diverse place – some child readers will see themselves in this story while others will be invited to meet a family different from their own. Books where a child can identify with a main character in positive ways are tremendously powerful. They are doing some heavy lifting in that these books serve to bolster positive self-image and self-esteem. When kids see themselves in a book, in some cases for the first time, they can feel empowered, not alone, and not marginalized. In fact, children are likely to feel support, acceptance and love – important building blocks for positive development of self. Those children who are seeing a world unlike their own in books like Accordionly: Abuelo and Opa Make Music can confront any stereotypes or prejudices they may be holding, as well as begin to develop empathy and appreciation for diversity. Spoken language, particularly reading books aloud to children, is a powerful mode of communication. In Accordionly: Abuelo and Opa Make Music the accordion is a central character that shows that music is another potent means of communicating. In this story the

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Finding Connection Through Music and Books 2020-04-21T17:32:25-04:00