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Archive for Multicultural Literature

Great Picture Books and Activities for Celebrating the 4th of July!

Great books and activities for Celebrating the 4th of July at School4Boys

The 4th of July is just a week away, and I decided to put together a set of books to help us learn a bit more about the holiday, and the history behind it. Big A., is very interested in historical stories if they are told in an interesting way (a bit like his mom), so I wanted to find fun stories that were accessible for my little guys, but also show the meaning and history behind the celebrations.


I also did my best to look for stories that offered many different kinds of diversity. I tried to find stories that featured diversity of setting, ways of celebrating, and of race and ethnicity.


It took a little investigation, but I think I found some good ones…

4th of July Picture Book: The Story of America's Birthday

The Story of America’s Birthday – written by Patricia A. Pingry illustrated by Meredith Johnson

This is a short and simple book that makes the connection between the Declaration of Independence, The American Revolution, and Independence Day celebrations remarkably accessible to preschoolers.


4th of July picture book: Red White and Boom!Red, White, and Boom – written by Lee Wardlaw and illustrated by Huy Voun Lee

This fun and gentle text shows diverse and loving families enjoying themselves in all sorts of traditional 4th of July celebrations in sites all over the country.

 4th of July picture book : Betsy RossBetsy Ross – written by Becky White and illustrated by Megan Lloyd

This bright, colorful, and fun text tells the story of Betsy Ross, and the making of the American flag for young children. A “Betsy Ross” star cutting activity ends the book.


4th of July picture books : CelebrationCelebration – written by Jane Resh Thomas and illustrated by Raul Colon

This is the story of one extended family’s 4th of July house party. Full of and familiar family characters, situations, and ways of celebrating that any family can relate to. The illustrations add to family warmth of this book.


4th of July Picture Books: The 4th of July StoryThe 4th of July Story – written by Alice Dalgliesh and illustrated by Marie Nonnast

A work of historical fiction, with an emphasis on the history, this book brings the story of our county’s founding to life for kids.


4th of July books: Hats off for the Fourth of JulyHats off for the Fourth of July – written by Harriet Ziefert and illustrated by Gustaf Miller –

This book captures the excitement and fun of a 4th of July Parade in a small Northeastern town with rhyming text and humorous illustrations.


4th of July picture books: The One and Only Declaration of IndependenceThe Journey of the One and Only Declaration of Independence – written by Judith St. George and illustrated by Will Hellenbrand

This book is a gem, and it tells the true story of the great challenges and adventures of the historical document that paved the way for the freedoms in this country. As someone who has an interest in American history, there were many things in this book that I did not know, and it reads like an adventure story.


4th of July Picture Books : Hello America

Hello America! – written and illustrated by Martha Day Zschock and illustrated by

This colorful and playful board book for young children follows a baby eagle and his mother on a trip through America’s historic places. The cartoon eagles are fabulous and the Littles love it!!!


4th of July Picture BooksApple Pie 4th of July – written by Janet S. Wong and illustrated by Margaret Chodos Irvine

This is a very different kind of 4th of July story, and it features a first generation Chinese American child whose immigrant parents run a restaurant. This story beautifully captures the cultural difficulties that often face the children of immigrants, and demonstrates that the combining of different cultures is truly what creates American culture.


4th of July Picture Books: America The BeautifulAmerica the Beautiful – poem by Katherine Lee Bates and illustrated by Chriss Gall

America the Beautiful – poem by Katherine Lee Bates and illustrated by Wendell Minor

America the Beautiful – poem by Katherine Lee Bates and illustrated by Robert Sabuda

America the Beautiful – poem by Katherine Lee Bates and illustrated by Neil Waldman

Each of these four books contains the text of the beautiful poem written by Katherine Lee Bates, and which was first published for Independence Day in 1885. This poem, focusing on the beauty of the United States, is illustrated in four very different ways in these four picture books. I find them all beautiful, and all interesting. It’s hard to pick a favorite, but I am a sucker for the elaborate paper engineering done in Sabuda’s book. To call it a pop-up seems demeaning, because it is truly amazing. Just one of these books, or the collection of all four together, could encourage a creative family to document their own America The Beautiful in an artistic way.


I’ve also found some really creative and fun holiday projects and activities that we are trying this week…


Here is a fun flag hand print art activity from b-inspired Mama! We are going to try this by cutting out paper hands and painting on them, rather than doing the painting directly on the kids’ hands because Big A. doesn’t want the paint on his hands, and hand painting is a little difficult for me to manage with all three right now.

4th of July crafts - handprint flag painting


Here is a collection of great flag inspired crafts from Kids Activities Blog …

4th of July - American flag crafts for kids


A super cute idea for making red, white and blue t-shirts at home from Cutesy Crafts…

4th of July - cute t-shirt craft


Here is another large collection of fun looking craft ideas from All Kids Network. We are going to try the star guy!

4th of July - crafts


I hope you find a book, or an activity that helps your family enjoy your 4th of July this year.

Happy Reading!


Tracy :-)






Mulitcultural Children’s Book Day: Girls Dance, Boys Fiddle

Pinterest collage - multicultural Children's Book Day

Multicultural Children’s Book Day

Today is Multicultural Children’s Book Day!  In the United States, there is sadly a significant lack of diversity in children’s book publishing.  Children’s books have just not kept up the pace with the diverse population of our country.   LEE and LOW Books are an independent publishing company focusing on multicultural children’s books, and one of the sponsors of today’s event. I found this wonderful post on their blog, about why the number of multicultural books being published hasn’t increased in the last eighteen years.  This post features thoughts from academics, authors, librarians, educators and book reviewers about why there are not more diverse books.  It is a thoughtful post with some wonderful points of view, lots of food for thought, and it is definitely worth a read.   One of my take aways from this piece is that it is not always easy to find multicultural and diverse children’s books, but if you actively seek them out, you will find them.  If you read them and then talk about them, others can find them.  If they are purchased, it helps publishers and book sellers to see the economic value of publishing and stocking even more books.  A happy cycle begins!   

Valarie Budayr, who writes the blog Jump Into A Book, and Mia Wenjen who writes Pragmatic Mom, have set out to give that happy cycle a big push!  They have created Multicultural Children’s Book Day to celebrate and encourage diversity in children’s books by highlighting the wonderful books currently being published, and to help get them onto people’s radars, and into people’s hands. 

I am so pleased to be a part of today’s event, as bloggers from around the world are reviewing and reveling in multicultural children’s books.  As a mom, educator and passionate book lover, it is really important for me to both expose my children and students to many different people, cultures, and worldviews, and to support the people who are writing and publishing great books.   A wise mentor of mine often said that books can hold up a mirror and let us see ourselves, or open a window and let in something new.  Everyone wins when the books that we provide for our children feature diverse characters, settings and ideas because books feed our souls and our thinking, open our minds, and break down our barriers.  I want all children to be able to see themselves in the books they read, and to have many books open up windows that are new to them. 

Girls Dance, Boys Fiddle cover pic (picmonkey)

For my small part, I will be reviewing a book about Metis cultural heritage called Girls Dance, Boys Fiddle, written by Carole Lindstrom and illustrated by Kimberly McKay.  It is the story of a little girl named Metisse, who is helping to prepare for her Memere’s (grandma’s) birthday celebration.  Metisse is to perform a butterfly dance with a group of other girls at the celebration.  The butterfly dance is accompanied by traditional fiddle music, and is an important part of the Metis culture.  According to the tradition, the girls dance and the boys fiddle.  The problem is, Metisse neither likes dancing nor is very good at it, and she loves and shines when playing the fiddle.  She wants to honor her Memere, so she tries her best to learn the dance.  Meanwhile, a loving and supportive Pepere (grandfather) also supplies Metisse with fiddle lessons.  In the end, the dance does not go well, but Metisse dazzles the party with her fiddling, and the whole family is pleased and encouraging. 

Girls Dance, Boys Fiddle features an empathetic and loving family, a little girl who perseveres in discovering her true talents, and warm and vibrant illustrations.  A glossary of Metis words used throughout the story is also included.  What a wonderful way for all children to experience a piece of Metis culture. 

Many thanks to Pemmican Publications Inc. for providing this book for me to review.  All opinions expressed here in this post are purely my own.

I encourage everyone to seek out wonderful multicultural titles today and everyday!  A great way to do that is to visit the blogs of the many wonderful people writing reviews on their sites today.  I am including a list of those blogs below.

Happy Reading!

Tracy :-)

2GirlsLostInaBook · 365 Days of Motherhood · A Bilingual Baby · A Simple Life, Really? · Africa to America · After School Smarty Pants · All Done Monkey · Andi’s Kids Books · Anita Brown Bag  · Austin Gilkeson · Barbara Ann Mojica ·  Books My Kids Read · Bottom Shelf Books · Cats Eat Dogs · Chasing The Donkey · Children’s Book-a-Day Almanac · Children’s Books Heal · Church o Books · CitizenBeta · Crafty Moms Share · Discovering The World Through My Son’s Eyes · Early Words · Flowering Minds · Franticmommy · Gathering Books · GEO Librarian · Gladys Barbieri · Going in Circles · Growing Book by Book · iGame Mom · I’m Not The Nanny · InCulture Parent · Itsy Bitsy Mom ·Just Children’s BooksKid World Citizen · Kristi’s Book Nook · Mama Lady Books · Mama Smiles · Mission Read · Mother Daughter Book Reviews · Mrs AOk · MrsTeeLoveLifeLaughter · Ms. Yingling Reads · Multicultural Kids Blog · One Sweet World · Open Wide The World · P is for Preschooler · Rapenzel Dreams · School4Boys · Sharon the Librarian · Spanish Playground · Sprout’s Bookshelf · Squishable Baby · Stanley and Katrina · Teach Mama · The Art of Home Education · The Brain Lair · The Educators’ Spin On It · The Family-Ship Experience · The Yellow Door Paperie · This Kid Reviews Books  · Trishap’s Books · Unconventional Librarian · Vicki Arnold · We3Three · World for Learning · Wrapped in Foil