As a teacher in urban settings, and as a mom of two African American sons, I am hugely committed to making sure that my students and my sons see themselves in the books they read. When I started teaching, a million years ago, it was not that easy to find great children's books with multicultural themes. Ten or fifteen years ago, I became familiar with Lee and Low, a publisher specializing in multicultural children's literature, after hearing author Ken Mochizuki (PASSAGE TO FREEDOM and BASEBALL SAVED US) speak at a conference. Since then, Lee and Low has become one of my favorite publishers; most recently I blogged about Ted and Betsy Lewin's beautiful new book, HORSE SONG, THE NAADAM OF MONGOLIA. One of the things I love most about Lee and Low is that they have books featuring people of many, many shapes, colors, and sizes. They also have terrific multicultural poetry collections for children. A few of my favorites include:
- BASEBALL SAVED US (Japanese Americans in internment camps)
- COOL MELONS TURN TO FROGS (a tribute to Issa, a Japanese poet famous for his haiku)
- PASSAGE TO FREEDOM (a very brave Japanese diplomat saves hundreds of Jews during WW2, a must have for units on the holocaust or real life heroes)
- RICHARD WRIGHT AND THE LIBRARY CARD (is there anything better than books bout books and libraries)
- LOVE TO LANGSTON (a must for anyone who loves Langston Hughes)
- GETTIN' THROUGH THURSDAY (about a family trying to make it until payday- really applicable for lots of kids right now)
- YUM! MMM! QUE RICO I blogged about this one in my (I blogged about this one for Poetry Friday on December 26)
- THE POT THAT JUAN BUILT
- POEMAS PARA SOñAR (I apologize for the tilde over the N, I can't figure out how to do it right on Blogspot)
- GIVING THANKS: A NATIVE AMERICAN GOOD MORNING MESSAGE
Here is a list of some of their other award winners.
I'm thinking about Lee and Low tonight because they just sent me a box of new books. Three terrific new African American biographies- SEVEN MILES TO FREEDOM: THE ROBERT SMALLS STORY, HOWARD THURMAN'S GREAT HOPE, and THE LAST BLACK KING OF THE KENTUCKY DERBY. I'll be delving into these in the next few days, but in the meantime, if you are participating in DIVERSITY ROCKS, you might want to check out LEE AND LOW.