The field of children’s literature is rich and ever-evolving, and the recent Kids, Books, and Anti-Racism presentation by bilingual author-educator Carla España challenged us to stay current and provide diverse and dynamic texts to our students.
As a Literacy Coach, poet, and author, I make it my business to stay up to date on what books are being published and what trends are evident in the world of children’s books. My sources include Publisher’s Weekly Children’s Bookshelf, The Horn Book, Las Musas blog, and We Need Diverse Books.
Carla España shared so many wonderful and recently published books in her presentation, and I’d like to share a few more here–gems that will add to the diversity of your bookshelf.
Forever and Always by Brittany J. Thurman, illustrated by Shamar Knight-Justice (HarperCollins, 2024). A young Black girl worries about the safety of her father when he is away from home. Olivia frets when she hears bad stories on the news, and she and her mother come up with some ways to help her deal with the worries about her father’s safety. This book (just published this month!) explores the joys and fears of a young Black girl and her family in a way that is poetic, powerful, and packed with social-emotional content.
How to Speak in Spanglish by Monica Mancillas, illustrated by Olivia DeCastro (Penguin Workshop, 2023). In this beautiful and vibrant text, Sami’s two languages– English and Spanish– are both honored and celebrated in this playful ode to translanguaging that also highlights a loving child-grandparent connection.
Molly’s Tuxedo by Vicki Johnson, illustrated by Gillian Reid (Little Bee Books, 2023). Main character Molly longs to be creative in the way she dresses, defying gender expectations of what to wear on school picture day. This charming story will spark conversations about gender roles and clothing/dress-up as Molly struggles between wearing the fancy dress her mom wants her to wear or what she really wants– her brother’s child-size tuxedo.
Saudade: Our Longing for Brazil by Ana Crespo, illustrated by André Ceolin (Neal Porter Books/Holiday House, 2024). This book will be published in June 2024, so you’ll want to make your pre-order now to make sure you don’t miss it! Brazilian American author Ana Crespo delivers the feeling of saudade, a heartful longing for which there is no equivalent word in English, in this story of a young girl and her mother who reflect on what brings them saudade as they hike together in the hills. According to the Migration Policy Institute, half of all Brazilian immigrants reside in one of three states, including Massachusetts– and Middlesex County tops the list of counties in the US with Brazilian immigrant populations! When Ana Crespo visited my elementary school on Cape Cod last year, it was delightful for all and transformative for our Brazilian students. Saudade: Our Longing for Brazil and many of Ana’s other titles fill a vital need for teachers with Brazilian students to offer books reflective of their culture and experiences.
There’s nothing like the joy of putting the right book into a child’s hands at the right moment. These titles will add depth and vibrancy to your book collection, and fill your students with joy and connection.
Mary E. Cronin’s poetry has appeared in The New York Times and several anthologies for young readers, including Amazing Faces by Lee Bennett Hopkins and What is Hope? by Janet Wong and Sylvia Vardell. A Literacy Coach in the Dennis-Yarmouth Regional Schools, her picture book biography of PFLAG founder Jeanne Manford, Like a Mother Bear, will be published by Simon & Schuster/Atheneum in 2027. You can reach her at www.maryecronin.com.
Intrigued by this topic?
You can continue the discussion with us at the second session of our Kids, Books & Anti-Racism Series on March 8. Author and Educator Jennifer Orr will host a workshop, How to Engage Your Students in Meaningful Race Conversations, which you can attend in-person or virtually!