Books

Five Diverse Award-Winning New Children’s Books

child sits reading book

Children are keen observers of the world and can start forming biases as early as preschool. It's not enough to mention Rosa Parks a few times on the road to raising anti-racist kids. Books are the simplest way to expose kids everywhere to stories of people who are different from themselves.

Reading books with diverse characters can offer representation of marginalized groups, context, and a starting point for additional discussions about the world.

Here is a list of award-winning titles from 2019 for kids of all ages to explore and enjoy.

Merci Suarez Changes Gears - by Meg Medina

This Newberry Award Winning book for 2019 details the challenges of Merci Suarez, a young girl, as she navigates some big changes in her life as her family relocates from their comfortable home to a new and different community. This tale offers emphasis on connection, community and instills a sense of what really matters in terms of friendship.

 

The Stuff of Stars - by Marion Dane Bauer, illustrated by Ekua Holmes

This artful exploration of the origin of the solar system offers a poetic blend of science and art, and brings a sense of wonder and awe to kid of all ages. This 2019 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award Winner offers a seamless exploration of our universal origin, bringing with it an understanding of how we are all connected.

Rescue & Jessica: A Life-Changing Friendship - by Jessica Kensky

This title won the 2019 Schneider Family Book Award for books that embody an artistic expression of the disability experience in the "young children" category, and for good reason. Rescue and Jessica are a girl and her service dog, and both unexpectedly find themselves in roles that they hadn't anticipated. As Jessica needs her dog, Rescue, to help her with every day tasks, he finds he truly is able to help her, and those around her to really see.

Drawn Together - written by Minh Lê, illustrated by Dan Santat

The story of a grandson and grandfather struggling to communicate across divides of language, age, and culture touches on a common experience for many families. Beautifully illustrated by award-winning artist Dan Santat (my kids looooove his books), this story of connection through art and storytelling earned an Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature in the Picture Book category.

The Remember Balloons - by Jessie Oliveros

This Schneider Family Honor Award winner for 2019 offers a gentle insight into the world of changes that come with Alzheimers' diagnosis. The story revolves around the main character, James, and his grandfather's balloons, which are treasured family memories. Each one signifies an important event, and it becomes up to James to hold and share each one.

Plus a bonus novel!

Monday’s Not Coming -  by Tiffany D. Jackson

For older readers, this mesmerizing mystery is one of friendship and community, a realistic account of events surrounding the disappearance of a teenage girl, and the efforts to find her. This young adult book offers insight into truth, justice, and the experience of children and teens of color. The book won a Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Author Award for Tiffany D. Jackson.


What are your favorite new kids books that engage children on topics of diversity and inclusion? This list was inspired by the American Library Association.

If you purchase from one of these links provided, I receive a small commission to help me feed my tiny hobbits--at no additional cost to you. Your support is very much appreciated.

My Favorite Parenting Books

My Top 3 Parenting Books

I’m a research nerd. When I was expecting my oldest, I read a ton about pregnancy and birth to help manage my expectations of that process. But pregnancy is a much shorter time period than parenthood, and most of us spend more time preparing for the hours of birth than the years after it.

I try to share helpful (or funny) resources on the Semi-Crunchy Mama Facebook page, but I have managed to read a few books in the last few years that stand out as having influenced my parenting in a big way.

My Top 3 Parenting Books for Semi Crunchy Parents

Don’t have time to read? My secret is to download the Kindle app for your phone. I make the background black so it’s not as bright, and I read while I put my kids to bed or am up nursing at night. There are tons of ebooks available from the library, too! Another option is audiobooks if you have a commute, or you can listen while doing chores.

Unconditional Parenting by Alfie Kohn

Unconditional Parenting by Alfie Kohn

This is a great book to read even before your kids are born. (You also have more time to read when you don't have children yet.)

This book is more overall philosophy than practical application, but it offers a big picture view of what kind of parent you might want to be (and why) backed up by studies and research. Most parenting books tend to be based on social and cultural norms, but Alfie Kohn goes beyond that and talks about the kind of society and culture we could have if we parented in a way that was best for our kids, not that was best for the views of other adults.

It's an incredibly eye-opening book, since most of us base our approach on what our parents did, but don't always examine if that's the best approach or just the familiar one.

The downside is that it can make you think about what your childhood might have looked like if your parents had read this book, and you may be disappointed. The book made me rethink my views of praise, school, and discipline. When I'm feeling frustrated or disconnected from my kids, revisiting the principles found in this book help me remember what kind of parent I want to be so I focus more on our relationship than on my kids’ behavior.

There is also a summary of the book HERE.

Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids by Dr. Laura Markham

Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids by Dr. Laura Markham

I originally discovered Dr. Markham through her website, ahaparenting.com, and was lucky to hear her speak locally here in San Diego when my oldest was about a year old. I appreciate her approach, which is grounded in attachment theory, and provides a roadmap for “authoritative parenting” -- the happy middle ground between controlling authoritarian and unsupportive permissive styles.

She offers specific phrases and concrete examples that I can use in my actual life. I can't promise that my kids actually react like the dialogues in the book, but I have found it very useful, and her focus on empathy is incredibly important and valuable. Luckily, before I had my second baby, her book Peaceful Parent, Happy Siblings was released as well. (I'll do a separate post on sibling resources another time.)

Much of her advice can be found on her blog and newsletters, but having the book as a resource I can revisit has definitely paid off.

Pro-tip: sometimes the Kindle version goes on sale for just a few dollars. It’s still worth it at full price!

Playful Parenting by Lawrence Cohen


I recommend this book so often that I ended up writing a blog post about it because I couldn't find a good summary to send to clients and friends. Cohen is a play therapist, and also a father, so he draws from both his personal and professional experiences.

My oldest was a toddler when I read it, but the activities apply until at least the tween years. He explains various approaches to enter the world of our children to meet them where they are, and how to use play to connect to our kids and give them an outlet for their emotions and struggles.

Being playful and silly does not come naturally to me, but having specific ideas gives me a starting point and ideas to at least get started. When I get it right, it’s like magic!

There are many activities and games described in the book, or he has an entire separate book called The Art of Roughhousing which has diagrams. He also wrote The Opposite of Worry (I’m halfway through) which discusses playful approaches specifically for kids with anxiety.

Two other books I’ve heard are great:

  • The Whole Brain Child by Dan Siegel I've started, but not finished. It explains normal brain development and what that means for managing expectations of behavior in young kids.
  • The Conscious Parent by Dr. Shefali Tsabary comes highly recommended and sounds interesting as it explores the "parent-child journey" as we learn alongside our kids.

Have you read any of these? What are your favorites?

* I do use affiliate links for books, so if you purchase through me, I make a few cents for the referral. It goes toward feeding my kiddos who eat 9 zillion times a day, so I appreciate it.

5 Thanksgiving Books by Indigenous Authors

Thanksgiving Books by Indigenous Authors

I remember going to the library with my oldest child when he was about two years old. I asked the children's librarian if there were any age-appropriate Thanksgiving books that were somewhere between "blatant lies" and "smallpox blankets." She winced.

So how do we navigate a holiday that originated as a celebration of a massacre without either lying to or traumatizing our kids?

Many families choose to focus on gratitude and family, and introduce Thanksgiving as a historical myth. Here is a helpful history about the biggest lies most of us learned about the holiday (I definitely learned the "Pilgrims and Indians" narrative at school).

5 Thanksgiving Books by Indigenous Authors

Instead of perpetuating harmful stereotypes, here are five books that focus on happiness and gratitude - and are written by native and First Nations authors - that are great any time of year.

If you purchase these books through my Amazon links, I do receive a very small percentage of the price. This money goes to feed my kids and I appreciate it!

My Heart Fills with Happiness by Monique Gray Smith

My Heart Fills With Happiness / Ni Sâkaskineh Mîyawâten Niteh Ohcih by Monique Gray Smith

This dual language picture book celebrates the joyfulness in small moments and serves as a
reminder to parents and kids alike to focus on moments that bring happiness.

 

 

 

We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga by Tracy SorrellWe Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga by Tracy Sorrell

From the viewpoint of a member of the Cherokee Nation, this book brings a modern perspective to gratitude for both the big and the little things in life. It includes a glossary of Cherokee words for additional depth.

 

 

 

 

Go Show the World: A Celebration of Indigenous Heroes by Wab KinewGo Show the World: A Celebration of Indigenous Heroes by Wab Kinew

From start to finish, this book is a celebration of the stories of Indigenous people throughout time, in both Canada and the US. Your little hero is bound to be inspired by the stories of figures such as Crazy Horse, Net-no-kwa, former NASA astronaut John Herrington and Canadian NHL goalie Carey Price, and more.

 

 

Wild Berries by Julie FlettWild Berries by Julie Flett

Celebrating the connection that we all share with the natural world, this book is also a dual language title, written in both English and Cree. Spend the day picking wild blueberries with Clarence and his grandmother. Meet ant, spider, and fox in a beautiful woodland landscape, the ancestral home of author and illustrator Julie Flett.

 

 

 

Sweetest Kulu by Celina KallukSweetest Kulu by Celina Kalluk

This title by Inuit author Celina Kalluk celebrates the ancestral connection to the natural world, and emphasizes on respect and love for the earth and all its inhabitants in a lovely bedtime poem.

 

 

 

Looking for more books like these or a selection for older kids? Here are links to more resources available. Be sure to check your local librarian for even more great options to share with your littles.

And if your child is school-age and their school still does a whitewashed history, this is a great resource with sample letters to send the administration to effect change. Please say something, especially if you're a white parent.

Have you read any of these?

If you live near me, all except Go Show the World are available through the San Diego Public Library (and I requested it be added). They'd also be great additions to holiday wishlists to support those authors!