Tag Archives: Cultural Diversity

Eyes that Kiss in the Corners – Joanna Ho. Illustrated by Dung Ho.

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Harper Collins Australia

May 2021

  • ISBN: 9780062915627
  • ISBN 10: 0062915622
  • Imprint: HarperCollins US
  • RRP: $24.99

This stunningly beautiful and lyrical book has been one of the most talked about on children’s book lists around the world for the past few weeks, and once you see it and read it, you will quickly realise why it is so. I, for one, cannot wait for this to be shared with our junior students, so many of whom are Asian, and whom, I am sure, will love to see themselves and their culture/s reflected in such a splendid fashion.

This young Asian girl recognises that her eyes look different to so many of her classmates and friends but it is the realisation that they are the same beautiful eyes are her mother’s, her grandmother’s and her little sister’s that makes her heart sing. The strength, resilience, joy and hope she draws from the females in her family resonate deeply with her and empower her as she embraces her own diversity and special features.

Joanna Ho is American-born of Taiwanese/Chinese parents and this combination in itself, will have authentic connections for so many of our young students who are mainly drawn from Chinese, Taiwanese and Korean families (but we do have numerous other nationalities among our student populations – truly a diverse school!). I actually believe that it a book that would be well-received as a read-aloud and springboard for discussion amongst older students as well and intend to share it with my Year 7s as start their literature-based unit after the holidays.

...eyes that kiss in the corners and glow like warm tea, crinkle into crescent moons

Highly recommended for your readers, no matter their cultural origins, from Prep upwards.

Teaching Guide

Hello and Welcome – Gregg Dreise

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Penguin Australia

  • March 2021
  • ISBN: 9781760898328
  • Imprint: Puffin
  • RRP: $24.99

With absolutely spot-on timing for Harmony Day 2021, multi-talented Gregg Dreise’s new book – which is a stunning companion to My Culture and Me – once again celebrates our First Australian people. In joyful celebration, as all are welcomed to corroboree, this gorgeous book provides insight and understanding into Welcome to Country acknowledgements, incorporating  traditional Gamilaraay language of the Kamilaroi people. No matter which country you and your readers are in, this is a universal celebration of Indigenous culture and tradition.

Gregg is one of the most well-received presenters I’ve ever enjoyed in my library as he told stories, played, sang, and drew for our younger students – not to mention making us all laugh a lot! Aside from that, he’s a great guy with a passion for sharing understanding and stories to strengthen our recognition of both ancient and contemporary Indigenous culture – oh! and he’s a Queenslander – yayy! – with both Kamilaroi and Euahlayi heritage.

These delightful Indigenous students welcome visitors to their gathering, acknowledge their Elders – past, present and emerging – with verve and vivacity that is both engaging and exciting. So many of our own students will delight in recognising themselves, as they too will have represented their beautiful culture in their respective school settings – including, of course, my gorgeous Wiradjuri grandies.

You can watch Gregg’s own lively reading of Hello and Welcome via Storytime, Better Reading Kids – and it would be a fabulous share for your kiddos and the perfect addition to your Harmony Day celebrations. Better Reading also has a wonderful activity pack you can share. Learn more about Gregg on his website.

Hello and welcome to our corroboree.
Hello and welcome to our gathering.
Father Sky, Mother Earth, together here with me.
Different colours, different people, together in harmony.

My highest recommendation of course for this new one – thank you Gregg for another superb book!

Aussie Kids series – Books #5 & #6

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Penguin Australia

July 2020

Get your little newly independent readers excited when you add these two new volumes to the Aussie Kids books! This is just a truly charming series as children take a vicarious trip around our beautiful country, learning a little about kids from other spaces, cultures and backgrounds as well as information about the particular locale.

Meet Mia by the Jetty – Janeen Brian and Danny Snell

  • ISBN: 9781760893668
  • Imprint: Puffin
  • RRP: $12.99

Visit South Australia in this episode and meet Mia, who fancies herself a tour guide especially when visitor Jim is coming to stay. Mia knows her bossy older sister, Alice, will want to take over but she is very determined to take the lead in showing Jim the local sights of Victor Harbour, like the jetty, the island and the beach.

A delightful ride on a horse-drawn tram (the only one in Australia we learn) is a real highlight but building sandcastles and exploring the beach, including fairy penguin burrows, as well as whale spotting are also huge moments in Mia’s deluxe tour.

By the end of the day even Alice has to admit that Mia has been a pretty successful tourist guide and this is only the first day of Jim’s visit!

Meet Sam at the Mangrove Creek – Paul Seden & Brenton McKenna

  • ISBN: 9781760894122
  • Imprint: Puffin
  • RRP: $12.99

This one is particularly special for me as we visit the Top End and go fishing with Sam and his cuz Peter among the mangroves. Sam has a brand new throw net and can’t wait to try it out. He’s really hoping to catch a big juicy barra but really needs a bit of tuition in using his net properly. Luckily for the boys an old-timer quietly sitting nearby knows just the right technique for success and while the barra eludes the pair, they do manage a nice little haul of good sized whiting. Pretty chuffed with their catch they plan to take them home until they notice that the old man seems to be ‘camped’ in the park with just a bag of clothes and a blanket. The boys show their gratitude by gifting their fish to the old Uncle and go home happily planning their next great fishing adventure.

This one not only allows some virtual exploration of a landscape which will be very different to that most children know but also an insight into First Australian culture. As it’s written and illustrated by two Indigenous creators, one knows that the language, actions and attitudes of the characters is completely authentic. Definitely a winner!

I’d be surprised if primary libraries haven’t yet taken up this series but if you haven’t, I’d strongly urge you to do so. I know that particularly for those units of inquiry that focus on Australia – landscapes and diversity (around Year 2 for me) would benefit hugely from the inclusion of this series with the narratives, maps and additional facts.

There are two more volumes to come so pick up the first six now if you have not yet done so. Naturally they would also make a superb addition to your own home library for children from around 5 years upwards.

Don’t forget to check out the activity pack and there is also a Teach at Home lesson.

The Proudest Blue – Ibtihaj Muhammad, with S. K. Ali. Art by Hatem Aly

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Walker Books Australia

February 2020

ISBN: 9781783449712
Imprint: Andersen Press
Australian RRP: $24.99
New Zealand RRP: $26.99

This is a beautiful expression of a strong bond between sisters as well as an empowering story to encourage children to be proud of their culture and to better understand the cultural differences of their classmates. The strong anti-bullying message is one that is of the utmost importance particularly given recent events which have shocked the world.

Ibtihaj Muhammad is an Olympic medallist in fencing and the first Muslim American woman in hijab to compete for the USA in the Games. She is well placed then to share the love between Faizah and Asiya and their strength and pride in their culture, drawing on her own experiences especially at school when she began to wear the hijab. Carrying the wise words of their mother the girls face down the taunts and jeers of ignorant bullies and express the joy they find in their faith and love of Allah.

Little Faizah sees her big sister as a beautiful princess and her new ‘first day’ hijab in deep beautiful blue fills her with happiness. She looks forward to the day when she too can wear the hijab with the same pride and elegance as Asiyah and knows that she too will choose the gorgeous blue – colour of the sky and the ocean.

This is a truly lovely book and one that will become an important and integral staple in your collection.

Highly recommended for young readers from around six years upwards.

Aussie Kids

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Introducing an absolutely fabulous new series for your newly independent/emerging readers that will take them all over Australia to meet a diverse array of characters and visit iconic destinations.

Not only will this be the perfect share for those units on Australia for Junior school kiddos but is a superb introduction to diversity, inclusion and current topics expressed in an easily relatable manner.

 

Aussie Kids: Meet Zoe and Zac at the Zoo – Belinda Murrell/ David Hardy

9781760893651.jpg

Penguin Australia

From a NSW Zoo to a Victorian lighthouse, or an outback sheep farm in WA to a beach in QLD, this junior fiction series celebrates stories about children living in unique places in every state in Australia.

8 characters, 8 stories, 8 authors and illustrators from all 8 states!

Published: 4 February 2020

ISBN: 9781760893651

Imprint: Puffin

RRP: $12.99

First up let’s meet Zoe and Zac – two ‘almost twins’ as they share the same birthday who are from Dubbo. (Fancy that, I lived there for twelve years and two of my daughters were born there!). These two lucky kids live within the well-known Western Plains Zoo and for their 7th birthday they will spend the day with Zoe’s zookeeper mum helping out with all the animals.

It sure is a lot of fun and also hard work feeding the hungry lions, giraffes and meerkats and poop-scooping large mounds of elephant dung but the most exciting part of the day is discovering why Amali the lioness has not turned up for her food.

Who better to write this first instalment than Belinda Murrell who grew up in a vet surgery and whose love of all animals shines through in so many of her highly popular titles? David Hardy’s illustrations are exactly right for the intended readership full of life and just a little on the cheeky side.

 

Aussie Kids: Meet Taj at the Lighthouse – Maxine Beneba Clarke/Nicki Greenberg

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Published: 4 February 2020

ISBN: 9781760894528

Imprint: Puffin

RRP: $12.99

Set in Victoria, Taj and his family have not long been in Australia and like so many refugees have their own struggles both in leaving their homeland and also in settling into a completely new country, community and society.

When Taj gets despondent about feeling out of place, his Mama reminds him to ‘believe’. It’s very hard to do so at times and Taj doesn’t even want to wear his favourite lightning bolt t-shirt, which has given him his nickname. His Dad is worried as well as he can’t find work – any work – but again Mama is there to reassure and urge him to ‘believe’.

Gradually things start to improve, Mama is learning English at the local library (Yayy! For libraries!) and Taj is beginning to enjoy his new school. They are starting to adapt to different foods and different sounds and different people but Dad still can’t find a job.

Until one day Dad comes home and suddenly the little family is packing up excitedly and driving a long way south along the Great Ocean Road until they arrive at their new home and Dad’s new job – a lighthouse and Dad is the new lighthouse keeper!

The new community welcomes the family and soon Taj is not only wearing his favourite shirt again but also a life-savers cap as he joins the local Nippers.

Again a terrific story introducing young readers to the wealth of diverse cultures and people in our big beautiful country. Maxine and Nikki have created a warming and relatable story for migrant and Aussie born kids alike.

 

At the end of each book is a double page of fun/interesting facts – in the first about animals in the second about lighthouses.

This is going to be an outstanding series to get onto your shelves and into the hands of your readers from around 7-9 years.

Highly recommended for Junior libraries and personal collections!

All Are Welcome – Alexandra Penfold/Suzanne Kaufman

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welcome

Bloomsbury Australia

February 2019

ISBN: 9781526604071
Imprint: Bloomsbury Children

RRP: $14.99

I deliberately saved this one to time with Harmony Day since it is a perfect expression of what we want to convey to our children as they grow up in a world where so many adults are blindly ignorant of the true meaning of one humanity. What I didn’t expect was that this review would come hard on the heels of one of the most heinous acts of butchery in the name of that hate-fuelled blindness so close to home.

 Kia Kaha, Christchurch –we stand with you.

kiwiheart

This delightful book follows a diverse group of children through their school day reiterating that all are welcome despite their various races, religions or backgrounds. With lilting rhymes the children embrace each other whether they are listening to stories, making art, playing or learning each spread repeating the refrain that ‘All are welcome here.’.

The brightly coloured illustrations show children from many different backgrounds and include both adults and cultures in likewise fashion.

Children will love the pure joyousness of this as a read-aloud or to savour themselves.

We’re part of a community

Our strength is our diversity

A shelter from adversity

All are welcome here

It’s my thought that perhaps we should send a copy to our governments and let them take note of what we want for our communities and our children.

Highly recommended for all from about four years upwards.

harmony-day

Pack your bags – we’re going on a trip!

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Tania McCartney and Tina Snerling

EK Publishing

RRP $19.99

Tania and Tina have once again triumphed as they continue their “A Kid’s Year Series”.  Children are celebrated and cultures, customs and festivities are explored in each book via the group of children featured.  What an absolutely marvellous way for us to spread the joy of inclusivity, promote cross-cultural understandings and foster peaceful relations with others.

Each spread shows the diversity of each country and what makes it special in terms to which every child can relate.

Their unique mastery in capturing the moments that shine in a child’s life, their families and homes is undeniable. While there is reference to history in each, primarily these focus on what is important in the modern life of each of these amazing countries and rejoices in the cultural diversity of each, especially recognising their First People.

The illustrations and the text are as joyful as each other and a visual delight for the reader.

In our school which particularly focuses on cultural understandings these are important additions to our collection. Of course, they are also ideal for supporting the ACARA Intercultural Understanding capabilities.

Each book concludes with an illustrated map and snappy facts of interest about the country and it’s make up.

Released this week – it’s time to go globe trotting!

A Kiwi Year: Twelve Months in the Life of New Zealand’s Kids

9781925335446

kiwiyear

Join Charlie, Ruby, Oliver, Mason and Kaia as they show food, sports, native animals, everyday life, special places and exciting adventures like bunji jumping! Learn some Maori and find out about twirling pois – or discover where pavlova was really invented!

 

A Canadian Year: Twelve Months in the Life of Canada’s Kids

9781925335439

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Liam, Ava, Oki, Chloe and Noah are our guides through the beautiful Canadian country. Special celebrations familiar to our Aussie kids such as Mother’s Day and Christmas as well as some not so well known to them like Thanksgiving are lavishly detailed. Add the excitement of the Calgary Stampede or the amazing wildlife not to mention igloos and ice fishing and this is a fascinating virtual trip for readers.

 

Teaching notes for this amazing series are available here.

Highly recommended for primary libraries – you really must have the whole series. Where are we travelling to next I wonder?

How The Queen Found The Perfect Cup Of Tea

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queen

By Kate Hosford
Illustrated by Gabi Swiatkowska

ISBN: 9781467739047
Imprint: Lerner PG – Carolrhoda Books
Distributor: Walker Australia-HEDS

April 1, 2017
Australian RRP: $24.99
New Zealand RRP: $27.99

Life as the Queen is pretty luxurious. There are maids to help one get dressed each day and footmen to serve delicious beverages and food. Still, this particular Queen grows very dissatisfied especially with her daily cup of tea. To find out what is wrong with her brew she commands her butler to accompany her to find the perfect cup of tea. A whirlwind journey to Japan, India and back to England by hot air balloon leads the Queen to children of various cultures who invite her to make and share tea with them. The text includes step-by-step recipes for each brew which is quite lovely.

When the Queen returns to her palace she realises what is missing from her own cup of tea – friendship. The book finishes with a Queen who is not so dependent on her flunkies and a wonderful tea party for all her new friends. Ahhhhh, the perfect cup of tea at last!

A very different way to examine some self growth, this is beautifully illustrated and a delight to read.

Recommended for children from about 7 years upwards.

Coming of Age: growing up Muslim in Australia – Amra Pajalic & Demet Divaroren [Edit.]

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growingupmuslim

ISBN: 9781743312926
Australian Pub.: January 2014
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Imprint: A & U Children
Subject: Young adult non fiction

RRP $18.99

As many in our nation continue to fear and abuse any of the Muslim faith and while even the global media whips this anti-Islam feeling into frenzy, this is an important book for young Australian adults.

This is a collection of memoirs of growing up in Australia in the Muslim faith contributed by both well-known and unknown young Australian Muslims. From funny to touching to sombre, these experiences recount the challenges encountered growing up in our multicultural society provide a real insight to the diversity of the Muslim experience and the influence of culture, family and gender in shaping identity.

With Harmony Day just a matter of weeks away, this book is prominent in our library’s display to celebrate this event and would be a valuable resource for any secondary library or curriculum study.

Pajalic and Divaroren, both experienced and successful writers, are also the co-authors of another volume What a Muslim Woman Looks Like.

While even young adult readers will be aware of the beard, the hijab, the front page news; through this collection, they will be able to dig deeper to a greater understanding of Muslim life in Australia.

….dispelling myths and stereotypes, and above all celebrating diversity, achievement, courage and determination… [Publisher] this volume, IMO, should be on offer in every high school particularly with reference to the ACARA general capability of Intercultural Understanding.

Highly recommended for readers from around Year 7 and upwards. Find extensive teaching notes here at Allen & Unwin.