The Annual Skipping Stones Honor Awards: Exceptional, Educational, and Entertaining Multicultural Books and Teaching Resources

The Annual Skipping Stones Honor Awards: Exceptional, Educational, and Entertaining Multicultural Books and Teaching Resources

Toké, Arun Narayan

Are you searching for authentic multicultural books and teaching resources? Since 1994, Skipping Stones Magazine has recognized outstanding books and teaching resources (including educational videos) with the annual Skipping Stones Honor Awards.

This article highlights the multicultural and international selections by Skipping Stones for the years 2003 and 2004. The honored books, published by both large and small publishers, promote cooperation and cultivate an understanding of the diverse cultures around the world. Bound to provide a great reading adventure, they are culturally sensitive and offer a variety of learning experiences for students, teachers, parents, and children.

The need for multicultural perspectives that do not perpetuate stereotypes and biases in children’s and juvenile literature cannot be underestimated. The criteria used to judge the entries includes authenticity, accuracy, cultural sensitivity, as well as reader-friendliness (attractive visual presentation).

The wide variety of titles selected for the Skipping Stones Awards clearly shows that our country and our world is not the melting pot that it has been described but a great Salad Bowl of many distinct cultural and ethnic flavors. Befittingly, the selection process is always inclusive; reviewers come from diverse cultural backgrounds and cross-sections of the society, from students to grandparents.

An illustrated, two-color poster with vital information about the honored books is available from Skipping Stones Magazine. The complete 2003 and 2004 selections are also available on the website: www.SkippingStones.org.

Reviews of the winners appear in the Summer issue ofSkipping Stones. While it should be noted that the awards also recognize exceptional Nature and Ecology books, we first describe the Multicultural and International books, arranged by various cultural groups.

Multicultural and International Books

Focusing on ethnic diversity and intercultural or global relationships, these books build bridges of communication, understanding, social justice, and peace, and offer examples of positive role models from communities of color.

African and African American

Juneteenth:A Celebration of Freedom by Dr. Charles Taylor, takes us back to the emancipation days and brings us to the present day celebration of freedom in our AfricanAmerican communities. All grades. (Open Hand Publishing, www.openhand.com)

Visiting Day by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by J. Ransome, approaches the difficult topic ofmen^athers and sons-behind bars by showing a family bond that knows no boundaries, only unconditional love. Elementary grades. (Scholastic, www.scholastic.com)

These Hands I Know: African-American Writers on Family edited by Afaa Michael Weaver, brings 17 well-known AfricanAmerican writers to us. As we read, we see that our stories are their stories, and their stories are our stories, too. This is an exceptional collection. Upper grades and adults. (Sarabande Books. Inc, www. sara bandebooks.org)

Squizzy the Black Squirrel: A Fabulous Fable of Friendship by Chuck Stone, illustrated by Jeannie Jackson. African-American characters with a message of intercultural unity. Elementary grades. (Open Hand Publishing, www.openhand.com)

Shining by Julius Lester, illustrated by John Clapp, is an intriguing story from Africa, filled with deep spiritual truth. Shining’s silent life has a profound meaning that unfolds with the story. Elementary grades. (Harcourt Books, harcourt books. com)

Asian and Asian American

Tangled Threads: A Hmong Girl’s Story by Pegi Deitz Shea, tells the story of a 13year-old Hmong girl, Mai from Laos, who leaves a refugee camp in Thailand and comes to America with her grandmother, after her parents were killed in the war. Aheartbreaking and heartwarming story, many new Americans will surely recognize themselves and their own struggles as they read about Mai’s. Middle grades. (Clarion Books, www.houghtonmifflin books.com)

Chachaji’s Cup by Uma Krishnaswami, illustrated by Soumya Sitaraman, show cases Indian culture, family values and the importance of family history. Elementary grades. (Children’s BookPress,www. childrensbookpress.com)

When My Name Was Keoko:A Novel of Korea in World War II by Linda Sue Park, is filled with danger, adventure and secrets. Korean customs and culture are woven into this heart-wrenching book about one Korean family’s survival during the Japanese occupation of Korea. Middle and high school. (Clarion Books, www.houghton mifflinbooks.com)

Exploring Chinatown: A Children’s Guide to Chinese Culture by Carol Stepanchuk, illustrated by Leland Wong, is an illustrated resource book on pockets of Chinese culture in the large urban areas of America. Upper-elementary grades and upXPacificView, www.pacificviewpress.com)

Confucius: The Golden Rule by Russell Freedman, illustrated by Frédérick Clément. The eternal wisdom of Confucius presented in this easy to read book has no limitations of time, space, language, religion, culture or national boundaries. Middle grades. (Scholastic Press, www.scholastic, com)

The Hermit and the Well by Thich Nhat Hanh, illustrated by Vo-Dinh Mai, transports us across the ocean, with its soft simplicity of words and full-page watercolor illustrations, to the Vietnam and spiritual aura of Thich Nhat Hanh’ s youth. It acquaints us with moments of spiritual awakening and the soul’s journey of a lifetime. Elementary grades. (Plum Blossom Books/Parallax Press, www.parallax .org)

A Basket ofBangles: How ABusiness Begins by Ginger Howard, illustrated by Cheryl Kirk Noll, shows us how the rural people’s bank model helps women in Bangladesh start small businesses in cooperation with friends, bringing dignity to their lives. Elementary grades. (The Millbrook Press)

Parvana’s Journey by Deborah Ellis is a novel that brings to our consciousness what life is for people in war-torn Afghanistan. Middle and upper grades. (Groundwood Books, www.groundwood books.com)

In America’s Shadow by Kimberly Komatsu and Kaleigh Komatsu. Two sisters, fourth generation Japanese-American citizens, tell us the story of the internment of Japanese-American citizens and immigrants during World War II through captivating photos and words. Fragile though the American Dream may be, this book shows how faith in its ideals and forgiveness can survive bitterness. Middle grades and up. (Thomas George Books, www. thomasgeorge books.com)

Native American

Alice Yazzie’s Year by Ramona Maher, illustrated by Shonto Begay, offers a glimpse of Navajo perspectives and wisdom. Eleven year-old Alice writes, “Beauty is before me. Beauty is around me.” What if children everywhere could feel the same? Elementary grades. (Tricycle Press, www.tenspeed.com)

MeetNaiche: A Native Boy from the Chesapeake Bay Area by Gabrille Tayac, photos by John Harrington, portrays a Native boy who lives in two worlds-a-balancing act that respects traditions and Native history. Elementary and middle grades and teachers. (Beyond Words Publishing, www.beyondwords.com)

Raising Ourselves: A Gwich’in Coming of Age Story from the Yukon River by Velma Wallis. A great insight into the life of Native people in Alaska’s countless small Native villages. High school and up. (Epicenter Press, www.EpicenterPress.com)

Latin American and Bilingual (Spanish and English)

Grandma and Me at the Flea I Los Meros Meros Remateros by Juan Felipe Herrera, illustrated by Anita De Lucio-Brock, is a colorful bilingual book that models reusing things, bartering and exchanging between friends and families, and thinking of each other. Elementary grades. (Children’s Book, www.childrensbook press.org)

¡Si, Se Puede! I Yes, We Can! by Diana Cohn, illustrated by Francisco Delgado is a bilingual story of the janitors’ strike in Los Angeles during the 1980s, written from a child’s point-of-view. Elementary and middle grades. (Cinco Puntos, www. cincopuntos.com)

A Cafecito Story I El Cuento del Cafecito by Julia Alvarez, woodcuts by Belkis Ramirez. We learn about the more equitable socio-economic model of Fair Trade, a win-win situation for all-consumers, producers and the earth. A story of connections and transformations. Middle grades and up. (Chelsea Green Publishing, www.chelseagreen.com)

The Treasure on Gold Street I El Tesoro en Ia Calle Oro: A Neighborhood Story in English and Spanish by Lee Merrill Byrd, illustrated by Antonio Castro L. A great bilingual book about friendship, loyalty and the value of all the people living in our neighborhoods. Elementary grades. (Cinco Puntos Press, www.cincopuntos.com)

The Afterlife by Gary Soto. Without adhering to a specific religious ideal, this thought-provoking story reflects on life, death and an afterlife with depth and sentiment. Middle grades. (HarcourtBook, www.harcourtbooks.com)

European American

Too Young for Yiddish by Richard Michelson, illustrated by Neil Waldman, is a story that brings out the value of preserving our heritage, our literature. The true life story of Aaron, who collected over 1.3 million Yiddish books, many of which were being discarded by people who had no interest in them. Out of his collection came the National Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, Massachusetts. Elementary and middle grades. (Talewinds/Charles bridge, www. charlesbridge.com)

Family Issues and Crowing Up

My Crazy Life: How I Survived My Family by Alien Flaming and Kate Scowen, contains ten stories of teenagers who survived their difficult years with much abuse. Upper-grades and parents / teachers. (Annick Press, www.annickpress.com)

Disability Issues

All Kinds of Friends, Even Green! by Ellen B. Senisi, highlights the special needs that many of us, have. Introduces disability issues for ages 4-8. (Woodbine House, www. woodbinehouse.com)

Teaching Kesources and Educational Videos

Educators will find these resources extremely helpful in their work with students to develop multicultural and nature awareness.

The Raccoon Next Door: Getting Along with Urban Wildlife by Gary Bogue, illustrated by Chuck Todd is a great resource for both parents and teachers and has very useful and often amusing ideas to help us get along with urban wildlife. Teaching resource, middle grades. (Heyday Books, www.heydaybooks.com)

So They May Speak. This 30 min. video (and accompanying resource guide) will inspire schools and communities everywhere to implement more educational language-immersion programs. It introduces three immersion programs: French, Spanish and Hmong, in Louisiana, Texas and California, respectively. (Ideas in Motion and California Tomorrow, www. californiatomorrow.org)

The Seventh Generation: Native Students Speak About Finding the Good Path by Amy Bergstrom, Linda M. Cleary and Thomas D. Peacock. Upper-grades and educators. (ERIC, www.ael.org/eric)

Lessons from Turtle Island: Native Curriculum in Early Childhood Classrooms by Guy W. Jones and Sally Moomaw. A wonderful teaching resource for elementary grades. (Redleaf Press, www.redleaf press.org)

Ecology and Nature Books

Skipping Stones Awards also recognize Ecology and Nature Books that promote an understanding of natural systems, specific species or habitats; human, plant and animal relationships; resource conservation, environmental protection and restoration efforts; community projects and sustainable living.

The Tree by Dana Lyons, illustrated by David Danioth presents the song of a tree, which came to the author after camping in the US Northwest. Will inspire readers to preserve our precious resources. Elementary grades. (Illumination Arts, www. illumin.com)

How Groundhog’s Garden Grew by Lynne Cherry. While demonstrating how to plant a garden, this book is also a charming mix of natural history guide and storybook. Grades PK-3. (Bluesky Press, www. scholastic.com)

Cool Woods: A Trip Around the World’s Boreal Forest by Jane Drake and Ann Love, takes a look at the world’s Boreal forests, which are larger in area than all of the world’s rainforests put together. Elementary and middle grades. (Tundra Books, www.tundrabooks.com)

The Polar Bears Are Hungry by Carol and Paul Carrick, shows the impact of global warming and habitat destruction on Polar Bears of the Arctic region. Elementary grades. (Clarion Books, www.houghton mifflinbooks.com)

River of Words: Images and Poetry in Praise of Water, edited by Pamela Michael pays homage to one of the most basic resources we’ve got-water-fehrough the gushing torrents of poetry and art that youth around the world have created in its honor! Elementary grades and up. (Heyday Books, www.heydaybooks.com)

Salmon Creek by Annette LeBox, illustrated by Karen Reczuch. Sumi, a salmon egg, moves through various life-stages and habitats, all the way to the sea and back. Elementary grades. (Groundwood Books, www.groundwoodbooks.com)

The Deliverance of Dancing Bears by Elizabeth Stanley. Set in Turkey, this book promotes right to nature habitat and freedom for wild animals. Elementary grades. (Cygnet Books and Kane/Miller, www.kanemiller.com)

Okomi and the Tickling Game by Helen and Clive Dorman, depicts the mother-infant relationship of two chimpanzees during a tickling game, and shows how chimps have the same social interactions as humans. Ages 2-6. (Dawn Publications, www. dawnpub.com)

Encantado: Pink Dolphins of the Amazon by Sy Montgomery, illustrated by Dianne Taylor-Snow, teaches about dolphins, flora and fauna, and the indigenous people who live in this “enchanting” ecosystem called Amazonia. Middle grades. (Houghton Mifflin, www.hougtonmifflin books.com).

The Magazine

Skipping Stones is a unique, international, multicultural magazine in its 16th year with a widely scattered readership, including over a thousand school and library subscribers in the United States and abroad. It features original art and writing by students and adults. Each issue also publishes photo-essays about a region or culture, and recommends multicultural books and teaching resources.

Skipping Stones has received several awards from the National Association for Multicultural Education (NAME), and the Educational Press Association of America (EDPRESS), among others. Subscriptions (five bimonthly issues during the school year) are: Institutions $35; Individuals $25, with discounts for multiple-copy and lowincome subscriptions. Sample: $5, available from P. O. Box 3939, Eugene, Oregon 97403 USA.

For a complete list of previous years’ winners, visit www. SkippingStones. org, or contact Arun Toké, Executive Editor, at editor@SkippingStones.org.

Copyright Caddo Gap Press Fall 2004

Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights Reserved.