K2 Read Alouds: Week 6: Confrontation & Conflict Resolution

School week of: October 14 – October 18.

I introduce the concept of ‘Confrontation’ to Kindergarteners, lovingly and mindfully, with intention to: embrace truth, construct discourse, and build resiliency – in that order. The overall goal is to educate and empower my students.

(This is a late post. It’s been sitting in ‘Drafts’, due to minor edits being needed that I did not edit until now.)


Nationally recognized holiday. No school. Ironically public libraries are closed this day also. No schools. No libraries. What does this American custom say about our values exactly?


I was going to read Encounter by Jane Yolen. Illustrated by David Shannon.


Well-established children’s author, Jane Yolen, wrote outside her usual genres with the making of Encounter. It is meant to be historical fiction. It is meant to be told from the view point of a young Taino boy who is from the Taino tribe who were the first to suffer an encounter with spaniard, Christopher Columbus. When I first read this story, a couple years back, I fell in love with it. I actually recommended it in an earlier blog post, from a year ago.

However, as I’ve matured as an educator and picture book connoisseur, I’ve been inclined to doubt the book’s authenticity. My own inclinations turned out to be true – the book is not as authentic as it portrays to be.

I was puzzled that the author seemed to have absolutely no connection to the people whom she wrote about in Encounter. So I did what I do with all children’s books that are written about native peoples by non-native people – I researched their research. Usually, in the first few pages of a book, an author will include their resources, and tribal affiliated validators. I affirmed my suspicions thrice. Once, via this online article. Second, from author Jane Yolen’s actual bio regarding her reasons for writing Encounter; her reasons didn’t impress me. Then, there is this quite controversial youtube clip of it, in which the maker of the Youtube book trailer, states that the Taino people are extinct. Which is not true. All the comments are filled with people asking her to not ad-lib Jane Yolen’s words by stating that the Taino people are extinct. However, she keeps it up for the advertising benefit, which she states in one of the comments. I’m not adding the link here. That same video is actually recommended on author Jane Yolen’s website. Yeah, so no. I’m not reading it to my students. I’ll figure out another way to educate my students from a native perspective. I discovered a great blog, American Indians in Children’s Literature, by University of Illinois professor of American Indian Studies, Debbie Reese. She even wrote a post that discredits Yolen’s Encounter, as an inaccurate account of the Taino.

Instead, I read Dr. Seuss’ Fox in Socks. This classic is chalk full of teachable moments relating to conflict resolution.

Fox in Socks By Dr. Seuss

Fox in Socks
By Dr. Seuss


From Dr. Seuss’ Fox in Socks

From Dr. Seuss' Fox in Socks

From Dr. Seuss’ Fox in Socks

Wednesday and Thursday

Abiyoyo by Pete Seeger. Illustrated by Michael Hays.

Abiyoyo  By Pete Seeger Illustrated by Michael Hays. Currently published by Aladdin.

By Pete Seeger
Illustrated by Michael Hays. Currently published by Aladdin.

Vocabulary: ‘ostracized’.   Class discussion: ‘How to believe in yourself and your community even when they don’t believe in you.’

Abiyoyo was also available in the Listening Center for students to enjoy on CD.


Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman. Illustrated by Caroline Binch.

Amazing Grace By Mary Hoffman Illustrated by Caroline Binch

Amazing Grace
By Mary Hoffman
Illustrated by Caroline Binch.
Published by Dial. 1991

"You can't be Peter - that's a boys name." But Grace kept her hand up. "You can't be Peter Pan,"  whispered Natalie. "He isn't black." But Grace kept her hand up.

“You can’t be Peter – that’s a boys name.” But Grace kept her hand up. “You can’t be Peter Pan,” whispered Natalie.
“He isn’t black.” But Grace kept her hand up.

I do have to ad lib here and there, in Amazing Grace, in order for it to be as loving and mindful a book as my students need it to be. Yet, there are many many children’s books that I ad lib, so this book is not unlike most in it’s need for adliberature. Usually, my ad libbing is centered around adjectives. There’s just never enough adjectives, or the right adjectives, in a story.

Thank you for reading The Picture Book Pusher.

K2 Read Alouds: Week 4: Community

Skipped week 3. I was doing things.

My district has a new K2 curriculum. I’m cool with it. It’s not all encompassing, and pretty much all of it is practices that I’ve been doing in my classroom already. So I’m responding to implementing much of it a lot better than I’ve responded to any previous curriculums that I’ve been told to use.  The first 6-week unit is, ‘Community’, beginning with the sub-theme, “friendship”. They recommend quite a few picture books, on friendship. I use different books on “friendship” other than the recommended list, but a few of them I will use. I will note if the read aloud choice was a suggestion from my district’s new K2 curriculum. If you see a lot of titles with the word ‘Friends’ in my weekly read aloud posts, you now know why.

Here’s what we read last week:


Everett Anderson’s Friend by Lucille Clifton. Illustrated by Ann Grifalconi.

Everett Anderson's Friend By Lucille Clifton Illustrated by Ann Grifalconi Published by Holt, Rinehart and Winston. 1976

Everett Anderson’s Friend
By Lucille Clifton
Illustrated by Ann Grifalconi
Published by Holt, Rinehart and Winston. 1976


True Friends by John Kilaka

True Friends By John Kilaka Published by Groundwood Books. 2006

True Friends
By John Kilaka
Published by Groundwood Books. 2006


Fresh Fish by John Kilaka

Fresh Fish By John Kilaka Published by Groundwood Books. 2005

Fresh Fish
By John Kilaka
Published by Groundwood Books. 2005


The Book of Mean People By Toni Morrison & Slade Morrison. Illustrated by Pascal Lemaitre

The Book of Mean People By Toni Morrison & Slade Morrison Illustrated by Pascal Lemaitre. Published by Disney-Hyperion. 2002

The Book of Mean People
By Toni Morrison & Slade Morrison
Illustrated by Pascal Lemaitre.
Published by Disney-Hyperion. 2002


Da Goodie Monsta by Robert Peters

Da Goodie Monsta By Robert Peters Published by Wiggles Press. 2009

Da Goodie Monsta
By Robert Peters
Published by Wiggles Press. 2009

What The Teacher (me) is Reading, This Week:

Teaching Community: A Pedagogy of Hope By bell hooks Published by Routledge. 2003

Teaching Community: A Pedagogy of Hope
By bell hooks
Published by Routledge. 2003


Thank you for reading The Picture Book Pusher

‘Skin Again’ by bell hooks is Hard to Come By

I’m about picture books that elicit mindfulness. Skin Again by bell hooks, illustrated by Chris Raschka, does just that.


That’s the good news.

The bad news is that Skin Again is no longer in print.  I just received my first-edition, hardcover, copy off of Amazon. It is technically used, but it’s in perfect condition.

You can find all about me/ coming close and letting go/

of who you might think/ I am/

before you come inside/

and let me be real and you become real/ to me.

– hooks. Skin Again. 2004.

Yeah. She’s that good. Everything that a picture book should, and can be – it’s all right here in Skin Again. Raschka’s illustrations are symbiotic with hook’s words. A child read aloud to, from this book, will be naturally, and sustainably engaged because the book offers an honest, mindful, and poetic perspective on physical differences and universal commonalities. Children are naturally attracted to truth.

Be with me inside the me of me, all made up of stories present, past, future/ some true to life and others all fun and fantasy, all the way I imagine me

Photo on 2013-03-08 at 14.56

Skin Again by bell hooks. Illustrated by Chris Raschka.
Jump at the Sun books, an imprint of Hyperion Books for Children, an imprint of Disney.
New York 2004

Skin Again was published in 2004 originally for a small press named Jump at the Sun, which became an imprint of Hyperion Books for Children in New York, only to finally be absorbed by the Disney Co.  Jump at the Sun was a publishing press dedicated to producing afrocentric children’s literature.

“Jump at the Sun: Ten Years of Celebrating Black Culture for all Children” – Disney·Hyperion 2003

The above quote is the heading for Jump at the Sun’s website; a website that no longer exists. Below, is a silhouette of the original jumpatthesun website. It’s a snapshot of the original  site.  Check it out. http://www.leibowstudios.com/webdevelop/hyperion/jump/index.html#

Within the first pages of Skin Again, you can find the website: http://www.jumpatthesun.com . If you click on the link, it takes you straight to Disney’s children’s books’ website.

All of the beautifully published books, originally published for Jump at the Sun (over 200 titles), for Hyperion Books for Children, are in no way a part of Disney’s available books. They’re not mentioned anywhere. Hyperion Books for Children no longer exists either.

Web space regentrification at its finest. African American children’s literature is being regentrified. I see it more and more.

I suggest that you get your copy of Skin Again while you can.  I bought mine, in perfect condition,  for about $6.50 on Amazon. There are now new copies being sold for up to $120 online. Skin Again is still easier to acquire than some of hooks’ other titles.  All six of bell hooks’ children’s books were published through Jump at the Sun. All six are currently out of print.  I have them all except for  Be Love, Baby Love. It is impossible to come across. High or low. Online or on the street.  Oh, Disney.

Thanks for reading The Picture Book Pusher.

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Source: http://isbndb.com/d/book/skin_again.html

When choosing l…

When choosing literature for children, this Thanksgiving season, let’s aim to not keep only our tummies well fed, but our minds as well.

– The Picture Book Pusher. Taken from most recent blog post. (See below)

A Picture Book A Day: Day 14 Something Beautiful

Something Beautiful by Sharon Dennis Wyeth. Illustrated by Chris K. Soentpiet


Published by: Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc. New York, New York. 1998

Borrowed from: South End branch of The Boston Public Library.

At first, I hesitated about the decision, but finally decided that I would keep this book in the classroom. My hesitation came from my ultra-sensitivity to children’s emotions and thoughts. I am so sensitive to children’s literature, these days. I find myself critiquing every corner of a page, in every picture book I open. Asking myself questions like, ‘Will they be able to process this image in a healthy, constructive way? Are they resilient enough to deal with any kind of reality this book presents in this moment? ‘. (‘They‘ meaning my students).

As their teacher, it is my duty to protect the mind of a child. Protect their mind against oppressive language, uncomfortable images, or anything else that blocks their healthy desire to be their best. I cannot foster an environment of education with images that do not foster a student’s understanding of life, leadership, and longevity.  This book does not oppress. I think. But what do I know really? So much of a child’s thoughts are scarred. Not all children, and maybe not even most, but some.

When I was in 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grade, I was chubby. Yes, chubby. I hated it. I was so embarrassed anytime the word ‘fat’, or ‘big’, was said in a picture book. If the word ‘fat’ was said in my childhood classrooms, I thought that everyone must be picturing me in their heads at that moment. I wasn’t obese. There were larger kids in my grade, but still my self perception, and self worth were already oppressed at a young age. I don’t recall feeling oppressed by literature or by my teacher, but I still felt less than beautiful, or not beautiful at all really.  So even if the word ‘fat’ was used to describe someone beautiful, it still made me incredibly uncomfortable. “Even though the other girls called her ‘fat’, she would ignore them, and was eventually chosen to be the ballerina queen. She was beautiful.”   This is not a real quote. It is a hypothetical quote from a hypothetical children’s book. If a line like this was read, in one of my childhood classrooms, it wouldn’t have made a difference in my self worth. I wouldn’t have magically believed that yes, I am beautiful and everyone thinks that now, and they don’t look at me as if I’m chubby. No. I was not resilient enough as a child, to process such a mantra, in a way that would have made a positive impact. Even if the book’s message was to show that ‘fat’ is beautiful, it would have done more damage to me than good. I would literally think in my head ‘doesn’t the teacher know how uncomfortable this is for me? She must not care, if other people think I’m fat.’  Even though just in 2nd grade, I recall having  of issues that the majority of children (two-parent household, affluent children that is) I knew did not have to deal with. Because of the added challenges I faced, compared to my peers, I was less resilient than other children; making my classroom needs different than the rest. If our needs are different, then our educational needs are different. If our educational needs are different, then so are our literary needs.

So with all this being said, Something Beautiful is a beautiful book. My hesitation came from imagining some of my students being too sensitive to the main character living in a neighborhood with lots of trash and neglected spaces. At what point in the story would my students ingest the positive  message of the story? How many negative feelings will pass through them first? Will any of my students think, ‘Why is my teacher reading a story about the bad parts of my neighborhood? Is she going to tell everyone that I live in a neighborhood like this? Will the other kids not want to be my friend?’.

Anxiety, fear, sadness –  are all feelings that block a child’s reception to educational information (a.k.a their ability to learn).

This is a book that I will read to children individually, not as a whole group read aloud.

There is nothing negative about this book. It is beautiful.  A child just must be emotionally strong and healthy before they can process, and then benefit, from it’s message – … within the classroom time allotted.  Read-alouds ought always proceed with mindfulness of the whole child. Thank you for reading The Picture Book Pusher

A Picture Book A Day: Day 9 The Adventures of Captain Remarkable Chapter 1

(Day 8 was just a tweet) That’ll happen more often now, for quickness and simplicity’s sake.

The Adventures of Captain Remarkable by Rochelle O’Neal Thorpe

Published by:  http://wigglespressbooks.com   Wiggles Press, Cambridge, MA.

Purchased at: @FrugalBookstore  Frugal Books, Boston, Roxbury, MA.

I am reading this chapter book, to some middle schoolers in our Extended School Year summer program. They are preferring it over the Boxcar Children series, just saying.  (sure hope their other teacher doesn’t read this. ) ;).

Thoughts: Yes, I would keep this book in my classroom – both, as a read-aloud, and as an independent choice.

What’s cool, is that I have the picture book version of this book as well. It’s packed away in my classroom. I’m not sure if the picture book/shortened version, is available for purchase anymore.


This is the cover of the chapter book, the version I am reading.

I can’t find a picture of the picture book version, on the net.

 You can view or purchase digital editions of other delightful modern children’s books by Boston author, Rochelle O’Neal Thorpe at:  www.rochelleonealthorpe.com

These are some of Rochelle’s other titles, all published by her publishing company, Wiggles Press


Thanks for reading another post by The Picture Book Pusher

p.s.  Yes, I am aware that I haven’t been blogging about every day’s picture book read, but that is because I simply haven’t been dedicating the 30 minutes to blogging, rather just using that time to reading the picture book instead. It is summer after all. 🙂 If you are one of those rare and fabulous people who is wondering what picture books I am reading on my non-blogging days, then just send me a tweet and ask me!

A Picture Book A Day: Day 4 She Come Bringing Me That Little Baby Girl

Day 4, July 3rd

She Come Bringing Me That Little Baby Girl by Eloise Greenfield and John Steptoe.

Published by Harper Collins 1993.

Purchased: New at Frugal Books in Roxbury, MA. Teacher discounted price of course.

*side note – I shop for books at many places, however my last bookstore trip of the school season was to Frugal Books, in Roxbury. I have yet to bring the bag of books to my classroom, as it is summer season anyways; so those are the books I am reading first for the summer.


Post Read: I legitimately give this picture book 5 out of 5 stars. It is definitely The Picture Book Pusher approved.