We are so excited to present our #ReadYourWorld Book Jam 2019 in conjunction with Children’s Book Council! This year we have 10 amazing authors with unique book lists to share. Each author is also doing a book giveaway!
Please welcome Katie Yamazaki today with her list of The “Kids Get It” list of big topic books done with unusual grace. We are giving away 5 copies of her picture book, Fish for Jimmy. Please fill out the Rafflecopter at the bottom to enter.
I chose the books on this list because every one of them tackles a big story with incredible eloquence, giving kids credit that they will understand the complexity of the world they inhabit, as told by the characters (all people of color) in the books.
The “Kids Get It” list of big topic books done with unusual grace
Wings by Christoper Myers
Wings by Christoper Myers is one of my top books of all time. The expressive, bold collages tell a story of vulnerability, difference and learning to be brave. In 14 years of reading this book to my art classes, the quiet, poetic nature of the prose stops kids in their tracks as they find themselves relating to every kid in the book. [picture book, ages 4 and up]
The Secret River by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon
The art in this book is as surreal as it is breathtaking and gives the young reader credit that they can navigate this unique and poignant space where imagination, adventure, fear, and faith all overlap. [picture book, ages 4 and up]
Bird by Zetta Elliott, illustrated by Shadra Strickland
This stunningly beautiful book shows how one young child copes with grief and the stress of his brother’s addiction through his art. The main character’s voice is immediately relatable and again, gives the reader credit that no matter their own home circumstances, they will be able to relate to the narrator through the bigger theme of resiliency. [picture book, ages 9 and up]
White Wave by Diane Wolkstein, illustrated by Ed Young
This Chinese folktale, while timeless, might have a harder time being published in today’s market. The characters are adults. The art is all black and white pencil drawings. In quiet prose, the story tackles the topic of loneliness and poverty but does it in a way that lets the reader fill the space on their own. The expressive pencil drawings activate the reader’s imagination in a way that will make them complete the image in their own mind, filling in the color and letting the themes resonate in the space provided by the quiet nature of the book. Whenever I’ve read this to my own students, the room is so silent, the students so rapt, you could literally hear a feather fall to the floor. [picture book, ages 7 and up]
Visiting Day by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by James Ransome
First of all, no one paints like James Ransome. Secondly, no one writes like Jacqueline Woodson. In a society like ours, where literally tens of millions of people are impacted by incarceration, we are lucky to have this book and should have more like it. The book shows the human side of the relationship between a daughter and her incarcerated father. As strengthening the bonds between incarcerated parents and their children is one of the most proven successful ways to lower rates of recidivism, this book is critical in so many ways. It is also, all the things: an essential window, mirror, and door for children living with this reality and all other children and families. [picture book, ages 5 and up]
Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold
This book made me want to make books in the first place. Ringgold shows the magic and the reality of city life through the observant eyes and limitless imagination of her main character. The book occupies the beautiful, unique place where imagination and reality co-exist for children. [picture book, ages 5 and up]
El Deafo by Cece Bell
This book is as important for adults as it is for children, and again, a brilliant mirror, window and door. This book simply took my breath away and I have read it countless times. A moving story about a young rabbit who loses her hearing and has to learn how to live in a world without coherent sound, Bell has managed to create the most relatable, funny, tender, bold, vulnerable and brave character who all readers will relate to and learn from. [graphic novel, ages 8 and up]
A Chair for My Mother by Vera Williams
This classic story of resiliency and love reminds us that generous acts of kindness are what helps get us through life’s most challenging moments. Timeless. [picture book, ages 4 and up]
Fish for Jimmy by Katie Yamasaki
Set with the backdrop of the Japanese Internment camps of WWII, this book tells a suspenseful story of two brothers, and the bravery sometimes required of children at moments of great hardship. This book is heartbreakingly relevant now with family separations and Muslim bans and a great tool for teaching everything from empathy to civil liberties. [picture book, ages 6 and up]
When the Cousins Came by Katie Yamasaki
When the city cousins come to visit their cousin in the country, all the kids learn, through a weekend of play, that our differences make us better, give us more to share with one another and can actually bring us closer together.
Fish for Jimmy 5 Book GIVEAWAY!
We are giving away 5 copies of her picture book, Fish for Jimmy. Please fill out the Rafflecopter at below to enter. We can only ship to U.S. addresses.
Katie Yamasaki is an artist based in Brooklyn, NY. She works primarily as a muralist, children’s book author/illustrator and teaching artist.