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February 15, 2018 BOOKLIST
Find more Classroom Connections
Mildred Jeter, a black woman, and Richard Loving, a white man, were married in Washington, D.C., on July 11, 1955. Five weeks later, they were arrested at their home in Virginia because the law made interracial marriage illegal in their state. They moved back to D.C., where their marriage was recognized, and began a nine-year legal battle to make it lawful in Virginia. The case wound up in front of the United States Supreme Court in 1967, where it was ruled unanimously that prohibiting interracial marriage was unconstitutional. Today, Loving v. Virginia is known as one of the landmark civil rights cases and was cited as the precedent in the 2015 same-sex marriage case.
Selina Alko’s picture book The Case for Loving (2015), illustrated by Selina Alko and Sean Qualls, tells the story of the Lovings and their fight to have their love recognized. The couple had three children—Donald, Peggy, and Sidney—but there were no children’s book characters that looked like them. The books included here celebrate interracial families. In some of the books, the characters struggle with being biracial, but for most, it is simply who they are.
Barack Obama: Son of Promise, Child of Hope. By Nikki Grimes. Illus. by Bryan Collier. 2008. Simon & Schuster, $16.99 (9781416971443). PreS–Gr. 2.
This picture-book biography of Barack Obama reveals how his white mother and grandmother gave him hope in the absence of his Kenyan father. Though his parents got divorced, both inspired him to find hope in education, and he learned to confront racism and was moved to help the poor. Fast free verse and watercolor-and-collage pictures convey the power of diversity.
black is brown is tan. By Arnold Adoff. Illus. by Emily Arnold McCully. 2002. Harper, $17.99 (9780060287764). PreS–Gr. 1.
Complete with new illustrations, this is an updated version of Adoff’s 1973 picture-book poem, which was the first children’s book about an interracial family. Adoff’s lyrical text about the love of family, regardless of the color of their skin, remains fresh and relevant, and the new illustrations reflect contemporary family life. Adoff’s 1960 marriage to children’s author Virginia Hamilton violated segregation laws in 28 states, and he references this poem as an “enduring song” to their now-adult children.
Black, White, Just Right! By Marguerite W. Davol. Illus. by Irene Trivas. 1993. Albert Whitman, $16.99 (9780807507858). PreS–K.
A biracial child is loved and happy and made to feel “just right!” in a family that celebrates their differences and the things they love. Double-page spreads show how members of the family are individuals with likes and dislikes, hobbies, and habits that move beyond stereotype. Each page has a rhyming refrain that ends, “just right,” and in keeping with the upbeat text, Trivas’ energetic gouache illustrations are full of movement and affection.
The Blossoming Universe of Violet Diamond. By Brenda Woods. 2014. Penguin/Nancy Paulsen, $16.99 (9780399257148). Gr. 4–7.
The daughter of a white mother and black father, 11-year-old Violet often feels like an outsider and wonders about her father, who was killed in a car accident when she was an infant. She gains a better sense of self after meeting her father’s mother, who manages to answer some of Violet’s burning questions.
Brendan Buckley’s Universe and Everything in It. By Sundee T. Frazier. 2007. Delacorte, $6.99 (9780440422068). Gr. 4–6.
Mixed-race Brendan, 10 years old and a science lover, knows the mother of his black father, but has never met the estranged father of his white mother. One day, Brendan meets his white grandfather at a rock club meeting, and the two form a bond, which they manage to keep a secret until a tragedy changes everything.
Cinnamon Baby. By Nicola Winstanley. Illus. by Janice Nadeau. 2011. Kids Can, $16.95 (9781553378211). PreS–Gr. 2.
Miriam the baker sings as she kneads spices into the dough of her cinnamon bread. The scents and songs attract bicyclist Sebastian. Eventually, they have a beautiful new baby who cries continuously—until Miriam makes a batch of cinnamon bread. Children will welcome the beside-the-point depiction of a multicultural family: Miriam is paper white, Sebastian is cocoa brown, and their cinnamon-colored child gives the title a sly double meaning.
The Hello, Goodbye Window. By Norton Juster. Illus. by Chris Raschka. 2005. Hyperion, $18.99 (9780786809141). PreS–Gr. 2.
The simple text and impressionistic mixed-media illustrations tell the story of a loving interracial family. The young narrator visits her grandparents, Nanna and Poppy, in their big house. They explore Nanna’s garden, and Poppy plays his harmonica. Looking out the picture window (the “hello, goodbye window”), she sees the pizza guy and, more fancifully, a dinosaur. Raschka’s swirling lines, swaths, and dabs of fruity colors seem especially vibrant.
Hope. By Isabell Monk. Illus. by Janice Lee Porter. 1999. Carolrhoda, o.p. PreS–Gr. 3.
Hope, a biracial child, is in the second grade when someone asks her if she is “mixed.” Aunt Poogie tells her the story of her heritage and her name, and assures her that she is “mixed” with love. In the sequel, Family (2001), Hope attends a family reunion on Aunt Poogie’s farm.
In Our Mothers’ House. By Patricia Polacco. Illus. by the author. 2009. Philomel, o.p. Gr. 1–4.
The oldest of three adopted children recalls her childhood with mothers Marmee and Meema, as they raised their African American daughter, Asian American son, and Caucasian daughter in a lively, supportive neighborhood. Filled with recollections of family holidays, rituals, and special moments, each memory reveals loving insight. This portrait of a loving family celebrates differences and diversity.
Mixed Me! By Taye Diggs. Illus. by Shane W. Evans. 2015. Feiwel & Friends, $17.99 (9781250047199). K–Gr. 2.
Diggs and Evans follow Chocolate Me! (2011) with another joyful story about embracing who you are. Told in rhyming verse, a biracial boy learns to deal with questions and stares from people he encounters and proudly explains that his daddy has black skin and his mother white. For the millions of mixed-race Americans who have to endure the constant questioning of their identity, Mixed-Up Mike has an answer.
More More More, Said the Baby. By Vera B. Williams. Illus. by the author. 1990. Greenwillow, $17.99 (9780688091736). PreS.
A Caldecott Honor Book, this includes three vignettes about the love of three diverse families. The three toddlers—nicknamed Little Guy, Little Pumpkin, and Little Bird—are a white child, a biracial child, and an Asian American child, and this playful, multiracial, and multigenerational classic is full of affection.
My Two Grannies. By Floella Benjamin. Illus. by Margaret Chamberlain. 2009. Frances Lincoln, $7.95 (9781847800343). PreS–Gr. 2.
Being biracial isn’t a problem for Alvina, and she loves her two fun-loving grannies, one from Trinidad and the other from Yorkshire, England. Things get a little out of control for Alvina when her grannies come to babysit while her parents are away, but she comes up with a clever plan to make their time together more pleasant.
One Word from Sophia. By Jim Averbeck. Illus. by Yasmeen Ismail. 2015. Atheneum, $17.99 (9781481405140). PreS–Gr. 1.
Sophia wants a giraffe for her birthday, and she carefully appeals to each member of her interracial family. Approaching each family member individually, Sophia cleverly tailors her presentation to fit her audience, offering evidence to her mother, who is a judge, and a business plan to her businessman father. Sophia is told she is too effusive, too verbose, and too loquacious, until she tries a single word: please.
The Other Half of My Heart. By Sundee T. Frazier. 2010. 306p. Delacorte, $16.99 (9780385734400). Gr. 4–6.
Eleven-year-old Minni and Keira are biracial twins, but Minni’s coloring is close to their white father, while Keira resembles their black mother. When they go to visit their grandmother in North Carolina, they are entered into a beauty contest for African Americans, but some question whether Minni qualifies.
The Road to Paris. By Nikki Grimes. 2006. Putnam, $16.99 (9780399245374). Gr. 4–7.
In clear, short chapters, Grimes follows nine-year-old biracial Paris Richmond, who is placed in a foster home because her African American mother abuses alcohol, and her white father is unknown. Paris deals with a great deal of bigotry in her new white neighborhood and begins to wonder if she will ever fit in.
Violet. By Tania Duprey Stehlik. Illus. by Vanja Vuleta Jovanovic. 2009. Second Story, $15.95 (9781897187609). K–Gr. 3.
Violet is worried because she looks different from other students at her new school. Her mother is red and her dad blue, and she doesn’t understand why she is purple. But when her mother uses paint to show her what happens when red is mixed with blue, Violet is satisfied. In a happy ending to this allegorical tale, she soon finds that her friends don’t care that she is different.
The World of Daughter McGuire. By Sharon Dennis Wyeth. 2001. Delacorte, $12 (9780375895029). Gr. 4–7.
In this humorous novel, 11-year-old Daughter has just enrolled in a new school, where she spends most of her time avoiding troublemakers like the Avengers (a would-be gang with a juvenile-delinquent leader), who call mixed-race Daughter a “zebra.” Things get complicated when her teacher assigns a family heritage project, because, as everyone knows, Daughter’s family is all mixed-up: “African-Italian-Irish-Jewish-Russian-American.”
Further Resources: The Lovings
The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage. By Selina Alko. Illus. by Sean Qualls and Selina Alko. 2015. Scholastic, $18.99 (9780545478533). Gr. 2–4.
Loving vs. Virginia: A Documentary Novel of the Landmark Civil Rights Case. By Patricia Hruby Powell. Illus. by Shadra Strickland. 2017. Chronicle, $21.99 (9781452125909). Gr. 7–10.
Loving v. Virginia: Lifting the Ban against Interracial Marriage. By Susan Dudley Gold. 2007. Cavendish, o.p. Gr. 7–12.
Loving Day is celebrated annually on June 12, the anniversary of the Supreme Court decision in the Loving v. Virginia case. Discuss all kinds of families and then have the class develop an annotated bibliography of books about different kinds of families as suggested reading for Loving Day.
Read aloud to younger students The Case for Loving and In Our Mothers’ House (Polacco). Engage the class with the following discussion questions:
Compare the family in Polacco’s story to that of the Lovings. How is love celebrated in both families?
How do you know that the children in both stories respect their parents?
Tell the class that, in the field of law, a precedent is a rule established in an earlier case. Explain why Loving v. Virginia was the precedent for the same-sex-marriage case in 2015. Ask them to discuss the meaning of civil rights. How were the decisions in these two cases victories for civil rights?
Mildred Loving died in 2008, before same-sex marriage was legalized. Ask older students to write an essay that explains why Mildred Loving became a champion for same-sex marriage.
After more than 35 years as a school librarian, Pat Scales is a freelance writer, children’s literature advocate, and the author of the revised edition of Books under Fire: A Hit List of Banned and Challenged Children’s Books (2014).
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