Diverse Children’s Books – June 18, 2016

Diverse Children’s Books is a new book-sharing meme designed to promote the reading and writing of children’s books that feature diverse characters. This community embraces all kinds of diversity including (and certainly not limited to) diverse, inclusive, multicultural, and global books for children of all backgrounds.

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We hope this community will grow into a great resource for parents, teachers, librarians, publishers, and authors! Our next linkup will be Saturday, July 2nd and on the first and third Saturdays of each month.

Most Clicked Post from Last Time

The most clicked post from our previous #diversekidlit is 2016 Américas Award Winning Children’s Books by Svenja at Colours of Us. She provides a brief description of each of the winners, finalists, and commended titles from this year’s awards announcement. The Américas Award is a great resource for incredible books about Latin America, the Caribbean, and Latinos in the US.

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Today I’m sharing a book I originally wrote about for the Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy. Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge 2016 is a weekly celebration of imaginative children’s nonfiction materials.


Title:  Sex is a Funny Word
Author: Cory Silverberg and Fiona Smyth
Publisher: Triangle Square
Publication Date: 2015

My Two Cents: When I was growing up a long time ago, getting honest, non-judgmental information about sexuality could be challenging. The internet was still in its infancy, there were few detailed, age-appropriate books available, and the thought of asking parents or teachers personal sex questions was mortifying. The situation could be made even more difficult if you attended a religious school like I did – the general philosophy seemed to be that since students wouldn’t be having sex until they married a person of the opposite gender in a few decades’ time, there wasn’t much point in talking about sex beforehand, and you certainly didn’t talk about sexuality or gender identity.

Oh how I wish books like Sex is a Funny Word were available when I was a curious child. This colourful, non-threatening comic-style sex book goes beyond the basic “birds and the bees” sex ed and talks about sex, sexuality, gender, relationships, body image and more. Potentially uncomfortable or confusing topics are approached with openness, honesty and compassion. Sex is a Funny Word is inclusive, sex-and-body positive and diverse – people come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, colours, abilities and genders, and sex isn’t something limited to white, cisgendered, hetero, physically-abled individuals.

This is a book about values, as much as it is about sex. ‘Justice means that every person and every body matters’, the author writes, and children are encouraged to be respectful of themselves and of others. Sex isn’t something to be feared, but it is something to be taken seriously and respected. While the target audience is tweens aged 8-12, this is a great resource for teachers, librarians, parents and anyone who might work with young people. It would also be a nice title to have available in a library or classroom for children to read privately, particularly those who might be feeling isolated or afraid to talk to an adult about gender or sexuality. Just realizing that an adult cares enough to have information like this available might help a child realize that they aren’t alone, and that there might be someone they can talk to.


Language Fun Story Time – May 28, 2015

“Is this the bus for us, Gus?”

We started today’s session with our usual routine of “Hello, Friends” and “Roly Poly” before jumping into a reading of The Bus for Us.

busbookThe kids went nuts for this one – I’ve never seen them so excited and enthusiastic about a book! They eagerly shouted out guesses for what each vehicle might be. We were easily able to elicit vocabulary, with each child excitedly telling us what colour each vehicle was, and the tension building up to the eventual appearance of the long-awaited bus was palpable.

The group was no less excited for the felt story retelling – the SLP had each vehicle peek out from behind the felt board, and gave hints as to what each vehicle might be (“it is red, it has a ladder, it is very loud”). These great felts are from a local home-based business called “Heartfelt Stories” – their felt stories are super cute! Hurray for supporting local small businesses.


The kids have been getting pretty wiggly recently, so we took a little song break after the felt story for a round of “the wheels on the bus.”

Then it was time for the toys! We went around the circle with each child picking out a vehicle. In order to get a toy, though, they had to describe it to us using as much vocabulary as they could. For example : “I want the garbage truck. It is green. It is smelly”.

toys1Once all the vehicles had been handed out, and the kids had had a moment to drive them around, the SLP started describing each vehicle one by one, in random order. The children had to listen to the descriptions, and when they heard the description of their vehicle they came up to put it back in the toy box. So, “This truck is green. It is smelly. It picks up garbage” would be the cue for the child with the toy garbage truck to put it away. This activity was a great opportunity for the children to learn and practice new vocabulary while reinforcing existing words in a really fun way.

The kids were having so much fun we nearly ran out of time, and had to rush a little bit through snack time.

I can’t believe there’s only one more session of LFST! The children have changed so much over the past few weeks, it’s incredible. The most obvious change for most of the children is in their confidence level. LFST is a group activity, and children are encouraged to participate in front of their peers and a few grown ups (parents). For children with speech-language delays, speaking in front of others can be a terrifying prospect. Through small group activities like LFST, children can practice speaking in front of others in a safe, positive environment, and gradually build their confidence. Like so many library programs, the benefits of LFST are many, and the program impacts children in such a variety of ways.

Language Fun Story Time – April 30, 2015

For today’s LFST we had a very special friend visit us today:


Oh yes, it was Pete the Cat day at LFST

The kids were just over the moon when I pulled out Pete the Cat : I love my White Shoes. Most of them already knew the story, and were so excited to join in as we walked along and sang our song.

petebookEven some of the quieter, more introverted children in the group excitedly shouted out their colours, which was quite impressive!

After we read/sang the story together, it was time retell the story using our felts. The children took turns changing Pete’s shoes as he stepped in the different materials. petefeltThe kids took turns changing Pete’s shoes, and we sang the song again. And again. And again….But the kids seemed to love it, and we got a lot of words out of even our quietest participants.

Some of our children are new to circle times, group activities and felt stories, so using a felt board can be a bit challenging at times, but it is an ideal opportunity to reinforce expectations and give the children an opportunity to practice taking turns and sharing with each other in a supportive environment.

Depending on the length and complexity of the story, we sometimes only do a single activity, but because I Love My White Shoes is pretty brisk, we had ample time to retell the story in multiple ways.

Once everyone had had a turn at the felt board, we took a singing break, and went around the circle singing about everyone’s shoes. We sang “I love my pink shoes”, “I love my yellow shoes”, and more, including my favourite verse: “I love my Yoda shoes”!

Then it was back to Pete.

stuffedpeteThis was a pretty ingenious little set-up – baby socks were coloured with markers to represent the different shoe colours, and the children slipped the baby socks over Pete’s shoes. They loved it! We went through the story several times to make sure everyone got a turn.

The kids were pretty ravenous after all the singing and playing – we went through a lot of fishes and circles, as we call the goldfish and rice crackers.

Three sessions in, and I can already see the changes in the children as they become more comfortable with us and with each other. Can’t wait to see what’s waiting for us next week!

See you later, Pete!


Language Fun Story Time

Language Fun Story Time is back!

LFST is an adaptive story time for children with speech language challenges. To quote a VPL report,

For children with speech and language difficulties, attending regular Library Storytimes can be frustrating and overwhelming.

The pacing of the programs can be too fast for these kids and sometimes the children and their caregivers can feel uncomfortable in a large group when the child’s development is not typical. So to accommodate these children’s learning needs, a Vancouver Public Library children’s librarian and Vancouver Coastal Health speech language pathologist came together to create a unique program, Language Fun Storytime, for children who have speech and language difficulties regardless of any other diagnoses.

LFST participants are referred by their SLP, and the groups are kept small, typically with around 8-10 kids. Each week for 8-10 weeks, we explore one story three ways – as a picture book read-aloud, as a felt story, and with realia. The sessions are supportive and interactive, with every child encouraged to participate to the best of their individual abilities.

Each LFST kit contains a picture book, multiple smaller copies of the same book for participants to take home, handouts for families with extension activities, a felt story, puppets or toys, and usually a stamp.

kitEvery week participants are sent home with a copy of the week’s book, which they exchange the following week for the next story, allowing families to practice what they learn at LFST.

We start the program with a simple hello song, (Hello, friends!), which gives us a chance to practice everyone’s names, and helps the group connect. We then sing Roly Poly, as it’s fun, repetitive, and introduces great vocabulary.

Then it’s time to explore the week’s story.

We first read the story together, much as we would in a traditional story time. With LFST, it’s particularly important to be mindful of your speed when reading aloud, as the children benefit from a much slower pace.


We then reenact the story using felt characters. Each child is given a chance to place the felt pieces on the board as the SLP elicits speech.

Finally, we retell the story using stuffed animals, again giving each child an opportunity to participate in the retelling.


The program really emphasizes repetition, which is beneficial for all children, but particularly those with speech and language challenges.

Once we’ve finished telling the story, it’s time for a snack break! Even the snack portion of LFST is designed to help children build language skills. Children are asked which colour of plate and cup they want, and which healthy snacks they’d like. Expected outcomes are adapted to each child’s individual level, from full sentences to single mumbled words, and the atmosphere is always kept positive and supportive.


Snack time is also an opportunity for parents to connect with each other or ask the librarian and SLP questions.

We finish the hour-long session with a goodbye song, and of course, a stamp!

There really aren’t words to describe how incredibly meaningful and rewarding it is to participate in a program like this. Every week, you actually get to see the difference you’re making in a family’s life. Several of the children in this session were in my previous session, and it’s wonderful to see how much they’ve grown!

We’re known to get a little silly at LFST, too… 🙂