I Lost My Tooth in Africa – Baba Wague Diakite and Penda Diakite

i lost my tooth in africa.jpg
image from amazon.com


  • Age Range: 3 – 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool – 3
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic Press (January 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0439662265
  • ISBN-13: 978-0439662260


EXCERPT from indiebound.org:

Coretta Scott King Honor author/artist Baba Wague Diakite and his 12-year-old daughter, Penda, create a charming, original adventure story about losing a first tooth while visiting family in Mali.

More than anything, Amina wants to lose her loose tooth while visiting her family in Mali, West Africa. Only then can she put it under a gourd for the African tooth fairy, who will exchange it for two chickens! Happily this happens, and even better, the chickens lay eggs. But will the eggs hatch before it’s time to return home to America?

In this fresh, spontaneous story that is infused with close family warmth, Penda June Diakite joins forces with her award-winning author/artist father to give a charming peek at everyday life in Mali.


Notable Acknowledgements: Written by Coretta Scott King Honor Author Baba Wague Diakite


Rationale for Inclusion: One of the appealing features of this book is that it depicts a story in Africa that shifts away from the stereotypical storyline that emphasizes the exclusive use of animals. I lost my Tooth in Africa, provides a perspective of Africa that places a much greater focused on family life and communal relationships. By reading this book, children have a chance to learn about some of the African traditions specific to the country of Mali, such as what they do when a child loses a tooth. Children can also get a window into some of the elements of African life and culture, which can expand their overall knowledge of the world, and help some of them to get rid of the common misconception that Africa is a rural landmass that is mostly made up of exotic animals. This book also provides a valuable mirror that African children can use to see themselves and their culture being positively depicted in popular children’s literature.

Niño Wrestles the World ‒ Yuyi Morales

nino wrestles the world.jpg
image from amazon.com


  • Age Range: 4 – 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool – 3
  • Paperback: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Square Fish (August 25, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1250062705
  • ISBN-13: 978-1250062703


EXCERPT from goodreads.com:

Señoras y Señores, put your hands together for the fantastic, spectacular, one of a kind . . . Niño!

Fwap! Slish! Bloop! Krunch! He takes down his competition in a single move!

No opponent is too big a challenge for the cunning skills of Niño—popsicle eater, toy lover, somersault expert, and world champion lucha libre competitor!

Notable Acknowledgements: 2014 Pura Belpre Award, 2014 Notable Children’s Book, 2014 Charlotte Zolotow Award Highly Recommended Title, Golden Kite Award for Picture Book Illustration


Rationale for Inclusion: In addition to receiving a number of honors and awards, as well as being well-reviewed by credible sources such as Booklist and School Library Journal, this book provides children with a very action-packed storyline with riveting illustrations that utilize speech bubbles in a way that makes them pop out to create a sense of joy and excitement. By reading this book, children can let their imaginations run wild as the great Niño battles and outwrestles imaginary foes from Mexican history and popular culture, one-by-one.

This book also provides Latinx children with a mirror in which they can see themselves in, because not only is the protagonist of the story a Latino boy, but it also incorporates various Spanish words all throughout the story, which can help to cultivate a sense of Latinx pride among children.  Mexican children in particular, will be able to identify with additional elements that have been incorporated into the story, such as the imaginary foes from Mexican history.



The Girl with a Brave Heart: A Tale from Tehran – Rita Jahanforuz

The girl with the brave heart
image from amazon.com


  • Age Range: 6 – 9 years
  • Grade Level: 1 – 4
  • Lexile Measure: 620L
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Barefoot Books (March 1, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846869293
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846869297


EXCERPT from goodreads.com:

After showing kindness to a strange old woman, Shiraz receives the gift of beauty but her lazy and unkind stepsister, Nargues, suffers a less pleasant fate in this adaptation of the Grimm’s fairy tale, Mother Hulda, reset in Tehran, Iran.


Rationale for Inclusion: In addition to being acclaimed by the New York Times, this fairy tale-themed book depicts a female protagonist from the country of Iran. This story attempts to teach children about the importance of empathy, kind heartedness, listening to others, treating people with respect, and the value of inner-beauty. Since this story is based in Iran, it also offers children a chance to get a window into a culture different than their own, which can be a great way to expand their minds as it provides them with a unique perspective and point of view. With the superb illustrations outlined throughout the book, children are free to let their imaginations run wild as they put themselves in the shoes of Shiraz and try to make sense of the moral values emphasized in this book.

My beautiful birds – Suzanne Del Rizzo

my beautiful birds
image from amazon.com


  • Age Range: 6 – 10 years
  • Grade Level: 1 – 3
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Pajama Press (March 8, 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1772780103
  • ISBN-13: 978-1772780109


EXCERPT from pajamapress.ca:

Behind Sami, the Syrian skyline is full of smoke. The boy follows his family and all his neighbours in a long line, as they trudge through the sands and hills to escape the bombs that have destroyed their homes. But all Sami can think of is his pet pigeons—will they escape too? When they reach a refugee camp and are safe at last, everyone settles into the tent city. But though the children start to play and go to school again, Sami can’t join in. When he is given paper and paint, all he can do is smear his painting with black. He can’t forget his birds and what his family has left behind.

One day a canary, a dove, and a rose finch fly into the camp. They flutter around Sami and settle on his outstretched arms. For Sami it is one step in a long healing process at last.

A gentle yet moving story of refugees of the Syrian civil war, My Beautiful Birds by Suzanne Del Rizzo illuminates the ongoing crisis as it affects its children. It shows the reality of the refugee camps, where people attempt to pick up their lives and carry on. And it reveals the hope of generations of people as they struggle to redefine home.


Notable Acknowledgements: 2017 Junior Library Guild Selection, School Library Journal blogger Elizabeth Bird’s “2017 Picture Books I am Really Looking Forward To”


Rationale for Inclusion: In light of the recent and ongoing conflicts in Syria, a book such as this one could not have come at a more crucial time. This book can provide Syrian refugee children— and any child refugee for that matter, with a much-needed mirror into their lives and the various obstacles and challenges that they are required to deal with on a daily basis. Through Sami, the protagonist of the story, children can become more in touch with the thoughts, feelings, and emotions they may be experiencing, which may help them to better cope with the turmoil that is ensuing around them. Perhaps most importantly however, this story shows how Sami, despite his misfortunes, can still find pleasure in the things that are important to him. This helps to convey the message that as tough as life can be, there are still things that we can appreciate and smile, and laugh about.


As much as we would love to shelter our children from some of the horrors and tragedies that take place in our world, the truth is, that is not always realistic, nor is it necessarily a good thing in the long-run. Therefore, this book also provides a great opportunity for parents, teachers, and librarians alike, to introduce children to some of the hardships that other children around the world are facing in light of global conflicts. This book’s creative use of Plasticine to depict its illustrations, helps to create a colorful and vibrant feel to the story, which may make it easier to introduce children to such a difficult subject.



Time to Pray – Maha Addasi

time to pray
image from amazon.com


  • Age Range: 7 – 9 years
  • Grade Level: 1 – 4
  • Lexile Measure: 770
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Boyds Mills Press; Bilingual edition (September 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590786114
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590786116


EXCERPT from goodreads.com:

Yasmin is visiting her grandmother, who lives in a country somewhere in the Middle East. On her first night, she’s wakened by the muezzin at the nearby mosque calling the faithful to prayer, and Yasmin watches from her bed as her grandmother prepares to pray. A visit with Grandmother is always special, but this time it is even more so. Her grandmother makes Yasmin prayer clothes, buys her a prayer rug, and teaches her the five prayers that Muslims perform over the course of a day. When it’s time for Yasmin to board a plane and return home, her grandmother gives her a present that her granddaughter opens when she arrives: a prayer clock in the shape of a mosque, with an alarm that sounds like a muezzin calling the faithful to prayer. Maha Addasi’s warm and endearing story is richly illustrated by Ned Gannon. Features a text in English and Arabic, and includes an author’s note and glossary.


Notable Acknowledgements: 2011 Arab American Book Award Nominee for Children’s/ Young Adult


Rationale for Inclusion: With the growing Muslim population in the United States and Canada, it is becoming increasingly important for us to provide books where young Muslim children can see themselves reflected. This book does just that as it attempts to provide a mirror where Muslim children can see elements of their lifestyles and cultures being depicted in popular fiction. This book also offers non-Muslim and non-Middle Eastern children an opportunity to gain valuable knowledge and insights about Middle Eastern culture and the religion of Islam. The wonderful art illustrated in this book also helps to depict Middle Eastern culture and gives children a chance to explore their imagination and really put themselves in the shoes of Yasmin, the protagonist of the story.

This book has also been written bilingually and incorporates both English and Arabic. I like how the author includes an author’s note and glossary at the end and goes into detail about the practice of prayer in the Islamic faith. I feel that this further gives children a window into the Middle Eastern culture and Islam. In light of the negative societal stereotypes about Islam, books like these are particularly important so that children can get a genuine understanding about what the Islamic religion is all about, which can help them to develop an appreciation for the diversity that Muslims have to offer.