Feminist, Social Justice-Themed Board Books for Children

I Want to Be…, Nibi is Water and I am Violet, are part of Second Story Press’s first season releasing feminist, social justice-themed board books for babies and toddlers, ages 0-3 years. The three books explore some  amazing and unusual jobs people do; talk about how we use our precious water; and celebrate the color of our skin. Such a wonderful and diverse series of books for little ones! There is simplicity in all three books and they are beautifully illustrated in bright colors that will please toddlers.

I Want to Be…A Gutsy Girls’ ABC

Farida Zarman, Author and Illustrator

Apr. 14, 2020

Synopsis: Filled with diversity and empowerment, little girls will see that they can be anything they want. There are an alphabet of possibilities for when you grow up. Some jobs sound fun — ice sculptor, toymaker, dog handler, kite designer, party planner, and wind farmer. And some jobs sound exciting and important — jockey, aerialist, novelist, sportscaster, oceanographer, and mountain climber. Each fun letter is complimented by an illustration of a girl filled with delight and wonder as she shows us how we can be anything we want to be.

Nibi is Water (Nibi Aawon Nbiish)

Joanne Robertson, Author and Illustrator

Apr. 14, 2020

Synopsis: A first conversation about the importance of nibi (water) told from an Anishinaabe (Ojibwe) perspective. Toddlers will learn about the many forms of water in rain, snow and ice. They use water to drink, bathe, brush their teeth and flush the toilet. They build snowmen in the winter, swim in the pool or canoe on a lake. Nature depends upon water to grow plants, food, and trees. Animals need water to drink and fish swim in water. Our role is to thank, respect, love and protect nibi in our daily activities.

I Am Violet

Tania Duprey Stehlik, Author

Vanja Vuleta Jovanovic, Illustrator

Synopsis: This book celebrates and explores how people come in a rainbow of beautiful colors. A little girl looks around her and sees that some people are blue, some are green, some are red. People in the world come in a rainbow of colours and Violet herself is a wonderful mixture of her mom and dad. Her mom is red, her dad is blue, and, as the little girl declares: “I am proud to be both. I am proud to be me! I am Violet!” Her message of pride and acceptance has been simplified for the youngest among us so it can be shared even earlier.

Resources: All three books are great first discussion books. Parents can help toddlers  identify letters associated with amazing gender-neutral jobs; they can talk with them about protecting water and learn dual language words (glossary at the end); and they can help their little ones explore their own skin color and the skin color of others.  Encourage children to draw pictures of fun jobs, how they use water, and self/family portraits showing their skin colors in bright colors. Children have big imaginations.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.

*Review copies provided by the publisher.

Better Than You – Perfect Picture Book

Better Than You

Trudy Ludwig, Author

Adam Gustavson, Illustrator

Alfred A. Knopf, Fiction, 2011

Suitable for:  Kindergarten and up (Ages 5 and up)

Themes:  Bragging, Pride, Self-esteem, Friendship, Interpersonal relationships

Opening/SynopsisMy neighbor Jake can be a real jerk – always letting me know that whatever I do, he can do better.  Don’t get me wrong.  Jake is great at practically everything he does — especially sports.  Me?  Not so much.  I mean, I know I’m good at writing stories and playing the guitar, but when it comes to basketball, I have to practice a lot just to be a decent player.  Tyler’s friend Jake continually boasts about his abilities, making Tyler feel bad about himself.  It isn’t until Tyler’s Uncle Kevin compares Jake to a “pufferfish” that blow up its bodies to make themselves bigger than they are.  A new neighbor, Niko, helps Tyler see that Jake is the one with the problem.  Niko has the same problem with Jake.  Both boys become fast friends and really learn that friendships are supportive and encouraging.   Although the boys try to include Jake, he rejects their invitation.  Unfortunately there is no tidy ending, as Jake doesn’t know how to change.

Trudy Ludwig is the author of seven books centered around sensitive issues children face at school.   Her books are favorites among teachers and parents.  She has received the Mom’s Choice Gold Award.  She’s an active member of the International Bullying Prevention Association.  Adam Gustavson’s illustrations are rich, colorful and full of emotion.  He beautifully captures the feelings of the characters.

What I like about this book:  There seems to be an attitude growing among kids.  Some call it boasting, arrogance and lack of empathy.  It has fostered a generation of kids that are insensitive to the feelings of others.  They brag about their achievements, possessions and grades.  The list is endless.  Ludwig’s book sheds light on an ever-growing problem among kids today.   Self-worth is at the center of the problem and children should feel good about themselves because of their inner qualities and not their accomplishments.

Activity: You don’t need to look any further than this book, because there is a wealth of information for parents and teachers written by an expert in the Foreword of the book, and in the Author’s Note About Bragging and Boasting in the back pages.  She gives suggestions to help children turn painful encounters into positive life lessons.  And, she has a Questions for Discussion section for parents and the classroom.   She also includes a list of Recommended Books for Adults, so they can work with their children.

To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.  Or click on the Perfect Picture Book Fridays  badge in the right sidebar.