Learning About Censorship and Burning Books from Dan Yaccarino


This morning I read my daughter Dan Yaccarino's new picture book I Am A Story (formal review to come), about the ways that people have shared stories across history. She liked the book very much. She was especially pleased when she noted parallels to the Spaceship Earth ride at Disney's Epcot park (that ride is about the history of communication). But the page spread that really struck her was one about censorship, book banning, and book burning. 

The censorship segment shows a book with certain words blacked out. I explained why people might do this, and that banning the book is when people try to keep others from reading the book altogether. The image of people burning books she found shocking,though she was relieved to see a girl reading aloud from a book on the next page. Not all of the books were burned. She got it into her head that the girl had rescued that one book from the book burners, and was sharing it with a crowd. 

After we closed the book she continued to think about these issues. She remarked: "Crossing out some of the words would make the story not make sense." I agreed that this was true, and would be a shame. When my husband came downstairs the first thing she said to him was: "Daddy, did you know that people used to burn books? And they cross out words sometimes?" He admitted that he did know. 

I asked her if there were books that she would protect if people were trying to burn them, and she said: "I would just have a library with a million books." She was, I think, relieved when we explained that today there are so many copies of books all around the world that no one could burn all of them, and that the stories would survive. 

And then we sent her off to school. I will not be surprised if I learn later that she asked her first grade teacher or her librarian about censorship and book banning today. This is what good picture books do. They engage kids, while giving them the opportunity to learn about difficult concepts. 

I Am A Story would be a great choice for a home, classroom, or library read aloud during Banned Books Week. It certainly sparked interesting discussion in our house today. 

© 2016 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

Ninja Bunny: Sister vs. Brother: Jennifer Gray Olson

Book: Ninja Bunny: Sister vs. Brother
Author: Jennifer Gray Olson
Pages: 32
Age Range: 3-7


Ninja Bunny: Sister vs. Brother is the sequel to Ninja Bunny. I haven't read the first book, but in this installment, a young bunny is on a quest to find The Golden Carrot of Awesomeness, the world's largest carrot. He wants to lead his friends on the quest, only to be pestered by his tag-along sister. In the grand tradition of parents everywhere, mom tells him to "Play with your sister, dear." There's a classic back and forth, as the sister keeps following, saying "Me too!" and the brother says things like "Only BIG bunnies can be super awesome ninjas." But the sister finds a way to use her small size to her advantage in the end. 

Ninja Bunny: Sister vs. Brother has a deliciously melodramatic tone. My favorite page is when the bunnies find "The Golden Carrot of Awesomeness", only to also find "the insurmountable vines of protection." Bonus points for a picture book that uses words like "insurmountable." The latter is accompanies by an image of the bunnies, all of whom look pretty small, confronting a huge tangle of vines, and various unfriendly signs.  

The book is also full of ninja moves, of course. I know that my own six-year-old loves all things ninja, and I think that this book will be a hit. It's a nice mix of cool ninja stuff ("Ninja chop", etc.) and classic sibling dynamics. Most of the illustrations are minimalist, with vignettes of the bunnies doing ninja moves against a white background. The boy bunny is in blue, while his sister is in red, making it easy to tell them apart. The brother's friends are just bunnies, without ninja costumes, keeping the visual focus clearly on the siblings. 

Ninja Bunny: Sister vs. Brother is a nice addition to the recent ranks of books about ninjas, with plenty of dynamic jumps and kicks, and a small but determined sister. Fans of the first book will definitely want to give this one a look, as will libraries serving preschoolers. Recommended. 

Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (@RandomHouseKids)  
Publication Date: September 13, 2016
Source of Book: Advance review copy from the publisher

© 2016 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through affiliate links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

Literacy Milestone: Borrowing Ideas from Books

LiteracyMilestoneARecently my daughter mentioned that her teacher had read aloud Waiting Is Not Easy! (Elephant & Piggie) by Mo Willems to the class. That evening (or possibly the next day) my daughter made a big point of telling my husband and me that she had a surprise for us, but that we would have to wait a bit. Not too long afterwards she dragged us upstairs to view what was, in fact, a spectacular sunset. She kept asking: "Do you like my surprise?". And we did. 

WaitingIsNotEasyI didn't put it together until my daughter and I read Waiting Is Not Easy! a couple of days later, and I was reminded that the premise of the book is that Piggie has a surprise for Gerald, for which he has to wait all day, and which turns out to be the stars in the night sky. 

So my daughter borrowed that premise, modified it for our home (from which we do often get nice sunset views), and made it her own. This is learning from books at its finest. I was very proud. 

Do your kids "borrow" ideas from books? 

© 2016 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

NOW is the Time to Make Plans for #KidLitCon (cross-posted)

KidLitCon2016LogoSquareKidLitCon is coming! The Kidlitosphere conference will be held in Wichita, KS on October 14th and 15th. The deadline to get the truly excellent conference rate at the KidLitCon hotel is TODAY. The early bird conference registration rate expires next Friday, September 30th. If you’ve been thinking about attending KidLitCon, now is the time to make plans. Register for KidLitCon here.

View the conference program here. We have two fabulous keynote speakers coming: A. S. King and Clare Vanderpool, and have lots of other fabulous bloggers and authors on the program. 

Attending KidLitCon is a great opportunity to connect, in real life, with other bloggers, authors, and librarians - with people who care about connecting kids with books. We hope to see you there!! 

Links I Shared on Twitter this Week: September 23: Tons of Links on Growing Readers

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. Not included are the live tweets that I did of the Cybils panelist announcement, as there were many of those. You can find the lists of panelists on the Cybils blog. Other topics this week include #BookLists, #DiverseBooks, #PictureBooks, #WorldReadAloudDay, Growing Bookworms, Harry Potter, introversion, kidlitosphere, libraries, Mo Willems, parenting, reading aloud, reading choice, recess, school librarians, and schools.

Book Lists + Awards

Big News: National Ambassador for Young People's Lit Gene Luen Yang Named MacArthur Fellow http://ow.ly/TgQF304tkOF  @sljournal #kidlit

TheStorytellerOur Favorite Children's #PictureBooks of 2016 (Part 3), a @momandkiddo #BookList http://ow.ly/wP0w304mt2a  @storybreathing @evanturkart + more

Making new friends -- #PictureBooks for the new school year (ages 4-8), #BookList from @MaryAnnScheuer  http://ow.ly/HKM5304msxu 

A Tuesday Ten from @TesseractViews | #ScienceFiction in #PictureBooks  http://ow.ly/h1IH304iTAu  #BookList

6 New #PictureBooks That Celebrate Autumn recommended by @rebeccazdunn  http://ow.ly/KJnI304qT7R  #kidlit #BookList

WorstPrincessPrincesses with Attitude: My Top Ten Princess Books (UK published) by Emma Barnes @AwfullyBigBlog  http://ow.ly/nQrA304iTHw  #BookList

Favorite Preschool #Science Books, from thinking like a scientist to life-, earth-, physical sciences http://ow.ly/DiAT304iaEq  @growingbbb

Always interesting: Newbery / Caldecott 2017: Fall Prediction Edition — @fuseeight  http://ow.ly/IB4n304msma  #kidlit #PictureBooks


Changes Are Fun, Part Whatever | Meet our new #Cybils Fiction #PictureBook chair, @debnance (replacing @readingtub ) http://ow.ly/2YEk304mtPh 


MangoAbuelaMeLots of #DiverseBooks news + #writing links in today's Cynsational News & Resources @CynLeitichSmith  http://ow.ly/QQQ2304ibUq  #kidlit

Events + Programs

Sign up to Skype with an Author on #WorldReadAloudDay 2017! http://ow.ly/OJsg304qITk  #WRAD @KateMessner #ReadAloud

Growing Bookworms

Cutting parents whose babies just aren't interested in #ReadingAloud yet some much-deserved slack @HornBook http://ow.ly/lDqP304mEPa 

IllustratedHarryPotter1One librarian/parent's perhaps controversial thoughts on Why the Public #Library Does Not Need Toys by @mrskatiefitz http://ow.ly/k0RB304oBJe 

One Mom's Opinion on When to Read #HarryPotter to her kids from @sunlitpages http://ow.ly/HFtb304oDtu  #ReadAloud

"Planning for reading + being picky about our book choices is important" esp. for reluctant readers @nerdybookclub https://t.co/wkPuSlFox7

A Few Ideas For Better Book Shopping, an important skill (teaching kids how to find great books) from @pernilleripp https://t.co/L4dT2FAOkZ

Sigh: Parents spend 25% less on books for boys, study reveals @thebookseller via @PWKidsBookshelf  http://ow.ly/Jooh304tPJb  #RaisingReaders

NarniaWardrobeWhy you should never stop #ReadingAloud to your kid by @feistyredhair @TreeHugger  http://ow.ly/Vy1b304ibnw  via @tashrow

Heathy diet linked to improved #reading skills in children, per study from Finland http://ow.ly/fM5S304ibap  via @tashrow

8 ways that being a #reader benefits kids | @alessiamariee @POPSUGAR  http://ow.ly/idZT304i9Xw  #RaisingReaders via @PWKidsBookshelf

Interesting: Lift-the-flap books may hinder toddlers from learning new words @ScienceDaily http://ow.ly/6dKB304i9yV  via @PWKidsBookshelf

9 Fun Ways to Keep Kids Interested in #Reading and #Storytelling from @MarjorieIngall @ReadBrightly  http://ow.ly/KsXx304rtSh 

Why You Should Read Challenging Books To Kids, Plus 8 (multicultural) Recommendations @bustle  http://ow.ly/I1pF304tPOf  via @PWKidsBookshelf


I could relate to this piece by @raisinghappines | Please Stop Interrupting Me! How interruptions make us irritable https://t.co/9axmNlZhmE


Lots of #kidlit tidbits in today's Fusenews @fuseeight | @CeceBellBooks  @100scopenotes @SevenImp + more http://ow.ly/YPiV304iapQ 

On Reading, Writing, Blogging, and Publishing

CookieFiasco#KidLit: Elephant & Piggie Like Reading! Notes from @momsradius on new #EarlyReader series edited by @The_Pigeon  http://ow.ly/26XU304iU8O 


Get Your Children Good and Dirty (+to eat better +to avoid extra antibiotics) - Microbes crucial to our health  @WSJ https://t.co/aMeJ5ie3gT

One Mom’s Journey Raising a Child with Bipolar Disorder @DGephartWrites @ReadBrightly http://ow.ly/PaGV304ruc1  #Parenting

Schools and Libraries

UK-focused, true everywhere: #School #librarians, a precious resource under threat by Linda Strachan @AwfullyBigBlog http://ow.ly/JXYZ304jOIh 

CatInTheHatIntellectual Freedom + the Leveling of #BeginningReaders: When #Library Values Clash by @DanielleBookery http://ow.ly/d0Se304qV52 

Top Ten Things from #nErDcampMI We Want to Try in Our Work by #teachers for teachers @ClareandTammy  @nerdybookclub https://t.co/5cR2woLu62

A reminder from @sxwiley of a failed chance in which he gave kids an answer instead of letting them think it through http://ow.ly/F4Wn304mF2S  

Long Island School District Doubles Recess Time For K-5, Should Other Districts Follow? @SayvillePatch http://ow.ly/9Hpn304jP3n  @drdouggreen

© 2016 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook