The Water Walker (2017), written and illustrated by Joanne Robertson, a member of Atikameksheng Anishnawbek, brings attention to the work of Mother Earth Water Walkers. The group began walking around large bodies of water, beginning with Lake Superior in 2003, to bring attention to the water crisis. Robertson’s book, written with urgency, optimism, and humor, makes this important environmental issue accessible to young children. Even more, the story explores Indigenous traditions and values while depicting the important environmental activism of Indigenous women.
Maya Gonzalez’s necessary children’s picture book, When a Bully is President: Truth and Creativity in Oppressive Times (2017), sends a positive message to children about the power of creativity, awareness, self-care, and community engagement. When a Bully is President requires reflection and discussion, preferably with a knowledgeable person who can help children work through complex connections between the “big” and “small,” past and present, forms of bullying Gonzalez describes.
Written and illustrated by Daniel W. Vandever, “Fall in Line, Holden!” (2017), subtly references the American government’s forceful separation of indigenous children from their families, community, and culture. Sent to boarding schools, indigenous children were required to adopt Western names, hairstyles, language, and culture in a violent effort at assimilation. Vandever focuses the story on the rebellious spirit of a child who refuses to fall into line, highlighting the inability of powerful groups to stomp out resistance.
I love Zetta Elliott’s 2016 picture book Milo’s Museum. This book is clever, original, relatable, politically relevant, and sweet; in other words, everything I could want in a children’s book and a few things I need.
Purple Wong’s detailed and deeply meaningful illustrations complement Elliott’s story brilliantly. Wong adds multiple layers of significance by helping the reader see what the title character, Milo, experiences. Continue reading
¡Sí, Se Puede! / Yes, We Can! (2005), a bilingual text written by Diana Cohn and illustrated by Francisco Delgado, explores the Los Angeles Janitor Strike of 2010 from the perspective of a family participating in it. The text opens with the mother of a young boy, Carlitos, tucking him into bed before she leaves for work. The boy’s bedroom is tidy and bright, and Delgado’s bold and detailed illustration captures the young boy’s sleepiness and his mother’s love as they share a glance.