In February I took Jefferson on a mother-son trip to Tucson, the city where he was born. (And hadn’t been back to since he was four months old). We took in some tourist sites, visited the Gem & Mineral Show, and I took him to all of my favorite bookstores.
I ended up buying both of the books for my March Diverse Books Challenge at Bookman’s, a used books Mecca of the desert… I had mixed feelings about this, as while the purchase would still get more diverse books in front of my child’s classroom, and still support an independent bookstore, it missed out on both putting more money in the pockets of the authors, as well as sending a signal to the publishers that there is a market for diverse books. But I was overwhelmed by the amazing selection of the children’s section at the west-side Bookman’s and couldn’t help myself.
The first book I selected was Chickadee, by Louise Erdrich, the only book from my original (lost) list of books that I could remember both title and author of.
I haven’t read this book, but I have read two other books by Erdrich (Tracks & Love Medicine), both of which were wonderful, so I had a lot of faith in the author. I was also really committed to getting at least one book about Native Americans written by a Native author, as I’ve seen some of the things they’re still teaching about Native Americans in that school, and it’s pretty middling. I mean, it’s not as ridiculous as a lot of the stuff I. was taught as a kid, but there is still a lot of room for improvement.
I also bought How Tia Lola Came to (Visit) Stay by Julia Alvarez.
This is another case where I haven’t read this book, but I have read In the Time of Butterflies by Alvarez and loved it. So, another case of coming in already trusting the author. Plus this book has a lot of themes a child could relate to, even if they are not particularly interested in Dominican culture. The family is dealing with divorce, and ends up with a non-standard family structure when Tia Lola comes to stay. Children living in homes with extended family is fairly common, but most children’s books still feature the mom + dad + kids nuclear family.
At parent-teacher conferences, Jefferson’s teacher thanked me again for the project, and continues to be excited about the books. They are currently reading Unstoppable Octobia May out loud! Jefferson reports that he likes it so far.
I need to start figuring out what my April books will be! If you have any suggestions, I would love to hear them!