The ABC Blog

Exploring the Rich Culture of Chile: The Fiesta de la Tirana

Latin America has a rich history of traditions and festivals, so many in fact we can’t possibly cover them all in this one blog post! In this snapshot blog post we’ll be exploring one of the most well-known Chilean culture festivals.

CHILE 

The Fiesta de la Tirana is a huge festival held every year in Chile during the second week of July. The history of the festival dates back hundreds of years and is rooted in both legend and facts. An Incan princess is said to have refused European and Christian colonization and executed any colonizers on her land. She was beloved for defending her people from being conquered and was titled La Tirana (the tyrant). However, she fell in love with one of these intruders, prompting retribution from her community. Now, Chileans gather every year in the town of La Tirana to celebrate her death and their patron saint, Virgen del Carmen (the Virgin Mary).

The celebrations last 10 days and kick off with different bailes (dances). The bailes and costumes are colorful and expressive, capturing the artistry of Chilean people. Some of the dances honor the Virgin, but others such as Dance of the Devils are just as important. The Dance of the Devils  is an example of cultural exchange between Bolivia and Chile. The dance represents the battle between good and evil. Typically male performers dressed in elaborate costumes depicting the devil dance with women dressed as angelic figures. 

Want to learn more about Chilean culture? Pick up a July subscription box to read more about this amazing country!

July’s Theme: Snapshot into the Lives of Four Regular Kids

It is officially summer! For the month of July we are exploring South America for the very first time! Specifically, we will explore Brazil, Chile and Colombia! This was an interesting month to put together for our subscribers because South America is so diverse in culture and tradition, and rich with African, Asian and indigenous influences. 

Our selections this month are my favorite types of children’s books. If you have heard me talk about diversity in children’s books, you already know that my favorite books are those that depict kids in different parts of the world being regular kids.  With this month’s selections, we get a small glimpse into the lives of kids around the world. Our two younger age groups, Hatch and Nest Jr., will learn more about Brazil and Colombia through the eyes of the main characters in the selected books. These characters will make them feel like they are right there in the city of Rio De Janeiro or hanging out in Bogotá, Colombia. I am always so thankful for the authors and illustrators who open their hearts and their worlds to us so beautifully.  

The older kids, our Nest and Soar age groups, are in for some incredible writing. Both age groups will get books set in Chile that feature fascinating coming of age stories that will expose them to Chilean history and immerse them in Chilean culture in the most unexpected ways. 

This month’s selections made me feel really privileged to play a part in bringing this quality of writing to your kids. 

If you are not subscribed, it is not too late to join us! If you are, your kiddos are in for a treat!

Happy reading!

-Bunmi

RELATED BOOKS IF YOU CAN’T WAIT FOR OUR JULY BOX!

Saturday Sancocho by Leyla Torres

Bright cheerful illustrations capturing the spirit of the marketplace and a recipe for delicious chicken sancocho highlight the tale of Maria Lili and her grandparents and the special Saturday when they run out of everything but eggs. (Farrar Straus & Giroux)

Great for Hatch readers.

My Name Is Gabriela: The Life of Gabriela Mistral: by Monica Brown, John Parra (Illustrator)

Gabriela Mistral loved words and sounds and stories. Born in Chile, she would grow to become the first Nobel Prize-winning Latina woman in the world. As a poet and a teacher, she inspired children across many countries to let their voices be heard. This beautifully crafted story, where words literally come to life, is told with the rhythm and melody of a poem. The second in Luna Rising’s bilingual storybook biography series. My Name is Gabriela/Me llamo Gabriela is beautiful tribute to a woman who taught us the power of words and the importance of following our dreams. The story of Gabriela Mistral will continue to inspire children everywhere. (Cooper Square Publishing LLC)

Perfect for Nest Jr. readers.

The History Mystery by Ana Maria Machado

Gaming whizz Will, along with his friends Sonia, Miguel, Matt, and Faye, gets an A for a group history project. But when their teacher reads from their work, none of them recognizes the piece. This is the first of a number of mystery messages which appears in their homework and emails, on their phones, and on their computer screens. Someone from the past is trying to communicate with them, and they must decipher the messages—the strange words from years ago—and figure out how to respond. The messages from Nefertiti, Marco Polo, and the other voices all have one thing in common: they all have to do with the importance of being able to read, and of history living on through the written word. (Little Island Books)

Great for Nest readers.

City of the Beasts by Isabel Allende

Fifteen-year-old Alexander Cold has the chance to take the trip of a lifetime. With his mother in hospital, too ill to look after him, Alex is sent out to his grandmother Kate — a fearless reporter with blue eyes ‘as sharp as daggers’ points’. Kate is about to embark on an expedition to the dangerous, remote world of the Amazon rainforest, but rather than change her plans, she simply takes Alex along with her. They set off with their team — including a local guide and his daughter Nadia, with her wild, curly hair and skin the colour of honey — in search of a fabled headhunting tribe and a legendary, marauding creature known to locals only as ‘the Beast’, only to find out much, much more about the mysteries of the jungle and its inhabitants. In a novel rich in adventure, magic and spirit, internationally-celebrated novelist Isabel Allende takes readers of all ages on a voyage of discovery and wonder, deep into the heart of the Amazon. (Harper Perennial ) Great for Soar readers.

Atlas Book Club is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Our goal is to bring you globally diverse books that will develop your child’s empathy and broaden their worldview!

Strong Characters in Children’s Books

HAITIAN AND JAMAICAN KIDS BOOKS

Children’s books can be very influential. They can encourage positive attributes such as empathy and kindness. Our last day of exploring Haiti and Jamaica was yesterday but, we want to showcase the positive attribute of strength in children’s literature. Strength is a spectrum, it presents differently in every person. These books depict strength in different ways like the strength that comes with learning to love yourself or adapting to a new situation compared with the strength of navigating difficult situations such as poverty. Hopefully you find a book on this list that speaks to you about strength.

Enjoy!

Boonoonoonous Hair by Olive Senior, Laura James (Illustrator)

In this vibrant and exquisitely illustrated picture book, written by Commonwealth Prize-winning Jamaican-Canadian Olive Senior, and with pictures by the acclaimed artist Laura James (the team that created Anna Carries Water), a young girl learns to love her difficult-to-manage, voluminous and boonoonoonous hair. (Tradewind Books)

Great for Hatch readers.

Malaika’s Winter Carnival by Nadia L. Hohn, Irene Luxbacher

Malaika is happy to be reunited with Mummy, but it means moving to a different country, where everything is different. It’s cold in her new city, no one understands when she talks and Carnival is nothing like the celebration Malaika knows from home!

When Mummy marries Mr. Frédéric, Malaika gets a new sister called Adèle. Her new family is nice, but Malaika misses Grandma. She has to wear a puffy purple coat, learn a new language and get used to calling this new place home. Things come to a head when Mummy and Mr. Frédéric take Malaika and Adèle to a carnival. Malaika is dismayed that there are no colorful costumes and that it’s nothing like Carnival at home in the Caribbean! She is so angry that she kicks over Adèle’s snow castle, but that doesn’t make her feel any better. It takes a video chat with Grandma to help Malaika see the good things about her new home and family.

Nadia L. Hohn’s prose, written in a blend of standard English and Caribbean patois, tells a warm story about the importance of family, especially when adjusting to a new home. Readers of the first Malaika book will want to find out what happens when she moves to Canada, and will enjoy seeing Malaika and her family once again depicted through Irene Luxbacher’s colorful collage illustrations. (Groundwood books)

Perfect for Nest Jr. readers.

Serafina’s Promise by Ann E Burg

Serafina has
a secret dream. 
She wants to go to school
and become a doctor
with her best friend, Julie Marie.
But in their rural village
outside Port-au-Prince, Haiti,
many obstacles
stand in Serafina’s way–
little money,
never-ending chores,
and Manman’s worries.
More powerful even
than all of these
are the heavy rains
and the shaking earth
that test Serafina’s resolve
in ways she never dreamed.
At once heartbreaking and hopeful,
this exquisitely crafted story
will leave a lasting impression
on your heart. (Scholastic Inc)

Great for Nest readers.

Dear Haiti, Love Alaine by Maika Moulite, Maritza Moulite

Alaine Beauparlant has heard about Haiti all her life…

But the stories were always passed down from her dad—and her mom, when she wasn’t too busy with her high-profile newscaster gig. But when Alaine’s life goes a bit sideways, it’s time to finally visit Haiti herself.

What she learns about Haiti’s proud history as the world’s first black republic (with its even prouder people) is one thing, but what she learns about her own family is another. Suddenly, the secrets Alaine’s mom has been keeping, including a family curse that has spanned generations, can no longer be avoided.

It’s a lot to handle, without even mentioning that Alaine is also working for her aunt’s nonprofit, which sends underprivileged kids to school and boasts one annoyingly charming intern. But if anyone can do it all…it’s Alaine. (Inkyard Press)

Great for Soar readers.

Atlas Book Club is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Covid-19 and Book Festivals

Photo by Clem Onojeghuo

With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, life has shifted dramatically for many people and industries. The pandemic has had extensive ramifications for the state of literature including economic, cultural, and community impacts. In this piece, we hope to explore these impacts and shed light on how we can support the literary world and communities that comprise it during this time. 

Photo by Oladimeji Ajegbile

Book festivals are an opportunity for authors to gain recognition, connect with their fans, and generate a following for a new book. Book sales during festivals and book tours help a book gain traction, allowing the publishing industry to gauge interest for other book related events and opportunities. Literary festivals also function as an opportunity for authors to interact in a meaningful way with their readers and audience. In an article published in the School Library Journal, the children’s literature author, Christina Soontornvat, summarized this situation eloquently. “…the loss of connecting face-to-face with readers is the hardest part of all this. We get so few opportunities to meet them otherwise. That sort of human connection can make such a big impression on a young reader. It really can make a big difference in their life or turn them into a lifelong reader.” Not being able to interact with the readers and fans that support them is a devastating blow to authors. 

Smaller, independent publishing houses are likely to feel the severity of the pandemic even more acutely. Such publishing houses like Lantana Publishing in the UK and Lee and Low Books here in the US are devoted to increasing the amount of books written by and about ethnic minorities. Festivals allow these publishers to network with bookstores and other book retailers. Connections with book sellers are so important as they unlock new doors for spreading diverse books and increase access to diverse books that helps dispel harmful stereotypes. 

A featured dance at The Little Haiti Book Festival in 2018. Image is credited to @MiamiBookFair on Twitter.

Festivals can also be a conduit for cultural exchange, providing an opportunity for vendors to showcase the food, art, and clothing of different countries and cultures. The Brooklyn Book Festival is a prime example of how festivals function as a way to promote diversity. In addition to the festival providing a safe space to discuss and learn about  “race, sexuality and belonging; stories of migrants, immigrants and refugees” in a literary context,  the festival draws in tens of thousands of people from all parts of the country and the world, providing a unique experience of interacting with people of different backgrounds and cultures. The cultural mosaic of book lovers all brought to one location creates a physical community that is just not available anywhere else. 

Performers at the Orange County Children’s Book Festival in 2012. Image is credited to Segerstrom Center for the Arts from http://centerscene.blogspot.com.

Though the pandemic surely caused the literary and book industry to change in unprecedented ways, we are all grateful for the quick response so many have had during these times. Many book festivals have shifted to a digital platform with live readings from authors and virtual book giveaways that are free to attend for all. Additionally, many publishers have pivoted in order to address the growing concerns of libraries and teachers that rely on their books for education. 

If you would like to support the book industry during these times, consider purchasing books from your local booksellers or supporting online book fairs and celebrations. We are all coping with this time of uncertainty in different ways, but when we come together as readers, parents, book lovers and culture seekers, we can begin to restore the institutions that have been so impactful and necessary to us. Also, look up your favorite book festival! It is likely they now have a virtual option. 

-Chidinma Opaigbeogu

Jamaican and Haitian Reads for Adults!

Let’s take a trip to the Caribbeans where you can lounge and immerse yourself in Jamaican and Haitian culture. Sound like a good time? Check out this book list of 6 books written by Jamaican and Haitian authors!

Haiti

The Farming of Bones by Edwidge Danticat

It is 1937 and Amabelle Désir, a young Haitian woman living in the Dominican Republic, has built herself a life as the servant and companion of the wife of a wealthy colonel. She and Sebastien, a cane worker, are deeply in love and plan to marry. But Amabelle’s  world collapses when a wave of genocidal violence, driven by Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo, leads to the slaughter of Haitian workers. Amabelle and Sebastien are separated, and she desperately flees the tide of violence for a Haiti she barely remembers.

Already acknowledged as a classic, this harrowing story of love and survival—from one of the most important voices of her generation—is an unforgettable memorial to the victims of the Parsley Massacre and a testimony to the power of human memory. (Soho Press Incorporated)

The Return Kindle Edition by Dany LaFerrière

At the age of twenty-three, the narrator hurriedly packed his bags and left behind the stifling heat of Port-au-Prince for the unending winter of Montreal. It was 1976, and Baby Doc Duvalier’s regime had just killed a journalist colleague. But thirty-three years later, after his father’s death, he decides to return him to Baradères, the village where he was born.

How does one return from exile? In Dany’s case, he grounds himself in a hotel room in Port-au-Prince, afraid to see the city he has dreamed of in Montreal. Every time he ventures out of this safety zone, the past and present collide in dizzying ways – the rhythm of the language, the faces of the people, the dust on the roads. How is it that we are undeniably born of a particular place? Why are we always our father’s son?

The Return captures the tension between being from a place but not of it and the subtle ways in which the sights and sounds of memory can seduce. This is at once a novel that is new and original, that melds haiku and narration. A serious book, yet poetic, oneiric, realist. It is the novel of a great writer. (Douglas & McIntyre)

Moonbath by Yanick Lahens, Emily Gogolak (Translator), Russell Banks (Introduction)

Winner of the 2014 Prix Fémina & 2015 French Voices Award

After she is found washed up on shore, Cétoute Olmène Thérèse, bloody and bruised, recalls the circumstances that led her there. Her voice weaves hauntingly in and out of the narrative, as her story intertwines with those of three generations of women in her family, beginning with Olmène, her grandmother.

Olmène, barely sixteen, catches the eye of the cruel and powerful Tertulien Mésidor, despite the generations-long feud between their families which cast her ancestors into poverty. He promises her shoes, dresses, land, and children who will want for nothing…and five months after moving into her new home, she gives birth to a son. As the family struggles through political and economic turmoil, the narrative shifts between the voices of four women, their lives interwoven with magic and fraught equally with hope and despair, leading to Cétoute’s ultimate, tragic fate.

Yanick Lahens was born in Port-au-Prince in 1953 and is one of Haiti’s most prominent authors. She published her first novel in 2000, was awarded the prestigious Prix Femina in 2014 for Moonbath, and is the 2016 winner of a French Voices Award. (Deep Vellum Publishing)

Jamaica

Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James

Tracker is known far and wide for his skills as a hunter: “He has a nose,” people say. Engaged to track down a mysterious boy who disappeared three years earlier, Tracker breaks his own rule of always working alone when he finds himself part of a group that comes together to search for the boy. The band is a hodgepodge, full of unusual characters with secrets of their own, including a shape-shifting man-animal known as Leopard. 

As Tracker follows the boy’s scent—from one ancient city to another; into dense forests and across deep rivers—he and the band are set upon by creatures intent on destroying them. As he struggles to survive, Tracker starts to wonder: Who, really, is this boy? Why has he been missing for so long? Why do so many people want to keep Tracker from finding him? And perhaps the most important questions of all: Who is telling the truth, and who is lying? 

Drawing from African history and mythology and his own rich imagination, Marlon James has written a novel unlike anything that’s come before it: a saga of breathtaking adventure that’s also an ambitious, involving read. Defying categorization and full of unforgettable characters, Black Leopard, Red Wolf is both surprising and profound as it explores the fundamentals of truth, the limits of power, and our need to understand them both. (Penguin Publishing Group)

By Love Possessed by Lorna Goodison

Internationally renowned and award-winning poet Lorna Goodison brings us By Love Possessed, her long-anticipated collection of short fiction. Making dazzling use of the Creole patois of Jamaica, Goodison limns the beauty and despair of the human condition and explores the unique power of love to both uplift and destroy. Goodison’s powerfully moving stories explore the pain, the struggle, and the triumph of Jamaicans—particularly women—those still living on their Caribbean island and those who have emigrated elsewhere. By Love Possessed is a rare and beautiful gift from an extraordinary writer who was mentored by the legendary Derek Walcott and who stands with Edwidge Danticat as a brave and breathtaking voice in contemporary literature. (Harper Collins Publisher)

Augustown by Kei Miller

Ma Taffy may be blind but she sees everything. So when her great-nephew Kaia comes home from school in tears, what she senses sends a deep fear running through her. A teacher has cut off Kaia’s dreadlocksa violation of the family’s Rastafari beliefsand this single impulsive action will have ramifications that stretch throughout the entire community. Kaia’s story brings back memories from Ma Taffy’s youth, including the legend of the flying preacherman and his ties to the history of Jamaican oppression and resistanceall of which will reverberate forward to the present and change Augustown forever.

Vividly bringing to life Jamaica in the 1980s, Augustown follows one family’s struggle to rise above the brutal vicissitudes of history, race, class, collective memory, violence, and myth. (Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group)

Atlas Book Club is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Celebrating Juneteenth: The End of Slavery in America

In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, a strategic document that freed enslaved people in Confederate states, so that they could fight as soldiers for the Union and eventually end the Civil War. The news that African Americans in Texas had been freed from slavery was slow coming. Without the rapid dissemination of information through technology as we have today, enslaved people did not know they were free until June 19, 1865, more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was declared. The immediate joy of liberation and freedom spread through Texas like wildfire. African Americans rejoiced in their freedom with the celebration we now know as Juneteenth, a portmanteau of June and 19.

Emancipation Day Celebration. June 19, 1900

Juneteenth celebrations are characterized by their focus on family and food. Typical celebratory dishes include barbecue, strawberry soda, and watermelon. The occasion is marked by gathering with family and friends, playing instruments and singing- not unlike 4th of July celebrations.

Many African Americans celebrated Juneteenth for decades, but knowledge of this Independence Day for enslaved people is still limited as many people outside (and even inside) the Black community do not know about it. On this Juneteenth take some time to seek out videos and books to educate yourself on this important celebration. The knowledge of the struggles African Americans have undergone in this country to be treated with equality may be what is needed to reverse the effects of systemic racism we still see today.

INTERESTED IN TEACHING YOUR CHILDREN MORE ABOUT SLAVERY IN THE UNITED STATES? CHECK OUT SOME OF THESE BOOKS BELOW.

Atlas Book Club is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

GREAT FOR HATCH READERS (PICTURE BOOKS FOR ALL AGES)

Freedom in Congo Square by Carole Boston Weatherford, R. Gregory Christie (Illustrator)

Mondays, there were hogs to slop,

mules to train, and logs to chop.

Slavery was no ways fair.

Six more days to Congo Square.

As slaves relentlessly toiled in an unjust system in 19th century Louisiana, they all counted down the days until Sunday, when at least for half a day they were briefly able to congregate in Congo Square in New Orleans. Here they were free to set up an open market, sing, dance, and play music. They were free to forget their cares, their struggles, and their oppression. This story chronicles slaves’ duties each day, from chopping logs on Mondays to baking bread on Wednesdays to plucking hens on Saturday, and builds to the freedom of Sundays and the special experience of an afternoon spent in Congo Square. This book will have a forward from Freddi Williams Evans (freddievans.com), a historian and Congo Square expert, as well as a glossary of terms with pronunciations and definitions. (Little Bee Books)

GREAT FOR NEST JR. READERS (7-9 YEARS OLD)

Show Way by Jacqueline Woodson, Hudson Talbott (Illustrator)

Soonie’s great-grandma was just seven years old when she was sold to a big plantation without her ma and pa, and with only some fabric and needles to call her own. She pieced together bright patches with names like North Star and Crossroads, patches with secret meanings made into quilts called Show Ways — maps for slaves to follow to freedom. When she grew up and had a little girl, she passed on this knowledge. And generations later, Soonie — who was born free — taught her own daughter how to sew beautiful quilts to be sold at market and how to read.

From slavery to freedom, through segregation, freedom marches and the fight for literacy, the tradition they called Show Way has been passed down by the women in Jacqueline Woodson’s family as a way to remember the past and celebrate the possibilities of the future. Beautifully rendered in Hudson Talbott’s luminous art, this moving, lyrical account pays tribute to women whose strength and knowledge illuminate their daughters’ lives. (Penguin Young Readers Group)

GREAT FOR NEST READERS (9-12 YEARS OLD)

Chains (Seeds of America Trilogy Series #1) by Laurie Halse Anderson

If an entire nation could seek its freedom, why not a girl? 

As the Revolutionary War begins, thirteen-year-old Isabel wages her own fight…for freedom. Promised freedom upon the death of their owner, she and her sister, Ruth, in a cruel twist of fate become the property of a malicious New York City couple, the Locktons, who have no sympathy for the American Revolution and even less for Ruth and Isabel. When Isabel meets Curzon, a slave with ties to the Patriots, he encourages her to spy on her owners, who know details of British plans for invasion. She is reluctant at first, but when the unthinkable happens to Ruth, Isabel realizes her loyalty is available to the bidder who can provide her with freedom. (Atheneum Books for Young Readers)

GREAT FOR SOAR READERS (12+ YEARS OLD)

Jefferson’s Sons: A Founding Father’s Secret Children by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

This story of Thomas Jefferson’s children by one of his slaves, Sally Hemings, tells a darker piece of America’s history from an often unseen perspective-that of three of Jefferson’s slaves-including two of his own children. As each child grows up and tells his story, the contradiction between slavery and freedom becomes starker, calliing into question the real meaning of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” This poignant story sheds light on what life was like as one of Jefferson’s invisible offspring. (Penguin Young Readers Group)

International Day of the African Child: Remembering The Soweto Student Uprising

Today we celebrate the International Day of the African Child! Africa is a continent rich with culture and history so it is hard to pin down just one event to highlight on this day. However, June 16th also marked the 44th anniversary of the Soweto Uprising of South Africa which we will explore today. 

To understand the significance of The Soweto Uprising, knowledge about the Apartheid In South Africa is necessary. The Apartheid was a period from the 1950s to the 1990s of segregation. Apartheid is an Afrikaans word for apartness, the language has Dutch origins, but was brought to South Africa by White settlers. White South Africans were a minority, but owned most of the land and held the political power of South Africa. Negative sentiments towards Black South Africans strengthened the racist divide so much that laws were created to further oppress the Black majority. Interracial marriages were banned, certain jobs were reserved for only White people, and Black people could not take part in politics outside of areas designated by their White oppressors. Fundamental rights were snatched away from Black South Africans. 

Nelson Mandela Bridge in Johannesburg By S’busiso siso – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=76253417

In 1974, schools made it mandatory for all students to be taught in Afrikaans even though Black South African students had been primarily taught in English. Witnesses to this law and the subsequent uprising recounted their outrage at being forced to learn already difficult subjects in a new language. And to add insult to injury, students had to learn what they dubbed “the language of the oppressor”. 

Students during this time took it upon themselves to organize a peaceful march on June 16, 1976. The march received more participants than predicted as thousands of students mobilized in protest. Despite the peaceful nature of the march, the students were met with hostility. Armed police officers halted the students. Tear gas and bullets were deployed on the thousands of school-aged children in Soweto as the police officers grew increasingly forceful. 

The tragedy of the Soweto Uprising garnered the attention of the South African government and countries all over the world. The news spread like wildfire of the brave students who had resisted the racist laws of their country and stood up for justice only to be gunned down. Rioting and violence spread as Black communities and townships reacted to the harsh treatment that had befallen them. Eventually, the South African government could not ignore the unrest of the country. Protests and continuous exposure by the media led to the repeal of the law that made teaching Afrikaans in schools mandatory. 

The Apartheid was finally ended in the early ’90s as a result of the collective efforts of  Black activists, government reform, and influential, well-known figures such as President Frederik Willem de Klerk, Desmond Tutu, and Nelson Mandela. 

Although a tragic day in the history of South Africa,  June 16th is celebrated in South Africa as National Youth Day. The Soweto Uprising signifies the importance of education, the power of our voices, and the resilience of children.  These students stood up and fought for their rights; their actions helped shape their entire country and its future.  

The Hector Pieterson Memorial in Vikalazi Street in Soweto is named after the 14-year-old boy who was the first killed by police in the June 16 1976 Soweto student’s uprising. The memorial was created to “honour the youth who gave their lives in the struggle for freedom and democracy”.[mediaclubsouthafrica.com]By Jorge Láscar from Australia – The Hector Pieterson Memorial, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=31950152

-Chidinma Opaigbeogu

Make it an Atlas Book Club Summer – Read the World in 90 days!

Join Atlas Book Club for an intentional summer of reading by playing the Read The World in 90 Days Bingo! You and your migrators will explore the world and learn about other cultures with fun reading activities that will keep your kids engaged  through the summer.

Here is how to join in this fun challenge:

⭐️Complete the form below to enter.

⭐️After you Submit the entry form, click on the link to download your Bingo Card.

⭐️You have until August 31, 2020 to complete activities to earn your Bingo.

⭐️Earn your Bingo by completing five activities in a row.

⭐️Email a photo of your completed Bingo card to info@atlasbookclub.com by August 31 for a chance to win one of three special prizes!

⭐️We will have three winners! One winner will be selected randomly at the end of June, July and August.

⭐️Limited to one entry (one Bingo Card) per child.

⭐️3 PRIZES UP FOR GRABS!

  1. One Past ABC Box of your Choice + One ABC T-shirt
  2. One Past ABC Box of your Choice + One ABC mug
  3. One Book Bundle + One ABC T-Shirt

The Importance of Talking to Your Children about Race

These past few weeks have been overwhelming for many people as we attempt to process the racial injustices and prejudices that continue to prevail in the United States. The outrageous racial profiling incident in Central Park and the murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd have left us devastated. There are no words to encompass the scale of injustice and grief that many have felt around the country. 

The knowledge that these incidences are a part of a systematic and ingrained racial bias can create a sense of hopelessness. At Atlas Book Club, an integral part of our mission is to help eliminate racial prejudices through children’s literature. When children have diverse and positive experiences with people of different ethnicities and races, they grow up embracing people who are different from them. We believe the empathy and compassion children develop when they are young can help them become adults who end the cycle of racial bias. 

If you are a parent and would like to learn how to talk to your children about sensitive topics such as race, please read some of the articles we’ve linked below about navigating these issues. 

We stand with you in this time of heartache and frustration. Don’t lose hope. 

From Blacklivesmatter.com “#BlackLivesMatter was founded in 2013 in response to the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s murderer. Black Lives Matter Foundation, Inc is a global organization in the US, UK, and Canada, whose mission is to eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes.”

How to talk to kids about race and racism, according to experts

How to Talk to Kids About Race: Books That Can Help

9 Children’s Books about Police Brutality

Anti-Racism For Kids 101: Starting To Talk About Race

Why the Diversity of Your Reading List Matters

Books for Grown Folk: Reading Recs for Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Grown up books for grown up folks!

If I Had Your Face by Frances Cha

Kyuri is an achingly beautiful woman with a hard-won job at a Seoul “room salon,” an exclusive underground bar where she entertains businessmen while they drink. Though she prides herself on her cold, clear-eyed approach to life, an impulsive mistake threatens her livelihood.
 
Kyuri’s roommate, Miho, is a talented artist who grew up in an orphanage but won a scholarship to study art in New York. Returning to Korea after college, she finds herself in a precarious relationship with the heir to one of the country’s biggest conglomerates.
 
Down the hall in their building lives Ara, a hairstylist whose two preoccupations sustain her: an obsession with a boy-band pop star, and a best friend who is saving up for the extreme plastic surgery that she hopes will change her life.
 
And Wonna, one floor below, is a newlywed trying to have a baby that she and her husband have no idea how they can afford to raise in Korea’s brutal economy.

Together, their stories tell a gripping tale at once unfamiliar and unmistakably universal, in which their tentative friendships may turn out to be the thing that ultimately saves them. (Randomhouse Publishing Group)

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

A Little Life follows four college classmates—broke, adrift, and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition—as they move to New York in search of fame and fortune. While their relationships, which are tinged by addiction, success, and pride, deepen over the decades, the men are held together by their devotion to the brilliant, enigmatic Jude, a man scarred by an unspeakable childhood trauma. A hymn to brotherly bonds and a masterful depiction of love in the twenty-first century, Hanya Yanagihara’s stunning novel is about the families we are born into, and those that we make for ourselves. (Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group)

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

From the bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You, a riveting novel that traces the intertwined fates of the picture-perfect Richardson family and the enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives.

In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is planned—from the layout of the winding roads, to the colors of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules.

Enter Mia Warren—an enigmatic artist and single mother—who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenaged daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past and a disregard for the status quo that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.

When old family friends of the Richardsons attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town—and puts Mia and Elena on opposing sides.  Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Elena is determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs. 

Little Fires Everywhere explores the weight of secrets, the nature of art and identity, and the ferocious pull of motherhood—and the danger of believing that following the rules can avert disaster. (Penguin Publishing Group)

Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls by T Kira Madden

Acclaimed literary essayist T Kira Madden’s raw and redemptive debut memoir is about coming of age and reckoning with desire as a queer, biracial teenager amidst the fierce contradictions of Boca Raton, Florida, a place where she found cult-like privilege, shocking racial disparities, rampant white-collar crime, and powerfully destructive standards of beauty hiding in plain sight.

As a child, Madden lived a life of extravagance, from her exclusive private school to her equestrian trophies and designer shoe-brand name. But under the surface was a wild instability. The only child of parents continually battling drug and alcohol addictions, Madden confronted her environment alone. Facing a culture of assault and objectification, she found lifelines in the desperately loving friendships of fatherless girls.

With unflinching honesty and lyrical prose, spanning from 1960s Hawai’i to the present-day struggle of a young woman mourning the loss of a father while unearthing truths that reframe her reality, Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls is equal parts eulogy and love letter. It’s a story about trauma and forgiveness, about families of blood and affinity, both lost and found, unmade and rebuilt, crooked and beautiful. (Bloomsbury USA)

Black Ice Matter by Gina Cole 

This collection of short stories explores connections between extremes of heat and cold. Sometimes this is spatial or geographical; sometimes it is metaphorical. Sometimes it involves juxtapositions of time; sometimes heat appears where only ice is expected. In the stories, a woman is caught between traditional Fijian ways and the brutality of the military dictatorship; a glaciology researcher falls into a crevasse and confronts the unexpected; two women lose children in freak shooting accidents; a young child in a Barbie Doll sweatshop dreams of a different life; secondary school girls struggle with secrets about an addicted janitor; and two women take a deathly trip through a glacier melt stream. These are some of the unpredictable stories in this collection that follow themes of ice and glaciers in the heat of the South Pacific and take us into unusual lives and explorations. (Huia (NZ) Ltd)

Girls Burn Brighter by Shobha Rao

Poornima and Savitha have three strikes against them: they are poor, they are ambitious, and they are girls. After her mother’s death, Poornima has very little kindness in her life. She is left to care for her siblings until her father can find her a suitable match. So when Savitha enters their household, Poornima is intrigued by the joyful, independent-minded girl. Suddenly their Indian village doesn’t feel quite so claustrophobic, and Poornima begins to imagine a life beyond arranged marriage. But when a devastating act of cruelty drives Savitha away, Poornima leaves behind everything she has ever known to find her friend. 

Her journey takes her into the darkest corners of India’s underworld, on a harrowing cross-continental journey, and eventually to an apartment complex in Seattle. Alternating between the girls’ perspectives as they face ruthless obstacles, Shobha Rao’s Girls Burn Brighter introduces two heroines who never lose the hope that burns within.(Flatiron Books)

The Sympathizer (Pulitzer Prize Winner) by Viet Thanh Nguyen

The winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, as well as six other awards, The Sympathizer is the breakthrough novel of the year. With the pace and suspense of a thriller and prose that has been compared to Graham Greene and Saul Bellow, The Sympathizer is a sweeping epic of love and betrayal. The narrator, a communist double agent, is a “man of two minds,” a half-French, half-Vietnamese army captain who arranges to come to America after the Fall of Saigon, and while building a new life with other Vietnamese refugees in Los Angeles is secretly reporting back to his communist superiors in Vietnam. The Sympathizer is a blistering exploration of identity and America, a gripping espionage novel, and a powerful story of love and friendship. (Grove Atlantic Inc.)

 A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

After 103 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list and with four million copies of The Kite Runner shipped, Khaled Hosseini returns with a beautiful, riveting, and haunting novel that confirms his place as one of the most important literary writers today. 

Born a generation apart and with very different ideas about love and family, Mariam and Laila are two women brought jarringly together by war, by loss and by fate. As they endure the ever escalating dangers around them-in their home as well as in the streets of Kabul-they come to form a bond that makes them both sisters and mother-daughter to each other, and that will ultimately alter the course not just of their own lives but of the next generation. With heart-wrenching power and suspense, Hosseini shows how a woman’s love for her family can move her to shocking and heroic acts of self-sacrifice, and that in the end it is love, or even the memory of love, that is often the key to survival.

A stunning accomplishment, A Thousand Splendid Suns is a haunting, heartbreaking, compelling story of an unforgiving time, an unlikely friendship, and an indestructible love.(Penguin Publishing Group)

The Leavers by Lisa Ko

A Chinese woman who works in a New York nail salon doesn’t come home one day; her young son is raised by well-meaning strangers who cannot heal his broken heart.We meet Bronx fifth-grader Deming Guo on the day his mother disappears without a trace. From there, the story moves both forward and backward, intercutting between the narrative of his bumpy path to adulthood and his mother’s testimony. Gradually the picture comes together—Deming was conceived in China and born in America because his unmarried mother, Peilan, decided she would rather borrow the $50,000 to be smuggled to America than live out her life in her rural village. After her baby is born she tries to hide him underneath her sewing machine at work, but clearly she cannot care for him and work enough to repay the loan shark. She sends him back to China to be raised by her aging father. When Deming is 6, Yi Ba dies, and the boy rejoins his mother, who now has a boyfriend and lives with him; his sister, Vivian; and her son, Michael. After Peilan disappears, Deming is shuffled into foster care—his new parents are a pair of white academics upstate. Ten years later, it is Michael who tracks down a college dropout with a gambling problem named Daniel Wilkinson and sends a message that, if he is Deming Guo, he has information about his mother. The twists and turns continue, with the answers about Peilan’s disappearance withheld until the final pages. Daniel’s involvement in the alternative music scene is painted in unnecessary detail, but otherwise the specificity of the intertwined stories is the novel’s strength. Ko’s debut is the winner of the 2016 Pen/Bellwether Prize for Fiction for a novel that addresses issues of social justice, chosen by Barbara Kingsolver. This timely novel depicts the heart- and spirit-breaking difficulties faced by illegal immigrants with meticulous specificity. -Kirkus Reviews (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill)

A Woman Is No Man by Etaf Rum

In her debut novel Etaf Rum tells the story of three generations of Palestinian-American women struggling to express their individual desires within the confines of their Arab culture in the wake of shocking intimate violence in their community—a story of culture and honor, secrets and betrayals, love and violence. Set in an America at once foreign to many and staggeringly close at hand, A Woman Is No Man is an intimate glimpse into a controlling and closed cultural world, and a universal tale about family and the ways silence and shame can destroy those we have sworn to protect.

“Where I come from, we’ve learned to silence ourselves. We’ve been taught that silence will save us. Where I come from, we keep these stories to ourselves. To tell them to the outside world is unheard ofdangerous, the ultimate shame.”

Palestine, 1990. Seventeen-year-old Isra prefers reading books to entertaining the suitors her father has chosen for her. Over the course of a week, the naïve and dreamy girl finds herself quickly betrothed and married, and is soon living in Brooklyn. There Isra struggles to adapt to the expectations of her oppressive mother-in-law Fareeda and strange new husband Adam, a pressure that intensifies as she begins to have children—four daughters instead of the sons Fareeda tells Isra she must bear.

Brooklyn, 2008. Eighteen-year-old Deya, Isra’s oldest daughter, must meet with potential husbands at her grandmother Fareeda’s insistence, though her only desire is to go to college. Deya can’t help but wonder if her options would have been different had her parents survived the car crash that killed them when Deya was only eight. But her grandmother is firm on the matter: the only way to secure a worthy future for Deya is through marriage to the right man.

But fate has a will of its own, and soon Deya will find herself on an unexpected path that leads her to shocking truths about her family—knowledge that will force her to question everything she thought she knew about her parents, the past, and her own future. (HarperCollins Publisher)