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.
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)
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)
Serafina’s Promise by Ann E Burg
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,
stand in Serafina’s way–
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)
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)
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