Author Archives: rcauthor

Cooper’s Lesson

Title: Cooper’s Lesson

Author:  Sun Yung Shin

Illustrator: Kim Cogan

Publication/ Year: Children’s Book Press, 2004

Number of Pages: 29

Tags/ Themes: Culture, Diversity, Family, Emotion, Fiction, Friendship, Picture Book, K-5, Rebecca Cauthorn

Genre: Fiction

Descriptive Annotation: This book follows the story of Cooper, a young boy who is half Korean and half white. His mother sends him out to a store where the store owner only speaks Korean. But Cooper’s Korean is pretty poor and he gets stressed out and thinks the other people in the store are laughing at him because he is not good at speaking Korean. So he tries to steal a brush, but ends up making friends with the storekeeper. Together, he learns Korean and helps the storekeeper around the store in order to make up for trying to steal. The book is written in both Korean and English.

Classroom Application: This book would be very good to use in a classroom where some of the students spoke Korean. It would bring to light the very real struggle that students have when they have multiple racial backgrounds and struggle with identity. By being in both Korean and English, it allows the book to be more accessible to students who maybe speak just Korean, or are learning English as a Second Language. Additionally, it is a good book for English readers to read because it reveals some of the struggle that millions of people have when they are either from, or their parents are from, different parts of the world.

Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: Having the book written in both English and Korean allows the book to be accessible for people who speak either (or both!) languages. It also can help strengthen the understanding of one (or the other) language, because the reader could read both, reading the language they understand less of first, and then reading their more comfortable language second, checking for understanding. It addresses diversity issues very head-on because there are several points where the store owner tells the boy that he, too, struggled with languages and figuring out what to call himself. This identity struggle seems to be common for people who are any ethnicity other than white, and this book does a beautiful job addressing that and letting the reader know that it is normal and okay to struggle with language and sense of belonging.


I Miss You

Title: I Miss You

Author:  Pat Thomas

Illustrator: Pat Thomas

Publication/ Year: Barron’s Educational Series, Inc. 2001

Number of Pages: 29

Tags/ Themes: Emotion, Family, Non-Fiction, K-5, Rebecca Cauthorn

Genre: Non-Fiction

Descriptive Annotation:   This straightforward book walks through the young reader with how to deal with death. It begins with a brief explanation of what death is, and then moves on to how it is natural to grieve or feel angry or blame yourself. It explains that even though people might not talk to you as much, it’s not because they don’t care, it’s because they don’t know what to say. This book also does a very good job of explaining how different cultures believe different things happen after death, and different cultures do different things to the dead body. The book concludes by saying that it is okay to move on, because they will always be with you in your heart, just by thinking or remembering them. The book includes questions directed to the reader (such as, “Do you know anyone who has died?”) and a list of suggestions of how to use this book best.

Classroom Application: This book would be more appropriate to use on a student-to-student basis. Perhaps one of the students just had a grandparent pass away. This might be a good opportunity to bring this book in and give it to their parent, to have them share it with the student. Or, if your relationship with the student was close enough, you could talk through it with them. Or, you could give it to a school counselor and have this book be an aide to the grieving process. It focuses more on the Social an Emotional Learning Standards because this is about dealing with grief and other emotions. Because this book has questions directed to the reader, it could be good to help them process out loud what is going on and what they are feeling. It is also very good because it is important for kids to recognize their emotions and feelings rather than shoving them away and ignoring them.

Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: This book has terrific cultural diversity! Not only does it explain how different cultures believe in different things after death, but it also explains that different cultures grieve differently, and that is okay! Because no matter where the person really ends up going, the important part is that the people who love them are honoring their lives in their own special way. Additionally, the book illustrates many different ethnicities, which is good because it makes the book more approachable for all readers (not just white people have people die!). This also could help spur conversation about different religions and cultures and diversity in the classroom. The language of this book is simple and to the point. It is blunt, but gentle. Death is a very tricky subject to talk about, but I think this book handles it quite well, and it opens the door for a good discussion to be had about it.


The Way to Start A Day

Title: The Way to Start A Day

Author:  Byrd Baylor

Illustrator: Peter Parnall

Publication/ Year: Aladdin Paperbacks, 1977

Number of Pages: 27

Tags/ Themes: Award Book, Culture, Historical Fiction, Picture Book, Poetry, K-5

Genre: Non-Fiction

Descriptive Annotation: This book received a Caldecott Honor Award for its stunning simplistic illustrations. This book describes the best way to start off your day, by greeting the sunrise. Every illustration is of a different culture and how they greeted the start of a day, but all the illustrations are in simple line drawings with vivid colors to accentuate them. The story talks about cavemen, Peruvian, Mexican, Egyptian, Conga, Chinese, Japanese, Indian, and many other traditions of people and how their cultures welcome the dawn of a new day.  Students may need to know a little bit about some of the cultures or at least have an understanding of how many different cultures there are around the world.

Classroom Application: This book would be really good to use to help inform students that everyone will have different traditions and cultures and that is okay! Because even though cultures are very varied and unique, they all share some similarities if you look hard enough. We are all people under the same sun, and it is important to acknowledge and respect other cultures as different from your own, but still special and wonderful! It could meet some social and emotional learning standards by talking about different cultures which may relate to some of my students’ cultures, which may not get represented in books that much. I would use this book to start a conversation between people. How do you start your day? Is there anything special you do at the start of any day? What about your grandparents? We could turn it into a writing prompt as well by reflecting about what cultures you’ve witnessed and what you participate in.

Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis:  The language in this book is beautiful. It is very poetic, with phrases such as,

“And everywhere

They knew

To turn

Their faces


As the sun

Came up.”

This style is consistent throughout the book, adding pauses and beauty to the language that we don’t usually see in these books. There are many different cultures represented in this book, as I have mentioned, which is very good because it is important to expose young readers to books with a lot of diversity in them. The way the book is written provokes a calming tone to the reader, soothing and relaxing, almost meditative in a way. This is also important because it associates that calm and relaxed emotion with different cultures.


So Many Dynamos!

Title: So Many Dynamos!

Author:  Jon Agee

Illustrator: Jon Agee

Publication/ Year: Sunburst Books, 1994

Number of Pages: 67

Tags/ Themes: 6-8, 8-12, Non-Fiction

Genre: Non Fiction? It’s a list of Palindromes

Descriptive Annotation:  This book is made up entirely of funny palindromes and hilarious pictures to illustrate them. On every page is a different palindrome with an image describing the palindrome. For example, one of my favorites is, “No Sir! Away! A papaya war is on!”, with a beautiful image of an epic papaya war going on. This book is certainly not for young readers, and instead contains humor that would be more fitting for older students, probably starting around 7th or 8th grade. (I am not quite sure on this though because some of the palindromes include alcohol, such as “Ron, I’m a minor!” with an image of an older guy trying to buy a little kid a drink. I think that starting around 7th grade they would understand that this is just a funny palindrome, but I don’t think it would really be appropriate for younger students. This book made me crack up and laugh out loud many times.

Classroom Application: I would use this book to help teach students about palindromes! What better way than to use a hilarious book to make kids remember what palindromes are? With the creative drawings and unique phrases I have never heard before, this is a book that is impossible to forget about. After teaching what palindromes were and showing the book, I would challenge the students to come up with one or two creative palindromes of their own and draw their own picture to describe it! Then we could hang them on the wall. I think this would be a super fun activity that would also help solidify the idea of palindromes for them.

Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis:  All of the images are drawn with pencil and maybe charcoal, so you can’t really tell different races or portrayals of culture. This book is less for cultural analysis and statement and more about fun with words! Linguistically, this book is brilliant. It turns speech on itself, engaging your mind (wondering, no way is that actually a palindrome), and making you laugh.


And Tango Makes Three

Title: And Tango Makes Three

Author:  Justin Richardson, Peter Parnell

Illustrator: Henry Cole

Publication/ Year: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2005

Number of Pages: 28

Tags/ Themes: Animals, Award Book, Diversity, Family, Non-Fiction, Picture book, K-5

Genre: Non-Fiction

Descriptive Annotation: At the beginning of the book I found myself rolling my eyes, thinking this was just another story about a man and a woman who fell in love. But I was quickly surprised! It follows the story of two male penguins, Roy and Silo, who fall in love and want a baby. Finally, the zookeeper gives them another penguin’s egg and they have the baby they have always wished for. At the end of the book, there is an author’s note which explains that all of these events are things that truly did happen in the Central Park Zoo. Students wouldn’t necessarily need any background knowledge, just an open mind.

Classroom Application: This book would be great to use when teaching acceptance and appreciation of everyone regardless of what their preferences are. It appeals more to the Social and Emotional Learning Standards, encouraging kids to both see and accept others for who they are and also to be proud and confident in themselves, regardless of if they are part of the “norm” or not. This book would be great to start a conversation about social justice issues, and I could tie it in to a social studies lesson talking about gay rights or other civil rights movements. Additionally, it makes me wonder about how different species are wired psychologically! I bet there are more examples out there of animals showing gay tendencies! I might encourage someone to do research on that and see if they can bring any other information forward (if it was an older class).

Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: As I mentioned before, this has great cultural diversity. In my opinion, there are not nearly enough books which depict homosexual love. In our society today, the LGBTQ+ population is bigger than ever, probably because more are willing to be open and honest about who they are. Despite this, there is still a ton of prejudice and discrimination against us. By using books which open kids’ eyes from an early age, such as this one, showing that love is love no matter what, it will help society continue to grow more and more accepting of everyone, despite our differences.


Our People

Title: Our People

Author:  Angela Shelf Medearis

Illustrator: Michael Bryant

Publication/ Year: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 1994

Number of Pages: 25

Tags/ Themes: Culture, Family, Historical Fiction, K-1, 2-3

Genre: Fiction

Descriptive Annotation: This book is written from the perspective of the daughter, telling about what her father has told her about the history of their people. She recounts how they built pyramids in Africa, or were kings or queens or poets or artists in villages. She tells how they came across the ocean to explore the new world—this is only on one page and it is my biggest problem with the book. The way the author writes about this mass migration sounds like it was voluntary and for an adventure, not because of slavery. She does talk about slavery later, which is good, but this one part made me raise my eyebrows. The girl recounts how people were freed of slavery and went on to learn and invent things and get jobs. For each of these parts of her history she shares, she says how she wishes she could have been there to help. The book ends with her father telling her that she has a great future in front of her, and will continue bringing great things for their people.

Classroom Application: I probably would not use this book as a part of a lesson persay, but I think that a lot of the content is good for students to have access to in the classroom. It shares how creative, strong, and resilient people from African descent are. It helps teach students to be proud of their heritage, regardless of if you are the minority or not. While I have a bit of an issue with that one page described above, I think that the lesson of the book (being proud of who you are) is very important.

Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: The illustrations in this book are beautiful. They take up most of the page, and are realistic and colorful. They both illustrate the history of their people while also showing the little girl and how she dreams of big things. I think that it is really important to have books in the classroom that are about all kinds of different people and cultures, and I think this book does a really good job of showing how much this culture has overcome.


She Persisted

Title: She Persisted

Author:  Chelsea Clinton

Illustrator: Alexandra Boiger

Publication/ Year: 2017, Philomel Books

Number of Pages: 27

Tags/ Themes: Culture, Diversity, Historical Fiction, Non-Fiction, Picture Book, K-5

Genre: historical fiction (maybe even non-fiction)

Descriptive Annotation: This powerful book outlines the story of thirteen different women who persisted through incredibly difficult times, and came out stronger than before. This book is not only a lesson to young readers that women are powerful and capable, but it is also an inspiring message to young girls that even though life can be incredibly difficult and people often discriminate against girls and women and assume we are weaker or inferior to men, we can persist and prove our capability and power to the world! Through real-life examples, the author connects the stories of these historic women and relates it to the modern-day girl. The illustrations are painted with watercolor and depict many different races and ethnicities. Before reading this book, students would need to know what the word “persisted” means.

Classroom Application: I could use this book to supplement a lesson about any one of the women mentioned here. It would be good to use because it would show that even though that woman probably struggled to get what she wanted (or maybe even failed), her efforts were important and there is an army of women fighting for what they believe in. Even if they are not right next to you, they are there and supportive. This book would be very good to use to help social studies lessons. Additionally, it addresses SELS because it teaches students to be confident and determined and encourages them to be themselves despite hardships which may come their way. I would use this book to prompt a text-to-self writing lesson because students could write about a time where they were challenged or doubted because of some part of their identity and how they persisted through it. The only problem with this potential writing exercise is that some of the boys would not have anything good to write about, and some of the girls might not either! This activity might be better suited for upper-level students, but it could potentially be modified for younger kids too.

Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: The cultural diversity representation in this book is phenomenal. It has characters of all ethnicities and races, and represents a minority and brings power to them. For girls, it is inspirational, relatable, and encouraging. For boys, it allows them to see how strong and capable women are and helps open their eyes to the oppression we have dealt with for centuries. Through the use of real quotes from these historic women, it helps make the book land with a heavier impact; bringing to life these people. With the repetition of the phrase, “she persisted”, it brings forth a theme of determination throughout the book which is very powerful.


My Diary from Here to There

Title: My Diary from Here to There, Mi Diario de Aqui hasta Alla.

Author:  Amada Irma Perez

Illustrator: Maya Christina Gonzalez

Publication/ Year: Children’s Book Press, 2002

Number of Pages: 31

Tags/ Themes: Adventure, Culture, Diversity, Emotion, Family, Non-Fiction, Picture Book, Spanish, K-5, Rebecca Cauthorn

Genre: Non-Fiction

Descriptive Annotation: This story follows the journey of the author as a young girl when she moved from Mexico to the United States. It is formatted as diary entries, probably based off of the real diary entries Amada wrote when she was young. This story is great because it shows both the excitement and the worry that people have when they are leaving their home country. A key part of this book is that on every page, there is the text written in both Spanish and in English. This is important because it would be a great tool to use with either bilingual or ESL students. There is an author’s note at the end of the book which describes why this story is important to her and how she wants to encourage people who are new to the United States to be brave, and be true to themselves.

Classroom Application: If I was working with either a bilingual student or an English as a Second Language Learner, this book would be very helpful. By including both the English words and the Spanish words it allows students to try to read the foreign language, while also being able to look and read the comfortable language in case they get stuck, and to figure out the meaning of the words. By having this book in the classroom, it would allow students to feel more comfortable and excited to read, knowing that there are books which accommodate their language needs. But this book is also great for students who only speak English because it shows them that students who come from different countries are just like they are—excited to learn, worried about making friends, and totally human.

Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: This book does an excellent job portraying the different cultures and the struggle of immigrant families finding a place in a different country. It shows diversity and the strength that people have to be brave and be themselves. The author uses both English and Spanish, which is a key part of this book because it allows it to be accessible for students of any background (assuming they speak either Spanish or English), and the text, while dense, is very honest and relatable. One example of the honest text is seen on page 9, “Mama and Papa keep talking about all the opportunities we’ll have in California. But what if I can’t learn English? Will I ever see Michi again? What if we never come back?” These questions are very real questions many people have when moving to a different place, and some students in the classroom may have even gone through a similar experience which would make this book that much more powerful: they are not alone.



Title: Wings

Author:  Christopher Myers

Illustrator: Christopher Myers

Publication/ Year: Scholastic Press, New York, 2000

Number of Pages: 38

Tags/ Themes: Adventure, diversity, emotion, fantasy, friendship, picture book, Rebecca Cauthorn

Genre: Fantasy

Descriptive Annotation: This book is loosely based off of the story of Ikarus. However, it doesn’t get into the dark and depressing part of the story where his wings melt off and he dies. Instead, it looks at Ikarus when he is a kid and how he got bullied for being different. The illustrations are definitely noteworthy, done in an abstract, almost collage-y way. I think that the message of the story is beautiful because it is teaching children to stretch their wings and soar, regardless of what other kids might say about you. It encourages kids to be their true self and not be ashamed of their differences, instead embracing them. I think that if a child were to read this book they should NOT know the story of Ikarus before hand because if they did (like I did) they would be worried the entire book that he was going to die. In fact, I think that is where this story falls short. I believe it could be a much more powerful piece if the author chose to not name the boy Ikarus because in doing so it prompts a tragic underlying tone to the whole piece. I think it could have been much better if he was just any boy, but happened to have wings! Then the same things would happen to him but without the worry that he would then be his best self flying high… and then die.

Classroom Application: I probably would not read this book out loud to the class unless I wanted to use it as a supplement to a lesson about the fable of Ikarus. If this is what I was doing, I would first read the book to them and have the children discuss what it means to bully, why it is bad, and what it means to be a good friend. I would lead them in an activity where they write out their differences from one another and explain why their differences make them unique and special. Then (if I wanted to explain why the boy’s name was Ikarus) I would describe the fable. Another cool idea would be to first read this book and then read a more informative book about Ikarus and have students compare and contrast the two pieces. This might be a good activity to prompt synthesis and deeper thinking, while drawing connections between two texts.

Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: This book shows good diversity for several reasons. First, every person in this book is a different color (the main character is black, the girl is orange, the policeman is blue, many of the other boys and girls are brown or green). This adds to the abstractness of the illustration while also demonstrating the insignificance of what color you are! Another way it demonstrates diversity is by showing that Ikarus is the only kid with wings, and he gets bullied for being different. This is a very real thing which is going to happen in the classroom or at recess, so it is important to demonstrate to students how harmful that can be. The language used in this book is very eloquent, as seen in this passage, “Their word sent Ikarus drifting into the sky, away from the glaring eyes and the pointing fingers. I waited for them to point back at me as I watched Ikarus float farther and farther away”.


Wanted: Perfect Parents


Title: Wanted: Perfect Parents

Author: John Himmelman

Illustrator: John Himmelman

Publisher/Year: BridgeWater Books, 1993

Number of Pages: 28

Tags/Themes: Adventure, Family, Fantasy, Fiction, Picture book, K-5, Rebecca Cauthorn

Genre: Fiction

Descriptive Annotation: In this text, Gregory, a young boy, puts up a sign on his door saying “Wanted: The Perfect Parents”, prompting an explanation of what a perfect parent would mean for him. It is a fun and lighthearted book with colorful illustrations and vivid imagination, a book which would bring smiles to children’s faces. On each page the illustrations are so detailed that it would be fun to spend time with the students to look closely at the pictures and work on making observations.

Classroom Application: This book primarily addresses Social and Emotional Learning Standards, providing a fun and lighthearted read purely for the enjoyment of the reader. This book would allow students to let their own imaginations fly, as well as potentially connect with Gregory based off of what he is imagining himself. I would use this book as a writing workshop, having students write their own sequel to it, imagining what their perfect parents might be. But then as a follow up, I would have them write about how their parents are good in their own ways. (A follow-up thought: maybe I would not have this second part because if a student lived in a home with abusive parents or a house they felt unhappy in, this might be uncomfortable for them to try to think about the good things their parents bring them. Perhaps instead I could have them write about some role model in their life who they appreciate for what they do, not necessarily a parent.)

Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: While the main characters in this are all white, there are images of other children, many of whom are different ethnicities. This is good because while it might be better to depict a multi-racial household, showing the other kids as not just white is a good first step (especially for a book written more than 20 years ago) to diversity. The language in this book is fun and engaging, using descriptive words to paint the picture of Gregory’s ideal world. My favorite part is at the end of the book when he describes how his perfect parents would tuck him in to bed at night and say how much they loved him, because then that’s exactly what his parents do. One example of the language used in this book is, “We would get out all my paints and we’d paint pictures on every wall in the house and my perfect parents would say, ‘My talented son and his best friend, Ernie, are such good artists’”. The illustrations in this book compliment the text beautifully, adding on to the author’s descriptions and bringing the story to life.

Potential Problems of this Text:  The fact that the three main characters are white, and the fact that there isn’t much shown appreciation for his parents until the very last page. I wouldn’t want this book to make kids go home to their parents and demand a bunch of ridiculous things like what is stated in the book. I think that if I guided the reading right, however, this would be avoided and it would simply be enjoyable and funny.