Tag Archives: Picture Book

The Librarian Who Measured The Earth

Title: The Librarian Who Measured The Earth


Author: Kathryn Lasky


Illustrator: Kevin Hawkes


Publisher and Year: Little, Brown and Company 1994


Number of Pages: 47




Descriptive Annotation: This book is about a Greek librarian named Eratosthenes.  He was very interested in geography and wanted to measure how big the Earth was.  It details his life, but he is most known for figuring out how to calculate the Earth’s circumference. It also explains how he was a very curious man and questioned a lot of things, but mainly focused on how he learned to calculate the Earth’s circumference.


Classroom Application: This book could be used to introduce Greek scholars, but also be used to introduce the mathematical concept of circumference.  Eratosthenes was the first person to find out the circumference of the Earth, so it would be a cool way of introducing circumference to younger kids.

Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis:  This book explains how schools were back in ancient Greece and how they studied, “At the gymnasium there were no desks, no paper, and no pencils.”  Showing how school was different and that there are different ways to learn. Eratosthenes was a very curious person and questioned lots of things, so this could be used to show that asking questions is a good thing because it leads to knowing more things.  That’s how he learned the circumference of the Earth because it started out as a question, “When he could speak, he began asking hundreds and even thousands of questions.” At the root of learning is a question, so it is good to have questions.

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.


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.


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.


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.


Equal Schmequal

Title: Equal Shmequal

Author: Virginia Kroll

Illustrator: Philomena O’Neill

Publisher/Year: Library of Congress, 2005

Number of Pages:  32

Tags/Themes: Animals, Fantasy, Math, Picture book, K-1, 2-3, Rebecca Cauthorn

Genre: Fiction

Descriptive Annotation:  This book is about a group of animals who are trying to figure out how to make equal tug of war teams. At the end of the book there is a special note with the literal definition of the word equal. This is important because they talk about different kinds of equality throughout the book, equal number, equal size, equal weight, equal effort, etcetera. Students would not necessarily need to have any background knowledge of this book, but I would make it a point to make sure that they understand what the word equal means by the end of the book.

Classroom Application:  This book would be a good way to introduce a math lesson on what it means to be equal. Because it discusses numbers and halves, it would be appropriate for a younger audience. Additionally, I would use  part of the text which I disagree with to create a mini lesson. At one point, mouse says, “Equal means fair”, which I definitely do not agree with. I understand, for the purpose of the book, why the author said this. However, in the classroom setting, fair is not always equal because different students need different accommodations! So I would still use this book to help introduce the concept of equality in terms of math, but I would use that part to show that Mouse wasn’t right about that all the time.

Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: At the beginning of the book, Mouse is watching children play on the playground. The illustrator portrayed them as being many different races. This is important because the ethnic makeup of the classroom is likely to be diverse, so by using books which also show diversity it helps students understand that it doesn’t matter what color you are! The language in the book is easy to read, as demonstrated in this line, “Bear walked out from the trees. ‘What do you want to play?’”. However, the size of the text is on the smaller side and there is a lot of text on each page which could make it challenging for some students in lower grades. This book might be a good one to read out loud and have kids make predictions about what is going to happen next.


My Name was Hussein

Title: My Name Was Hussein

Author: Hristo Kyuchukov
Illustrator: Allan Eitzen

Publisher/ Year: Boyds Mills Press, Inc. 2004

Number of Pages: 26

Tags/Themes: Culture, Diversity, Emotion, Family, Non-Fiction, Holidays, Picture Book, K-5, 6-8, Rebecca Cauthorn

Genre: Non-Fiction

Descriptive Annotation: This is a true story about the author, who grew up in Bulgaria. There is an author’s note at the end of the book which provides further details on the historic events which occurred when the Soviet Union took over Bulgaria. He explains in this author’s note that this story is based on real events which occurred in his childhood. The first half of the book is more upbeat, describing the holiday of Ramadan and the traditions his family carry out. The second half of the book is when he describes what happened when the soldiers came and made them all change their names and stop celebrating their religion. Before reading this book, students would need to know that there have been recurring events of governments taking over countries and forcing the people to change their religions and culture.

Classroom Application: Having this book in the classroom would be a good asset because it would allow students to see that different religions are okay and forcing people to change their religion can be extremely harmful. It is also beneficial because it portrays people of different ethnicity (rather than just Caucasian people), and it would appeal to Social and Emotional Learning Standards by creating a feeling of empathy and understanding for minorities. This book could be used as a supplement to a social science lesson looking at religions or even various instances of violence as a result of religious control (such as the Haulocaust). This book could be beneficial to such a lesson because it would demonstrate that these incidents are not isolated, and have been repeated far too many times throughout history. Most of all, this book should prompt an understanding in students that acceptance of all religions is important and that you shouldn’t judge anyone for their name, ancestry, or religion.

Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: This book represents the Muslim religion and can be used to generate discussion about religion and religious inequities. Because the author is writing about his own life, I think this book is very honest and does a good job demonstrating first the beauty of his religion, followed by the harm which can come from people trying to change other’s religions. This would also be a good time to allow students to share their own religious beliefs, and confirm that it is okay to believe in whatever you believe in. I would introduce this book to the students by first asking if anyone wanted to share what religion they practice, and then allowing students to discuss their different religions. I would be very careful facilitating this discussion to make sure that people who practice “minority” religions did not feel overlooked or pushed aside—because the whole point is to embrace them! The author has a nice tone shift halfway through the piece when talking about the main holiday, Ramadan. At the beginning he says, “The last day of Ramadan is the best. My father goes to the mosque. When he comes back, he gives us candies. My little brother and I kiss our parents’ hands to say thank you”. Later, he says, “It was Ramadan. I wanted to visit my grandparents. I wanted to taste my grandmother’s puddings. My mother would not let me go. She was afraid of the soldiers.” This tone shift is important to show the effect that the Soviet Union’s Invasion had.