Looking for conversation-starting books to read with your kids during school closures? Check out these two new releases!

I receive free electronic advanced reader copies of these books through an arrangement between the publishers and NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion on NetGalley’s website. I only review books on my blog that I really love.

Looking for conversation-starting books to read with your kids during school closures? Check out these two new releases! #kidlit #ownvoices #nativeamerican #firstnations #readaloud #philippines #elders #family

I loved it when my dad read books out loud to us. The stories often led to memorable conversations and crazy circumstances. After reading My Side of the Mountain, my dad decided we should harvest and eat grubs on our next backpacking trip. We harvested them. He decided we should cook them to kill any bacteria. When he finished, even our golden retriever turned up his nose at the plump, charred remains in the skillet.

These conversation-starting books will both entertain and enlighten–providing ample opportunities to talk to your kids.

The Train

By Jodie Callaghan, illustrated by Georgia Lesley, March 2020, 32 pages.

A beautiful and evocative story about a young girl, Ashley, who finds her uncle sitting alone next to train tracks overgrown with weeds. When Ashley asks him why he sits there, he explains that he waits for what they lost that day to come back. This opens up a conversation about the residential school system in Canada (similar to the Indian Boarding School system in the United States) and how it traumatized generations of children.

The beautiful illustrations keep the book from feeling too dark, and the author brings up an important concept for children and adults alike–learning to sit with someone in their pain. A glossary of Mi’gmaq words at the end helps readers understand unfamiliar words.

Parents, teachers, librarians, and lawmakers need to read this important book in order to understand how decisions made in the past continue to affect the present and the future.

Now is a great time to dig deep into history and have conversations with our kids about prejudice, racism, trauma, and healing.

@_secondstory has a new release you won't want to miss. The sad yet hopeful picture book will start conversations with your kids about everything from history to family to politics. #TheTrain #kidlit #picturebooks @JBarrrg Click To Tweet
Looking for conversation-starting books to read with your kids during school closures? Check out these two new releases! #kidlit #ownvoices #nativeamerican #firstnations #readaloud #philippines #elders #family

Any Day With You

By Mae Respicio, Wendy Lamb Books, May 2020, 224 pages.

Kaia loves the beach, but she doesn’t like change. Her older sister just finished high school and will soon start college on the other side of the country. Kaia’s summer plans get upended when Tatang, her great-grandfather, announces that he’ll move back to the Philippines at the end of the summer.

When Kaia’s art camp announces a film contest, she thinks she has discovered a way to keep Tatang in the United States—make him so proud of her when she wins that he’ll never want to leave. Her best friends, Abby and Trey, agree to use a Filipino folktale as the basis of their contest entry. 

The beautiful story of friendship and family will appeal to both middle-grade students and their parents and teachers. It holds a wealth of information about Filipino culture and the struggle of immigrant families. 

Respicio masterfully weaves in cultural tidbits without ever making them sound gratuitous (it helps that Kaia’s mom teaches Filipino studies at a nearby university). I finished the book with a greater understanding of a culture I knew little about and a new respect for a culture that honors and values their elders. 

This conversation-starting book will help readers understand and value other cultural traditions and ways of doing things.

Start a conversation with your kids by reading #AnyDayWithYou by @maerespicio together! #ownvoices #kidlit #RandomHouseKids Click To Tweet