Book Beat: Childrens Books and Poetry

Does anyone else feel that reading can be a form of divination, a sort of window to your inner mind? The interpretation of books, like other kinds of art, tends to reveal more about the reader than the book itself. I’ll often be reading a book and, while connecting with a character, realize that I’m facing a similar issue or conflict. It’s as if my subconscious guides me to the right book that will help me understand myself. Picking a book to read may seem random, but it infrequently is.

From “One Last Word: Wisdom from the Harlem Renaissance,” Bloomsbury USA Childrens. Illustration by Frank Morrison accompanying a poem by Nikki Grimes.

The same can also be said of compiling literary news for this column. Sometimes I start drafting a Book Beat post with a certain theme in mind such as politics, feminism, mental health, or self-care. Other times the theme reveals itself to me. This week I found myself focusing on news related to children’s books; I’m still not sure exactly why. Maybe I’m feeling nostalgic for the times when I could more easily escape reality by diving into a book. Or maybe I miss having a child’s simplistic, Yes or no view of the world. In any case, be sure to care for your inner child and pick out a book for them! Revisit old lessons or teach new ones — and if you live in the U.S. be sure to wish your local librarians a happy National Library Week.

It’s also National Poetry Month in the United States, so why not pick out a children’s book that also rhymes? Of course there are the classics, such as Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sednak, but if you want to try something new The New York Times recently posted a list of children’s books of poetry. WWAC readers looking for diverse authors and characters should particularly pay attention to Bravo!: Poems About Amazing Hispanics written by Margarita Engle and illustrated by Rafael López, One Last Word: Wisdom from the Harlem Renaissance written and illustrated by Nikki Grimes and others, and Out of Wonder by Kwame Alexander with Chris Colderley and Marjory Wentworth, and illustrations by Ekua Holmes.

“Alphabet Oddities” by Jennifer Joseph. Illustrations by Forrest Burdett.

If you want more rhyming children’s books about kids of color you can support the Alphabet Oddities Kickstarter. Written by Jennifer Joseph and illustrated by Forrest Burdett, Alphabet Oddities features Marika, an Asian-American little girl based on Joseph’s own daughter, exploring her world and meeting fantastically weird creatures. The Alphabet Oddities Kickstarter earned the website’s “Project We Love” badge on their second day of funding and achieved complete funding in less than a week after posting, but you can still donate if you want a copy! And for the really little ones, Loryn Brantz’s Feminist Baby picture board book hit U.S. bookstores and Amazon on Tuesday. Feminist Baby may seem a little familiar — Brantz’ comics about the woke babe have long been making the rounds on the Internet. It may seem a bit strange to talk feminism with babies, but Brantz maintains that it’s never too early to smash the patriarchy. We at WWAC most definitely agree.

Stephanie Tran

Stephanie Tran

Queer, 20-something intersectional feminist, Vietnamese-American, and born fangirl. Writes about anything geeky and thinks about food too much. You can find Stephanie's Twitter rants at @YouAndYourEgo.