Staff Picks 4 Kids Category: current events

The Tulsa Race Massacre

This spring marks 100 years since the thriving Greenwood District in Tulsa, Oklahoma, sometimes called Black Wall Street, was burned down and many of its residents were killed in what became known as the Tulsa Race Massacre. While this is not an easy subject to discuss with children, acknowledging and learning from this violence in our history is important for all Americans to grapple with. These books are best shared and discussed with older children.

The New York Times has also published an interactive article that shows 3D renderings of what the Greenwood District likely looked like before it was destroyed. Survivors of the massacre also testified in Washington D.C. about what it was like to live through such an experience.

snapshot of books about the Tulsa race massacre

Pilkey Apologizes for Passive Racism

In March of 2021, a Korean American father reached out to Scholastic about concerns he had about racist imagery and negative stereotypes in Dav Pilkey’s 2010 book The Adventures of Ook and Gluk. After several conversations between the father, Dav Pilkey, and Scholastic, on Monday, March 22, 2021, Scholastic halted distribution of The Adventures of Ook and Gluk with support from Pilkey.  

The graphic novel is written and illustrated by characters from Dav Pilkey’s “Captain Underpants” series, and is the story of Ook and Gluk, two cavepeople who live in the fictional town of Caveland, Ohio, in 500,001 B.C. In the book, Ook and Gluk travel through time to the year 2222, where they meet Master Wong, a martial arts instructor who teaches them kung fu.

The author issued a letter of apology via his YouTube channel, acknowledging that his use of stereotypes when it came to the character of Master Wong, kung fu, and Chinese philosophy amounted to “passive racism.” In his apology, Pilkey stated that he had “intended to showcase diversity, equality and nonviolent conflict resolution” with the book, but he had fallen short of these goals. 

Racial stereotypes and passive racism are harmful to all children because it perpetuates the narrative that this is normal for people to be treated this way. It is important for all children to see people of color represented accurately, without racist misinformation, because it fosters positive self-image and reduces the chance that children will internalize harmful stereotypes.   

Scholastic has vowed that they will publish books that represent a diverse society, and the library will continue its journey to learn about the importance of inclusive collections.  

Youth Services staff have curated a list of graphic novels, illustrated chapter books, and picture books that accurately reflect the diversity of Asian American lives and experiences. Please check the list to place holds and learn more.  

Asian-American, Pacific Islander experience books
https://mppl.org/kids/good-books/?category=current+events&list=The+Asian+American+%2F+Pacific+Islander+Experience

If you would like to read more information on how to talk to children about racism in books and media see here. 

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

Cenus.gov has lots of information about the history of this monthlong celebration: “In 1978, a joint congressional resolution established Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week. The first 10 days of May were chosen to coincide with two important milestones in Asian/Pacific American history: the arrival in the United States of the first Japanese immigrants (May 7, 1843) and contributions of Chinese workers to the building of the transcontinental railroad, completed May 10, 1869.

In 1992, Congress expanded the observance to a monthlong celebration that is now known as Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Per a 1997 U.S. Office of Management and Budget directive, the Asian or Pacific Islander racial category was separated into two categories: one being Asian and the other Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander. Thus, this Facts for Features contains a section for each.”

To celebrate, check out some wonderful picture books by Asian and Pacific Islander authors and illustrators!

And make sure ro register for our Super Saturday program, VIRTUAL Super Saturday: Indian Dance featuring Bharatam Academy. They will feature amazing dances including the Alarippu and the Kolattam and even tell a story through dance! Join in by clapping along, learning a few steps, and practicing bird and animal movements.

You can also enjoy author Joanna Ho reading her book, Eyes that Kiss in the Corners.

National Portrait Gallery and Black History Month

portraits of African Americans in National Portrait Gallery

Let’s visit the National Portrait Gallery without even leaving the house! Google arts and culture has created a virtual exhibit of notable African Americans, which is a great exhibit to explore any time, but especially during Black History Month.

To extend your experience, we’ve put together a list of books about some of the famous figures featured in this virtual art exhibit. Place a hold or come to the main library to check one out!

Presidents’ Day

Mount Rushmore figurine
Photo by Takefreebies on Unsplash

What is Presidents’ day? To find out, I looked it up in one of our digital resources, Britannica Library Children’s edition. It says:

“Presidents’ Day is a U.S. holiday that honors Presidents George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Its official name, however, is Washington’s Birthday. […]

In the 1880s the U.S. government made the birthday of Washington (February 22) a national holiday. New YorkIllinois, and some other states made the birthday of Lincoln (February 12) a holiday, too. In 1968 the U.S. Congress passed a bill to move Washington’s Birthday from February 22 to the third Monday in February. At the time, some members of Congress wanted the holiday to honor Lincoln as well. They tried to change the official name to Presidents’ Day, but they failed.

Today many states and individuals call the holiday Presidents’ Day, despite its official name. They consider it a celebration of Washington and Lincoln, or even of all U.S. presidents. Some states, such as Illinois, also still recognize Lincoln’s birthday as a separate holiday.”

We put together a resource list that includes information on the holiday, individual presidents, and some fiction books about presidents and elections. Happy reading!