Today we celebrate inspirational books that foster a celebration of individuality--in ourselves and others--and embracing inclusivity. I hope that like me, you'll find that each title below is a work of art and worth sharing again and again.
I’m From written by Gary R. Gray, Jr., illustrated by Oge Mora (Balzar & Bray 2023)
This book is a celebration of things that are meaningful to a young boy. Children will find much to relate to in this story – from pancakes to recesses that are too short and school days that are too long – and also from personal moments spent with family. This story will inspire young readers to think of where they are from – what makes them unique – that makes them feel special. In fact, I bet kids will be inspired to come up with their own “I’m from” lists. This book is sure to inspire connections and build relationships in classrooms and communities where it is shared.
Learn more about Gary Gray and his other projects at his website.
Our Class is a Country written by Andria Rosenbaum, illustrated by Dream Chen (Albert Whitman & Company 2023)
The energetic and upbeat prose of this book celebrates the diversity of a classroom and the differences and similarities that are to be celebrated among each of its children. With delightful illustrations and a variety of interests showcased, children are bound to see themselves on the pages and feel special in doing so. This book is perfect for any day of the school year – not only the first one. This book deserves a spot on any shelf – it is bound to bring feelings of reassurance to any child, especially if they are feeling jitters for the first day of school.
Learn more about the author's other books at her website.
Desert Queen written by Jyoti Rojan Gopal, illustrated by Svabhu Kohli (Levine Querido2023)
This beautifully illustrated book with gorgeous prose tells the story of a boy named Haresh Kumar who discovers a love for music and dancing, but because of gender expectations, he keeps his passion a secret. However, when he is faced with the death of his parents and the need to support his sisters, he becomes a performer and embraces and develops his stage identity as Queen Haresh. His interpretation and combination of Rajasthani folk and Bollywood dance routines leads his to becoming a beloved national icon. The lyrical prose and fluid illustrations deliver a perfect picture book that celebrates individuality and following one’s dreams.
Learn more about Jyoti Rajan Gopal's other projects at her website.
Wishes of the World written by Melissa Stiveson, illustrated by Khoa Le (published by Sleeping Bear Press 2023)
“Make a wish!” These are words that children may hear on a birthday or upon finding a penny or when blowing dandelions seeds . . . and in this book, children are taken on a tour of seeing how wishes are made by children around the world. I can’t think of a better way to show the universality of well-wishes and hopeful intentions that are felt by people everywhere. From notes hung from bamboo in Japan to paper boat candles in Thailand to four-leaf clovers in Ireland, the time for this book is now. Share its message. With all you know.
1) a pitch/query critique from author Gary Gray, Jr.
2) a copy of Our Class is a Country (US address) from author Andria Rosenbaum
3) an AMA with author Jyoti Rajan Gopal
4) Winner's choice: a copy of Wishes of the World or a PB manuscript critique (non-rhyming) from author Melissa Stiveson
How do you earn entries?
1) ✔ Reply to each blog post with a comment = 1 entry
2) ✔ Share on social media = 1 entry for each share (let me know where you shared)
@SKWenger on X
@skwenger on Blue Sky
@SKWenger_books on Instagram
@SKWengerChildrensAuthor on FB
3) ✔ Ask your library to order the books = 1 entry for each (let me know you did this!)
4) ✔ Post a review on Goodreads, Amazon, or BN = 1 entry each (let me know you did this!)
Lastly, be sure to follow the authors and myself on social media so that you can be connected if you win!
Winners are selected November 2nd, so there is plenty of time to participate.