Tag Archives: identity

#365PictureBooks No. 44 Red : a crayon’s story

Red has a bright red label, but he is, in fact, blue. His teacher tries to help him be red (let’s draw strawberries!), his mother tries to help him be red by sending him out on a playdate with a yellow classmate (go draw a nice orange!), and the scissors try to help him be red by snipping his label so that he has room to breathe. But Red is miserable. He just can’t be red, no matter how hard he tries! Finally, a brand-new friend offers a brand-new perspective, and Red discovers what readers have known all along. He’s blue! This funny, heartwarming, colourful picture book about finding the courage to be true to your inner self can be read on multiple levels, and it offers something for everyone!” Goodreads

I have just ordered this for our picture book collection. It’s going to be a great title to use to to inspire thought and provoke conversations about identity and diversity. This seems such a simple message and one kids will get a lot more quickly than most adults and politicians. This should be compulsory reading for the adults in this world who just don’t understand that difference isn’t a lifestyle choice.

It’s about being true to your inner self.” (Author)

Teacher’s guide

And for curious children wondering how crayons are made:

Bibliographic details:

Red : a crayon’s story / Written and illustrated  by Michael Hall.

Published by Greenwillow Books, 2015.

40 pages.


#365PictureBooks no. 42 Looking like me by Walter Dean Myers

When you look in a mirror, who do you see?

A boy? A girl?
A son? A daughter?
A runner? A dancer?

Whoever and whatever you see–
just put out your fist and give yourself an “I am” BAM!

This jumping, jazzy, joyful picture book by the award-winning team of Walter Dean and Christopher Myers celebrates every child, and every thing that child can be“.

I picked this up at the public library thinking from the cover it was going to be about race or cultural identity. Turns out it’s more about identity and self affirmation in general – and very much about self esteem. Every time Jeremy declares something positive about himself, his talents and his abilities, his relationships with others he gives himself or the other person a fist bump. This could be an interesting provocation to use at the start of the year and could lead to some insightful art work by children. Useful for PYP : Who we are inquiry.

Read Betsy Bird’s great review on Goodreads

Bibliographic details:

Looking like me by Walter Dean Myers and illustrated by Christopher Myers.

Published by Egmont, 2009.

32 pages.


I borrowed this copy from Auckland Libraries


#365PictureBooks Day 29 The name jar by Yangsook Choi

“The new kid in school needs a new name! Or does she?

Being the new kid in school is hard enough, but what about when nobody can pronounce your name? Having just moved from Korea, Unhei is anxious that American kids will like her. So instead of introducing herself on the first day of school, she tells the class that she will choose a name by the following week. Her new classmates are fascinated by this no-name girl and decide to help out by filling a glass jar with names for her to pick from. But while Unhei practices being a Suzy, Laura, or Amanda, one of her classmates comes to her neighborhood and discovers her real name and its special meaning. On the day of her name choosing, the name jar has mysteriously disappeared. Encouraged by her new friends, Unhei chooses her own Korean name and helps everyone pronounce it—Yoon-Hey.”

Source (including image): Goodreads

This is one of those ‘oldie but goodie’ picture books and a great title to use at the start of the year. It fits with the PYP Learner attitudes tolerance and independence, and is wonderful used with a selection of picture books on friendships, differences and acceptance. It is very useful in a school like ours which has a lot of children new to New Zealand – many children have a Korean or Chinese name and an adopted english name and it is also a good reminder to their peers about the importance of names, cultural differences, kindness and acceptance.

Other resources:

Teaching children philosophy

Corkboard connections 20 reading skills to teach with the name jar

Here’s a book talk on video from reviewer Kelsey Andrewjeski


Bibliographic details:

The name jar / by Yangsook Choi

Published by Random House, 2003.

40 pages

ISBN:9780440417996 (paperback edition)

NZ RRP $35.50

This paperback edition is till in print and available via Library Supppliers or the Book Depository or to borrow from Auckland Libraries.

#365PictureBooks Day 10 – Gaston

‘A bulldog and a poodle learn that family is about love, not appearances in this adorable doggy tale from New York Times bestselling author Kelly DiPucchio and illustrator Christian Robinson.

This is the story of four puppies: Fi-Fi, Foo-Foo, Ooh-La-La, and Gaston. Gaston works the hardest at his lessons on how to be a proper pooch. He sips—never slobbers! He yips—never yaps! And he walks with grace—never races! Gaston fits right in with his poodle sisters.

But a chance encounter with a bulldog family in the park—Rocky, Ricky, Bruno, and Antoinette—reveals there’s been a mix-up, and so Gaston and Antoinette switch places. The new families look right…but they don’t feel right. Can these puppies follow their noses—and their hearts—to find where they belong?’ Publisher

I love this book! Gaston is a little pooch who will steal your heart (but so will all his siblings in this story.) This is a great book for talking about fitting in, identity and belonging and possibly will inspire some questions around nature versus nurture. Having reread this at least 5 times in the last two days, I can promise it is still fresh and very, very funny (it seems to get better each time I read it). It is going to be an awesome readaloud and I can’t wait to share it with my students at the start of the school year. I can just about hear how it is going to sound aloud as I read it.

The illustrations in this are fantastic – printed on wonderful paper with a slightly retro-modern feel. Gaston and his sisters and are painted using negative relief where they are composed of white space with marking painted on. It is a very effective technique. All of the colours, the illustrator has used, feel warm and happy.

Kids, parents and teachers are going to think this is very cute. Definitely a book with the ‘aww ‘ factor!

Image source: Author website

Bibliographic details:

Gaston / Words by Kelly DiPucchio, pictures by Christian Robinson

Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2014.

40 pages.


Available to purchase locally and to borrow from Auckland Libraries

#365PictureBooks Day 2 – Little Eliott, big city by Mike Curato


“What’s better than a cupcake? A friend to share it with!

The big city holds many new and challenging experiences for Little Elliot, the polka-dotted elephant. But Elliot is about to find out that life is full of sweet surprises that come in the smallest of packages.” [Back cover]

This picture book is delicious in many ways. Elliot is a character that young readers will be wishing would come to life or at least be available as a very tangible plush toy. From the gorgeous cover, the stunning cupcake covered end papers and the sweet, sweet story there are so many delectable aspects to this story about getting lost in the crowd and finding a friend. Elliot is small and different and life presents obstacles, but his resilience and perseverance is heartening – wonderful subtle messages for little people. I love how the story and illustrations are soft, subtle and not at all preachy – many children will identify easily with Elliot.

It is always lovely to find another picture book title to add to those used at the start of the school year in the younger levels in a primary school. Teachers often request books that discuss friendship, acceptance, uniqueness, identity, kindness, courage and many more virtues and feelings. In addition to encouraging good social skills in our students one of the PYP Trans-disciplinary themes students inquire into throughout the year is ‘Who we are’ and this can cover these concepts:

An inquiry into the nature of the self; beliefs and values; personal, physical, mental, social and spiritual health; human relationships including families, friends, communities, and cultures; rights and responsibilities; what it means to be human.

Elliot also reflects the PYP Learner Profile ‘Caring’ and Learner attitude ‘Co-operation’.

Bibliographic details:

Little Elliot, big city / story and pictures by Mike Curato.

Published in 2014 by Five Mile Press (part of the Bonnier Publishing Group). 32 pages


NZ RRP: $20.00

Available at Auckland Libraries

Publisher and other resources:

The Macmillan website has more information about this book including a downloadable PDF activity guide, links to the author website and more.

Lovely review of this title and a few others on the theme of friendship that would be wonderful for the start of school via the New York Times here.

There is a wonderful interview with Mike Curato on the Teach mentor texts blog here.

P.S. The author has announced that Elliot will be available as a plush soft toy in February 2015! Even better, this book is the first in a series with the next book Little Elliot, big family due out October 2015.