Monday, March 18, 2019

ReFoReMo Day 12: Editor Julie Bliven Explores Unexpected Approaches to Inclusion


By Julie Bliven

As citizens, we can benefit from being inclusive and understanding why inclusion is important. We can experience firsthand how inclusion teaches empathy and puts value on diversity. Likewise, as publishing professionals, we can benefit from examining books about inclusion. We can experience firsthand how themes of inclusion can be shared in innovative ways via text and art, expanding our ideas about what makes a book noteworthy.

I’m personally interested in books that incorporate ideas about inclusion in unique or unexpected ways. Here are a few:

In I’m New Here, Anne Sibley O’Brien tells a story of immigration from the perspective of three newcomers who assimilate into their American school. In Someone New, she tells the same story from the perspective of the students who learn to welcome their new peers. By exploring the unexpected perspective of the characters who are not assimilating, Anne’s approach reminds me that inclusion entails overcoming anxiety about others’ differences, creating connections, and dissolving barriers.








The board book Snug by Carol Thompson is a celebration of the things that make us feel secure and cozy. I was surprised and gratified when I got to the penultimate spread, which features a little girl in a wheelchair, hugging her dog. My own two-year-old son will soon be in a wheelchair (due to a rare neuromuscular disease). I primarily find disability reflected in older children’s books. As a parent, I’m so grateful that toddlers like my son can see themselves in this story. As an editor, I’m encouraged to remember that inclusion of all types is relevant and important for even the littlest of readers.





      The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doerrfeld is a picture book about loss and grief, and how best to express these emotions. It feels deliberately inclusive because the text uses a gender-neutral name and does not use gender pronouns. The protagonist—depicted as a curly-haired tot in striped pajamas—could be a boy or a girl, which makes the character’s experience feel all the more universal. This title inspires me to keep in mind how gender-neutral stories can empower readers in far-reaching ways.






You Hold Me Up by Monique Gray Smith depicts a community of characters of all different ages and races. The stylized watercolor art seems to allow for multiple interpretations of the characters’ race or backgrounds—an effective and surprising way to be visually inclusive. Alongside the art, the message of holding one another up (through laughter, listening, kindness, etc.) is shared in simple, direct phrases that feel both original and timeless.







·        Strictly No Elephants by Lisa Mantchev is about a boy who can’t join a pet club because, well, no elephants are allowed. The boy creates his own club, where all are welcome. Here, the message of inclusion is disguised a bit by the use of animals and by themes of friendship and humor. But the message is there, reminding me that the book’s multispecies harmony is a creative and solid stand-in for the harmony and inclusion we seek to achieve as humans.  


These titles and so many others reinforce my appreciation for publishers, agents, authors, and illustrators who continue to uphold themes of inclusion in the work they do. And I have just as much gratitude for the teachers, librarians, reviewers, and adult consumers who make it clear that these kinds of books are needed and wanted now more than ever.


Julie is offering a copy of a book she edited, SOMEONE NEW. To be eligible for prizes throughout the challenge, you must be registered by March 4, comment on each post, consistently read mentor texts, and enter the Rafflecopter drawing at the conclusion of ReFoReMo.  



 





Julie Bliven is editor at Charlesbridge, where she has edited more than fifty titles, including fiction and nonfiction board books, picture books, and middle-grade novels. Julie holds an M.A. in Children’s Literature from Simmons University, where she teaches and mentors writers in its M.F.A. program. She has also served as a member of the Children’s Book Council Diversity Initiative. @Julie_Bliven








171 comments:

  1. Hi there, You've done an excellent job. I will certainly digg it and personally recommend to my friends. I am sure they will be benefited from this website.
    online marketing tips

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you for these great mentor examples. I loved The Rabbit Listened for it's treatment of grief/loss and emotions. Now I have another facet of this book to admire and learn from.

    ReplyDelete
  3. As a special education teacher and the mother of a child who is deaf, I appreciate this list of mentor texts about inclusion. It is so important for books to portray people who have challenges in a way that shows that they have full lives, and that they have much to contribute in a differently-abled way. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thank you for the book list, Julie. INCLUSION! Oh yes, let us remember inclusion today!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thanks for all these great suggestions. Love the perspectives!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Oh, today's pile of books made me smile! The Rabbit Listened is essential for every early childhood classroom (kids relate to the crushing feeling when their blocks building falls or similar, and it reminds, ME, the teacher to listen to kids' pain instead of rushing to make them feel better). Strictly, No Elephants is another one I've used in the classroom-kids love the friendship, the tiny elephant, and the gathering at the end. And I loved the three perspectives in I'm New Here. Great selection!

    ReplyDelete
  7. What a timely reminder about the importance of inclusion - and a real eye opener in these books that it can be done so thoughtfully, and in a subtle yet ultimately powerful and meaningful way. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Strictly No Elephants is such a wonderful book, as is I'm New Here. I'm excited to read and study these other titles as well to see how they offer inclusion within their pages!

    ReplyDelete
  9. I loved Strictly No Elephants. Such a great way to get a message across.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Great post, Julie! Thank you for the terrific list of mentor texts. I’m looking forward to reading Snug, The Rabbit Listened, and Strictly No Elephants. As someone who has been on crutches since I was 10, I know what being excluded is like and would have loved to have seen books like these back in the 50’s.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Thanks for this fabulous list.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Wonderful choices! I love how today's publishers are making a great effort to address inclusion and kindness in their titles.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Hi, Julie. Great list with fabulous messages. TY.

    ReplyDelete
  14. The Rabbit Listened and Strictly No Elephants have been on my favorites list for a while now. I have not gotten to read any of these others yet but am very excited too!

    ReplyDelete
  15. A wonderful list of inclusive picture books, including a few that are new to me. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  16. These are all great titles. Strictly No Elephants had me going, "But wait! Isn't it super-COOL to have an elephant, skunk, etc as a pet?" Which can open the door to discussions about "isn't it cool to know so many other kids who are different from you?"

    ReplyDelete
  17. Thanks, Julie! I share your interest in "books that incorporate ideas about inclusion." Your post nudged me to rethink a PB ms.

    ReplyDelete
  18. As a school librarian, I live having book that show inclusivity. It becomes the new normal. The one where normal is hodgepodge and a mixed up beautiful rainbow all colors, shapes, sizes and abilities. If kids see regularly in their books and in their world being modeled, they begin to make life decisions like who gets to play kick ball or basketball at recess, a different process.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Thanks for this wonderful post! I was very intentional with my two books to have diverse characters (even though the stories themselves were not about inclusion/diversity). My second book, The Masterpiece, has a boy in a wheelchair throughout the book. I just wanted to mention it in case you are looking for books that your son might enjoy. Also, I just LOVE The Rabbit Listened. I honestly don't even remember realizing that the character was gender neutral, but I'm glad you brought it to my attention.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Thanks for these wonderful suggestions, Julie -- I've always enjoyed your presentations!

    ReplyDelete
  21. Thanks for suggesting these great titles that offer wonderful messages, Julie.

    ReplyDelete
  22. I hadn't seen Strictly No Elephants before and I loved it. Great way to demonstrate how silly it is to exclude others. I hadn't noticed The Rabbit Listened was gender neutral-how interesting and how it really doesn't matter who the child is that needs comfort. Thanks for the post!

    ReplyDelete
  23. I love books like these! You mentioned a few I haven't read. I'm putting them on my wish list! Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  24. Thank you for this great list of books.

    ReplyDelete
  25. As a person who works in the school system with the special education department, I'm happy to see these books for kids on the shelves. Also, I'm sorry to hear about your child having a neurological issue. Thank you for your wonderful list of books to study.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Wonderful list. I hadn't noticed the gender neutrality of The Rabbit Listened. Something to watch for! I just love Strictly, No Elephants. I actually bought it in a foreign country in a language I don't read. I fell in love with the story through the illustrations. I now own an english copy too. =)

    ReplyDelete
  27. Good Job Julie, of listing these titles. The Rabbit Who Listened is one of my favorites! I have read it over and over again.

    ReplyDelete
  28. I am so excited to read today. These titles fit very well with one of my MS.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Thanks, Julie! Great titles to ponder and look at through a different lens.

    ReplyDelete
  30. I loved The Rabbit Listened -- those amazing books that are universally needed for kids and adults alike. Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Interesting post. Thanks for the examples.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Can't wait to delve into these! Thanks for the great list, Julie!

    ReplyDelete
  33. I love Anne Sibley O'Brien's books and Strictly No Elephants.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Thank you, Julie, for the great examples. Inclusion is so very important, and these are terrific positive influences for children.

    ReplyDelete
  35. What great texts to read about inclusion and the fresh ways used to approach it. Thanks, Julie!

    ReplyDelete
  36. Wow, what an amazing list of titles that emphasize inclusion. The "No Elephants Allowed" title brought a smile. Also, can't wait to read "The Rabbit Listened" to see how the author handled grief and loss for such a young age. Thank you for these examples!

    ReplyDelete
  37. Inclusion. So important particularly today. This list is inspiring. I particularly liked The Rabbit Listened. Thank you for pulling this list together and your thoughtful comments.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Julie, when I was teaching special education, I looked for books to share that portrayed inclusion in beautiful ways, as these you have selected. I, like you, want to promote books that give children of all backgrounds and developmental levels opportunities to shine. Each person has worth and purpose. Thank you for sharing in a very personal heartfelt way. Thinking of you and your son and sending love.

    ReplyDelete
  39. Lovely examples of inclusion, Julie. Text and illustrations integrate beautifully--perfect choices for leading Whole Book Approach storytimes. Many thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  40. Great examples of inclusion. And so important for kids to see themselves. The Rabbit Listened is a personal favorite! Thanks for the great post.

    ReplyDelete
  41. The Rabbit Listened and Strictly nNo Elephants are two of my favorites PBs! Thank you so much for sharing your insights on inclusion and these amazing mentor texts!

    ReplyDelete
  42. Thank you, Julie. Thanks for such good examples of inclusion done well.

    ReplyDelete
  43. Thank you for these great examples, Julie.

    ReplyDelete
  44. Thanks, Julie, for highlighting these titles. They all offer unique ways of encouraging inclusion and as such, are so important for us to read and study .

    ReplyDelete
  45. These were great examples, Julie. Maybe if we get enough books like this "out there", people will be kinder to each other! And include others in their experiences and life.

    ReplyDelete
  46. Wonderful examples and descriptions! Thank you, Juli, for sharing these books. I can understand why children love them.

    ReplyDelete
  47. All these books are great choices to explore how to write about inclusion. Thanks so much, Juli. I'm excited to read them.

    ReplyDelete
  48. This. "...inclusion entails overcoming anxiety about others’ differences, creating connections, and dissolving barriers." If only we can stop fearing differences and instead be motivated by them to expand our own horizons/experiences.

    ReplyDelete
  49. I love the unexpected way these examples explore inclusion. Thank you for introducing me to some new titles

    ReplyDelete
  50. Great post and some great titles! Thanks for letting us research inclusivity through your post and picture books. :)

    ReplyDelete
  51. Thank you for this list of beautiful books, Julie, and thank you for the reminder to represent all readers in our writing and in the books we put on our shelves! The Rabbit Listened is one of my all-time favorite books--it absolutely pulls on my heartstrings.

    ReplyDelete
  52. What a lovely collection of books, wonderful messages and inclusion is done so smoothly it doesn't seem like part of the message but rather part of life.

    ReplyDelete
  53. Thank you for this! Inclusion is so important - I just love this post!

    ReplyDelete
  54. Thank you for these great texts on inclusion to share.

    ReplyDelete
  55. These are so great at introducing a complex topic in a nondidactic way. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  56. Julie, thank you for such a stellar reference list. Growing up with "Dick, Jane, and Flip," I know how vital it is that all children see themselves in PB books. I look forward to my reading time in the library this week and immersing myself in books with a heart for inclusion. With gratitude for your post!

    ReplyDelete
  57. Wonderful list. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  58. Julie Bliven thank you for your list of inclusive mentor texts. I was interested in THE RABBIT LISTENED using a gender neutral name (Taylor) and dress for the toddler. Publishers Weekly's review on Jefferson County Library's website just assumes that Taylor is a boy. Several other reviews used the toddler's name each time (vs. a pronoun), and one other also used 'he'. Note: none used 'she'. So, I'm reviewing the pros and cons of gender neutral. It does make the reviews a bit stilted, and makes the writing a challenge not to sound contrived. Have other writers tried? How did it work for you? How many thought Taylor was a girl?
    Thanks, Darcee Freier

    ReplyDelete
  59. Julie, Thanks for a wonderful list of mentor texts about inclusion. I was able to find most of them at the library and am looking forward to reading them! As someone who grew up with an invisible disability, this topic is very close to my heart.

    ReplyDelete
  60. Thank you for introducing us to mentor texts about inclusion. It is so interesting to read aloud and get children to talk about this.

    ReplyDelete
  61. I've read Strictly for Elephants, and will have to look for the others (not at my library.) I hope your son does well with the transition to the wheelchair.

    ReplyDelete
  62. Thank you for this list. It's great to see how inclusion can be approached in such a variety of ways.

    ReplyDelete
  63. These are great mentor text recommendations--thank you! In fact, I just re-read STRICTLY NO ELEPHANTS as a mentor text for a ms I'm working on that involves the theme of inclusion.

    ReplyDelete
  64. Thank you for featuring the many varieties of inclusion. Sometimes it is the most subtle of differences that can make the biggest impact.

    ReplyDelete
  65. Great choices! Thanks for this wonderful list!

    ReplyDelete
  66. Great and important post, Julie. And I'm so sorry to hear about your son's medical issue. With a mom like you, he's sure to grow to be strong, independent and awesome!

    ReplyDelete
  67. Thanks, Julie. I love how the illustrator ( and editor?) can add inclusivity to a book where the text might not indicate it.

    ReplyDelete
  68. Thank you for sharing these wonderful books - great mentor texts for inclusion.

    ReplyDelete
  69. I love "The Rabbit Listened" and "Strictly No Elephants" and will check out the others. They all look so inclusive. Here's where the illustrator can give that extra expression seen on the turning pages.

    ReplyDelete
  70. Thank you for sharing these books and your story! This is a theme that I hope starts to permeate all kinds of kidlit.

    ReplyDelete
  71. Thank you for bringing these titles to my attention! I think that inclusive stories are so important for educating both children and parents! Diversity should be celebrated. I enjoyed your post!

    ReplyDelete
  72. These are great titles, and I'm happy to have been able to get all these ones to read. Thank you for the focus on inclusion.

    ReplyDelete
  73. Thank you for these mentor texts Julie. I've read a couple of these titles and felt the humanity. I need to read more!

    ReplyDelete
  74. Thanks, Julie! These are wonderful suggestions for inclusion.

    ReplyDelete
  75. Strong messages. Great list. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  76. I continued to be so overwhelmed by all the great mentor texts. My desk is piled high with PBs. Thanks for the additions.

    ReplyDelete
  77. Thank you for these fabulous selections. I too appreciate when writers and illustrators incorporate inclusiveness in a subtle manner, as your selections do. There's no banging the reader over the head with the message that, which I think ultimately (and perhaps ironically) makes the message that much more poignant and accessible to readers.

    ReplyDelete
  78. Great selection of books. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  79. What a wonderful list of books. I am still trying to get some of these from my library. I especially like The Rabbit Listened.

    ReplyDelete
  80. I'm a pre-k teacher to kiddos with special needs--I cannot wait to share some of these in my classroom! The writing community talks so much about the need for diversity in kidlit, but that also needs to include those w/ physical & mental challenges. Thx for your post!

    ReplyDelete
  81. I appreciate the variety of inclusive examples you've shared--I love those that are inclusive visually, so it is not as overt.

    ReplyDelete
  82. Thank you for highlighting these books!

    ReplyDelete
  83. Fabulous selection of books to show examples of inclusion. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  84. I really enjoyed reading these books. I taught elementary school for many years and love to see ways in which all students can see themselves in books.

    ReplyDelete
  85. Thank you, Julie. Lovely post.

    ReplyDelete
  86. Thank you Julie for sharing these wonderful books and ways of bringing diversity and inclusivity to picture books. I am fascinated by The Rabbit Listened and you helped me to see why it is so special.

    ReplyDelete
  87. My first time reading all of these books. Great suggestions. Everyone has been talking about The Rabbit Listened. Now I see why. Amazing how much you can learn from so little words. I really enjoyed it. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  88. It truly is important for all kids to see themselves in books. Thank you, Julie, for sharing this list of excellent titles. All the best for your sweet little guy as he transitions to a wheelchair.

    Suzy Leopold

    ReplyDelete
  89. Thank you for sharing these titles. I teach and know that kids love books they can identify with.

    ReplyDelete
  90. Excellent books of inclusion. And I agree, about seeing the little child in the wheelchair. It's important for kids of all ages to see themselves. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  91. I think we all want to belong. Thanks for the list! I'll definitely share these with my kids.

    ReplyDelete
  92. I loved "I'm New Here." Now I need to check out "Someone New"!

    ReplyDelete
  93. So glad to see more books available to children about inclusion!

    ReplyDelete
  94. Thank you for the wonderful list of mentor texts. They are important books for kids to read/hear as they point out powerful ideas about how to treat our fellow man. Picture books have always impressed me as small books with big messages. These texts certainly qualify.

    ReplyDelete
  95. Julie, Oh how I loved this post. STRICTLY NO ELEPHANTS has been my favorite picture book through recent years of my PB studies, particularly for the themes of friendship and inclusion, which are like themes I tend to write a lot about myself, as well as speak about at many classroom and event appearances I make. I make these appearances with my dog, who coincidentally also is in a wheelchair (dog cart). His presence helps me to focus on the themes of inclusion, empathy, diversity, and special abilities. So, I really appreciated what you shared about your son and your feelings on the spread in SNUG. It hit home with me as well, and these were great stories to add to my comp titles and mentor texts.

    ReplyDelete
  96. Thank you for these great, beautiful books they all have a message of inclusion which I would hope to include in my writing at some point.

    ReplyDelete
  97. I had not noticed the gender neutrality of The Rabbit Listened. Cool

    ReplyDelete
  98. Thank you for the thoughtful suggestions. As someone who works in special education, I appreciate that there are books out there addressing the need for awareness on this topic.

    ReplyDelete
  99. There are definitely a couple titles here that I haven't read. Thanks for sharing your insights on inclusion.

    ReplyDelete
  100. What a great list! I appreciate your thoughts about what is a bit different and innovative in books about inclusion, since there are many books that seem to hit on this theme. I'm going to take a closer look at SNUG, because it's so important for kids to figure out what makes them feel safe and cozy.

    ReplyDelete
  101. Great mentor books. I especially enjoyed "The Rabbit Listened" and "Strictly No Elephants."

    ReplyDelete
  102. Thank you for sharing your mentor text suggestions, Julie. I liked I'm New Here but still haven't gotten to read Someone New. Hopefully soon!

    ReplyDelete
  103. I loved this post more than any of them so far, Julie. Thank you for sharing your perspective here. It gave me such insight and hope. I look forward to many future kidlit books celebrating all of us.

    ReplyDelete
  104. This is a timely topic. There are a lot of kids with challenges due to illnesses that aren't necessarily visible, but impact their daily lives. We need to make sure all kids feel included.

    ReplyDelete
  105. What a great variety of books that show how important inclusion is to all :-).

    ReplyDelete
  106. I like the varying ways each of these books show inclusion and that it can be told in serious or more humorous ways.

    ReplyDelete
  107. Looking forward to exploring these.

    ReplyDelete
  108. Excellent examples of inclusion in the natural progression of a story. Thanks for this wonderful list of mentor texts!

    ReplyDelete
  109. These are all such sweet books. I love the variety of ways that inclusion is handled--from very straightforward to much more subtle.

    ReplyDelete
  110. Thanks for this post! Will definitely track down the books on this list that I haven't read.

    ReplyDelete
  111. Thanks Julie! I enjoy several of these books and am looking forward to reading the rest.

    ReplyDelete
  112. Thank you for this particularly thoughtful post.

    ReplyDelete
  113. I have loved I'm New Here for a while, but I hadn't heard of Strictly No Elephants, which I really loved. The Rabbit Listened is also another old favorite. A new one that is a good fit for this list is Be Kind by Pat Zietlow Miller. Thank you for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  114. Thank you for the thoughtful suggestions. I work in special education and appreciate that books such as these are out there.

    ReplyDelete
  115. Great selections, Julie.The Rabbit Listened made me say awww. I hadn’t noticed the gender neutral approach. I think it more than doubles the sweetness.

    ReplyDelete
  116. I agree, we’ve all felt exclusion at some point.
    What a great topic and post!!

    ReplyDelete
  117. Thanks for these excellent examples of the importance of inclusivity. Something to keep top of mind at all times and levels.

    ReplyDelete
  118. I loved And the Rabbit Listened. Sorry to hear about your little guy.

    ReplyDelete
  119. Julie, I loved all of these. Only The Rabbit Listened and Strictly No Elephants were familiar so I appreciate these important recommendations. Thanks

    ReplyDelete
  120. Inclusion is so important these days. Thank you for sharing these compassionate books. I wish everyone would read them. Best wishes for you and your son!

    ReplyDelete
  121. Inclusion--Such an important topic!

    ReplyDelete
  122. The Rabbit Listened wowed me. Books celebrating inclusion are important.

    ReplyDelete
  123. I love Strictly No Elephants and it's been a favorite of mine for some time! I love how they include all the strange animals into the new club. The Rabbit Listened is new to me and I need to add this to my own personal library. I think it will help my daughter deal with her emotions when she makes mistakes. Great choices again!

    ReplyDelete
  124. Thanks for walking us through each title. I feel like I have a better understanding of how writers can add (or avoid) subtle things to include more readers.

    ReplyDelete
  125. Thanks for the wonderful post about inclusion.

    ReplyDelete
  126. A new list has been created for Julie's post and your suggestions entitled: INCLUSION: mentor texts. As always, feel free to add to the list here: https://www.facebook.com/notes/reforemo/inclusion-mentor-texts/2365787770332230/ All the best to you and your little guy, Julie. Thanks for the great post.

    ReplyDelete
  127. We spend a lot of time talking and writing about diversity, but inclusion takes that to the next level. It's no fun being on a diverse baseball team if you are never included on the daily roster. Thanks for the book list Julie. I loved Strictly No Elephants and Snug.

    ReplyDelete
  128. Wonderful choices! I haven't seen SNUG yet, but I'm looking forward to reading it, after your description!

    ReplyDelete
  129. This was a great series of books that showed the multiple facets of inclusion. I read three, but now I’m interested in seeking out the other two.

    Anne Sibley O’Brien hit on a really good point in I’M NEW HERE that I hadn’t previously thought of. Throughout the story she comments on the adjustment of immigrant children moving into societies that are foreign to them, but it was in her note following the text that the light bulb went off for me. She says, “Many [children] go through a silent phase as their brains process all this new information.” Through my studies as an educator and work as a youth librarian (and as a grade school student myself), I recall many immigrant children who were always very quiet, but I always assumed that this was a reaction to the strangeness of their new surroundings, their uncertainty in grappling the new norm. It never occurred to me that this silence would also logically stem from their brains trying to navigate and quantify those surroundings. Hearing that really put a new spin on it for me and revealed the slight ignorance that I had been operating under this whole time. It’s not just fear or insecurity that compels immigrant children to be silent; it can also be the deliberate act of quieting their minds and trying to pick out the melody from the sensory noise coming in from all around them, like how Jin eventually learns to compose a story from the broken fragments of the English alphabet one letter and one word at a time.

    It’s easy to see why so many are praising Cori Doerrfeld’s THE RABBIT LISTENED. It seems especially contemporary in the way the various reactions of the animal characters seem to mirror the different personality types that come running to the scene of the trauma via social media. Again, silence is portrayed as the opener of the way; the protagonist is only able to go through the ups and downs of their feelings once people finally stop talking to them. Like in THE ROUGH PATCH, Doerrfeld shows how people need to be given that time and space to work through those feelings, even if they might be considered “bad” or “wrong” like the vindictiveness of the snake and the rage of the bear. Ultimately, if given time and the support of friends who know when to talk and when to listen, those marked by trauma will eventually be able to see a future with possibility.

    STRICTLY NO ELEPHANTS is one of those picture books that utilizes such a perfectly child-friendly metaphor to speak to a greater human truth. It’s like a gently-told, positive-minded primer on prejudice. And I think what makes it so unique and so wonderful is its focus on that positive energy. “Prejudice” conjures up so much hurt and anger with it (anger delivered from both sides), but Lisa Mantchev shows that even in the face of something so hurtful and dark something beautiful can be grown in its place. Our hero and his pet elephant don’t fight back against the exclusionary Pet Club at Number 17. They don’t set out to explicitly show their oppressors the error of their ways. No; instead they decide to build a place for themselves and others like them. A place where “All Are Welcome, “ a place not necessarily meant to act as a counter-attack to the haughty Pet Club, but having the pleasant symptom of canceling out the hate that was put forth before anyway. My favorite sequence in the book is undoubtedly the moment the protagonist and his new skunk-owning friend head out on their mission and, slowly and surely, they’re joined by the other kids and their “strange” pets who peek cautiously and hopefully from their homes as if to ask, “Is there a place for us now?”

    The books from this post answer with a resounding “yes”.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As always, Jose, I thoroughly enjoyed reading your response to these books. You always add something more to my reading; extra revelation or insight. =)

      Delete
    2. Thanks, Aidan! Apparently I've taken to posting "comments" that read more like journal entries, but I'm glad you've gotten something from my loquaciousness. =)

      Delete
  130. Loved The Rabbit Listened and The Rough Patch. I will be searching out the others. This post has given me a lot to think about.

    ReplyDelete
  131. Thank you for such an articulate explanation with great shining examples of inclusion.

    ReplyDelete
  132. I've read The Rabbit Listened. I look forward to the others.

    ReplyDelete
  133. I had previously read The Rabbit Listened, but hadn't realized that it was gender neutral! I will be on the lookout for more such inclusion.

    ReplyDelete
  134. Thanks for helping me think of new ways to be inclusive.

    ReplyDelete
  135. Great examples of how inclusion can be part of a story, completely naturally as these books do. Thank you for focusing on this and in turn making me focus on it!

    ReplyDelete
  136. Hello! Quick question that's totally off topic. Do you know how to make your site mobile friendly? My blog looks weird when viewing from my apple iphone. I'm trying to find a template or plugin that might be able to correct this issue. If you have any suggestions, please share. Many thanks! digital marketing agency

    ReplyDelete
  137. Yes! These books are needed now more than ever. Thank you for an inspiring, important post!

    ReplyDelete
  138. Thank you for these examples. So important to be reminded of the need for inclusive writing!

    ReplyDelete
  139. Thank you for this list. This is such an important topic!

    ReplyDelete
  140. Recognizing opportunities for diversity/inclusivity can come from so many different places - author, illustrator, publisher. I love it when diversity is shown but not necessarily the main thrust of the story. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  141. I'm looking forward to getting my hands on and reading these texts. They look wonderful! Thanks for the selections!

    ReplyDelete
  142. I love that more books are being written about inclusion. As a classroom teacher I look for read-aloud books like this to have discussions with my middle grade students.

    ReplyDelete
  143. What a wonderful list. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  144. Thanks for sharing mentor texts on approaches for inclusion and showing what each achieved the unexpected.

    ReplyDelete
  145. Thank you for this list of mentor texts on inclusion. I appreciate the way Anne Sibley O'Brien showed what inclusion can look like from two different points of view in her books I'm New Here and Someone New.

    ReplyDelete
  146. Some of these examples really pull on my heartstrings. I really believe the more opportunities children (and adults) have to read picture books like these, the better the world will be. And I want so much to be a part of delivering these inclusive messages through my books. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  147. I love each one of these great examples of inclusion! In The Dress and the Girl, the illustrator adds beautifully to this aspect in the text. A striking book! SNUG is also a favorite...more akin to my writing style. It's such a sweet book for little ones.

    ReplyDelete
  148. Lovely, thank you. I had read "The Rabbit Listened," but your words on gender neutral story telling were eye opening. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  149. Such an important list. I firmly believe that one way to teach children empathy is by reading to them. These titles are a great for teaching children empathy.

    ReplyDelete
  150. This is a stunning group of books. Thank you. So many favorites here. Also, I have a two year old grandson, and your mention of yours touched me on many levels. I am also a former pediatric physical therapist. I imagine that, even with the challenges ahead, your grandson brings much joy to the whole family.

    ReplyDelete
  151. Thank you for this list, Julie. The Rabbit Listened was new to me before ReFoReMo and I'm so glad I learned about it. What a wonderful book. Inclusion is a beautiful and important theme.

    ReplyDelete
  152. There is definitely a need and room for more. Thanks for this list. I have read several but not all so looking forward to them.

    ReplyDelete
  153. Frank Wilson McCollMarch 28, 2019 at 7:49 PM

    These are wonderful - I'm going to include some of these in my lectures on diversity.

    ReplyDelete
  154. Read,The Rabbit Listened. It was magic in a few words. Need to read more books like these.

    ReplyDelete
  155. Love this, YES! "these kinds of books are needed and wanted now more than ever."

    ReplyDelete
  156. I’m not that much of a internet reader to be honest but your blogs really nice, keep it up! I'll go ahead and bookmark your website to come back later. All the best Ceramic Fiber Paper Roll for Glass

    ReplyDelete
  157. I love Strictly No Elephants! Thank you for the great suggestions!

    ReplyDelete
  158. I am continually drawn back to The Rabbit Listened, and I think it's because the author-illustrator managed to keep it so universal and inclusive that each reader feels like they have received an intimate invitation to experience the story in a way that is deeply moving and personal, each time it is read. What a standard to aspire to! I loved the other examples you included as well. Thank you for sharing a great list of mentor titles!

    ReplyDelete
  159. I'm grateful to all of the authors who are working to ensure that all kids, in all circumstances, have books in which they can see themselves. These are fantastic examples!

    ReplyDelete