I love art…musuems, galleries, art projects, you get it. Although our local elementary school has a strong art program and my boys occasionally come home talking about Mondrian lines or Arcimboldo, I still feel a need to supplement their once-a-week sessions at school. I love the concept of the book “A Year in Art” by Christiane Weidemann. Every day there is a new picture or activity to look at with your child. It only takes five minutes but they gain an understanding of masterpieces, artists and most importantly, how something appeals to them – a vocabulary to discuss artistic works. Since my kids are not as interested in busting out the paints or creating masterpieces, talking about a picture for a few minutes a day has helped them create their own art world. Who knows what they’re secretly filing away for future projects – maybe I’ll even start to see something that doesn’t have a pirate, a castle or a rocket ship in it and if I’m absolutely honest, there are far too many weapons in their current artwork. But it’s their work and I can only let them express their inspirations. What are your favorite art books?
Around our house there are endless battles between Batman, Spider-man and Superman. Their super powers come to life as my four-year-old leaps around the house and my six-year-old tries to tackle him. I am amazed by their improvisation and creativity. And as much as I love the fact that my boys recreate what I fondly remember doing at their same age, I’d love to see them incorporate some diversity into their super power status. Welcome Multi-cultural Spider-man! Miles Morales is the new superhero on the block. He’s half-black, half-Hispanic and a teenager. This is Marvel Comics effort to keep up with our changing society and I applaud them although this step probably should have been taken ages ago. I plan to ensure that my kids read all about Miles and his masked capers. It’ll help them see the world a little differently. Does anyone have a favorite superhero outside our traditional American favorites?
As I work to bring more cultural stories and activities into my own kids lives, I’m struck by a different concept – kids who only read and learn about other cultures and have few books representing their own lives. In Papua, Indonesia children have never had a comic book depicting a familiar life. Visi Anak Bangsa Foundation helped kids write their own stories about what they thought was interesting. One girl wrote of a tuber fighting vegetables. I admire people and organizations that work to fill cultural gaps for kids – whether about their own culture or others. I’ll be interested in seeing the book once it’s published (in November) and plan to share it with my own kids. Click here to read the full article.
Ramadan begins this evening. A religious holiday celebrated by more than 1 billion Muslims around the world with daily fasting, self-sacrifice and prayer. Understanding Ramadan and those that practice Islam is part of our global education – particularly for families that do not celebrate it. The most interesting aspect of Ramadan for kids is the idea of not eating anything from sunrise to sunset. Talking about this celebration and the commitment, self-discipline and prayer that continue throughout the month is a way for them to understand a little more about 1 billion people and Islam. There are a few sites that could be helpful to discussing Ramadan with your children.
We often head to the library to check out interesting books. (I posted earlier about looking at favorite foreign language books.) But often my kids are tired at the end of the day and don’t want to work to decipher new sounds and words. The National Education Association provides a list of 50 Multicultural Books Every Child Should Read. What a great starting point to introduce international ideas, people and customs into your daily reading. One of our favorites not on the list is HUSH! by Minfong Ho, a Thai bedtime story with lilting verse and beautiful art. Published in 1996 it was one of the original “Go the F**k to Sleep” themed books. I’d love to hear from anyone who has other favorites! We’re off to the library this afternoon and could use a new title to search for. Please share your titles in the comment section.
Books in foreign languages can be a great way to introduce your child to different cultures. Many libraries carry an assortment of picture books in Spanish, French and Mandarin. Even if your child is well past the picture book stage, they may still enjoy reading and identifying new words. Next time you’re at the local library, pick out one of their favorite books and have fun reading it in a new language. I’m a big fan of the bi-lingual story-times too!