July 2008 Archives

Reading of Grandfather's Story Cloth at Hmong Cultural Center

The Hmong Cultural Center in St. Paul, Minnesota hosted a book reading for Grandfather's Story Cloth on June 11. This was my very first book reading so naturally I was a bit nervous.

The age span of the audience was diverse. The majority were adults but many also brought their children or grandchildren. Because Hmong was the primary language for many attendees, we gave a bilingual reading, with lots of smiles and conversation along the way. As the text was being read, I walked around the room so the corresponding illustrations could be viewed from a closer vantage point. Participants pointed to the rich detail that Stuart has created in these water color paintings, this was especially true of the two-page spread of the story cloth itself and the scene in which Grandfather is burying a silver bar in his garden. Each time, I waited with anticipation and then eyes would rise from the page and give me a broad smile. I interpreted this as a sign of approval.

After the reading I presented the center's library with a copy of Grandfather's Story Cloth. Next, Lia Yang presented me with a beautiful, intricately stitched story cloth that she had made. Next we had refreshments of egg rolls (delicious!!!) and white gourd drink (delightful!). I will forever cherish the new friends that I made that day and the beautiful story cloth stitched by Lia Yang.

I thought it might be fun to share the "story collage" of some of our memories from that day. Find it here.

Let Us Now Praise Librarians

In the July 21 issue of The New Yorker (yes, the one with the infamous cartoon of the Obamas on the cover), there is a fascinating article about Anne Carroll Moore, who may be considered the first children's librarian, and E.B. White's Stuart Little. While the actual story has nothing really to do with multicultural children's books, it is still a fascinating account of the rise of children's literature as a legitimate art form worthy of criticism, and reading in general an educational pursuit for kids.

The article is a fascinating read-- you should check it out if you have the time. However, one of the points that interested me in particular was Anne Carroll Moore's commitment to multiculturalism in the children's library in the early 1900's:

"Against the prevailing sentiment of the day, she believed that her job was to give "to the child of foreign parentage a feeling of pride in the beautiful things of the country his parents have left." She celebrated the holidays of immigrants (reading Irish poetry aloud, for instance, on St. Patrick's Day) and stocked the shelves with books in French, German, Russian, and Swedish. In 1924, she hired the African-American writer Nella Larsen to head the Children's Room in Harlem."
I actually got a little choked up when I read that passage. Librarians at the forefront of social change! Go Librarians!

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Blog Contributors

Renee Ting is the President and Publisher of Shen's Books. She is the author of The Prince's Diary and the blog, Renee's Book of the Day.

Emily Jiang is a writer of children's and YA literature. She also blogs at TLeaf Readings.

Shen’s Books is a publisher of multicultural children’s literature that emphasizes cultural diversity and tolerance, with a focus on introducing children to the cultures of Asia.

Through books, we can share a world a stories, building greater understanding and tolerance within our increasingly diverse communities as well as throughout our continuously shrinking globe.


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