Kids’ Book Corner: Celebrate Children

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Childhood is a time of joy and freedom, but also anxiety and courage. The three books I’ve chosen, though very different in tone and purpose, remind kids how important and wonderful they are.

David Smith’s This Child, Every Child: A Book about the World’s Children, introduces readers 9 and up to the lives of their counterparts around the world. Shelagh Armstrong’s evocative watercolors flesh out the fascinating, sometimes shocking statistics: There are 2.2 billion children in the world, and every ten seconds, 40 infants are born. And these babies find themselves living lives very different from those American children lead—some living in poverty or hunger, war or homelessness, others leading lives in places or family structures unknown in the U.S.

Smith’s purpose is to transform young readers into “citizens of the world,” and to familiarize kids with the human rights of children—their human rights as outlined in the U.N.’s 1989 United Nations Conventions on the Rights of the Child. Besides learning about the world, this book reminds children that they are important and worthy of respect—simply because they are alive. A portion of the proceeds from the book’s purchase go to the nonprofit ONEXONE foundation, which works to improve the lives of the world’s children ( 9-12 years.

Young readers worried that they may not measure up will enjoy Pam Smallcomb’s I’m Not, the story of two crocodiles, Evelyn, out-going and accomplished, and her shy friend. The shy croc narrates the story and begins by telling the reader everything Evelyn is: “…She’s not one single bit ordinary. And she’s a little mysterious…” Evelyn is a drama queen, a fashionista, an artist, a decorator, a “jumping bean”—things the other croc “is not.” Then Evelyn points out that she is “a stinky speller,” and the narrator realizes she “is not”—and that she has her talents, too: she’s good at karate, isn’t afraid of the dark, is good at baking cookies and is a “true-blue” friend. Robert Weinstock’s illustrations are smart and funny. (4-9 years).

First published in 1912, Daddy-Long-Legs has been reissued in The Looking Glass Library, Random House’s series of vintage classics. Jean Webster’s story of an orphan girl whose college education is bankrolled by a mysterious benefactor is incredibly fresh, sweet, comic and suspenseful today—and will not only entertain girls 8-12, but will make them think about the rights of girls and young women to make their own decisions, to think for themselves, and to vote. The story unfolds through a series of lively letters young Judy Abbot writes to her benefactor about her life in college, her aspirations, her friendships, her adventures, misadventures, loneliness, her wish for the vote, and her dream of becoming a writer.

Jo Perry has a Ph.D. in English, taught literature and writing, and worked as a college administrator and as a television writer and producer. She is a reviewer for and is an ongoing contributor to kidsLA Magazine for which she writes about the city, children’s books, and conducts interviews. For two years she wrote the Kids’ Book Club column for the L.A. Times’ Kids’ Reading Room page.

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About Karen Young

Karen Young is the founder of My Daily Find.

  • Jackie Houchin

    Thanks again for your reviews, Jo.
    Hey… I have a question for you. A mystery writer friend is taking her historical novel and writing a middle grade – YA mystery. She’s wondering if it’s appropriate (age wise) use a murder in it. The situation is that a house burned under suspicious circumstances, and a.)they find a body inside, or 2.) they learn the person ran away beforehand. What’s your opinion? I’ll pass it on to her.

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