Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Baby Says by John Steptoe

It's pretty clear if you've read my blog for long that multicultural books are a passion of mine. I'm not alone in this, fortunately - there are tons of great resources out there for folks who are looking to add some diversity to their library list. A while back I wrote about "50 Multicultural Books Every Child Should Know", a list compiled by the incredible group at the CCBC of University of Wisconsin-Madison. We're trying to work through the list with Sprout, which has been a fun project thus far. Especially great is fact that we're discovering some older titles that we might never have run across in another way.

Our most recent choice is a nearly wordless selection from classic author/illustrator John Steptoe - Baby Says. We ran across this title at the library and I remembered it from the list, so of course it was coming home with us. Sprout is a little old for this title, but he enjoyed it anyway, mostly because we're at that stage where he loves reliving any experience connected to babyhood. ("Was I like that, too, Mama?")

The story here is very simple - a baby is trying everything to get his big brother's attention. He uses the usual tricks in a baby's arsenal, throwing toys and knocking over brother's block towers, and of course it works just as planned, because brother has to stop everything and pay attention to the little one. Sprout laughed over the baby's naughtiness, probably because he himself is an only child and hasn't ever had to put up with such foolishness (though he's feeling this a little closer to home, now that he's one of the older kids in his preschool class!).

All in all this is a perfect story for very young children, as a means of introducing narrative and anticipating what's going to happen next in the story. Even babies will be able to recognize the mischievous look in this little one's eyes, as he schemes over how to attract brother's gaze away from the building blocks that he's currently playing with. And slightly older kids will feel the brother's frustration, as he tries to keep the baby from disrupting his project. With a few phrases that repeat over and over, Steptoe's spare story would also be good for new readers, to help build confidence and fluency.

Naturally for us, the best feature is the fact that the character's ethnicity is completely incidental to the story. I'm always on the lookout for books like this, and it's especially nice to find one for the youngest set of readers. Unfortunately this is an older title and not readily available, but it's worth a look at the library or used bookstore, if you want to add this terrific selection to your collection.

Keep checking back as we read our way through the CCBC list - this is a great way to add diversity to your reading list!

Baby Says by John Steptoe, published by Lothrop, Lee and Shepard
Ages 0-3
Source: Library

Check out our Pinterest board to see all the titles from the list we've read so far!

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