by Michelle Bodden and Patrice Samara. Toychest, 2010. (review copy) This cute paperback is part of the Alphabet Kids series created by Allegra Joyce Kassin. The cast includes six children from diverse backgrounds named Allegra, Elena, Isaac, Oni, Umar and Yang, who meet together at the Alphabet Kids afterschool center. They bring their cultures and ethnicity into the mix and share what is important and valuable for each of their family backgrounds while learning, playing and solving problems in growing friendships.
Oni is a new kid at the afterschool center in this book, and she gets a friendly welcome from most of the kids. One little blond girl thinks her hair is "crunchy" at first touch, and Oni is offended. At home her mother and father comfort her and show her how their family celebrates and enjoys the hair they have inherited. Mom says, "Your hair is kind of crunchy... and it's twisty and twirly and wild and strong, too. You come from a long line of people with hair just like yours." Oni loves the beaded look she sees in family photos and the next day is happy to share the hairstyling fun with the kids at the club. Allegra, the girl who didn't know how to take her hair at first, apologizes for hurting her feelings and ends up delighted to learn to bead her own hair.
My sons are enjoying these books. My second grader Buddy can read them himself. We are having some good conversations about the cultural themes, including different types of traditional bread the children share in Umar's Magic Oven, and the Spanish phrases we learned in Elena's Birthday Surprise. This is a fun collection of stories for age 4 to 8. Read more about them at the Alphabet Kid's website.