The violence that’s filled the news of late has left a lot of us reeling. We want to do something, but the problems seem so large. There is so much that needs to be done. But our ability to do anything seems so small.
Many of the saints have told us that we need to be humble and remember that we may not be called to do the large things. But we are called to do the small things that God places in our path. We are called to do the things that we could do easily. We are called to make a beginning.
And there is a small thing you could start doing now, a very small thing, that could make a difference in the future. You could buy books. Specifically, you could buy picture books that feature cross-racial friendships. Books that show black children and white children and brown children playing together.
Give the books to your children, to your grandchildren, to your godchildren. Give them to your friends’ kids. Donate them to schools and daycares.
These books are important. When young children read picture books that show cross-racial friendships, the children become more comfortable having cross-racial friendships themselves. And as our country becomes ever more diverse, those friendships become ever more important.
Unfortunately, according to the School Library Journal, such books are few and far between. So Anne Sibley O’Brien compiled a helpful, if short, list.
The list includes Patricia Polacco’s magnificent Chicken Sunday. The story is about an Eastern Orthodox girl and her friends who are African American boys, and their plan to get the boys’ grandmother a new hat for Easter.
Her list also includes Jamaica Is Thankful, one of seven books about a little girl called Jamaica. All of the books about Jamaica include inter-racial friendships. I’ve reviewed Jamaica’s Find, which ends with the beginning of a cross-racial friendship between two girls.
The other books on the list look wonderful, and worth sharing with the children in your life.
Orthodox Picture Books
A few Orthodox picture books include characters of different races. So far, though, there aren’t any Orthodox picture books that have a cross-racial friendship as an integral part of the story. Catherine’s Pascha comes closest; it is set in a parish that reflects the ethnic diversity of the Orthodox Church. Although the central friendship in the story is that between Catherine and Elizabeth, you can see children of different races throughout the book. The books H is for Holy and When God Made You aren’t stories, but they’re lovely books, and both include children of many races.
There’s also a new picture book on the way from Ancient Faith called Goodnight Jesus. I’m told that it is racially diverse. I can’t wait to see it when it comes out, and to buy copies for giving away.
Books can change the life of a child. And maybe, just maybe, they can change the world.
Goodnight Jesus: A Review: In this sweet bedtime board book, a little one kisses everyone good night.
Easter Picture Books Keep Pascha Present: By keeping Easter picture books available to your children, you’ll help Pascha put deep roots down in their hearts.
Mr. George Baker: A Review: An old black man and a young white boy have become friends, as they both work to learn how to read.