Brenda Sederberg and Her Reading Team
October 2020

Rais­ing Star Read­ers is delight­ed to hear that Bren­da Sederberg’s Read­ing Team has added to its mem­ber­ship: wel­come, Baby Phoebe! Bren­da is also focus­ing on adding some­thing else — she is expand­ing on the list of her Team’s old favorites by inten­tion­al­ly look­ing for books that are diverse and inclu­sive, that allow her grand­daugh­ters to “see all chil­dren in the books we read.” Here’s how Bren­da describes it:

Our read­ing team grows! Sylvie turns two, and we wel­come her baby sis­ter Phoebe to the world, and to our read­ing team.

Per­haps Sylvie’s favorite book among many right now is Robert McCloskey’s Blue­ber­ries for Sal. She vis­its her great-grand­moth­er’s house and picks blue­ber­ries from the bush­es there, “only the blue ones.”

Days after Sylvie was born I read On the Day You Were Born, by Debra Frasi­er. For Phoe­be’s first days I chose to read Emi­ly Win­field Mar­t­in’s The Won­der­ful Things You Will Be. Sylvie, of course, lis­tens too. Mar­t­in’s illus­tra­tions include many babies and chil­dren doing all kinds of activ­i­ties, and asks “will you stand up for good and save the day?” Sylvie points to the lit­tle baby in a hood­ed sleep­er when­ev­er we look at the end page pictures.

The Wonderful Things You Are endpapers
Sylvie, Gram, and Phoebe reading

This book speaks to my goal of read­ing books that are diverse and inclu­sive. As we wish for all chil­dren to see them­selves in books, so I wish for Sylvie and Phoebe to see all chil­dren in the books we read.

As a Min­nesotan, feel­ing dev­as­tat­ed over the death of George Floyd and the racial injus­tices in our com­mu­ni­ties, I’m more mind­ful of what my grand­daugh­ters are see­ing and hear­ing in chil­dren’s lit­er­a­ture. As so many adults are cur­rent­ly focused on chang­ing their read­ing lists to include more Black, Indige­nous, Asian, and Lat­inx authors, I am doing the same for the books Sylvie, Phoebe, and I read togeth­er. I include here some books Sylvie and I have appre­ci­at­ed and enjoyed since you last read about our read­ing team:

I think Sylvie loves the award-win­ning Fry Bread: A Native Amer­i­can Fam­i­ly Sto­ry because the char­ac­ters are pic­tured eat­ing “num­mies!” I’m hap­py to read this sto­ry by Semi­nole Nation mem­ber Kevin Noble Mail­lard, illus­trat­ed by Peru­vian born Jua­na Mar­tinez-Neal, appre­ci­at­ing the illus­tra­tions that include a group of cul­tur­al­ly diverse children.

Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music, by Mar­gari­ta Engle, enchants Sylvie with bril­liant­ly col­ored images of the drums, snakes, and flow­ers of Cuba, illus­trat­ed by Rafael López. I love that the sto­ry is “the inspir­ing true sto­ry of a Chi­nese-African-Cuban girl who broke Cuba’s tra­di­tion­al taboo against female drummers.”

Around the Table That Grandad BuiltI thank Melanie Heuis­er Hill and Jamie (Jimyung) Kim for Around the Table That Grandad Built. This story’s repet­i­tive lines and pic­tures allows Sylvie to look at and name the sun­flow­ers, the forks, the spoons, and the col­ors of the plates. We read and name the foods on the table that include tamales, samosas, rice pud­ding, and the word “mmm­M­M­M­M­MM.” We look at the chil­dren pic­tured and note their skin col­ors and hairstyles.

Thank you to the book selec­tors of Chap­ter & Verse, a book club of which I am a mem­ber. Each month this group leads me to dis­cov­er books I might not oth­er­wise have known about, (includ­ing two of those I men­tioned above). From their website:

Chap­ter & Verse is a nation­al book club for children’s lit­er­a­ture enthu­si­asts in their com­mu­ni­ties who wish to dis­cuss children’s and young adult fic­tion, non­fic­tion, pic­ture books, and poet­ry.” If you’d like to form a group in your com­mu­ni­ty, check it out.

Until next time, wish­ing you good times read­ing good books.

—Sylvie, Phoebe, and their Gram

Bookol­o­gy is always look­ing for new Read­ing Teams to help us cel­e­brate the joys of read­ing aloud togeth­er. Con­tact Lisa Bullard for fur­ther infor­ma­tion about how to participate.

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