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MTYT: After the Fall: How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again

by Seemi Aziz, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, and Melissa Wilson,Leeds Trinity University, Leeds, West Yorkshire, UK

Happy New (Gregorian) Year! To welcome in 2021, we, Seemi and Melissa, are going to explore the concept of mindfulness through critical readings of powerful children’s picture books. We have come to understand that visual and written narratives work simultaneously to add to the understanding and comprehension of children and adults in the present, increasingly visual, world. As the worldwide pandemic of Coronavirus rages on, we all need resources to cope with constant disruptions and uncertainty. Mindfulness is a resource that may benefit both adults and children and one that can be explored through picture books.

“Mindfulness is awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally… it’s about knowing what is on your mind.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn

The above quote nicely defines mindfulness for our purposes. Rooted in ancient religious practices, mindfulness came to the United States in the 1970s as a secular way to help people through the work of Kabat-Zinn. In the ensuing half century, the concept has become part of western culture.

Throughout this month we will discuss specific picture books to explore mindfulness with children. The specific texts are: After the Fall: How Humpty Dumpty got back up again by Dan Santat, Charlotte and the Quiet Place by Deborah Sosin, and The Three Questions by Jon Muth. As we unravel the narratives, we will add other titles that reinforce the concept of mindfulness. Continue reading

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MTYT: Picturebooks That Highlight Kindness

Marilyn Carpenter, Eastern Washington University, Spokane, WA, Holly Johnson, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH and Jean Schroeder, The IDEA School, Tucson, AZ

As we end this month, and 2020, there is more to say about kindness. There is still more to think about in respect to both small and large decisions and actions made. The decisions we have made as individuals, as communities, as societies, will be written about and scrutinized for many years to come. A lot of it will be negative, sad, and horrific. We must remember, however, in the hopes that we will learn to do better as we move forward.

It should also be remembered that throughout this year there have been countless acts of kindness, and those must also be allowed to shine. They, too, have much to teach us. While we focused on novels from areas around the world, we end this discussion with a list of picturebooks for considering kindness and the potential for it.


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MTYT: 28 Days: A Novel of Resistance in the Warsaw Ghetto

Marilyn Carpenter, Eastern Washington University, Spokane, WA, Holly Johnson, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH and Jean Schroeder, The IDEA School, Tucson, AZ

This week, Marilyn, Holly, and Jean discuss the harrowing story of Mira in 28 Days: A Novel of Resistance in the Warsaw Ghetto by David Safier and discuss how even in the darkest of times, the smallest act of kindness can change things.


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MTYT: The Blackbird Girls

Marilyn Carpenter, Eastern Washington University, Spokane, WA, Holly Johnson, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH and Jean Schroeder, The IDEA School, Tucson, AZ

This week Marilyn and Holly are joined by Jean Schroeder to discuss The Blackbird Girls by Anne Blankman, and how one act of kindness creates a ripple effect that deeply changes the lives of two young girls.


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MTYT: Beast Rider

Marilyn Carpenter, Eastern Washington University, Spokane, WA and Holly Johnson, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH

This week, Marilyn and Holly give their takes on Beast Rider by Tony Johnston and Marïa Elena Fontanot de Rhoads and the kindness that helps Manuel on his painful and difficult journey to his brother.

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MTYT: Small Mercies


Marilyn Carpenter, Eastern Washington University, Spokane, WA and Holly Johnson, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH

This month we present four stories from around the world that highlight events in which incidents of kindness shine within dire to horrendous circumstances. In many ways, the kindness shown in these narratives is both courageous and unexpected. We begin with Small Mercies (2020) by Bridget Krone, an author from South Africa and features an interracial family. We then move to Beast Rider (2019) by Tony Johnston and Marïa Elena Fontanot de Rhoads about a young boy making his way to Los Angeles from Mexico. In week three, Marilyn and Holly are joined by Jean to discuss The Blackbird Girls (2020) by Anne Blankman, who relays a story of Chernobyl, and then during week four, the three of us examine 28 Days: A Novel of Resistance in the Warsaw Ghetto (2020) by David Safier. The four books stand as testaments that it takes people to enact kindness as the world negotiates a new normal as well as changes that have long been delayed. And finally, in week five, we talk about picturebooks that present acts of kindness that can be paired with one of these four books or used on their own.

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MTYT: Rabbit and the Motorbike

Dorea Kleker, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, and Patricia Castrodad, Caguas, Puerto Rico

In addition to the many ways we have all experienced the loss of loved ones, this year of turmoil has brought collective death front and center. From Black lives taken by police brutality to those lost in recent fires, hurricanes and other natural disasters to the approximately 1 million lost worldwide to Covid-19, death surrounds us. This week, we continue to look at books that put emotions at the heart of their stories. Rabbit and the Motorbike offers a gentle yet poignant look at what happens when we lose a loved one and the many feelings we face in moving forward.

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MTYT: Small Things

Dorea Kleker, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, and Patricia Castrodad, Caguas, Puerto Rico

Last week we started our theme of Emotions by exploring a child’s question: Why Do We Cry?. This week, Small Things invites us to look more deeply at one of those reasons–anxiety–and the ways that the accompanying emotions play out in the day-to-day life of a child.

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