Disclaimer: I was given a copy of these two books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
DETAILS: 34 pages \ target audience 4-8 \ published 2017
OVERVIEW: Who knew that a box of crayons could help explain that we All belong! Oh' Charles is a children's book that aims to equip parents and teachers alike with a tool they can use to teach children and students about self-love and tolerance.
1ST IMPRESSION: Clever way to introduce acceptance and tolerance, but I could not unsee or not hear myself read, "because i'm a burnt brown." What a cruel statement to make, especially to a child.
COMMENTARY: Oh Charles not only gives a message that we all belong in one way or another but it is a great tool for learning colors and making the connection to the world around us. Charles mother validates his place in the world when students in his school dismissed him because of his color. \
THEMES: Self-acceptance & love, Individuality vs society, and Identity.
LESSON: Everyone is different in one way or another. Different does not mean wrong.
DETAILS: Published 2019 | Ideal age 4-8 | 46 pages
OVERVIEW: Highlights children living with physical disabilities, turning a disability into a super Ability.
1ST IMPRESSION: Love the concept that is illustrated - Having a disability does not automatically determine that you are not allowed to live to do what you enjoy.
COMMENTARY: After hearing Charles laugh and point at the man wearing forearm crutches his mother quickly pointed out that the shoe could very well be on the other foot. My favorite part of this story is that while mom was explaining what may be seen as a setback is illustrated as perseverance. Such as, the little girl on crutches in the ballet studio and the hearing impaired child playing on the drums. She also quickly gave a lesson on gratitude. She pointed out all the reasons he should be grateful - hearing, seeing, walking without assistance...
THEMES: A few themes that are present are Acceptance, Compassion, Communication, and Gratitude.
LESSON: Disabilities are not a weakness and despite limitations, those who have disabilities are often stronger than those who are not. Remember to constantly do a self-check!
One drawback for me is that in "Oh Charles, This Ability", after apologizing, the character that Charles was pointing at told him that "it's fine" because he gets made fun at all the time. The lesson of tolerance was present with both characters. Charles could've been more compassionate, but the other gentleman could have also forgiven Charles without expressing that it was "fine."
What would you do/say in this situation?
Overall, I love that the author was able to show tolerance and acceptance to the reader from BOTH perspectives. To me, you should not read one without the other. The reader will be able to see the perspective of the character that is looking out from the inside and from the outside looking in. Brilliant!
Here are a few questions that can be asked after reading the book
1. Have you ever been teased because you were different? If so, how did you feel?
2. Have you ever teased someone else? If so, what caused you to do so?
3. Do you know someone with a disability? If so, how do you connect with them?
NOTE: please remind youth (or anyone) that it is okay to be curious about the differences you see in others, but that there is an understanding and compassionate way of doing so.