This post is part of Multicultural Children’s Book Day: Celebrating Diversity in Children’s Literature. For more details, see below.
When I was a kid, I was fascinated by flood stories. I read Joseph Campbell (still do!) and reveled in the notion that the same archetypes and spiritual truths can be found in the foundational stories throughout the world.
So I was thrilled when I received The Otter, The Spotted Frog, and the Great Flood from Wisdom Tales to review. It is a flood tale from the Creek Indians, and though it has echoes of Noah’s Ark, it is also so different that I found myself in suspense as I was reading. Who would survive the great flood, and what would happen next?
I was just plain happy to read a native tale from the Southeastern US, where I was born (and where my Cherokee ancestors were from). While there are some native tales available in children’s literature (not enough!) there are few from this region.
The hero of this flood tale is not the great buffalo chief Honors Himself but the humble river otter, whose name is Listener. And it is this quality – truly listening – that saves him and ultimately brings about the birth of humanity. For only Listener pays attention to the spotted frog when he sings of the coming flood and how to survive it. And after the flood Listener’s willingness to listen to the voices of the new world helps bring new life (the two-legged ones) to the world.
The moral of the story is clear: All creatures should be respected and their wisdom honored, even if they are small spotted frogs, who sing from the wet woods. It is also a story about conviction and not letting go of your dreams even when others laugh at you for believing. And finally, it is about forgiveness and love, since Listener’s love for Otter Woman (even though she doubted him at times) brings about his and her transformation into the First Man and First Woman.
Ramon Shiloh’s illustrations are just stunning, and they complement beautifully Gerald Hausman’s retelling of this Creek Indian tale. I would especially recommend it for school age children, though younger children will appreciate the animal drawings and gentle rhythm of the tale. I thought it would be a bit long for my preschooler, but to my surprise he sat enthralled through our reading of this beautiful book.
Multicultural Children’s Book Day: Celebrating Diversity in Children’s Literature
Children’s books like The Otter, The Spotted Frog, and the Great Flood are much needed today, as there is an appalling lack of diversity in children’s literature. Despite census data that shows 37% of the US population consists of people of color, only 10% of children’s books published have diversity content. Diversity in literature benefits all children. Children need to hear tales that speak to their experiences but also tales to draw them into other experiences. Children need to read stories that include people of all colors and walks of life. Otherwise, their imaginative worlds will not be as rich or as colorful.
Thankfully, Mia of Pragmatic Mom and Valarie of Jump Into A Book/Audrey Press have created Multicultural Children’s Book Day: Celebrating Diversity in Children’s Literature. Their mission is to not only raise awareness for the kid’s books that celebrate diversity, but to get more of these types of books into classrooms and libraries. Another goal of this exciting event is create a compilation of books and favorite reads that will provide not only a new reading list for the winter, but also a way to expose brilliant books to families, teachers, and libraries.
How can you get involved? Support our sponsors, and visit the other blogs taking part in this project (all listed below). You can also follow the Multicultural Books for Kids board on Pinterest. For all the latest on this great event, visit Multicultural Children’s Book Day: Celebrating Diversity in Children’s Literature.
We are grateful to our wonderful sponsors, who made this event possible:
More Reviews of Multicultural Books
For more reviews of great multicultural books, visit the wonderful blogs below:
2GirlsLostInaBook · 365 Days of Motherhood · A Bilingual Baby · A Simple Life, Really? · Africa to America · After School Smarty Pants · All Done Monkey · Andi’s Kids Books · Anita Brown Bag · Austin Gilkeson · Barbara Ann Mojica · Books My Kids Read · Bottom Shelf Books · Cats Eat Dogs · Chasing The Donkey · Children’s Book-a-Day Almanac · Children’s Books Heal · Church o Books · CitizenBeta · Crafty Moms Share · Discovering The World Through My Son’s Eyes · Early Words · Flowering Minds · Franticmommy · Gatheri