Saturday, April 22, 2017


   But in the middle of the month I received some bad news about my cancer which has returned to the lining (epithelium) of my stomach.  This time the chemo won't be as bad, they say.  But the doctor also said that I didn't have to take steroids this time. But she wasn't right about that. One of the chemo drugs is different and there should be fewer effects. But most people I spoke with didn't have pain with chemo, and I did.  As with most health issues, everyone is different, and responds differently to medicine.
   The pain began two weeks before and the first visit to Urgent Care sent me home with laxatives. Two weeks later they hadn't worked.  Meanwhile, and this is what makes me most angry, a blood test had been done when I first went and some doctor (not the UC doctor) asked for a CA-125 count.  It showed 92!!  Well, the month before, my six month check up, the count was 14!!  Yet this outcome didn't ring any bells, set off any alarms, nothing.  Had I not returned because of the severe pain, I would be walking around with the tumors on the lining of my stomach continuing to grow and spread.

Not like a baobab  tree that was across the Ruaha River from me in February 2015 when I visited Tanzania and Zanzibar, probably for the last time.  I am heartbroken that my health won't be good enough to fulfill that bucket list I had:  Amsterdam and the art museums, Yucatan and Oaxaca in Mexico, Ireland and Wales, Vietnam and Thailand.  Or a cruise in a very small ship around Europe. Don't forget all the places in Latin America I haven't seen -- Peru, Ecuador, Chile.

So I thought I would set my sights a bit closer to home and concentrate on that lifelong dream I have had of creating a beautiful, handmade, unique dollhouse.  Please don't laugh.  It has symbolic meaning in my life as I was gifted a beautiful handmade dollhouse for my sixth birthday.  Made by friends of my parents, it had a lift off roof, and a ranch style feeling, a fireplace, doors and windows that opened plus (I am pretty sure) lights that actually worked.  I turned six in 1953 when I was living in Croton-On-Hudson, New York.  The government was continuing its surveillance of my father and consequently my entire family. We suddenly had to move.  We purchased an old truck with a wood station wagon body that was owned by Allen Funt of Candid Camera. You have to be at least my age to know who he was.

More important than my dollhouse were the many books my father lost. He asked a friend to hold them for him in his attic in Croton but at some point the friend got scared and threw them away (possibly burned them all).  I guess my obsession with books and dollhouses goes back to those dreadful days when I was terrified but didn't know why, was told never to open the door to anyone, and lost the most precious gift of my short life.  I have never seen a dollhouse like it since and do not remember the names of the makers.  So sad.  This is the closest I've ever seen - by Marx - made of tin with a lift off roof.  Amazing!  The one I was given was wooden, with a shingled roof, and lights that worked. Much more sophisticated than this.

But now that I live in Los Angeles, close to Mexico (THIS IS MEXICO!), I think I should design a more logical house for this climate and natural setting.  So of course I thought of an hacienda - doesn't have to be a huge one, just one story perhaps, with a central courtyard, and the arches for the porches.  Found a blog with an excellent looking one and even wrote the artist.  She kindly sent me back the plans with the measurements!! So beautiful!  But it still isn't exactly what I want.  

I love that she designed it herself and figured out all kinds of beautiful touches to make it look real.  There is a center courtyard with a fountain but it is very very small.  The furnishings are exquisite and belong to a very upper crust family. Do I want my hacienda to be that bourgeois?  Not sure, yet who would own an hacienda if not a bourgeois?    I once stayed in an hacienda in Huejotitan, Jalisco, Mexico which was actually an orphanage.  It was huge, or seemed that way to my 16 year-old eyes.  Some of the staff had their own suites, bedrooms with a bath.  Larger rooms for multiple beds were plentiful to house the groups I had traveled with- about 15 of us - as well as the orphans themselves.  

The base of the above dollhouse is 39 by 25 -- that's quite large.  Access is from the back.  I imagined my doll house as a rectangle with a smaller one inside for the patio, with lift off roofs, so you look down on the rooms.  Indeed, I even hoped for a two-story affair.  And perhaps another way to open it by separating the whole into two parts that are also hinged in two.  But that's a lot to ask.  Our amazing carpenter/handyperson Gilberto Osorio (highly recommended - he can do anything and does it well, and if he can't he finds someone else who can) can probably make whatever I ask but I really need some good plants.

This is how I imagined the rich interior - full of beautiful pottery and rugs and art from Mexico.  I had started to collect furniture as well years ago so I have some.  This dollhouse will fulfill two of my particular wishes - bucket list I suppose one could say -- and those include a love of miniature animals and people.  I collected tiny ceramic animals and people for the first 14 years of my life, when I decided I was too old for them and told my mother to give them away.  A strange thing to do since adults collect these as well.  There is a tiny store at Olvera Street which houses many of the miniatures that I love.  I hope to lavish some love on them as well.  The store is owned by a couple who are struggling, as are all the stores there since the city decided to stop subsidizing them (so as to push them out in order to gentrify I suspect).

I wish I could believe in prayer and that I could pray for health.  Unfortunately this round of cancer is very painful -- to the point that I cannot really go anywhere unless I can sit with a heating pad on my stomach, and nod out when I am tired (which is most of the time).  

I'll end with something more positive - the poetry of Gwendolyn Brooks, a beautiful human being!  First African American to win the Pulitzer and poetry consultant to the Library of Congress, among other great honors!


Already I am no longer looked at with lechery or love.
My daughters and sons have put me away with marbles and dolls,
Are gone from the house.
My husband and lovers are pleasant or somewhat polite
And night is night.

It is a real chill out,
The genuine thing.
I am not deceived, I do not think it is still summer
Because sun stays and birds continue to sing.

It is summer-gone that I see, it is summer-gone.
The sweet flowers indrying and dying down,
The grasses forgetting their blaze and consenting to brown.

It is a real chill out. The fall crisp comes
I am aware there is winter to heed.
There is no warm house
That is fitted with my need.

I am cold in this cold house this house
Whose washed echoes are tremulous down lost halls.
I am a woman, and dusty, standing among new affairs.
I am a woman who hurries through her prayers.

Tin intimations of a quiet core to be my
Desert and my dear relief
Come: there shall be such islanding from grief,
And small communion with the master shore.
Twang they. And I incline this ear to tin,
Consult a dual dilemma. Whether to dry
In humming pallor or to leap and die.

Somebody muffed it?? Somebody wanted to joke. 

Friday, April 7, 2017



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Poppies in East Los Angeles

 Paul Thomas, blogger par excellence, quotes from John Dewey:
What avail is it to win prescribed amounts of information about geography and history, to win ability to read and write, if in the process the individual loses his own soul: loses his appreciation of things worth while, of the values to which these things are relative; if he loses desire to apply what he has learned and, above all, loses the ability to extract meaning from his future experiences as they occur? (Experience and Education, p. 49)

So how do we promote poetry and libraries so we can save our civilization in the age of Trump and complete disregard for anything meaningful in life?

I have always been intimidated by poetry and never thought I could write any.  I only wrote one that I liked - in 8th grade - about the lemon tree in my backyard.  My teacher loved it.  I think I loved my teacher too. She made me feel a whole person -- as most other teachers didn't. 

In honor of this lovely teacher I thought I'd try my 'hand' at a poem today.  And as I thought of this, I looked down at my own hands and realized I was starting to see the hands of my mother.  The idea of generations of hands. 


My two hands now aged and wrinkled
Dark spots dot them here and there
The dryness aging them even more
Do they show I'm wise or just weathered?

Hands give us away I think.
They made my mother's beautiful face 
An aberration in her composition
While her hands told all.

We can't escape them and rely upon them.
They give us so much.
They provide us with so many alternatives.
Do we appreciate them at all?

My hands have always seemed inadequate
They couldn't draw a single image
Nor could they master the classical guitar
But they did allow me to learn to crochet.

Hands are more than a gift
They are a blessing 
Without them we wouldn't find our lost glasses
Nor would be find any peace.

These hands
Are they my hands
or my mothers?

Brown spots and 
wrinkles mark their
aging progress.

Thin skin means
bruising, and
nicks and bleeding.

They have withstood the
tests of time.

Wildflowers in Los Angeles

Find out what will inspire your students to write. Maybe it's their cell phone. So be it! Let them make a stab at it!   
   And not too much criticism.  I know that's why I didn't write anything for many., many years.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

March is nearly over and I didn't do anything for WOMEN'S HISTORY MONTH

I was inspired when I saw this meme I guess it can be called of WOMEN IN STEM and "IT'S OKAY TO BE SMART"   And I began thinking about how the only subject I really loved as a young girl was science.  I wanted to be a scientist and later an Astronaut!   I know this love was influenced by my father who was on his way to becoming a doctor when the Depression hit and he had to go to work to help support his parents and siblings.   I do feel that I was born too early -- that young women today are much more likely to go into science than in my day.  I hope so!   So let's celebrate WOMEN OF SCIENCE for the end of Women's History Month. 

Fred Klonsky blogger and artist - or rather -- artist and blogger - had a great blog today about Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass 

In a way it summarizes my feeling about racism and sexism and which shall disappear first. But it does imply that men got the vote -- ALL MEN -- before any women did.  Women are still relegated to the kitchen and the bedroom all over the world. And #45 is trying to bring all that back.

We have so much to fight for right now -- and while feminism isn't #1 for me, it certainly is high on the list.  But it has to be a feminism that serves all women, and not just bourgeois white women, which is what it has been in the past.   When Black Lives Matter embraces feminism we will have a fighting chance.

When we stand up for women everywhere -- in particular the continents where women are still facing genital circumcision, and other atrocities -- then we will have a fighting chance.

There are sixteen organizations (probably more) fighting to stop female genital mutilation, as it is known, and helping the victims as well. 

“Female genital mutilation has nothing to do with culture, tradition, or religion. It is torture and a crime. Help us to put an end to this crime.” — Waris Dirie, Survivor of FGM, UN FGM Ambassador, Founder of the Desert Flower Foundation and former Supermodel

There is so much to be done and we can't give up the fight.  Otherwise we will surely die.

Friday, February 24, 2017



Thelma Dale Perkins

   Continuing my favorite month (my birthday month) I want to share a bit about the lives of two unknowns, Charlotta Bass and Thelma Dale Perkins.  In particular, the latter was a quiet presence in the history of the struggle for civil rights and women's rights and more.  I want to state at the beginning that I know about both of them because my father worked with them, and I believe they shared mutual respect.  I know he held them both in high regard.

   Charlotta Bass  - perhaps the best photo of her is this one:

   She was the first African American woman to own a newspaper in Los Angeles. She ran for Vice President on the Progressive Party ticket.  She was courageous, outspoken, and so much more.  My father wrote speeches for her and accompanied her around the United States as she stumped for office.   Charlotta Bass 1874 - 1969 published The California Eagle from 1912 to 1951.  "She and her husband Joseph Bass, who had served as editor of the Topeka Plain Dealer and the Montana Plain Dealer used The Eagle to push for reforms. They combatted such issues as the derogatory images rampant in D.W. Griffith's film, Birth of A Nation; Los Angeles' discriminatory hiring practices; the Klu Klux Klan; police brutality; and restrictive housing covenants.  

"Bass' uncompromising stance against racial injustice resulted in her life being threatened on numerous occasions. She was branded a communist, and the FBI placed her under surveillance on the charge that her paper was seditious. However, this never deterred her or her paper from seeking civil and political rights for African Americans and the disadvantaged.

"Bass retired from the newspaper business in 1951. Her later years were devoted to politics. In 1952 she became the first African-American woman to run for national office as the Vice Presidential candidate on the Progressive Party ticket.

"She died of a cerebral hemorrhage on April 12,1969."

Charlotta Bass conducts a meeting in Pasadena, CA.

   Thelma Dale Perkins - luckily I devoted an entire blog to her last year: 
I met Thelma Dale Perkins a few times when she came to visit my parents in Los Angeles. Such a gracious and lovely person, I knew there was something special about her besides just her friendship with my parents. My plan was to try to visit her in North Carolina where she had retired but I never made it. She died in 2014 and I feared I would never learn her true history. I knew snippets - that she was a friend of WEB DuBois; that she was a feminist activist in New York City. But not much more.
Here is one site that talks about her "civic engagement" - and I am indebted to them for writing this although it gives an entirely one-sided picture of this dynamic and energetic fighter for the rights of African Americans, especially women.

   "Thelma Perkins was born Thelma Dale on October 23, 1915, in the Historic Anacostia district of Washington, D.C. The youngest of four children, Thelma is directly related to the most prominent African American families in the Nation’s capital during the Reconstruction era. Her uncle, Dr.
Frederick Patterson served as President and President Emeritus of the Tuskegee Institute for more than fifty years. He was also awarded the Medal of Freedom in 1987.
   "Education was very important in Thelma’s family and her parents encouraged her studies. She attended Paul Laurence Dunbar High School, a college-prep high school for African American students. In 1932, like her grandfather before her, Thelma entered Howard University where she studied teaching and social work. After graduating in 1936 she stayed at Howard to conduct graduate work in Sociology under prominent sociologist Dr. E. Franklin Frasier, concentrating on the living conditions of African American families in Washington, D.C.
   "Inspired by her father’s example, Thelma began taking active roles in volunteer and civic organizations while she was in college. She was a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha, one of the first African American sororities in the United States. Thelma was also involved in the Liberal Club, a vocal campus group that advocated for the integration of African Americans. Integration continued to be an important cause for Thelma and in the 1940s she accepted the position of acting Secretary of the National Negro Congress. During that time, Thelma assisted with early civil rights activities and formed lifelong friendships with such luminaries as Paul Robeson and Dr. W.E.B. DuBois." 

   For more information, please read my blog linked above, about this fighter for her people, and especially the female members.  My hope is that with further research and spreading the word on social media, Thelma Dale Perkins and Charlotta Bass will not remain confined to the dustbins of history.

Charlotta Bass - 

Bass, Charlotta. Forty Years: Memoirs from the Pages of A Newspaper: 1960. (Unpublished Manuscript Available at Southern California Research Library and Schomburg)  

Jeter, James Phillip, Ph.D. Rough Flying: The California Eagle - (1879-1965) (AJHA Convention Paper)

Streitmatter, Rodger. Raising Her Voice: African American Women Journalists Who Changed History. Kentucky: The University Press of Kentucky, 1994.

Radicalism at the Crossroads: African American Women Activists in the Cold War by Dayo F. Gore - 
A pdf of her history -
Excerpt from a book - De-Centering Cold War History: Local and Global Change edited by Jadwiga E. Pieper Mooney, Fabio Lanza. Chapter 3. 

Thursday, February 16, 2017


[note: every image I searched for Black History or African American History Month never included Paul Robeson - and I find that highly disturbing.]

I always wondered why February was African American History month? why the shortest month? It is also the month for many wonderful things such as:  [a list from National Day Calendar]
And today I learned that February 16th is WORLD READ ALOUD DAY

   Last year at this time I devoted myself to profiling some wonderful African Americans for African American or Black History Month.  This I did pretty faithfully every day until I learned I had to go in for surgery and experience the unfortunate occurrence of having two kinds of cancer discovered in my female organs (and more).
   My blogs were a labor of love.  There are so many fine African Americans who are not even known to people in this country -- I could've kept writing every day to profile more.
   Well, this time I have decided to stick to some of the more obscure people who need to be taught to students -- under the heading of Ethnic Studies perhaps -- but really, as part of their learning about the history of the United States.  Why I wonder every time is this a separate celebration? Obviously because it would not be observed at all if there weren't a special month set aside.


   Let's start with Shirley Graham DuBois, a prolific writer, singer, composer and more and who wrote a wonderful book called There Was Once A Slave about the life of Frederick Douglass.   I own a copy of the 1947 book published by Julian Messner, a first edition I believe.   I will quote from the back of the jacket cover about Shirley Graham (as she is called at the time of this edition):  
   "Shirley Graham brought to her research and study a youthful admiration for Douglass.  When she as a child, her father used to tell her stories of how Douglass visited the old Wayne County farmhouse where Miss Graham was born.  The farmhouse had been purchased by her great-great-grandfather long before the Civil War after he had been freed from slavery, and it subsequently became a station in the underground railway.  Frederick Douglass had been a frequent visitor during her father's childhood.
   "Miss Graham is a graduate of Oberlin College where she also took her Master's Degree.  She studied at the Sorbonne in Paris and later after receiving a Julius Rosenwald Foundation Fellowship for creative writing, she studied at the Yale School of Drama.  Miss Graham supervised the Chicago Federal Unit that brought the Swing Mikado to Broadway and designed and wrote the music for the popular and highly praised children's production, Little Black Sambo.  She is the author of Dr. George Washington Carver, Scientist and, Paul Robeson: Citizen of the World, both biographies for young people.
   "There Was Once A Slave, The Heroic Story of Frederick Douglass is her first book for adult readers and was selected from over six hundred manuscripts submitted in the Contest. The judges were Carl Van Doren, Lewis Gannett, and Clifton Fadiman."
   "The Julian Messner Award for the Best Book Combating Intolerance in America was augmented by the Lionel Judah Tachna Foundation to $6500.00 -- $5000.00 outright and $1500.00 against royalties.  The Foundation was established by Max Tachna in memory of his son lost during the Battle of the Coral Sea when the USS Sims went down."
   Shirley Graham married W.E.B. DuBois in 1951 after the death of his first wife. Graham-DuBois career didn't stop, even after the move to Ghana, and later to Cairo when the President of Ghana Nkrumah was overthrown. For further biographical information, see Gerald Horne, Race Woman: The Lives of Shirley Graham Du Bois (2000)

   [A blog titled "9 Influential Women in Black History You Won't Hear About In School"   includes Fannie Lou Hamer, Marsha P. Johnson, Madam C.J. Walker, Mary McLeod Bethune, Ruby Bridges, Dorothy Height, Audre Lorde, Ella Baker, and Shirley Chisholm.  This is a great list and I will include some of them here.]

   Eslanda Goode Robeson is even less well known than Shirley Graham DuBois, just as Paul Robeson is left off displays of great African Americans for Black History Month.  Here's a teaser from the book by Dr. Barbara Ransby, PhD:  "Eslanda: The Large and Unconventional Life of Mrs. Paul Robeson (Yale University Press, January 8, 2013) is a deeply researched biography that chronicles an amazing life set against the backdrop of some of the most pivotal events of the twentieth century: the Great Depression and the rise of fascism; the anti-colonial struggles in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean; World War II and the founding of the United Nations: the Chinese revolution; the anti-communist witch hunts of the 1950s; and the rise of the U.S. Civil Rights and Black Power movements. Eslanda (Essie) Robeson traveled to every corner of the globe and witnessed history in the making, a history she wrote about and spoke about.
"Her friends and associates included heads of state, world-renowned artists and writers, and revolutionaries. Her career and commitments took her many places: colonial Africa in 1936, the front lines of the Spanish Civil War, the founding meeting of the United Nations, Nazi-occupied Berlin, Stalin’s Russia, and China two months after Mao’s revolution. She studied with Bronislaw Malinowski, vacationed with Nikita Khrushchev, befriended Jawaharlal Nehru, interviewed Mahatma Gandhi, danced with Eugene O’Neill, flirted with Marcel Duchamp, dined with Noel Coward and maintained deep and complicated friendships with Vijaya Pandit, Emma Goldman, Jomo Kenyatta, W.E.B. and Shirley DuBois, Langston Hughes, and Kwame Nkrumah. She was a woman of unusual accomplishment—an anthropologist, a prolific journalist, a tireless advocate of women’s rights, an outspoken anti-colonial and antiracist activist, and an internationally sought-after speaker.
"Yet historians, for the most part, have confined Essie to the role of Mrs. Paul Robeson, a wife hidden in the large shadow cast by her famous husband. This book, by award-winning biographer, Barbara Ransby (author of Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement) changes all that. Essie Robeson’s story is told for the first time in all of its complexity and in the context of the dynamic historical times in which she lived."

   My family pride includes my father's friendship with both W.E.B. Du Bois and Paul Robeson.  I was concerned that my father may not have given their wives their due. But then I found among my parents' books a copy of Eslanda Robeson's book African Journey - which is signed to my father - in a very loving way. "For Charlie Kramer with thanks for so cheerfully accepting me  as one of the gang.  Gratefully Eslanda Goode Robeson  May 1949" 

   I realize that my study into not so well known African Americans also has a great deal to do with books. Both these wonderful women were authors, as well as so much more.  I will continue to write about more African American women later this month.

World Read Aloud Day -  

African American History Month - 

Biographies - 

Shirley Graham DuBois - 
Papers, Shirley Graham DuBois 1896-1977 - 

Eslanda Goode Robeson profiled on Democracy Now - 

Dr. Barbara Ransby on Eslanda Good Robeson - 

Thursday, February 2, 2017

#IStand4Hijab #IStandWithHijabis

February 1st is World Hijab Day -- so appropriate for the times in which we are living. I tried to take photo of myself but not good at selfies, nor putting on the Hijab.  I'll get better at it I suspect as the Trump administration continues to harass and detain and demonize Islamic peoples.

A celebration took place today in Garden Grove where I believe more Islamic people live. I didn't see the same support for this here in Los Angeles, unfortunately.  
   Since February 17th, I have attended three demonstrations and a press conference protesting Trump's inhumane and mostly psychopathic policies.  Even before he was inaugurated there was evidence that he would not only do what he said, but worse. This has come true.

I am making this a very short blog so that I can publish it not too far from #IStandWithHijabis  Day.

Here are some links for more information:
Facebook World Hijab Day --  

As with everything in our world, there were also controversies.  Friends in Garden Grove had a lovely celebration with 500 people.  But in Paris at an elite university, it backfired.

I hope all of us will register a Muslims if Hrumpf starts his registry.

And to end on a particularly lovely image:


Thursday, January 26, 2017


I was honored to have been sent this book by one of the authors — Maria Dismondy - to review for Multicultural Children’s Book Day January 27, 2017.  I found out about this wonderful activity from PragmaticMom and Valarie Budayr - both amazing lovers of books, and especially multicultural ones, and great bloggers. 


2016:  Cardinal Rule Press
Picture Book Biography

The Little Linebacker, a “picture book [auto]biography of NFL payer Stephen Tulloch”,  starts  with a burst of energy from the young Stephen who dreams of playing football for the NFL (National Football League).  His mother encourages his dreams and takes him to his first little league practice.  She also advises patience because “learning something new takes time.”

Stephen encounters a few obstacles along the way, including a low score on a math test, a coach who doesn’t include him in playing that often, and even not being chosen for a team. But he persists for ten years until he reaches his dream and plays for the NFL.  

I was frustrated that this story did not go into more detail about Stephen or his mother and their living situation.  Where was his father?  This information is helpful for children who also don’t have both parents at home. [part of our longing for DIVERSITY in our books includes families in crisis, etc.]

Understandably this book needs to jump ahead without real transition because it is trying to tell a person’s story in a short picture book.  What often works best for picture books is to concentrate on a single incident or aspect of the story of a person.  Otherwise a chapter book might have been better able to encompass more detail and tell a fuller story.

Stephen’s low grade on a math test isn’t easily explained — and wouldn’t his caring and supportive mother have found him help before this?  An older man at his mother’s job does   help Stephen which is what he needed in the first place.   He learns that “working hard pays off” when his next test back comes back with a better grade.

Generally a book should show rather than tell.  The “A few years later” isn’t really necessary.   I am glad his best friend John encouraged him not to give up playing football. “Remember sticks in a bundle are unbreakable.”  - why is this helpful?   I personally needed an explanation for this comment.

Stephen ultimately reaches his goal and makes his dreams come true - “He worked hard. He studied hard.  He was part of the team. And he never stopped believing in himself.”  How did he do this?  Because of “the love and support of his mom, Mr. Lotspiech, and friends.”

This is a lovely and inspiring story — but there isn’t enough information here to explain how and why Stephen did so well when most others would have given up.

The illustrations, in my opinion, could have been more differentiating of Stephen as he grew older — he just seems to be a slightly bigger version of the same face but no real physical changes. The illustrations didn’t help to define the passage of time, which they more easily might have done.  Picture books generally should be defined by the use of pictures to tell the story — and the text can be at any level.  This book is suited for upper elementary though it can be read to much younger children.

For parents and teachers this book is useful for teaching lessons of serving the community, perseverance, and that hard work makes a difference. 
Imagining what a child would like to be at any age is important — this book can encourage that exploration.  

Activity:   Children can draw their dreams, write about them, or find illustrations in other media.   I personally love collages - if anyone has magazines that can be cut up I would provide those.  

Computer-based images can always be created to show one’s dreams.  Make a collage of dreams with these.

Word pictures are also wonderful — Wordle is a simple way to create word clouds as they call them -   

There are many more such programs online.  

One suggestion:  depending on the age of  the child, I would not start out the reading of any book with the number of questions that are included at the front of the book.  We want children to love reading.  We want them to get meaning from reading. But we also don’t want to make the task so didactic that they will be turned off.  Generally speaking, a free discussion that allows a child to express whatever s/he thinks about a book is best.  

Especially important in these times when economic uncertainty is so much a part of our landscape would be for a teacher or parent to talk about what might make it difficult to reach one’s goals or dreams. This can be discussed with careful reference to the difficult economic times in which we live.  


"A picture book is a book, usually a children's book, in which the illustrations are as important as (or even more important than) the words in telling the story. Picture books have traditionally been 32 pages long, although Little Golden Books are 24 pages. In picture books, there are illustrations on every page or on one of every pair of facing pages."  

From HORN BOOK:  Definition of a Picture book; 
Here is what the Caldecott Terms and Criteria state:
1. A “picture book for children” as distinguished from other books with illustrations, is one that essentially provides the child with a visual experience. A picture book has a collective unity of story-line, theme, or concept, developed through the series of pictures of which the book is comprised.
2. A “picture book for children” is one for which children are an intended potential audience. The book displays respect for children’s understandings, abilities, and appreciations. Children are defined as persons of ages up to and including fourteen and picture books for this entire age range are to be considered.

Pratt Library Defines a Picture Book:  “The phrase "picture book" is commonly used to describe a book, most often written for children, in which the content is conveyed through the use of words and pictures in combination or through pictures alone. A picture book differs from an illustrated book in that the pictures it contains form an essential part of the structure of the book. Due to physical factors in the bookbinding process, picture books are conventionally 32 pages long.”

“Picture books are a relatively new form of book, originating in the early twentieth century. Wanda Gag is widely considered to be a pioneer in the development of the picture book form. The formula for illustrated books had been to show text on the left page and pictures on the right page, without combining them.  In Millions of Cats, Gag mixed up the order of pictures and text, combined pictures and text, and stretched pictures onto more than one page.  Her ideas paved the way for modern authors/illustrators like Maurice Sendak, Dr. Seuss, and Eric Carle.”

Teaching Tolerance Guide:  Let’s Talk!:  Discussing Race, Racism and Other Difficult Topics With Students
This is a general guide for teachers to assess their comfort levels, planning strategies, and other helpful ideas for discussing difficult topics with children.  Topics do include race and privilege, ability, disabilities.

A beautiful guide to DEVELOPMENTALLY APPROPRIATE PRACTICES for teachers and parents:   

Guest Post on Valarie Budayr's Blog:  Why Do Adults Need To Discuss Diverse and Inclusive Books with Children?