A Flurry of Books for February Celebrations

There is way too much going on this month! My kid is plugging away at valentines to give out in school tomorrow; the Asian Lunar New Year is on Sunday; and the Olympics are about to start, bringing on a frenzy of Olympic fever all around my town (Vancouver, BC). And we are almost halfway into Black History Month.

What to write about this week? How about all of it? Here’s one sample book to celebrate each occasion and whet your appetite for more:

In honor of the Olympics (not to mention the opening this weekend of the first Percy Jackson and the Olympians movie, The Lightning Thief), crack open an oldie but goodie: D’Aulaire’s Book of Greek Myths. I remember poring over this book as a child, and my own child—a big Percy Jackson fan—has recently discovered it and has been carrying it with her everywhere, crying out “It’s just like in The Lightning Thief!”

For more books about Greek Myths as well as folktales and fairy tales of many cultures, take a look at this booklist from Scholastic.

 Here’s what I wrote about one of my favorite Lunar New Year books two years ago:

Bringing In the New Year! By Grace Lin. Simple text and vibrant, cheerful illustrations show a family getting ready to celebrate the Lunar New Year: sweeping out the old year, making dumplings, getting a haircut, watching firecrackers, and finally, joining in a parade where a newly-awakened dragon heralds a lucky New Year.

And here’s a link to the rest of the post I wrote back then, recommending other Lunar New Year titles.

My sample title for Black History Month is so new that I haven’t even gotten my hands on it yet, but it’s not for lack of trying. (I’m first in line at my library when it comes in on order!) Mare’s War, a young adult novel by Tanita Davis, takes the reader on a road trip with two teenage sisters and their sports-car-driving, stiletto-wearing grandmother, who was in the Women’s Army Corps during World War II. Mare’s War just won a Coretta Scott King Honor Award this year, and I’m excited to read it.

For a veritable feast of African-American authors and books, take a look at 28 Days Later: A Black History Month Celebration of Children’s Literature.

A great book to read for Valentine’s Day—even though you won’t see the word” valentine” or any red paper hearts or cupids on the gorgeous cover—is Love Letters, by Arnold Adoff, is a collection of love letters, each written as a poem. There are letters to mom, to dad, to two teachers (Mrs Nicely and Mrs. McNasty) to a “Playground Snow Boy” and to the “Tall Girl at the Front Table.” Illustrated in vibrant collages by Lisa Desimini. This is a book you could read aloud—in whole or in part—to a class, or share with a favorite someone at home—maybe accompanied by your own love letter.

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