Free Range Readers

Nurturing Self Reliant Readers and Writers in K-6 classrooms

Windows and Mirrors On My Mind


It’s Monday!

Thanks to Unleashing Readers for this beautiful forum for sharing books. I continue to think a lot about Grace Lin’s inspirational TEDxTalk on The Windows and Mirrors of Your Child’s Book Shelf . I’m also guided by Christopher Myer’s OpEd in the NYTimes a few years ago. My decisions about which books to bring into the classroom are very intentionally guided by current conversations about diversity in children’s literature.

I was visiting relatives near Saratoga Springs last weekend and stopped by the amazing Northshire Bookstore. I love a good Indie Bookstore, and if you are ever in this area, a visit to this book haven is worth your time. The children’s section is comprehensive and the staff is knowledgeable. I was especially struck by a display of books related to themes of immigration and diversity. One book new to me is Stormy Seas:Stories of Young Boat Refugees by Mary Beth Leatherdale. I’m sharing a large copy of the cover because it is so powerful.

This nonfiction book is geared toward upper elementary and middle grades readers and presents 5 true stories from 1939 to today “about young people who lived through the harrowing experience of setting sail in search of asylum.” (Annick Press). I immediately grabbed a copy to include in my ongoing Immigration Text Set. Many of the immigration stories I have are more geared toward Eastern European experiences, and I am ever on the lookout these days for books that highlight different immigration stories. What I like about this book is that the author includes 5 different stories, from Europe to Vietnam, Cuba, Afghanistan, and Ivory Coast. This book offers an opportunity to talk frankly and openly with students about the plight of refugees and is an important antidote to the xenophobic rhetoric so prevalent in our daily news lately.

Another book I am enjoying these days is The Princess and the Warrior: A Tale of Two Volcanoes, by the Mexican-American self-described creator of images and stories Duncan Tonatiuh .









If you click the link on the title above, you can read about the story on School Library Journal. This book is a great addition to your folklore collection. Tonatiuh retells an Aztec legend and incorporates Nahuatl words that are defined in a wonderful glossary at the back of the book. If you have not discovered this amazing young writer you (and your library!) are missing out on an exciting contemporary author/illustrator.He first came to my attention with his amazing book, Separate is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation,204,203,200_QL40_.jpg

I am eagerly awaiting my copy of his most recent book,,204,203,200_.jpg

Esquivel! Space-Age Sound Artist, in collaboration with Susan Wood.

There are so many beautiful books and we need to be ever more vigilant about making sure that our students have opportunities to read and discuss them.

Happy Reading!


Author: mnosal

I have been in education for all of my life, in one way or another. After teaching 5th grade at an urban public charter school, I have decided to return to the public schools and to literacy coaching K-5. I also teach and mentor preservice teachers.


  1. I loved the idea of books as windows and mirrors the moment I first heard it at a conference 10 years ago. Thank you for sharing these books. The covers and descriptions make me want to run out and grab them right away for my classroom.

  2. There’s a middle grade novel I like to pair with Separate is never equal– Sylvia and Aki by Conkling. I certainly learned some new things from both books!

  3. I love independent book stores, I am always impressed by the passion and knowledge of their staff, who really seem to share my love of books. It’s like coming home. 🙂

  4. I adore Duncan Tonatiuh’s illustrations. The Princess and the Warrior: A Tale of Two Volcanoes has finally become available at my library so I put it on hold. I’m thankful that Esquivel! Space-Age Sound Artist is on order.
    Have you read Adrift at Sea: A Vietnamese Boy’s Story of Survival by Marsha Skrypuch? That is a good one for your immigration and diversity theme.

  5. ESQUIVEL is a fabulous book! One of my favorites of 2016!

  6. Duncan Tonatiuh is an absolute favourite. Stormy Seas is new to me – I think I have to get my hands on this title soonest!

  7. I gotta check out Stormy Seas. Sounds necessary for the current era

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