After the disastrous decision adults in America have made this week, we're recommending children's books, because they give us hope and remind us the next generation can help fix what we've broken.More
CJ has to take the bus with his grandma after church. He keeps asking her questions about this journey: why do they have to wait for the bus in the rain? Why don't they have a car like his friend? Why do they have to get off in a broken-down part of the city? His grandmother explains why CJ should keep his eyes and his mind open to their vibrant, diverse surroundings: The young bucks on the bus playing music, the blind man who listens to it, the people they serve at the soup kitchen they finally arrive at. de la Peña's prose is beautiful, ("The outside air smelled like freedom, but it also smelled like rain, which freckled CJ's shirt and dripped down his nose") and the warm, multicultural urban setting of this book will give you hope for a better future for the kids who are reading it, even if the present seems bleak.
This was one of my favorite books when I was a child. It's a poem by Maya Angelou next to paintings by Jean-Michel Basquiat. I read this book so many times I had memorized the poem as a child, although I have now forgotten it. I remember being enthralled by the illustrations while also knowing that Jean-Michel was just like me (his mother was Puerto Rican). I looked for myself in his drawings and I think many times I did find me. Reading this poem again right now, it feels exactly like what I need to hear. I am deeply afraid, but soon I know, I'll believe, that life doesn't frighten me at all.