The Annual Skipping Stones Honor Awards: Exceptional, Educational, and Entertaining Multicultural Books and Teaching Resources

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Are you searching for authentic multicultural books and teaching resources? Since 1994, Skipping Stones Magazine has recognized outstanding books and teaching resources (including educational videos) with the annual Skipping Stones Honor Awards.

This article highlights the multicultural and international selections by Skipping Stones for the years 2003 and 2004. The honored books, published by both large and small publishers, promote cooperation and cultivate an understanding of the diverse cultures around the world. Bound to provide a great reading adventure, they are culturally sensitive and offer a variety of learning experiences for students, teachers, parents, and children.

The need for multicultural perspectives that do not perpetuate stereotypes and biases in children's and juvenile literature cannot be underestimated. The criteria used to judge the entries includes authenticity, accuracy, cultural sensitivity, as well as reader-friendliness (attractive visual presentation).

The wide variety of titles selected for the Skipping Stones Awards clearly shows that our country and our world is not the melting pot that it has been described but a great Salad Bowl of many distinct cultural and ethnic flavors. Befittingly, the selection process is always inclusive; reviewers come from diverse cultural backgrounds and cross-sections of the society, from students to grandparents.

An illustrated, two-color poster with vital information about the honored books is available from Skipping Stones Magazine. The complete 2003 and 2004 selections are also available on the website: www.SkippingStones.org.

Reviews of the winners appear in the Summer issue ofSkipping Stones. While it should be noted that the awards also recognize exceptional Nature and Ecology books, we first describe the Multicultural and International books, arranged by various cultural groups.

Multicultural and International Books

Focusing on ethnic diversity and intercultural or global relationships, these books build bridges of communication, understanding, social justice, and peace, and offer examples of positive role models from communities of color.

African and African American

Juneteenth:A Celebration of Freedom by Dr. Charles Taylor, takes us back to the emancipation days and brings us to the present day celebration of freedom in our AfricanAmerican communities. All grades. (Open Hand Publishing, www.openhand.com)

Visiting Day by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by J. Ransome, approaches the difficult topic ofmen^athers and sons-behind bars by showing a family bond that knows no boundaries, only unconditional love. Elementary grades. (Scholastic, www.scholastic.com)

These Hands I Know: African-American Writers on Family edited by Afaa Michael Weaver, brings 17 well-known AfricanAmerican writers to us. As we read, we see that our stories are their stories, and their stories are our stories, too. This is an exceptional collection. Upper grades and adults. (Sarabande Books. Inc, www. sara bandebooks.org)

Squizzy the Black Squirrel: A Fabulous Fable of Friendship by Chuck Stone, illustrated by Jeannie Jackson. African-American characters with a message of intercultural unity. Elementary grades. (Open Hand Publishing, www.openhand.com)

Shining by Julius Lester, illustrated by John Clapp, is an intriguing story from Africa, filled with deep spiritual truth. Shining's silent life has a profound meaning that unfolds with the story. Elementary grades. (Harcourt Books, harcourt books. com)

Asian and Asian American

Tangled Threads: A Hmong Girl's Story by Pegi Deitz Shea, tells the story of a 13year-old Hmong girl, Mai from Laos, who leaves a refugee camp in Thailand and comes to America with her grandmother, after her parents were killed in the war. Aheartbreaking and heartwarming story, many new Americans will surely recognize themselves and their own struggles as they read about Mai's. …