Still Navigating What it Means to Be Human #pb10for10

Last summer, I read, Sara Ahmed’s, Being the Change. This book kept me thinking all year long about how we help kids to nurture and respect their own identities, as well as others. This summer, I read another book that I believe is a nice companion to Ahmed’s book, Reading to Make a Difference, by Lester Laminack and Katie Kelly.

Laminack and Kelly lean on the idea that books can serve as bridges. “As bridges, books offer the reader an opportunity to connect to distant places, different views, unique people, and new experiences. In doing so, the reader develops a deeper understanding of himself, of others, and of the world around him” (xiii).

As a result of reading this book, I am now thinking more about books as mirrors, those that help kids to see themselves. I’m also thinking about books as windows, or opportunities to see different people and perspectives as a way to develop empathy and understanding. Laminack and Kelly also reminded me of the possibility of books as doors. I don’t remember where I first heard that reading a book could change the way you live and see the world. Books that act as doors for us and our students are those that “facilitate action and change” (xviii). They leave us wanting to make a difference.

For last year’s #pb10for10, I curated a list of books that have been mirrors for my own children, Navigating What it Means to Be Human. This year, I’m hoping that my list will serve as windows and possibly doors for them as well as for the students I work with.

Red: A Crayon’s Story By Michael Hall


I purchased this book after reading the book, Reading to Make a Difference. It’s a perfect story for acknowledging that sometimes your insides might not match what is on the outside, and that’s ok!


Izzy Gizmo By Pip Jones and Sara Ogilvie


Izzy Gizmo is a female inventor who learns to overcome the disappointment of things not always going as planned. In the end, her persistence pays off in big ways as she finds a way to make the world a better place.


Remarkable You By Pat Zietlow Miller Illustrated by Patrice Barton


“No matter your volume, your age, or your size, YOU have the power to be a surprise…You could change the world. Are you willing to start?” A reminder that no matter our strengths or challenges, we all hold power to make a difference. 

What’s Given from the Heart By Patricia C. McKissack and April Harrison


A recurring line in this moving story is “What is given from the heart reaches the heart.” James Otis, a little boy down on his own luck, learns the power of giving from the heart as he contemplates a gift for another family in need. A truly gorgeous book.


Lubna and Pebble by Wendy Meddour and Daiel Egneus


This is a story of a young refugee who has a pebble for a best friend. Lubna’s pebble becomes someone to share her stories and feelings. The refugee references are subtle, but there-welcoming and opening up opportunities for conversation about experiences of people in our world today.


Worm Loves Worm By J.J. Austrian Illustrated by Mike Curato


I’ve owned this book for a few years now. I’ll be honest, until recently, I wasn’t sure what place it held in a classroom. Did we really want to talk about the worms who can’t decide who will be the bride and who will be the groom? This may expose my own discomfort in having these conversations with kids. But perhaps, this story might help kids to gain new perspectives-build empathy. At the heart of this story is the message that love is love is love…


Malala’s Magic Pencil By Malala Yousafzai Illustrat4ed by Kerascoet


There is so much to explore in this story, written by Malala herself. The illustrations show us a different place and expose the reader to realities of life in another place. This book begs for conversation about poverty, gender, and opportunities for education. Malala is a beautiful role model as an agent of change. She writes to change the world. A beautiful book.

The Day You Begin By Jacqueline Woodson and Illustrated by Rafael Lopez


This is the book I purchased as a gift for my daughter’s first grade teacher on the first day of first grade, in a new school, last year. It’s about finding courage to begin something new even when you may feel different. This is a great beginning of the year read aloud, validating and acknowledging the feelings and experiences of new students.

Not Quite Narwhal By Jessie Sima


The main character in this book, Kelp, is a unicorn born into a community of narwhals. He knows he is different from those around him, but no one seems to mind. Later in the story, Kelp finds a community of unicorns where he does fit in. This is a great story about being yourself and accepting those who may be a little different from you.


Daniel’s Good Day by Micha Archer


My friend Dawn read this book aloud at our summer teacher writing group, Teachers Who Write, earlier this week. The book was new to me and I fell in love. Daniel travels throughout his community, asking people “what makes a good day for you?” Through the journey, we get a look at Daniel’s neighborhood (the illustrations are beautiful!), which may look similar or different to the readers’ neighborhoods-plenty of opportunities for noticing. Each answer to Daniel’s question, gives us a glimpse into the lives of different people. In the end, we’re reminded of the small joys that can amount to a good day, no matter who we are and where we live.



11 thoughts on “Still Navigating What it Means to Be Human #pb10for10

  1. I love that you are “still navigating” and that you are clearly committed to providing a welcoming, safe space for all of your learners to grow. Izzy Gizmo sounds like she could become great friends with Rosie Revere and the unnamed girl from The Most Magnificent Thing!


  2. I know each one except for Izzy Gizmo, so it’s going on my list. I love what you said about them as mirrors. Indeed it’s a pleasure to see every child and adult reflected in these books. Thanks for a super list!


  3. PB 10 for 10 is a day I both love and hate. I love it because I get so many great titles and hate it because it gets so expensive! I don’t know LUBNA AND PEBBLE, WHAT IS GIVEN FROM THE HEART, or DANIEL’S GOOD DAY, but they all sound like ones I would love to own! Thanks so much for all of these great suggestions!

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  4. I’m glad you’re “still navigating what it means to be human.” Helping our students (and ourselves) understand that this is life-long quest is truly the heart of what we do. Your list is a mix of known and unknown books. I’m really looking forward to finding Izzy Gizzmo! Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. What a great list of books for us all to embark on the journey of navigating…together. Love that each book you present/share has us, adults, thinking! We have to do the thinking, know what we struggle with and be comfortable with the struggle so that we can let it happen naturally in our schools and classrooms! Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

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