Bookseller One Grand Books asks celebrities to name the ten titles they’d take to a desert island, and since 2017 they’ve been sharing the results with Vulture. Today we have a twist on the list. Just in time for One Grand Books’s fifth anniversary, the bookstore has recently announced their newest shop, Little Grand. “Little Grand is the natural evolution of what we’ve been doing so successfully for five years,” says Aaron Hicklin, founder of One Grand Books. “It brings in an entirely new audience to the magical experience of buying books.” The children’s bookstore is a collaboration with children’s author Joshua David Stein and will provide curated lists recommending children’s books by those who love the genre. Below is ballet dancer and Bunheads author Misty Copeland’s list.
The stars of the Emmy Award–winning cartoon Peg and Cat (Peg is a human; Cat is a cat) learn fractions via pizza pie in this fun and engaging way to teach kids math and … a love of pizza.
Keats’s wonderful 1962 story is a true classic I remember from growing up. I was — and continue to be — drawn to both the simplicity of the story (a boy, Peter, takes a walk in the snow) and the, at the time rare, representation of someone whose skin color is like my own. Nearly 60 years after it was first published, I still find the book beautiful.
This colorful story of a boy who wants to dress as a mermaid for Coney Island’s annual Mermaid Parade blew me away. With stunningly vivid artwork, spare text and characters you can’t help but love, the story warms my heart every time I read it. Its message — that those who love you will love you for who you are — can never be heard too often.
From the opening line, “Sulwe was born the color of midnight,” Nyong’o’s story is a beautiful and encouraging one for young readers who might need an extra assurance that they are perfect just as they are. The narrative tackles colorism in a frank way as the young hero Sulwe struggles with her own skin tone. The message resonates with many children of color but should be read by all.
What I love about Olympic gold medalist Ibtihaj Muhammad’s debut children’s book is how it deftly shows — not tells — that difference doesn’t have to be scary. The book follows the first day of school for the sisters Fazia and Asiya. It is Asiya’s first day wearing a hijab and she is enormously proud. But, as the girls quickly find, her head covering proves a lighting rod for bigotry. Told with skill and illustrated with a specificity that makes it ring true (i.e. the subtle differences in head covering from Asiya’s hijab to her mother’s abaya), The Proudest Blue shines with pride and strength.
Another powerful story illustrated by Vashti Harrison, the artist behind Sulwe, and Matthew A. Cherry, who also made the film Hair Love on which this book is based, this is an incredibly powerful depiction of the kind of father-daughter relationship that can be so impactful in a young girl’s life. His unconditional love for his daughter supersedes any doubts she may have about him taking on styling her hair.
Taye Diggs’s story focuses on how a trio of white boys treat their erstwhile friend, whose skin is, as the title suggests, chocolate. Diggs proves himself adept at crafting a nuanced, resonant story about the hurt and pain even seemingly innocent remarks cause while demonstrating a mastery of language. The rhymes burst from the pages — as lively as the vibrant playful illustrations.
Penfold’s story is a somewhat more aspirational version of Muhammed’s The Proudest Blue. In Penfold’s story a diverse set of children move through their day awash in inclusivity and open-mindedness. Brightly illustrated, the story zips along in tight rhyme with the title — all are welcome here — serving as a comforting refrain. For example, “Time for lunch — what a spread! / A dozen different kinds of bread. / Pass it around till everyone’s fed. / All are welcome here.”
Kevin Noble Maillard is a professor of law at Syracuse University, a member of the Seminole Nation and the author of this heartwarming story that explores Native American food ways. Fry bread, a traditional recipe that is as simple and delicious as it sounds, is made by members of an intergenerational family. What I really love as well is the back matter, which adds additional context to fry bread, not shying away from its complex history, and a recipe that’s easy to follow.
In 1994, Yuyi Morales travelled to the United states from her native Mexico with her infant son. This is the story she tells in lyrical verse in this brightly illustrated and deeply felt children’s book. More an illustrated memoir than traditional children’s book, it is nonetheless accessible to all ages and inspiring as well.
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