Culture, COVID memories and ridiculous puns. Can you guess which book made me cry this month? It was tough revisiting those first few weeks of the pandemic but The Front Steps project reminded me of the positives of that time we spent staying home (those that could), for the good of our community. Then, when I got out this month’s kid’s books, they fell on my head and I only had mys(h)elf to blame! It was nice to balance out some heavy memories by teaching my kids about puns. We came up with some pun-ishingly bad jokes but Wood Could is a great intro to double meanings and puns. And then we all fell in love with Emmanuel and his story from the Dominican Republic, based on a boy the author met during her time there. Especially in the absence of any travel, books about different ways of life are so beautiful as they take your family on a trip and teach compassion and understanding for how others live.
What’s on your summer reading list? Share your book recommendations, comments on our reviews and your best puns using #VMBookClub
I am Emmanuel
Written by: Kelly Strongitharm
Illustrated by: Jayri Gómez
Publisher: The Self Publishing Agency
This book draws parallels between a child in the Dominican Republic who is unable to attend school without shoes and the dreams of kids in countries all around the world. Emmanuel shares the story of his family, including five brothers and sisters and his desire to go to school (to become either a baseball player or a scientist.) The story represents the Dominican culture and aims to connect readers through shared ambition while acknowledging the differences such as the struggle for shoes and the walk to the market to sell fruit. I love the opportunity to share new cultures with my kiddos through stories with endearing and relatable characters. There are questions posed throughout and my kids’ answers led to good discussions about other cultures and ways of life.
My life might be different than yours in some ways, but I am just a regular eight-year-old boy. I have dreams for my life, just like every other kid in the world!
Find it: rubensshoes.com
Written by: Tiffany Stone
Illustrated by: Mike Lowry
Publisher: Penguin Random House
This story is so punny you wood not believe it! At first I was stumped and couldn’t get to the root of why we felt so spruced but then I branched out. Okay, enough! Introducing the kids to puns was SO fun. Confusing at first but hilarious. Especially when Prince Fluffybutt, a persistent kid and a grumpy log are leading the adventures. Exploring all the thing wood could do and those he would not do made for a giggle-filled story time with lots of laughs (and many lumbering puns!)
What wood felt was bigger than a splinter. Maybe it was time to turn over a new leaf.
Find it: wood-could
The Front Steps Project
By: Laura Lee Gerwing AKA My City Photo
Recommended audience: Anyone affected by the pandemic
Reading this book took me back to a specific time, place and feeling. That first stay-at-home order, the helplessness and the monotony mixed with fear – feelings I hadn’t really revisited as we continue on the COVID journey. In March 2020, I heard about LL’s Front Steps Project, a fundraiser for Canuck Place where she would take a photo of your family or household, outside your home, from a distance in exchange for a donation. I loved the concept and knew the memory would be one I would want, so I’m thrilled my family could take part in this project. The book showcases all the groups LL photographed around Greater Vancouver over 21 days. It shares quotes, sentiments and learnings from the families as well as her own experience throughout those first few weeks of the pandemic. Obviously, the photography is amazing and the words, while still so fresh, are great reminders of that time.
On Tuesday March 24, 2020, I was no longer able to continue work as a photographer due to the quarantine that was brought on by the coronavirus. I felt lost, scared and helpless. I felt an incredible urge to do whatever I could to ‘help out’ in some way.
Find it: https://forms.gle/kQgZoRTybJ6KAJ2g7
Jenn Wint is a writer, communications strategist and a public relations specialist. She is passionate about storytelling and community. Jenn lives in East Vancouver with her husband, 3yo son and 1yo daughter. You’ll find them hanging around Vancouver’s playgrounds, water parks, coffee shops and anywhere that bakes fresh cookies in-house!