Making Diverse Picture Books: An Inside Look from The Barefoot Book of Children Co-Author Kate DePalma

By now we all know that #WeNeedDiverseBooks — both that children benefit tremendously from being exposed to diversity through literature, and that the statistics about diversity in picture books remain pretty grim.

The solution to this problem is simple: we as publishers just need to make books that feature children of all different shapes, sizes, races, abilities, cultures, lifestyles and backgrounds. Brandon Taylor observed in a recent article that “There Is No Secret to Writing about People Who Do Not Look Like You” and in many ways this wisdom relates to many parts of creating a book — illustration, art direction and editing.

In other words, talking about the need to represent all children in books is easy; actually doing so is another matter entirely!

Diversity in Barefoot Books’ Picture Books

Introducing children to other people and places and ways of life has been part of the mission at Barefoot Books since we started making books nearly 25 years ago. For us, diversity means creating versions of classic tales from various cultures to add to our collection of global picture books. It means creating stories with main characters of color, whether they’re from countries or cultures that might be foreign to Western readers, like Chandra’s Magic Light (US), Lin Yi’s Lantern (US/CA) and Girl with a Brave Heart (US/CA), or from places that might look familiar to Western readers, like Sand Sister (US/CA) and Shopping with Dad (US/CA) and the Ruby books (US/CA), to name a few (Find more here!).

Making Diverse Picture Books: An Inside Look from The Barefoot Book of Children Co-Author Kate DePalma

From Ruby's Baby Brother

Diversity means featuring strong, substantial female characters in our books, and including children with a range of different disabilities in our books — particularly in our line of singalong stories, which often feature diverse groups of kids going on adventures together and bopping to the beat. It means representing diverse lifestyles — different family structures, different socioeconomic statuses, and even choices like breastfeeding.

And it means always looking for new ways to make our list and our company even more diverse and inclusive. We’ve learned that being a publisher that prioritizes diversity is an active process — and I’d love to tell you more about it!

Making Diverse Picture Books: An Inside Look from The Barefoot Book of Children Co-Author Kate DePalma

From My Big Barefoot Book of Wonderful Words

Diversity in our books starts with diversity in the humans who create them. We search for authors and artists (and home office staff!) of all different cultures and backgrounds. We’ve learned that we can’t just sit back and wait for a diverse range of contributors to cross our paths, so we’re trying to actively seek out contributors who bring those diverse points of view to our books, which includes communicating our need for diverse contributors to agents, who are often critical gatekeepers to the publishing process.

The Wonderful Diversity of Wonderful Words

Visual representations of human diversity are a huge part of diversity in picture books. When we decided to create My Big Barefoot Book of Wonderful Words (US/CA) — a big, busy word book full of scenes with crowds of people — we knew we had an opportunity to include lots of different kinds of people.

Making Diverse Picture Books: An Inside Look from The Barefoot Book of Children Co-Author Kate DePalma

From My Big Barefoot Book of Wonderful Words

So we worked with a group called Inclusive Minds in the UK as we developed the illustrations to help us out. Inclusive Minds helped check that our representation of people, particularly those with disabilities, was accurate and positive. For example, we discussed at length the best way to represent a child who might be on the autism spectrum, and decided to include a child on the playground who is happily absorbed in playing alone (see above) — an image that readers can interpret as they wish.

But inclusivity in picture books doesn’t start and end with people! In the illustrations on the left, you’ll see that we also added accessible equipment to the playground, a hearing aid loop sign to the library and textured pavement to the sidewalks (used at intersections as an aide for people with visual impairments).

There’s Still Work to be Done

Despite all the talk about diverse books, there’s still SO far for us to go before the books on offer catch up with the narrative. As creator of books for children, I feel a tremendous responsibility as someone who has an amazing platform to reach children to create the diverse books that the industry and the world so desperately needs.

But more importantly, as a mother, I want to get my daughter off on the right foot. Children start building their concrete ideas about the world long, long before they can understand the abstract notions of diversity and inclusivity. I want to normalize diverse and inclusive depictions of the world so that they are a part of my daughter’s schema, part of her world from the beginning.

I’m sure many of you parents, educators and caregivers can relate! How has the issue of diversity in children’s publishing impacted your family and your life? I’d love to hear from you on social media! Use the hashtag #AllChildren to join the conversation!

And be sure to check out The Barefoot Book of Children, our new book that tackles issues of human diversity head-on with inviting artwork and an accessible text. We consider it the culmination of Barefoot’s mission to open hearts and minds. Share it with a child today, and do your part to change the world for the better!

About the Author


Kate DePalma
Senior Editor, Barefoot Books
Co-Author of The Barefoot Book of Children

As Senior Editor at Barefoot Books, Kate DePalma has helped develop dozens of picture books; Kate also writes picture books under her pseudonym, Sunny Scribens. She holds an M.A. in Classics from the University of Texas and is also a published poet and scholar.


How do you make a book for all children? Co-Author Kate DePalma on The Barefoot Book of Children

Do you struggle to find books that represent the children in your life? If so, the statistics about diversity in picture books show that you’re not alone. That’s why we created our one-of-a-kind new book, The Barefoot Book of Children - for families, classrooms and daycares just like yours. As a mother of a young child and one of the co-authors of the book, I’d love to tell you all about how we at Barefoot Books made this beautiful book for all children.

The Making of The Barefoot Book of Children

We assembled an entire team of specialists to work on The Barefoot Book of Children: our own Stefanie Paige Grossman, M.S.Ed, Child Development Specialist; Maria-Veronica Barnes, Director of Education at Lexington Montessori School in Massachusetts; and Beth Cox and Alexandra Strick at Inclusive Minds. A book of this scope and magnitude called for bringing in lots of knowledgeable people.

These specialists helped us make sure that our book was truly achieving its goal of being inclusive and accessible to all readers, and that it was depicting the rich diversity of the human experience in the best way we could in 64 pages.

How do you make a book for all children? Co-Author Kate DePalma on The Barefoot Book of Children

From The Barefoot Book of Children

With their help, we made small but important changes to the text, like asking readers not what they can “hear and see and smell” from where they are but instead asking what they “hear or see or smell” (emphasis mine) so as to not assume that the reader has full use of all 5 senses. It took input from the entire team to decide the best and most age-appropriate way to address the idea that people can be transgender or experience gender dysphoria in the endmatter section for our Bodies spread. We decided on the following wording: “Some people feel comfortable in the bodies they were born in. Some people don’t.” Readers can interpret this a number of ways.

The result of our hard work on the details of The Barefoot Book of Children is something incredible to behold. David Dean’s illustrations not only introduce readers to a huge range of different ways of life, but also specifically seeks to represent children in ways that defy stereotypes that young readers might have already absorbed. We think images like artistic Darnell (see image on left) and the adventurous hijabi girl photographing the Kuwait Towers (whose hijab is made of the bojagi quilt the Korean children are sewing, see image below) are significant and essential to the book.

How do you make a book for all children? Co-Author Kate DePalma on The Barefoot Book of Children

From The Barefoot Book of Children

Join the conversation!

Children’s publishing has a serious diversity problem, and I feel a tremendous responsibility as a creator of children’s books to be a vocal part of the solution. I consider diversity and inclusion every single day as I do my job as an editor and author, and I’m so proud to work for a company that has prioritized creating diverse books for decades. Starting conversations about diversity cannot be the sole responsibility of those who are underrepresented. But conversations about diversity must include a diverse range of voices.

So I’d love to hear from you! How has the issue of diversity in children’s publishing impacted your family and your life? Share your thoughts on social media with the hashtag #AllChildren to join the conversation!

And be sure to check out The Barefoot Book of Children, a book that tackles issues of human diversity head-on with inviting artwork and an accessible text. We consider it the culmination of Barefoot’s mission to open hearts and minds. Share it with a child today, and do your part to change the world for the better!

About the Author

How do you make a book for all children? Co-Author Kate DePalma on The Barefoot Book of Children


Kate DePalma
Senior Editor, Barefoot Books
Co-Author of The Barefoot Book of Children

As Senior Editor at Barefoot Books, Kate DePalma has helped develop dozens of picture books; Kate also writes picture books under her pseudonym, Sunny Scribens. She holds an M.A. in Classics from the University of Texas and is also a published poet and scholar.

 


Bringing a global worldview to business...and to kids! | Barefoot Books

Bringing a global worldview to business...and to kids! | Barefoot BooksOur CEO and Co-Founder, Nancy Traversy, had the pleasure of being on The Global Mom Show, a podcast for moms with global worldviews. Host Mary Grace Otis talked with Nancy this week about living her life with a global worldview and how she brings this mission to Barefoot Books and the products we create.

As Nancy shares in the interview, she and Editor-in-Chief Tessa Strickland co-founded Barefoot Books in 1992 as two young moms working from home with the dream of creating beautiful books that celebrate diversity, spark curiosity and capture children’s imaginations. From the very first books they published, they sought to share stories from cultures all over the world to help children see and value all the things we hold in common, no matter where we live or who we are.

Today, we’re more committed to publishing diverse and inclusive books than ever before! Check out the interview to get a sneak peek with Nancy into a very special book coming out in September. Listen in now!


Barefoot Ambassador Success Stories: Allison Diehl | Barefoot Books

What does success mean to you? Whether it’s paying off student loans or winning a trip overseas, spending more time with family or inspiring your students to love learning, our Barefoot Ambassadors pursue their own definitions of success every day. And so can you!

Barefoot Ambassador Success Stories: Allison Diehl | Barefoot Books

Don’t believe us? Meet Allison Diehl: mom, wife, archaeologist and Barefoot Ambassador! Throughout her Ambassador journey, Allison has continually turned her detailed mind to making her business a success. In 2005, she researched the book world thoroughly before joining the program; ten years later, all her hard work paid off with the ultimate prize: a trip to France! Financially, the rewards have been fabulous: “My Barefoot income has enabled me to finance several family vacations, cover unexpected medical expenses and repair bills and replace our family computer,” Allison says. “I have also been able to cut back from working 40 hours a week at my paycheck job to 30.”

Barefoot Ambassador Success Stories: Allison Diehl | Barefoot Books

Allison enjoys a drink during the Ambassador trip to France!

But business success alone far from encapsulates all Allison has achieved since 2005. “My journey as an Ambassador [has] brought me out of my shell,” Allison says. “As an introvert, I had always preferred working alone, but this endeavor has helped me find joy in working with others. I am now much more comfortable with talking to others.”

She’s not just comfortable: she’s powerful! Allison’s knack for helping others see the positive side of business challenges—and courageous abandonment of her cozy, quiet shell—has enabled her to grow her team, the Barefoot Business Builders, into a dynamic force that stretches across North America.

Barefoot Ambassador Success Stories: Allison Diehl | Barefoot Books

Allison meets Mama Panya's Pancakes authors Mary and Richard Chamberlain at the Tuscon Festival of Books!

“Through Barefoot Books, I’ve met so many other people who share my passion for stories and literacy,” Allison says. By developing new resources, helping fellow Ambassadors set goals and mentoring teammates one-on-one, Allison has not only found a like-minded community: she’s made it grow! “Of all I’ve accomplished as an Ambassador,” Allison says, “I’m most proud of helping others succeed in their own Barefoot business ventures.”

And we are SO proud of her! When we empower people like Allison to drive the change they want to see in their lives and communities, we’ve achieved our definition of success!

So whether you’re looking to gain new business skills or learn about children’s literacy, to meet like-minded people or update your school’s library with multicultural books, you’ll find the support you need to succeed with Barefoot Books.

Ready to get started? Start your Ambassador journey now to take advantage of our $99 Starter Kit sale (save $40!) and to register for our Ambassador workshops, coming to a city near you! We can’t wait to see what YOU might achieve!

 


5 Reasons to Start Your Ambassador Journey in March | Barefoot Books

Do you believe that children’s books can change the world? Do you long to unlock your potential to drive that change and make a big impact on families in your community…and beyond? If so, you’re in the right place!

Flexible and fun, with no minimums or hidden fees, the Barefoot Books Ambassador Program empowers you to share stories that open children’s hearts and minds to the world around them…and to earn an income! You run your business your way and pursue your own goals–and get great discounts on the books you love!

This March is a amazing time to start your Ambassador journey! Here’s why:

1. How does snagging $300 worth of Barefoot Books products for only $99 sound to you? Good? Then you’ll want to hop on our March Starter Kit sale! Purchasing your Starter Kit is the very first step of your Ambassador journey. Don’t miss your chance to take your first step for less and get your hands on books kids love!

5 Reasons to Start Your Barefoot Journey in March | Barefoot Books

NEW in March!

2. Speaking of books…we have NEW books! From a one-of-a-kind yoga deck to a showstopping picture book about Leonardo da Vinci, our new March products offer something for every child in your community…and beyond!

Each of our books is carefully designed to nurture kids’ love of storytelling, creativity and diversity, empowering them to see the world in a whole new light; and our new March books are no exception. Plus, we chose to publish these books based on Ambassador feedback, so we know there’s a market for them–just waiting for YOU to tap it!

Not convinced you can? We’ve got the perfect new tool to get you going…

3. A NEW catalog! Our shiny new Spring/Summer 2016 catalog is just as much a work of art any of our books. Packed with Ambassador spotlights and childhood development tips, this amazing sales tool will not only pique your potential customers’ interest, but will also empower YOU to gain new skills and grow your business!

5 Reasons to Start Your Barefoot Journey in March | Barefoot Books

Come to our workshops this spring to meet fellow Ambassadors!

4. Once you’ve got a potential customer hooked, reel ‘em in with our our Spend $60, get 20% off March offer! We created it to equip YOU to take immediate advantage of your first customers’ interest in our new March books. Once they’ve seen one, they’ll want them all…and this offer is the perfect way to cinch the deal!

5. But the BEST reason to join in March? Our Ambassador workshops, coming to a city near you! When you become an Ambassador, you join a thriving, entrepreneurial community that’s passionate about sharing stories that open kids’ hearts and minds. Happening all across North America this spring and summer, our workshops will be the perfect opportunity for a new Ambassador to get plugged right in!

In these workshops, Home Office experts and veteran Ambassadors will give you the tips and training you need to unlock your potential and achieve YOUR financial and personal growth goals. You’ll get an exclusive peek into the creative process and meet dozens of parents, educators and innovators just like you who love kids and love stories. From sharing your story with fellow newbies to partying with the Home Office team, you’ll find the community and support you need take risks with confidence and grow your budding business into a blooming success!

Are you ready to begin your Barefoot journey? We at Home Office are so excited to help you reach toward YOUR dreams and can’t wait to see what you achieve!

 

 


Five Reasons to Become a Barefoot Books Ambassador this February | Barefoot Books

Join in February to get The Girl with a Brave Heart in our Love & Acceptance Set!

Are you looking for a new opportunity to learn and grow? To open children’s hearts and minds with multicultural books they’ll love to read? To be recognized for all your hard work? To make a big impact on families in your community…and beyond? If so, you’re in the right place!

Flexible and fun, with no minimums or hidden fees, the Barefoot Books Ambassador Program empowers you to run your business your way, to pursue your own goals–and get great discounts on the books you love!

This February is a fabulous time to start your Barefoot journey! Here’s why:

  1. Five Reasons to Become a Barefoot Books Ambassador this February | Barefoot Books

    Good friends + great conversations + gorgeous books = a Barefoot event!

    Join before February 29th to receive 6 of our favorite books…in addition to the Starter Kit! This month, we’re sending each new joiner our Love & Acceptance Set - consider it our Valentines’ Day gift to you! Including The Girl with a Brave Heart (pictured above), The Boy who Grew Flowers, and other Barefoot favorites, this hand-picked, multicultural selection of stories about compassion and confidence will perfectly complement your Starter Kit. These 6 books will give you an extra edge as you launch your business and begin to make a difference in children’s lives!

  2. Double Host rewards: If you’re worried that you’ll have trouble convincing people to book events in this cooooooooold month, don’t be! Everyone is looking for ways to stave off the cabin fever. You’ll have plenty of eager hosts chomping at the bit to hold Barefoot Books events at their homes–especially with our special Double Host rewards! Such a can’t miss Host special makes it all the easier for you to land bookings right away and get your business off to a great start.

    Five Reasons to Become a Barefoot Ambassador in February | Barefoot Books

    The opportunity is completely flexible, so you can achieve YOUR dreams YOUR way!

  3. Reading Resolutions: This February, we’re challenging families to stick to the Reading Resolutions they made in January. As an Ambassador, you can use our buy 3, get 4th free consumer offer to enable families to get more books for less cash! Our Children’s Literacy Workshop event theme pairs perfectly with this offer. Plus, we’ve created fresh new content about children’s literacy — check out our blog posts on why you shouldn’t pressure kids to learn to read early and the visual literacy benefits of wordless books. They’re perfect for reminding a potential hostess of her treasured dream of seeing the children in her life grow and thrive.

  4. Speaking of dreams…what are yours? You can use the Ambassador program specifically to help you achieve the personal growth YOU want to see in your life. If you long to conquer a new challenge or gain recognition for your skills; to step outside your comfort zone or inspire others to do so; or to pay for a family vacation or pay off student debt, our supportive Ambassador community and expert training will equip you to reach YOUR goals.
    Five Reasons to Become a Barefoot Ambassador this February | Barefoot Books

  5. Lastly, and most importantly, becoming an Ambassador is a decision you can feel great about. When you become an Ambassador, you join a community passionate about sharing stories, connecting families and inspiring children. You share beautiful, educational and inclusive books and products with your community; and in doing so, nurture a love of storytelling, creativity and diversity that empowers children to see the world in a whole new light.

Are you ready to begin your Barefoot journey? We at Home Office are so excited to help you reach toward YOUR dreams and can’t wait to see what you achieve!

 

 


Why You Shouldn't Pressure Your Child to Read Early | Barefoot Books

Should we expect our 4-year-olds to read? You may be surprised: that is actually not a developmentally appropriate expectation! Perhaps the better question is this: should we expect our 4-year olds to love storytime? To that, I say the answer is YES. The most powerful indicator that a 4-year-old will have long-term success with reading is for that child to adore books and read-alouds.

The Pressure of Common Core

I recently met someone who told me with pride that all of her children learned to read by 4-years-old, and that she will make sure her grandchildren do the same. I can see why this is important to her. In response to Common Core kindergarten guidelines, the public education system in the United States has been putting more and more pressure on kids to perform academic skills, like reading, earlier. One study, “Is Kindergarten the New First Grade?,” compared kindergarten teachers’ attitudes nationwide in 1998 and 2010 and found that the percentage of teachers expecting children to know how to read by the end of the year had risen from 30 to 80 percent. Teaching methods have changed in response, with teachers of even prekindergarten students expecting children to spend extended periods of time doing seated work, like phonics worksheets, independently. There’s the thought that if we want them to read younger, we need to teach them how to read earlier using a direct instruction approach.

Why This Doesn’t Really Work

Direct instruction, however, isn’t the best way to teach children to read, because learning to read is like baking a cake. When you bake a cake, you need to combine ingredients — eggs from the fridge, flour from the pantry, and so on. But the thing is, those eggs did not miraculously appear in your fridge. They came from your store, and before that from a packaging facility, and before that from a chicken. And the flour — it was packaged in a factory, and before that, it was wheat, and before that it was a seed. In other words, there were a lot of steps that needed to happen before you could even reach for those ingredients to mix them up and bake them.

Reading is the same way. The act of reading is made up of a huge number of foundational skills — some very sophisticated — that develop with time and practice, and include far more than recognizing alphabet letters and sounds. Learning to hear and manipulate sounds, sustaining attention, remembering information, thinking abstractly — these are skills that cannot be taught through direct instruction alone. In order for a child to learn reading in the true sense — to be able to read to obtain, interpret and evaluate information — we cannot skip steps. Can some young children technically learn how to sound out words? Sure. But more often than not, these children cannot meaningfully understand what they are reading. They are not set up for long-term reading success.

Research bears this out. Studies show that by fourth grade, children who were reading at age 4 were not significantly better at reading than their classmates who’d learned to read at age 7. What’s more, in Finland and Sweden, kids don’t even start formal schooling until they are 7 years old. Yet, Finnish and Swedish teenagers outperform American teens in international tests of reading, math and science.

A Better Way to Learn to Read

Here’s the good news: the ideal method for teaching reading is fun and free from pressure. The best way to develop the foundational literacy skills children need is to read aloud to them often, from birth – and to make these experiences joyful and interactive. Frequent conversations and pretend play also help develop the complex  language and cognitive skills necessary for reading and academic success.

So it is our job to instill a love of reading at an early age to set our children up for strong literacy skills. It’s amazing that the best outcome will come from the most joyful approach!

Want to learn more about how to ignite your child’s love of books and stories? Consider hosting a Children’s Literacy Workshop,which we’ve carefully constructed just for you. Your expert Ambassador will share the tips and tricks you need to prepare your child for strong literacy development – by making reading fun!

Stefanie Grossman, Sr. Product Director | Barefoot Books

 

Stefanie Grossman, Sr. Product Director | Barefoot Books

 

 


Stefanie Paige Grossman, M.S.Ed.

Sr. Director of Product, Barefoot Books


Out of the Blue: How Wordless Books Boost Visual Literacy | Barefoot Books

Meet the superheroes of the picture book world: wordless books! From engaging children with developmental differences to fostering intercultural communication, wordless books do it all.

Out of the Blue: How Wordless Books Boost Visual Literacy | Barefoot Books

Perhaps one of the best Barefoot books for boosting literacy, Out of the Blueis a wordless book by celebrated illustrator Alison Jay. Page by page, Jay’s striking alkyd oil paint and crackle varnish artwork tell the story of a young boy who lives in a lighthouse with his father. After a fierce storm shakes the seacoast, the boy’s beachcombing adventures take a surprising turn! Out of the Blue is more than just another picture book: richly detailed and elegantly plotted, it’s a memorable work of magical realism for children. Plus, it’s a picture book for the twenty-first century: children need tools to learn to analyze and interpret the visual media that permeates our world, from commercials and billboards to comic books and films.

And a wordless book like Out of the Blue is the perfect tool.

Out of the Blue as Visual Art

Have you ever heard the saying: the best way to learn something is teach someone else? That’s exactly how wordless books work. When children read a wordless book aloud, they’re both the storyteller and the audience! As kids watch the story unfold, their brains works to identify important visual details on the page, interpret the abstract meaning behind those details and express that meaning in words—a process that strengthens not only their verbal skills, but also their visual and analytical skills.

Out of the Blue: How Wordless Books Boost Visual Literacy | Barefoot Books

As with any work of visual art, the key to Out of the Blue lies in its visual details. Like any story, Out of the Blue features a beginning, middle and end; a protagonist, an obstacle and a goal. To make the perspective and plot points clear, the illustrations draw on Western conventions established by Renaissance painters and used widely by today’s filmmakers, comic creators and other visual artists–for example, the window imagery on the second spread frames the protagonist in order to align the reader with his perspective.

Spread by spread, Jay’s illustrations also parallel the Hero’s Journey, described by Joseph Campbell in The Hero with a Thousand Faces, and since adopted by Hollywood screenwriters as their baseline plot arc. (Take a look at Out of the Blue’s second and seventh spreads in particular to see what I mean!) Thus, reading Out of the Blue introduces children to the structure and motifs they’ll see over and over in visual media, from superhero films to Super Bowl commercials.

Out of the Blue: How Wordless Books Boost Visual Literacy | Barefoot Books

Of course, once you identify key details, you have to figure out what they mean! Reading a wordless book is an interpretive exercise, which means that no two people will read it the same way. Readers invariably find their own meaning in the visual details.

For example, consider two different reviews of Out of the Blue: Publishers Weekly says the beached octopus was tangled in a net, while Kirkus Reviews suggests that some inconsiderate biped has “netted it to the ground.” The former emphasizes passive human mismanagement of the environment, the latter active abuse. Those are two very different stories!

In this way, kids and grown-ups alike bring their own meaning to the visual story—as they do to any film or comic book, but a wordless book makes this interpretive process more obvious. By reading a wordless book themselves, and then listening to someone else read it, children will discover that there is always more than one way to understand a story, always more than one thing it might mean.

And the more you read Out of the Blue with the children in your life, the more the book’s little details will come to life—and the more you’ll boost your kids’ visual literacy.

Catch the wave of excitement!

We’re not the only ones excited about the power of Out of the Blue to build visual literacy! In her guest blog post, Barefoot Books Ambassador Laurie Mattaliano outlined how wordless books develop children’s literacy skills, including visual literacy:

Because these books relate a story entirely through the illustrations, they encourage children to apply visual literacy skills, and not only draw inferences from what is pictured but also respond to the quality of the pictures and note details that adults sometimes miss.

Book blogger Melissa LaSalle also praises those tell-tale details in her review of Out of the Blue: “As with any great wordless book, it takes several ‘readings’ to grasp all the details and sub-plots at work here.” For a closer look at those vital visual details, check out this great fan-made video!

But it’s Ambassador Pam DeCicco’s daughter Lydia who really nails it in her YouTube reading of Out of the Blue: “As you can see, there are no words in this story, so I’m making up the story off the top of my head! And if you don’t like my story, you can buy this book and make your own!”

You said it, Lydia!

So get ready to help the kids in your life build strong visual literacy skills with Out of the Blue! We’d love to hear about the different stories the children in your life find in the book. Share your favorites with us in the comments below!


Five Reasons to Become a Barefoot Books Ambassador in January | Barefoot BooksAs we roll into 2016, are you looking for a new opportunity to learn and grow? To meet new friends with common interests…and perhaps travel with them to France? To make a big impact on the children and families in your community…and beyond? If so, you’re in the right place!

Flexible and fun, with no minimums or hidden fees, the Barefoot Books Ambassador Program empowers you to run your business your way, to pursue your own goals–and get great discounts on the books you love!

This January just might be the BEST time yet to start your Barefoot journey! Here’s why:

Five Reasons to Become a Barefoot Books Ambassador this January | Barefoot Books

Good friends + gorgeous books = a great Barefoot event!

  1. Join before January 31st to get $50 Barefoot Bucks! Barefoot Bucks work like Host rewards, giving you $50 off whatever product you like. That means you get more beautiful, multicultural books for less money! When you join, you also receive amazing business tools, resources, support and training for FREE!

  2. Double Host rewards: If you’re worried that you’ll have trouble convincing people to book events after the holiday season, don’t be! In this cooooooooold month, everyone is looking for ways to stave off the cabin fever. You’ll have plenty of eager hosts chomping at the bit to hold Barefoot Books events at their homes–especially with our special Double Host rewards! Such a can’t miss Host special makes it all the easier for you to land bookings right away and get your business off to a great start.

    Five Reasons to Become a Barefoot Books Ambassador this January | Barefoot Books

    Help families keep their reading resolutions in 2016!

  3. Reading Resolutions: This January, we’re challenging families to set–or restart–reading resolutions! As an Ambassador, you can use our buy 3, get 4th free consumer offer to enable families get more books for less cash. Our Children’s Literacy Workshop party theme pairs perfectly with this offer–and with everyone’s natural desire to help the children in their life grow and thrive in the new year.

  4. Speaking of resolutions…what about yours? You can use the Ambassador program specifically to help you achieve the personal growth YOU want to see in your life. If you long to conquer a new challenge or gain recognition for your skills; to step outside your comfort zone or inspire others to do so; or to pay for a family vacation or pay off student debt, our supportive Ambassador community and expert training will equip you to reach YOUR goals.

    Five Reasons to Become a Barefoot Books Ambassador this January | Barefoot Books

    How far will YOU fly in 2016?

  5. Lastly, and most importantly, becoming an Ambassador is a decision you can feel great about. When you become an Ambassador, you join a community passionate about sharing stories, connecting families and inspiring children. You share beautiful, educational and inclusive books and products with your community; and in doing so, nurture a love of storytelling, creativity and diversity that empowers children to see the world in a whole new light.

Are you ready to begin your Barefoot journey? We at Home Office are so excited to see what 2016 will bring–and can’t wait to see what YOU achieve!

 

 


Four Ways to Celebrate Chinese New Year with Kids | Barefoot Books

Welcome to the Year of the Monkey! According to lunar astrological calendar, every year in a twelve-year cycle is ruled by a different animal—and as of Lunar New Year on Monday, February 8, 2016, the monkey is in charge! The monkey’s place in the Lunar Zodiac was established in the mists of time, when the Jade Emperor decided that a different animal should rule each year and, to determine the order of the animals, challenged them all to an epic race. The monkey finished ninth, earning it the ninth place in the Lunar Zodiac. If you were born in 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992 or 2004, this is your year. You’re known for being happy, confident and enthusiastic, no matter what place you finish in any race!

Cherished in China, Korea and beyond, Lunar New Year is a great way to introduce the children in your life to another culture’s traditions. Here are a few kid-approved ideas for celebrating Lunar New Year:

Ways to Celebrate Chinese New Year with Kids | Barefoot Books

From The Great Race

Have a Lavish New Year’s Eve Dinner

Traditionally, the festival opens with a lavish New Year’s Eve dinner held in honor of deceased ancestors. This meal is a time for all living family members to come together with the deceased, creating a united community to celebrate past and present generations.

In the past, family members filled bamboo stems with gunpowder and burned them to drive evil spirits away; today, people use firecrackers instead. Each is rolled in red paper, as the color red is considered lucky.


Send Letters to Loved Ones in Red Envelopes

The use of red extends to red envelopes or red packets that are traditionally passed out during the celebrations. The packets almost always contain money­— sometimes chocolate coins— and the amount is always given in even numbers. The number eight, for instance, is considered lucky, as is the number six, because in Mandarin it sounds like the word for “smooth,” promising a smooth year.

Ways to Celebrate Chinese New Year with Kids | Barefoot Books

From Lin Yi's Lantern

Make a Paper Lantern

The fifteenth and final day of the celebration is commemorated with the Yuan Xiao Jie, or the “Festival of Lanterns.” Gathering under a full moon, adults and children light up the sky with their lantern displays and a lantern-carrying parade. Like the children in the photo above, learn how to make a paper lantern in the informational notes in Lin Yi’s Lantern, a gorgeously-illustrated Barefoot tale from China!

Share a Story to Learn More About the Culture!

Research shows that children (and grown-ups!) often draw incorrect conclusions about other cultures. In order to help children challenge stereotypes and develop global literacy, it’s important for adults to educate themselves and correct their own misconceptions. It’s easy to get started: just share stories from other cultures with the children in your life. It’s a great way to prompt conversations about diversity!

Keen to explore East Asian cultures? You’ll experience the excitement of a rural market in Lin Yi’s Lantern (ages 5-9), discover the warmth and wisdom of Buddhist thought in The Barefoot Book of Buddhist Tales (ages 6+) and meet “The Beggar Princess” in The Barefoot Book of Princes Stories (ages 4-9).

And, of course, be sure to watch the Jade Emperor’s epic race unfold—and find out why there is no Year of the Cat—in The Great Race: The Story of the Chinese Zodiac (ages 4-9). Find additional tales from China and beyond here!

Ways to Celebrate Chinese New Year with Kids | Barefoot Books

Want more ideas?

For more information on the traditions and customs of Lunar New Year, and for recipes and crafts you can make with the children in your life, check out our Pinterest board!

Want to find out which animal you are? Download a Lunar Calendar from The Great Race to use in your classroom, for fun at home or as a festive desktop wallpaper!

Do you have any Lunar New Year traditions? What is your Lunar zodiac animal? Share your stories in the comments below or on Facebook or Twitter!