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Build your library with bilingual treat - March 16, 2015

Women’s History Month (March) is a reminder that throughout the year, we should celebrate the historical work and struggles of women. The images that surround us — television shows, magazines, Facebook friends and posts, teachers, preachers and other community leaders — shape how we see and who we see as valuable in the world.

Women’s History Month (March) is a reminder that throughout the year, we should celebrate the historical work and struggles of women

We place special emphasis on reading as we raise our children because this skill opens them to a world of opportunity. Our commitment to the Bible, reminds us that the content of what we read is as important as the ability to read. Unfortunately, in the books we read to our children, women and girls are still underrepresented. A 2011 study from Florida State University showed, “Males are central characters in 57% of children's books published per year, while only 31% have female central characters.”

So why is there such gross underrepresentation? What do our children learn when the images they see do not represent the diverse peoples of the world God created?

As people of faith, how can we respond to this kind of misrepresentation? We can fill our Sunday school classes, ministry settings and homes with the diverse books that we do have. We can request them at our local libraries and book stores often enough that publishers ask for more.

Throughout March, we will be featuring female authors from various backgrounds who have written books with positive messages and strong female characters. This week, we feature the Latina author/illustrator combination of Monica Brown and Sara Palacios.

Monica Brown

Monica Brown, Ph.D. is the author of many award-winning books for children. Her picture book Marisol McDonald Doesn't Match is the winner of the Tejas Star Book Award, the International Latino Book Award, and a Pura Belpré Honor for Illustration.

Marisol McDonald & the Clash Bash/Marisol McDonald y la fiesta sin igual, the second book in the Marisol series, was published in September 2013.

Monica Brown and Sara Palacios

Monica's books are inspired by her Peruvian-American heritage and desire to share Latino/a stories with children:

I write from a place of deep passion, joy, and commitment to producing the highest possible quality of literature for children. In my biographies, the lives of my subjects are so interesting and transformational that I am simply giving them voice for a young audience. I don't think it is ever too early to introduce children to the concepts of magical realism, social justice, and dreaming big! (www.monicabrown.net)

Sara Palacios

Sara Palacios is a freelance children’s book illustrator. She was born in Mexico City and earned her BFA and MFA in Illustration at Academy of Art University in San Francisco. She works with a variety of media including collage, ink and digital to combine her drawings with layers of vibrant color and texture.

In 2012 she received the Pura Belpré Illustration Honor Award for her work on Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match. (illustrationfriday.com)

A Theological Reflection
on Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match (Marisol McDonald no combina)

by Tura Foster Gillespie, Wesley Seminarian

I am a promise, I am a possibility,
I am a promise, with a capital P …
I am a promise to be anything God wants me to be.

(from “I Am a Promise” by Bill and Gloria Gaither)

Marisol McDonald doesn’t match, but she is everything Marisol McDonald is supposed to be. As I began to reflect on Monica Brown’s wonderful bilingual story, this old Gaither song came to my head. I am who I am because that’s who God wants me to be.

Marisol McDonald cover

As a child, we all struggle with who we are, who God wants us to be and who the world suggests we should be, just like Marisol. Even as adults we reach this struggle, who we know God wants us to be and who the world tells us to be.

Psalm 139 and Jeremiah 1:5 remind us that God made us to be who we are. Matthew 22:39 and Romans 12:2 remind us of how to do exactly that. Paul wrote to the Romans that they should not be conformed to this world. We should take Paul’s advice now. The world works every day to tell us who we “should be,” who we “need to be” to be rich, to be popular, to be cool, to be normal.

We must stay strong in believing God created each of us to be a promise in the world.

Jesus reminds us throughout the Gospels, as he quotes Leviticus 19, to “love your neighbor as yourself.” For us to follow this commandment implies that we must love ourselves even before we love others.

For some of us that is harder than for others. If we are to love our neighbors as we love ourselves, we must treat ourselves at least as well as we treat our neighbors. We are to love ourselves enough to know that we are God’s, and we are “a promise to be anything God wants [us] to be.”

Click here for a companion resource to use with Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match/Marisol McDonald no combina in your church.

For more positive self-esteem exercises, visit kidshealth.org/classroom and look for age-appropriate Self-Esteem Teacher’s Guides.