food, history

Nonfiction Corner: Blips on a Screen/Pizza!

Blips on a Screen: How Ralph Baer Invented TV Video Gaming and Launched a Worldwide Obsession (Knopf Books for Young Readers)
Written by Kate Hannigan
Illustrated by Zachariah Ohora

For ages: 4-8
As much as we play video games in contemporary culture, we don’t know the names of many people who laid the foundations for this form of entertainment. Blips on a Screen attempts to remedy this by telling the story of Ralph Baer. Born Rolf Baer in Germany, his family was Jewish and fled the Nazis in 1938, just before the borders were closed, and the horrors of the Holocaust ratcheted up. After a name change to try and assimilate, Ralph grew up with a love of inventing things. Radios were his passion, which led to using those skills as a soldier for the States in World War II. After coming home, Ralph wondered if there was a way to create electronic games, and the growing popularity of television had him thinking. Ralph would eventually make and release the Odyssey, the first home video game console, in 1972. 

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food, humor, social-emotional, spotlight

Spotlight: The Sour Grape/Donuts: The Hole Story

The Sour Grape (HarperCollins)
Written by Jory John
Illustrated by Pete Oswald

For ages: 4-8
You are likely already familiar with the Food Group series of picture books, and this is the latest (as of this writing) addition to the collection. The Sour Grape is a grumpy person who spends time explaining how they ended up this way. It started when the Grape planned an elaborate birthday party, but no one showed up. The Grape went from being sweet to bitter and then sour, lashing out at anyone who crossed their path. A relatable situation.

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culture, food, spotlight

Spotlight: Paletero Man/Meet the Latkes

Paletero Man (HarperCollins)
Written by Lucky Diaz & Dr. Carmen Tafolla
Illustrated by Micah Player

For ages: 3-7
Very few things are as satisfying as an ice-cold treat during these scorching summer months. A Latinx boy has the same idea, but he can’t find the Paletero Man. So he races down the streets, hearing the sounds of the Paletero Man’s bell. Along the way, he runs into other street vendors and shopkeepers encouraging him. Eventually, everyone in the neighborhood comes together, and the boy is so inspired he makes sure everyone gets to enjoy paletas. As temperatures rise, that sounds absolutely divine to experience.

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asian-american, climate collapse, culture, family, food

Spotlight: The Planet in a Pickle Jar/Hundred Years of Happiness

The Planet in a Pickle Jar (Flying Eye Books)
Written & Illustrated by Martin Stanev

For ages: 4-8
Two siblings visit Grandma’s house with not much expectation for fun. She’s a boring old lady to them. However, as they wander around her home, they discover a big secret. They learn that Grandma is worried that Earth is losing its life and stories. To remedy this, she’s amassed a collection of jars in her basement. Each jar is something of the planet she hopes to preserve, and each jar is also a story about a moment in her life and the planet’s. This inspires the children to want to preserve their stories, too, and they embark on a fun adventure with Grandma.

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culture, food, spotlight

Spotlight – A Pizza With Everything On It/Soul Food Sunday

If you are a parent or teacher, you know how food can be a powerful motivator for children. It’s not just that they want to eat it, but they have strong opinions about what they like and don’t like. If you ever need a child to write an opinion paper, just ask them about a food they have strong feelings about, and the report simply writes itself. Food is also something we share with the people we love and therefore bonds communities together. The preparation and serving of food is one way people show that they love each other. These two books center on children sharing a food experience with a significant adult in their family. While one is silly & chaotic and the other is joyful & heartwarming, they both capture how vital food is to being alive.

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book list, culture, food

Book List: Food & Family

There are few topics in literature as universal as food. Without it we would die and without great food life would be less bright. For children, food plays such an important role. It is one of their first major sensory experiences in life, being introduce to taste, texture, and presentation. The books I’ve chosen for this list touch on picky eaters, how food is made, and its cultural connections. This list of books should do a great job of introducing your young readers and eaters to some delicious new dishes.

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