children's books

National Archives and Records Administration

Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Sly James is a pretty colorful character, but did you know he wears a magical bow tie that lets him travel through time? Today, the authors of a new children's book tell how they chose the mayor and his neckwear to recount Kansas City's history.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Author Whitney Terrell told the story of a female soldier in his novel, The Good Lieutenant. His consultant for that book, Angela Fitle, lived it in the Army during Operation Iraqi Freedom II. They share their thoughts on the female experience of war. Then children's author Brian Selznick reveals what it was like to condense his novel Wonderstruck​ into the screenplay for the just-released film version.

Russell Watkins / Flickr - CC

Even though the winds and rain have subsided, the carnage wrought by Hurricanes Maria and Irma have left parts of the Caribbean without power and everyday necessities. Today, we find out how recovery efforts in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are progressing from two Kansas City relief workers who saw the devastation firsthand. Then, learn interesting facts, folk-wisdom, and oddities of the Show-Me State, via a brand new Missouri Almanac.

Jeff Ridenour

The opera Hansel and Gretel is based on a Grimm Brothers' fairy tale.

In this version of the story, the brother and sister are sent into the forest to gather strawberries. They get lost, encounter creatures like the Sandman and the Dew Fairy — and discover a mysterious gingerbread house where they're captured by a witch. 

A new University of Missouri-Kansas City production creates sets and costumes out of paper.

Gordon C. James / Courtesy of Agate Publishing

Sometimes, a haircut isn’t just a haircut.

When he was growing up in Kansas City, author Derrick Barnes felt like a new kid after visiting his barber.

“Man, to get my haircut on Thursday means that when I showed up to school on Friday, I would look so fresh, and people would pay attention to me,” he told host Gina Kaufmann on KCUR’s Central Standard.

After a photo of local high school students drinking alcohol from cups arranged in a swastika went viral, many alumnae have spoken out, focusing on a code of conduct at the school. We ask, what should schools do to respond to hate speech?

Plus, Kansas City native Derrick Barnes has written a new children's book, Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut

Guests:

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

For centuries, refugees from all over the world have taken to the seas to escape violence and persecution in their homelands. Today, the author of a children's book published this year recounts just a few of their stories. Then, we speak to the director and producer of a new film about Gertrude Bell, who's been called the most powerful woman in the British Empire during World War I.

Have you ever revisited a favorite book from your childhood . . . to find that it is actually racist? As our society's thoughts on race continue to evolve, we'll consult the author of the new book Was the Cat in the Hat Black?: The Hidden Racism of Children's Literature, and the Need for Diverse Books.

Danie Alexander / KCUR 89.3

Summer break is here, and for students that means sunshine, fresh air and months away from school. For youths looking to keep the heat from melting their minds, there's nothing like a good book. Today, our panel of librarians have reading recommendations that are sure to divert young eyes from the television, and keep young brains active and engaged.

For preschool through 2nd grade

LitFestKC

Today, Jon Scieszka and Javaka Steptoe, heavy-hitters on the kid's lit scene, talk about promoting literacy and how the environment for fostering it has changed since they were little. They also reveal the creative processes behind some of their best-known works.

Penguin Random House

Are you looking for a special book for the young people in your life? If so, our panel of Johnson County Librarians have their holiday gift recommendations ready for you — and just in time!

From the story of a boy who finally connects with his distant father through the unlikely language of music, to a tale of some ragtag kids, and a loyal greyhound, escaping 13th-century France, these titles are sure to get your children through what could otherwise be a long winter break. 

For preschool through 2nd grade

You may not know his name, but you might know his work: the giant, colorful animals lurking on walls around the Crossroads and Westport, and in the halls of Children's Mercy Hospital. Meet Scribe, who has a new children's book and an album of music inspired by his art coming out this month.

Guest:

  The dog days of summer are just around the corner ... or maybe they’re already here. One way that kids can beat them is with a great book. Our panel of librarians were here again with their favorite titles of the summer.

Guests:

  • Debbie McLeod, retired librarian.
  • Dennis Ross, director of youth services at the Johnson County Public Library.
  • Lacie Griffin, collection development specialist at the Johnson County Public Library. 

Books:

ProjectManhattan / Wikimedia--CC

Children’s literature is becoming more and more diverse, but choosing which books to share with children can still be difficult. 

KCUR’s Central Standard recently welcomed Kansas City authors Christine Taylor-Butler and Traci Sorell to a discussion of how representations of race in children’s literature have changed over time.

Here are their recommendations for books with diverse and nuanced characters and storylines.

Christine Taylor-Butler, children’s book author:

Ruth Hartnup/Flickr -- CC

Racism can be difficult to confront, particularly if it appears in a classic children’s book. We explore how diversity was represented in children's literature of the past, and how it's being redefined in the future.

Guests:

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

As Debbie Pettid, one of the creators of The Rabbit Hole, waited for some 30 elementary school students from Rosehill Enhanced Learning Classroom in the Shawnee Mission School District on a recent Friday morning, she reflected on the whirlwind of the past several months.

C.J. Janovy / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City writer Angela Cervantes won an International Latino Book Award in 2014 for her first book, Gaby, Lost and Found. Published by Scholastic Press, the book helped establish Cervantes, originally a poet and short-story writer, as an author of middle-grade fiction (for audiences between the ages of 8-12).

Courtesy Historic Kansas City

“Adult" coloring books are hot right now. Some 12 million coloring books sold in 2015, up from just 1 million the year before, according to the Nielsen Bookscan.

Some claim coloring is therapeutic. It’s undeniably nostalgic, but no matter the reason, The First Kansas City Coloring Book resurfacing now is certainly an example of good timing.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

The Reading Reptile children's bookstore in Kansas City's Brookside neighborhood will close on March 12, its owners announced on Monday.

The owners of a popular children's bookstore in Brookside are moving on to their new project: an immersive "explorastorium" for children's literature, to be called The Rabbit Hole. The inside scoop on this couple's love affair with stories, books, paper-mache... and each other. 

Guests:

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

Pete Cowdin and Deb Pettid, longtime owners of the Reading Reptile children's bookstore in Brookside, are transitioning out of that business and turning their energies toward what they say will ultimately be something resembling a museum dedicated to children's literature.

But they also say it will be a place where visitors will be fully immersed in the books' narratives. 

Having a sibling with autism can be challenging, as kids with autism often struggle to connect with other children. These frustrations inspired actress Holly Robinson Peete to co-write a book with her daughter, Ryan Elizabeth, about Ryan's twin brother, R.J.. The book, My Brother Charlie, won an NAACP Image award.

Guests:

Penguin Random House

Are you stumped looking for last-minute gifts for the kids and teens in your life? How about the gift of shape shifting or time traveling? 

It's all possible between the covers of a good book, and these selections represent the best that 2015 had to offer in the way of children's literature.

Johnson County Librarians Dennis Ross and Kate McNair and retired librarian Debbie McLeod offer some recommendations to keep kids and teens reading well into 2016.

For preschool through 2nd grade:

Laura Ziegler / KCUR

Kansas City artist Shane Evans was raised by a mother and father whose racial and cultural backgrounds were different from one another. But to Evans they were just mom and dad. He’s also raising a mixed-race daughter.

That’s why Evans was eager to collaborate with his friend, actor Taye Diggs, on a children’s book that takes on the complex issues of growing up in a mixed-race household. Diggs has a six-year-old son with actress and singer Idina Menzel, who is white.

Shane Evans

 

Actor Taye Diggs, who wrote the book Mixed Me!, caused a stir when he said that he wanted his son to identify as mixed rather than black. But does acknowledging one heritage deny the other?

The local artist who illustrated Mixed Me! discusses the question of identifying as mixed or bi-racial — and the nuances of his illustrations for the book.

Guest:

  • Shane Evans, local artist

Kansas City Artists Interpret "Alice In Wonderland"

Oct 20, 2015

Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland has inspired countless unique interpretations within art, literature, dance, theatre, music and film. We take a look at some local artists' versions as the story turns 150 years old.

Guests:

Daniel Handler and Brian Selznick are royalty when it comes to children's literature. Handler is the mastermind behind Lemony Snicket, and Selznick wrote The Invention of Hugo Cabret​, which became a Martin Scorsese film. They talk with Steve Kraske about ideas, writing and imagination.

Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll's classic character, turns 150 this year. The Kansas City Public Library is kicking off a two-month celebration of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland tonight with a lecture by Lewis Carroll scholar Mark Burstein.

We invite Burstein and a librarian to discuss the huge cultural influence of the book.

Guests:

A book is often evaluated by the words it contains, but what value does a book with no words have? It turns out that wordless books can bolster creativity for both children and adults.

Guests:

Dial Books

Summer vacation has officially started and for many parents, that means a lot of free time to fill for their kids.

How about a trip to the ancient Martial Empire or to a faraway desert island? These summer reading picks will take your young ones to some of the most remote edges of the earth.

Johnson County Librarians Dennis Ross and Kate McNair and retired librarian Debbie McLeod selected some titles to keep kids and teens reading all summer long.

Recommendations for ages 3-10

  • Smick! By Coreen Cronin, illustrated by Juana Medina. Ages 3 – 6.
  • Princess and the Pony by Kate Beaton, Ages 4 - 8.
  • Rabbit Hill by Robert Lawson, Ages 5-10.
  • Billy’s Booger: a Memior (Sorta) by William Joyce and his younger self. Ages 5 – 10.
  • Princess In Black by Shannon Hale, Ages 6-9. 

Pages