Sunday, January 16, 2011

Frida Books!

Reading to your child is one of the most important tasks we do as parents. Not only is it an opportunity to spend quality time with our little ones -but it actually has so many more advantages beyond just a fun thing to do. Reading helps improve verbal language skills, builds vocabulary, gives an opportunity for practicing empathy, opens up children to a diversity of experience, and it helps children practice focusing and being quiet. And of course, children love it. I read to my own children as well as to the children I work with as a therapist. It is amazing how a good book can make things feel so much better. Because I feel like books are so important, I wanted to give space on this blog to honor those books that I love reading to children. I hope you find some new favorites!

So here is this weeks book picks!

Frida by Jonah Winter, Illustrated by Ana Juan

I owned this book before I ever gave birth to my daughter. I have been a fan of Frida Kahlo since I was 16. That was a very long time ago - and yet I am still drawn to her artwork and story. The book tells the story of Frida. It talks about some of her tragedies - the bus accident and the pain that she lived with- but Jonah Winter does it in a way that is easily accessible to children. My daughter was struck by the sadness of the story and it began a wonderful discussion around how people deal with the terrible things that happen in their lives. The book talks about how Frida used her artwork to feel better - and we have since used artwork as a way that my daughter can work through her own sadness around growing up and being four. (she doesn't always get what she wants) As an art therapist, teaching anyone how to use art to deal with hard feelings is an awesome lesson!

Now to talk about the art...
To say that I am a fan of Ana Juan would be a terrible understatement. I find her to be magical. I can easily become lost in her beautiful illustrations - and each time I pick up a book she has illustrated, I am inspired to make art! In this book, her drawings do not disappoint. They are full of color and whimsy. They are bold and emotional. My daughter loves them - and so do I.

Me, Frida by Amy Novesky - Illustrated by David Diaz

I saw this book at the SF MOMA bookstore last time I was there, and quickly texted my husband that I wanted it for Christmas. It is another beautiful book about Frida Kahlo. This one does not talk so much about her physical pain, but focuses on themes of loneliness and feeling small in the shadow of her husband when the couple go to San Francisco. By the end of the book, Frida has again used art, focusing on the beauty around her, and trusting in her own individuality to overcome the negative feelings she experiences in the beginning of the book.

The artwork...
In this book, the artwork is again bold an colorful. The backgrounds have a beautiful painterly quality and the images are exquisite. The art is not as playful as the work in the Frida book, but impressive none the less - and will definitely please someone who loves the artwork of Frida Kahlo.

Next Steps...
The act of simply reading to a child is wonderful, but it is also an opportunity to do so much more. I have listed here ideas around how you can further use these books to develop emotional and social skills in your own children. If you have any additional ideas, I would love to hear them!
  1. Ask your child if they have ever done an activity to help them when they are sad? Do they think making art would help them feel better?
  2. These books are wonderful starting points for discussion around emotions. Asking children what characters are feeling builds empathy. Asking them what they would do if they were the character's friend, helps children learn appropriate social skills. Active reading styles (where you point out things in the story, make connections, and ask questions) definitely create more opportunities for a child to learn.
  3. In "Me, Frida" the author talks about how Frida finds inspiration in Chinatown. Is there any place they like to go just to look at the sites?
  4. Draw a self portrait in honor of Frida! or using the first Frida book, draw a picture of an imaginary friend.
  5. Go online and look at some Frida Art work (You may want to find them first, because there are some pieces that are not appropriate for small children)
  6. Frida's image has been painted by so many artists who find her work inspiring. Check out ETSY and do a search for Frida to see lots of artist interpretations. Ask your daughter to draw her own image of Frida.
This is my four year old's drawing of Frida. I think it is beautiful:-)

And just because I think this party is awesome and wonderful.... check out this Frida Kahlo inspired birthday party! Makes me wish my daughter wasn't so obsessed with princesses!


  1. seriously STUNNING!!!
    thank you for this. imagine if our mom's had thrown us such a party in our youth.

  2. that is an awesome post!!! i wanna have a frieda party... yes, reading is so very special to children... i have already learned so much and confirmation of what i am doing already... thank you for the effort you have put into this blog... i am gonna send it to the children's momma... thank you... ms pie


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