Geraldine Pu and Her Lucky Pencil, Too! by Maggie P. Chang

In Geraldine Pu and Her Lucky Pencil, Too! written and illustrated by Maggie P. Chang, protagonist Geraldine Pu loves to write and draw adventure stories with her lucky pencil, Chienbee.

One day her teacher assigns her to write a story which should be a breeze. However, that’s not the case, Geraldine has been assigned to write about her family. She loves her family but cannot think of any interesting stories. That is, until her Amah tells her stories about how their family immigrated from Taiwan to the United States.

In this ready-to-read graphic novel, young readers will learn how to read comics and add some words (in both  English and Chinese) to their vocabulary. The book is split into chapters, which means children can get practice reading longer books. If readers want more of Geraldine Pu, you can find her in Geraldine Pu and Her Lunch Box, Too as well as Geraldine Pu and Her Cat Hat, Too.

Maggie P. Chang’s graphic novel teaches kids to be curious and take pride in their families. She also shows that it is okay to be nervous about presenting in class; even though it is scary, your classmates will be happy to hear what you have to say! Chang encourages children to talk with their families and learn about their family’s history. In the back of the book there are even directions for making your own scrapbook which will carry new memories to generations in the future. 

Toasty by Sarah Hwang

Toasty wants to be a dog, but Toasty doesn’t have fur, doesn’t walk on four legs, and doesn’t frighten cats. In fact, Toasty is made of bread.

In Sarah Hwang’s first picture book, Toasty tries his best at being a dog and along the way finds someone who loves him for being himself.

Toasty is a fun read for beginning readers and adults alike. In fact, I do not have many children in my life so I read Toasty to friends and family and they still talk to me about it today.

Hwang’s cheery illustrations — from fierce cats to Toasty’s “sparkly ball” —  make this book one that you and your kids will want to read over and over. Toasty lets young readers know that it’s okay to be different, and teaches them that everyone deserves some love. 

Marya Khan and the Incredible Henna Party by Saadia Faruqi

Marya Khan is about to turn eight. All she wants this year is a party that’s just as awesome as rich classmate Alexa’s upcoming party. Instead of having a magician like Alexa will, Marya imagines an epic party with an elephant and musicians like in the Pakistani dramas Dadi watches.

Unfortunately, Marya’s big imagination causes problems when she promises a party her family cannot deliver on.

When popular Alexa announces her fabulous birthday party, Marya can’t help but mention it’s her birthday too. Even though her birthday is always a low-key affair with her best friend sleeping over and some pizza, Marya describes a party with a fashion show, fairy lights, and most importantly, henna. Marya is sure that her Baba will agree to her idea. She shows him a sketch of her dream party, but big parties cost lots of money. He gently tells assures her that a modest party with her family and best friend will be just as good.

With the disappointing news, Marya knows she is going to have to win her family over to get them to throw a party for her. Will taking things into her own hands fix things, or will she only make everyone upset at her?

Throughout Marya Khan and the Incredible Henna Party readers will learn the value of good friends, empathy, and a family’s love.

Marya Khan and the Incredible Henna Party is a fun beginner chapter book for kids. Each chapter is named after a word on Marya’s word-of-the day calendar, providing a fun way for children to learn vocabulary. If your family enjoy’s Marya’s henna party adventure, be sure to check out the other Marya Khan books! 

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