From my window

I love “window” books. Do you?

In 1990, Rudine Sims Bishop, known as the “mother of” multicultural children’s literature stated, “Books are sometimes windows offering views of worlds that may be real or imagined, familiar or strange. These windows are also sliding glass doors, and readers have only to walk through in imagination to become part of whatever world has been created or recreated by the author.”

Window books invite us to engage with different worlds and lend us a passport to encounter distinct places, perspectives, circumstances and cultures. Ultimately window books play an important role in cultivating empathy when readers are able to understand or feel what another person is experiencing.

From my Window, an #OWNVOICES picture book written by Otávio Júnior and illustrated by Vanina Starkoff is a literal and figurative windows book. Junior gifts his readers the view from a window of a young child who lives in a favela (neighborhood) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In turn, we experience the joys and challenges, the beauty and struggle, and the daily rhythm of life in a favela.

Title:  From my Window

Publisher: Barefoot Books

Author: Otávio Júnior Illustrator: Vanina Starkoff

Regional focus:  Brazil

Themes: culture, neighborhood, community

What I love:

  1. I love that From my Window is an #OWN VOICES story. Otávio Júnior grew up in Complex do Alameo favela and writes “snapshots” of his childhood memories.
  2. Starkoff’s illustrations are bright and vibrant. One feels the energy of Brazil through her imagery. We see how city life mingles with jungle as the bustling favelas literally back up into lush rainforests.
  3. Otávio Júnior explores complex feelings of living in a neighborhood where there is beauty (music, rainbows, soccer) and hardship (violence) in a way that is approachable for children of all ages.

Discussion:

  1. What do you see from your window?
  2. What does the boy in From my Window see?
  3. How is your view the same or different from the character in From my Window?
  4. What do you notice about the illustrations in the story? How do the colors that the illustrator has chosen make you feel?
  5. Can you identify a moment in the story when the community works together? How do people work together in your community?

Activities:

  1. Draw a picture with words or illustrations of what you see from your window.
  2. We learn that children often hear Brazilian music in the favela. What music do you here when you walk through your neighborhood?
  3. We see many kites in Otávio’s favela. Learn how to make your own paper kite here.

*I am grateful for the gift of this beautiful book from Barefoot Books in collaboration with Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2021, a story that gloriously depicts one of my favorite places in the world, Rio de Janeiro!

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