Supporting the Black Community through Black Owned Businesses

Part of anti-racist work is being conscious about our spending. While it is important to purchase books and consume media by Black authors, it also important to support Black owned bookstores, publishing companies, and community projects as they are the organizations advocating for these authors.  In accordance with this, we at Star Bright Books have compiled a list of five Black owned businesses, local to the Boston, MA area, as well as five Black owned publishing companies nationwide.  We hope that these lists provide you with options and inspiration moving forward with anti-racist work and conscious support.

 

Black Owned Local (Boston Area) Businesses

Frugal Bookstore

Black owned bookstore in Boston, MA

 

Print Aint Dead

Queer and Black owned bookstore/publishing initiative in Boston, MA

 

Susie’s Stories

Black owned bookstore in Rockport, MA

 

Studio 24 Graphix & Printing

Black owned print shop in Boston, MA

 

College Application Education Project

Black owned education company in Lynn, MA

 

Black Owned Publishing Companies (Nationwide)

Africa World Press and The Red Sea Press

Aims to provide high quality literature pertaining to the culture, history, and politics of Africa and the African Diaspora.

 

Black Classic Press

Publishes obscure but significant works about people of African descent. Republishes works that are out of print and out of memory.

 

Broadside Lotus Press

A nonprofit whose mission includes community engagement and publication.

 

Redbone Press

Publishes work celebrating the Black LGBT+ community.

 

Third World Press

Publishes literature related to the African American public. 

Benefits of Singing With Little Ones!

Singing and music have long been important parts of early childhood education and childrearing. Recent studies show that singing to babies and young kids has numerous neurological and cognitive benefits for the child, as well as social benefits for both the child and parent alike.

Interior of our new book Twinkle, Twinkle, Diaper You! (illustration by Ying-Hwa Hu).

Many parents are uncomfortable singing to their children because they are not confident in their own singing abilities, instead relying on curated playlists and digital music to soothe their babies. Professionals point out, though, that the parent’s voice, not the song quality, is what matters. Singing to babies, both in utero and post-partum, increases babies’ ability to recognize their parents’ voices and appearances and cultivates feelings of safety and comfort in this recognition, thus fostering a strong bond between parent and child.

 

In conjunction with cultivating the parent-child relationship, parents should pay close attention to their baby’s various reactions to songs (cooing, babbling, giggling, pointing, etc.) and respond to them accordingly. In her book Talk to Me, Baby!, the great early childhood expert—and our dear friend—Betty Bardige explains, “The baby’s coos, babbles, and facial and body language let the adult know when they are in sync and when they need to reestablish their connection.” Listening and modifying the networks of communication will help strengthen the bond between parent and child, as well as further establish channels of verbal and non-verbal communication.

 

There are additional benefits associated with singing to babies. Creating a schedule for specific songs at certain times of day can help create a routine for your child. Babies feel secure when they are able to anticipate what will happen next, thus associating certain actions or times of the day—like a diaper change, dinner, or bedtime—with certain songs. This is sometimes called verbal mapping, a term used to describe the adult narration of a baby’s life. Putting this narration into a song routine also helps babies develop more positive associations with everyday activities. 

 

New research suggests that singing to babies helps improve cognitive development in young children. One study shows that singing songs can increase a child’s attention span and positive displays of emotion. Other studies illustrate a correlation between exposure to music and rhythm and positive social connections. This means singing to an infant may not only support their immediate cognitive growth, but can also have a lasting impact on their social development.

Interior of our new book Twinkle, Twinkle, Diaper You! (illustration by Ying-Hwa Hu).

Furthermore, singing is often a child’s first exposure to language.  Singing a variety of songs and lullabies helps to successfully introduce infants to new vocabulary. By introducing new words in conjunction with actions or visuals (tickling a baby’s tummy or showing a baby pictures of farm animals), babies are better able to learn these words by their association to the actions/objects of action or images.

 

Children’s songs and lullabies can help grow a child’s cultural awareness as well. In multilingual households, singing songs in each language helps the baby learn to make word associations across languages—and is a stepping stone in bilingual speech development. Singing lullabies that celebrate one’s culture or heritage is also a great way to introduce a child to that part of their identity.

 

There are many ways to begin singing to your child or new practices to try if you already do! If you are interested in exploring your creative side, try writing your own song. It does not need to be complex; simple lyrics and rhythm are enough for your baby to recognize. Betty Bardige writes that songs and games “are especially fun (and helpful for building language) when they relate to what the baby is doing or seeing.”

 

Or, you can start with a common children’s song like “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” and transform it into your own song (as the mother does in our new book Twinkle, Twinkle, Diaper You!). Other good songs are “You Are My Sunshine,” “The ABCs,” and “The Wheels On The Bus.” 

 

Once you feel comfortable singing to yourself and your baby, there are many musical exercises to try with children of all ages!

How To Start (And Continue) Talking To Kids About Race

Talking to children about race, racism, and police brutality can be intimidating and challenging, but we believe it is imperative in the fight for an anti-racist community. Here are 10 multimedia resources (articles, podcasts, interviews, etc.) to assist parents, teachers, educators, and caregivers in starting and continuing conversations with children.

 

Articles

UNICEF: Talking to your kids about racism: How to start the important conversation and keep it going, June 9, 2020

Comprehensive and age-specific advice for talking to children about race. Research is based in some scientific background.

 

PBS: How to Talk Honestly With Children About Racism, June 9, 2020

General advice for talking to younger children. Includes links to outside resources.

 

VOX: How to talk to kids about racism, explained by a psychologist, June 9, 2020

More specific information about discussing protests and police brutality. Information is provided by a licensed psychologist.

 

ADL: Race Talk: Engaging Young People in Conversations about Race and Racism

Information and advice for teachers and educators on talking about race during late childhood/early adolescence.

 

CHLA: Talking With Children About Race and Racism—an Age-by-Age Guide, June 10, 2020

Age-specific, science-based advice from doctors on talking about race with children.

 

Podcasts

EmbraceRace: Supporting Kids Of Color In the Wake Of Racialized Violence, 2016

Interviews with parents, teachers, and expert guests, including several people of color. Discusses when and how to support children of color in the aftermath of racialized violence.

 

NPR: How White Parents Can Talk To Their Kids About Race, June 4, 2016

Discusses some of the negative consequences of not talking to white children about race and racism.

 

Resource Lists

EmbraceRace: 20 Picture Books for 2020: Readings to Embrace Race, Provide Solace & Do Good, 2020

A list of picture books to assist in talking to kids about race and racism. Includes Spanish options.

 

ECEA: Resources for Educators Focusing on Anti-Racist Learning and Teaching, 2015

Resources to assist teachers seeking to cultivate an anti-racist classroom environment. Provides links to many outside sources.

 

Discussion

NYT: Talking to Children About Race, Policing and Violence, December 7, 2016

A roundtable discussion between New York Times employees who are parents (primarily people of color) about how they talk to their children about race/racism.

 

Tips and Tricks for Trilingual Households

Photo from Clean Up, Up, Up! / ¡Arriba, arriba, arriba a limpiar! by Ellen Mayer.

It can sometimes be intimidating to think about teaching children multiple languages—especially if one or both parents are not fluent in all of the languages. Living in a trilingual household often comes with its own set of challenges. But, while language learning can, and most likely will, be difficult, it doesn’t have to be scary! Below is a list of tips and tricks for trilingual households to start at birth and continue throughout childhood.

 

Start Early and Use Native Languages First

Many trilingual households in the US are made up of two bilingual parents living in an English-dominated culture. It is thus recommended that each parent only address the child in their own native language. For example, if Parent 1 speaks Spanish and English and Parent 2 speaks German and English, Parent 1 should address their child in Spanish and Parent 2 should address their child in German.

 

Beginning this practice in infancy improves a child’s language acquisition in each language and teaches the child to distinguish between languages depending on audience. This is sometimes called the Minority Language at Home strategy, in which a child will speak and native languages at home while speaking and learning English in public (at schools, parks, shopping centers, etc.).

 

Quality Language Exposure Over Quantity Language Exposure

Children will be less likely to master a language if learning becomes tedious or feels like a task. To avoid this, it can be beneficial to incorporate language learning into a child’s interests. For example, if a child likes singing and dancing, they may enjoy learning a non-dominant language through song lyrics rather than books or worksheets. Similarly, if a child enjoys playing with toy cars, asking questions about what they’re doing in a non-dominant language will expose the child to new vocabulary during playtime. Often, if the child has a positive association with the process of language learning, they will be more receptive to learning and using the non-dominant language in these same scenarios.

 

Photo from Clean Up, Up, Up! / ¡Arriba, arriba, arriba a limpiar! by Ellen Mayer.

Incorporate Culture into Language Learning

Maintaining multiple languages in a household can also mean maintaining multiple cultural identities. A fun way for children to learn native languages at home is by associating the language with an aspect of their cultural identity. This can mean incorporating food, music, books, holidays, and more from each respective culture into a child’s everyday life. Doing so allows the child to make associations between the languages they are speaking and the culture from which they come. It can also make speaking each language feel more relevant and applicable in their daily life.

 

Affirm a Child’s Multicultural Identity and Multilingual Abilities

Throughout the process of language learning, it is important to affirm (and reaffirm!) the progress a child is making in language learning. It will allow a child to see value in their multilingual abilities, as well as instill feelings of pride in their multicultural identity! The more positively the child feels, the more progress they will make. 

Honoring Juneteenth Through Listening, Learning, and Reflecting

Juneteenth is a holiday celebrated each year by Black and African American people all across the United States. Unfortunately, Juneteenth (along with many other notable events in Black American history) has been left out of many classrooms and history books. As Star Bright Books has been listening and learning from the Black community, we felt it important to discuss the history and importance of this holiday, as well as the implications it carries in our society.

History

The ratification of the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, is often considered the end of slavery in the US. However, plantation owners throughout the South continued to enslave Black people for nearly two and a half more years. On June 19, 1865, two months after the Confederate Army surrendered, signaling the end of the US Civil War, Union General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, to announce the end of the war and declare the liberation of all enslaved people there.

After this announcement, many formerly enslaved people journeyed north, unsure of what their futures would look like. Despite numerous hardships, Black and African American families gathered on June 19 the following year to celebrate a day that then came to be considered the true ending of chattel slavery. The date, June 19, was shortened and combined to become one word—Juneteenth—and is celebrated each year.

A group of people posing for a photo

Description automatically generated
Juneteenth celebration at Emancipation Park in 1880

Celebrations

On June 19, 1866, formerly enslaved people in Texas gathered for prayer and the singing of spirituals to celebrate the anniversary of their freedom. This celebration effectively began the tradition of Juneteenth celebrations for Black communities.

Soon thereafter, Black and African American people in other states began celebrating Juneteenth as well. It became a means to bring families together for reassurance and prayer.  Some formerly enslaved men, women, and their children would even make a pilgrimage to Galveston to acknowledge their pasts and pray for their futures.

More recently, Juneteenth celebrations have come to include barbeques, musical performances, and beauty contests beginning in the first week of June and continuing through June 19. It has become a way to celebrate the importance of Black culture in America and has become representative of the ongoing fight for racial equality.

Why don’t we know about Juneteenth?

During the nineteenth century, Juneteenth celebrations existed almost exclusively for African American communities. Many white communities even banned the use of public property for these celebrations. In the early 1900s, when classroom and textbook education overtook the more traditional form of home education, both Black and white segregated schools put very little emphasis on Black and African American history—as they continue to do today.

Juneteenth and other notable African American historical events have been treated as less of a priority. This, coupled with a lack of economic resources in the early twentieth century and through Great Depression, allowed very few Black people to celebrate Juneteenth unless it fell on a weekend. However, in the 1950s and ’60s the holiday resurged with the growing strength of the civil rights movement. Young protestors returned home from rallies with plans for new Juneteenth celebrations.

Blackout Bike Ride in New Orleans, June 19 2020 (Photo courtesy of Adam Dawson at Stay Red Studios).

Juneteenth Today

This year, Juneteenth has gained national attention in light of the recent police murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and many other Black people. The recent protests surrounding their deaths have reenergized the fight for racial justice and equality. In light of this attention, leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement called upon its supporters to celebrate and utilize Juneteenth as a time to reflect, learn, and connect across Black communities.  

Why should we honor Juneteenth?

Conversations are ongoing to declare Juneteenth a national holiday, with especially strong pushes in recent months. Some states and cities have already passed bills to officially recognize Juneteenth as a state holiday or local celebration.

Beyond this holiday, however, it is important to stand in solidarity with the Black community and actively support the continued fight for racial equality. We must continue to educate ourselves about the harsh history of racial and ethnic inequality in the United States—it is only through learning and understanding that we may find the compassion and empathy to support others.

Make Handwashing a Fun and Familiar Experience

Good hygiene, especially clean hands, is important for our health and safety. Handwashing helps prevent the spread of icky germs and bacteria like the coronavirus.

 

The Centers for Disease Control recommends washing your hands for approximately 20 seconds. But it is difficult to get children to concentrate for that long. So how can you make handwashing fun for youngsters?

 

Pediatricians suggest washing your own hands with your little one to set an example. Another tip is to tether handwashing to other fun activities, like arts and crafts.

 

Music can also make handwashing fun! Here is a cute “wash up-up-up” song to sing with your child. If you sing along with the audio track (one beat/second), the scrubbing section in the middle lasts for the recommended 20 seconds.

 

Be well and stay safe!

 

Illustration © 2018 by Ying-Hwa Hu (from Clean Up, Up, Up!)


Wash Up, Up, Up!

 

Wash up, up, up!

Wash up, up, up!

This is how you wash your hands:

 

You Wet

Lather

Scrub

Rinse, and

Dry

 

You wet your hands, you can use cold water

You lather your hands with a squirt of soap

Then you scrub your hands lots of different ways

 

You scrub the palms, one, two, three

 

You scrub the backs, one, two, three

 

You scrub the sides, one, two, three

 

You scrub the fingers, one, two, three

 

You scrub the tips, one, two, three

 

Then you rinse the soap off and dry your hands

And you’ve washed up, up, up!

One more time:

 

Wash up, up, up!

Wash up, up, up!

This is how you wash your hands:

 

You Wet

Lather

Scrub

Rinse, and

Dry

 

Lyrics and music © 2020 by Malcolm Pittman

Benjamin Futterman: vocals, guitar, audio editing

Ela Ben-Ur: vocals, fiddle

Malcolm Pittman: vocals, banjo

Courtesy of Star Bright Books

(Hand-washing procedure taken from the Centers for Disease Control)

Celebrate Environmental Literature and Work in the Time of COVID-19

Coincidence or serendipity? Three historic events this April have coincided with a personal event that’s meaningful to me (author Claire Datnow) and, hopefully, to my readers. This month marks the tenth anniversary of the BP oil spill, the fiftieth anniversary of Earth Day, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Wow! What are the chances? Could this be the universe reminding me that my passion for writing eco mysteries is important and should continue?

 

I might also mention the strange coincidence my husband and I experienced on our recent cruise to Antarctica. Our stateroom was #1918, the year of the Spanish flu pandemic—and a hint at the COVID-19 pandemic. By sheer luck, the coronavirus missed us, but infected passengers on the next cruise—but that is a tale for another blog entry.

 

Today, we all feel a deep sense of anxiety as COVID-19 rages across our world. Ten years ago, we experienced the same sense of dread when the BP Deepwater Horizon oil rig dumped nearly five million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, resulting in the biggest offshore oil disaster in world history.

 

The catastrophe closed down business along the Gulf Coast at enormous economic cost. We witnessed the horrific images of oil spewing up from the ocean floor, people, birds, and marine life all suffering and dying amid flames and toxic oil. It took eighty-seven days to cap the well. After the disaster, BP was ordered to pay a bevy of penalty funds. These funds continue to provide a golden opportunity to repair the environmental damages caused by the spill, like the efforts of Audubon’s Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has shut down the Gulf coast once again.

 

Coincidentally, the forthcoming publication of my book Adventures of The Sizzling Six: Operation Terrapin Rescue was inspired by the BP oil spill. I hope my eco mystery series will motivate young people to take action to help prevent such future disasters.

Operation Terrapin Rescue will be available in July.

Fifty years ago, Earth Day celebrations jump-started the modern environmental movement. Denis Hayes, the movement’s first organizer, points out that Earth Day has also come to focus on another threat to the planet: climate change, which fifty years ago “was not part of the national discussion.”

 

In the time of COVID-19, Earth Day 2020 has shifted to the digital realm. Although the present crisis is unprecedented, some aspects, which have worsened past crises, are familiar to us now:

 

  1. Warnings from scientists and medical experts are again being played down or ignored.
  2. Shortsighted profit and greed are shaping governmental and corporate decisions, which will worsen socioeconomic problems in the long run.
  3. In the ensuing chaos, shortsighted interests often overturn or subvert laws meant to safeguard and protect us.

And yet, I am optimistic! I am optimistic because I have had the honor to meet and join the courageous, dedicated, and visionary conservationists working, day after day, to protect and restore the quality of our air and water and the critical ecosystems on which all life depends.

 

At this moment, as the COVID-19 crisis continues, the anniversary of the BP oil spill passes almost unnoticed, and fiftieth Earth Day celebration takes place via digital media, we may well ask ourselves two important questions:

 

  • What changes have these catastrophes set in motion that will repair broken systems to benefit humanity in the long run? One thing is for sure: structural changes are on way.
  • What can each one of us can do, no matter how small, to protect and conserve the earth for future generations?

I would love to hear from you! Please email me at cldatnow@me.com.

Tips for Safely Preparing and Storing Food for Little Ones

As parents, the quality of the food your children and infants consume matters. You can take several steps to make sure you are being as safe as possible when preparing and storing food for your family.

It’s important to stay clean when preparing food for babies and kids. Always wash your hands, utensils, appliances, and sinks as often as possible. Use soap and water or other kid-friendly cleansers when cleaning. Make sure to use separate cutting boards when preparing your own baby food.

(images from Eating the Rainbow)

If you’re browsing the grocery store for baby food or ingredients, it is imperative that all containers you pick out are completely sealed. The can lids should be secure and not bulging, leaking, or dented on the seam or rim. Plastic and paper products should likewise be completely sealed and not torn.

In addition, check the sell-by and use-by dates on each package. The sell-by date is used by the store to indicate the shelf life of the product. The item on the shelf should be sold by a particular date, but this does not mean it can’t be consumed after that date. In contrast, the use-by (or sometimes best-by) date indicates when the consumer should use the product. Remember to buy food in reasonable quantities according to your family size. Adjust your supply amount to your schedule and needs.

After you’ve purchased baby food, check the storage instructions on the product. Each brand and product type varies so it is crucial to verify each time. If the storing instructions are not on the container, you can look up the product on the brand website or contact the brand for more information.

One of the best ways to store homemade baby food is to freeze it. The recommended fridge temperature is 40°For below and 0°F or below for your freezer. Check your fridge and freezer thermometer and adjust if needed.

You can freeze baby food in clean ice-cube trays. Do not use the same ice-cube tray for other foods or purposes. Cover the tray with plastic wrap or a sheet before putting it in the freezer. After the baby food has frozen in the tray, you can transfer it to another freezer-safe container or plastic bag. Do not transfer the food to glass jars or store-bought baby food containers. Unless the jars are labeled freezer-safe, they can be dangerous to store. Label the freezer-safe container with the type of food, date, and quantity.

The best time to consume frozen baby food is 1–3 months. Each ice cube is about 1 oz., which gives you a measured food quantity for your baby. To thaw, place the frozen bag or container in a bowl with warm water. Replace the water as needed. Transfer the baby food to a serving dish and place it in your fridge overnight. A microwave can also be used to thaw by transferring the baby food to a microwave-safe container and using the DEFROST setting. Occasionally stop heating to stir the food.

Finally—and most importantly—serve the food to your baby or child with love and care! The thought and effort put into the preparation and storage of food are vital to their development.

A variety of our books feature food preparation, including Zachary’s Dinnertime, Cake Day, and Eating the Rainbow. Share a book with your child while they eat or read as a treat!

The Extraordinary Benefits of Bedtime Stories

Reading a bedtime story with your child is a great way to wind down after a long day. You can start reading together at any age—but the earlier you start, the better. However, reading at different stages will allow for different experiences. Babies between 4 and 6 months old will begin to show an interest in books through touch, and by their first year, they’ll be able to understand basic concepts such as colors and shapes. It’s a good idea to start reading board books with children ages 3 and younger. Children ages 4 and up can continue reading a variety of picture books.

Bedtime reading with children can be a magical experience. (images from Read to Me) 

 

Along with introducing your child to early literacy, regularly reading to them has numerous benefits that will help your child as they grow. Here are some of the most important ones!

 

Scheduling a time to read with your child will help establish a routine. Practicing healthy routines at an early stage will prove beneficial. It aids in the development of organization skills, so when children grow older they can practice time management. Separating time to read and relax is just as important as time spent working. Choose a time that works best for you and your child. You don’t have to read every night, but you should set a goal for how much you do want to read. Try not to frame reading as a chore—it should be something your child looks forward to doing with you.

 

Reading stories will broaden your child’s vocabulary. Bedtime stories can be used to practice speech and reading comprehension among all languages. This is an especially helpful tool for homes where more than one language is spoken. If your child comes across a word they don’t know, take time to look up and learn the word together. You may already be familiar with the word, but it is important that your child takes time to practice searching for words unknown to them. This habit will help them when they start reading on their own. You can write down the words you learn together in a notebook and look back at them after you finish each storybook. If your child is learning more than one language, you can write down the word’s translation alongside its definition.

 

Use bedtime stories as a learning tool. You can use storybooks to introduce your child to their own cultural background and ancestry. Or venture from the stories you read growing up and find new, fun retellings of classics. Don’t limit the stories you read—there are countless bedtime tales from around the world. Be sure to research storybooks by authors from diverse backgrounds. Reading stories from various backgrounds will help children learn about different cultures and the importance of diversity and inclusion. Ask your child what types of stories interest them and if there is a country or culture they are curious about. Take time to reflect on the stories you read.

 

 

Read different types of books! Storybooks come in many different forms. Board books are ideal for children in their very early stages of reading and listening, picture books are recommended for children ages 4 and up, and beginner-level chapter books can be read as early as age 5, depending on the content. Graphic novels are also a great choice when your child grows out of the early stages of reading. There are many kid-friendly graphic novels for different age groups. In addition, audiobooks are a practical option, especially after a long day of work and school. You can purchase books that include audio guides or look for the audiobook versions of your favorite storybooks. Play the audiobook and follow along together if you have a physical copy with you. If not, actively listen to the story with your child.

 

A lot of our books make great bedtime stories including Read to Me; Good Night, Little Sea Otter; and Woolly the Wide Awake Sheep.

The Benefits of Telling Old Stories in New Ways

For many of us, classic literature and stories can be daunting at best and inaccessible at worst. The language can be tough to understand and the plots can seem completely outdated and unrelatable. However, retelling old stories in new ways can open up a whole world of literature for people by making it more relevant and understandable. This is especially true for children and teens.

 

When we tell a story, there are two core questions in the backs of our minds: “Why do we tell it?” and “What can we learn from it?” Stories can mean different things to different people, of course, but we tell and retell stories that have an impact on us because at the heart of them are relevant themes: love, hope, perseverance, family, to name a few.

 

Most school systems still have students read works by Shakespeare. If we want people to understand the core messages in a well-known play such as Macbeth—which contains contemporarily relevant questions around tyranny, betrayal, and morality—then why not make it understandable? By using simplified vocabulary and plots, stories like Macbeth can be accessible to a wider audience.

 

As humans, we will always retell stories, modifying them to fit contemporary needs. Consider the Grimm Brothers’ version of Cinderella, for example, and compare it to the more contemporary Disney-movie version. The Grimm Brothers’ version is quite different. It contains some more gruesome elements. Disney’s version eliminates those plot points while keeping other key points, such as the stepmother and stepsisters, similar. There are also other retellings of Cinderella that use the classic story to focus on contemporary issues like feminism.

 

For children especially, stories that contain big words they don’t understand can lead to frustration. While there are definitely benefits to reading stories like The Odyssey to youngsters—such as language acquisition and experiencing the story in its original format— it can be overwhelming. Children also have shorter attention spans than adults, making it much harder to get them to sit and listen to long stories. Starting children off with shorter stories with simpler vocabulary is a great way to build a strong language foundation and love of literature.

Brian Wildsmith (Professor Noah’s Spaceship)

A book like Professor Noah’s Spaceship by Brian Wildsmith allows for the age-old tale of Noah’s Ark to be read in a way that is accessible, exciting, and engaging for young children. They can comprehend the core plot and message of the story, while also being introduced to contemporary worries like environmental protection.

 

When used side-by-side, modern retellings can help readers start to develop an understanding of the original text. For instance, The Lizzie Bennett Diaries series on YouTube is a retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. While the setting is modern-day and the language fits our contemporary vocabulary, the story itself follows the same path and the underlying plot and message are both still there.

 

Modern retellings can also lead to questions that can help engage with the text, like why something is omitted, why a character’s gender has been changed, etc. Asking these questions and thinking on their subsequent answers allow for a deeper understanding of the original text.

 

There are still immense benefits to reading classic stories in their original languages or translations. However, we should have fun with these texts, transform them, and make them more widely understandable. At the end of the day, stories are meant to be told. Whatever way is most digestible to a given audience, be it children, teens, or adults, should be celebrated and encouraged.