Every third week of May we celebrate National Bike Week to help kids (and adults) see the joy that a bicycle can bring as well as care for the environment. Today we are sharing our favorite Picture Books to Celebrate National Bike Week.
When a girl and her grandfather put their hearts into sprucing up an old bike by hand, neighborhood kids are less than kind in this tender story about bullying, peer pressure, and feeling the freedom to express yourself.
Needing something to fill up her summer days, Joy seeks out her granddad, who also likes to tinker, for something to do. Together they find the perfect project: sprucing up an old bike for Joy. From hardware stores to garage sales, the two find everything they need to transform this bike, little by little, into something that’s truly one of a kind. Ornamented with sparkles, a basket, and a brand-new bell, the bike is finally ready for Joy to ride it all over the neighborhood, filling the air with her own kind of music that exudes JOY.
But when a few kids take notice of Joy’s bike, and not in a good way, Joy makes an impulsive decision that ruins the dazzling bike she and Granddad worked so hard on. Joy realizes quickly, however, that trying to fit in can be boring, and it doesn’t make her feel JOY. Just maybe, with a heartfelt apology and Granddad’s help, she can get back on track to being true to herself. This touching story, told by Sherri Duskey Rinker and Ana Ramírez González, addresses the moments of uncertainty when trying to fit in with the crowd, and exclaims the joyful exuberance of self-expression.
Written by Sherri Duskey Rinker and Illustrated by Ana Ramírez González
Published by Candlewick Press
When Little Red Riding Hood sets off to deliver muffins to her grandmother, you bet that a big bad wolf isn’t far behind!
Set on the midwestern prairie, this is a “Little Red Riding Hood” that will captivate youngsters with its feisty heroines and bold humor. Especially to be relished is the way the story line plays against the classic tale’s plot, with laugh-provoking lines that show true wit. As the dastardly wolf chuckles, appreciating his own schemes, the text soars, suspense builds and vibrant pictures bring out all of the fun.
In this unique nonfiction picture book, the main character is a bicycle that starts its life like so many bicycles in North America, being owned and ridden by a young boy. The boy, Leo, treasures his bicycle so much he gives it a name — Big Red. But eventually Leo outgrows Big Red, and this is where the bicycle’s story takes a turn from the everyday, because Leo decides to donate it to an organization that ships bicycles to Africa.
Big Red is sent to Burkina Faso, in West Africa, where it finds a home with Alisetta, who uses it to gain quicker access to her family’s sorghum field and to the market. Then, over time, it finds its way to a young woman named Haridata, who has a new purpose for the bicycle — renamed Le Grand Rouge — delivering medications and bringing sick people to the hospital.
This book makes an excellent choice for cultural studies classes; author Jude Isabella has provided several terrific suggestions in the back of the book for projects large and small, while a map shows the distance the bicycle traveled across the Atlantic Ocean. Award-winning illustrator Simone Shin’s digitally composed artwork includes evocative depictions of Alisetta’s and Haridata’s communities in rural Africa, creating vivid comparisons between Leo’s life and their lives.
Youngsters will learn how different the world is for those who rely on bicycles as a mode of transportation, and how one ordinary bicycle — and a child’s desire to make a difference — can change lives across the world. This book also offers an excellent opportunity for expanding character education lessons on caring, compassion and empathy to include the wider world.
How One Community Became the Bicycle Capital of the World
Pedal Power is a nonfiction picture book about the women and children who led the social movement that made Amsterdam the most bike-friendly city in the world!
Cycling rules the road in Amsterdam today, but that wasn’t always the case. In the 1970’s, Amsterdam was so crowded with vehicles that bicyclists could hardly move, but moms and kids relied on their bicycles to get around the city.
PEDAL POWER is the story of the people who led protests against the unsafe streets and took over a vehicles-only tunnel on their bikes, showing what a little pedal power could do! Author and illustrator Allan Drummond returns with the story of the people that paved the way for safe biking around the world.
Bethany Edwards is an elementary educator as well as a reading and literacy
specialist. On Biracial Bookworms, she focuses on multiracial and multicultural resources for teaching literacy skills using reading, travel, and learning multiple languages. Additionally, she offers online and self-paced courses for parents and caregivers on Biracial Bookworms Academy.