Blog

Favorite Books for Readers in 1st – 8th Grade

July 1, 2016 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

Anyone who knows me knows that I love books. Goodness, we own so many children’s books, we actually created a Dewey Decimal System for our home library so that we can find them!


reading


Thankfully both of my girls also love reading and books and all things literary. This list reflects many of my oldest daughter’s favorites with adoption and/or Asian-American themes. She’s a twelve-year-old Chinese adoptee who loves baking, reading, writing short stories and fashion.

……….

Betti on the High Wire by Lisa Railsback (Cybils Finalist and WLT Texas Book Award Finalist)


bettionhighwire


Babo is the self-appointed leader of the “leftover children” who live on an abandoned circus camp. They need her, so Babo is not at all happy when an American couple wants to adopt her and change her name to Betti. But soon odd and crazy America is where she lives – with new parents and a little sister, strange foods and all kinds of people speaking words she cannot understand. Betti on the High Wire shares Babo’s story from days before meeting her future adoptive parents through her first month in her new home. Funny, heartbreaking and real, it’s a must-read for adoptees. (4th to 8th grade). 


Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu. (Amazon.com Book of the Year, Bank Street Best Children’s Books, Publisher’s Weekly Book of the Year, and School Library Journal Book of the Year)


Breadcrumbs


Once upon a time, Hazel and Jack were best friends, but that was before he stopped talking to her and disappeared into a forest with a mysterious woman made of ice. Now it’s up to Hazel, an Indian-American girl adopted by white parents, to go in after him. Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen,” Breadcrumbs is a story of the struggle to hold on, and the things we leave behind. (4th to 8th grade)


Clara Lee and the Apple Pie Dream by Jenny Han 


claralee


Clara Lee is a typical third grader who dreams of becoming Little Miss Apple Pie at her town’s apple festival. Some kids tell her she’s not “American enough” to win the title because of her Korean heritage, but Clara Lee proves them wrong in the end. When she isn’t wrestling with what it means to be an American, Clara Lee is dealing with the ups and downs of being an older sister, a friend, a daughter and a granddaughter. I love this book because it’s sweet and funny, and because the Tongginator quoted it during our tour of Tiananmen Square in June 2011: “it’s hotter than kimchi today!” This was one of the Tongginator’s favorites when she was younger! What initially attracted her to this book was that – just like she did – the main character had two names (one Western, one Chinese). (1st grade and up)


The Dirt Diary and its sequels by Anna Staniszewski


DirtDiary


Rachel can’t believe she has to give up her Saturdays to scrub other people’s toilets! Ever since her Mom and Dad divorced, life’s been kind of gross. Becoming a maid in her Mom’s cleaning business is not helping her loserish reputation AT ALL, but then Rachel starts picking up more than just smelly socks on the job. She starts learning the secrets of some of the most popular kids in eighth grade. Now her formerly boring diary is filled with juicy secrets. When her crush offers to pay her to spy on his girlfriend, Rachel has to decide whether or not she is willing to get her hands dirty. Definitely one of the Tongginator’s favorites – she loves how funny it is, and adores (and relates to!) Rachel’s clumsiness and awkwardness. (5th grade and up)


The Great Wall of Lucy Wu by Wendy Wan-Long Shang (Maryland Black-Eyed Susan Finalist, CCBC Choices, Cybils Finalist, and a NCTE/CLA Notable Children’s Book)


greatwalllucywu


Lucy Wu, aspiring athlete and interior designer, is so excited for sixth grade! She’s going out for captain of the basketball team; and she can’t wait to take over redesigning the bedroom she’s always shared with her sister. Then she finds out that Yi Po, her beloved grandmother’s sister, is coming to stay with them for several months – and she’s staying in Lucy’s bedroom!  Lucy’s 6th grade year is ruined now – or is it? This is one of the Tongginator’s favorites – she most enjoys Lucy’s interactions with her annoying great-aunt. (4th to 8th grade)


Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai (Winner of the National Book Award, a Newbery Honor Book, and a Maryland Black-Eyed Susan Nominee)


insideoutbackagain


Up until now, ten-year-old Ha has only known the sights and sounds of Saigon. But now the Vietnam War is closing in around Ha’s home, and her family is forced to flee as Saigon falls, heading to safety in America.  Ha’s family ends up in Alabama, and her first year in her new home is filled with change, grief, dreams and healing.  Written in short free-verse poems, and based on Lai’s personal experience, Lai’s first novel captures a child refugee’s struggle with rare honesty.  (4th to 8th grade)


Kimchi & Calamari by Rose Kent


kimchicalamari


Joseph is a 14-year-old boy who walks through life with a great sense of humor and tremendous optimism until his social studies teacher completely stresses him out with a 1,500 word paper called “Tracing Your Past: A Heritage Essay.” Joseph was adopted from Korea as an infant by his very Italian parents. They are supportive, loving parents but bad at talking with him about his adoption. Joseph is left in a quandary when his parents just assume that writing about their Italian ancestors will suffice. He does some investigating on his own with the help of his best friend and a new boy who recently moved to the area from Korea. And in the end, Joseph’s parents do come through for him. The Tongginator really identified with a school assignment not quite fitting her life experiences – she’s had this situation happen a handful of times, so she related to his conflict.


Millicent Min, Girl Genius and Stanford Wong Flunks Big-time by Lisa Yee (Won the Sid Fleischman Humor Award) 


millicentminwong


Millicent Min is a hysterical book that keeps you laughing! She is an eleven-year-old genius caught between two worlds: her peers, and her classmates at the local high school. All she wants is to feel normal, but it’s kind of difficult to do that when everyone thinks you’re not. Then she meets Emily, who doesn’t know Millicent’s IQ score – Emily, who treats Millicent like she’s cool. Afraid to lose her very first friend, Millicent does everything she can to maintain the status quo, including blackmailing Stanford Wong into keeping quiet and lying to just about everyone. Can she keep all of her lies straight? Standford Wong Flunks Big-time is a great book as well, as it explores peer pressure and stereotypes about Asian-Americans. The Tongginator loved how funny this book is, but also found it a tad difficult to read because of some higher level vocabulary and concepts. (5th grade and up)


Project Mulberry by Linda Sue Park (CCBC Choices, Bank Street’s Best Children’s Books of the Year, Four state awards, including the Texas Bluebonnet Master List, and nine additional state nominations)


projectmulberry


Julia Song and her friend Patrick want to team up to win a blue ribbon at the state fair, but they can’t agree on the perfect animal husbandry project. Then Julia’s mother suggests raising silkworms like she did as a girl, but Julia wants to avoid doing something so “Korean.” Patrick, however, loves the idea and convinces Julia to move ahead with the silkworm project. When Julia later realizes that the worms must die in order to get the silk, her tears show how much her heart changed.  Julia also ponders issues of race when her mother doesn’t want her to spend “too much time” with kind Mr. Dixon, who gave the kids mulberry leaves for their silkworms. Is it because he’s black? The Tongginator loved that’s Julia’s best friend is a boy and also found fascinating the task of raising silkworms. (4th to 8th grade)


Red Thread Sisters by Carol Antoinette Peacock (Parents Choice Recommendation, Notable Book for a Global Society, and a Massachusetts state “Must Read”) 


redthreadsisters


Wen feels excited about being adopted by a family in Massachusetts, but she is torn because she worries about her best friend Shu-Ling, who remains in the orphanage. Wen slowly adjusts to life in America while remaining committed to finding a family for Shu-Ling. She navigates relationship troubles with her new American friend Hannah and new sister Emily throughout her search. Will Shu-Ling find a family? The Tongginator loved reading about Wen’s adjustment to life in America, and really related to her longing to help a friend who remained in China. (5th grade and up)


Slant by Laura Williams


slant


The author Laura Williams, a Korean adoptee herself, tells the story of thirteen-year-old Lauren Wallace, a Korean adoptee who is the only Asian-American in her suburban Connecticut middle school. Lauren goes through typical thirteen-year-old milestones such as getting her ears pierced, buying her first bra, arguing with her father, and longing to be asked to the school dance. But she also deals with not-so-typical things like finding out why her adoptive mother died three years ago and debating with herself whether or not to get cosmetic eye surgery. Maybe having the surgery will stop the kids at school from relentlessly taunting her with racial slurs like “gook,” “chink” and “slant.” Or maybe what Lauren needs to do is find the confidence within herself to stand up to her tormenters. The Tongginator really related to the racial teasing and bullying that Lauren experienced in the book. She also identified with the main character’s relationship with her much younger sister. (4th grade to 8th grade)


The Thing About Luck by Cynthia Kadohata (Winner of the National Book Award) 


thingaboutluck


Twelve-year-old Summer knows that there is bad luck, good luck and making your own luck – which is exactly what she must do to keep her family together while her parents visit Japan. Her grandparents, Obaachan and Jiichan, come out of retirement to bring in the harvest and care for Summer and her younger brother, but they are so old, they need a lot of help. Then a boy begins paying more and more attention to Summer, but the once welcome distraction soon becomes a mess all its own. How will Summer survive this summer? (5th grade and up)


Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin (Newberry Honor Book, Indies Choice Book Award Finalist, Parent’s Choice Gold Winner, CCBC Choices, and an E.B. White Read Aloud Honor Book)


wheremountainmeetsmoon


Living in the shadow of the Fruitless Mountain, Minli and her parents spend their days working in the rice fields, barely growing enough to feed themselves. Every night, Minli’s father tells her stories about the Jade Dragon that keeps the mountain bare, the greedy and mean Magistrate Tiger, and the Old Man of the Moon who holds everyone’s destiny. Determined to change her family’s fortune, Minli sets out to find the Old Man of the Moon, urged on by a talking goldfish who gives her clues to complete her journey. Along the way she makes new friends including a flightless dragon and an orphan and proves her resourcefulness when she tricks a group of greedy monkeys and gets help from a king. This is honestly the only fantasy book the Tongginator has ever willingly read. She typically hates fantasies. (3rd – 4th grade)


The Year of the Book and its sequels by Andrea Cheng (Junior Library Guild Selection, Bank Street College Best Books List)


YearofBookSeries


The Tongginator absolutely loves this series – she continued to reread them until end of fourth grade! All Anna Wang knows for certain is that friendship is complicated. When her best friend Laura starts hanging out with other girls, Anna turns to books to keep her company. But books can tell her only so much about how to make and keep a best friend, so Anna has to go a step further to learn what true friendship means. In the second book of the series, Anna focuses on becoming a great big sister when her parents adopt a baby from China. These are more Tongginator favorites – she strongly related to the main character, what with loving to read, struggling to navigate friendships and becoming a big sister to a Chinese adoptee. She also loved reading about their visits with their grandma. (1st to 4th grade)


The Year of the Dog and its sequels by Grace Lin (ALA Children’s Notable, Asian Pacific American Librarian Association Honor, NAPPA Gold Winner, CCBC Choice, and five state award nominations, including the NCCB)


YearOfGraceLin


It’s the Chinese Year of the Dog, and as Pacy celebrates the holiday with her family, she learns that this is the year she’s supposed to “find herself” and make new friends. These books are some of the more popular featuring a Chinese-American protagonist. If you only get one series, this is the one the Tongginator and I would recommend! She feels that many girls, not just Chinese-American girls, can relate to Pacy’s journey of growing up and finding herself. (3rd to 5th grade)


A Child of God: Adopting a Child with Arthrogryposis

June 30, 2016 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

I knew the second I saw his picture that he was my son. I still remember scrolling through my facebook feed when my heart drew me into the boy on the screen and with only seeing his hands I knew…

He was mine.

We were not looking to adopt and years before we would have been too scared to pursue the adoption of a special needs child; especially one with so many unknowns. But our journey had brought us to a place where we were no longer scared, in fact we rejoiced at the idea that this little boy could one day be a part of our family.


lopez


My husband and I had met in high school and although we were friends we were far from high school sweethearts. Our story was little more like, boy meets girl, boy likes girl and girl is mean to boy. But several years into college we reconnected and all the things that were important in high school didn’t seem so important any more. After eight months of long distance dating I moved hundreds of miles to marry that boy I once ignored in high school. We simply decided that we glorified God more together than we did apart.

Just over seven years later we found ourselves the proud parents of six beautiful children (three biological children and triplets born at 25 weeks, who we adopted domestically). We were also pursuing the adoption of four-year-old twins from Uganda. A couple months into that adoption we found out we were pregnant.

We were in complete shock but continued on our course trusting the Lord’s plans.

It was just a couple weeks before were scheduled to leave for Uganda that at a routine doctor’s appointment we were told our son had clubbed feet. Even saying the words clubbed feet was hard. Our triplets had introduced us to the medical world so we were all too familiar with the specialists, the waiting rooms and what it meant to be on a first name basis with our doctors.

We trusted in the Lord and stepped forward even in the moments when it seemed impossible.

I traveled to Uganda for a week and came home to care for the kids while my husband stayed for almost six weeks. It was while my husband was in Uganda that I headed back into that same doctor’s office only to overhear the word arthrogryposis. “It looks like he has arthrogryposis”, the doctor nonchalantly said the nurse in room.

The next several months were filled with doctor’s appointments, googling, support groups, tears, and finally a hospital stay. In June of 2012 our sweet boy was born. He was no longer a diagnosis, he was our son. Over the next year we would watch him blossom and fight and bring more joy to our family than we thought possible. We found ourselves traveling all over the US to see the best doctors in world. And the more we fought for him the more he surprised us. And the more he taught us.

Arthrogryposis was no longer something that was scary or limiting, but rather something the Lord had used to make His name great. It was a way for us to see and recognize grace in every second of our lives. We didn’t wait to rejoice until our son took his first steps, we had the privilege of rejoicing with tears running down our face when he wiggled his fingers for the first time. We knew what it felt like to be prayed for by people all around the world while we sat in room waiting for the next surgery to be completed.

We knew God’s grace.

So, really it seemed almost natural when I scrolled through facebook that day…..that I would fall in love. The sweet boy in photo has perfectly curved wrists just like the little boy lying in my room sleeping. And if I looked closely enough I was sure I could see the tops of little casts that would correct clubbed feet. We were already in the trenches of doctor’s appointments, specialists, and daily therapy. I knew that if the Lord saw fit this boy would be a sweet completion to our already-full family.

But.

His file was not ready and so the agency asked us to wait. So we did. We waited and we waited for almost two years before we got the call that his file was ready. In November of 2015 we began the process to adopt a sweet boy we had once only known as Desmond. As with most adoptions the process was long and hard but we knew the boy at the end of all the paperwork was worth every sacrifice. In October of 2015, I boarded a plane to meet the boy who stole my heart two years earlier.


lopez1


Once we got home we started with all the typical doctors appointments that come along with a child with special needs. And really we are still in the trenches of figuring everything out. He went through one set of serial casting to correct his clubbed feet, a small surgery… and we have a summer scheduled full of doctors appointments. But every day this little boy brings so much joy and life to our family. He is not defined by his condition or by his accomplishments.

We rejoice in the great gift given to us and know he is beloved simply because he is a child of God.

– guest post by Sherry: instagram || email

Urgent Medical Need: Gil

June 30, 2016 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

Gil was born in January 2009 and found abandoned in a hospital when he was 18 months old. He has been diagnosed with severe Thalassemia. He is receiving regular blood transfusions, however, agency reps who have met him and followed his care say his treatment is not sufficient and the ramifications of his disease are progressing. He needs a committed family urgently.


1


Upon admission into the institute it was noted that his development at that time was poor and he was very weak. He couldn’t sit, crawl or stand. This little guy has come a very long way since his initial examination! At the time of his report he was 6 years old and was able to drink from a glass, feed himself, dress and undress himself and was fully potty trained. He was said to be very smart, active, cheerful and polite. He enjoyed playing games with adults, listened well during stories and helped his caretaker when able. He can walk, run and go up and down stairs by himself. He holds a pen to draw and can write numbers, read a watch, knows his colors, right and left, and puts puzzles together without help.


20160410-9N4A6241


Gil has clear pronunciation when he speaks and communicates freely. He shares toys with peers and attends school within his institute to learn math, music, art and common sense. He is said to be a smart and sensible boy and his caretakers hope he will be adopted by a loving family.

20160411-9N4A6339

Agency reps who have met and advocated for Gil have said, “Gil may be a little guy, at 7 years old he stands about 3 ½ feet tall, but his personality is mighty. Somehow he manages to simultaneously be calm and rowdy, silly and serious, shy and outgoing. One minute he is fully engrossed in the picture he is coloring, the next he is flopping around in the ball pit. One minute he is hamming it up for pictures—tilting his head to the side, flashing the peace sign, and grinning ear to ear—the next he is on the floor intently doing a puzzle. And during it all, he just has this endearing nature. His sweetness draws you in.”


untitled


Gil’s blood is occasionally checked and he receives transfusions to help manage his Thalassemia. In August 2015 he was diagnosed with Severe Thalassemia, Iron Deposition Disease and Splenomegaly. He is in urgent need of a forever family to give him the adequate medical care he needs to survive! Gil is now listed with WACAP and has a $4,000 grant.

Books as Tools for Adoptive Families: My Family’s Favorites

June 29, 2016 by nohandsbutours 1 Comments

mandy2

My colleague Maxie once told me that carpenters carry hammers, doctors carry medical tools to bring healing, but the tools of professors are books. As I have morphed from professor to “mommy professor” as Lydia calls me, this statement has stuck with me, and I have found that books are important tools to help our …Read More

Part of Your World: A Mermaid Tale

June 28, 2016 by nohandsbutours 2 Comments

mermaid2

We first saw her profile on our adoption agency’s web page. Her special need was listed as lower leg deformity, a layman’s term for fibular hemimelia, a congenital condition of missing/shortening of fibular bone, curved tibia (shin bone) and underdeveloped foot. I turned to my husband and said: “Hey, she looks kinda cute, but we …Read More

Waiting Children: Holden and Arlo

June 28, 2016 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

Holden-1-web

Holden is almost 3 years old and has a sweet smile. He is described as full of energy & ticklish. He has repaired cleft lip and palate and his file notes that his development is behind other children his age. As of Dec 2015 when his file was prepared he was able to sit up …Read More

What exactly is “smart parenting”?

June 27, 2016 by nohandsbutours 8 Comments

family

I figured when I shared here on NHBO about our decision to wait to see Finding Dory on DVD that it would be a well read post. The movie had just come out which meant that there were a whole lot of mamas and dads perusing the web for reviews and the like before a …Read More

No Limits: Adopting a Child with Amniotic Band Syndrome

June 26, 2016 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

debbie2

As mom to four biological boys, I remember the ultrasound appointments where the heart, kidneys, bones and limbs were surveyed and carefully measured. I was blessed with healthy boys and encouraging news from each of those prenatal appointments. Often, I wonder if my girls’ China mommies had ultrasounds, and if they knew prior to birth …Read More

I See Love By Choice

June 25, 2016 by nohandsbutours 7 Comments

rebecca2

Sometimes I can’t bear CNN. I can’t stomach Facebook. My heart can’t hold another story of gut-wrenching loss, more video of violence, another photo of a child swollen from hunger, yet more stories of families fleeing from hate in their homelands. I can’t read another word about ugly politics or strands of hateful, intolerant status …Read More

A Few of Our Favorite Books

June 24, 2016 by nohandsbutours 1 Comments

booksNHBO

We love reading at our house. Love it. As a middle school Language Arts teacher, this love makes my heart soar with delight. So. Yes. We have a ton of books. And yes, we have many, many books about {China} adoption stories. As well as stories set in China, stories about China, toddler/preschool books with …Read More

© 2016 No Hands But Ours

The content found on the No Hands But Ours website is not approved, endorsed, curated or edited by medical professionals. Consult a doctor with expertise in the special needs of interest to you.