Arts based workshops to foster critical inquiry and civic engagement
The Brown Bookshelf, designed to push awareness of the myriad Black voices writing for young readers.
The Conscious Kid Library is an education, research, and policy organization dedicated to reducing bias and promoting positive identity development in young children. They promote access to diverse children’s books that center underrepresented and oppressed groups.
Lee and Low Books, a family run company committed to publishing diverse books that are about everyone, for everyone. They are dedicated to cultural authenticity.
Diverse Book Finder, a database collection of more than 2,000 children’s picture books featuring people of color and Indigenous people.
Only 1% of the children’s books published in the U.S. in 2016 featured Indigenous characters, and even fewer (1/4 of the 1% = 8 books total) were written by Indigenous authors. The following are by Indigenous authors.
First Nations Reading List – The staff members of First Nations Development Institute have compiled a list of what they consider to be essential reading for anyone interested in the Native American experience.
by Jenny Kay Dupuis and Kathy Kacer, illustrated by Gillian Newland
When Irene is removed from her First Nations family to live in a residential school, she is confused, frightened and terribly homesick. She tries to remember who she is and where she came from despite being told to do otherwise.
by Monique Gray Smith, illustrated by Danielle Daniel
Written to prompt a dialogue among young people, their care providers and educators about reconciliation and the importance of the connections children make with their friends, classmates and families.
by Wab Kinew, illustrated by Joe Morse
Celebrating the stories of Indigenous people throughout time, Wab Kinew has created a powerful rap song, the lyrics of which are the basis for the text in this beautiful picture book.
by David A. Robertson, illustrated by Julie Flett
When a young girl helps tend to her grandmother’s garden, she begins to notice things that make her curious. Why does her grandmother have long, braided hair and beautifully colored clothing? Why does she speak another language and spend so much time with her family?
by Robbie Robertson, illustrated by David Shannon
Tells the story of Hiawatha, a strong Mohawk who was chosen to translate the Peacemaker’s message of unity for the five warring Iroquois nations during the 14th century. This message not only succeeded in uniting the tribes but also forever changed how the Iroquois governed themselves — a blueprint for democracy that would later inspire the authors of the U.S. Constitution.
By Chiori Santiago, illustrated by Judith Lowry
Two young brothers are separated from their family and sent to live in a government-run Indian residential school in the 1930s—an experience shared by generations of Native American children throughout North America. At these schools, children were forbidden to speak their Indian languages and made to unlearn their Indian ways. Sadly, they were often not able to go home to their families for summer vacation. Native American artist Judith Lowry based this story on the experiences of her father and her Uncle Stanley.
by Cynthia Leitich Smith, illustrated by Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu
The affirming story of how a contemporary Native girl turns to her family and community to help her dance find a voice.
Tip: Cynthia Leitich Smith has written and/or illustrated many high quality children’s books.
by Traci Sorell and Frané Lessac
A picture book about gratitude, which features Cherokee words and the Cherokee alphabet. From celebrating “the ancestors’ sacrifices to preserve our way of life” to a Grandmother revealing what the Cherokee name of a newborn baby will be, the people give thanks.
by Tim Tingle, illustrated by Karen Clarkson
Tells the story of the author’s family move from Oklahoma Choctaw country to Pasadena, TX. Spanning 50 years, Saltypie describes the problems encountered by his Choctaw grandmother — from her orphan days at an Indian boarding school to hardships encountered in her new home on the Gulf Coast.
By Aslan Tudor
At the not-so-tender age of 8, Aslan arrived in North Dakota to help stop a pipeline. A few months later he returned – and saw the whole world watching. Read about his inspiring experiences in the Oceti Sakowin Camp at Standing Rock.
by Tim Tingle and Jeanne Rorex Bridges
A fictional picture book inspired by true tales of Native Americans in the Southeastern United States aiding African Americans who were escaping slavery. In what is Mississippi today, the Bok Chitto river was the border between the Choctaw nation and a plantation. Before the Trail of Tears, if an enslaved person escaped into Choctaw land, the slave owner could not follow to catch him.
By Louise Erdrich
This charming, yet unstintingly realistic novel tells the story of Omakayas, a girl whose name means Little Frog, who is growing up near Lake Superior in the 1840s. This makes a great companion series for those who love the Little House on the Prairie Books
by Simon Ortiz and Sharol Graves
This groundbreaking tale of American Indian history, oppression, and resistance was first written in 1977 and was recently re-released for today’s children. In just 24 pages, this picture book powerfully shares history that spans from first contact with the Europeans to modern struggles against poverty and suffering.
by Bruchac, Joseph
After being taught in a boarding school run by whites that Navajo is a useless language, Ned Begay and other Navajo men are recruited by the Marines to become Code Talkers, sending messages during World War II in their native tongue.
Tip: Joseph Bruchac has written many books for all ages, including multiple creation story books.
By Louise Erdrich
Won the National Book Critics Circle Award, and introduced many of the characters that populated her subsequent books. The book spans sixty years and centers on the love triangle between members of the Ojibwa tribe living on the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation in North Dakota
Tip: Louise Erdrich has written an entire brilliant series based on these same characters.
By Joyce Harjo
In this transcendent memoir, grounded in tribal myth and ancestry, music and poetry, Joy Harjo details her journey to becoming a poet. Born in Oklahoma, the end place of the Trail of Tears, Harjo grew up learning to dodge an abusive stepfather by finding shelter in her imagination, a deep spiritual life, and connection with the natural world.
by Tommy Orange
Multigenerational story about violence and recovery, memory and identity, and the beauty and despair woven into the history of a nation and its people. It tells the story of twelve characters, each of whom have private reasons for traveling to the Big Oakland Powwow. Finalist for Pulitzer Prize. Local writer.
Shahrzad Khorsandi, a seasoned teacher and performer in Persian Dance, stepped out of her comfort zone into a new area this semester! She worked with two special day classes at Terra Linda High School through our Arts Unite Us program, teaching Persian dance and music. Though a bit nervous on the first day, she soon fit right in. With the help of the wonderful teachers at Terra Linda she engaged students, encouraging them to take part in playing percussive instruments and dancing and cheering each other on during the performances.
Shahrzad says of her experience, “Throughout the residency, we researched Persian culture, learning about various Persian instruments by watching videos of professional musicians playing the instruments”. Shahrzad was even able to bring in several instruments for the kids to see, touch, and play with. She adds, “We looked at the map of Iran and talked about the various regions of the country, and learned a sampling of various dance styles from each region. In the following weeks each of the two classes focused on one particular region, learning the choreography. While learning the movement patterns, we were exposed to concepts like making floor patterns with circles and line, and directional cues like facing our partner, or facing back or forward, etc.”
The residency culminated in a student performance. Parents were invited and both classes got to see each other perform. Shahrzad shares, “We had a great time and everyone did a wonderful job. It was interesting to see that some kids who seemed shy at first really hammed it up when faced with an audience. After the performance the audience was asked to join the performers in an improvisational social dance with Persian music. All in all, it was a hit!”
Thank you to VSA Kennedy Center, Marin County Office of Education, and the Marin Community Foundation for making these programs possible for our youth and community!
Youth in Art’s Mentor Artist, Risa Dye lead creative movement with the students at the Early Childhood Intervention Center at Marindale School in a ten week residency as part of the Arts Unite Us Program.
In this residency, we started with the basic structure of the brain dance created by Anne Green Gilbert through songs and movement. As Risa got more familiar with the children, she adapted her program to fit their needs and applied her creative and theatrical touches. Risa loosely explored dance concepts such as speed, levels and size through playful movement guiding songs. As the ten weeks progressed, the students became more and more familiar with her structure and expectations. They gained more ownership over the movement and everyone became more able to play within the structure of the songs.
Friends come in all shapes and sizes!
“Imagining Friendship” is at the YIA Gallery in San Rafael through May 24. The show features the colorful self portraits by kindergarteners and first graders at Laurel Dell Elementary School. The work was part of a residency this Fall with Youth in Arts’ mentor artists Suzanne Joyal and Cathy Bowman.
The Walker Rezaian Creative HeArts exhibition is now in its fifth year. The show celebrates the life of 5-year-old Walker Rezaian and his love of the arts. The show is part of a program funded by the Rezaian family.
“This is an exciting show that celebrates friendship in all its forms,” said Youth in Arts’ Executive Director Miko Lee. “The exhibition also features a wonderful cardboard for exploring. The exhibit shows families that art can be made from anything.”
As a backdrop for the show, Joyal and Bowman built a kid-sized, interactive cardboard world with tunnels to crawl through and doors to open. There are windows to look in and out of and a cardboard word game to encourage visitors to read and write. The show also features a giant word tower made from cardboard boxes inspired by the work of artist Corita Kent. The cardboard was generously donated by Sunrise Home.
Youth in Arts is also excited to announce the opening of its new ART LAB, housed in the YIA store. The ART LAB is open during regular Youth in Arts’ hours, Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
As part of a year-long residency with Mentor Artist Julia James, Coleman Elementary School hosted its first Family Art Night with Youth in Arts in March! It was a full house with Ms. Julia’s students and their families filling up the multipurpose room to create and share together. The fun began with Executive Director Miko Lee leading a collaborative sound-making activity in which everyone worked together to create the sounds of rain. With over 180 people in attendance, it was quite the storm! After warming up, participants engaged in an embodied exploration of shape and line with family and friends. Working together, we practiced making squares, triangles, circles, and quadrilaterals with our arms, legs, and bodies. Some chose to make their shapes big and organic with a large group of people, and others chose to make smaller shapes that could be easily recognized. After practicing and sharing what shapes and lines could look like, we were ready to start working on our visual arts project!
The project of the night was “Birds of the World”, a community mural in which we created birds that represented who we are as individuals and added it to a collaborative background. In designing our birds, students and their families and friends were asked to come up with three adjectives to describe themselves. We chose words about our emotional capacities like “kind”, or “brave”, as well as words about our skills and interests, like “sporty”and “creative”. Once we had determined what words described ourselves best, we visually transformed those three words into lines, shapes, and colors.
We then used our new lines, shapes, and colors as creative building blocks to draw a bird. Ms. Julia led families through the wax resist technique, adding watercolor over the oil pastel on our drawings to create interesting effects. Once our birds were complete, we cut them out and added them to a large community mural where they could take flight together! Throughout the night, Coleman fourth and fifth graders who had participated in a docent training activity the day before also helped to lead the activities. From helping facilitators to translate directions from English to Spanish to passing out materials and helping their peers ideate during the creation process, our upper grade-level art assistants made the night a success. Once all of the birds were cut out, the art assistants designed the layout of the mural and helped their families, friends, and fellow Coleman Tigers put it together.
Thank you to Principle Taylor and the wonderful Coleman PTO for making this event possible, and stay tuned for more awesome artwork from Coleman Elementary’s talented students!
Youth in Arts is excited to announce the opening of our new ART LAB at the YIA Gallery.
Located in the gallery’s store, the ART LAB is open during regular Youth in Arts hours – Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and until 8pm during Downtown San Rafael’s 2nd Friday Art Walks. It’s free and open to the public for art-making activities linked to YIA exhibitions.
“In keeping with our mission of providing arts access to all learners, Youth in Arts is opening its doors to the community to explore its creativity,” said Miko Lee, executive director of Youth in Arts. “We’re providing free, hands-on art projects for all ages.”
Children will enjoy kid-sized tables where they can make art and explore materials. Each exhibition will also feature the artwork of one of Youth in Arts’ Mentor Artists. All artwork on view in the space will be for sale, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting Youth in Arts.
Suzanne Joyal’s work is currently featured and coincides with Imagining Friendship the Walker Rezaian Creative HeArts exhibition of self portraits by kindergarteners and first graders from Laurel Dell Elementary School in San Rafael. The colorful paintings were created during their Fall residency with Youth in Arts. As part of the exhibit, Youth in Arts’ staff have created a kid-sized interactive cardboard world with doors, tunnels and windows for exploring.
Both children and adults are welcome, but we kindly ask that all children be accompanied and supervised by their grownups.
Please come and visit us soon. Just look for our bright red wall!
Youth in Arts was invited to do a hands-on visual art project at the launch of Macy’s Corte Madera’s new children’s department on Friday, April 5th. More than 40 kids from all over Marin County came to try on clothes and make-up, and participate in a fashion show on the red carpet. At the Youth in Arts table they showed us their emotions by making faces in a mirror and drawing their self portrait using colored pencil, pens and “magic gold foil” on our special magnet cards.
We had a great time making faces at Macy’s. Thank you for having us!
Pre-K students in the Ready, Set, Grow! program at Rancho Elementary School explored various tools while painting to music. Part of a sensory-rich arts experience for students with Youth in Arts’ Mentor Artist Cathy Bowman, this 10-week Rancho residency is part of the Arts Unite Us program.
Cathy says of her classes: “Recently, we painted to different pieces of music. We talked about how different music makes our bodies feel different things. First, we listened to “Gymnopedie No. 1” by Erik Satie. Then we listened to a lively bit of Scott Joplin’s “Maple Leaf Rag.” Finally, we heard Duke Ellington play. It was fun to try different things to paint with, from creamy crayons to toothbrushes dipped in tempera paint. How does a sponge make marks differently from a roller? We used two colors of paint, pink and yellow-green, to explore mark making on sturdy mat board generous”.
Through the California Department of Education’s Student Support and Academic Enrichment (SSAE) Grant that Marin County Office of Education received, we are in multiple Special Day Classrooms. This residency is one of the programs that have benefitted from this collaboration.
Kumu Hula Shawna Alapa’i and Halau Hula Na Pua O Ka La’akea performed for students from the Bolinas-Stinson Union School District at the Dance Palace Community & Cultural Center in Point Reyes. Spanning traditional Kahiko (ancient) hula to modern (‘auana) hula, students experienced Hawai’ian story-telling through melody, hand-crafted instruments, dress, and dance traditions.
The assembly concluded with a fun hands-on workshop where students learned parts of a Haka, a traditional warrior’s dance originating with the Maori people and adopted into Hawai’ian culture. Kumu Hula Shawna incorporated aspects of the Haka into a hula danced to the music from Moana as a way to engage students and connect culturally based on common knowledges.
A special thank you to the Dance Palace Community & Cultural Center and the California Arts Council for their support of this program!
By YIA Staff
“There was a wide range of emotions and ages I had to play,” Hasson said, noting her character ages more than 10 years. “The play is all about slowing down and living your daily life and paying attention to it, even when things seem boring.”
The 18-year-old senior said it was fun to play a different kind of character. Often typecast as the mother, this time she played the love interest.
Hassan, who serves as the student representative on the Youth in Arts board, said her three years with ‘Til Dawn has been excellent training. The Marin Academy senior has applied to 16 colleges and universities and plans to pursue a career in musical theater and acting.
“Without a creative outlet, it’s so hard to focus in any other aspect of life,” she said. “Being able to use the arts to express myself makes me more able to focus academically.”
Hassan also praised ‘Til Dawn director Austin Wilacy, whom she called “an incredible teacher.” Austin is a professional singer and songwriter who performs and records as a solo artist and with Tommy Boy/Warner Bros. The House Jacks.
“I can’t even put into words how having him as a mentor has changed me and changed my life,” she said.Older Entries »