Diversity is about embracing one another's uniqueness. - Ola Joseph
While the word diversity may be difficult for children to understand the talented author/poet Matt Forrest Esenwine shares a simple way of understanding with his newly released nonfiction picture book, Everybody Counts.
This fabulous children's picture book was launched on January 1, 2023.
Everybody Counts! is a creative effort by the author to blend mathematics, art, story, and content together in order to emphasize the concept of diversity. Each page offers toddlers to Kindergarten children the opportunity to count in English and early elementary children to learn their numbers in foreign languages or perhaps their own language while gathering fun facts about different international countries and types of food.
This book is an imaginative departure from the typical counting books created for young readers. The author's decision to include foods around the globe and numbers in different foreign languages adds to an immediate appeal for children and adults. Illustrator Emma Graham brings the book to life with bright colors and delightful images of animals enjoying foods from different countries. Everyone sits together at a large table and shares their country's foods. This image highlights the concept of diversity while honoring the words, "Everybody Counts".
Prior to the publication date, I asked Matt to respond to a few questions to unveil his backstory.
1. Matt how did your book come to be?
2. What age group are you targeting?
I wrote the original rough draft way back in June 2013 and began sending it out on submissions a few months later, so it's been a while since I've thought about what inspired me to write it! As I recall, the phrase, "everybody counts" popped into my head for some reason and I immediately noticed a double entendre: that everybody matters and that everybody literally counts numbers. So I think the concept came about pretty quickly, once I figured out a way to have children of different ethnicities teaching the reader, which was using food.
I hope parents and educators recognize that it can appeal to a broad age group! Young children who are only 4 or 5 can understand the process of counting and can begin to see how others in the world do something they themselves do: count, eat food, and spend time with family. Meanwhile, older elementary readers, 6-9, can read the book on their own and study the numbers more closely and practice memorization, if they choose.
3. Have you had experience reading the book to children yet?
I hope to share it with at least a few schools in a couple weeks for World Read Aloud Day on February 1st.
Throughout the book, each page shares a rhyming introduction and informative content about the country being featured beside numbers 1-10 in the foreign language of each country highlighted. Due to Matt's research skills, we find out what is the luckiest number from one to ten in the Chinese language and what is a favorite drink in India. This book could be an incentive for older children to research on their own and create their own booklet with researched facts, a poem similar to Matt's ending poem (see below), and their favorite numbers. Matt originally created this poem as a summary emphasizing the double intent of the book, that everybody counts.
Come join your friends and make some new;
eat up and have a drink!
The world is just outside your door
and closer than you think.
You might see foods you’ve never tried,
hear words you can’t pronounce,
you might meet kids you’ve never known, but…
– © 2013, Matt Forrest Esenwine
Teachers, Parents, ESL specialists, and Children:
This nonfiction picture book is sure to be a unique crowd-pleaser!
Come sit at the international table for a dazzling array of foods from different countries while counting in English and various languages because everybody literally and figurately counts.
What better way to learn numbers in English while honoring other countries, their language, and foods, than through this imaginative picture book! Thank you, Matt, for your incredible talent and The Little Fig company for the publication of this delightful book. experience. I can see why Matt would choose this book to read on World Read Aloud Day.
Join the fun of reading a range of poetry.
Wonderful! I bought this for our school library! Just beautiful. Thanks for sharing.ReplyDelete
I am delighted that you purchased Matt's book for your school library. Please let me know how the teachers feel about it so I can pass the information on to Matt.Delete
Thank you, Joanne! I hope you like it!Delete
Carol, this book offers such great opportunities to children and adults of all ages. Beginning learners learn their numbers both in English and another language. Everyone learns something about other countries. This is a great steppingstone to a mini research project. It would be a great way to tie geography to reading. Thanks for sharing such a valuable resource.ReplyDelete
I agree, Bob. I was thinking that teachers could add choices for a project after reading aloud this book. Choice gives students the ability to tap into their skill set.Delete
That's so kind of you to say! I do hope this book can be used for kids to learn more about their world - perhaps working in pairs, they could each select a country to research!Delete
Thank you for introducing this book. I'll recommend to order it for our school library. I like books that have many layers and can be read by many ages.ReplyDelete
Thanks for recommending the book for your school library. I would love to hear how the children like the book. I think the teachers would like to read the book also and have a follow-up discussion on diversity.Delete
I do hope you like it, thank you!Delete
Glad I caught this post! Looks like a book I would enjoy sharing with some of my students. Will share with our librarian right away!ReplyDelete
Thanks for sharing with your librarian. By the way whom am I speaking with? I only see Anonymous.Delete
Looks like such a fun book!ReplyDelete
Fun and educational at the same time, Diane!Delete
Thank you for the recommendation! The illustrations are beautiful and the message is so important.ReplyDelete
I agree so thank you for stopping by.Delete
That's very kind, thank you!Delete
Carol, I've added Matt's book to my wishlist. Lovely book review you have added to the conversation about this important topic.ReplyDelete
Denise, I am glad you placed Matt's book on your wish list.Thanks for reading my book review and appreciating the content in the book.Delete
I hope you enjoy it, Denise, thank you!Delete
It's such a lovely inclusive book, for the many reasons you've given, Carol! I love the 'look' of it too, by Emma Graham! Thanks for the peek!ReplyDelete
Linda, I received comments from a few librarians that are interested in purchasing the book for their classroom. Yes, the illustrations are wonderful, bright and fun.Delete
Emma spent an immense amount of time researching, just as I did - so I'm glad it paid off! Thank you, Linda.Delete
Thank you so much for your support, Carol! I'm thrilled that you enjoyed the book as much as you did!ReplyDelete
Matt, it is always my pleasure to review your books, Matt. This one should be in English as a Second Language and elementary classrooms and libraries. Everybody Counts!! offers so many opportunities for children to read, write, and engage in other follow-up activities as young learners.Delete
Looks like a wonderful new book from Matt--thanks for introducing it, Carol!ReplyDelete
Buffy, thanks for commenting. Being a former K-12 Districtwide Director of ELA and ESL classrooms and before that a Reading Specialist has sharpened my eye for noteworthy books that extend students' reading, writing, and content area skills.Delete
Sounds like another winner--and I know math picture books have been hot for a few years, so hoping this book reaches many readers. Diversity, counting, food--what's not to love?ReplyDelete
Yes, I think Matt's book will have much success since it is a unique perspective on counting.Delete
Carol, thanks for highlighting Matt's book. It sounds like a good one for my friends in 1st & 2nd grade.ReplyDelete
I hope your early elementary teachers enjoy the book. You can send the link to this blog for their perusal, Susan.Delete
Such a fun book! Matt's poetic genius shines!ReplyDelete
You are right, Patricia. Have a great weekend.Delete
This sounds like a great book! I'm off to request it now.ReplyDelete
Your little grandchildren will love the book. Be sure to let me know what you think, Ramona.Delete
This sounds like an important theme now and I think food is a fun way to share cultures. Thanks, Carol.ReplyDelete
Janice, when I was a K-12 districtwide director, I organized an international food fair for the ESL children to applaud their native foods so food is a wonderful way to share cultures.Delete
Sounds like a great one! Thanks!ReplyDelete
Thank you for stopping by Ruth. Are you enjoying some of the foods in Uganda?Delete
Thanks for sharing Matt's delightful book, Carol! I'm sure it will be one kids, parents, and teachers will love! And those are the best picture books.ReplyDelete
Rose, thanks for getting a glimpse into Matt's book.Delete
13 years from idea to publication - and what a wonderful result! Thanks for sharing this book, Carol!ReplyDelete
Matt does know persevere with his titles. Thanks for joining me here.Delete
How beautiful! Thanks for the great review of this book and congrats to Matt on another new book to celebrate.ReplyDelete
I am so happy that Matt's success is skyrocketing now. Have a good week, Linda. See you at PF.Delete
I can always 'count' on you, Carol, to highlight the talents of others! The book looks deliciously delightful. :)ReplyDelete
Bridget, thanks for another way to use the word count.Delete
I appreciate the way you highlighted all the layers of information in this book, Carol. Congrats to Matt!ReplyDelete
Thank you Anonymous for stopping by and congratulating Matt.Delete
Lovely review of a lovely book! Thanks for the interview, too!ReplyDelete
Thanks, Karen for reading the interview of Matt's fabulous book.Delete
I wrote food poems with a fourth grade yesterday, so I'm looking forward to sharing this post with their teachers!ReplyDelete