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Messages of Peace, Hope and Positivity

Lee Littlewood on

Children absorb stress. They know about political uneasiness, weather tragedies and racial issues. One of the best ways to combat their stress is for parents to read empowering, positive, thoughtful books to them. Here are a few.

"Salam Alaikum: A Message of Peace" by Harris J.; pictures by Ward Jenkins; Simon & Schuster; 32 pages; $17.99.

Young British Muslim artist and musician Harris J. aims to spread his message of peace and love to youngsters in this joyous picture book. "Salam Alaikum" means "peace be upon you" and is a greeting Muslims use to say hello and goodbye. He couples the lyrics from the hit song of the same name with energetic, happy illustrations that depict people paying it forward.

Kindness and community are focal points in this book. In a call to action, he writes: "Spread peace on earth ... Treasure the love, let it surround us. Always be kind, always remind one another. Peace on earth every day."

"Salam Alaikum" is a multicultural ode to the best in humanity, a loving, fun way to fight stereotypes and promote kindness.

"Sing, Don't Cry" by Angela Dominguez; Henry Holt & Co.; 32 pages; $17.99.

Angela Dominguez's grandfather, Apolinar Navarrete Diaz, lost his leg in a bus accident as a child, but he learned to play guitar and grew up to be a popular Mexican musician. Dominguez wanted to share his optimism and songs with others, so she penned this lovely picture book tale about him. With liner pages full of photos of Navarette in the 1940s, his band and his guitar stills, and Diaz's message of "Sing, don't cry," this optimistic book is a testimonial to resilience.

Dominguez' charming, muted illustrations show a loving family adoring their patriarch. His uplifting advice is to sing because it makes distances seem smaller, allows lost things to make room for new ones and "can attract someone to sing with you."

Everybody can sing -- and should, "Because singing gladdens the heart," especially in times like these.

"The Bad Mood and the Stick" by Lemony Snicket; illustrated by Mathew Forsythe; Little Brown Books for Young Readers, 40 pages; $17.99.

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