BookDragon Books for the Diverse Reader

How We Are Smart by W. Nikola-Lisa, illustrated by Sean Qualls

How We Are SmartUsing research originally developed by Harvard psychologist Dr. Howard Gardner about multiple intelligences which was made popular by Dr. Thomas Armstrong, author Nikola-Lisa chooses 12 achievers to show how they were each ‘smart’ in different, important ways. “Here are eight basic ways people can be smart,” Nikola-Lisa writes in his introduction using Armstrong’s terms: body smart, logic smart, music smart, nature smart, people smart, picture smart, self smart, and word smart.

Each eye-catching double-page spread begins with a quote from the subject, a poem that highlights his or her accomplishments, and ends with a short biography. Parents: sharing this title with your younger readers is highly recommended – you might find yourself amazed at how much history we missed (or had missed for us) given most of our Eurocentric educational pasts!

From Spanish Irish physicist Luis Alvarez to Native American Scotch Irish prima ballerina Maria Tallchief to Japanese American Congresswoman Patsy Takemoto Mink to African American explorer Matthew Henson to Mexican American botanist Ynés Mexía, Nikola-Lisa admirably chooses a variety of backgrounds both professionally and culturally to illustrate the very diversity of how “each person [is] an individual blend of several intelligences.”

And since the title is How We Art Smart, Nikola-Lisa finds ways in which the young reader can get involved: “Now it’s time for you to think / about the ways we are smart …” Activities, further reading, a myriad of resources provide ample opportunities for further exploration and discussion … every book should have such a rich and continuous afterlife!

Readers: Children

Published: 2006, 2009 (paperback re-issue)


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