Onomato-what? (Onomatopoeia!)

My kids and I love this word and all the sound words that come with it. So, I thought I would take a break (EEP) from everything else to do something fun.

Onomatopoeia (aa·nuh·maa·tuh·PEE·uh)

Ruh Roh - Scooby doooo | Meme Generator

Also: Jinkies! Jeepers! Zoinks!

I’m sure plenty of you already know this word, but if you don’t, well, you should and will.

YIKES! Really?

Hah! Yes, really.

Onomatopoeia comes from the Greek word onomatopoiia, meaning “the making of a word.” The Greek breaks down into the roots onoma, for “word,” and poiein, for “make.” (Poet, poetry, poem also derive from poiein.)

So, what is onomatopoeia? It’s a word that describes the sound something makes and is formed by imitating the sound. As Jack Hartmann says in the video below, “It’s a word that makes NOISE!”

Like when you drink something: GLUGLUGGLUG. Gulp.

Or maybe you sluuuuuuuuurp? Okay, just slurp is the correct spelling but it’s fun to play.

If you press your ear to your tummy after you drink, you might hear gurgle gurgle.

What if you drop your cup? SMACK or maybe Thunk!

What if it breaks? CRASH! kablam! shatter!

Spills? SPLAT!

Better wipe that up. Swish, whish, whoosh?

Yeah, I’m playing some more. Spellcheck doesn’t always like onomatopoeia because you can get creative/inventive when you’re spelling sounds. Hmm …

Wait! Don’t forget to brush and whisk up the shard if you broke it! Phew!

Oh, and squeeze out the dish towel, please. Squish. Squelch.

Of course, it’s still a little wet and makes a satisfying PLOP when you drop it in the sink or on the counter. (Unless your my husband, who smooths it out flat to dry properly. I’ll ask him what that sounds like and get back to you.)

You most often see onomatopoeia in comic books and other illustrated texts, right? (They pop up in the original Batman episodes, too! KA-POW!)

5th Grade Lichtenstein Onomatopoeia Words - Raiders For Art

You can read and use them anywhere though.

And they’re so much fun! Kids LOVE them so long as you don’t pack too many in and get them all tongue-tied … unless the point is to get them tongue-tied.


Dr. Seuss, anyone?

mr brown can moo can you full text pdf

As Dr. Seuss and Mr. Brown illustrate, animals are super-duper-stupendiferous characters to bring to life with onomatopoeia. My Wicked Cat, for example, has a lot to say, and he says it in so many ways: MREOW hiss pfft PFFT yeowowowow mewwwww purr purrrrrr rrrrr meow?

Plus, cats make other noises. They pitter patter, pat pat, tap tap, swish their tails, and more. Our other cat Izzie Isabella squeaks a lot. In fact, sometimes, we call her Sir Squeaks-a-Lot! Heeheehee.

Did you know that cats speak different languages?

Onomatopeyas del sonido de los #gatos dependiendo de cada país ...

What about their canine pals? They bark, growl, GRR, yip yip, ruff ruff, ARF ARF, whine, whimper, snarl, and more!

And outside, right this minute, I hear blackbirds caw-caw-cawing and swallows warbling and something cheeping. No woodpeckers pecking though.

That makes me sad. Sniffle.

It’s not fair. I want woodpeckers. Huff! Stomp stomp stomp tromp flump …

Yep, onomatopoeia rocks! (What sound does a rock make? It skip-skip-skips across the surface of the water if I make a good toss. Ping! It clanked against something metal, I think.) But you writers already know that.

Oops! YOWSA. Did I get off track! I wanted to provide some links to different lists because there are soooo many great onomatopoeia resources out there, but as usual, I got distracted. Whoopsies! (I never say, “Whoopsies.” That’s a first.)

My alarm—BEEPBEEPBE—Nooooo! I do not like that, Sam-I-am. SLAM! (That’s the sound of my roommate once-upon-a-college shutting off the most annoying alarm ever.)

Brriiiiiing! Brriiiiiiing! That’s better. No buzzing, tinkling or jingling alarms, please. None of that cascading falls either. Bubbling, burbling, babbling, rambling brooks are NOT alarming! I don’t care how much they crescendo. Good old fashioned ringing will do.

Anyways, my alarm says I need to get back to “real” work now. Meh. Whatever that is. Blech. Ugh. Argh.

So, VROOOM!—Whoah! too fast!—onward to …

Ta-Daaah! Resources (a.k.a handy onomatopoeia-fied lists you might enjoy)

And a sing-a-long from Jack Hartmann:

Later, alligator! CHOMP! Ouch! Sigh.


False Narratives on Irish History

I’ve seen the false narratives about Irish “enslavement” in the Americas going around again. You demean the true and complicated heritage, which does include a great deal of suffering and persecution, of the Irish people when you spread distortions and lies about their history to serve your own political or personal agenda. Also, many of the memes and posts make use of photos taken from other peoples, times, and countries: Accurate context and background information does matter. Please don’t spread cite images, videos, words, etc., out of context.

I would write more about this, but it’s already been done. When in doubt, investigate multiple sources on an issue. You can start here to learn about the real history behind the misleading memes and posts being spread.

This 1908 photograph of fishermen in the parish of St. John, Barbados, is often used to illustrate memes that falsely claim Irish people were slaves in colonial America.

from the above article by Liam Stack:

Open letter to Irish Central, Irish Examiner and Scientific American about their “Irish slaves” disinformation, by Liam Hogan, Medium

A review of the numbers in the “Irish slaves” meme, by Liam Hogan, Medium
This is one article from a series of seven that Hogan did. You can link to the other six through this articles.

All of my work on the “Irish slaves” meme (2015–’20), by Liam Hogan, Medium

from the above article by Liam Hogan: I geotagged a random sample of 1,500 different Facebook users who shared the ‘Irish American’ iteration of the meme

Why the Irish were both slaves and indentured servants in colonial America, by Niall O’Dowd, Irish Central
“We can’t let white racists co-opt this devastating part of Irish history.” This article provides more context on the dubious nature of indentured servitude in many instances, because no, the “contract” was not always voluntary nor always honored. However, as the author emphasizes, what the Irish endured was not the same in nature, scale, or scope as what the many distinct peoples of Africa and their descendants endured through the trans-Atlantic slave trade and institutionalized chattel slavery in the Americas.

The Irish in the Anglo-Caribbean: servants or slaves? by Liam Hogan, Laura McAtackney and Matthew C. Reilly, History Ireland
This article gets more into the actual terminology, or semantics. Why do words matter?

Were There Irish Slaves in America, Too? by David Emery, Snopes

Also, the experiences of one people (defined by whatever parameters) do not invalidate the experiences of another; no one should use one tragedy, trauma, etc., to negate that of another.

Kid Lit on Refugees’ Experiences

This post builds on the previous. I know there’s a lot going on. COVID-19, systemic and systematic racism, poverty, so much more, you name it. I know. There is always more going on than many of us can or choose to acknowledge or focus on. Many of us have the privilege of that choice. Many more do not.

So, why add refugees to the collective maelstrom? Because they are already there. Because resistance to, misconceptions of and attacks on refugees have been as persistent a problem as racial, ethnic, religious, gender and sex, and related forms of persecution. Because all of the above issues and others, while being their own unique challenges, are also interconnected. The biggest underlying challenge in each case is a lack of empathy and willful ignorance and, in no small amount, fear. Each crisis merits attention as well as individual and collective efforts to address them and to find sustainable solutions in whatever ways we can.

We can start by opening our hearts and minds. Here are some books you can read to begin opening yours and those of your children. Please read my previous post, World Refugee Day, if you haven’t, for more context.

Also, Lantana Publishing has a number of wonderful books on the theme of diversity and inclusion, including these two that tell the stories of children enduring and escaping conflict:

You can watch and listen to their wonderful books being read aloud by the authors here.

World Refugee Day

On December 4, 2000, the United Nations General Assembly declared June 20 to be World Refugee Day, a day intended to draw attention to the plight of tens of millions of people are displaced from their homes each year. Since 2018, more than 70 million people have been compelled to leave their homes by violent conflict and persecution, famine, disease, and natural disasters. They come from all parts of the world. They seek refuge, a place of safety and respite, in all parts of the world.


from the Global Report on International Displacement in 2019.

(For an interactive version of the map above and other resources, click here.)

Today, we, as humans, as a globalized people, are more interconnected than ever before. The daily news demonstrates that well enough. As such, more than ever, we have a responsibility to think beyond ourselves and to empathize with others. What we do affects our global ecosystem, which includes the transcontinental human community comprised of so many thousands of smaller communities. Many think of refugees as “other” or “them” … as “illegal” even. That kind of thinking reflects a lack not only of empathy but also of any reasonable attempt to understand the history and current contexts of the people who are compelled, through violence or fear or starvation or disaster or health crises, to leave their homes.

Today, I ask you to take a moment. Think about what it would take to force you from your home, to embark on a harrowing journey across thousands of miles of sea or land, on the barest hope that you might find something called refuge somewhere else. People do not become refugees because they want to. Most don’t migrate to take things from other people. They, like all of us, do what they think they must to protect those they love, to find freedom, to find room to live and work and learn, to hope and dream, to build communities, to practice their beliefs, to sleep without fear. They come from so many backgrounds. They are farmers and laborers, artists and artisans and musicians, teachers and nurses and doctors and accountants and business owners and clerks and herders and miners and engineers, all of whom deserve our respect just as we expect others to respect us. They deserve more than angry walls and violence and cages and slurs.

Today, I ask you to try to hear or read or watch or otherwise learn about the stories behind the numbers. You are more than a statistic. So are the people compelled by the nature of their circumstances to become refugees. Think, too, about how truly sparse our society might be without the diversity of so many different people. Without wondrous variety. A garden with just one plant not only is somewhat lacking and insufficient but also will not survive long. Diversity is essential for survival. Consider just how much every migrant to the United States has contributed to the building of this nation, which ironically was founded by migrants who did take from others, who also enslaved and forced others to become migrants.

Please, take just a few moments to think beyond what you know or what you think you know. I’ve provided some resources to do so below.

2020 Theme: Every Action Counts from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees

The 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol, signed by 146 state parties, including the United States, protects the following rights of refugees (among others):

  • The right not to be expelled, except under certain, strictly defined conditions;
  • The right not to be punished for illegal entry into the territory of a contracting State;
  • The right to work;
  • The right to housing;
  • The right to education;
  • The right to public relief and assistance;
  • The right to freedom of religion;
  • The right to access the courts;
  • The right to freedom of movement within the territory;
  • The right to be issued identity and travel documents.

UNHCR’s World Refugee Day

UN Refugee Statistics at a Glance

60 Resources for Supporting Immigrant and Refugee Communities

Office of Refugee Resettlement Resources

for Dayton, Ohio: CSSMV’s Refugee Resettlement and Self-Sufficiency Services

One Refugee’s Story: “11-year-old Syrian girl forced to grow too fast”

This post has gotten long, so I will post some kid lit resources for World Refugee Day (and every day) in a separate post.

Diverse Kid Lit

I’ve posted about this before, but the best way to educate your kids about diversity and inclusion as well as systemic racism is to broaden their experiences not only in the community but also through media, including the books you and they read. This means not only talking and reading about issues like racism and white privilege but also reading and watching and listening to materials that co9781250137524_p0_v3_s550x406ntain diverse main characters in everyday stories, adventures stories, stories of struggle and triumph, stories of invention, you name it. For example, check out this wonderful new STEM bio title, Counting on Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13, written by Helaine Becker and illustrated by Dow Phumiruk.

White children have plenty of representation in toys, games, books, movies, cartoons, etc. They see themselves in myriad situations. Not only do Black children and kids from other marginalized groups need to see themselves represented more widely; non-marginalized kids need to see them, too. Why? To step outside themselves and to build empathy. For every book you buy or borrow to read about racism and diversity right, for every serious book, read two to three fun, magical, adventurous, etc., books that feature diverse main characters.

I’m putting some links here because these folks have already developed some fantastic book lists so there’s no need for me to re-create them. Some of the items on the lists repeat but each list contains something the others don’t. Some are more picture book focused while others, including the top link, contain titles for several age groups. Some links also feature additional resources for discussing race and diversity issues with your kids. Please take a few moments and check them out:


Several publishers are committed to diversity in kid lit. Lantana Publishing has beautiful books that address diversity and inclusion as well as social justice and environmental themes. Admittedly, I did just sign a contract with them for my first picture book, but it was their books and their dedication that led me to submit in the first place. Please visit them, if you haven’t already: Diversity and inclusion titles from Lantana.


Lee & Low is another wonderful publisher devoted to diversity. Check out their Multicultural and Diverse Books for Preschool, Grade 1, and Grade 2. They have titles for other age groups and grouped by theme, too.


For issues books for younger audiences, a Kids Book About has wonderful titles. They’re sparse in illustration but big on message, including A Kids Book About Racism, by Jelani Memory.


Versify is a new imprint started by Kwame Alexander with some wonderful new titles for all age groups. You can find a list of other imprints and independent publishers who have adopted diversity and inclusion in their mission here. It’s not exhaustive but it’s worth browsing to learn about some places and books you might not know.

If you’re familiar with Margaret Wise Brown but not Ezra Jack Keats, then you should really fix that. Check out Ezra’s Books from the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation.


One of my kids’ favorite all-time sing-along picture books is This Jazz Man, written by Karen Erhardt and illustrated by R.G. Roth.


Another wonderful book featuring diverse families is Elvis Presley’s Love Me Tender. It’s not #ownvoices but it’s a beautiful book and easy to sing and share. Never too young.


Finally, for adults, here’s a great list of anti-racist literature for you to get started: Anti-Racist Books and Resources for Our Readers from Penguin. I especially recommend Stamped, The New Jim Crow, and Between the World and Me. I just started reading How to Be an Anti-Racist by Dr. Ibram X Kendi.

But don’t stop there. Read the non-issues books, too. Read the adventure and love and funny and quirky stories by Black authors. There are so many.

Yes, some are more issues-oriented books, and most fiction stories involve conflict and pain, but

If you want to support Black-owned independent bookstores (in the States) right now, you can find a number of directories online. They and other indie bookstores need sales more than ever. I found these two lists to be the most complete and easy to navigate, but you can find a variety of other directories, including some with descriptions, by searching online.

You can also find a variety of resources on diversity in the publishing industry at The Brown Bookshelf, including a recording of their recent KidLit4Black Lives Rally online.

Celebrating Pride Month

I don’t need to build wonderful lists of books because there are already some great lists out there, so I’m sharing them here.

Also, I noticed that Jack (Not Jackie), by Erica Silverman and illustrated by Holly Hatam, didn’t appear on the lists, so I’m putting it here!

Barnes and Noble has this list of LGBTQ titles being released soon.

And here’s a list of 2020 titles from Harper’s Bazaar.

That should get you started, yes?

“the lovers, the dreamers, and me”

Because sometimes, we all need a little Kermit … and a rainbow connection.

Why are there so many songs about rainbows
And what’s on the other side?
Rainbows are visions
But only illusions
And rainbows have nothing to hide

So we’ve been told
And some choose to believe it
I know they’re wrong, wait and see
Some day we’ll find it
The rainbow connection
The lovers, the dreamers, and me

Who said that every wish
Would be heard and answered
When wished on the morning star?
Somebody thought of that
And someone believed it
And look what it’s done so far

What’s so amazing
That keeps us stargazing
And what do we think we might see?
Someday we’ll find it
The rainbow connection
The lovers, the dreamers, and me

All of us under its spell, we know that it’s probably magic

Have you been half asleep?
And have you heard voices?
I’ve heard them calling my name
Is this the sweet sound
That called the young sailors?
The voice might be one in the same

I’ve heard it too many times to ignore it
It’s something that I’m supposed to be
Someday we’ll find it
The rainbow connection
The lovers, the dreamers and me

La da da di da da dum da duh da da dum di da ohhh

Timely Words from FDR

On January 11, 1944, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt delivered his annual state of the union address as a “fireside chat,” one of the hallmarks of his presidency. He was nearing the end of his third term and seeking re-election to a fourth. (He is the only president to have been elected to serve four terms. In 1947, Congress passed the 22nd Amendment, limiting presidential terms to two.) World War II was raging, and the Allies were making plans for the invasion of Normandy, an event that would help turn the tide of the war.

National Archives and Records Administration, Franklin D. Roosevelt Library (NLFDR), 4079 Albany Post Road, Hyde Park, NY, 12538-1999.

Roosevelt had entered office in 1933, at the height of the Great Depression, inheriting one of the the greatest economic disasters in the nation’s short history. Many viewed his New Deal proposals as radical because they reshaped the relationship between government and the American public. In a nation still struggling with segregation and lynching, the president who authorized the internment of Japanese Americans also undertook to redefine what government “of the people, by the people, for the people” meant. What obligation did government have to its citizens? That’s a question we still squabble over today as our communities struggle with the same inequities that have troubled this nation since (and before) its inception.

And so, these few words from Roosevelt seem timely even today. Like most leaders in our history, those recognized and those obscured, he was not perfect; however, he was onto something with this statement:

In this war, we have been compelled to learn how interdependent upon each other are all groups and sections of the population of America. …

This Republic had its beginning, and grew to its present strength, under the protection of certain inalienable political rights—among them the right of free speech, free press, free worship, trial by jury, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures. They were our rights to life and liberty.

As our Nation has grown in size and stature, however—as our industrial economy expanded—these political rights proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness.

We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. “Necessitous men are not free men.” People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.

In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all regardless of station, race, or creed.

Among these are:

The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the Nation;

The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;

The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;

The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;

The right of every family to a decent home;

The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;

The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;

The right to a good education.

All of these rights spell security. And after this war is won we must be prepared to move forward, in the implementation of these rights, to new goals of human happiness and well-being.

You can substitute just about any crisis, including the present pandemic, for war in the first and final lines. The fundamental truth of our interdependence holds. It is that interdependence that should incline us toward reconsidering the true meaning of phrases like social welfare and common good. Your neighbor’s health is your own. Your neighbor’s liberty is your own. Your neighbor’s security is your own. So, too, your neighbor’s hardship, repression and persecution can become yours.

We can, and must, do better by everyone for everyone.

Visit the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum to learn more and to read the full transcript of Roosevelt’s address.

Happy Earth Day!

Looking for some ways to celebrate? We had planned to go out planting trees with other members of the community, but alas, we are home. We still plan to get out and walk around, breathe fresh air, work in the garden, and hug some trees, but for your inside time, we thought we’d share some other fun resources.

First, you can join the Field Trip Earth Live Watch Party (or watch later) from the American Museum of Natural History!

Here are a few links to other blogs and websites that list crafty and STEM-related activities you might be able to do at home:

One of our favorite Earth books, Earth! My First 4.54 Billion Years, read aloud by the author, Stacy McAnulty:

You can also print out fun activities for Earth! from the author’s website.

Fun art activity:

A short video about NASA’s perspective on Earth:

Earth from space, with lovely musical accompaniment:

Read-aloud of The Earth Book, by Todd Parr:

Read-aloud of It’s Earth Day! for Kids, by Mercer Mayer:

Read-aloud Earth Day Every Day, by by Lisa Bullard and Xiao Xin:

And when all else fails, just go outside. Walk, explore, collect rocks, build something out of sticks, dig, get dirty …

A Few Thoughts for the Day

Keep in mind that this period is overwhelming, frustrating, stressful, anxiety-inducing, depression-deepening, isolating, and just downright hard for most of us in many different ways. IT IS THAT MUCH HARDER AND TRAGIC for those who are dying and losing their loved ones and those who are working to care for them and everyone else and their families.

Some of us can find silver linings. Others struggle just to get through the day.

Be patient with yourself and those around you. Try to forgive or at least not linger on missteps, even the truly hurtful ones.

And please, ask the federal government why they can give billions to corporations and NOT make sure libraries and other organizations and businesses don’t have to keep furloughing people? And NOT make sure every hospital in every state has the PPE it needs? And NOT make sure every citizen has healthcare coverage? Demand better. Our neighbors and families and teachers and librarians and workers of all stripes, from all places, of all faiths and backgrounds, deserve better.

Okay, so I’m not so patient and forgiving on those points.

Also, just a shout-out to thank everyone still working for everybody else, delivering mail and goods, stocking shelves, punching the cash register, bagging, cleaning up and collecting trash and recycling, trying to devise remedies and solutions, teaching, informing, and of course, caring for others.

Closing with this awesome video made from a Ohio animator Dave Stofka. Thank you to him, to all the other artists and musicians and writers and performers trying to share their talents under difficult conditions, and to Governor DeWine and Dr. Acton, too.