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Diverse cultural heritages and parenting

Three books from Minnesota authors for December.

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"Raising Ollie" by Tom Rademacher; published in October by University of Minnesota Press

This book is a real honest look at raising a very unique child -- as all children are. Rademacher gives a first hand account of being a father to a nonbinary, off-the-charts smart, sensitive, amazing child. He includes the good, the bad and the ugly and a lot of humor along the way. He addresses challenges like finding the right schools, gender identity, anxiety and all the everyday challenges of just being a parent. He also includes a lot from his perspective as a teacher.

I found much in this book very relatable as a parent. A lot of the perspective was outside of my perimeters as a single mother so it gave me a look into a different mindset. All of it showed me that great parenting tools don’t always fit in one box and modern day parents have to be open to trying new things to see what is best for their kids. This book had me laughing out loud at times and tearing up at others.

Tom Rademacher is an eighth-grade English teacher in the Minneapolis area. He was named Minnesota Teacher of the Year in 2014. He lives in the Twin Cities with his family. This is his second book.

“Raising Ollie” is available online from Amazon, Barnes and Noble and University of Minnesota Press. It is also available at Barnes and Noble in Rochester and the Rochester Public Library.


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"Raising Ollie" by Tom Rademacher

"Gichigami Hearts: Stories and Histories from Misaabekong" by Linda LeGarde Grover; published in October by University of Minnesota Press

"Gichigami Hearts" is a wonderful mix of history, geography and culture from the mostly untold Indegenous perspective. LeGarde Grover weaves her family’s histories and her people’s culture and stories in with the natural and constructed landscape of Duluth. This beautiful area is rich with history that predates the current landscape and LeGarde Grover captures the current with the past all through the lens of her unique, invaluable cultural heritage. She shares a great gift of herself, her family and her culture with the reader in this book. I feel grateful to have read it. Interspersed are a few photos of her family, giving faces to names for the reader. This is a great book for anyone interested in Duluth area history, Ojibwe heritage or the genealogy of the area.

Linda LeGarde Grover is professor emeritus of American Indian studies at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. She is a member of the Bois Forte Band of Ojibwe. She has earned numerous awards for her handful of books.

“Gichigami Hearts” is available online from Amazon, Barnes and Noble and University of Minnesota Press. It is also available at Barnes and Noble in Rochester and the Rochester Public Library.

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"Gichigami Hearts" by Linda LeGarde Grover

"African Folktales from my Childhood" by Alieh Kimbeng, illustrations by Kimbeng Nde-Mukong Ricky; published by Balboa Press

This unique collection of folk stories from African tradition is a wonderful cultural treasure. With so many African stories only shared through oral traditions, these printed stories with full color illustrations are something special. This book is a great way to be introduced to or share this under-represented rich heritage. The parallels to more common traditional European folktales can be seen, but the unique flair that these stories possess is very present.

I love that the author shares the definitions and meanings of some of the African words contained in these stories. Each story finishes with a moral summary, comparing these to traditional children’s literature like “Aesop’s Fables.” The physical size and presentation of this book give it the feel of a literary scholar’s workbook or a thicker children's book. The illustrations add to the visual appeal and a fun way to engage younger readers. This is a great book for all ages and backgrounds.


Alieh Kimbeng is a Cameroonian-born American. She has a bachelor’s degree in microbiology and master’s degree in health informatics from the University of Michigan. She enjoys studying oral history and cultures and their effects on our values in the current world. She also enjoys fashion’s role in storytelling. She takes a human-centric approach to life. She lives in Eden Prairie, Minn. This is her first book.

“African Folktales” is available online from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Balboa Press and

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"African Folktales from my Childhood" by Alieh Kimbeng

Book Nook highlights books from Minnesota authors. Got a recommendation? Email us at with the subject line "Book Nook."

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