Altara Elementary
Children's book author Karl Beckstrand reads his books to four Altara Elementary first-grade classes in English and Spanish as students look at pictures from an overhead projector.

Karl Beckstrand, a five-time published author with 21 titles on, was invited to Altara Elementary to share several of his books with friend and first-grade teacher, Joanna Young’s class on Feb. 3 as part of Black History Month.

Beckstrand is known for his diverse children’s storybooks, which are mostly written in Spanish and English and include characters of color.

“We do this every year and the kids just love it,” Young said. “We do have kids who speak Spanish as their first language and who are part of the Hispanic population, so we feel like this is good for them.”

Young also invited the three other first-grade classes to come in for the book reading. Nicole Lemire, Deanna Spencer and Joani Richardson brought their students in and they all sat on a large rug, looking at the books on an overhead projector screen.

Beckstrand started by allowing the children to choose the books they wanted him to read to them.

“Bad Bananas,” “Crumbs on the Stairs” and “She Doesn’t Want the Worms” were a few of the top picks by students. He also read “Sounds in the House” in English and then again in Spanish.

“My stories are born in real-life irony, so there's usually a surprise by the end,” he said.

“She Doesn’t Want the Worms” is a story about a dark-skinned girl who doesn’t like different insects. “She doesn’t want the worms, she thinks they’ll make her wiggle. She doesn’t like the spiders, she thinks they’ll make her giggle.” The very last line of the book and the catch to the story is, “She’s such a picky eater.”

Beckstrand’s work has made appearances in Border’s Books, Barnes & Noble, Costco, Deseret Book, the Children’s Miracle Network, The Congressional Record of the U.S. House of Representatives, BioPhotonics Magazine, Papercrafts Magazine and various broadcasts.