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    children's books, diverse books

    Celebrate National Tooth Fairy Day: Diverse Picture Books About The Tooth Fairy & Teeth

    It’s National Tooth Fairy Day!  Celebrated twice a year on August 22nd and February 28th, National Tooth Fairy Day is a made up holiday that some look forward to celebrating.

    My kids and I usually celebrate by reading some of our favorite tooth fairy and tooth themed books.  This year the kids are also making their own tooth fairy pillows.  For reference, we’re following the instructions in this post for our inspiration.

    Below I’ve rounded up a list of a few books for kids that feature diverse characters.  I hope you’ll find a book or two to help you celebrate National Tooth Fairy Day with your little readers.

    Picture Books

    Tallulah the Tooth Fairy CEO by Dr. Tamara Pizzoli

    A fun and interesting take on the tooth fairy!  Tallulah is not only a tooth fairy, she’s the founder and CEO of Teeth Titans, Incorporated.   While the story does have some adult humor throughout that may go over children’s heads, it’s refreshing to see such a diverse tooth fairy that has so much style!  Beautiful illustrations accompany this witty and creative story.

    Throw Your Tooth on the Roof by Selby Beeler

    Have you ever wondered how the children in other countries dispose of their baby teeth, when they fall out?  This book is a wonderful exploration of culture and what others do when they lose teeth.  In the book, readers will discover how children in many countries (Canada, America, Denmark, England, Mexico) dispose of their lost teeth.

    Did you know that in some parts of the world, children are instructed to throw their tooth on the roof?  Find out other interesting traditions like this one by checking out this book.

    How to Trick the Tooth Fairy by Erin Danielle Russell

    Little Kaylee loves pulling pranks so it’s no surprise that her favorite holiday is April Fool’s Day.  More than anything, Kaylee wants to prank the Tooth Fairy, but what happens when the Tooth Fairy pranks back?  You guessed it…a prank war breaks out between Kaylee and the Tooth Fairy.  They battle each other with bubblegum, water and more.  In the end, Kaylee and the Tooth Fairy learn to work together and become friends.

    I Lost My Tooth in Africa by Penda Diakit

    This is a cute story about a girl named Amina from Portland, Oregon who goes to visit her extended family in Mali, Africa.  On the plane Amina discovers that her tooth is loose.  Her father tells her that in Mali when you lose your tooth, you get a chicken!  This story allows readers to make comparisons between tooth traditions in America and Africa. Readers will learn that instead of receiving money for a tooth (like in America), children in Africa place their tooth under a gourd, in hopes that the African tooth fairy will deliver them laying hens.

    The Tooth Fairy Meets El Ratón Pérez by René Colato Laínez

    The Tooth Fairy has some competition.

    Meet El Ratón Pérez, the charming and adventurous mouse who collects children’s teeth in Spain and Latin America.

    When both the Tooth Fairy and El Ratón Pérez arrive to claim Miguelito’s tooth, sparks fly under the Mexican-American boy’s pillow. Who will rightfully claim his tooth?   This magical tale introduces a legendary Latino character to a new audience and provides a fresh take on the familiar childhood experience of losing one’s tooth.  Contains some Spanish words featured throughout with definitions in the back matter.

    Your turn: What are some of your favorite books about the Tooth Fairy or losing teeth for kids?  Feel free to share in the comments.

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    adult books, interviews, men of bookstagram

    The Men of Bookstagram: Up Close and Personal With Reggie Bailey (@ReggieReads)

    Have you ever noticed Instagram is flooded with female bookstagrammers?  I wanted to find out who some of the men are who also share and read books on Instagram.  This ongoing series will feature some of the most well read men on Instagram who also share a passion for all things BOOKS.  Today we’re getting up close and personal with: Reggie Bailey.

    What is your name and Instagram handle?
    My name is Reggie Bailey and my Instagram handle is @reggiereads.

    When did you start your Instagram account and what was your motivation for starting it?
    I started my Instagram account in 2011 when I was a big sneakerhead. One who was on top of all the Nike and Jordan Brand releases specifically. Originally my account was used for communicating with other sneakerheads, while showing off my latest and greatest in footwear.

    Eventually I fell off of sneakers as a hobby and fell into book reading as a hobby. I didn’t officially join Bookstagram until 2017. Before 2017 I would show books on my page because they were making an impact on me, but 2017 is when I realized there was an entire “underworld” on Instagram, called Bookstagram, and my reading life hasn’t been the same since my encounter with said “underworld.”

    Have you always enjoyed reading?
    I’ve always enjoyed reading, although I haven’t always been a recreational reader. That’s largely because when I was younger I wasn’t reading enough books that interested me, especially in grade school. Whether it was The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, Beowulf, the Odyssey… I was just bored. I’d probably be able to get into those now, but it’d be dishonest of me to call books those books top priority as far as my reading list is concerned.

    Why do you think we don’t see more men, (specifically Black men), reading or sharing about books they read?  Do you think reading is perceived to be “uncool” in the Black community?
    I’ll answer the latter question first. In the Black community reading is considered cool for sure. I’ve never had anyone Black criticize me for being an active reader, and I don’t foresee that happening. In fact, according to a 2014 study, which I found on the Atlantic, College educated Black women are the demographic that is most likely to read a book. Based off of that information I would estimate that not reading would be considered “uncool” in the Black community, although myself, nor anyone else, should pass any judgment on anyone who cannot, will not or does not read books.

    I can’t think of any specific reason why we don’t see more Black men reading and/or sharing thoughts on the books they’ve read. I have seen more Black men reading and sharing thoughts on Goodreads than I have on Instagram, but I’m not sure why the numbers are so skewed in favor of women reading books, and sharing their thoughts on the web.

    Maybe that’s the part that certain Black men think is uncool. Making a page on Instagram dedicated to the books they read, or maybe it’s something they aren’t confident in doing, don’t want to do or simply just don’t care to do. Who knows?

    Hopefully we’ll get those numbers up over time though!

    Name 1-2 recent books you’ve really enjoyed reading this year.
    I read The Bluest Eye for the first time and reread Sula and Song of Solomon earlier in the year. All of those spectacular novels were authored by the late and perpetually great Toni Morrison.

    Song of Solomon and Sula were even better the second time around, which is expected when someone as magnificent as Toni Morrison authors a book, and Song of Solomon is the best novel I’ve ever read. A fact I don’t being altered anytime soon.

    Are you currently in a relationship?  It’s okay to plead the 5thif you prefer not to answer!
    If I pled the 5th, my girlfriend wouldn’t be happy. Lol.

    Do you have children?  If so, do they love to read as well?
    I do not have any children, but I would hope they would love to read if I had any.

    What advice would you give to parents of children, (specifically parents with boys), who may have reluctant readers or kids who don’t enjoy reading?
    Although I am hesitant to propose any advice to a parent, considering I am a) Not a parent & b) Not even in a profession that deals with children, the best advice I would give, if I felt inclined, is to try and show children themselves through literature. Obviously this answer is geared more towards Black and Brown children, but it is important for these children to see themselves inside of books and on book covers, so they know that their stories are important and are worth being told.

    What books are on your nightstand right now?
    Too many! But some current standouts on my nightstand are Survival Math by Mitchell Jackson, American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson, and Red Now and Laters by Marcus Guillory.

    Do you think male bookstagrammers are perceived differently than female bookstagrammers?  If so, in what way(s)?
    Yes and no. Yes because there aren’t as many of us so we are somewhat of a novelty (I suppose), but no because we’re readers just like all of the women of Bookstagram and we are all ultimately reading to enlighten and better ourselves while being entertained, amongst other motivations.

    Hard cover, paperback, or e-book when reading a book on your own?
    Hardcover is my preference without question. I’ll do paperback as well, but I do not e-read.

    Name 1-2 of your favorite authors.
    Toni Morrison is my absolute favorite. Long Live the Queen! I will not count her as my 1-2 though, because that is too easy.  1-2 of my favorite contemporary authors are Tayari Jones and Jamel Brinkley. Both authors made a lot of noise in 2018 with their classic works An American Marriage, and A Lucky Man, respectively.

    How do you choose which books to feature on your Instagram account?
    I’d be lying to you if I said I had a method, especially when it comes to my stories. In my stories I will showcase any book that comes to my mind. Whether those are books that I bought, books that I am highly anticipating, or literally a book that ran across my mind for a few minutes.

    For posts I choose books that motivate me to write reviews that I feel reach a substantial length. I wouldn’t want to post a review on a book I read where I only said “This book was great… 5 stars!” or something short like that. I always do my best to add a unique & informed, if not passionate, perspective to the conversation around a book I read.

    Anything else you’d like to share?
    Thank you so much for having me on your platform. I am humbled and privileged to have this opportunity.

    Thank you to anyone who takes the time to read this interview. I am grateful for your time, because we live in a world that has more information and content than we can imagine, and you could literally be consuming ANYTHING, but you are here, and I do not take that for granted.

    Participate in #2BooksUnder50Reviews Challenge if you get the chance. This is a challenge I created in the beginning of 2019 to influence readers to search for, read and review more obscure works.  The rules are simple: Find a book published in 2017 or earlier that has less than 50 reviews (not ratings) on Goodreads, read it, and review it on Goodreads, but also on Instagram and make sure to use the hashtag #2BooksUnder50Reviews. We are going to build a library full of obscure works and finally give some authors some well-deserved roses!

    Read books! Books are amazing; they are mind-altering, life-changing pieces of art that also entertain.  Read and think critically about the content in these books. Think critically about the plot, the structure, the wordplay, how the events in the book correlate to things happening in the world, etc.

    Read with a buddy or a book club so you can discuss these books and learn from one another. During these discussions share popular opinions, unpopular opinions, and controversial opinions, but be genuine and respectful while doing such.

    Last but not least, follow me on Instagram @reggiereads. Send me a friend request on Goodreads (http://www.goodreads.com/reggieread), and let’s discuss books. Send me a message, comment on a post, or whatever you feel inclined to do. I’m always up for discussions centering books and literature, and it’s something I’m more passionate about than I’d ever thought I’d be.

    Your turn: Did you enjoy this feature?  Tell us your thoughts in the comments.  Also, please let me know what other men of Bookstagram I should feature in this series.

    If you enjoyed this post, you may also want to read: 10 Male Bookstagrammers to Follow on Instagram If You Love Books.

    Also, be sure to check out our first interview with Rod Kelly.

    Find all of the men we feature in this series by searching the hashtag #themenofbookstagram on Instagram!

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    adult books, interviews, men of bookstagram

    The Men of Bookstagram: Up Close and Personal with @Read_by_RodKelly


    Have you ever noticed Instagram is flooded with female bookstagrammers?  I wanted to find out who some of the men are who also share and read books on Instagram.  This ongoing series will feature some of the most well read men on Instagram who also share a passion for all things BOOKS.  Let’s get up close and personal with: Rod Kelly.

    What is your name and Instagram handle?
    Hello! My name is Rod Kelly, aka @read_by_rodkelly on Insta-, excuse me, Bookstagram.

    When did you start your Instagram account and what was your motivation for starting it?
    I had a standard-issue Instagram account for years, but I properly entered the Bookstagram sphere in January of 2018.

    Have you always enjoyed reading?
    I would say yes, absolutely! However, I can’t say I was a reader, a serious one, until around five years ago. I had no discernible taste in books, it was a total dart-throwing activity until I finally hit bull’s eye with Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston. That was my true literary baptism and I haven’t looked back since!

    Why do you think we don’t see more men, (specifically Black men), reading or sharing about books they read?  Do you think reading is perceived to be “uncool” in the Black community?
    I can’t say for sure why that is. Black men, in my generation especially, are most certainly reading. Living in New York, being on the subways, I’ve shared many a cramped space with other chocolate men, head buried in the pages of our myriad lit. I think, perhaps, that hybridizing the activity into a social media platform could be seen as pointless and/or tiresome to many black men, and men in general, perhaps. I cannot speak for a whole community of men. It is, after all, a hobby, and quite the time-consuming one, when you think about the quintessential features of booksta accounts: reviews, lists, tags, hauls, giveaways, etc. What about the pleasure of simply reading?

    Perhaps instead of posting daily, hourly, and by-the-minute, they’re actually holding a book rather than a phone. (The same could probably be said for many women as well, but because women dominate bookstagram, the question isn’t very relevant.) And sure, it was probably once considered to be “uncool”, but I don’t think that’s at all true today. I think black men and women of my generation and younger now want to be educated, want to be well-read and well-rounded. And anyway, I cannot imagine a grown ass man (bleep me if there are no curses allowed haha), in this day and age, in the times we’re living in, to criticize another for reading. This isn’t a time to sit around being stupid, or, I’ll be nicer, mentally lazy. Pick up a book!

    Name 1-2 recent books you’ve really enjoyed reading this year.
    This is hard, because it’s been an incredible reading year so far. Off the top of my head I’m going to shout out The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead and Lot by Bryan Washington. Both are five-star, top-tier literary works from formidably talented, and imaginatively soulful writers.

    Are you currently in a relationship?  It’s okay to plead the 5th if you prefer not to answer!
    Okay, that went left, haha! But, no… I am happily single.

    Do you have children?  If so, do they love to read as well?
    N/A

    What advice would you give to parents of children, (specifically parents with boys), who may have reluctant readers or kids who don’t enjoy reading?
    I’m not a parent, but my mother, grandmother, and other elders placed books in front of me from a very early age. It’s important for kids to know that there is power in language, in the written word. Children will understand and receive that if it’s taught very early on in their development.

    What books are on your nightstand right now?
    The books on my figurative nightstand: Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli, Ta-Nehisi Coates’s forthcoming novel, The Water Dancerand The Source of Self-Regard by our dearly departed God of literature, Toni Morrison.

    Do you think male bookstagrammers are perceived differently than female bookstagrammers?  If so, in what way(s)?
    I don’t think there’s any conspicuous difference in perception. Bookstagram is obviously a more woman-centered space, but within my own community of followers and followed, though women dominate, it is a variegated, prismatic mix of people of all colors, gay, straight, cis, trans, non-binary, old, young, trash readers, high-brow snobs, etc. I accept that most people’s flocks may be mostly white, mostly female, which, fine for them, but I like a multiplicity of voices and views in my own space. I think I answered a question you didn’t ask, but my point is that I don’t believe male/female perception is really a thing at all.

    Hard cover, paperback, or e-book when reading a book on your own?
    Paperback preferably, but I’ve become less snobby about these things the more I read; whatever I have on hand when I’m ready to read a certain book is what I go with. For big, long books, sometimes it’s convenient to have both the digital and hard copy.

    Name 1-2 of your favorite authors.
    Easy: Toni Morrison & James Baldwin. No one better. And for a younger pair: Zadie Smith & Marlon James.

    How do you choose which books to feature on your Instagram account?

    I don’t make a huge to-do out of it, I simply share the things that give me pleasure. I review when I’m moved to review, I post when I feel I have something to say. Otherwise, I like to keep things very random and organic, mostly located within the stories feature, which is my favorite thing about IG.

    Anything else you’d like to share?

    I just want to thank you for thinking of me for this series! I can’t wait to read about all of the other lovely booksta-men that you feature! Much love!

    Connect with Rod Kelly!

    Instagram

    Your turn: Did you enjoy this feature?  Tell us your thoughts in the comments.  Also, please let me know what other men of Bookstagram I should feature in this series.

    If you enjoyed this post, you may also want to read: 10 Male Bookstagrammers to Follow on Instagram If You Love Books.

     

    Find all of the men we feature in this series by searching the hashtag #themenofbookstagram on Instagram!

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    children's books, diverse books, giveaways

    Luca’s Bridge/ El puente de Luca by Mariana Llanos+ A Giveaway!

    Disclaimer: Penny Candy Books sent me the book to check out and I’m partnering with author Mariana Llanos for a giveaway!



    Luca’s Bridge by Mariana Llanos, illustrated by Anna Lopez Real

    Recommended for ages 4-9
    Published by Penny Candy Books

    About the Book
    The bilingual picture book Luca’s Bridge / El puente de Luca tells the emotional story of a boy coming to terms with his family’s deportation from the United States to Mexico.

    Luca is a U.S. citizen, but his parents aren’t. As a result, they end up being deported back to Mexico. Their family makes the decision to stick together instead of leaving Luca and his brother in the U.S. with relatives like other families sometimes do.

    Luca’s Bridge is a sad, but also very sweet and tender story that tackles the tough topics of immigration and deportation.

    Synopsis
    Luca has never lived outside the U.S., but when his parents receive a letter in the mail, the family must pack up and leave home for a strange land. Together in their car, Luca, his brother Paco, and their parents head across the border to Mexico where his parents were born. Luca doesn’t understand why he must leave the only home he’s ever known, his friends, and his school. He struggles through lonely and disorienting times―reflected both in Real’s delicate, symbolic illustrations and through Llanos’ description of his dreams―and leans on music, memory, and familial love for support. Luca’s Bridge / El puente de Luca is a story for everyone about immigration, deportation, home, and identity.

    The Giveaway!  Ready to Enter?


    One (1) winner receives:

    • 1 copy of the picture book Luca’s Bridge

    Giveaway open to US addresses only.

    Prizing and samples provided by Mariana Llanos.

    Luca’s Bridge Bilingual Picture Book Giveaway

    About the Author
    Mariana Llanos writes books for children and poetry in English and Spanish. She is originally from Lima, Peru, but currently lives in Oklahoma with her husband, their three children and their dog, Juliet.  Visit her online at: https://marianallanos.com.

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    back to school books, children's books, diverse books

    25+ Diverse/Multicultural Children’s Books for Back to School

    It’s almost back to school season!  I love the excitement a new school year brings for our entire family.  I always look forward to starting anew with a clean slate and getting back into our school year routines.

    Soon many parents and educators will be scouting libraries, websites and bookstores for the perfect “going to school” books.  I think the most popular topics for these books fall into a few different categories:

    • Making new friends
    • Separation anxiety
    • Dealing with new situations, routines and schedules
    • Helping children (and some parents) cope with feelings of anticipation, excitement and nervousness

    This year my “Back to School” list includes picture books for preschoolers, elementary students and a few recommendations for middle grade readers.  I hope you’ll find these helpful and possibly a few to read with your children, grandchildren or students.  Enjoy! (Note: This post contains affiliate links.)


    Picture Books

    All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold and Suzanne Kaufman

    Follow a group of children through a day in their school, where everyone is welcomed with open arms. A school where kids in patkas, hijabs, and yarmulkes play side-by-side with friends in baseball caps.  All Are Welcome lets young children know that no matter what, they have a place, they have a space, they are welcome in their school.

    A New School Year: Stories in Six Voices by Sally Derby

    In a unique narrative, readers meet a diverse group of six children ranging in age from Kindergarten through fifth grade. With nerves and excitement each child gears up for a new school year by hustling in the morning, meeting new teachers and new classmates during the day, and heading home with homework and relief by day’s end.

    Back to School: A Global Journey by Maya Ajmera and John D. Ivanko

    BACK TO SCHOOL invites young minds to sit in the front row and share the exciting experience of learning with kids just like themselves all over the world. Whether they take a school bus, a boat, or a rickshaw to get there, kids around the globe are going to school and growing smarter and more curious every day.

    Elizabeti’s School by Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen and Christy Hale

    In this contemporary Tanzanian story, author Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen and artist Christy Hale once again bring the sweet innocence of Elizabeti to life. Readers are sure to recognize this young child’s emotions as she copes with her first day of school and discovers the wonder and joy of learning.

    I’m New Here by Anne Sibley O’Brien

    Three students are immigrants from Guatemala, Korea, and Somalia and have trouble speaking, writing, and sharing ideas in English in their new American elementary school. Through self-determination and with encouragement from their peers and teachers, the students learn to feel confident and comfortable in their new school without losing a sense of their home country, language, and identity.

    Lailah’s Lunchbox by Reem Faruq

    Lailah is in a new school in a new country, thousands of miles from her old home, and missing her old friends. When Ramadan begins, she is excited that she is finally old enough to participate in the fasting but worried that her classmates won’t understand why she doesn’t join them in the lunchroom.

    Lola Goes to School by Anna McQuinn and Rosalind Beardshaw

    Lola and her family prepare for the first day of school the night before, then get up early, take pictures, and head to class. Lola puts her things in her cubby, chooses her activities, reads, plays, and has a snack. Before she knows it, it’s time to sing the good-bye song and rush into Mommy’s arms for a warm reunion. A comforting, cheerful read that demystifies the school day for preschoolers and kindergarteners.

    Ming Goes to School bDeirdre Sullivan and Maja Löfdahl

    This is a very sweet story with soft, evocative watercolor illustrations that will help kids to grow comfortable with the idea of starting preschool. Ming is curious and playful and ready for adventure, but even she gets scared of new things sometimes. Kids will relate to her desires and fears and will be excited to see Ming at the top of the slide by the story’s end.

    Princess Arabella Goes to School by Mylo Freeman

    A delightful addition to the popular ‘Princess Arabella’ series. Princess Arabella and her friends embark upon their first day at Princess School. They find themselves taking some very unusual lessons – and when they are allowed to bring their pets to school, fun and games ensue!

    Rosie Goes to Preschool by Karen Katz

    A very cute and diverse set of children are seen putting their belongings in their cubbies, playing together, eating lunch and using the potty. They also participate in circle time, story time, sing songs and clean up before laying down for nap time. The sequence of events shown in this book is very similar to the schedule the kids follow at school so it’s very familiar to them. A wonderful back-to-school book for preschoolers to help them get acclimated to routines and adjust to school.

    Ruby, Head High: Ruby Bridge’s First Day of School by Irene Cohen-Janca

    Inspired by an iconic Norman Rockwell painting and translated from an original French text, this is a story about the day a little girl held her head high and changed the world.

    Rulers of the Playground by by Joseph Kuefler

    Both Jonah and Lennox want to be the rulers of the playground, but who will reign as the king or queen of the “kingdom”?

    School’s First Day of School by Adam Rex and Christian Robinson

    It’s the first day of school at Frederick Douglass Elementary and everyone’s just a little bit nervous, especially the school itself. What will the children do once they come? Will they like the school? Will they be nice to him?

    The school has a rough start, but as the day goes on, he soon recovers when he sees that he’s not the only one going through first-day jitters.

    Sumi’s First Day of School Ever by Joung Un Kim

    The first day of school can be lonely and scary, especially when you don’t speak the same language as everyone else. Sumi only knows one phrase in English, “Hello, my name is Sumi.” This doesn’t seem nearly enough to prepare her for a big school with wide stairs, noisy children, and a mean classmate.

    The Buddy Bench by Patty Brozo and Mike Deas

    Having seen what being left out is like, children become agents of change, convincing their teacher to let them build a buddy bench.

    The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson and Rafael López

    There are many reasons to feel different. Maybe it’s how you look or talk, or where you’re from; maybe it’s what you eat, or something just as random. It’s not easy to take those first steps into a place where nobody really knows you yet, but somehow you do it.

    The King of Kindergarten by Derrick Barnes and Vanessa Brantley-Newton

    Starting kindergarten is a big milestone–and the hero of this story is ready to make his mark! He’s dressed himself, eaten a pile of pancakes, and can’t wait to be part of a whole new kingdom of kids. The day will be jam-packed, but he’s up to the challenge, taking new experiences in stride with his infectious enthusiasm! And afterward, he can’t wait to tell his proud parents all about his achievements–and then wake up to start another day.

    The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi

    Being the new kid in school is hard enough, but what about when nobody can pronounce your name? Having just moved from Korea, Unhei is anxious that American kids will like her. So instead of introducing herself on the first day of school, she tells the class that she will choose a name by the following week. Her new classmates are fascinated by this no-name girl and decide to help out by filling a glass jar with names for her to pick from. But while Unhei practices being a Suzy, Laura, or Amanda, one of her classmates comes to her neighborhood and discovers her real name and its special meaning.

    The Sandwich Swap by Queen Rania of Jordan Al Abdullah

    The smallest things can pull us apart-until we learn that friendship is far more powerful than difference. In a glorious three-page gatefold at the end of the book, Salma, Lily, and all their classmates come together in the true spirit of tolerance and acceptance.

    The School Book by Todd Parr

    With his trademark bright colors and bold lines, Todd Parr introduces readers to a perennial source of childhood anxiety and excitement both: school! From morning routines to meeting new people to learning and playing together, Todd explores all the different things that can happen in school, all the while sharing a cheerful, child-friendly message of sharing, inclusion, and community.

    The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade by Justin Roberts and Christian Robinson

    Sally notices everything—from the twenty-seven keys on the janitor’s ring to the bullying happening on the playground. One day, Sally has had enough and decides to make herself heard. And when she takes a chance and stands up to the bullies, she finds that one small girl can make a big difference.

    Twindergarten by Nikki Ehrlich and Zoey Abbott Wagner

    It’s the night before the twins are starting kindergarten, and they have the just-about-to-start-school jitters. After all, they will be in different classrooms! What will kindergarten be like when they’re not together all day? But Dax and Zoe will learn that kindergarten is full of new surprises and adventures, and being apart for a short while isn’t so bad.


    Middle Grade

    President of the Whole Sixth Grade by Sherri Winston

    Brianna Justice is determined to raise enough money for the big class trip to Washington, D.C., but she’s up against a lot: classmates who all pretend to be something they’re not, a new nemesis determined to run her out of office, and the sinking feeling she’s about to lose her two best friends for good. But just when she begins to lose hope, she comes to realize that sometimes surprises can turn out even better than the best-laid plans.

    Save Me a Seat by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan

    Joe and Ravi don’t think they have anything in common — but soon enough they have a common enemy (the biggest bully in their class) and a common mission: to take control of their lives over the course of a single crazy week.

    The Boy at the Back of the Class by Onjali Q. Raúf

    The whole class is curious about this new boy–he doesn’t seem to smile, and he doesn’t talk much. But after learning that Ahmet fled a Very Real War and was separated from his family along the way, a determined group of his classmates bands together to concoct the Greatest Idea in the World–a magnificent plan to reunite Ahmet with his loved ones.

    Balancing humor and heart, this relatable story about the refugee crisis from the perspective of kids highlights the community-changing potential of standing as an ally and reminds readers that everyone deserves a place to call home.

    Your turn: What books would you add to this list?  Feel free to share some of your favorite school-themed books in the comments.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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    children's books, cover reveal, diverse books

    Cover Reveal: Dream Builder: The Story of Architect Philip Freelon by Kelly Starling Lyons

    Format: Hardcover

    Dream Builder: The Story of Architect Philip Freelon by Kelly Starling Lyons COVER REVEAL!

    In partnership with Lee & Low, I am excited to be revealing the cover for the forthcoming January 2020 book Dream Builder: The Story or Architect Philip Freelon by Kelly Starling Lyons.  The cover is illustrated by Laura Freeman.

    • Total Pages: 40 pages
    • Publisher: Lee & Low Books
    • Publication Date: January 14, 2020
    • Recommended Ages: 9 – 12 and up
    • Pre-Orders: Available for Pre-Order Now!

    Synopsis

    Philip Freelon’s grandfather was an acclaimed painter of the Harlem Renaissance. His father was a successful businessman who attended the 1963 March on Washington. When Phil decided to attend architecture school, he created his own focus on African American and Islamic designers. He later chose not to build casinos or prisons, instead concentrating on schools, libraries, and museums–buildings that connect people with heritage and fill hearts with joy. And in 2009, Phil’s team won a commission that let him use his personal history in service to the country’s: the extraordinary Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.

    Dream Builder: The Story of Architect Philip Freelon celebrates a contemporary black STEAM role model, a man whose quiet work enabled the creation of an iconic building reflecting America’s past and future. With a stirring text by Kelly Starling Lyons, vibrant pictures by Laura Freeman, and an afterword from Philip Freelon himself, it is sure to inspire the next generation of dreamers and builders.

    Check out Dream Builder when it publishes in January 2020!

    About the Author

    Kelly Starling Lyons is the author of numerous books for young readers including One More Dino on the Floor, Hope’s Gift, Ellen’s Broom, and the Jada Jones series.

    About the Illustrator
    Laura Freeman received her BFA from the School of Visual Arts in New York City and began her career illustrating for various editorial clients, including the New York Times Book Review, the National Law Journal, and New York magazine, and previous titles include Fancy Party Gowns: The Story of Fashion Designer Ann Cole Lowe and Hidden Figures. Laura now lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband and their two children. Find out more about Laura at lfreemanart.com.

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    connecticut, family fun, literary road trip series

    Literary Road Trip Series: Lake Compounce in Bristol, CT

    Disclaimer: Thank you to Lake Compounce for providing me and my family with complimentary access to the park. As always, all opinions expressed are my own.

    Did you know Lake Compounce is the oldest, continuously-operating amusement park in North America?  It had its genesis more than 170 years ago in 1846..wow!  Lake Compounce is home to Boulder Dash, which has been voted the world’s #1 wooden roller coaster, as well as Connecticut’s largest water park.  It has over 400 acres of fun and is essentially like having two parks in one.  You get rides, games, food and roller coasters along with an amazing water park that is SO MUCH FUN – especially on a hot day.

    One of my favorite things about the park is how clean it is.  Plus, the lines are usually pretty quick and the staff is has always been very pleasant and helpful each time we’ve visited.  Our most recent family visit was a few weeks ago and as usual, Lake Compounce didn’t disappoint.  It’s definitely our family’s favorite go-to amusement park in the state of Connecticut.

    We like to get to the park as soon as it opens to try and avoid the mad rush.  As soon as you arrive all guests must go through a security checkpoint and bag check for safety reasons.  The lines typically move along pretty quickly although depending on the size of the crowd and time of day, the wait could be about 10 minutes or slightly longer.  Keep this in mind if you’re visiting with smaller children as they may get a little antsy.


    Once you get past security and the ticket lines, it’s time for the fun to begin!  We like to reserve island loungers on the Lake Compounce website prior to our visit.  You get 2 lounge chairs, a shaded straw umbrella, entrance to the exclusive island lounge chair area, and accommodations for up to 4 people. The island loungers are conveniently located right next to Bayou Bay which is one of our favorite attractions at the park.  The lounge chairs sit on a sandy area across from the lake making it feel like you’re spending the day at the beach.  Oh and the best part?  You can leave your belongings in the private island lounge chair area.  It’s always monitored by a Lake Compounce employee giving us peace of mind our stuff will be safe.  If you have a larger group of people you can rent a cabana.  The park currently has 5 Luxury Cabanas located lakeside by Riptide Racers, 6 Private Cabanas located by the entrance of Mammoth Falls, 2 located on the lake, and 5 located next to Bayou Bay.

    Our family likes to explore the water park attractions first, eat lunch and then head to the amusement park rides afterwards before heading back to the island loungers to pick up our belongings.  So far this year we had a chance to experience: The Dino Expedition, Croc-o-Nile, Boulder Dash, Zoomerang, Riptide Racer, The Wave Swinger and Down Time.  We also tried our hand at some the games which is always a blast.

    Lake Compounce has always catered to families with young children like ours, while offering high value thrills for the older kids and adults too.  Our kids love the variety of rides and games in the kiddie park including the Dino Expedition.  There are also plenty of seating/resting options for watchful parents and grown-ups who like to watch children ride and take photos.  The park is interesting enough and accessible enough for our family so naturally always purchase season passes for the amusement park and parking lot.  They pay for themselves on the second visit.  Season pass holders also get other perks throughout the year too like buddy passes and food/retail discounts.

    From the outside, Lake Compounce appears hidden and small, but trust me, you can spend all day inside and not get to everything.  Since they are constantly adding new attractions and features to the park, we still haven’t done everything there yet.

    Prior to our visit we read a few amusement park themed books like: Roller Coaster by Marla Frazee.

    A few other things to keep in mind:

    • Bring all of our summertime essentials if you plan to spend the day there: suntan lotion, bathing suits, extra clothes to change into, towels and strollers if traveling with smaller kids
    • Be prepared to walk – You’ll do a lot of walking from the moment you arrive at the park.  If you have a fitness tracker it’s a great way to rack up your step count for the day!
    • Admission for kids ages 3 and under is FREE
    • They have phone charging stations, family restrooms AND a nursing station for nursing mothers (Woohoo!)
    • Locker rentals are also available for securing your belongings
    • Shirt and shoes are required everywhere except Crocodile Cove water park.  Bathing suits are required for the water park area.
    • Outside food or drink is not allowed in the park (with exception of baby items, food allergies or other special dietary needs)

    I cannot recommend this place more!  Visit at least once to experience all the park has to offer for a fun family day adventure.

    Ready to head to the park?  Be sure to take advantage of my ticket discount by clicking here!

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