Monthly Archives

January 2016

    black history, children's books, holiday books, read aloud

    29 Black Picture Books for Black History Month, Or Any Month

    Where did the month of January go?  I mean seriously.  We are currently just one day away from entering the month of February, Black History Month, can you believe it?  February is our 28-day time frame to shine and because this year is a leap year, we get a bonus day!  While I do believe Black History month should exist, I think the month of February should serve as the starting place for larger, year long discussions and explorations of acceptance and equality as well as African-American history and culture.

    Being an African-American mom of two preschoolers, I always get a little annoyed when the one topic people seem to focus on the most when it comes to black history is slavery.  I don’t know about you, but I’m not teaching my children about slavery until they are old enough to understand and digest it.

    I’ve often heard many parents, caregivers and educators say they find it difficult or intimidating to teach younger children about black history or choose books due to some of the sensitive topics and images from the past.  While I understand some events in our history are very painful (slavery, segregation, blatant discrimination and violence), there are several other topics and books that can be explored and discussed with children in a fun, lighthearted way.  I think it’s important for people to understand that Black history includes more than just slavery and the struggle for civil rights.


    There are so many wonderful picture books that feature black children as the main protagonists.  Here’s what I like to do with my kids when it comes to reading books during black history month (or any month):

    • Read about heroes and heroines from the past and present.  And I’m not just talking about Martin Luther King Jr., Harriet Tubman, Barack Obama, and Rosa Parks.  There are so many other people who have emerged as role models for all of our children.  I like to discuss the obstacles they overcame to make our lives better.  Not just for African-Americans, but for people of all races and colors.
    • Discuss and explore different items that African-American inventors have contributed to society.  This nation was not built alone by just one race of people.  Many of the things we use in every day life were invented by African-Americans.  For example: the cell phone, traffic light, the refrigerator, the zipper, the ironing board, peanut butter, and the list goes on!
    • Learn about the many “famous firsts” in African-American history.  I love to share stories of the individuals who were the “first” to accomplish a great feat – regardless of their race. During Black History Month (and every month), I try to make an effort to highlight African-Americans who’ve paved the way of us and helped to make our lives better.

    Here are 29 picture book suggestions to explore.  Enjoy!

    Two Friends: Susan B. Anthony and Fredrick Douglass by Dean Robbins

    Two friends, Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass, get together for tea and conversation. They recount their similar stories fighting to win rights for women and African Americans. The premise of this particular exchange between the two is based on a statue in their hometown of Rochester, New York, which shows the two friends having tea.

    The Quickest Kid in Clarksville by Pat Zietlow Miller

    It’s the day before the big parade. Alta can only think about one thing: Wilma Rudolph, three-time Olympic gold medalist. She’ll be riding on a float tomorrow. See, Alta is the quickest kid in Clarksville, Tennessee, just like Wilma once was.

    Freedom in Congo Square by Carole Boston Weatherford
    This poetic, nonfiction story about a little-known piece of African American history captures a human’s capacity to find hope and joy in difficult circumstances and demonstrates how New Orleans’ Congo Square was truly freedom’s heart.

    Don’t Let Auntie Mabel Bless the Table by Vanessa Newton

    Do you have a relative who seems to pray forever when they’re blessing the food? This hilarious book is about a group of family and friends gathering together for Sunday dinner at Auntie Mabel’s house. Before they begin to eat, Auntie Mabel has to bless the table. The only problem is she wants to bless everything from the yams, to the tables and chairs, to the President of the United States! Meanwhile, the food is getting cold and everyone just wants to eat. Will dinner ever be served? I’m sure most families have someone like Auntie Mabel who loves to bless the table, but doesn’t know when to stop.

    Sewing Stories: Harriet Powers’ Journey from Slave to Artist by Barbara Herkert
    Harriet Powers learned to sew and quilt as a young slave girl on a Georgia plantation. She began making pictorial quilts, using each square to illustrate Bible stories and local legends. Harriet exhibited her quilts at local cotton fairs, and though she never traveled outside of Georgia, her quilts are now priceless examples of African-American folk art.

    Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer: The Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement by Carole Boston Weatherford
    Fannie Lou Hamer was a champion of civil rights from the 1950s until her death in 1977.  Voice of Freedom celebrates Fannie Lou Hamer’s life and legacy with a message of hope, determination, and strength.

    Before There Was Mozart by Lesa Cline-Ransome

    Joseph Boulogne, Chevalier de Saint-George was born on Christmas Day in 1739 on the tiny island of Guadeloupe in the West Indies. He soon became known as the most talented violin player and musician in France. During one of his performances, young Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was in the audience. This was before Mozart was well-known. In the end, Joseph does indeed perform for the king and queen of France and is invited back on several occasions. In 2001, a street Rue du Chevalier de Saint-George was named in his honor. An awesome historical non-fiction book for children and music lovers.

    She Loved Baseball: The Effa Manley Story by Audrey Vernick

    Effa always loved baseball. As a young woman, she would go to Yankee Stadium to see Babe Ruth. Effa never dreamed she would someday own a baseball team, yet alone be the first and only woman ever inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. An inspirational story for girls and boys who love baseball.

    Gordon Parks: How the Photographer Captured Black and White America by Carole Boston Weatherford

    Gordon Parks is most famous for being the first black director in Hollywood. But before he made movies and wrote books, he was a poor African American looking for work. When he bought a camera, his life changed forever. He taught himself how to take pictures and before long, people noticed.

    Molly, by Golly!: The Legend of Molly Williams, America’s First Female Firefighter by Dianne Ochiltree
    This legendary tale introduces young readers to Molly Williams, an African American cook for New York City’s Fire Company 11, who is considered to be the first known female firefighter in U.S. history.

    Fly High!: The Story of Bessie Coleman by Louise Borden & Mary Kay Kroeger

    When Bessie Coleman was a child, she wanted to be in school — not in the cotton fields of Texas, helping her family earn money. She wanted to be somebody significant in the world. So Bessie did everything she could to learn under the most challenging of circumstances. At the end of every day in the fields she checked the foreman’s numbers — made sure his math was correct. And this was just the beginning of a life of hard work and dedication that really paid off: Bessie became the first African-American to earn a pilot’s license.

    Oprah: The Little Speaker by Carole Boston Weatherford

    Here is the story of Oprah Winfrey’s childhood, a story about a little girl on a Mississippi pig farm who grew up to be the “Queen of Talk.” The host of the Emmy Award–winning Oprah Winfrey Show , she currently directs a media empire that includes television and movie productions, magazines, a book club, and radio shows. An author’s note is included.

    Skit-Scat Raggedy Cat: Ella Fitzgerald by Roxane Orgil
    With lively prose, Roxane Orgill follows the gutsy Ella from school-girl days to a featured spot with Chick Webb’s band and all the way to her number-one radio hit “A-Tisket, A-Tasket.” Jazzy mixed-media art by illustrator Sean Qualls brings the singer’s indomitable spirit to life.

    28 Days: Moments in Black History that Changed the World by Charles R. Smith
    What a fantastic book!  Each day features a different influential figure in African-American history, from Crispus Attucks, the first man shot in the Boston Massacre, sparking the Revolutionary War, to Madame C. J. Walker, who after years of adversity became the wealthiest black woman in the country, as well as one of the wealthiest black Americans, to Barack Obama, the country’s first African-American president.

    Granddaddy’s Turn by Michael S. Bandy

    Life on the farm with Granddaddy is full of hard work, but despite all the chores, Granddaddy always makes time for play, especially fishing trips. Even when there isn’t a bite to catch, he reminds young Michael that it takes patience to get what’s coming to you. One morning, when Granddaddy heads into town in his fancy suit, Michael knows that something very special must be happening?—?and sure enough, everyone is lined up at the town hall! For the very first time, Granddaddy is allowed to vote, and he couldn’t be more proud

    I Am Michelle Obama the First Lady by Margina Graham Parker

    This historical children’s book is definitely a must-have and a must-read for both children and parents.  This book was given to me as a gift from my baby shower when I was pregnant with my daughter.  The illustrations throughout are absolutely beautiful – so vibrant and rich.   It’s so inspiring to read and learn about all the accomplishments the First Lady has achieved.  What a great book to illustrate to children that they can do anything – the sky is truly the limit!

    Trombone Shorty by Troy Andrews
    Hailing from the Tremé neighborhood in New Orleans, Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews got his nickname by wielding a trombone twice as long as he was high. A prodigy, he was leading his own band by age six, and today this Grammy-nominated artist headlines the legendary New Orleans Jazz Fest.

    Jeremy just wants” those shoes”. A pair of black high-tops with white stripes. The same pair of shoes all his other friends have. When Jeremy finally gets a pair of “those shoes” what he does with them is very touching. I’m convinced children’s books have the best messages! This book delivers powerful lessons on topics like: being grateful, sharing, kindness, friendship, and generosity.

    I Like Myself by Karen Beaumont
    High on energy and imagination, this ode to self-esteem encourages kids to appreciate everything about themselves–inside and out. Messy hair? Beaver breath? So what! Here’s a little girl who knows what really matters.  At once silly and serious, Karen Beaumont’s joyous rhyming text and David Catrow’s wild illustrations unite in a book that is sassy, soulful–and straight from the heart.

    Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters by Barack Obama
    Did you know President Barack Obama is also an author?  In this tender, beautiful letter to his daughters, President Barack Obama has written a moving tribute to thirteen groundbreaking Americans and the ideals that have shaped our nation. From the artistry of Georgia O’Keeffe, to the courage of Jackie Robinson, to the patriotism of George Washington, President Obama sees the traits of these heroes within his own children, and within all of America’s children.

    Last Stop on Market Street by Matt De La Pena
    Every Sunday after church, CJ and his grandma ride the bus across town. But today, CJ wonders why they don’t own a car like his friend Colby. Why doesn’t he have an iPod like the boys on the bus? How come they always have to get off in the dirty part of town? Each question is met with an encouraging answer from grandma, who helps him see the beauty—and fun—in their routine and the world around them.

    I Have a Dream by Kadir Nelson
    Illustrator Kadir Nelson is extremely talented…I LOVE his work! This book contains snippets from the famous “I Have a Dream” speech as well as the speech in its entirety in the back of the book. The illustrations in this book are beyond amazing!

    Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker by Patricia Hruby Powell and Christian Robinson
    Josephine Baker worked her way from the slums of St. Louis to the grandest stages in the world. Meticulously researched by both author and artist, Josephine’s powerful story of struggle and triumph is an inspiration and a spectacle, just like the legend herself.

    Harlem’s Little Blackbird by Renee Watson
    Zora and Langston. Billie and Bessie. Eubie and Duke. If the Harlem Renaissance had a court, they were its kings and queens. But there were other, lesser known individuals whose contributions were just as impactful, such as Florence Mills. Born to parents who were former-slaves Florence knew early on that she loved to sing. And that people really responded to her sweet, bird-like voice.

    Monster Trouble by Lane Fredrickson
    Nothing frightens Winifred Schnitzel—but she DOES need her sleep, and the neighborhood monsters WON’T let her be! Every night they sneak in, growling and belching and making a ruckus. Winifred constructs clever traps, but nothing stops these crafty creatures. What’s a girl to do?  The delightfully sweet ending will have every kid—and little monster—begging for an encore.

    Lillian’s Right to Vote by Jonah Winter
    As Lillian, a one-hundred-year-old African American woman, makes a “long haul up a steep hill” to her polling place, she sees more than trees and sky—she sees her family’s history. She sees the passage of the Fifteenth Amendment and her great-grandfather voting for the first time. She sees her parents trying to register to vote. And she sees herself marching in a protest from Selma to Montgomery.

    One Plastic Bag by Miranda Paul

    Plastic bags are cheap and easy to use. But what happens when a bag breaks or is no longer needed? In Njau, Gambia, people simply dropped the bags and went on their way. One plastic bag became two. Then ten. Then a hundred.  The bags accumulated in ugly heaps alongside roads. Water pooled in them, bringing mosquitoes and disease. Some bags were burned, leaving behind a terrible smell. Some were buried, but they strangled gardens. They killed livestock that tried to eat them. Something had to change.  Isatou Ceesay was that change. She found a way to recycle the bags and transform her community. This inspirational true story shows how one person’s actions really can make a difference in our world.

    When the Beat Was Born: DJ Kool Herc and the Creation of Hip Hop by Laban Carrick Hill

    From his childhood in Jamaica to his youth in the Bronx, Laban Carrick Hill’s book tells how Kool Herc came to be a DJ, how kids in gangs stopped fighting in order to break dance, and how the music he invented went on to define a culture and transform the world.

    Little Melba and Her Big Trombone by Katheryn Russell-Brown
    Overcoming obstacles of race and gender, Melba went on to become a famed trombone player and arranger, spinning rhythms, harmonies, and melodies into gorgeous songs for all the jazz greats of the twentieth century: Randy Weston, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Billie Holiday, and Quincy Jones, to name just a few. Brimming with ebullience and the joy of making music, Little Melba and Her Big Trombone is a fitting tribute to a trailblazing musician and a great unsung hero of jazz.

    BONUS BOOK!! (Released on February 1, 2016)

    Don’t Call Me Grandma by Vaunda Michaeux Nelson
    Great-grandmother Nell eats fish for breakfast, she doesn’t hug or kiss, and she does NOT want to be called grandma. Her great-granddaughter isn’t sure what to think about her. As she slowly learns more about Nell’s life and experiences, the girl finds ways to connect with her prickly great-grandmother

    I believe Black History Month is about teachable moments, no matter how big or small.  But please, don’t just limit black history to a few short weeks during the month of February.  Instead, aim to make black history and culture a natural part of your children’s reading material throughout the year. I hope I’ve provided you with some book suggestions for children of all colors.  You don’t need a packaged curriculum or rigid adherence to school standards to craft a quality educational experience for children.  All you need is the desire to inspire, encourage, and educate.

    Your turn:  What are your favorite Black children’s books to read?  Which ones would you add to the list?  Feel free to share in the comments.

    a book and a craft, book reviews, multicultural children's book day

    Drum Dream Girl: A Book Review #ReadYourWorld

    Happy Multicultural Children’s Book Day!

    I am so excited to be chosen as a Multicultural Children’s Book Day (MCCBD) reviewer this year!

    The book I was sent to review is Drum Dream Girl written by Margarita Engle and beautifully illustrated by Rafael Lopez.  Although I previously read this book with the kids before, I was delighted to receive a copy to add to our home library!

    Drum Dream Girl by Margarita Engle
    This book is based on the true story of a young girl named Millo Castro Zaldarriaga, a Chinese-African-Cuban who broke down barriers for female drummers in Cuba in the 1930s.  Back in those days, there was an unwritten rule that stated girls cannot be drummers.  No one dared to question that rule – that is until little Millo came along.  She thought both boys and girls should be free to play the drums, but everyone else disagreed including her father.

    Millo dreamed of pounding tall congas and tapping small bongós.  She hoped her dream would some day come true, but until that day came, she kept on dreaming and practicing in secret on her own.  Millo’s father understood how much his daughter loves playing the drums, so one day he finds her a teacher who helps to perfect her drumming skills.  Finally, Millo is ready to play the drums in a cafe on the street to show that girls can play drums too.  It was during that performance that everyone decided that indeed both girls and boys should be free to drum and dream.

    It was refreshing to revisit this book with the kids.  They really liked all the bold colors and illustrations and I loved the overall message which tells children to follow their dreams.  It was interesting to hear my daughter say, “Look Mommy, I can play the drums!” as she ran off and got her drum set right after I finished reading the book.  It’s amazing how far we’ve come from the 1930s when it was taboo for women and girls to have the freedom to do the things their hearts desired.

    Extension Activities
    There are lots of different extension activities you can do with kids after reading this book.  Below are two examples.

    Have a Discussion

    • Talk about the idea that only boys should play drums.  Do you think it’s unfair or reasonable?
    • Talk about different things that people today think is only for boys or only for girls.

    Make a Drum (or another musical instrument)!
    Since the Chinese New Year is coming up, we decided to do a Chinese drum craft activity using paper plates.  It was fun!  We got the idea from Pinterest.

    Here’s what we used:

    • Two paper plates (or bowls)
    • Paint (we used red and gold glitter paint)
    • Paintbrush
    • Glue gun (or stapler)
    • 1 craft stick
    • Yarn
    • Two buttons (you can also use jingle bells)


    Want to learn more about the Multicultural Children’s Book Day organization?
    Our mission:  The MCCBD team’s mission to spread the word and raise awareness about the importance of diversity in children’s literature. Our young readers need to see themselves within the pages of a book and experience other cultures, languages, traditions and religions within the pages of a book. We encourage readers, parents, teachers, caregivers and librarians to follow along the fun book reviews, author visits, event details, a multicultural children’s book linky and via our hashtag (#ReadYourWorld) on Twitter and other social media.

    The co-creators of this unique event are Mia Wenjen from Pragmatic Mom and Valarie Budayr from Jump Into a Book/Audrey Press. You can find a bio for Mia and Valarie here.

    Platinum Sponsors: Story Quest Books.Wisdom Tales PressLil’ Libros

    Gold Sponsors: Candlewick PressTori Nighthawk: Don’t Judge A Bird By its FeathersBharat Babies

    Silver Sponsors:Lee & Low BooksChronicle BooksCapstone Young ReadersChina Institute.orgTuttle PublishingNY Media Works, LLC/KidLit TV

    Bronze Sponsors: Jacqueline Woodson, Pomelo BooksPapa Lemon BooksGoosebottom Books LLCAuthor Gleeson Rebello, M.D .Shout Mouse PressMahvash ShaheghLiveOak Media

    Our CoHosts
    Multicultural Children’s Book Day has 12 amazing co-Hosts and you can view them here.

    Classroom Reading Challenge: Help spread the word on our Classroom Reading Challenge . This very special offering from MCCBD offers teachers and classrooms the chance to (very easily) earn a free hardcover multicultural children’s book for their classroom library. These books are not only donated by the Junior Library Guild, but they are pre-screened and approved by them as well.

    What we could really use some help with is spreading the word to your teacher/librarian/classroom connections so we can get them involved in this program. There is no cost to teachers and classrooms and we’ve made the whole process as simple as possible. You can help by tweeting the below info:

    Teachers! Earn a FREE #Multicultural Kids Book for Your Classroom! #teachers, #books #teacherlife

    The Classroom Reading Challenge has begun! Teachers can earn a free diversity book! #teachers, #books

    Connect with MCCBD!
    Official Hashtag:  #ReadYourWorld


    Your turn:  How will you be celebrating Multicultural Children’s Book Day with your little readers?  Feel free share in the comments.

    book giving day, multicultural children's book day, national dictionary day, national library week, national picture book month, national poetry month

    15+ Literary Events & Holidays You Should Know

    Hooray for fun children’s and young adult literature events!   You can find them being celebrated from coast to coast all across the country and internationally as well.

    I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time keep track of all those hard-to-remember literary dates.  You know, National Dictionary Day, Take Your Child to the Library Day, etc.  I think it’s great that there are so many opportunities to get involved and promote literacy, reading and books, but sometimes I find it hard to recall when they take place throughout the year.  That’s why I decided to write this blog post to use it as a reference for myself and others.

    If you’re a literature lover like me, I hope you’ll appreciate having this list of dates handy to refer to throughout the year.  Enjoy!


    National Letter Writing Week
    The purpose of National Letter Writing Week is to encourage and foster the advancement of international understanding, better human relations, friendship, good will, and peace through a world fellowship of men and women of good will.

    This year it will be celebrated on January 13 – January 19, 2019.

    Multicultural Children’s Book Day
    The mission of Multicultural Children’s Book Day is to not only raise awareness for the kid’s books that celebrate diversity, but to get more of these of books into classrooms and libraries.

    Children’s reading and play advocates Valarie Budayr from Jump Into a Book and Mia Wenjen from Pragmatic Mom have teamed up to create an ambitious (and much needed) national event. On January 27th, 2014 Jump into a Book and Pragmatic Mom presented their very first Multicultural Children’s Book Day as a way of celebrating diversity in children’s books. The results and support overwhelming as authors, publishers, parents, teachers, bloggers and librarians joined forces to offer up an online event designed to shine the spotlight on diversity in children’s literature.

    This year it will be celebrated on January 25, 2019.


    Harry Potter Book Night (#HarryPotterBookNight) is back!  This year it will be celebrated on February 7, 2019.

    Get ready to celebrate The Professors of Hogwarts on February 7th 2019 when once again, fans of all ages will have the chance to celebrate J.K. Rowling’s wonderful series – and pass the magic on to young readers who haven’t yet discovered these unforgettable books. 

    Take Your Child to the Library Day
    Take Your Child to the Library Day (TYCLD) is an international initiative that encourages families everywhere to take their children to their local library. Launched in 2011 in Connecticut by librarians Nadine Lipman (Waterford Public Library, retired) and Caitlin Augusta (Stratford Library) with artist Nancy Elizabeth Wallace, TYCLD raises community awareness about the importance of the library in the life of a child, and promotes library services and programs for children and families.

    TYCLD is officially held on the first Saturday in February – but the date is flexible! TYCLD celebrations may take place on any date(s) in February – it’s up to your library.  This year it will be celebrated at many libraries on February 2, 2019.

    International Book Giving Day
    I recently wrote a blog post about this day.  Find out how I celebrated last year by clicking here.

    International Book Giving Day takes place on February 14th each year (Valentine’s Day). The aim is to get books into the hands of as many children as possible.  International Book Giving Day is a 100% volunteer initiative aimed at increasing children’s access to and enthusiasm for books.

    World Read Aloud Day
    World Read Aloud Day motivates children, teens, and adults worldwide to celebrate the power of words and creates a community of readers taking action to show the world that the right to literacy belongs to all people. World Read Aloud Day is celebrated by millions of people in more than 100 countries thanks to people like you who participate and spread the word across the globe!

    This year it will be celebrated on February 1, 2019.


    Read Across America Day (also known as Dr. Seuss Day)
    Read Across America Day is an initiative of the National Education Association (NEA).  NEA’s Read Across America is an annual reading motivation and awareness program that calls for every child in every community to celebrate reading on March 2nd, the birthday of beloved children’s author Dr. Seuss.  NEA’s Read Across America also provides NEA members, parents, caregivers, and children the resources and activities they need to keep reading on the calendar 365 days a year.

    National Read Aloud Month
    is Read Aloud Month, started by Read Aloud 15 Minutes. Reading aloud is the single most important thing a parent or caregiver can do to improve a child’s readiness to read and learn. When every child is read aloud to for 15 minutes every day from birth, more children will be ready to learn when they enter kindergarten, more children will have the literacy skills needed to succeed in school, and more children will be prepared for a productive and meaningful life after school.


    International Children’s Book Day
    Since 1967, on or around Hans Christian Andersen’s birthday, 2 April, International Children’s Book Day (ICBD) is celebrated to inspire a love of reading and to call attention to children’s books.

    This year it will be celebrated on April 2, 2019.

    National Library Workers Day
    National Library Workers Day (NLWD) is a day for library staff, users, administrators and Friends groups to recognize the valuable contributions made by all library workers.

    This year it will be celebrated on April 9, 2019.

    National Bookmobile Day
    National Bookmobile Day celebrates our nation’s bookmobiles and the dedicated library professionals who provide this valuable and essential service to their communities every day. Each year, it is celebrated on the Wednesday of National Library Week.

    National Bookmobile Day is an opportunity for bookmobiles fans to make their support known—through thanking bookmobile staff, writing a letter or e-mail to their libraries, or voicing their support to community leaders.

    This year it will be celebrated on April 10, 2019.

    D.E.A.R. (Drop Everything and Read)
    D.E.A.R. stands for “Drop Everything and Read,” a national month-long celebration of reading designed to remind folks of all ages to make reading a priority activity in their lives. Because, what’s more fun(damental) than reading, really?

    D.E.A.R. programs have been held nationwide on April 12th in honor of Beverly Cleary’s birthday, since she first wrote about D.E.A.R. in Ramona Quimby, Age 8 (pages 40-41). Inspired by letters from readers sharing their enthusiasm for the D.E.A.R. activities implemented in their schools, Mrs. Cleary decided to give the same experience to Ramona and her classmates. As D.E.A.R. has grown in popularity and scope, the program has expanded to span the entire month of April . . . offering classrooms and communities additional time to celebrate!

    Independent Bookstore Day
    Independent Bookstore Day is a one-day national party that takes place at indie bookstores across the country on the last Saturday in April.  Every store is unique and independent, and every party is different. But in addition to authors, live music, cupcakes, scavenger hunts, kids events, art tables, readings, barbecues, contests, and other fun stuff, there are exclusive books and literary items that you can only get on that day.

    This year it will be celebrated on April 27, 2019.

    National Poetry Month
    The month of April has been designated as National Poetry Month.  National Poetry Month is the largest literary celebration in the world, with tens of millions of readers, students, K-12 teachers, librarians, booksellers, literary events curators, publishers, bloggers, and, of course, poets marking poetry’s important place in our culture and our lives.

    While we celebrate poets and poetry year-round, the Academy of American Poets was inspired by the successful celebrations of Black History Month (February) and Women’s History Month (March), and founded National Poetry Month in April 1996.

    World Book Day

    World Book Day was designated by UNESCO as a worldwide celebration of books and reading, and is marked in over 100 countries around the globe.

    In the UK and Ireland World Book Day is on March 7, 2019. This date came about after serious thought and lengthy discussion to ensure that we were making the best decision for all participants and our supporters. We take into consideration religious holidays, school terms and potential conflict with other charitable activities.

    In other countries World Book and Copyright Day takes place on April 23. Celebrations take place all over the world to recognize the magical power of books – ‘a link between the past and the future, a bridge between generations and across cultures.  By championing books and copyright, UNESCO stands up for creativity, diversity and equal access to knowledge…’

    National Poem in Your Pocket Day
    Every April, on Poem in Your Pocket Day, people throughout the United States celebrate by selecting a poem, carrying it with them, and sharing it with others throughout the day as schools, bookstores, libraries, parks, workplaces, and other venues ring loud with open readings of poems from pockets.

    Poem in Your Pocket Day was originally initiated in 2002 by the Office of the Mayor, in partnership with the New York City Departments of Cultural Affairs and Education, as part of the city’s National Poetry Month celebration. In 2008, the Academy of American Poets took the initiative national, encouraging individuals around the country to join in and channel their inner bard.

    This year it will be celebrated on April 25, 2019.

    National Library Week
    First sponsored in 1958, National Library Week is a national observance sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) and libraries across the country each April. It is a time to celebrate the contributions of our nation’s libraries and librarians and to promote library use and support. All types of libraries – school, public, academic and special – participate.

    This year it will be celebrated the week of April 7 – 13, 2019.

    School Library Month
    School Library Month (SLM) is the American Association of School Librarians’ (AASL) celebration of school librarians and their programs. Every April school librarians are encouraged to create activities to help their school and local community celebrate the essential role that strong school library programs play in transforming learning.


    Children’s Book Week

    Children’s Book Week is the annual celebration of books for young people and the joy of reading.

    Established in 1919, Children’s Book Week is the longest-running national literacy initiative in the country. Every year, commemorative events are held nationwide at schools, libraries, bookstores, homes — wherever young readers and books connect!  Children’s Book Week is administered by Every Child A Reader, a 501(c)(3) literacy organization dedicated to instilling a lifelong love of reading in children.

    This year it will be celebrated April 29 – May 5, 2019.


    Audiobook Appreciation Month
    June is Audiobook Appreciation Month!  Celebrating Audiobook Month is simple, find your favorite book in an audio format and try listening to it on your way to work. You can listen to it while you’re in the shower, or laying in bed, or even riding the bus or driving in the morning. The opportunities are endless, and the types of books you can find on tape are growing every year, from compilations of mythology to books on learning a new language, and even certain forms of technical manuals can all be found in an audio format. What would you like to listen to during Audiobook Month? Start making a list!

    GLBT Book Month

    Starting in 2015, the American Library Association will mark GLBT Book Month™, a nationwide celebration of the authors and writings that reflect the lives and experiences of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community.
    Originally established in the early 1990s by The Publishing Triangle as National Lesbian and Gay Book Month, this occasion is an opportunity for book lovers and libraries with the very best in GLBT literature.


    Book Lovers Day

    August 9 is Book Lovers Day, an unofficial holiday that encourages people to pick up a book (or two) and spend the day reading.


    National Library Card Sign-up Month
    September is Library Card Sign-up Month, a time when the American Library Association and libraries nationwide join together to remind parents, caregivers and students that signing up for a library card is the first step towards academic achievement and lifelong learning.

    Banned Books Week
    Banned Books Week, an annual celebration of the freedom to read since 1982, is observed the last week of September. Each year, librarians, booksellers, teachers and countless others take this opportunity to highlight the importance of intellectual freedom and remind us not to take this precious democratic freedom for granted.

    This year it will be celebrated September 22 – 28, 2019.


    National Dictionary Day
    National Dictionary Day is observed annually on October 16th, the same day as Noah Webster’s birthday.  Dictionary Day was founded to celebrate the achievements and contributions of Noah Webster – the father of the modern dictionary. The objective of this day is to emphasize the importance of dictionary skills, and seeks to improve vocabulary.

    Boo’s for Books
    Boo’s for Books is an annual Halloween campaign sponsored by Sydney’s Book Club. Their goal is to offer parents, families and communities an alternate approach to the traditional Halloween experience by considering passing out books to trick or treaters visiting their home or business in lieu of or in addition to candy and other treats.

    This year it will be celebrated on October 31, 2019.


    National Picture Book Month
    Picture Book Month is an international literacy initiative that celebrates the print picture book during the month of November.

    Founder, Dianne de Las Casas (author & storyteller), and Co-Founders, Katie Davis (author/illustrator), Elizabeth O. Dulemba (author/illustrator), Tara Lazar (author), and Wendy Martin (author/illustrator), put together their worldwide connections to make this happen.

    Every day in November, there is a new post from a picture book champion explaining why he/she thinks picture books are important.


    Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day
    Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day (TYCBD) is celebrated on the first Saturday in December. Founded by novelist Jenny Milchman, TYCBD has grown from 80 stores participating in its first year to 700 this year across all 50 states, Canada, Europe and Australia.

    This year it will be celebrated on December 7, 2019.

    Your turn:  What is your favorite literary event/day to celebrate?  Did I miss any days that should be added to the list?  Feel free to share in the comments.

    children's books, giveaways

    Capstone Baby Books Giveaway!

    Are you looking for a gift for an upcoming baby shower?  Are you an expecting mom or new parent with an infant?  If so, you may want to enter this giveaway sponsored by Capstone!  Read on.

    Capstone is giving away a prize pack of baby essentials and books that feature vibrant artwork and easy to follow text, — perfect for newborns and infants!  Capstone Publishers create wonderful learning experiences for children through reading so you can be assured the books are good quality.


    Below you’ll find a list of what’s included in the prize pack.  (This will also make a great Valentine’s Day gift for a new or expecting mom!)

    Six (6) winners will be chosen and each one will receive:
    A Baby’s Guide to Surviving Dad by Benjamin Bird
    A Baby’s Guide to Surviving Mom by Benjamin Bird
    Little Dinos Don’t Bite by Michael Dahl
    Play Date for Panda by Michael Dahl
    – Baby gift pack including Boudreaux’s Butt Paste, Advent Soothie Pacifiers, Energizer AA Batteries, Earplugs and Bandaids
    {Average retail value of total prize pack $50!}

    Sounds great, how do I enter?
    Enter the Capstone Baby Books (#capstonebabybooks) Rafflecopter Giveaway right here…good luck!  (P.S. If you follow me on Twitter, you already have one FREE entry!)

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Note:  Giveaway ends 2/5/2016 at 11:59 PM. USA only and 18+. All winning entries will be verified before they are contacted via email.  You have 48 hours to respond to or a new winner will be chosen.

    Disclaimer:  This is a compensated giveaway although all opinions are my own. This blog is not responsible for shipping the prize. Prize shipment will be handled by the sponsor. All winners will be contacted via email. If you’d like us to host a giveaway for your business, please contact Joanne for details.


    8 Black Women Podcasts You Should Be Listening To

    I know I may be a little late to the game, but I didn’t really get into podcasts until about two years ago.  It all started one day when I was sick at home with a cold, and a friend suggested I listen to the Serial podcast to pass the time.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t get into Serial, but I did find several other amazing podcasts and once I got started, I couldn’t stop.

    Now I’m a podcast junkie!  I usually have one playing when I’m working out, folding laundry, or in the car (when I’m not listening to kids songs).  Don’t get me wrong, I do love music, but sometimes it’s nice to have something else stimulating to listen to that makes me think.  I have several favorite podcasts that I listen to religiously, but today in honor of the upcoming Black History month, I decided to share a few of my personal favorite Black podcasts hosted by African-American women.

    8 Black Podcasts You Should be Listening To

    Check out my top 8 Black women podcast picks below…

    If you want to feel empowered, inspired and motivated, listen to these podcasts:

    Happy Black Woman Podcast with Rosetta Thurman

    The Happy Black Woman Podcast is the only show that is designed to empower black women to transform their lives through personal development and entrepreneurship. Each episode provides inspiration and motivation to create a life of happiness, success, and freedom! This podcast is for black women who want to change their lives, build a successful location-independent business doing what they love so that they can quit their job and finally have the freedom to travel the world!

    Myleik Teele’s Podcast

    I’ve mentioned Myleik Teele a few times before on this blog.  I truly admire her and love her “tell it like it is” attitude.  She uses just the right words and tone of voice without sounding too “preachy” or “bossy”.  In her podcast, she discusses everything from how get out of a slump to offering practical (and realistic relationship advice) to sharing how she started earning over six figures working for herself over the last few years.

    Also, be sure to check out my personal one-on-one interview with Myleik!  Click here!

    If you are looking for a more spiritual experience or need some renewed faith, listen to this podcast:

    Chrystal Evans Hurst
    I adore Chrystal Evans Hurst!  She is so down-to-earth, authentic and transparent about her life.  She discusses a variety of topics including: faith, family, food, fitness, and fun.

    If you need to get your money & finances in order, listen to this podcast:

    Think & Grow Chick Podcast
    Courtney Sanders is the real deal!  In her podcast, she talks about some of the bad financial decisions she made in the past and getting herself out of debt.  Today, her community reaches over 20,000 women every month through her women’s empowerment business that provides training, coaching, and workshops to ambitious women like you!

    If you’re looking for activities and fresh ideas to do with your kids at home, listen to this podcast.

    Raising Playful Tots
    Hosted by Melitsa Avila, Raising Playful Tots is the place for making the most with the time you have with your child but you don’t know what activities to do, need some new ideas and you feel like you’re wanting to create a simple playful home full of your values.  P.S. I am totally crushing on Melitsa’s British accent!

    If you are into fitness, nutrition and clean-eating, listen to this podcast.

    Brown Vegan
    As a vegan coach, Monique Koch teaches you how to get started on a healthy and compassionate vegan life.  Although I’m not a vegan, I enjoy listening to Monique’s tips and advice.

    If you want to know the latest news in pop culture, listen to this podcast.

    Black Girls Are Talking

    Black Girls Talking is a podcast 4 black women (Alesia, Fatima, Aurelia, and Ramou) discuss pop culture, Beyonce, & the pursuit of the perfect body oil.  The conversations are blunt, open and engaging.

    If you want a good laugh, listen to this podcast.

    Another Round
    In this podcast, Heben Nigatu and Tracy Clayton cover everything from race, gender and pop culture to squirrels, mangoes, and bad jokes, all in one boozy podcast.

    Listening to podcasts really does make the time fly by.  Also, I learn so many new things with every episode so it’s a win-win!

    Your turn:  What are your favorite podcasts to listen to?  Feel free to share in the comments.  I’d love to hear your suggestions!

    children's books, holiday books

    I Have a Dream for My Children

    The life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. will be celebrated this weekend throughout the United States.  Even if you do nothing to celebrate or acknowledge Dr. King, I think the holiday is a great opportunity to talk to children about diversity, fairness, equality, kindness, friendship and peace.

    Every year since my kids were born, I’ve been reading Kadir Nelson’s book I Have a Dream with the kids. The book contains snippets from the famous “I Have a Dream” speech as well as the speech in its entirety in the back of the book.  There is also an accompanying CD to go along with it.

    Reading this book makes me think about my own dreams for my children.  As parents, we all want the best for our children, right?  In essence, we want them to be smart, successful and to achieve all of their life goals.

    Here are some of my hope and dreams for my children:

    • To be be happy, loving, respectful, and productive citizens of the world
    • To be confident
    • To think for themselves and form their own opinions
    • To be successful in anything they put their minds to
    • To always know their parents love and support them no matter what they do
    • To dare to be different despite what others may think or say
    • To be doers and not dreamers (from Shonda Rhimes book Year of Yes)
    • To work hard and play harder
    • To be loving and respectful of nature and the environment
    • To be willing to experience new and different things
    • To be curious, life-long learners and readers
    • To respect other people no matter what their differences may be
    • To love life with zest and vigor
    • To share their love with others and to be loved by others
    • To give back to those in need and to help make this world a better place no matter how small it may be
    • To be a good friend to others
    • To choose the right way even when the right way is much harder
    • To make mistakes and learn from them
    • To take risks and not be afraid of failure
    • To be healthy
    • To follow their passions and to live fully
    • To dance like no one is watching
    • To take amazing adventures (and sometimes take mommy and daddy along for the ride too!)

    Ultimately, I hope my kids’ lives are filled with happiness, giggles, safety, and good health.  I want their lives to be filled with gratitude, joy, and giving.

    Cheers to you, Dr. King on your birthday in heaven!  Thank you for the opportunity to meditate on your message and your legacy.

    Your turn:  What are your hopes and dreams for your children? Do they mirror your own?  Feel free to share in the comments.

    adult books, currently reading

    Spark Joy by Marie Kondo

    As you may recall, the two theme words I’ve chosen for 2016 are: joy and reach.  If you missed the post where I mentioned why I chose those words, you can read all about it here.  In that post, I also told you my favorite book I read last year was  The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo.  So, I was literally jumping up and down when I found out the follow-up to that book was being published this year!  The companion book is entitled Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up.


    Synopsis (from Amazon)
    Japanese decluttering guru Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up has revolutionized homes—and lives—across the world. Now, Kondo presents an illustrated guide to her acclaimed KonMari Method, with step-by-step folding illustrations for everything from shirts to socks, plus drawings of perfectly organized drawers and closets. She also provides advice on frequently asked questions, such as whether to keep “necessary” items that may not bring you joy. With guidance on specific categories including kitchen tools, cleaning supplies, hobby goods, and digital photos, this comprehensive companion is sure to spark joy in anyone who wants to simplify their life.

    This year I have a goal to finally declutter and organize our basement and garage.  I’m talking a complete overhaul.  Our basement isn’t finished so we’ve been using it as a storage area since we moved into our house over ten years ago.  It’s a huge space and has lots of potential, but we need to get it cleaned out.  Same goes for our garage.

    I’m really looking forward to reading this book since it includes actual illustrations on exactly how to do the KonMari method.  I’m a more visual person so most times, I’d prefer to see exactly how things are done rather than have someone tell me.  I remember reading the first book thinking, “how should I be folding my clothing”?  This book will provide the answer – yay!  Thanks, Marie!  I can’t wait to dive into this book in the coming weeks!  Will you be reading?

    To learn more about Marie Kondo or her books visit her website here.

    Your turn:  Did you read Marie’s first book?  Are you as excited as I am to read this companion book?  Feel free to share in the comments.