Monthly Archives

January 2016

    book giving day, children's literacy

    International Book Giving Day 2016: How I’m Helping

    Save the date for International Book Giving Day 2016!

    Oh, I just LOVE literary related initiatives and events, don’t you?  Ok, I know not everyone gets excited about stuff like this, but I certainly do (don’t judge me…ha ha!)

    International Book Giving Day #bookgivingday takes place on 14th February each year.  Yes, the same day as Valentine’s Day.  The aim of the day is to get books into the hands of as many children as possible thereby increasing children’s access to and enthusiasm for books.  Although the holiday originated in the UK, book lovers around the world now join in the celebrations every year.


    International Book Giving Day is a 100% volunteer initiative born out of the knowledge that:

    • Most children in developing countries do not own books.
    • In the United Kingdom, one-third of children do not own books.
    • In the United States, two-thirds of children living in poverty do not own books.

    International Book Giving Day’s focus is on encouraging people worldwide to give a book to a child on February 14th.

    Why not use the day to spread love in a different kind of way to:

    1) gift a book to a friend or family member,
    2) leave a book in a waiting room at a pediatrician’s office or children’s hospital for children to read, or
    3) donate a gently used book to a local library, or shelter or to an organization that distributes used books to children in need internationally or locally.
    4) Host a book giveaway on your blog – that’s something I plan to do…stay tuned!  This is a great idea for all you authors out there.

    One of my personal goals this year is to start giving back and volunteering my time again (gradually).  Prior to having children I used to volunteer for several different organizations, but I had to scale back and start being more “stingy” about my time in order to take care of the kids as they were my #1 priority.  Now that the kids are a little older and growing more independent each day, I now feel like I’m ready to start volunteering again even if it’s just in small ways to start.

    Therefore, I’ve decided my first way of giving back this year will be to donate books on International Book Giving Day.  I contacted the local Reach Out and Read organization in my area and told them I’m interested in donating books.  If they agree to accept the books (which I don’t see why they wouldn’t), I plan to make a book donation to their organization.  In addition to donating some of my own books, I plan to reach out to several friends and family members to see if they have any books they may want to get off their hands.

    Depending on how many books I receive, I also want to make a donation to my local library, hubby’s barber shop, and leave some books in the waiting room at the kids’ pediatrician office.  In each of the books I also plan to insert one of the cute International Book Giving Day bookmarks which can be found here.

    So instead of giving the kids chocolates this Valentine’s day why not give a book instead?  Perhaps you agree, but I think chocolate and toys are all very fine and dandy but books, well books are just awesome and last much longer than a box of chocolates ever will.  I’m just saying.

    To learn more about International Book giving Day visit their website here.

    Your turn: What are your plans for International Book Giving Day?  How will you give back?  Feel free to share in the comments.

    adult books, book reviews, myleik teele journal

    This Is My Year Journal: A Review and How to Use It

    Happy New Year, Everyone!

    I’m so excited 2016 is finally here!  I’m ready to embrace everything this new year has to offer…it’s going to be an AMAZING 366 days!  Anyone else claiming this for themselves?

    I decided to purchase a gift for myself this past Christmas and I’m so happy I did!  My gift of choice?  Myleik Teele’s “This Is My Year Journal”.  I plan to use it to keep myself organized throughout the entire year.  I know you may be thinking, “How can a journal help keep you organized, shouldn’t you be using a planner?”  I’ll explain how to use the journal shortly, but first let me tell you the one thing I’ve learned about keeping a journal, then I’ll tell you who Myleik is.

    This Is My Year Journal- A Review and How to Use It

    Journaling: The one thing I’ve learned and Why I Do It
    I’ve learned that when I record my thoughts, feelings, ideas, and actions from the past in a journal, I put yourself in a position to forge a better plan for my future.   To me, keeping a journal can help me stop guessing…and start going and doing.

    Who Is Myleik?
    Myleik Teele is the creator of CurlBox, one of the top-selling beauty subscription boxes for natural haired curly girls. Over the years, she’s acquired a huge social media following, not only due to the success of CurlBox, but also her tough-love advice she’s been giving to women, like myself, through her podcast over the years.  I love Myleik’s “tell it like it is” attitude.  She uses just the right words and tone of voice without sounding too “preachy” or “bossy”.  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.

    The journal was in my mailbox when we came back home from our first-ever family vacation to Florida.  I was so excited to crack open the journal to see what was inside!

    The first 11 pages include notes and advice from Myleik including: her plans for 2016, how to take an assessment of the prior year, how to move past being average, discovering which “season” of life you’re in right now, making self-care a priority,  8 tips to make sure this is your year, how not to fall, how to use her old journals in the new year, and finally a personal handwritten note from Myleik.  The remaining pages are blank lined pages with space for you to write.

    I started using my journal on the morning of New Year’s Eve and have been using it ever since.  However, figuring out exactly how to use this journal required me to do a bit of research on my own.

    I heard Myleik say in previous podcasts that her journaling method was outlined in her first journal, but I don’t own her first journal.  She also mentioned you could listen to one of her previous podcasts to learn her journaling method.  Well, I had no idea which podcast it was even after scrolling through all of them in iTunes.  So what’s a girl to do?  I simply asked someone.  Ask and ye shall receive, right?  Yep, I found someone online via Instagram who I knew purchased her first journal and simply asked them to send me a screenshot of the journaling method.  I have no idea who the person was, but she gladly sent the screenshot my way so now I’m able to share Myleik’s journaling method with you.  Ready?

    How to Use This Journal

    Left side of the journal – Use for journaling
    Right side of the journal – Use to create lists

    Tips for Journaling
    Write: Use the left side of the page to journal thoughts, write down numbers, save Instagram names, websites, apps, books titles, random thoughts, ideas, quotes and whatever else you come across that day.

    Tips for Creating Lists
    Date: This seems like a no-brainer, but you always want to be sure that you enter the date, month, and year.

    Prioritize: Start with the highest priority for the day as #1 and work your way down.

    Highlight by Importance: Once you start working on the list you’ll do one of two things: If it’s a task that needs more steps to actually be completed, you highlight it YELLOW.  Myleik likes this color because it’s the brightest and it allows you to see the task clearly.

    Make Notes on Next Steps: If you have highlighted the task with yellow, you can also make notes beneath it in another color pen (Myleik uses red or pink) with the notes on the “next step” you’ll need to do. For example, “Left a message with the assistant, check back tomorrow.”

    Orange Means You’re Done: If you complete the task, highlight it with orange. Orange means you’re 100% done with it.

    Carry Tasks Over to the Next Day: Once the day is over you can set yourself up for the next day by carrying over all of your YELLOW tasks on the new page in order of priority.

    This method will keep you organized with your priorities on the top of your list each day.

    Example Notes
    1. Call with Jackie at 2:00pm today
    2. Speaking engagement – Send my biography to the event organizer
    3. Plan my birthday trip – Hawaii? California Coast? Dubai?
    4. Go grocery shopping
    5. Write and mail thank you cards
    6. Read for 60 minutes today
    7. Call mom at 6pm today to discuss family vacation
    8. Schedule doctor appointments for the kids
    9. Meeting with accountability partner Friday at 7pm
    10. Hair appointment Saturday at 10am

    If you own this journal and don’t know how to use it, I hope you’ve found this post to be helpful.  Happy Journaling!

    To learn more about Myleik or purchase one of her journals visit her website.

    Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post.  I purchased this journal with my own money.  All opinions expressed are my own.

    Your turn: Do you journal?  What are your best tips for staying organized?  Feel free to share in the comments.

    book reviews, children's books

    Love Thy Fro by Casey Elisha: A Book Review

    Love Thy Fro
    Written by Casey Elisha, illustrated by Aliecee Cummings

    Aimed at girls ages 5-8, Love Thy Fro is about a young girl named Kemi who absolutely loves her big, beautiful, curly afro hair!  It’s a simple book with a simple message, the aim is to teach girls the importance of loving themselves and embracing their “non-typical” hair from a young age.

    Love Thy Fro debuted for the first time in South East London on December 6, 2015.  The very next day the book was completely SOLD OUT.  Casey was inspired to write the book based on conversations she had with several people and her own personal reflections on her past issues related to self-love and her hair.

    “My decision to write Love Thy Fro was a very random one stemming from my realization that, if I were to become a mother to a daughter anytime soon, I would have a really hard time teaching her to be comfortable in her own skin due to the images of beauty that society constantly throws at us. I wanted my future daughters to know and appreciate their unique beauty, so I chose to create something that I felt would help show them this.” ~Casey Elisha

    I want my daughter to embrace the hair that naturally grows out of her head and to believe, with confidence, that there is nothing wrong with her hair despite what others may say.  Luckily, my daughter absolutely LOVES her hair at the moment.  I hope it stays that way for years to come.

    I like to think I’m the main reason why my daughter feels so good about her hair.  How narcissistic of me, right?  Seriously though, I do take good care of my hair and I’ve been wearing it in its natural state for the past six years now.  Perhaps by seeing me take care of my hair it in turn made my daughter feel good about hers.  In addition, I am constantly telling her how beautiful her hair is hoping it will sink into her head.  I think its safe to say it has, at least for now.

    I also read beautiful natural hair books like Love Thy Fro to my daughter frequently.  As I’ve stated on this blog before, it’s important for me to let my children see characters who look like them in books.  That’s especially true when it comes to teaching my daughter about hair.  She simply won’t see characters with her hair type featured in princess books.  That’s why I’m so glad authors like Casey Elisha and others are on the forefront writing positive and inspirational books for young girls with afro-textured hair.

    The first day when the book arrived in the mail I opened it and read through it quickly on my own.  Later that night I read with my daughter and we both enjoyed it immensely.  I definitely think the book resonated with my daughter because Sundays are the same day I wash and style her hair for the week just like little Kemi in the book.

    Throughout the book, Kemi explains the process her mum (mom) follows to shampoo, condition, moisturize and style her hair.  We love the rhyming text as well as the gorgeous illustrations that really help bring the book to life.  I especially loved that Kemi’s mom let her decide what style she wanted to wear in her hair.  How empowering for little Kemi to tell her mom exactly how she wanted to wear her hair -in an afro!

    There is also an activity section in the back of the book for girls to: draw a picture of their fro and write a few sentences describing reasons why they love their fro.  It’s also worth mentioning that since Casey is a British author located in London, there are some words that are spelled differently than from what we use in the United States like: mummy (mommy), moistrises (moisturizes), colour (color), favourite (favorite) and canerows (cornrows).  This was not annoying at all to me though – just wanted to make you aware of it.

    Kudos to Casey Elisha on recognizing the need for positive, self-esteem books like this one and for representing for curly girls everywhere.  With the help of books like Love Thy Fro, I will continue to show my daughter curly images to help reinforce her natural beauty.

    Connect with Casey Elisha on Instagram or her website!

    For all inquiries, please contact Casey Elisha directly at:

    Order a copy of the book here.

    Your turn: Have you read this book yet?  How do you teach your daughter(s) or the little girls in your life to love their afro-textured hair?  Feel free to share in the comments.

    Giveaway: Win an Autographed Copy of Love Thy Fro!
    I’m thrilled to be hosting my first giveaway of 2016!  To enter to win this book simply follow the instructions listed in the Rafflecopter giveaway below.  Contest ends Thursday, January 14th at 11:59pm.  Good luck!

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    book reviews, children's books, children's literacy

    My First Book Series: A Book Review

    Back in November 2015, I introduced you to author Sophie Helenek when I featured her as the literacy expert for the month.  In addition to being an award-winning author, Sophie is an elite athlete, former banker, Everest summiteer, runway model, and mother.  Also, her daughter happens to go to the same preschool as my son – how cool is that?

    Sophie recently wrote an entire series of children’s board books called My First Book.  There are several books in the series including: My First Book Sky Wonders, My First Book Fruits, My First Book Musical InstrumentsMy First Book Shapes, My First Book Christmas (Kindle edition) and My First Book Pets (Kindle edition).


    Each book in the My First Book series is designed to stimulate and captivate baby from birth to toddlerhood, while fueling inspiration and knowledge of your bundle of joy surroundings.

    These board books have received top accolades honoring excellence in family-friendly products, and prestigious awards for its innovation, attention to quality, and educational properties which seals only the very best in reading excellence.

    At birth, babies are very nearsighted; that is why they are interested in bold black and white shapes and high contrast patterns. Eager to learn more, Sophie read a bunch of studies on speech development, child temperament, and babies’ milestones. Gathering all this information, she developed and designed My First Books series from a baby’s perspective.  She wanted to write an engaging book that promotes bonding and supports an infant’s developmental growth milestones: vision, memory, speech, and social skills.

    They are not just picture books or bedtime stories, but rather activity books conceived to stimulate a baby’s senses.

    Here how it works:

    • At first, a baby will enjoy simple illustrations with black-and-white and high-contrast patterns designed especially for the very young to focus on.
    • As babies gets older, their brains learn to distinguish bright primary colors and will start identifying the illustrations with the words you read, which triggers their memory process.
    • Each picture is accompanied by a simple word that babies will love repeating and which helps their speech development.
    • The last pages show all the illustrations together, which also helps the baby’s memory process.
    • My First Book series offers a special feature for toddlers, as they can write on the book with a white board pen, wipe it, and write again!

    The first thing that surprised me about these books is the way both of my kids gravitated towards them.  The first night we read them the kids eagerly wanted to read them again and again…no exaggeration.  Perhaps they are attracted to the bright and bold colors of the illustrations or the simplicity of books, I’m not sure.  Whatever it is, they like them and so do I.

    My children are slowly outgrowing board books as they’re getting older, but I think these books are perfect for babies and toddlers alike.  Of course for the youngest readers, you won’t have to worry about these books being slobbered upon, crinkled up, ripped, or worse. These board books provide a sturdy option for the smallest of the small while still offering the opportunity to expose your child to good books.

    My three-year old daughter can read all of the words and name the objects in each book without any assistance from me.  My son can name the colors, identify the shapes, name the fruits and instruments, but he’s not at the reading stage yet.

    I also enjoy using these books for both letter recognition and counting with the kids too.  In addition, I like to incorporate theme-related songs like “Apples and Bananas” (when we’re reading the My First Book Fruits book) and activities to expand on the topic of each book.  As an added bonus, toddlers and preschoolers can even use a dry erase marker on these books and then wipe them clean when they’re ready to practice handwriting.

    If you have an infant or know someone who will be giving birth to a baby in the coming months, I’d highly recommend this children’s book series to help with those important developmental growth milestones.

    To learn more about author Sophie Helenek connect with her on social media:
    Twitter:  @nurserybooks

    Your turn: Have you read any of the books in this series with your little readers?  Do you still read board books with your children?  Feel free to share in the comments.