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February 2018

    black history, children's books, giveaways

    When Rosa Parks Went Fishing: A Black History Month Book Giveaway!

    In honor of Black History Month, today we’re partnering with author Rachel Ruiz to bring you this fabulous book giveaway!  I already shared this book and reviewed it last year, but if you want to read my review you can find that post by clicking here.

    Enter our book giveaway below if you’re interested.  Good luck!

    When Rosa Parks Went Fishing by Rachel Ruiz
    Format: Paperback or Hardcover (Library edition)
    Pages: 32
    Age Range: 6 – 12
    Grade Level: 2- 3

    Synopsis:  No discussion of the Civil Rights Movement is complete without the story of Rosa Parks. But what was this activist like as a child? Following young Rosa from a fishing creek to a one-room schoolhouse, from her wearing homemade clothes to wondering what “white” water tastes like, readers will be inspired by the experiences that shaped one of the most famous African-Americans in history.

    Interior illustration from the book When Rosa Parks Went Fishing

    When Rosa Parks Went Fishing Book Giveaway

    children's books, diverse books

    So You Want to Talk About Race: Picture Book Recommendations for Kids

    Have you started having conversations about race and racism with your children yet?  It’s a topic I have touched upon (in the most simplistic way) with my children on several occasions.  As they get older, these topics will become more important to talk about on a more regular basis.

    If you’re thinking: “Why do I need to to talk to my children about race?” or “My kids are too young to start having those types of conversations?” or “Will talking about race promote racism or bigotry?” or “Isn’t that the teacher’s job?”  Think again.

    I understand that talking about race can sometimes feel dangerous and overwhelming for some people, but it’s important work if we want to truly get to a place where all people are treated as equals. I believe it is crucial that we talk to our kids openly and honestly about race as soon as they are old enough to understand that people come in all different colors, shapes and sizes.

    I think it’s important to give children the words and language to understand both the superficial outer differences between people, as well as the very real, lived differences that exist under the surface. As parents, caregivers and educators, we need to teach them to respect and value those differences as well as the many similarities that all people share.

    The books I’ve listed here provide you with a sort of simple blueprint for educating your children or students about race and being unique. It helps them become more compassionate toward people and allows them to help push the lever toward true equality. In essence, these books helps kids to see beyond the superficial outward differences and look deeper for common interests, similar likes and dislikes, values, beliefs, and attitudes. We all have a story to tell.

    Mariama: Different But Just the Same by Jerónimo Cornelles

    Lovely by Jess Hong

    Why Am I Me? by Paige Britt

    Everybody Cooks Rice by Norah Dooley

    All the Colors of the Earth by Sheila Hamanaka

    Tan to Tamarind: Poems About the Color Brown by Malathi Michelle Iyengar

    Skin Again
    by Bell Hooks

    The Colors of Us by Karen Katz

    The Skin You Live In by Michael Tyler

    Let’s Talk About Race by Julius Lester

    Shades of People by Sheila M. Kelly

    Shades of Black: A Celebration of Our Children by Sandra L. Pinkney

    Same, Same But Different by Jenny Sue

    Happy In Our Skin by Fran Manushkin

    I Am Mixed by Garcelle Beauvais

    We All Sing With the Same Voice by J. Philip Miller

    Whoever You Are by Mem Fox

    What I Like About Me! by Allia Zobel Nolan

    Chocolate Me! by Taye Diggs

    Your turn: Which books would you add to this list?  Feel free to share in the comments.

    book reviews, children's books, diverse books, read aloud

    The Little Red Fort by Brenda Maier (A Book Review)

    The Little Red Fort by Brenda Maier, illustrated by Sonia Sanchez

    Publisher: Scholastic
    Format: Hardcover
    Pages: 40
    Age Range: 4- 8
    Grade Level: Preschool – 3

    Ruby’s mind is always full of ideas.  One day, she finds some old boards and decides to build something.
    She invites her brothers to help, but they just laugh and tell her she doesn’t know how to build.

    “Then I’ll learn,” she says.  And she does!

    When she creates a dazzling fort that they all want to play in, it is Ruby who has the last laugh.

    With sprightly text and winsome pictures, this modern spin on a timeless favorite celebrates the pluck and ingenuity of young creators everywhere!

    We have a new favorite read aloud that me and my kids adore: The Little Red Fort!

    This book is not only fun, but it’s empowering too. Little Ruby’s mind is always full of ideas. One day, she decides to build a fort and asks her three brothers for help. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done: the plans have to be drawn up, supplies need to be gathered, boards need to be cut, and more.

    Illustration courtesy of The Little Red Fort

    When Ruby asks her three brothers (Oscar Lee, Rodrigo and José) for help, they all say they’re too busy to give her a hand. When the fort is finally completed, Ruby asks her brothers if they want to play in her fort. Of course, they all jump at the opportunity once they see how amazing and fun the fort is, but Ruby doesn’t let them get off so easily.

    I adore this retelling of the folktale The Little Red Hen featuring a little Latina protagonist! This book has great read aloud appeal, vibrant and bright illustrations and STEM. I love that the brothers learn a great lesson and that little Ruby has a determined mind of her own to build a fort. Although she didn’t have support from her brothers in the beginning, her mom, dad and grandmother help pitch in showing great teamwork and family support.

    The Little Red Fort pays homage to the classic folk tale and commemorates its one hundredth anniversary in picture book form.

    Disclaimer: I was provided with a complimentary book in exchange for an honest review.  As always, all opinions expressed are my own.

    Your turn: Have you ever read the classic folktale The Little Red Hen?  Feel free to share in the comments.

    children's books, diverse books

    This Is It: A Heartwarming Book Trailer and the Amazing Story Behind It

    This Is It by Daria Peoples-Riley

    Publisher: Greenwillow Books
    Format: Hardcover
    Pages: 40
    Age Range: 4-8 years
    Grade Level: Preschool – 3

    Daria Peoples-Riley’s debut picture book is a celebration of individuality, self-expression, and dance. Fans of Misty Copeland’s Firebird and Matt de la Peña’s Last Stop on Market Street will want to read it over and over again.

    When a young dancer is nervous about her upcoming auditions, her shadow springs to life and leads her on a joyous exploration of their city. Soon enough, the young girl finds confidence in her skills, her body, and her ability to shine.

    With an energetic, rhythmic text that begs to be read aloud and striking, exuberant artwork, This Is It is a love story to originality and the simple joy of movement.

    Check out the amazingly heartwarming book trailer for This Is It here:

    What’s the Story Behind the Book Trailer?

    Tell us a little bit about the trailer.
    It’s not the average book trailer for a picture book. I know, right? Well, I’ve always been interested in making films, so when THIS IS IT was acquired, I knew I wasn’t going to do an animated book trailer. Creating a live action book trailer would be the perfect opportunity to try filmmaking. I thought the idea of bringing my heroine to real life would be more impactful. To be honest, as a child, I wasn’t very interested in cartoons. I liked shows and movies with real people. It’s hard for me to believe there aren’t more kids out there like that. The book trailer is the prologue to the book, and you have to read the book to find out what happens next. It was a wonderful opportunity to create my first experience as a filmmaker.

    Who was some of the talent behind the scenes of the trailer?
    I enlisted the expertise of Patrick Lascu, a Los Angeles based filmmaker, and he put together a crew of amazing talent. He really went out of his way to involve me in the creative process. I learned a lot from him, and hope we can work together again in the near future.

    And in front of the camera, who plays the shadow?
    The shadow is played by my daughter, Jonah Marie. She is an aspiring ballerina who inspired the poem in THIS IS IT.

    Jonah, can you tell us a little bit about your ballet training?
    I train in Vaganova Ballet, a style of Russian ballet. I train about ten hours a week right now, and in the summer I attend summer intensives. Last summer, I attended Los Angeles Ballet School and next summer I will attend UNCSA’s classical ballet intensive.

    What was it like dancing as the shadow?
    It was really fun because I didn’t have to worry about being on the camera, but I was still apart of the trailer. Besides ballet, what are some of your other interests? I like fashion and baking.

    What are some of your dreams for the future?
    I would love to become a professional ballet dancer. The mom and the daughter—who plays those roles? The mom is played by Tanya Hill, and her daughter Jalyn Noelle. They are real mom and daughter, so the connection was natural.

    How did you go about finding Tanya and Jalyn?
    It was pretty unconventional actually. We call it a God story—one of those acts of Providence only God could orchestrate. Patrick and I were looking for actors, and reached out to a few casting directors, but we hadn’t found anyone who looked quite like the character in THIS IS IT. However, after a couple of weeks of unsuccessfully finding anyone, I was leaving a hotel in
    Buena Park, California when I drove by Tanya and Jalyn who were standing along the street at a crosswalk. Immediately, I was amazed at how much Jalyn looked like my heroine, so I pulled over. It wasn’t until I got out of my car to approach them, I realized Jalyn and Tanya were holding a homeless sign and asking for money.

    What did you do next?
    Truthfully, it caught me off-guard a little and probably out of nervousness, I commented on Tanya’s t-shirt, a North Carolina Panther’s shirt. I don’t really watch football, but I am a Cam Newton fan because of all the wonderful things he does for kids, so the first thing I said was something like “I’m a Cam Newton fan!” Awkward, right? So funny. But she said, “I am too!” Then, we Cam-dabbed together. Once the ice was broken, I told her I was an author/illustrator who wrote a book, and her daughter looked a lot like the character in my story. I asked her if she was interested in acting in my book trailer, and that was when Jalyn told me, “Of course, I’m an actor.” Tanya told me she was struggling after relocating to California from North Carolina. She cried tears of joy when I offered Jalyn the role. Then, I cried. Then, we celebrated by taking a selfie. We exchanged information, and Jalyn became my real life heroine. The best thing about it was I was able to compensate Jalyn for her talent.

    How are Jalyn and her mom doing now? Can you give us an update? Do you still keep in touch? Absolutely! We keep each other updated. Jalyn and her mom will be in my heart forever. They are doing wonderful. Shortly after our first meeting, I reached out to my aunt who lives in the LA area to find Tanya and Jalyn housing. She enlisted the help of Boys II Men singer, Nathan Morris who has a heart for helping the homeless. Together, we raised $9,000 in three days on GoFundMe. Jalyn and her mom moved back to the Carolinas. Jalyn is acting and attending school and mom is working as a manager of an optical gallery.

    Jalyn, what did you think about Daria asking you to be in her trailer?
    I felt excited because I wanted to be an actress and she just came in my life and helped me fulfill my dreams, and well, it was the first time I was on onset with cameras. I did NarroWay, A Christian theater in South Carolina, but it wasn’t like that.

    How was your experience? What was your favorite part?
    I loved the experience. It was a lot of fun doing it. My favorite part was learning ballet. It was the first time I ever tried it, but now I actually want to do ballet.

    What are you doing now?
    Well, I went back to NarroWay and now I’m doing a show called Not Just Another Love Story.

    What are your some of your dreams for the future?
    One of my dreams is becoming a veterinarian. I love animals and I really want to help the homeless. I’ve been in that situation before, and it’s not fun.

    Where can people purchase the book?
    This Is It is available now online (the publisher’s website, Amazon, Barnes and Noble) and in bookstores wherever books are sold.  You can also check your local library to see if they have it in their circulation. If they don’t simply request your library to order a copy.

    Connect with Daria Peoples-Riley!
    Website | Instagram | Twitter

    Your turn: Are you looking forward to reading this with your little readers now that you’ve seen the trailer and read the story behind it?  Feel free to share in the comments.