Follow:
Monthly Archives

May 2018

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

    Sisters and Champions: The True Story of Venus and Serena Williams (A Book Review)

    Sisters and Champions: The True Story of Venus and Serena Williams by Howard Bryant, illustrated by Floyd Cooper

    Synopsis
    Everyone knows the names Venus & Serena Williams. They’ve become synonymous with championships, hard work, and with shaking up the tennis world. This inspirational true story, written by award-winning sports journalist, Howard Bryant, and brought to beautiful life by Coretta Scott Kind Award and Honor winner, Floyd Cooper, details the sisters’ journey from a barely-there tennis court in Compton, CA, to Olympic gold medals and becoming the #1 ranked women in the sport of tennis. Here is a worthy ode to Venus and Serena Williams, the incredible sister duo who will go down in history as two of the greatest athletes of all time.

    Reflection

    Every time I read this book it moves me to tears. Not because it’s a sad story, because it fills my heart with so much joy and inspires me to keep on pushing and grinding despite any odds, haters or obstacles I may face.

    Venus and Serena’s tennis careers began before they could even hold a racquet properly at the tender age of 3. Their father, Richard Williams a former sharecropper from Louisiana, knew from the day he put tennis racquets in their hands they would be known as the greatest tennis duo in the world. Others laughed whenever Richard would talk about it.

    Sisters and Champions gives you an inside glimpse into the lives of tennis legends Venus and Serena Williams. You learn about some challenges they overcame (like racism and health issues) and their many impressive victories.  Floyd Cooper’s vivid and gorgeous illustrations really complement the story so well.

    I love how the girls’ parents took a gamble by putting everything they had on making tennis stars out of their daughters. All of their hard work and dedication eventually paid off…big time! In February 2002, Venus was ranked number one in the world. Six months later, it was Serena’s turn to be number one. It is the only time in history two siblings were ranked first and second in the world.

    Check this one out if you want to read about Venus and Serena’s story, if you need a dose of inspiration, or if you have any aspiring little tennis players in your life. Makes a nice addition to any home or school library. Now available wherever books are sold. Recommended for ages 4-8 and up.

    “It’s not about winning today, it’s about winning tomorrow. You’re building your game.” -Richard Williams

    Share:
    children's books, children's literacy, parenting

    How to Score Free or Discounted Books to Build Your Home or School Library

    Are you a fellow bibliophile like me? Want to know how you can build a decent home library at a fraction of bookstore prices?  Read on.

    Before we get into some of the many ways you can score free or discounted books for your home or school library, first let’s talk about some of the benefits reading provides.  Research has shown people who read books—fiction or nonfiction, ­poetry or prose—for as little as 30 minutes a day over several years, live an average of two years longer than people who don’t read anything at all.

    Research also suggests that children as young as six months who read books with their parents several times a week show stronger literacy skills, score higher on intelligence tests, and land better jobs than nonreaders. (Check out how I taught my two-year older daughter to read.)  Bottom line is when reading is practiced over a lifetime, it keeps your mind sharp.  Isn’t that great news?

    Some of the other added benefits of reading?

    • increases empathy and emotional intelligence
    • enhanced smarts
    • reduces stress
    • improves analytical thinking
    • increases vocabulary
    • improves memory
    • improved writing skills

    I lead a full and busy life.  How can I possibly find time to read each day?
    If you think that you don’t have enough time to start reading, you’re wrong. How do I know? Because we make time for the things that are important to us. Period.  How much TV do you watch? How much time do you spend scrolling through Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, etc.? You could easily replace reading with those activities. (Check out my post about how I find time to read.)

    If you’re worried about the cost of books, the most obvious place to take advantage of is your local library. Most libraries use the interlibrary loan system, so you can check out nearly any book you want. I also use Worldcat to find libraries in the area that might have my book.

    20+ Other Ways to Score Free or Discounted Books

    AbeBooks
    Abe Books is a respected online marketplace in used books, and often has hard-to-find books at reasonable prices.  I like to use this site mostly for searching for out-of-print titles.

    Amazon
    Amazon is usually my first go-to website for online book shopping.  This is especially true if I want to purchase a newly released or forthcoming book I’m excited about.

    Amazon Marketplace
    I have purchased several of my books through the Amazon Marketplace, it’s Amazon’s used book service. You can get many titles for less than a dollar, and even though Amazon charges $3.99 shipping per book, the total still comes in under $5.  I typically only purchase books in very good or excellent condition from here.

    Black Baby Books
    Black Baby Books is a service that was created to make it easier to find and purchase children’s books with Black characters.  They often have discounted deals on recently released books!

    Bookdepository
    I like to browse the Bargain Shop section on the Book Depository website.  Sometimes, you can find high-quality books at 50% off or more!  Bonus: They offer FREE shipping WORLDWIDE!

    Book Fairies
    Do you believe in book fairies?  I certainly do!  Last year, my kids and I had so much fun being book fairies for the day leaving books around our city for others to find and treasure.  Book fairies hide books around the WORLD, every day, for people to find, read, and then leave for the next person.  You never know when you’ll find a free book or two from the book fairies!

    Booksalefinder
    If you live in the United States or Canada, check out the The Book Sale Finder website.  This site allows you to find book sales listed by non-profit organizations.  The site is always kept up to date when I use it.  Just click on your local area using either the map or the corresponding link to your state or province.  The list will show you all nearby book sales in your area.  The best part?  When my kids and I have attended some of these book sales we score paperbacks for about 50 cents or $1 and gently used/new hardcovers for a $1 – $3!

    Better World Books
    Better World Books collects and resells used books to raise money for literacy programs around the world and also keep great books out of landfills.  I like to occasionally browse their bargain bin deals.

    Bharat Babies
    Looking for children’s books that feature Indian characters?  The mission of Bharat Babies is simple: design and produce developmentally appropriate books that tell the stories of India’s heritage for children from birth through elementary school.

    Book Swap Parties
    Attending or hosting a book swap party is a free way to collect books for your home library.  It’s also a great way to get rid of books you or your children are no longer interested in reading.  You can have it at someone’s home or a local park or library.  For each used book a family or person brings, they get to swap it for a different book at the party. For extra fun, have snacks and hold book talks during the event.

    Craigslist
    Craigslist is another place to find gently used or new books for a fraction of the cost.

    DiscoverBooks
    Discover Books helps books achieve their greatest purpose by collecting and reselling them to other readers, donating books to those in need, or recycling used books to become another useful good with a new story to tell.

    Dollar Store
    Don’t underestimate your local Dollar Store!  I usually always browse the book section whenever I go into a dollar store.  Sometimes I’ve found some really good deals there.

    Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library
    Unfortunately, we don’t live in an area that offers this program.  However, if you do be sure to check it out!  Just visit the website and search for an affiliate program near you.

    Facebook Groups
    I’ve heard there are lots of different Facebook groups where you can score cheap books from others.  I haven’t done this personally, but know others who have.

    Friends and Family
    Asking family or friends if they have any gently loved books never hurts, right?  I often find people are generally happy to depart with books their children or relatives have outgrown or if they are in the midst of spring cleaning or downsizing.

    Gifts
    I have a couple book-loving friends and family members who like to give my children books as gifts.  When we receive great books from our wish list, we’re always thrilled to give gifted books a new home!

    Green Valley Book Fair
    I don’t live in the mid-Atlantic area, but it’s on my bucket list to make it to the Green Valley Book Fair one day.  Have you ever heard of it?  Residents of the mid-Atlantic region of the United States are fortunate enough to attend the 25,000 square foot Green Valley Book Fair when it is open.  It’s a warehouse in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia that is open about six times a year, for about two weeks at a time. Prices for new books are typically 60-90% off the retail price, and the selection tends to be similar to what you find at large retail bookstores.

    Half Price Books
    I really wished there was a Half Price Books in my area – sigh.  (Please come to the Northeast!)  They have a massive collection and excellent prices on both new and used books.

    Kohl’s Cares
    Want to make a difference in your community?  Simply purchase $5 items from the Kohl’s Cares cause merchandise program. There is a cute collection every season, so you can buy new books and soft toys year-round. What’s more amazing – 100% of the net profit is donated to support children’s initiatives.

    Library Book Sales
    My local libraries host these sales several times throughout the year.  In the past I have bought hardcovers for $1 to $2 and paperbacks for $0.50 to $1.  Check your local library to find out when they host their sales.

    Little Free Libraries
    I want to own a little free library in my neighborhood so bad!  Aren’t they the cutest thing?  The premise is simple: take a book and leave a book in one of the small boxes in various locations around the world.  Browse their website to see if there is one in your community or better yet – start your own!

    New Book Stores
    Many large chain book stores have a bargain book section where you can sometimes find good books marked 50-75% off, or even more.  Don’t be too proud to browse the clearance section!

    Price Matching
    Yes, price matching is a thing – even when it comes to book shopping!  Simply check with your customer service desk before you purchase books.  I know places like Target will price-match to Amazon.

    Powell’s Online Bookstore
    Browse the used books section on the Powell’s website.  You can search by different categories for both children’s and adult books.

    Scholastic Book Fairs
    Attending Scholastic Book Fairs or taking advantage of the Scholastic dollar book deals, is a GREAT way to stock up on brand new books at used book prices.

    Shop Off Season
    This tip really comes in handy when looking for holiday or seasonal books – just like when shopping for off-season clothes, holiday decorations or household items.

    Tag Sales
    Hit up your local tag/yard/garage sales to find bargain books!  I’ve found good, quality books for as low as 0.25 cents!  Oftentimes, people just want to get rid of books so you can haggle and talk them down if want to pay a cheaper price!

    Thriftbooks
    Thrifted books delivered right to your door?  Yes, please!  ThriftBooks is basically like searching your local thrift store without the hassle.  If you’re looking for cheap books online, this is a good place to search.

    Thrift Stores
    Goodwill, Salvation Army and local thrift stores usually have loads of books. You’d be surprised at what you can find given a little time and patience.

    Used Bookstores
    Sometimes I find great deals at used bookstores between $3 – $7.  Bonus points for also supporting a local business!

    Did you find this article to be helpful?  Share it!

    Now do you see it’s totally possible for you to read AND have a great home library on a budget? As your collection starts to grow, people may even start to offer you their unwanted books. Take them! If you don’t need them, you can share them with others, swap them, or even sell them and buy books you want.  Happy reading!

    Your turn: What other ways would you add to this list?  How do you build your library on a budget?  Feel free to share in the comments.

    Share:
    children's books

    Pocket Bios: Pocket Sized Picture Book Biographies for Kids

    Have you heard about pocket bios yet?  They are adorable pocket-sized picture book biographies that are full of personality.  Each book introduces readers to fascinating figures from history with simple storytelling and cheerful illustrations. Titles include men and women from history, exploration, the sciences, the arts, the ancient world, and more.

    Written and illustrated by Al Berenger, some pocket-bio books are currently due to be released in July 2018, October 2018 and early 2019.  The books are recommended for children ages 4-7.

    Here’s a list of the famous historical figures who I know pocket-bios are either written for or are being worked on:

    • Martin Luther King, Jr.
    • Christopher Columbus
    • Blackbeard
    • Rosa ParksMarie Curie
    • Abraham Lincoln
    • Nelson Mandela
    • Anne Frank
    • Coco Chanel
    • Al Capone
    • Charlie Chaplin
    • Neil Armstrong
    • Albert Einstein
    • Isaac Newton
    • Frida Kahlo
    • Muhammad Ali
    • Marie Antoinette
    • Cleopatra
    • Pocahontas
    • Vincent van Gogh
    • Gandhi
    • Buddha

    We’re looking forward to checking these out when they are released.  I’m so curious to see if they truly are small enough to fit inside of a pocket!

    Your turn: Which historical figures would you like to see written about in a pocket-bio?  Feel free to share in the comments.

    Share:
    book reviews, children's books

    Llama Llama Loves to Read (A Book Review)


    Disclaimer:
    I was provided a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher as part of the Llama Llama blog tour.  As always, all opinions expressed are my own.

    Llama Llama Loves to Read
    by Anna Dewdney, illustrated by Reed Duncan

    Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
    Format: Hardcover
    Pages: 40
    Age Range: 3 – 5
    Grade Level: Preschool – Kindergarten

    Synopsis
    Anna Dewdney’s Bestselling Llama Llama series continues with Llama learning to read!

    Llama Llama learns at school. 
    Counting, writing, reading, rules. 
    Friends and school — there’s nothing better. 
    Llama learning all the letters!

    Anna Dewdney’s beloved Llama Llama is growing up and learning to read! Throughout the school day,the teacher helps Llama Llama and the other children practice their letters, shows word cards, reads stories, and brings them to the library where they can all choose a favorite book. By the end of the day, Llama Llama is recognizing words and can’t wait to show Mama Llama that he’s becoming a reader!

    Llama Llama Loves to Read Blog Tour

    Reflection
    It was a sad day for book lovers of all ages when the inspiring author of the beloved Llama Llama series, Anna Dewdney, passed away nearly two years ago from brain cancer. Anna was a champion of children’s literacy and learning who was probably best known for her Llama Llama series.  Llama Llama books are centered around a precocious young Llama navigating his way through childhood.  Undoubtedly, that series has touched many lives and helped put countless kids to sleep over the years. Thankfully Llama Llama’s story is not quite over yet.

    Of course it goes without saying, I love the overall concept behind this book – literacy and reading.  Just like all of the of the other Llama Llama books we’ve read, Llama Llama Loves to Read has a relevant theme, lilting rhythms, and great illustrations.  This book is sure to inspire a love of reading in every preschool and kindergarten mind that is blessed to hear/read the rhythmic story about Llama’s reading adventure.

    In true Anna Dewdney style, this book is written in fun, catchy rhymes.  It starts with a simple life problem and proceeds to solve it, with lessons learned along the way.  In this book, Llama Llama is faced with the problem of not being able to read some harder words.  He learns to do his best and take his time to sound words out.  In the end, he’s so proud of his newfound reading skills and can’t wait to tell his mother all about it.

    My kids and I are so happy Anna Dewdney and Llama Llama will continue to live on through this book and the remaining ones yet to be released. Check out Llama Llama Loves to Read if you want to inspire little people to love reading and conversing about literature.

    Llama Llama Loves to Read blog tour

    AUTHOR BIO
    Anna Dewdney passed away in September, 2016, at the age of fifty from cancer. A teacher, mother, and enthusiastic proponent of reading aloud to children, she continually honed her skills as an artist and writer and published her first Llama Llama book in 2005. Her passion for creating extended to home and garden and she lovingly restored an 18th century farmhouse in southern Vermont. She wrote, painted, gardened, and lived there with her partner, Reed, her two daughters, two wirehaired pointing griffons, and one bulldog. Anna was a warm-hearted, wonderful, wise soul who will be forever missed, but whose spirit lives on in her books.

    Your turn: What is your favorite Llama Llama book?  Have you read this book with your little readers yet?  Feel free to share in the comments.

    Share: