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    adult books, children's books, children's literacy, indie bookstores, young adult books

    Introducing Bookshop: The Indie Amazon for Book Lovers

    Introducing Bookshop: The Indie Amazon for Book Lovers

    Attention book lovers! There’s a new online bookstore in town and its name is Bookshop, also known as the Indie Amazon. Have you heard of them yet?

    Launched in January 2020 by Andy Hunter, Bookshop.org is an online e-commerce bookstore and affiliate network that helps benefit independent book stores. Their ultimate goal? Take book business back from online retail giant Amazon.

    When I found out about Bookshop, I was super excited and began setting up my online book store immediately. Bookshop’s affiliate program is available to magazines, book stores and book bloggers, offering a 10 percent commission. This is a HIGHER affiliate commission rate than what Amazon currently offers so for me it was a no brainer to sign up as an affiliate. Plus, I get to support indie book stores and my local community. Win-win!

    I love having Bookshop as an alternative resource for purchasing books AND giving my audience another choice besides always referring them to Amazon. Plus, the website interface is beautiful, organized and well thought out. I can’t wait to finish creating all of my diverse and inclusive book lists in my new Bookshop store!

    Here’s how it works:

    Instead of ordering books from Amazon, head out Bookshop.org. It’s an easy way to support your local independent bookshop or just indies in general. When you’re shopping on the site, you can either find your favorite bookshop or you can shop without specifying a particular store and the profit will be evenly distributed among independent bookstores – even ones that don’t use bookshop.org! How awesome is that? Bookshop affiliates set up their online book store the same way they would on Amazon.

    Let’s face it, Amazon doesn’t need any more money. Am I right? I’m more than happy to make the change and start forming a new habit when it comes to purchasing books and making book recommendations. I’ll still keep my Amazon store updated with new books too, but I feel really good about giving my audience another choice when it comes to buying books. Bookshop.org has books for children, teens, and adults.

    Your turn: Are you planning to set up an affiliate account with Bookshop? Will you start using Bookshop to purchase books instead of using Amazon? Feel free to share in the comments.

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    children's books, children's literacy

    Storyville: A Reading Journal for Kids Ages 5 – 12

    What do you do with an idea? Where do you let your ideas take you? Do you generally act on your ideas or put them on the back burner and eventually forget about them?

    Two years ago, I had an idea to create my own reading journal for kids to help keep track of the books they were reading. I began working with a talented illustrator who I found online to bring my first reading journal to life.

    The end result is Storyville, a full-color 138 page reading journal filled with enough space to log up to 60 books. Plus, there is additional space in the back for activities, extra drawing and writing space, and additional lists. I’m thrilled to finally share this journal with the general public that I’ve kept under wraps for the past two years.

    Right now, you can purchase a printable download of my Storyville journal on the Teachers Pay Teachers website.

    The purpose of this journal is two fold: to help promote lifelong reading habits and help maintain a reading routine. It’s recommended for ages 5-12, but can be used by anyone at home or in a classroom setting.

    My kids enjoy using their journal to document their reading journey. It’s so fun to watch them use it and think critically to either write or draw their thoughts for each book they read. The activities in the back matter add an additional element of fun with word searches, book bingo and extra space for notes, drawing and writing.

    Storyville: A Reading Journal for Little Bookworms Ages 5 - 12

    We like to keep our journal in a central location in our home and encourage the kids to write/draw in it at least once a day.

    People who use this journal can:

    * Write their own questions about the story.
    * Record observations about the characters and events.
    * Make predictions about where the story is going and how it will end.
    * Note favorite moments and quotes from the story.
    * Draw pictures of favorite characters and scenes.
    * Complete an activity in the activities section

    When your journal is done, you’ll have a wonderful memory book of your family’s reading adventures that you can treasure for years to come!

    So the next time you have an idea: draw it out on paper, write it down, share it with a friend, research the details, do anything you can right now to see that your ideas are pursued and don’t end up at the bottom of your ideas stack or to-do items.

    I hope this encourages you to go forth and act upon your next big idea.

    Happy Reading and Journaling!

    To purchase a printable copy of Storyville: A Reading Journal for Little Bookworms Ages 5 – 12 click here.

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    children's books, children's literacy, family fun, read aloud

    20 Black Parents to Follow on Instagram Who Instill a Love of Reading in Their Children

    20 Black Families to Follow on Instagram Who Instill a Love of Reading in Their Children

    As a parent, I’m obsessed with cultivating a love of reading in my children. It’s one of my favorite things about my parenthood journey thus far. Before becoming a parent, I read countless books and studies that have proven the many benefits of reading. I knew before having children that I wanted to instill a love of reading in them starting at birth. I take pride in seeing how well both of my children read (and write) and how they often choose to pick up a book and read on their own without being told to.

    When it comes to children, the ideal time to begin sharing books with them is during infancy, even as young as six weeks old (or sooner). From early on, children should own books, be read to often and see others reading and writing.  Children are rapidly learning language.  They often quadruple the number of words they know between the ages of 1-2.  Therefore, as parents and caregivers it’s crucial to read aloud with them often to increase their vocabulary.

    Below I’ve rounded up 20 Black parents I follow on Instagram who value reading and work to instill a love of reading in their children. These parents get it and understand the importance of establishing a reading habit with their children early on. I thought some of you may be interested in following some of these people as well for inspiration, tips and Black family joy!

    1. Me @hereweeread

    2. @jeanellnicolereads

    3. @rattlesandheels

    4. @mymotherhoodmagic

    5. @_colorful_stories

    6. @justmeomaya

    7. @imsuzettesays

    8. @readlikearockstar

    9. @apron_education

    10. @schoolathomeandbeyond

    11. @polishedplayhouse

    12. @puzzlehuddle

    13. @rahmarodaah

    14. @thevitamindproject

    15. @mayasbooknook

    16. @mommyweek

    17. @firstname.basis

    18. @twolightsacademy

    19. @arethoseyourkids

    20. @mybusybeesandme

    Your turn: Did this list help you discover new people to follow? Who are some of your favorite Black parents to follow on Instagram who value the importance of reading with their children? Feel free to share in the comments as I’m always looking for new like-minded people to connect with.

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    children's books, children's literacy, read aloud, reading tips

    Celebrate National Literacy Month with FREE Resources from Reading Is Fundamental


    Every year in the month of September we acknowledge and celebrate National Literacy Month.  In honor of National Literacy Month and kids heading back to school, Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) and Macy’s recently announced the launch of free resources and digital tools to support the fight against the national literacy crisis. Together, RIF and Macy’s are working to empower parents and educators with free resources that will help them meet the needs of children, foster their love of reading and learning, and provide students with the fundamental building blocks for success that literacy provides.

    Source: Reading is Fundamental

    This year’s support of National Literacy Month encompasses supplemental classroom materials for the whole family and resources for literacy advocates, parents and caregivers. Students, teachers, home school educators, and parents can take advantage of FREE literacy extension activities to go along with children’s books.  The selection of books featured on the website is very diverse so there’s something for everyone to enjoy!


    They also have additional resources including:

    • games
    • lesson plans
    • coloring sheets
    • video and other interactive media
    • reading passages
    • word searches
    • memory match puzzles
    • word search worksheets
    • read alouds
    • daily book bites
    • author interviews

    Reading is Fundamental (RIF) currently has over 14,000 books in their database to choose from.  To access their online book database and the resources go their Home page and then select ‘Find a Book’.  Once you’ve selected your book, click on either the cover image or link to see the available resources to go along with the book.  They truly have a treasure trove of excellent diverse children books to choose from including books for teens!

    Literacy Central includes a plethora of other valuable resources including: a literacy tracker, reading log, interactive activity calendars and more!   Check it out to take advantage of these free resources to help enhance story time and a child’s reading life.

    Your turn: Did you find these resources to be helpful?  Feel free to share in the comments.

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    children's books, children's literacy

    Vooks: The First-Ever Streaming Service Bringing Children’s Books to Life + A FREE Year of Vooks for Educators


    Disclaimer: My family received a free one-year subscription from Vooks to review and enjoy with our family in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own.

    Have you heard about Vooks yet?  It’s the first-ever streaming service that brings children’s books to life with animated illustrations, read-along text and narrated stories. The best part?  It’s kid-safe since their library is filled with stories created specifically for children, for kids ages 2-8.

    Readers can enjoy Vooks on roadtrips, airplanes or in the comfort of their own home.  Vooks can be used anyplace where you have access to an Internet connection.  Additionally, Vooks may be used offline by viewing with mobile apps which allow children to enjoy their favorite stories even without an Internet connection!

    What I like best about Vooks is that it doesn’t contain any ads or inappropriate content.  It’s a safe alternative for kids’ screen time and is filled exclusively with animated versions of some of the most well-known and loved children’s books like: School’s First Day of School, Grace for President, Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site and more!  Additional titles are constantly being added to the platform regularly.  I also like that Vooks takes the time to work directly with the top publishers, authors, and illustrators around the world.

    Vooks has lots of love and appreciation for educators, so they want to show that by offering teachers/educators a FREE year of Vooks.  Yes, you heard me right!  Teachers and educators can access Vooks for one year totally FREE.  To take advantage of this amazing offer use my referral link to sign up AND get your FREE gift.  Easy, peasy!  Hurry, this offer expires on September 15, 2019 so take advantage of it before you miss out!

    Your turn:  Will you check out Vooks and see what they have to offer?  Do you like the idea of having an ad-free streaming service for kids?  Feel free to share in the comments.

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    children's literacy, read aloud

    World Read Aloud Day: Share Your Love of Reading Globally + Fun Ways to Celebrate


    February 1st is World Read Aloud Day.  It’s a day that 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. Each year 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!  World Read Aloud Day is presented by global literacy nonprofit LitWorld and sponsored by Scholastic.

    Why Reading Aloud Matters

    There have been countless studies that have proven the many benefits of reading.  When it comes to children, the ideal time to begin sharing books with children is during infancy, even as young as six weeks old (or sooner). From early on, children should own books, be read to often and see others reading and writing.  Children are rapidly learning language.  They often quadruple the number of words they know between the ages of 1-2.  Therefore, as parents and caregivers it’s crucial to read aloud with them often to increase their vocabulary.

    Have you ever noticed children who aren’t as articulate as others when they reach the age of 2 or 3?  From that alone, I can usually tell the kids who are being read to at home versus the ones who aren’t.  Either they are being read to OR they have frequent back and forth interaction with a loving caregiver.

    Fun Fact: Reading 15 minutes per day exposes children to over 1,000,000 words per year!  Reading 15 minutes every day for 5 years is 27,375 minutes.  Daily reading is enough to make a difference.  That’s why reading aloud matters especially now in a world where so many kids are exposed to screens on a daily basis.

    Fun Ways to Celebrate World Read Aloud Day

    One of the great things about World Read Aloud Day is connecting with other like-minded book lovers globally across the world.  It’s so interesting to follow the hashtag #WorldReadAloudDay to see how other libraries, educators, parents and children are celebrating the day.

    Here are a few ways you can celebrate and participate:

    • If you’re an educator or librarian, arrange to have a Skype session or in-person visit with an author or illustrator
    • Educators can arrange a Skype session with another classroom in a different state or country.  Both classes can take turns reading aloud a book (or a short chapter from a book)
    • Make your own Reading Crown using a brown paper bag.  So cute and fun!
    • Print and color your own Bookmarks!
    • Organize a book drive and donate collected books to a local organization or school in need
    • Make a monetary donation to LitWorld or another organization that promotes the importance of reading
    • Attend a read aloud event in your community or at a local library or bookstore!
    • Donate books you no longer want or need to a local organization, pediatric office, Little Free Library or shelter
    • Read aloud a stack of 2 – 5 picture books at home with smaller kids or read aloud a couple of chapters together with older kids
    • Incorporate technology and use read aloud apps like: Epic, One More Story, and Storyline Online
    • Follow along on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram using the hashtags #wrad19 or #WorldReadAloudDay

    You can join in the fun of the World Read Aloud Day movement by registering on litworld.org/wrad.  On the website you’ll also find some helpful resources including a book list and activity packet to use at home or in your classroom.  To learn more about World Read Aloud Day visit litworld.org/wrad and scholastic.com/WorldReadAloudDay.  On social media, join the conversation and post videos or pictures using #WorldReadAloudDay.  Connect with LitWorld on InstagramTwitter, and Facebook.

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    children's literacy, eeboo, parenting, read aloud, reading tips, storytelling

    4 Ways To Enhance Story Time With Kids


    Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post.  All of the products mentioned here were purchased with our own money.

    It’s no secret that reading aloud to kids has been recognized as the single most important activity that leads to literacy acquisition.  Now, reading aloud may seem simple, especially if the children you’re reading to are infants and aren’t as mobile or easily distracted as some older kids.  I’ve learned from reading with my own children and reading in front of various groups of kids that it’s not always so easy to keep them engaged.

    Having a memorable story time experience sometimes requires you to be able to catch – and hold –a child’s attention from start to finish.  This includes everything from ensuring you choose meaningful books with intention (before story time even begins) to any possible extension/craft activities you may do after the story is over.

    Below I’ve shared four different ways I like to enhance story time at home with my own children.  But before we jump right into those, let me also share a few other things I like to keep in mind prior to reading books with my kids.  Note: I DO NOT always have time to do all of these things because sometimes life gets in the way.  Am I right?  However, if I have time to prepare ahead then I will follow these steps.

    1. Select a small pile of books to read for story time.  If it’s a book we’ve never read with them before I’ll write a brief and catchy 1-2 sentence introduction to let the kids know (briefly) what the book is about.  Of course, doing this requires you to read or skim it beforehand.

    2. Write a brief list of open-ended questions I may want to ask the kids as follow-up questions once the story is over.  See my first enhancement tip (reading comprehension cubes) below for a simple way to do this if you can’t think of any questions on your own.

    3. Have an extension/craft activity ready for the kids to do together after the story is over.  I usually choose simple activities that relate to the book(s) in some way.

    Here are the four ways I enhance story time when reading aloud with my kids:

    1. Reading Comprehension Cubes by Learning Resources
    We’ve had these story time cubes for a while now and they are always a hit with my kids!  They really help us have a deeper discussion about the story afterwards.  These cubes offer a total of 3 dozen different questions to test, challenge, and enhance your kids’ comprehension of the books they read.

    Simple roll the red cubes for questions before reading. Toss the blue cubes for questions about the story in progress. Roll the green cubes for questions after reading.

    2. Mindfulness Activities Before and After Story Time

    These mindfulness cards are so fun for doing things like “shaking out the sillies” before story time or taking a few deep breaths afterwards.

    This boxed card deck includes 50 creative mindfulness games, visualizations and exercises divided into 5 categories to help children feel grounded, find calm, improve focus, practice loving-kindness and relax.

    3. Tell Me a Story Cards from eeBoo

    I’ve mentioned these cards before on the blog, (click here to read) but they are worth mentioned again.

    Tell Me a Story Creative Story Cards.  These cards are my “secret weapon” I use when I want an alternative to reading books and they are perfect for honing my storytelling skills.  Recommended for ages 3 and up, the deck of 36 beautifully illustrated cards assist children in creating their own stories.

    An endless number of stories are possible by placing any number of the cards in any order. Short stories, long stories, kids create a new story every time they shuffle the deck. The whole family can make a game out of the cards, by taking turns picking cards and telling a story together. Parents, grandparents and teachers will find the cards useful as an aid in their own storytelling.

    To use the cards, you simply lay as many as you want out in front of you in an order that tells your story.

    4. Use educational flashcards like ABC Me Flashcards (or another set of flashcards you enjoy).

    Designed to be used in a myriad of ways, ABC Me Flashcards are illustrated in vibrant colors with easy to understand wording on the back. They begin with the alphabet but A isn’t for apple. This time, A is for Africa. And so from A to Z or from Africa to Zora Neal Hurston, younger children can learn their ABC’s and older children can use the same cards to learn about their history.

    I like to pair these with non-fiction picture or early chapter books when reading aloud with the kids.  They help make a connection with the person or event we’re reading about in a fun way.


    These are just a few examples of how you can keep your young audience engaged during story time.  I hope you find these tips helpful to help get you started and to put your best foot forward if you want to enhance story time.

    Your turn: What other tips would you add to this list?  How do you enhance story time with kids?  Feel free to share in the comments.

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