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    FREE Bookish Printables, Crafts and Coloring Sheets with Diverse Characters

    In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, very few of us were prepared for the challenge of keeping our kids busy and entertained while working from home. It definitely hasn’t hasn’t been easy in our household. Some days have been incredibly stressful and logistically challenging, but overall we’re coping and have adjusted to our new temporary routine and schedule.

    Thankfully, several authors have created free resources to help us go through this unanticipated staycation. Our state recently announced schools will be closed for the rest of the school year, so we’ll be using lots of different resources like the ones mentioned below in the weeks and months ahead.

    Below you’ll find a list of FREE printables, coloring sheets and activity sheets that feature diverse characters. I hope you find them to be helpful to you and your family.

    Collage Fun at Home with Author/Illustrator Vanessa Brantley-Newton
    Watch this fascinating video and have kids make their own collages! Vanessa Brantley – Newton Shares a collage project that adults and children can do together to pass the time. All you need is some scrap papers, crayons or magic markers or temper paint, scissors and glue.

    Tiara’s Hat Parade
    Author Kelly Starling Lyons has a variety of different printable resources for her latest book Tiara’s Hat Parade. There are coloring pages, a template for a paper doll and more!

    Vashti Harrison
    Author/illustrator Vashti Harrison invites little readers to create their own Little Leaders, match up Little Dreamers with this activity sheet, and make Little Legends paper dolls with her free printables. There is also a word search activity.

    Sharee Miller
    Author/illustrator Sharee Miller is offering the most adorable printables and activity sheets…all for FREE!

    Princess Hair – This Princess has lost her hair. Help draw her hair under her crown and color her in!
    Draw Your Own Princess – Stretch those creative muscles and draw your own princess (or prince).
    5 Things I Love About My Hair – List 5 things you love about your hair.
    Coloring Pages – A bundle of coloring pages featuring Black characters.

    Janae Marks
    In the mood for baking? Debut author Janae Marks who wrote From the Desk of Zoe Washington has a recipe for Froot Loop Cereal Cupcakes on her website. Download it here. She also has a music playlist which features all of the songs that appeared in the book.

    Photo courtesy of Janae Marks website

    Every Child a Reader
    As an annual tradition of Children’s Book Week, esteemed children’s book illustrators are chosen to create bookmarks which celebrate children’s books and reading. This year, in keeping with the theme of Read. Dream. Share., seven artists have contributed their beautiful and inspiring artwork. These bookmarks are available to print and distribute to children, teens, and book lovers everywhere!

    Download bookmarks and activities here from authors John Parra, Duncan Tonatiuh, Vanessa Brantley-Newton and more!

    Illustration courtesy of John Parra from the Every Child a Reader website

    Your turn: What diverse and inclusive bookish resources have you used with your little readers or students. Should I add any additional resources to this list? Feel free to share in the comments so we can all learn.

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    children's books, diverse books, holiday books

    I’ll Always Love My Mama: 25+ Picture Books to Celebrate Mom or Grandma on Mother’s Day (Or Any Day)

    Mother’s Day.  It’s the one day of the year when many people pay tribute to that one person who gave you life – your mother.  And while every day can be considered to be Mother’s Day, I love the idea of having one holiday set aside to honor moms.  Amidst the demanding schedule of modern day life, Mother’s Day is the most opportune moment to tell your mom what she means to you.

    Mothers are often the foundation of the family, a source of sustenance and support. They are our caretakers, teachers, drill sergeants, cheerleaders and best friends. They anchor us and inspire us to reach for the stars.

    They take time off from work when we are born and have sleepless nights because we cry all night. They put food on the table, clothe us, and put a roof over our heads. When we get sick, the first thing we do is ask for our mothers. When we need advice, she will be there to give it and when we need to vent, she is there to listen. Our mothers are our best friends, even if the relationship between mother and child isn’t all that great.  As a mother, it is their job to protect us; just like it is the job of a lioness to protect her cubs. They hold our hands when we cross the road, but eventually have to let us spread our wings and fly.

    Below I’ve gathered a list of picture books that embrace different kinds of moms and showcase the precious love between a mother (or grandmother) and child.  Check these out to read with your little readers this Mother’s Day and beyond.

    In My Heart by Mackenzie Porter, illustrated by Jenny Løvlie
    This is what a mother tells her child as she leaves for work each day. This lovely board book perfectly captures the sentiment that many women feel about being a working mom. The lyrical text takes us through a mother’s day away, showing us that although she’s working hard, her child is always on her mind and always in her heart.

    Me and Mama by Cozbi A. Cabrera
    Mama’s love is brighter than the sun, even on the rainiest of days. In the tradition of Someday, this celebration of a mother-daughter relationship is perfect for sharing with little ones!

    On a rainy day when the house smells like cinnamon and Papa and Luca are still asleep, when the clouds are wearing shadows and the wind paints the window with beads of water, I want to be everywhere Mama is.

    Grandmother School by Rina Singh, illustrated by Ellen Rooney
    Every morning, a young girl walks her grandmother to the Aajibaichi Shala, the school that was built for the grandmothers in her village to have a place to learn to read and write. The narrator beams with pride as she drops her grandmother off with the other aajis to practice the alphabet and learn simple arithmetic. A moving story about family, women and the power of education―when Aaji learns to spell her name you’ll want to dance along with her.

    Priya Dreams of Marigolds & Masala by Meenal Patel

    Priya lives in the United Stated and her family is from India. She learns about India through her Babi Ba’s (grandma’s) descriptions of it and in the way that their Indian culture is woven through their lives every day. Priya is the hero in this book – her curiosity about her family’s heritage and the kindness and love that she shows to her Ba help to carry her family’s traditions forward. It’s a story about having pride for all of the pieces that come together to make you who you are and feeling the magic of a place without having been there. Ages 4-8.

    My Mommy Medicine by Edwidge Danticat, illustrated by Shannon Wright

    A beautiful book that showcases the unconditional love between a mother and daughter.  There’s just something about the instinctive nurturing of some mothers that seems to make everything feel better, right?

    What is Given from the Heart by Patricia C. McKissack

    A touching, powerful tale of compassion between a mother and her son.  This book reminds us all that what is given from the heart, reaches the heart.

    Dreamers by Yuyi Morales

    This lovingly-illustrated picture book memoir looks at the myriad gifts migrantes bring with them when they leave their homes. It’s a story about family. And it’s a story to remind us that we are all dreamers, bringing our own strengths wherever we roam. Beautiful and powerful at any time but given particular urgency as the status of our own Dreamers becomes uncertain, this is a story that is both topical and timeless.

    Hair for Mama by Kelly Tinkham

    It’s family picture time for the Carters, but Mama does not want to be in the photo this year. All of her beautiful hair is gone because of chemotherapy treatments for her cancer, and she doesn’t want to be remembered without hair. Eight-year-old Marcus knows that the picture won’t be the same without Mama, so he comes up with a plan to find her some hair and make her better.

    In My Anaana’s Amautik by by Nadia Sammurtok, illustrated by Lenny Lishchenko

    Nadia Sammurtok lovingly invites the reader into the amautik―the pouch in the back of a mother’s parka used to carry a child―to experience everything through the eyes of the baby nestled inside, from the cloudlike softness of the pouch to the glistening sound of Anaana’s laughter.

    Nine Months: Before a Baby is Born by Miranda Paul, illustrated by Jason Chin

    In this pregnancy book unlike any other one out there, watch what’s actually happening through meticulously detailed, actual size illustrations, perfectly paired with a lyrical yet informative text, and culminating in a warm, joyful birth scene.

    Saturday by Oge Mora

    Little Ava loves Saturdays because it’s the one day of the week when her mother doesn’t have to work. This Saturday is an extra special one because Ava and her mother are going to a one-night only puppet show. But first, they have plans to attend story time at the library, get their hair done at a salon and have a picnic in the park.

    Their special day doesn’t turn out as well as they hoped it would at all, but does it end well? You’ll have to read it to find out.

    When Grandma Gives You a Lemon Tree by Jamie L.B. Dennihan, illustrated by Lorraine Rocha

    “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” In this imaginative take on that popular saying, a child is surprised (and disappointed) to receive a lemon tree from Grandma for her birthday. After all, she DID ask for a new gadget! But when she follows the narrator’s careful—and funny—instructions, she discovers that the tree might be exactly what she wanted after all. This clever story, complete with a recipe for lemonade, celebrates the pleasures of patience, hard work, nature, community . . . and putting down the electronic devices just for a while.

    Hero Mom by Melinda Hardin


    An easy to understand depiction of a diverse group of moms serving in the military.  I like that it shows the women being strong leaders and that this book opens up discussions based on gender/sex roles.  Women are shown fixing military tanks, flying fighter jets, nursing soldiers back to good health and more!

    My Mommy is a Hero by Hannah Tolson

    Each and every day, mothers sacrifice for their children and their family.  But what is especially unique to military mothers is that they sacrifice day in and day out for their country too.

    Just Like a Mama by Alice Faye Duncan, illustrated by Charnelle Pinkney Barlow

    Just Like a Mama Alice Faye Duncan

    Carol Olivia Clementine lives with Mama Rose. Mama Rose is everything—tender and sweet. She is also as stern and demanding as any good parent should be. In the midst of their happy home, Carol misses her mother and father. She longs to be with them. But until that time comes around, she learns to surrender to the love that is present. Mama Rose becomes her “home.” And Carol Olivia Clementine concludes that she loves Miss Rose, “just like a mama.”

    Mommy’s Khimar by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow


    Today there are very few good children’s books that have Muslim or Islamic themes.  There are even fewer books that focus on the African-American Muslim experience like Mommy’s Khimar.  I love this adorable story about a little Muslim American girl who likes to play dress up with her mother’s khimar (hijab).  It’s a lively and upbeat story with engaging words and vibrant illustrations that oozes with love!

    Mama’s Belly by Kate Hosford

    A charming and touching story about a curious little girl and her family awaiting the arrival of her baby sister.  The family wonders how life will be different once the new baby arrives.  Would make a great baby shower gift for expectant mothers.

    Ten Cents a Pound by Nhung N. Tran-Davies

    An illiterate, hard working Vietnamese mother persuades her young daughter to go to school. The girl is torn between her desire to stay home with her family and the familiarity of their village, and her desire to discover the world beyond the mountains that surround them. Every time the girl insists that she will stay, her mother repeats that she must go, that there is more to life than the labor in the coffee trees.  A wonderful display of affection and the power of education and literacy.

    Who Will You Be? by Andrea Pippins

    For fans of I Am Enough, The Day You Begin, and The Wonderful Things You Will Be, here is a poignant picture book about how family and community help shape the wonderful people our children become.

    Between Us and Abuela: A Family Story from the Border by Mitali Perkins (Author), Sara Palacios (Illustrator)

    It’s almost time for Christmas, and Maria is traveling with her mother and younger brother, Juan, to visit their grandmother on the border of California and Mexico. For the few minutes they can share together along the fence, Maria and her brother plan to exchange stories and Christmas gifts with the grandmother they haven’t seen in years. But when Juan’s gift is too big to fit through the slats in the fence, Maria has a brilliant idea. Here is a heartwarming tale of families and the miracle of love.

    The Best Mother by C. M. Surrisi

    A little girl named Maxine goes in search of trying to find the “best mother” – a mom better than her own.  She’s tired of her mom telling her to do things like brush her teeth or comb her hair.  Maxine “interviews” several other moms at various locations, but in the end she realizes her mom is in fact the best mother of all.

    A Night Out With Mama by Quvenzhané Wallis
    A very talented little girl has the pleasure of going with her Mama to her very first fancy awards show. She’ll get to wear her blue shoes along with her matching dress and headband, ride in a limousine and of course, eat lots of ice cream.  There are themes of: family, confidence, overcoming fears, love, mother-daughter bonding, glitz and glamour.  An absolutely adorable book with gorgeous illustrations for mothers and daughters to enjoy reading together!

    How Mamas Love Their Babies by Juniper Fitzgerald
    How Mamas Love Their Babies is written by a mother who is a former stripper who did what she had to in order to make ends meet for her baby.  The book illustrates the myriad ways that mothers provide for their children―piloting airplanes, washing floors, or dancing at a strip club.  It provides an expanded notion of working mothers and challenges the idea that only some jobs result in good parenting. We’re reminded that, while every mama’s work looks different, every mama works to make their baby’s world better.

    Jonathan and His Mommy by Irene Smalls
    I absolutely love this sweet story about a little boy named Jonathan and his mom spending the day together exploring their neighborhood!

    Mama’s Saris by Pooja Makhijani

    A young Indian girl is about to celebrate her seventh birthday so her mother lets her choose which sari she wants to to wear.  This book is so cute for girls who love playing dress up with their mother’s clothes.  The author’s note at the beginning of the book provides lots of good information related to saris that readers who ware unfamiliar with the culture may find useful.  There is also a helpful glossary of terms that defines some of the Indian words used throughout.  I love the bond that the mother and daughter share.

    Hush: A Thai Lullaby by Mingfrong Ho

    A beautiful rhyming tale set in Thailand that features a mother trying to keep all of the animals in the forest quiet so they won’t wake her sleeping baby.

    Tiara’s Hat Parade by Kelly Starling Lyons, illustrated by Nicole Tadgell

    This is a heartwarming mother/daughter story about family, community, hardship, and following your dreams. It also pays tribute to the inspiring African American tradition of hat making. The back matter contains an author’s note and additional information about three famous Black milliners: Vanilla Beane, Mae Reeves and Mildred Blount

    Lala Salama: A Tanzanian Lullaby by Patricia MacLachlan

    This beautifully illustrated book tells the story of a family that lives near a lake in Tanzania.  Lala Salama means “good night” in Swahili.  A soothing bedtime story for little ones.

    Lullaby (For a Black Mother) by Langston Hughes

    With a few simple words as smooth as a song, the poet Langston Hughes celebrates the love between an African American mother and her baby.

    Bedtime Bonnet by Nancy Redd, illustrated by Nneka Myers

    Every night when the sun goes down, this whole bonnet wearing family’s hair goes up. There are durags, wraps, wave caps, and more.

    In this first-ever picture book celebrating Black culture and bedtime hair traditions, a little girl can’t find her bedtime bonnet. She needs it to protect her hair from tangles while she sleeps, but where can it be? Each family member gets involved helping the girl until she finally finds it.

    Cora Cooks Pancit by Lazo Gilmore

    Cora finally gets her chance to assist her mom in the kitchen. They’re making pancit (pan-SEET), a popular Filipino noodle dish. When dinner is finally served, Cora anxiously awaits to see what everyone in her family thinks of her cooking. A recipe for pancit is included in the back of the book.

    Cancer Hates Kisses by Jessica Reid Sliwerski

    Chances are you know at least one person who has been affected by cancer. Maybe that one person is you.  This upbeat picture book is fantastic for helping children understand and cope with all the ups and downs that come with a parent who has cancer. I love how they refer to their mom as a cancer-fighting superhero! All of the different stages of cancer are mentioned: diagnosis, surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Extra points for having a portion of all proceeds of this book being donated to the American Cancer Society. All the hearts for this gem!

    Grandma’s Purse by Vanessa Brantley-Newton

    What’s inside Grandma Mimi’s purse?  Pure Magic!  This is such an adorable book perfect for reading with Grandma on Mother’s Day, Grandparent’s Day or anytime of the year.  You’ll never know what treasures you’ll find hiding inside of grandma’s purse.

    Mango, Abuela and Me by Meg Medina

    Little Mia finds out that her grandmother is moving out of her sunny house with parrots and palm trees to come and live in the city with her and her parents. Mia isn’t too thrilled about this because her grandmother only speaks Spanish. This is a delightful story about love, learning, friendship, patience, and learning a new language.  Fun for reading with grandma on Mother’s Day, Grandparents Day or any time of the year.

    The Seven Silly Eaters by Mary Ann Hoberman

    This is one of my favorite picture books starring a strong mom, Mrs. Peters.  I love her story and the resolution– and I adore Marla Frazee’s illustrations!  Oh, and seriously, that is a lot of quality rhyming!

    Mommy, Mama, and Me by Leslea Newman

    Rhythmic text and illustrations with universal appeal show a toddler spending the day with its mommies. From hide-and-seek to dress-up, then bath time and a kiss goodnight, there’s no limit to what a loving family can do together.  Shares the loving bond between same-sex parents and their children.

    My Two Moms and Me by Michael Joosten, illustrated by Izak Zenou

    Families with same-sex parents are celebrated in this board book that follows busy moms and their kids throughout their day—eating breakfast, going on a playdate, heading to the pool for a swim, and settling back in at night with a bedtime story and a good-night lullaby. LGBTQ+ parents and their friends and families will welcome this inclusive and cheerful book that reflects their own lives and family makeup.

    Floating On Mama’s Song / Flotando en la cancion de mama by Laura Lacamara and Yuyi Morales
    Anita’s mama loves to sing. She sings such beautiful, happy songs that something magical happens: Everyone who hears her music floats high above the ground. But then Mama stops singing. Can Anita find a way to bring back happy times and magical moments for her family?

    Up: How Families Around the World Carry Their Little Ones by Susan Hughes

    Around the world, little ones are carried in many different ways: in slings, on shoulders, in backpacks, on hips, in baskets, and in loving arms. Up! depicts ten places around the world, from Afghanistan to northern Canada, Peru to West Africa. In each place, a mom, dad, grandparent, aunt, uncle, cousin, or sibling lovingly carries a baby.

    Catch a Kiss by Deborah Diesen

    Little Izzie tells her mom to blow her a kiss, then another, and yet another. But when Izzie goes to “catch” the third kiss she misses and her kiss flies away never to be found again or will it?  I like how comforting, loving, playful and reassuring the mother is in this book. I think it beautifully showcases the sweet bond between a mother and daughter.  Izzie’s mother also tells little readers the secret of kisses: “No matter how far they have to go, no matter what they have to get through, and even if they get lost along the way, Mama-kisses ALWAYS come find you.”

    Hats Off To You by Karen Beaumont

    An adorable story with a nice tribute to mothers at the end. Perfect for little fashionistas who like to play dress up or a mother daughter book club with little girls ages 4-8.

    Welcome Song for Baby by Richard Van Camp

    From renowned First Nations storyteller Richard Van Camp comes a lyrical lullaby for newborns.

    Sweetest Kulu by Celina Kalluk

    This beautiful bedtime poem, written by acclaimed Inuit throat singer Celina Kalluk, describes the gifts given to a newborn baby by all the animals of the Arctic.

    My Mama is a Mechanic by Doug Cenko

    Snuggle with Mom for this sweet book about a mother as seen through her son’s eyes. To him, she is a surgeon when she repairs his favorite stuffed animal, a chemist when in the kitchen, and an architect when they play with toy blocks. But no matter what happens, she is always his mama, and that’s the most important thing of all!

    Babymoon by Hayley Barrett, illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal

    In this rhyming book, readers meet a sweet family (a biracial family of color) who decide to go on a secluded babymoon with their newborn baby.

    A Ride on Mother’s Back: A Day of Baby Carrying Around the World by Emery Bernhard

    Through a steamy rain forest in Brazil, along a river in Papua New Guinea, across a frozen inlet in the arctic, this book takes young children on a far-reaching journey to discover how babies worldwide are carried and what they see from their unique vantage points.

    When I Carried You in My Belly by Thrity Umrigar

    A super sweet and beautiful book about a mother sharing details about how she prepared for motherhood prior to her daughter being born.  I love how different members of the family are represented showing them all having a part in the arrival of the sweet baby girl.

    Read for Me, Mama by Vashanti Rahaman, illustrated by Lori McElrath-Eslick

    Thursday is library day, Joseph’s favorite day at school. Joseph loves books, and Thursday the librarian lets him take two books home: an easy book that he can read by himself and a harder book that someone can read for him. Joseph would love nothing more than to have Mama read for him. But it seems that Mama is always too busy. Then after supper one Saturday night, Joseph takes his book to the rocking chair where Mama is sitting and asks her to read for him. Mama begins to cry. The Truth is that Mama doesn’t know how to read.

    Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there who celebrate!

    Your turn:  What are some of your favorite children’s books starring moms and grandmothers?  Feel free to share in the comments.

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    a book and a craft, children's books, diverse books

    Tiara’s Hat Parade: Hat at Home Activities Printables

    Hat at Home Activities: Tiara's Hat Parade

    We are so excited to join the virtual hat parade to celebrate the picture book Tiara’s Hat Parade written by Kelly Starling Lyons, illustrated by Nicole Tadgell.

    About the Book

    Tiara’s mom has a gift for making hats. Ladies come from all over to visit her studio Tracy Rose Millinery to try on her beautiful creations. She makes all types of hats, but specializes in fancy church hats and hats for special occasions.

    When a new store opens with hats that cost way less than Momma’s, it causes Tracy Rose Millinery to close down its business. Momma packs away all of her fabric, tucks her hats back into their boxes and sets her dreams aside. She decides to begin teaching art classes again at her daughter’s school.

    Tiara can see how sad her mother is. Can she help Momma understand how much her hats mean to the community and bring back the magic?

    This is a heartwarming mother/daughter story about family, community, hardship, and following your dreams. It also pays tribute to the inspiring African American tradition of hat making. The back matter contains an author’s note and additional information about three famous Black milliners: Vanilla Beane, Mae Reeves and Mildred Blount. Tiara’s Hat Parade published April 1, 2020 from Albert Whitman. Ages 4 – 8 and up.

    Virtual Hat Parade Finale

    On April 11, 2020 the virtual hat parade finale will include a reading of the book, video peeks at the illustration process, interview with trailblazing milliner Vanilla Beane, prizes, printables for kids courtesy of Here Wee Read and more. RSVP for the virtual finale event here.

    Buy your copy at Indiebound.org or Amazon.com
    Visit site of author Kelly Starling Lyons
    Visit site of illustrator Nicole Tadgell
    Tiara’s Hat Parade is dedicated to Black milliners (hat makers) and the kids they dazzle and inspire.

    Download the FREE Hat at Home Activities Printables

    This printable activity pack includes: a hat making activity, word search and discussion questions inspired by the picture book Tiara’s Hat Parade.

    Click here to download the printables for FREE. Enjoy!

    Printables designed by: Whimsical Designs by CJ, LLC.

    Hat at Home Activities:  Tiara's Hat Parade
    Hat at Home Activities: Tiara's Hat Parade
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    diverse books, interviews

    Author Interview: Up Close and Personal with Brandy Colbert

    Have you read any of Brandy Colbert’s books yet?

    In March 2020, Brandy Colbert will release her middle-grade debut, THE ONLY BLACK GIRLS IN TOWN – a powerful story (on Apple Books’ Most Anticipated Middle Grade Reads of 2020 list) about the only two black girls in town who discover a collection of hidden journals revealing shocking secrets of the past. A master at writing literary, contemporary novels with a commercial appeal, Colbert has quickly become a go-to author for stories with strong elements of diversity and intersectionality.

    I recently had the pleasure of asking Brandy a series of bookish questions in an interview. Check out the highlights below including all of her book recommendations and upcoming tour dates.

    What was the inspiration for your forthcoming book, The Only Black Girls in Town?  What messages/lessons do you hope people come away with after reading it?

    As a person who grew up as one of very few black kids in their school in a predominantly white town in the Midwest, I think a lot about kids who are going through the same thing now. One day I thought about what would happen if you were pretty much the only black girl in a tiny town, and then suddenly another black girl moved in across the street. I really wrote it for me and people who’ve been in or are going through that experience, because it’s such a specific situation to be in. I was so relieved when I got a bit older and realized I wasn’t the only one who’d grown up like that. I never write books with a message or lesson in mind, but I do hope that people who don’t have that experience will think about what it would be like to feel so isolated, and yet on display at the same time. Family also plays a big part in the story. I hope people will open their minds to all the different types of families that are out there.

    Have you always been interested in reading and writing?

    Yes, they’ve both been a big part of my life since I can remember. We always had a lot of books around the house when I was growing up, and we took regular trips to the library and bookstore, so I was always surrounded by literature. And I’ve loved storytelling from a young age, too; I’ve been writing since the age of 7.

    What were some of your favorite subjects growing up in school?

    I loved English and spelling, and I guess I’ve always had the same interests, because I grew up to be a writer, and a copy editor for magazines and books. I also really loved my journalism classes in high school; I worked on the yearbook staff and then went on to earn a journalism degree in college. 

    What are some of your must-have adult books for a home library?

    Anything and everything by Colson Whitehead, Zadie Smith, and Curtis Sittenfeld; Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward; Stamped From the Beginning by Ibram X Kendi; The Mothers by Brit Bennett; Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff; The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander; An American Marriage by Tayari Jones; A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

    Besides writing, what are some of your other hobbies or interests?

    Like writing, I’ve been tap dancing since I was young, and I still love it. I also enjoy cooking, baking, television and movies, trying to keep my indoor and outdoor plants alive, and spending time with friends.

    Do you have a favorite book that you have written?  If so, what is it and why?

    It’s always hard for me to answer this question, because I truly love all of my books for different reasons. I would say maybe The Revolution of Birdie Randolph, because it was a real joy to work on from beginning to end. Readers seem to really connect with Birdie, and I love that a specific coming-of-age story about a black girl living in Chicago can mean something to so many people.

    Any advice for aspiring writers and authors?

    Shut out the noise, keep your head down, and do the work. Don’t compare yourself to other writers. Remember that publishing is a long game. These are things I still have to remind myself of regularly; publishing is not an easy or predictable business.

    Name an adult book that:

    a) Inspired you 

    Drinking Coffee Elsewhere by ZZ Packer

    b) Made you laugh out loud 

    Trick Mirror by Jia Tolentino

    c) You recommend to others often

    Dominicana by Angie Cruz

    What books are on your nightstand or e-reader right now?

    Too many! I never used to read multiple books at once, and now I can’t seem to stop. I’m currently reading The Yellow House by Sarah Broom, and the ones on my nightstand right now are Florida by Lauren Groff, Heavy by Kiese Laymon, Bloom by Kevin Panetta and Savanna Ganucheau, Damsel by Elana K. Arnold, and Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid.

    Are you working on any special projects that you want to share with others?

    My next book, The Voting Booth, will be out July 7, from Disney-Hyperion. It’s a YA novel set over the course of 12 hours, on Election Day, from the dual points of view of two black first-time teen voters, Duke and Marva. It covers a lot of topics, from grief to voter suppression to activism, and I’m excited for people to read it! I’m also currently working on a few projects that I hope to be able to talk about soon. 

    How can people get in touch with you on social media or on your website?

    My website, brandycolbert.com, lists all of the different people to contact if someone needs to reach me, or they can fill out a submission form that goes directly to me. I am also on Twitter and Instagram, both at the handle @brandycolbert. 

    Brandy Colbert’s 2020 Tour Dates

    March 7: BAM! Book Festival (West Palm Beach, FL)

    March 13-14: Tucson Festival of Books (Tucson, AZ)

    March 15-17: Children’s Literature Festival (Warrensburg, MO)

    March 21: Skylight Books (1818 N. Vermont Ave, Los Angeles, CA) at 3:00 pm

    In conversation with Nina LaCour (author of We Are Okay and Hold Still)

    March 26: Brazos Bookstore (2421 Bissonnet Street, Houston, TX 77005) at 6:30 pm

    In conversation with Liara Tamani (author of Calling My Name)

    March 29: East City Bookshop (645 Pennsylvania Ave SE #100, Washington, D.C.) at 5:00 pm. Brandy will also be in conversation with Leah Henderson (author of One Shadow on the Wall).

    March 30: Loyalty Bookstore (823 Ellsworth Drive, Silver Spring, MD) at 5:00 pm. Brandy will also be in conversation with bookstagrammer @SpinesVines.

    March 31: Books of Wonder (217 W 84th St, New York, NY) at 6:00 pm

    In conversation with Karyn Parsons (author of How High the Moon)

    April 16: Vroman’s Bookstore (695 E. Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA) at 7:00 pm

    In conversation with Mary Cecilia Jackson (author of Sparrow)

    April 18-19: The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books (Los Angeles, CA)

    June 6: Bronx Book Festival (The Bronx, NY)

    June 7 | 10:30 AM The Center for Fiction 15 Lafayette Ave. Brooklyn, NY

    In conversation with Renée Watson (author of Ways to Make Sunshine)

    June 7 3:00 PM Bank Street Bookstore 2780 Broadway New York, NY

    In conversation with Renée Watson (author of Ways to Make Sunshine)

    About Brandy Colbert

    Brandy Colbert
    Photo Credit: Little Brown Books for Young Readers

    Brandy Colbert is the critically acclaimed author of the novels PointeFinding YvonneThe Revolution of Birdie Randolph, and Stonewall Award winner Little & Lion. Born and raised in Springfield, Missouri, she now lives and writes in Los Angeles.

    Author Interview with Brandy Colbert
    Author interview with Brandy Colbert
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    black history, children's books, diverse books

    Lift Every Voice and Sing: 120th Anniversary of the National Black Anthem + Book Recommendations for Kids

    February 12, 2020 marks the 120th anniversary of the song Lift Every Voice and Sing. Often called “The Black National Anthem”, Lift Every Voice and Sing was written as a poem by NAACP leader James Weldon Johnson (1871-1938) and then set to music by his brother John Rosamond Johnson (1873-1954) in 1899. The song was first performed in public in the Johnsons’ hometown of Jacksonville, Florida as part of a celebration of Lincoln’s Birthday on February 12, 1900 by a choir of 500 schoolchildren at the segregated Stanton School, where James Weldon Johnson was principal. 

    Lift Every Voice and Sing has been a staple musical celebration of Black excellence and pride for the past 120 years. Our family adores the picture book entitled Sing a Song written by Kelly Starling Lyons and illustrated by Keith Mallett. Accompanied by gorgeous illustrations and song lyrics, the book is a beautiful reminder that each generation has had to “lift” their own voices to demand and protect their rights.

    So how can you celebrate and acknowledge the anniversary of this important song? You can begin by teaching your children, grandchildren or students the the history and meaning behind the Black National Anthem. I also encourage reading an #ownvoices book that accurately depicts the history of the song. Including Sing a Song, there are other picture books you can read like: Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing, Lift Every Voice and Sing, Lift Every Voice and Sing illustrated by Bryan Collier, or Lift Every Voice and Sing: A Pictorial Tribute to the Negro National Anthem.

    You can also download the Sing a Song activity sheet that goes along with the book written by Kelly Starling Lyons. Click here to download.

    Book featured: Sing a Song by Kelly Starling Lyons

    Watch a video about the song like this one shown below.

    Lift Every Voice and Sing

    Lyrics:

    Lift ev’ry voice and sing,
    ‘Til earth and heaven ring,
    Ring with the harmonies of Liberty;
    Let our rejoicing rise
    High as the list’ning skies,
    Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
    Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,
    Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us;
    Facing the rising sun of our new day begun,
    Let us march on ’til victory is won.

    Stony the road we trod,
    Bitter the chastening rod,
    Felt in the days when hope unborn had died;
    Yet with a steady beat,
    Have not our weary feet
    Come to the place for which our fathers sighed?
    We have come over a way that with tears has been watered,
    We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered,
    Out from the gloomy past,
    ‘Til now we stand at last
    Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.

    God of our weary years,
    God of our silent tears,
    Thou who has brought us thus far on the way;
    Thou who has by Thy might
    Led us into the light,
    Keep us forever in the path, we pray.
    Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met Thee,
    Lest, our hearts drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee;
    Shadowed beneath Thy hand,
    May we forever stand,
    True to our God,
    True to our native land.

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    children's books, cover reveal, diverse books

    Cover Reveal: Bindiya in India by Monique Chheda (Mango & Marigold Press)

    We are so excited to share that @mangoandmarigoldpress has launched its fifteenth book Bindiya in India which is perfect for ages 3-99. Bindiya in India chronicles Bindiya’s visit to India as she experiences the grandeur of an Indian wedding for the first time while playfully weaving in Hindi words and rhyme. The story is masterfully told by debut author Monique Chheda, MD and beautifully illustrated by veteran illustrator Debsmita Dasgupta. 

    With this launch, @mangoandmarigoldpress is also continuing our #1001DiverseBooks program, to help us not only bridge the diversity gap but also the accessibility gap in children’s literature. With each new book launch, Mango and Marigold Press is committed to also raise the funds to donate 1001 books to literacy and advocacy nonprofits that are working across the country to help children in need.

    We need your help to make our vision a reality. Will you be a part of the change to end the diversity gap AND accessibility gap? When you pre-order your copy of Bindiya in India, you can also sponsor a copy for our nonprofit partner for only $10! The pre-order link is here!

    For all orders placed between February 11th, 2020 through February 18th, 2020 will be signed by author Monique Chheda, MD.

    Expected Ship Date: October 2020

    Want to know more about this book? Synopsis below!

    Bindiya in India is the story of a young girl’s trip to India for a wedding. Weaving together Hindi and English, the children’s illustrated book set in the 1990s follows Bindiya as she takes in the glorious sights of India.

    Monique Chheda, MD (Author): Monique Chheda is a dermatologist living in Maryland.  She has been married for four years and has two young children.   Becoming a mother inspired her to revive one of her hobbies, writing. Wanting to pass on her Indian culture to her children, she found a scarcity of children’s books that allowed Indian-American children to connect with their heritage. This prompted her to write her own children’s book, Bindiya in India. Her hope is that through literature, she can share India’s rich culture and language with the next generation.

    Debasmita Dasgupta is a Singapore-based internationally-published picture-book illustrator and graphic novel artist with over a decade of experience in the field of art-for-change. Working with mixed media, marrying ink, paint and digital tools, she creates diverse fiction and non-fiction visual stories for children and young-adults. She is currently working on a number of exciting picture books and a graphic novel releasing soon.

    Mango & Marigold Press is an award-winning independent publishing house that shares the sweet and savory stories of the South Asian experience. Sharing every day and extraordinary stories of the South Asian experience, the company has produced fourteen books across four different product categories with features on The Today Show, The New York Times, The Washington Post, US Weekly, People Magazine and so much more. Bindiya in India is the company’s fifteenth book.

    The #1001DiverseBooks is an initiative created by Mango and Marigold Press in 2019 to commit 1001 copies of new, diverse, children’s books to underserved populations and communities. Community members can sponsor a copy of a book for $10 to be donated to our #1001DiverseBooks initiative.

    Bindiya in India Photo courtesy of Mango & Marigold Press
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    book reviews, children's books, diverse books, multicultural children's book day

    Multicultural Children’s Book Day: The Unstoppable Garrett Morgan + Barefoot Books Review #ReadYourWorld

    Disclaimer: I was sent a copy of these books and cards from the publishers to share my review as part of Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2020.  As always, all opinions expressed are my own.  Thank you to the Multicultural Children’s Book Day Team for selecting me as a reviewer and a co-host!

    The Unstoppable Garret Morgan: Inventor, Entrepreneur, Hero by Joan Dicicco, illustrated by Ebony Glenn

    Publisher: Lee & Low
    Format: Hardcover
    Pages: 40
    Recommended Age Range: 7 – 10 and up
    Recommended Grade Level: 2 – 5

    Synopsis

    “If a man puts something to block your way, the first time you go around it, the second time you go over it, and the third time you go through it.”

    Living by these words made inventor and entrepreneur Garrett Morgan unstoppable! Growing up in Claysville, Kentucky, the son of freed enslaved people, young and curious Garrett was eager for life beyond his family’s farm. At age fourteen, he moved north to Cleveland, where his creative mind took flight amidst the city’s booming clothing-manufacturing industry.

    Using his ingenuity and tenacity, Garrett overcame racial barriers and forged a career as a successful businessman and inventor. But when a tunnel collapsed, trapping twenty men, the rescue would test both Garrett’s invention — and his courage.

    The Unstoppable Garrett Morgan is a powerful biography of an extraordinary man who dedicated his life to improving the lives of others.

    Reflection

    Garrett Morgan referred to himself as “The Black (Thomas) Edison. Do you know his other numerous inventions and talents beyond the traffic signal which he is best known for?

    Despite racial barriers that often stood in his way, Garrett still managed to forge a career as a successful businessman and inventor. Whenever Garrett saw a need, he filled it by using his ingenuity and tenacity. He is known for inventing: the three-way traffic signal (which he eventually sold to General Electric), a hair straightening product, the gas mask, the electric hair curling comb, and a revamped sewing machine with a belt tightener. He also had a successful children’s clothing line in partnership with his wife Mary Hasek.

    Accompanied by gorgeous illustrations, The Unstoppable Garrett Morgan gives readers a detailed glimpse into the life of Garrett Morgan from his early days to living in a segregated section in Kentucky to his many achievements to his death 1963.

    I’d highly recommend this book to learn more about this talented man who helped shape America and blazed the trail for other African-American inventors and entrepreneurs.

    Let’s Celebrate! Special Days Around the World by Kate DePalma, illustrated by Martina Peluso

    Publisher: Barefoot Books
    Format: Hardcover
    Pages: 40
    Recommended Age Range: 4 – 8
    Recommended Grade Level: Kindergarten – 2

    Synopsis

    Illustrations and rhyming text introduce special days around the world, including the Spring Festvial, Inti Raymi, Eid al-Fitr, Dâia de Muertos, and the New Yam Festival. Includes calendar of special days and notes.

    After reading this book, me and my children learned so much about lesser known special days that are celebrated around the world throughout the year.

    In this book, readers are introduced to celebrations from thirteen different cultures including: Kodomo no Hi (Japan), Spring Festival (China) Matariki (New Zealand), Inti Raymi (Peru), Carnaval (Brazil), Midsommar (Sweden), Nowruz (Iran), Passover (United States), New Yam Festival (Nigeria), Novy God (Russia), Eid al-Fitr (Egypt), Dia de Muertos (Mexico), and Diwali (India).

    Accompanied by simple rhyming text and vivid illustrations featuring a very diverse cast of characters, Let’s Celebrate makes a wonderful addition to a home or school library for those interested in learning about different cultures and celebrations around the world.

    Each special day has a pronunciation key to help readers pronounce the names correctly. The back matter also has a visual yearly calendar/timeline along with additional detailed information about each special day like the different types of foods typically eaten or traditions followed by the people.

    For an added extension of learning, you can also pair this book with the Global Kids flashcard set. Kids and adults can explore over 50 countries and cultures with easy-to-follow, hands-on activities.

    Each card has step-by-step instructions and simple illustrations which makes it easy to re-create on your own. For example: kids can make pretend passports, learn numbers 1 – 10 in Arabic, learn to play kid games from other countries like “Capture the Stones” popular in Egypt, learn different cultural recipes like Jollof Rice (Ghana) (ingredients and steps included), and so much more!

    Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2020 (1/31/20) is in its 7th year! This non-profit children’s literacy initiative was founded by Valarie Budayr and Mia Wenjen; two diverse book-loving moms who saw a need to shine the spotlight on all of the multicultural books and authors on the market while also working to get those book into the hands of young readers and educators.

    Seven years in, MCBD’s mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in homes and school bookshelves continues.

    MCBD 2020 is honored to have the following Medallion Sponsors on board

    Super Platinum

    Make A Way Media/ Deirdre “DeeDee” Cummings,

    Platinum

    Language Lizard, Pack-N-Go Girls,

    Gold

    Audrey Press, Lerner Publishing Group, KidLit TV, ABDO BOOKS: A Family of Educational Publishers, PragmaticMom & Sumo Jo, Candlewick Press,

    Silver

    Author Charlotte Riggle, Capstone Publishing, Guba Publishing, Melissa Munro Boyd & B is for Breathe,

    Bronze

    Author Carole P. Roman, Snowflake Stories/Jill Barletti, Vivian Kirkfield & Making Their Voices Heard. Barnes Brothers Books, TimTimTom, Wisdom Tales Press, Lee & Low Books, Charlesbridge Publishing, Barefoot Books Talegari Tales

    Author Sponsor Link Cloudhttps://www.barefootbooks.com/l

    Jerry Craft, A.R. Bey and Adventures in Boogieland, Eugina Chu & Brandon goes to Beijing, Kenneth Braswell & Fathers Incorporated, Maritza M. Mejia & Luz del mes_Mejia, Kathleen Burkinshaw & The Last Cherry Blossom, SISSY GOES TINY by Rebecca Flansburg and B.A. Norrgard, Josh Funk and HOW TO CODE A ROLLERCOASTER, Maya/Neel Adventures with Culture Groove, Lauren Ranalli, The Little Green Monster: Cancer Magic! By Dr. Sharon Chappell, Phe Lang and Me On The Page, Afsaneh Moradian and Jamie is Jamie, Valerie Williams-Sanchez and Valorena Publishing, TUMBLE CREEK PRESS, Nancy Tupper Ling, Author Gwen Jackson, Angeliki Pedersen & The Secrets Hidden Beneath the Palm Tree, Author Kimberly Gordon Biddle, BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 by Mia Wenjen, Susan Schaefer Bernardo & Illustrator Courtenay Fletcher (Founders of Inner Flower Child Books), Ann Morris & Do It Again!/¡Otra Vez!, Janet Balletta and Mermaids on a Mission to Save the Ocean, Evelyn Sanchez-Toledo & Bruna Bailando por el Mundo\ Dancing Around the World, Shoumi Sen & From The Toddler Diaries, Sarah Jamila Stevenson, Tonya Duncan and the Sophie Washington Book Series, Teresa Robeson & The Queen of Physics, Nadishka Aloysius and Roo The Little Red TukTuk, Girlfriends Book Club Baltimore & Stories by the Girlfriends Book Club, Finding My Way Books, Diana Huang & Intrepids, Five Enchanted Mermaids, Elizabeth Godley and Ribbon’s Traveling Castle, Anna Olswanger and Greenhorn, Danielle Wallace & My Big Brother Troy, Jocelyn Francisco and Little Yellow Jeepney, Mariana Llanos & Kutu, the Tiny Inca Princess/La Ñusta Diminuta, Sara Arnold & The Big Buna Bash, Roddie Simmons & Race 2 Rio, DuEwa Frazier & Alice’s Musical Debut, Veronica Appleton & the Journey to Appleville book series Green Kids Club, Inc.

    We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also works tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE.

    Co-Hosts and Global Co-Hosts

    A Crafty Arab, Afsaneh Moradian, Agatha Rodi Books, All Done Monkey, Barefoot Mommy, Bethany Edward & Biracial Bookworms, Michelle Goetzl & Books My Kids Read, Crafty Moms Share, Colours of Us, Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes, Educators Spin on it, Shauna Hibbitts-creator of eNannylink, Growing Book by Book, Here Wee Read, Joel Leonidas & Descendant of Poseidon Reads {Philippines}, Imagination Soup, Kid World Citizen, Kristi’s Book Nook, The Logonauts, Mama Smiles, Miss Panda Chinese, Multicultural Kid Blogs, Serge Smagarinsky {Australia}, Shoumi Sen, Jennifer Brunk & Spanish Playground, Katie Meadows and Youth Lit Reviews

    FREE RESOURCES from Multicultural Children’s Book Day

    TWITTER PARTY! Register here!

    Hashtag: Don’t forget to connect with us on social media and be sure and look for/use our official hashtag #ReadYourWorld.

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