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    children's books, holiday books

    18 Easter Books Toddlers & Preschoolers Will Love

    I have fond memories of Easter growing up as a kid.  To me, it’s always been such a wonderful time of year.  Nice spring weather.  Dressing up in our Easter finest.  Going to church.  Easter egg hunts galore.  Sunday dinner with family and friends.  And I can’t forget the chocolate or best of all…the books!

    If you’re looking for some non-candy Easter gifts for kids books are always a great idea!  These 18 titles are perfect additions to your little readers’ Easter baskets or your home Easter collection.  Enjoy!


    We’re Going on an Egg Hunt by Laura Hughes
    Join the Easter Bunnies as they set off on an exciting lift-the-flap Easter egg hunt. With ten eggs to find and count, it’s great fun. But watch out for the obstacles along the way – lambs, chicks, bees and ducks – and there’s even a wolfish surprise, so do take care. Based on the traditional ‘We’re Going on a Lion Hunt’ rhyme, this will be a huge hit with all fans of the classic We’re Going on a Bear Hunt.

    If I Were a Bunny by Jellycat

    Ever wonder what it’s like to be a bunny?  Little readers will enjoy this adorable touch and feel board book all about bunnies!

    Dance Bunny Dance by Jellycat
    Calling all little dancers!  This cute book will make little ones want to get up and shake their cotton tails…so fun!

    The Itsy Bitsy Bunny by Jeffrey Burton
    A fun and playful holiday twist on “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” makes this favorite nursery rhyme perfect for Easter!

    The itsy bitsy bunny was hopping up the trail
    Down fell the baskets past his tiny tail
    Out came his friends to help him on his way.
    For the itsy bitsy bunny was planning Easter day.

    This Itsy Bitsy Bunny must hop at top speed so he can get all of his eggs hidden in time for the big holiday!  Little ones will love this fresh springtime spin on a classic nursery rhyme.

    Too Many Carrots by Katy Hudson
    We read this book several times and loved it!

    Rabbit loves carrots. Maybe a little too much. In fact, his carrots are crowding him out of his cozy burrow. When his friends offer to help thats just asking for trouble. TOO much trouble! This charming and lovingly illustrated picture book shows how friendships get us over the rough spots in life, even if the going gets a little bumpy!

    Peep and Egg: I’m Not Hatching by Laura Gehl
    This book is another favorite that we’ve read this year!

    Egg is not hatching.  No way. No how.  It is too scary out there.  Peep wants Egg to hatch so they can do fun things together, like watch the sunrise, splash in puddles, and play hide-and-seek.
    But Egg is not cracking… Joyce Wan’s bright and bold illustrations will have young chickies giggling at Laura Gehl’s reassuring tale that takes the not out of I’m not.

    Pat the Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt
    This touch and feel book is a classic and great for tactile learning!  My kids adore this one!

    Miz Fannie Mae’s Fine Easter Hat by Melissa Milich
    How cute is this book cover?

    When her husband and daughter buy her a beautiful new Easter hat, which is decorated with lace, flowers, fruit, and four tiny eggs, Miz Fannie Mae proudly wears the hat to church, and everyone thinks a miracle has taken place when the eggs hatch.

    The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes by DuBose Heyward
    The beloved tale of a mother rabbit who dreams of becoming an Easter Bunny that has won the hearts of readers for generations, is now available as a beautiful gift edition. The gift set includes a book and golden shoes charm—perfect for anyone who hopes to be wise, kind, and brave!

    God Gave Us Easter by Lisa Tawn Bergren
    As Little Cub celebrates Easter with Papa, Mama, and her brother and sister, she begins to ask her papa questions about this very special day of the year.  Papa lovingly explains God’s plans for his children, while taking Little Cub on a memorable walk through her stunning Arctic world, and he shares how Easter came about in clear, simple terms that even the littlest cubs can understand.

    Don’t Let Auntie Mabel Set the Table by Vanessa Newton
    This book isn’t necessarily about Easter, but it’s so fitting for families who may be gathering together for Easter dinner.  Absolutely hilarious and fun!

    Auntie Mabel and her family and friends have gathered for their big Sunday dinner and can’t wait to dig into a delicious, mouthwatering meal. Before they can begin, Auntie Mabel starts—and doesn’t stop!—blessing everyone and everything she surveys: the yams and Brussels sprouts, the table and chairs—even the president of the United States!

    That’s Not My Bunny by Fiona Watt
    Who doesn’t love these Usborne touchy-feely books?  Aren’t they great for little readers?

    Lots of baby bunnies! A touchy-feely board book with simple, repetitive text, tactile patches and bold illustrations suitable for babies and toddlers. A little white mouse appears on every page, for children to spot.

    Emma’s Easter by Lisa Bullard
    Emma’s family is celebrating Easter! Emma and her little brother hunt for Easter eggs and candy. They go to church. Then relatives come over for a big meal. Find out the different ways people celebrate this special day!

    The Golden Egg Book by Margaret Wise Brown
    The illustrations in this book are so beautiful!

    Once there was a little bunny. He was all alone. One day he found an egg. He could hear something moving inside the egg. What was it?

    So begins the Golden Easter classic about a bunny—and a little duck that is about to hatch!

    Dear Pope Francis by Pope Francis
    This book isn’t about Easter either, but since I adore Pope Francis and this book I’m including it.

    If you could ask Pope Francis one question, what would it be?

    Children have questions and struggles just like adults, but rarely are they given the chance to voice their concerns and ask the big questions resting deep in their hearts. In Dear Pope Francis, Pope Francis gives them that chance and celebrates their spiritual depth by directly answering questions from children around the world. Some are fun. Some are serious. And some will quietly break your heart. But all of them are from children who deserve to know and feel God’s unconditional love.

    Rechenka’s Eggs by Patricia Polacco
    This book is visually stunning with gorgeous illustrations!

    Old Babushka, known throughout all of Moskva for her beautifully painted eggs, is preparing her eggs for the Easter Festival when she takes in an injured goose. She names the goose Rechenka, and they live happily together until one day when Rechenka accidentally overturns a basket, breaking all of Babushka’s lovingly crafted eggs.

    But the next morning Babushka has a surprise awaiting her in the basket. She cries: “A miracle!” It is one of many in this charmingly told tale of friendship and caring.

    10 Easter Egg Hunters: A Holiday Counting Book by Janet Schulman
    The adorable kids from the New York Times besteller 10 Trick-or-Treaters are back and they’re counting their way to Easter! Can you help them find all of the eggs the Easter Bunny has hidden in time for the Easter Parade?

    The Easter Egg Artists by Adrienne Adams
    The Abbotts, established Easter egg artists, let their son develop a style of his own when he shows interest in painting.

    Your turn: What are your favorite Easter themed books for kids?  Feel free to share in the comments.

    book giving day, children's literacy, holiday books

    My International Book Giving Day Experience

    Happy International Book Giving Day (and Valentine’s Day)!  A few weeks ago, I mentioned how I planned to celebrate Book Giving Day this year.  You can check out that post here if you missed it.

    Our friends over at Reach Out and Read Connecticut, were happy to receive my donation of 83 books along with a set of 12 mini board books for babies.  I planned on donating books to other locations as well, but honestly it was easiest for me to just dump them all in one box and make one donation at one location.  And if I’m really being honest, I was being lazy because it was bone chilling cold that day.  I didn’t feel like driving to multiple locations lugging around books.  So there.  If I continue this book giving tradition again next year, I’ll be a bit more organized and strategic.


    In addition to donating some books from our home library, I reached out to several friends and family members for book donations.  I didn’t know what to expect so I set a goal to collect at least 50 books.  I was surprised when I surpassed that goal nearly reaching 100!


    Overall, it was a fun experience and I’d definitely do it again. What a great way to help promote literacy, give to others who may be in need, and get rid of some unwanted books or books that your children have outgrown.

    The kids weren’t too happy about seeing some of their books in the box, especially my daughter.  She knew once we put a book in that box it was going to be donated and they wouldn’t have it anymore.  I know I could have hid the box and kept it out of sight from the kids, but I wanted them to understand the concept of donating and giving – even if some of their stuff was being given away.  Now that the books are gone, she seems to have forgotten all about those books.  Kids!

    I’m delighted I was able to participate and give back this year.  I think International Book Giving Day helps serve as a reminder to remember that we can pay it forward even by donating something as simple as a book.  If you’re a parent like me, it’s also a great way to encourage kids to think of others.

    Your turn:  Did you participate in International Book Giving Day with your little readers this year?  If so, I’d love to hear what you did.  Feel free to share in the comments.

    children's books, holiday books, read aloud

    The Year of the Monkey: A Book Review

    This year, Lunar New Year – The Year of the Monkey – begins on Monday, February 8th and lasts until Jan 27th, 2017.  For nearly 5,000 years, the Chinese culture has divided time in cycles of twelve years.  An animal represents each year.  Therefore, if you are born in a particular year, then you share the personality of that animal.  This year it’s the Year of the Monkey, the ninth animal in the cycle. The next Year of the Monkey will be in 2028.

    The Year of the Monkey: Tales from the Chinese Zodiac by Oliver Chin, illustrated by Kenji Ono
    Recommended for children ages 4 – 9

    Max is the son of the legendary Monkey King and Queen. Succeeding at school is not easy, but luckily playing in the gym is! Can Max forge his own claim to fame?  Empowering themes of self-discovery and cultural exchange, plus charismatic characters, have proven appeal with children, parents, and elementary educators.


    This book is part of a twelve book series that has a different book for each animal in the Chinese zodiac.  All of the books in the series are written in both English and simplified Chinese, which is a bonus if you can read/speak both languages.

    I read this book with the kids a few weeks ago.  The kids seemed to really get a kick out of little Max!  He’s so curious and full of energy!  Their favorite part of the story was the jianzi tournament because it was so action packed.  We had fun trying to re-enact the scenes.  Jianzi looks like a game that sort of resembles what Americans call hacky sack.

    Max is determined to be the best jianzi player, but his mom (the Monkey Queen) tells him to stop wasting his time “playing silly games.”  His parents want him to accomplish extraordinary things like they did.  After hearing all of the amazing stories from his parents’ past, Max starts to second guess himself about his love of jianzi and entering the tournament.  However, in the end his parents have a change of heart and push him and his friend to be the best and conquer the undefeated Dragon and the Tiger team.

    I liked all of the colorful illustrations and the overall messages of teamwork, practice, courage, and determination.  I think this book is a fun way to introduce children to the lunar new year.  Be sure to point out the other animals in the Chinese zodiac that are shown throughout the book.  We had fun searching for them on the different pages!  I haven’t read any of the other 11 books in the series, but I’m sure they’re all equally as entertaining.

    Another thing I liked is the back of the book lists the years from 1920 onwards that are Years of the Monkey (1920, 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016, 2028).  There is also a  list of the different qualities and characteristics people born in the Year of The Monkey may have. These include: carefree, curious, crafty, playful, nimble, and persistent.

    Also, there is a scannable QR code provided if you are interested in downloading an interactive app for the book.  The app offers word-by-word highlighting, instant playback, and gives kids the ability to read at their own pace.

    Read/purchase this book if…

    • You have a child(ren) or relative’s child born in the year of the monkey.
    • Your kids love anything related to monkeys.
    • You want to introduce kids to the sport of jianzi.
    • You are looking for a fun gift to give children for the Lunar New Year.
    • You want to teach children about any of the following topics: cooperation, friendship, creativity, teamwork, practice, cooperation, courage or determination.

    Purchase The Year of the Monkey at:
    Amazon | Book Depository | Immedium

    Connect with the author (Oliver Chin)
    Blog  |  LinkedIn   |  Twitter

    Connect with the illustrator, Kenji Ono
    Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter

    Your turn: Do you plan to celebrate the Lunar New Year with your family or students?  Feel free to share in the comments.

    black history, children's books, holiday books, read aloud

    29 Black Picture Books for Black History Month, Or Any Month

    Where did the month of January go?  I mean seriously.  We are currently just one day away from entering the month of February, Black History Month, can you believe it?  February is our 28-day time frame to shine and because this year is a leap year, we get a bonus day!  While I do believe Black History month should exist, I think the month of February should serve as the starting place for larger, year long discussions and explorations of acceptance and equality as well as African-American history and culture.

    Being an African-American mom of two preschoolers, I always get a little annoyed when the one topic people seem to focus on the most when it comes to black history is slavery.  I don’t know about you, but I’m not teaching my children about slavery until they are old enough to understand and digest it.

    I’ve often heard many parents, caregivers and educators say they find it difficult or intimidating to teach younger children about black history or choose books due to some of the sensitive topics and images from the past.  While I understand some events in our history are very painful (slavery, segregation, blatant discrimination and violence), there are several other topics and books that can be explored and discussed with children in a fun, lighthearted way.  I think it’s important for people to understand that Black history includes more than just slavery and the struggle for civil rights.


    There are so many wonderful picture books that feature black children as the main protagonists.  Here’s what I like to do with my kids when it comes to reading books during black history month (or any month):

    • Read about heroes and heroines from the past and present.  And I’m not just talking about Martin Luther King Jr., Harriet Tubman, Barack Obama, and Rosa Parks.  There are so many other people who have emerged as role models for all of our children.  I like to discuss the obstacles they overcame to make our lives better.  Not just for African-Americans, but for people of all races and colors.
    • Discuss and explore different items that African-American inventors have contributed to society.  This nation was not built alone by just one race of people.  Many of the things we use in every day life were invented by African-Americans.  For example: the cell phone, traffic light, the refrigerator, the zipper, the ironing board, peanut butter, and the list goes on!
    • Learn about the many “famous firsts” in African-American history.  I love to share stories of the individuals who were the “first” to accomplish a great feat – regardless of their race. During Black History Month (and every month), I try to make an effort to highlight African-Americans who’ve paved the way of us and helped to make our lives better.

    Here are 29 picture book suggestions to explore.  Enjoy!

    Two Friends: Susan B. Anthony and Fredrick Douglass by Dean Robbins

    Two friends, Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass, get together for tea and conversation. They recount their similar stories fighting to win rights for women and African Americans. The premise of this particular exchange between the two is based on a statue in their hometown of Rochester, New York, which shows the two friends having tea.

    The Quickest Kid in Clarksville by Pat Zietlow Miller

    It’s the day before the big parade. Alta can only think about one thing: Wilma Rudolph, three-time Olympic gold medalist. She’ll be riding on a float tomorrow. See, Alta is the quickest kid in Clarksville, Tennessee, just like Wilma once was.

    Freedom in Congo Square by Carole Boston Weatherford
    This poetic, nonfiction story about a little-known piece of African American history captures a human’s capacity to find hope and joy in difficult circumstances and demonstrates how New Orleans’ Congo Square was truly freedom’s heart.

    Don’t Let Auntie Mabel Bless the Table by Vanessa Newton

    Do you have a relative who seems to pray forever when they’re blessing the food? This hilarious book is about a group of family and friends gathering together for Sunday dinner at Auntie Mabel’s house. Before they begin to eat, Auntie Mabel has to bless the table. The only problem is she wants to bless everything from the yams, to the tables and chairs, to the President of the United States! Meanwhile, the food is getting cold and everyone just wants to eat. Will dinner ever be served? I’m sure most families have someone like Auntie Mabel who loves to bless the table, but doesn’t know when to stop.

    Sewing Stories: Harriet Powers’ Journey from Slave to Artist by Barbara Herkert
    Harriet Powers learned to sew and quilt as a young slave girl on a Georgia plantation. She began making pictorial quilts, using each square to illustrate Bible stories and local legends. Harriet exhibited her quilts at local cotton fairs, and though she never traveled outside of Georgia, her quilts are now priceless examples of African-American folk art.

    Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer: The Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement by Carole Boston Weatherford
    Fannie Lou Hamer was a champion of civil rights from the 1950s until her death in 1977.  Voice of Freedom celebrates Fannie Lou Hamer’s life and legacy with a message of hope, determination, and strength.

    Before There Was Mozart by Lesa Cline-Ransome

    Joseph Boulogne, Chevalier de Saint-George was born on Christmas Day in 1739 on the tiny island of Guadeloupe in the West Indies. He soon became known as the most talented violin player and musician in France. During one of his performances, young Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was in the audience. This was before Mozart was well-known. In the end, Joseph does indeed perform for the king and queen of France and is invited back on several occasions. In 2001, a street Rue du Chevalier de Saint-George was named in his honor. An awesome historical non-fiction book for children and music lovers.

    She Loved Baseball: The Effa Manley Story by Audrey Vernick

    Effa always loved baseball. As a young woman, she would go to Yankee Stadium to see Babe Ruth. Effa never dreamed she would someday own a baseball team, yet alone be the first and only woman ever inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. An inspirational story for girls and boys who love baseball.

    Gordon Parks: How the Photographer Captured Black and White America by Carole Boston Weatherford

    Gordon Parks is most famous for being the first black director in Hollywood. But before he made movies and wrote books, he was a poor African American looking for work. When he bought a camera, his life changed forever. He taught himself how to take pictures and before long, people noticed.

    Molly, by Golly!: The Legend of Molly Williams, America’s First Female Firefighter by Dianne Ochiltree
    This legendary tale introduces young readers to Molly Williams, an African American cook for New York City’s Fire Company 11, who is considered to be the first known female firefighter in U.S. history.

    Fly High!: The Story of Bessie Coleman by Louise Borden & Mary Kay Kroeger

    When Bessie Coleman was a child, she wanted to be in school — not in the cotton fields of Texas, helping her family earn money. She wanted to be somebody significant in the world. So Bessie did everything she could to learn under the most challenging of circumstances. At the end of every day in the fields she checked the foreman’s numbers — made sure his math was correct. And this was just the beginning of a life of hard work and dedication that really paid off: Bessie became the first African-American to earn a pilot’s license.

    Oprah: The Little Speaker by Carole Boston Weatherford

    Here is the story of Oprah Winfrey’s childhood, a story about a little girl on a Mississippi pig farm who grew up to be the “Queen of Talk.” The host of the Emmy Award–winning Oprah Winfrey Show , she currently directs a media empire that includes television and movie productions, magazines, a book club, and radio shows. An author’s note is included.

    Skit-Scat Raggedy Cat: Ella Fitzgerald by Roxane Orgil
    With lively prose, Roxane Orgill follows the gutsy Ella from school-girl days to a featured spot with Chick Webb’s band and all the way to her number-one radio hit “A-Tisket, A-Tasket.” Jazzy mixed-media art by illustrator Sean Qualls brings the singer’s indomitable spirit to life.

    28 Days: Moments in Black History that Changed the World by Charles R. Smith
    What a fantastic book!  Each day features a different influential figure in African-American history, from Crispus Attucks, the first man shot in the Boston Massacre, sparking the Revolutionary War, to Madame C. J. Walker, who after years of adversity became the wealthiest black woman in the country, as well as one of the wealthiest black Americans, to Barack Obama, the country’s first African-American president.

    Granddaddy’s Turn by Michael S. Bandy

    Life on the farm with Granddaddy is full of hard work, but despite all the chores, Granddaddy always makes time for play, especially fishing trips. Even when there isn’t a bite to catch, he reminds young Michael that it takes patience to get what’s coming to you. One morning, when Granddaddy heads into town in his fancy suit, Michael knows that something very special must be happening?—?and sure enough, everyone is lined up at the town hall! For the very first time, Granddaddy is allowed to vote, and he couldn’t be more proud

    I Am Michelle Obama the First Lady by Margina Graham Parker

    This historical children’s book is definitely a must-have and a must-read for both children and parents.  This book was given to me as a gift from my baby shower when I was pregnant with my daughter.  The illustrations throughout are absolutely beautiful – so vibrant and rich.   It’s so inspiring to read and learn about all the accomplishments the First Lady has achieved.  What a great book to illustrate to children that they can do anything – the sky is truly the limit!

    Trombone Shorty by Troy Andrews
    Hailing from the Tremé neighborhood in New Orleans, Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews got his nickname by wielding a trombone twice as long as he was high. A prodigy, he was leading his own band by age six, and today this Grammy-nominated artist headlines the legendary New Orleans Jazz Fest.

    Jeremy just wants” those shoes”. A pair of black high-tops with white stripes. The same pair of shoes all his other friends have. When Jeremy finally gets a pair of “those shoes” what he does with them is very touching. I’m convinced children’s books have the best messages! This book delivers powerful lessons on topics like: being grateful, sharing, kindness, friendship, and generosity.

    I Like Myself by Karen Beaumont
    High on energy and imagination, this ode to self-esteem encourages kids to appreciate everything about themselves–inside and out. Messy hair? Beaver breath? So what! Here’s a little girl who knows what really matters.  At once silly and serious, Karen Beaumont’s joyous rhyming text and David Catrow’s wild illustrations unite in a book that is sassy, soulful–and straight from the heart.

    Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters by Barack Obama
    Did you know President Barack Obama is also an author?  In this tender, beautiful letter to his daughters, President Barack Obama has written a moving tribute to thirteen groundbreaking Americans and the ideals that have shaped our nation. From the artistry of Georgia O’Keeffe, to the courage of Jackie Robinson, to the patriotism of George Washington, President Obama sees the traits of these heroes within his own children, and within all of America’s children.

    Last Stop on Market Street by Matt De La Pena
    Every Sunday after church, CJ and his grandma ride the bus across town. But today, CJ wonders why they don’t own a car like his friend Colby. Why doesn’t he have an iPod like the boys on the bus? How come they always have to get off in the dirty part of town? Each question is met with an encouraging answer from grandma, who helps him see the beauty—and fun—in their routine and the world around them.

    I Have a Dream by Kadir Nelson
    Illustrator Kadir Nelson is extremely talented…I LOVE his work! This book contains snippets from the famous “I Have a Dream” speech as well as the speech in its entirety in the back of the book. The illustrations in this book are beyond amazing!

    Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker by Patricia Hruby Powell and Christian Robinson
    Josephine Baker worked her way from the slums of St. Louis to the grandest stages in the world. Meticulously researched by both author and artist, Josephine’s powerful story of struggle and triumph is an inspiration and a spectacle, just like the legend herself.

    Harlem’s Little Blackbird by Renee Watson
    Zora and Langston. Billie and Bessie. Eubie and Duke. If the Harlem Renaissance had a court, they were its kings and queens. But there were other, lesser known individuals whose contributions were just as impactful, such as Florence Mills. Born to parents who were former-slaves Florence knew early on that she loved to sing. And that people really responded to her sweet, bird-like voice.

    Monster Trouble by Lane Fredrickson
    Nothing frightens Winifred Schnitzel—but she DOES need her sleep, and the neighborhood monsters WON’T let her be! Every night they sneak in, growling and belching and making a ruckus. Winifred constructs clever traps, but nothing stops these crafty creatures. What’s a girl to do?  The delightfully sweet ending will have every kid—and little monster—begging for an encore.

    Lillian’s Right to Vote by Jonah Winter
    As Lillian, a one-hundred-year-old African American woman, makes a “long haul up a steep hill” to her polling place, she sees more than trees and sky—she sees her family’s history. She sees the passage of the Fifteenth Amendment and her great-grandfather voting for the first time. She sees her parents trying to register to vote. And she sees herself marching in a protest from Selma to Montgomery.

    One Plastic Bag by Miranda Paul

    Plastic bags are cheap and easy to use. But what happens when a bag breaks or is no longer needed? In Njau, Gambia, people simply dropped the bags and went on their way. One plastic bag became two. Then ten. Then a hundred.  The bags accumulated in ugly heaps alongside roads. Water pooled in them, bringing mosquitoes and disease. Some bags were burned, leaving behind a terrible smell. Some were buried, but they strangled gardens. They killed livestock that tried to eat them. Something had to change.  Isatou Ceesay was that change. She found a way to recycle the bags and transform her community. This inspirational true story shows how one person’s actions really can make a difference in our world.

    When the Beat Was Born: DJ Kool Herc and the Creation of Hip Hop by Laban Carrick Hill

    From his childhood in Jamaica to his youth in the Bronx, Laban Carrick Hill’s book tells how Kool Herc came to be a DJ, how kids in gangs stopped fighting in order to break dance, and how the music he invented went on to define a culture and transform the world.

    Little Melba and Her Big Trombone by Katheryn Russell-Brown
    Overcoming obstacles of race and gender, Melba went on to become a famed trombone player and arranger, spinning rhythms, harmonies, and melodies into gorgeous songs for all the jazz greats of the twentieth century: Randy Weston, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Billie Holiday, and Quincy Jones, to name just a few. Brimming with ebullience and the joy of making music, Little Melba and Her Big Trombone is a fitting tribute to a trailblazing musician and a great unsung hero of jazz.

    BONUS BOOK!! (Released on February 1, 2016)

    Don’t Call Me Grandma by Vaunda Michaeux Nelson
    Great-grandmother Nell eats fish for breakfast, she doesn’t hug or kiss, and she does NOT want to be called grandma. Her great-granddaughter isn’t sure what to think about her. As she slowly learns more about Nell’s life and experiences, the girl finds ways to connect with her prickly great-grandmother

    I believe Black History Month is about teachable moments, no matter how big or small.  But please, don’t just limit black history to a few short weeks during the month of February.  Instead, aim to make black history and culture a natural part of your children’s reading material throughout the year. I hope I’ve provided you with some book suggestions for children of all colors.  You don’t need a packaged curriculum or rigid adherence to school standards to craft a quality educational experience for children.  All you need is the desire to inspire, encourage, and educate.

    Your turn:  What are your favorite Black children’s books to read?  Which ones would you add to the list?  Feel free to share in the comments.

    children's books, holiday books

    I Have a Dream for My Children

    The life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. will be celebrated this weekend throughout the United States.  Even if you do nothing to celebrate or acknowledge Dr. King, I think the holiday is a great opportunity to talk to children about diversity, fairness, equality, kindness, friendship and peace.

    Every year since my kids were born, I’ve been reading Kadir Nelson’s book I Have a Dream with the kids. The book contains snippets from the famous “I Have a Dream” speech as well as the speech in its entirety in the back of the book.  There is also an accompanying CD to go along with it.

    Reading this book makes me think about my own dreams for my children.  As parents, we all want the best for our children, right?  In essence, we want them to be smart, successful and to achieve all of their life goals.

    Here are some of my hope and dreams for my children:

    • To be be happy, loving, respectful, and productive citizens of the world
    • To be confident
    • To think for themselves and form their own opinions
    • To be successful in anything they put their minds to
    • To always know their parents love and support them no matter what they do
    • To dare to be different despite what others may think or say
    • To be doers and not dreamers (from Shonda Rhimes book Year of Yes)
    • To work hard and play harder
    • To be loving and respectful of nature and the environment
    • To be willing to experience new and different things
    • To be curious, life-long learners and readers
    • To respect other people no matter what their differences may be
    • To love life with zest and vigor
    • To share their love with others and to be loved by others
    • To give back to those in need and to help make this world a better place no matter how small it may be
    • To be a good friend to others
    • To choose the right way even when the right way is much harder
    • To make mistakes and learn from them
    • To take risks and not be afraid of failure
    • To be healthy
    • To follow their passions and to live fully
    • To dance like no one is watching
    • To take amazing adventures (and sometimes take mommy and daddy along for the ride too!)

    Ultimately, I hope my kids’ lives are filled with happiness, giggles, safety, and good health.  I want their lives to be filled with gratitude, joy, and giving.

    Cheers to you, Dr. King on your birthday in heaven!  Thank you for the opportunity to meditate on your message and your legacy.

    Your turn:  What are your hopes and dreams for your children? Do they mirror your own?  Feel free to share in the comments.

    children's books, holiday books, read aloud

    What the Kids are Reading (for Thanksgiving)

    Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday of the year.  Yes, I am a true foodie at heart, but that’s not the only reason why I love Thanksgiving.  (Really, it’s not!)  To me, everything about the day provides a sense of comfort.  Stuffing your face and eating until you’re comatose…well, that’s just an added bonus.

    16 Board & Picture Books for Thanksgiving (1)

    This will be my third time enjoying Thanksgiving as a parent with the kids.  I’m looking forward to enjoying family, good food, and of course reading some great books with the kids before the holiday arrives.  There are so many Thanksgiving-themed books available you may end up having a hard time deciding which ones to read.  To make it a little easier I’ve rounded up a collection of board and picture books that will teach your kids the importance of gratitude, thankfulness, and kindness mixed in with a little fun and food…yum!  Enjoy!

    Board Books
    Who’s Coming for Dinner, Little Hoo? by Brenda Ponnay
    Whooo’s Ready for Thanksgiving? Little Hoo is hosting all of his friends for a Thanksgiving feast, but first they have to arrive. Toddlers will love guessing who will be at the door in this “Knock, Knock” book featuring a little owl and his friends and family.

    My Thanksgiving Prayer by Crystal Bowman
    This oversized board book features a child thanking and praising God for the big and small joys of life. Children will delight in the colorful illustrations and the catchy rhyming text.

    Thanksgiving Parade by Kelly Asbury
    Through rhyming text, this shaped board book captures some of the best features of the parade, as seen through the eyes of a child.

    Turkey Time! by Price Stern Sloan
    Through rhyming text, this adorable book walks through Thanksgiving Day in the lead-up to the big meal.

    Five Silly Turkeys by Salina Yoon
    Toddlers will love the silly Thanksgiving turkeys in this fun counting book full of silly turkeys doing very silly things!  From twirling on a dance floor to being chased by a bee to tanning in the sun, these are no ordinary Thanksgiving turkeys. This shiny fabric–tabbed book is a holiday treat that is sure to be gobbled up quickly.

    10 Fat Turkeys by Tony Johnston
    Little readers will gobble up this silly story about ten goofy turkeys and their antics: swinging from a vine, strutting on a boar, doing a noodle dance, and more.

    Picture Books
    Turkey and Mr. Bear by Jessika Daly
    When Turkey shares his enthusiasm for Thanksgiving with Mr. Bear, he learns that he has no idea what that holiday really means. With wild ideas about birthday cake, fireworks and stockings hung by Santa, he soon finds out what Thanksgiving is all about. What does that mean for Turkey?

    The Very Stuffed Turkey by Katharine Kenah and Binny Talib

    A Thanksgiving story featuring a large turkey with a big problem.  He’s been invited to EVERYONE’S home for dinner!  With five homes to visit — Horse’s, Pig’s, Sheep and Goat’s, Cow’s, and Mouse’s –Turkey knows there’ll be a ton of food to eat. But there will also be friends and their families who can’t wait to celebrate the holiday with Turkey! Can this very plump bird make it through every meal without bursting?

    The Great Thanksgiving Escape by Mark Fearing
    It’s another Thanksgiving at Grandma’s. Gavin expects a long day of boredom and being pestered by distantly related toddlers, but his cousin Rhonda has a different idea: make a break for it – out of the kids’ room to the swing set in the backyard! Gavin isn’t so sure, especially when they encounter vicious guard dogs (in homemade sweaters), a hallway full of overly affectionate aunts, and worse yet, the great wall of butts! Will they manage to avoid the obstacles and find some fun before turkey time? Or will they be captured before they’ve had a taste of freedom?

    Turk and Runt: A Thanksgiving Comedy by Lisa Wheeler
    A Thanksgiving comedy story about two brother turkeys and how they save each other from being someone’s Thanksgiving dinner.  I’d recommend this one for kids ages 5 – 8.

    Thanksgiving for Emily Ann by Teresa Johnston

    Celebrate Thanksgiving in this sweet, rhyming story all about family and togetherness!
    Emily Ann doesn’t like Thanksgiving, not one bit. With all the hustle and bustle of the holiday, she feels a little ignored…and just a little bit sad. But just as Emily Ann prepares to do her worst, her family comes together to show her what matters most about Thanksgiving: family.

    Thanks for Thanksgiving by Julie Markes

    From the turkey on the table to warm, cozy cuddles, life is full of small things and bigger pleasures. But what is most important is being able to share them with family.  This book reminds kids and adults alike about the little details that make each day enjoyable and the illustrations bring the thoughtful words to life.

    Turkey Trouble by Wendi Silvano and Lee Harper
    Turkey is in trouble. Bad trouble. The kind of trouble where it’s almost Thanksgiving . . . and you’re the main
    course. But Turkey has an idea–what if he doesn’t look like a turkey? What if he looks like another animal instead?
    After many hilarious attempts, Turkey comes up with the perfect disguise to make this Thanksgiving the best ever that puts a nice twist on the story’s ending. Vegetarians rejoice! (No, I’m not a vegetarian, but I think they will enjoy the alternative ending.) This is a fun read aloud book to read with the kids.

    Bear Says Thanks by Karma Wilson
    Bear has come up with the perfect way to say thanks—a nice big dinner! When Bear decides to throw a feast, his friends show up one by one with different platters of delicious food to share. There’s just one problem: Bear’s cupboards are bare! What is he to do?

    T is for Turkey: A True Thanksgiving Story by Tanya Lee Stone
    An ABC Thanksgiving book.  A group of children puts on a play using rhyming couplets, featuring each letter of the alphabet, to provide the facts about Thanksgiving Day.

    The Little Kids’ Table by Mary Ann McCabe

    Everyone knows that the little kids table is the place to be for any holiday or family gathering. They just know how to have fun! This silly, rhyming story follows a group of rambunctious cousins from table setting to dessert.

    But wait…there’s more!  I also included these three bonus books.

    Don’t Let Auntie Mabel Bless the Table by Vanessa Newton

    Sharing the Bread: An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving Story by Pat Zietlow Miller

    Feast for 10 by Cathryn Falwell

    Your turn:  What books will you and your little ones be reading for Thanksgiving?  Feel free to share in the comments.

    book reviews, children's books, holiday books

    Monster Trouble: A Book Review

    Monster Trouble by Lane Fredrickson

    Nothing frightens Winifred Schnitzel—but she DOES need her sleep, and the neighborhood monsters WON’T let her be! Every night they sneak in, growling and belching and making a ruckus. Winifred constructs clever traps, but nothing stops these crafty creatures. What’s a girl to do?

    Both of my kids really enjoyed this book – it was a big hit last month and this month.  Little Winifred Schnitzel is too cute with her two afro puff ponytails!  Oh, and she’s very brave too.

    In this book, she tries several different tactics to keep monsters at bay so she can get some much needed beauty sleep.  Winifred sets traps using string, she uses some stinky Limburger cheese, and even a pokey chair.  Unfortunaley, she is unsuccessful at trying to trap or trick the monsters and she eventually falls into a deep sleep.  When she is awakened by one of the monsters, she kisses him.  Well, the monster is totally disgusted by the kiss and he starts freaking out.  Wise little Winifred takes notice of how grossed out the monster is, so she starts kissing all of them and they finally leave her alone at night to sleep.  So if you’ve ever wondered how to get monsters to leave you alone now you know the secret…kiss them!

    I think this is a great book for children who are afraid of the dark when the lights go out at night.  It can also be used to teach kids how to deal with their fears and being strong and brave.  I would recommend this book for children ages 3 – 8 (even though I read it with my little guy who’s almost two years old).

    Parents, caregivers, and teachers don’t have to worry about scary or spooky looking monster illustrations in this book. The pictures are colorful and entertaining. The story is written in a fun rhyming way that’s perfect for story telling and keeping little readers and listeners captivated.  A great Halloween read aloud book for both girls and boys!

    Looking for more Halloween-themed books for kids?  Check out one of my previous posts here.

    Your Turn:  Did you enjoy this book review?  Have you read this book yet?  If so, feel free to let me know if you and your little ones enjoyed it.