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    A Sizzling, Suspenseful Summer Beach Read: The Marriage Pact

    Looking for an irresistible, page turning and suspenseful summer beach read?  Look no further than The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond.

    So far my summer has been filled with a series of mini weekend family adventures, endless kids’ birthday parties, lots of good books and beach trips.  We have at least two more summer beach trips soon and I’m excited to sink my teeth into this new psychological thrilled called The Marriage Pact.  Have you heard of it yet?

    Here’s a brief synopsis:
    Newlyweds Alice and Jake are a picture-perfect couple. Alice, once a singer in a well-known rock band, is now a successful lawyer. Jake is a partner in an up-and-coming psychology practice. Their life together holds endless possibilities. After receiving an enticing wedding gift from one of Alice’s prominent clients, they decide to join an exclusive and mysterious group known only as The Pact.

    The goal of The Pact seems simple: to keep marriages happy and intact. And most of its rules make sense. Always answer the phone when your spouse calls. Exchange thoughtful gifts monthly. Plan a trip together once per quarter. . . . 

    Never mention The Pact to anyone.

    Alice and Jake are initially seduced by the glamorous parties, the sense of community, their widening social circle of like-minded couples.  And then one of them breaks the rules.  The young lovers are about to discover that for adherents to The Pact, membership, like marriage, is for life. And The Pact will go to any lengths to enforce that rule.

    Doesn’t that sound juicy?  If you liked the books Gone Girl” or Girl on a Train” as much as I did, I have a feeling you are sure to love this book!  It explores the ultimate question: How far is too far when it comes to protecting your marriage?  There are themes of marriage, domestic suspense, unfaithfulness and more!

    Our beach trip can’t come soon enough so I can find out what happens with Jake & Alice.  I need to know, who broke the rules and why?  Will their marriage last?  Why is it forbidden to mention The Pact to others?  So many questions! I finished the first two chapters so far and can’t wait to finish the rest.  By the way, the chapters seem fairly short so far which makes it perfect to read a good amount of the book while relaxing on the beach.  Anyone else planning to throw this book in their bag on your next beach trip?

    Click here to find out more or purchase “The Marriage Pact”.

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    adult books, children's books, diverse books, summer reading

    The 2017 Ultimate Diverse Summer Reading List for Kids, Teens & Adults!

    Looking for a diverse summer reading list for kids to help diversify your home library?

    By now I’m sure you know the importance of reading with your kids especially when school is out to help avoid the dreaded summer slide.  As a parent, I know how full life can be during the summer months (and all year round), but I’m a firm believer in prioritizing.  If reading is one of your top priorities then you’ll make the time for it – period.  No excuses.  Even if you’re only able to read for just five minutes per day.

    Before we get into the list, I wanted to highlight a few ways to make summer reading fun for kids (and you too!) These tips are probably ones you’ve heard many times before, but may help to serve as a reminder or spark some new ideas for you and your family.

    • Plan regular trips to the library throughout the summer to refresh your book stack.
    • Organize a book swap with friends or neighbors.
    • Check out the Scholastic Reading Road Trip to see when/if they will be in an area near you!
    • Curl up with your own book, magazine, or e-reader next to your kids so they can see you reading.
    • Visit bookstores to attend author events and story times.
    • Listen to audio books as a way to build listening skills.  We love using audio books on long road trips!
    • Read comic books, graphic novels or magazines – they all count!
    • Create a challenge to read as many books in a series that your child enjoys.
    • Change your story time environment – read outside at the park or in your backyard for a change of scenery.
    • Start a kids book club.
    • Organize your own outdoor story time hour with the kids in your neighborhood.  Bring a blanket, provide snacks and the books you’re going to read.  (We did this last year in our neighborhood.)

    Ok, now on to the list!  As always, I hope you and your kids find some books on this list that resonate with you. Happy Summer Reading!

    Click here for the downloadable PDF version.

    Board Books (Suitable for babies – Age 3)

    Littles: And How They Grow by Kelly DiPucchio and AG Ford

    How adorable is this cover?  This book has adorable scenes from the busy life of a baby—including peekaboo, feedings, tantrums, giggles—and a final scene that reminds us how they become big kids all too soon.

    Making Faces: A First Book of Emotions by Abrams Appleseed

    This board book introduces five essential expressions: happy, sad, angry, surprised, and silly. Each is introduced with a large image of a baby’s face.

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

    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.

    I Love My Haircut! by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley and E. B. Lewis

    In this companion to the top-selling I Love My Hair! (originally titled and adapted from Bippity Bop, Barbershop), a young boy named Miles makes his first trip to the barbershop with his father–but he’s afraid that the haircut will hurt! With the support of his dad, the barber, and the other men in the barbershop, Miles bravely sits through his first haircut.

    Baby Goes to Market by Atinuke and Angela Brooksbank (September 2017)

    Join Baby and his doting mama at a bustling southwest Nigerian marketplace for a bright, bouncy read-aloud offering a gentle introduction to numbers.

    Picture Books

    Where’s Rodney? by Carmen Bogan (August 2017) Read my review here.

    Little Rodney is a bit fidgety because all he wants to do is go outside.  He doesn’t want to sit in Miss Garcia’s classroom and learn about the word of the week when there are so many other interesting things to see outside.  But Rodney’s exposure to the great outdoors is limited because of the low-income neighborhood he lives in.

    Sparkle Boy by Leslea Newman Read my review here.

    LGBT Book for Kids: Casey loves to play with his blocks, puzzles, and dump truck, but he also loves things that sparkle, shimmer, and glitter. When his older sister, Jessie, shows off her new shimmery skirt, Casey wants to wear a shimmery skirt too. When Jessie comes home from a party with glittery nails, Casey wants glittery nails too. And when Abuelita visits wearing an armful of sparkly bracelets, Casey gets one to wear, just like Jessie. The adults in Casey’s life embrace his interests, but Jessie isn’t so sure.

    The One Day House by Julia Durango (August 2017)

    Wilson dreams of all the ways he can help improve his friend Gigi’s house so that she’ll be warm, comfortable, and happy.  One day, friends and neighbors from all over come to help make Wilson’s plans come true. Everyone volunteers to pitch in to make Gigi’s house safe, clean, and pretty.

    Hello Goodbye Dog by Maria Gianferrari (July 2017)

    For Zara’s dog, Moose, nothing is more important than being with his favorite girl. So when Zara has to go to school, WHOOSH, Moose escapes and rushes to her side. Unfortunately, dogs aren’t allowed at school and Moose has to go back home.

    Sing, Don’t Cry by Angela Dominguez (August 2017)

    In this story inspired by the life of Apolinar Navarrete Diaz―author Angela Dominguez’s grandfather and a successful mariachi musician―Abuelo and his grandchildren sing through the bad times and the good. Lifting their voices and their spirits, they realize that true happiness comes from singing together.

    When Rosa Parks Went Fishing by Rachel Ruiz and Chiara Fedele (August 2017)

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

    Frida Kahlo and Her Animalitos by Monica Brown and John Parra (September 2017)

    The fascinating Mexican artist Frida Kahlo is remembered for her self-portraits, her dramatic works featuring bold and vibrant colors. Her work brought attention to Mexican and indigenous culture and she is also renowned for her works celebrating the female form.

    My Daddy Rules the World: Poems About Dads by Hope Anita Smith

    Told through the voice of a child, Anita Hope Smith’s My Daddy Rules the World collection of poems celebrates everyday displays of fatherly love, from guitar lessons and wrestling matches to bedtime stories, haircuts in the kitchen, and cuddling in bed.

    Early Sunday Morning by Denene Millner and Vanessa Brantley-Newton (Read my review here)

    It’s almost little June’s big day to sing her first solo in the youth church choir and she couldn’t be more excited! But when it’s time to practice at choir rehearsal, June gets a little stage fright. As a result, her voice starts to tremble when she sings.

    Princess Cupcake Jones and the Dance Recital (Princess Cupcake Jones Series) by Ylleya Fields (Read my review here)

    Taking dance classes with her friends is the highlight of her week. But when Cupcake struggles to do everything ‘just right’ before the recital, she isn’t sure if she’ll be able to master it all in time.  Perfect for little girls who love dancing, princesses, tutus and tiaras!

    Blue Sky White Stars by Sarvinder Naberhaus and Kadir Nelson

    An inspiring and patriotic tribute to the beauty of the American flag, a symbol of America’s history, landscape, and people.

    Yo Soy Muslim: A Father’s Letter to His Daughter by Mark Gonzales (August 2017)

    Written as a letter from a father to his daughter, Yo Soy Muslim is a celebration of social harmony and multicultural identities.

    She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World by Chelsea Clinton

    Chelsea Clinton introduces tiny feminists, mini activists and little kids who are ready to take on the world to thirteen inspirational women who never took no for an answer, and who always, inevitably and without fail, persisted.

    All the Way to Havana by Margarita Engle (August 2017)

    Together, a boy and his parents drive to the city of Havana, Cuba, in their old family car. Along the way, they experience the sights and sounds of the streets―neighbors talking, musicians performing, and beautiful, colorful cars putt-putting and bumpety-bumping along. In the end, though, it’s their old car, Cara Cara, that the boy loves best. A joyful celebration of the Cuban people and their resourceful innovation.

    I Got A New Friend by Karl Newsom Edwards

    When a little girl gets a new puppy, they have a lot to learn about each other. The new friends can be shy, messy, and sometimes get into trouble. They get lost, but they always get found. Their friendship may be a lot of work—but at the end of the day, they love each other!

    We Are Shining by Gwendolyn Brooks and Jan Spivey Gilchrist

    Marking the 100th birthday of Gwendolyn Brooks, this powerful picture book is a celebration of the diversity of our world. This life-affirming poem is now illustrated for the very first time, with stunning, vibrant images.

    Lola Gets a Cat by Anna McQuinn (Read my review here)

    Lola wants a cat, but Mommy says taking care of a pet is a lot of work. So Lola does her homework. At the library she finds books about cats and pet care and she and Mommy learn as much as they can.

    If Your Monster Won’t Go to Bed by Denise Vega

    If you have a monster that won’t go to bed, don’t bother asking your parents to help. They know a lot about putting kids to bed, but nothing about putting monsters to bed. It’s not their fault; they’re just not good at it. Read this book instead.

    Green Pants by Kenneth Kraegel

    Jameson only ever wears green pants. When he wears green pants, he can do anything. But if he wants to be in his cousin’s wedding, he’s going to have to wear a tuxedo, and that means black pants.

    Danza!: Amalia Hernández and El Ballet Folklórico de México by Duncan Tonatiuh (August 2017)

    Award-winning author and illustrator Duncan Tonatiuh tells the story of Amalia Hernández, dancer and founder of El Ballet Folklórico de México.

    Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall (Read my review here)

    Working up the courage to take a big, important leap is hard, but Jabari is almost absolutely ready to make a giant splash.

    I Just Want to Say Goodnight by Rachel Isadora

    The sun has set and the moon is rising, and that means it’s bedtime. But not if Lala has a say—because she’s not ready to go to sleep! First she needs to say good night to the cat. And the goat. And the chickens.

    Harry and Clare’s Amazing Staycation by Ted Staunton

    Harry and Clare are stuck at home for their spring break. No exotic locations, no plane trips, no exciting plans. So they make their own fun: the living room becomes Mars, the diving board at the pool becomes a pirate’s plank and the local playground where the man-eating octopus lives.

    Green Green: A Community Gardening Story by Marie Lamba and Baldev Lamba

    Green grass is wide and fresh and clean for a family to play in, and brown dirt is perfect for digging a garden. But when gray buildings start to rise up and a whole city builds, can there be any room for green space?

    We’re All Wonders by R.J. Palacio

    We’re All Wonders may be Auggie’s story, but it taps into every child’s longing to belong, and to be seen for who they truly are. It’s the perfect way for families and educators to talk about empathy and kindness with young children.

    Bravo: Poems About Amazing Hispanics by Margarita Engle

    Musician, botanist, baseball player, pilot―the Latinos featured in this collection, Bravo!, come from many different countries and from many different backgrounds. Celebrate their accomplishments and their contributions to a collective history and a community that continues to evolve and thrive today!

    Lucia the Luchadora by Cynthia Leonor Garza

    Lucía zips through the playground in her cape just like the boys, but when they tell her “girls can’t be superheroes,” suddenly she doesn’t feel so mighty. That’s when her beloved abuela reveals a dazzling secret: Lucía comes from a family of luchadoras, the bold and valiant women of the Mexican lucha libre tradition.

    Maya Lin: Artist-Architect of Light and Lines by Jeanne Walker Harvey

    The bold story of Maya Lin, the visionary artist-architect who designed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

    A Different Pond by Bao Phi (August 2017)

    A Different Pond is an unforgettable story about a simple event―a long-ago fishing trip.

    When’s My Birthday? by Julie Fogliano (September 2017)

    In this enthusiastic celebration of all things BIRTHDAY, acclaimed author Julie Fogliano and award-winning illustrator Christian Robinson bring you the perfect birthday book!  An adorable narrator lists all the things that will make her birthday the BEST birthday.

    Lotus & Feather by Ji-li Jiang

    A winter illness left Lotus, a little girl, without a voice and without friends. A hunter’s bullet left Feather, a crane, injured and unable to fly. As Lotus nurses Feather back to health, their bond grows. Soon Feather is following Lotus everywhere, even to school!

    Malala: Activist for Girls’ Education by Raphaële Frier and Aurélia Fronty

    Malala Yousafzai stood up to the Taliban and fought for the right for all girls to receive an education. When she was just fifteen-years old, the Taliban attempted to kill Malala, but even this did not stop her activism.

    Preaching to the Chickens: The Story of Young John Lewis by Jabari Asim

    John wants to be a preacher when he grows up—a leader whose words stir hearts to change, minds to think, and bodies to take action. But why wait? When John is put in charge of the family farm’s flock of chickens, he discovers that they make a wonderful congregation! So he preaches to his flock, and they listen, content under his watchful care, riveted by the rhythm of his voice.

    The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks by Cynthia Levinson (Read my review here)

    Meet the youngest known child to be arrested for a civil rights protest in Birmingham, Alabama, 1963, in this moving picture book that proves you’re never too little to make a difference.

    Fancy Party Gowns: The Story of Fashion Designer Ann Cole Lowe by Deborah Blumenthal

    A beautiful picture book about Ann Cole Lowe, a little-known African-American fashion designer who battled personal and social adversity in order to pursue her passion of making beautiful gowns and went on to become one of society’s top designers.

    The Legendary Miss Lena Horne by Carole Boston Weatherford

    Celebrate the life of Lena Horne, the pioneering African American actress and civil rights activist, with this inspiring, beautiful and powerful picture book.

    Muhammad Ali: A Champion Is Born by Gene Barretta (Read my review here)

    Perfect for boxing lovers, for reading during Black History Month or anytime of the year. The back matter includes some additional facts about Ali’s life, a bibliography, photos and other resources for further reading.

    Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets by Kwame Alexander

    This book contains original poems that pay homage to twenty famed poets who have made the authors’ hearts sing and their minds wonder.

    A Dance Like Starlight: One Ballerina’s Dream by Kristy Dempsey and Floyd Cooper

    Little ballerinas have big dreams. Dreams of pirouettes and grande jetes, dreams of attending the best ballet schools and of dancing starring roles on stage. But in Harlem in the 1950s, dreams don’t always come true—they take a lot of work and a lot of hope. And sometimes hope is hard to come by.

    Town is By the Sea by Joanne Schwartz

    A young boy wakes up to the sound of the sea, visits his grandfather’s grave after lunch and comes home to a simple family dinner, but all the while his mind strays to his father digging for coal deep down under the sea

    Little People, Big Dreams: Rosa Parks by Lisbeth Kaiser (September 2017)

    Rosa Parks grew up during segregation in Alabama, but she was taught to respect herself and stand up for her rights. In 1955, Rosa refused to give up her seat to a white man on a segregated bus, sparking the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

    And Then Comes Summer by Tom Brenner

    From flip-flops and hide-and-seek to fireworks and ice-cream trucks, from lemonade stands and late bedtimes to swimming in the lake and toasting marshmallows, there’s something for everyone in this bright and buoyant celebration of the sunny season.

    The Doctor with an Eye for Eyes: the Story of Dr. Patricia Bath by Julia Finley Mosca & Daniel Rieley (Sept. 2017)

    The Doctor with an Eye for Eyes: The Story of Dr. Patricia Bath is the second book in a brand new educational series about the inspirational lives of amazing scientists! In addition to the illustrated rhyming tale, you’ll find a complete biography, fun facts, a colorful timeline of events, and even a note from Dr. Bath herself!

    Breaking The Sickle: A Snippet of the Life of Dr. Yvette Fay Francis-McBarnette by Louie T. McClain II and Francis W. Minikon Jr. (Read my review here)

    In this third book in the Melanin Origins series, little readers learn about Dr. Yvette Fay Francis-McBarnette, a Jamaican-born medical pioneer in treating children with sickle cell anemia.

    The Thing Lou Couldn’t Do by Ashley Spires

    Lou has always been brave enough for anything, but this latest adventure makes her feel nervous and scared since it involves climbing a tree. Will Lou overcome her fear and join her friends at the top of the tree?

    Rulers of the Playground by Joseph Kuefler

    A cute and fun picture book about sharing, friendship, kindness and playground politics.

    My Kicks: A Sneaker Story by Susan Verde (Read my review here)

    My Kicks is a charming story about a little boy who has outgrown his favorite pair of red sneakers during his summer vacation. When the boys’ mom tells him it’s time to to get a new pair, he starts reminiscing about all the fun he’s had with his favorite pair of kicks.

    The Ring Bearer by Floyd Cooper (Read my review here)

    Told from the perspective of the ring bearer, this book shows little readers that getting married symbolizes the start of something new. It also shows children how families grow and change and teaches them about responsibility and commitment. I think it’s the perfect book to gift to a little ring bearer or flower girl for an upcoming wedding as it may help them cope with feeling nervous about the wedding or adding new people to their family.

    The Banana-Leaf Ball: How Play Can Change the World by Katie Smith Milway and Shane Evans (Read my review here)

    Little Deo and his family must flee their home in Burundi after a war breaks out. Leaving with just the essentials (pots, blankets and food), Deo is saddened there is no room for his beloved his soccer ball made from banana leaves. His father promises him he can make one when he gets to the Lukole refugee camp in Tanzania.

    Ahni And Her Dancing Secret by Shereen Rahming

    Ahni dreams of being a prima ballerina so she joins Madam Sabina’s dance school. But her spirit is soon broken when she discovers that the other students are far more advanced than she is and not as friendly as she expected.

    Brown Girl, Brown Girl, What Do You See? by Kisha Mitchell

    This book takes young girls on a beautiful journey of self-discovery to unlock the beauty and opportunity that lies within each of them.
    Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World by Kate Pankhurst

    Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World is the perfect introduction to just a few of the most incredible women who helped shaped the world we live in. List of women featured: Jane Austen, Gertrude Ederle, Coco Chanel, Frida Kahlo, Marie Curie, Mary Anning, Mary Seacole, Amelia Earhart, Agent Fifi, Sacagawa, Emmeline Pankhurst, Rosa Parks, Anne Frank.

    Feel the Beat: Dance Poems that Zing from Salsa to Swing by Marilyn Singer

    A vibrant collection of poems celebrating all forms of social dance from samba and salsa to tango and hip-hop.

    La Princesa and the Pea by Susan Middleton Elya (September 2017)

    The Princess and the Pea gets a fresh twist in this charming bilingual retelling.

    When God Made You by Matthew Paul Turner (Read my review here)

    Told in rhyming and playful text with beautiful illustrations, When God Made You inspires young readers to learn about their own special gifts and how they fit into God’s divine plan as they grow, explore, and begin to create for themselves.

    Princess and the Peas by Rachel Himes (Read my review here)

    Set in the mid-1950’s in Charleston County, South Carolina this book features a vibrant African-American community with themes of love, family and of course – food and cooking. John’s mother, Ma Sally, cooks the best black-eyed peas in town. When her son John tells her he wants to get married, three women vie for his hand in marriage. The caveat? The lucky woman chosen must be able to cook black-eyed peas as well as John’s mother.  A woman named Princess ends up winning the cooking contest hands down.  Princess and John are two peas in a pod.

    That’s Not a Hippopotamus! by Juliette Maclver and Sarah Davis

    A funny and diverse rhyming book about a group of kids who take a trip to the zoo.  Great for reading aloud during story time!

    Why Am I Me? by Paige Britt (September 2017)

    Presented as a thoughtful, poetic exchange between two characters — who don’t realize they are thinking and asking the very same questions — this beautiful celebration of our humanity and diversity invites readers of all ages to imagine a world where there is no you or me, only we.

    Grandma’s Tiny House by JaNay Brown-Wood (August 2017)

    This sweet, rhyming counting book introduces young readers to numbers one through fifteen as Grandma’s family and friends fill her tiny house on Brown Street. Neighbors, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and grandkids crowd into the house and pile it high with treats for a family feast.

    Ivy and the Lonely Raincloud by Katie Harnett

    Everyone loves the warm sunshine—except the lonely raincloud. No one wants to be his friend! But one day, he stumbles across a grumpy little florist . . . could she be looking for a friend too?

    How to Find a Fox by Nilah Magruder (Read my review here)

    Equipped with a camera and determination, a little girl sets out to track down an elusive red fox. But foxes are sneaky, and it proves more difficult than she thought.

    This Is How We Do It by Matt Lamothe (Read my review here)

    Follow the real lives of seven kids from Italy, Japan, Iran, India, Peru, Uganda, and Russia for a single day!

    Love Is by Diane Adams (Read my review here)

    In this tenderly funny book, girl and duckling grow in their understanding of what it is to care for each other, discovering that love is as much about letting go as it is about holding tight. Children and parents together will adore this fond exploration of growing up while learning about the joys of love offered and love returned.

    Hats Off to You! by Karen Beaumont

    The girls invite you to dress up, too! Put on your favorite hat and join in the rhyming fun as they unveil a very special mother-daughter surprise. A perferct read-a-loud picture book for Mother’s Day or any day.

    Chapter Books/Easy Readers

    Sasha Savvy Loves to Code by Sasha Ariel Alston

    Sasha Savvy, is a super smart 10-year old African-American girl, who lives in Washington, DC. Sasha must choose which class to take for summer camp. Her mom discovers that the camp is offering a new class for girls on how to code. Sasha thinks this will be boring and doesn’t believe that she is good at computer stuff.

    Jasmine Toguchi, Mochi Queen by Elizabet Vukovic and Debbi Michiko Florence (July 2017)

    The first book in a new chapter book series featuring a spunky Japanese-American heroine!  Eight-year-old Jasmine Toguchi is a flamingo fan, tree climber, and top-notch mess-maker!  She’s also tired of her big sister, Sophie, always getting to do things first. For once, Jasmine wishes SHE could do something before Sophiesomething special, something different.

    Katie Fry, Private Eye #1: The Lost Kitten by Katherine Cox

    Katie Fry may be little, but she’s got a big brain, and she uses it to solve mysteries. So when she finds a very cute, VERY lost kitten named Sherlock, she decides to take his case. Can Katie track down the clues to find Sherlock’s home?

    Super Fluffy to the Rescue (Ellie Ultra Series) by Gina Bellisario and Jessika von Innerebner

    As a superhero, Ellie can stop almost any foe—except for boredom. When all her friends are busy, Ellie has a brilliant idea: she’ll use her parents’ lastest invention—the Ultra Animator— to bring Super Fluffy, her favorite stuffed animal, to life.

    Lily’s New Home by Paula Yoo and Shirley Ng-Benitez

    In this early chapter book for beginning readers, Lily and her parents move from their suburban neighborhood to New York City. Lily is used to living in a house on a quiet street. When they arrive at their new apartment, Lily notices the amount of activity all around.

    Rock Star #1 (Jada Jones) by Kelly Starling Lyons and Vanessa Brantley-Newton (September 2017)

    When Jada Jones’s best friend moves away, school feels like the last place she wants to be. She’d much rather wander outside looking for cool rocks to add to her collection, since finding rocks is much easier than finding friends. So when Jada’s teacher announces a class project on rocks and minerals, Jada finally feels like she’s in her element. The only problem: one of her teammates doesn’t seem to like any of Jada’s ideas. She doesn’t seem to like Jada all that much, either. Can Jada figure out a way to make a winning science project and a new friend?

    Jada Jones Class Act by Kelly Starling Lyons and Vanessa Brantley-Newton (September 2017)

    As a candidate for class representative, Jada is ready to give the campaign her all. But when rumors start to fly about her secret fear of public speaking, she isn’t sure who she can trust. And the pressure to make promises she can’t keep only adds to her growing list of problems. Is winning even worth it when friendships are on the line?

    Who Was Bob Marley? by Katie Ellison and Gregory Copeland

    Who Was Bob Marley? tells the story of how a man with humble roots became an international icon

    The Laura Line by Crystal Allen

    Laura Dyson wants two things in life: to be accepted by her classmates and to be noticed by ultracute baseball star Troy Bailey. But everyone at school teases her for being overweight, and Troy won’t give her a second glance. Until one day, their history teacher announces a field trip to the run-down slave shack on her grandmother’s property.

    President of the Whole Sixth Grade by Sherri Winston

    In this follow-up to President of the Whole Fifth Grade, Brianna navigates her toughest challenge yet: middle school! Brianna Justice is determined to raise enough money for the big class trip to Washington, D.C., but she’s up against a lot: classmates who all pretend to be something they’re not, a new nemesis determined to run her out of office, and the sinking feeling she’s about to lose her two best friends for good.

    Lola Levine and the Ballet Scheme by Monica Brown

    When new classmate Bella, a ballet dancer, walks into Lola’s class at Northland Elementary, all Lola can see is pink everywhere–pink ribbons, a pink sweatshirt, and pink tennis shoes. Yuck! Pink is Lola’s least favorite color. Plus, Ballet isn’t nearly as hard as soccer, is it?

    The Middle School Rules of Jamaal Charles by Sean Jensen

    The Middle School Rules of Jamaal Charles features the stories and lessons of Jamaal’s childhood, defined by people overlooking him. Young readers will see how Jamaal deals with bullying and endures teasing because of a long undiagnosed learning disability that enabled him to participate in the Special Olympics as a 10-year-old.

    The Case of the Missing Museum Archives (Museum Mysteries Series) by Steve Brezenoff

    When the plans for the prototype of a failed flying machine go missing from the Air and Space Museum’s archives, Amal’s father, the assistant archivist, is blamed. No one suspects a crime has been committed ― except Amal and her friends.

    King & Kayla and the Case of the Missing Dog Treats (King and Kayla Series) by Dori Hillestad Butler and Nancy Meyers

    A lovable dog helps his human girl solve a mystery. Kayla made peanut butter treats for Jillian’s new puppy Thor. But now the treats are missing. What does Kayla know? There are three treats missing. King was in the kitchen. King s breath doesn t smell like peanut butter. What does King know? There s an intruder in the house. How will they solve the mystery?

    Dragons and Marshmallows (Zoey and Sassafras) by Asia Citro

    In the first book of this series, Zoey discovers a glowing photo and learns an amazing secret. Injured magical animals come to their backyard barn for help! When a sick baby dragon appears, it’s up to Zoey and Sassafras to figure out what’s wrong. Will they be able to help little Marshmallow before it’s too late?

    Who Are Venus and Serena Williams? by Andrew Thomson and James Buckley Jr. (August 2017)

    Who Are Venus and Serena Williams? follows the pair from their early days of training up through the ranks and to the Summer Olympic Games, where they have each won four gold medals—more than any other tennis players.

    The Magnificent Mya Tibbs: Spirit by Crystal Allen and Eda Kaban

    Nine-year-old cowgirl Mya Tibbs is boot-scootin’ excited for the best week of the whole school year—SPIRIT WEEK! She and her megapopular best friend Naomi Jackson even made a pinky promise to be Spirit Week partners so they can win the big prize: special VIP tickets to the Fall Festival.

    You Should Meet: Katherine Johnson by Thea Feldman (July 2017)

    Meet Katherine Johnson, a brilliant mathematician who worked at NASA in the early 1950s until retiring in 1986. Katherine’s unparalleled calculations (done by hand) helped plan the trajectories for NASA’s Mercury and Apollo missions (including the Apollo 11 moon landing). She is said to be one of the greatest American minds of all time.

    You Should Meet: Jesse Owens by Laurie Calkhoven

    Meet Jesse Owens, an African-American runner who won four gold medals at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin!

    Graphic Novels

    Real Friends by Shannon Hale


    March: Book Three by John Lewis

    This book is the conclusion of the award-winning and best-selling MARCH trilogy. Congressman John Lewis, an American icon and one ofthe key figures of the civil rights movement, joins co-writer Andrew Aydin and artist Nate Powell to bring the lessons of history to vivid life for a new generation, urgently relevant for today’s world.

    Monster by Walter Dean Myers

    Presented as a screenplay of Steve’s own imagination, and peppered with journal entries, the book shows how one single decision can change our whole lives.

    I Am Alfonso Jones by Tony Medina (October 2017)

    Alfonso Jones can’t wait to play the role of Hamlet in his school’s hip-hop rendition of the classic Shakespearean play. He also wants to let his best friend, Danetta, know how he really feels about her. But as he is buying his first suit, an off-duty police officer mistakes a clothes hanger for a gun, and he shoots Alfonso.

    Books for Tweens/Teens

    Royal Crush: From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess by Meg Cabot (August 2017)

    Olivia Grace Clarisse Mignonette Harrison is turning thirteen. Even better, she’s finally starting to get the hang of this princess thing. Just in time, too, since her half-sister, Princess Mia Thermopolis, is expected to give birth to twins any day now!

    It’s pretty much the worst time possible for a school field trip, but everyone is insisting that Olivia must attend the Royal School Winter Games. Between Grandmère chaperoning, Olivia’s snobby cousin Luisa complaining about her relationship woes, and everyone insisting that Olivia has a crush on Prince Khalil (even though she isn’t sure that he even wants to be friends anymore!), things are quickly turning into a royal mess!

    Kinda Like Brothers by Coe Booth

    Everyone thinks Jarrett and Kevon should be friends — but that’s not gonna happen. Not when Kevon’s acting like he’s better than Jarrett — and not when Jarrett finds out Kevon’s keeping some major secrets.

    Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly

    Hidden Figures follows the interwoven accounts of Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson and Christine Darden, four African American women who participated in some of NASA’s greatest successes.

    When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

    A hilarious and heartfelt novel about two Indian-American teens whose parents conspire to arrange their marriage.

    Rise of the Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste (September 2017)

    Corinne LaMer defeated the wicked jumbie Severine months ago, but things haven’t exactly gone back to normal in her Caribbean island home. Everyone knows Corinne is half-jumbie, and many of her neighbors treat her with mistrust. When local children begin to go missing, snatched from the beach and vanishing into wells, suspicious eyes turn to Corinne.

    The Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste

    Corinne La Mer claims she isn’t afraid of anything. Not scorpions, not the boys who tease her, and certainly not jumbies. They’re just tricksters made up by parents to frighten their children. Then one night Corinne chases an agouti all the way into the forbidden forest, and shining yellow eyes follow her to the edge of the trees. They couldn’t belong to a jumbie. Or could they?

    52 Positive Affirmations for Mocha Kids by Christin Armstrong

    One year of positive affirmations that your Mocha Kid can memorize and apply on a weekly basis. Each week features an activity to help the child apply the affirmation including coloring pages, drawing exercises and thought provoking questions.

    A Good Thing by Stacey Evans Morgan

    From California to Canada, D.C. to Paris, Pilar is on a search for her soul mate. Of course, the journey won’t be all rosy, but it won’t take long for Pilar to discover anything worth having, is going to take a little work and a whole lot of patience. Just when Pilar settles on being single….she discovers the good thing she’s been missing!

    Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson

    For August and her girls, sharing confidences as they ambled through neighborhood streets, Brooklyn was a place where they believed that they were beautiful, talented, brilliant—a part of a future that belonged to them.

    She’s So Boss by Stacy Kravetz

    Whether you already have an idea for a business or you’re mulling how to turn the things you enjoy into a self-sustaining enterprise, this book will connect the dots. From inspiration to execution, there are concrete steps every young entrepreneur, creator, or leader needs to take, and this book shows you how.

    The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas

    Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

    The Perfect Find by Tia Williams

    Jenna Jones, former It-girl fashion editor, is broke and desperate for a second chance. When she’s dumped by her longtime fiancé and fired from Darling magazine, she begs for a job from her old arch nemesis, Darcy Vale.

    This Is Just My Face: Try Not to Stare by Gabourey Sidibe

    Gabourey Sidibe—“Gabby” to her legion of fans—skyrocketed to international fame in 2009 when she played the leading role in Lee Daniels’s acclaimed movie Precious. In This Is Just My Face, she shares a one-of-a-kind life story in a voice as fresh and challenging as many of the unique characters she’s played onscreen.

    Black Privilege: Opportunity Comes to Those Who Create It by Charlamagne Tha God

    In his new book, Charlamagne Tha God presents his comic, often controversial, and always brutally honest insights on how living an authentic life is the quickest path to success.

    Step Up to the Plate Maria Singh by Uma Krishnaswami

    Nine-year-old Maria Singh longs to play softball in the first-ever girls’ team forming in Yuba City, California. It’s the spring of 1945, and World War II is dragging on. Miss Newman, Maria’s teacher, is inspired by Babe Ruth and the All-American Girls’ League to start a girls’ softball team at their school.

    Clayton Byrd Goes Underground by Rita Williams-Garcia

    Clayton feels most alive when he’s with his grandfather, Cool Papa Byrd, and the band of Bluesmen—he can’t wait to join them, just as soon as he has a blues song of his own. But then the unthinkable happens. Cool Papa Byrd dies, and Clayton’s mother forbids Clayton from playing the blues. And Clayton knows that’s no way to live.

    Mango Delight by Fracaswell Hyman

    When seventh-grader Mango Delight Fuller accidentally breaks her BFF Brooklyn’s new cell phone, her life falls apart. She loses her friends and her spot on the track team, and even costs her father his job as a chef.

    As Brave As You by Jason Reynolds

    Genie’s summer is full of surprises. The first is that he and his big brother, Ernie, are leaving Brooklyn for the very first time to spend the summer with their grandparents all the way in Virginia—in the COUNTRY! The second surprise comes when Genie figures out that their grandfather is blind.

    Ghost by Jason Reynolds

    Ghost. Lu. Patina. Sunny. Four kids from wildly different backgrounds with personalities that are explosive when they clash. But they are also four kids chosen for an elite middle school track team—a team that could qualify them for the Junior Olympics if they can get their acts together. They all have a lot to lose, but they also have a lot to prove, not only to each other, but to themselves.

    Patina by Jason Reynolds (August 2017)

    A newbie to the track team, Patina must learn to rely on her teammates as she tries to outrun her personal demons in this follow-up to the National Book Award finalist Ghost.

    A Whole New Ballgame: A Rip and Red Book by Phil Bildner

    Rip and Red are best friends whose fifth-grade year is nothing like what they expected. They have a crazy new tattooed teacher named Mr. Acevedo, who doesn’t believe in tests or homework and who likes off-the-wall projects, the more “off” the better. And guess who’s also their new basketball coach? Mr. Acevedo!

    Midnight Without a Moon by Linda Williams Jackson

    It’s Mississippi in the summer of 1955, and Rose Lee Carter can’t wait to move north. But for now, she’s living with her sharecropper grandparents on a white man’s cotton plantation.

    Booked by Kwame Alexander

    In this follow-up to the Newbery-winning novel THE CROSSOVER,  soccer, family, love, and friendship, take center stage as twelve-year-old Nick learns the power of words as he wrestles with problems at home, stands up to a bully, and tries to impress the girl of his dreams.

    The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill

    Every year, the people of the Protectorate leave a baby as an offering to the witch who lives in the forest. They hope this sacrifice will keep her from terrorizing their town. But the witch in the Forest, Xan, is kind. She shares her home with a wise Swamp Monster and a Perfectly Tiny Dragon. Xan rescues the children and delivers them to welcoming families on the other side of the forest, nourishing the babies with starlight on the journey.

    Kiki and Jacques by Susan Ross

    Eleven-year-old Jacques’s mother has passed away, his father is jobless and drinking again and his grandmother’s bridal store is on the verge of going out of business. Plus he’s under pressure from an older boy to join in some illegal activities. At least Jacques can look forward to the soccer season.

    One Last Word: Wisdom From the Harlem Renaissance by Nikki Grimes

    In this collection of poetry, Nikki Grimes looks afresh at the poets of the Harlem Renaissance — including voices like Langston Hughes, Georgia Douglas Johnson, and many more writers of importance and resonance from this era — by combining their work with her own original poetry.

    Gabby Garcia’s Ultimate Playbook by Iva-Marie Palmer

    Meet your new favorite kid-next-door hero! Gabby Garcia an overly confident baseball-obsessed sport nut who’s going to win your heart.  If life were a baseball game, all-star pitcher Gabby Garcia would be having her Best. Season. EVER! Until she’s suddenly sent to another school and her winning streak is about to disappear—both on and off the field.

    Two Naomis by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich

    Other than their first names, Naomi Marie and Naomi Edith are sure they have nothing in common, and they wouldn’t mind keeping it that way.  Naomi Marie starts clubs at the library and adores being a big sister. Naomi Edith loves quiet Saturdays and hanging with her best friend in her backyard. And while Naomi Marie’s father lives a few blocks away, Naomi Edith wonders how she’s supposed to get through each day a whole country apart from her mother.

    Twintuition: Double Vision by Tia Mowry

    When their mother’s new job forces them to move from bustling San Antonio to middle-of-nowhere Aura, Texas, Caitlyn tries to stay positive, focusing on meeting new people and having new adventures. Cassie, on the other hand, is convinced that it’s only a matter of time until they’ll be sick of Aura and ready to move back to the big city.

    BONUS BOOKS!
    Please support these additional self-published authors and look for their books in your local libraries:

    The Missing President – located in public libraries in Durham, NC; Hampton, VA; Houston, TX; Benton Harbor, MI

    The Birthright Trilogy by Necole Ryse – Available in all Maryland public libraries

    The Adventures of Taylor The Chef – Available in all of The Miami-Dade Public Libraries in Miami, Florida

    Janjay by Chantal Victoria – Available at Philadelphia public library, Philadelphia, PA

    Little Tree by Chrystyna Edwards – Available at Alamance County NC Libraries, and Rowan County Library Salisbury NC

    Happy Hair by Mechal Renee Roe Available at Smyrna, GA public library and Ferguson, MO public library

    The Hula Hoopin’ Queen by Thelma Lynne Godin and Vanessa Brantley-Newton

    Jasmin’s Summer Wish – Readers can access it for FREE at jasminssummerwish.com

    Stink Moves In by Tammi Landry-Gilder – Available at Commerce Township Public Library. Commerce Township, MI.

    Poems for the Smart, Spunky, and Sensational Black Girl by Rachel Garlinghouse (Read my review here)

    Want even more of my diverse book lists?

    Black Boy Joy: 29 Picture Books Featuring Black Male Protagonists
    Colorful Poetry: 22 Diverse Poetry Books for Kids
    The Ultimate Diverse Summer Reading List for Kids (2016 version)

     

    Your turn: What other books would you add to this list for summer reading?  Feel free to share in the comments.

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    children's literacy, our latest obsession, summer reading

    Our Latest Obsession: Summer Bridge Activity Books!

    I never gave the “summer slide” much thought until I became a parent.  It’s one of those new buzz word phrases that has become more popular over the past few years.  When I was growing up, I don’t recall much learning taking place – we simply had fun playing outside with our friends.  Since we couldn’t afford to go to summer camp or take elaborate family trips to Europe or elsewhere, we just used our imagination and spent our summers playing things like dodgeball, double dutch and kick the can sometimes until the wee hours of the night.  Those were the days!  Now looking back, I’m sure we definitely rode the “summer slide” just about every summer.  Yet, it didn’t prevent me from excelling in school, making the honor roll every year and graduating second in my class from high school.  Yes, I’m tooting my own horn!

    Ok, back to the topic at hand – the summer slide.  What is it?  The summer slide is a decline in reading ability and other academic skills that can occur over the summer months when school isn’t in session.  Numerous studies show that kids who don’t read during summer vacation actually slip in reading ability by the time fall rolls around.

    But as parents, we don’t need studies to tell us this, do we? It’s evident in all sorts of situations. For example, if your child plays the piano but stops practicing for three months, he/she isn’t going to be as good as his/her friend who continued to practice and play the piano over the summer, right?

    The secret to preventing the summer slide is to keep learning all summer long. Now, don’t panic: I’m not talking about year-round schooling, although for some homeschool families, year-round schooling may be a good solution.  What I am talking about is providing learning opportunities throughout the summer that keep kids’ academic skills sharp.

    I’m not usually a big fan of workbooks, flash cards or activity books.  However, on my quest for different resources to use with my kids over the summer break I stumbled upon this series of activity books called Summer Bridge Activities.  Have you heard of these gems before?

    Prevent the Summer SlidewithSummer Bridge Activity Books!

    With daily, 15-20 minute exercises kids can learn a variety of different skills ranging from letters to fractions and everything in between.  This workbook series prevents summer learning loss and paves the way to a successful new school year.  And this is no average workbook—Summer Bridge Activities keeps the fun and the sun in summer break!

    Designed to prevent a summer learning gap and keep kids mentally and physically active, the hands-on exercises can be done anywhere. These standards-based activities help kids set goals, develop character, practice fitness, and explore the outdoors. With 12 weeks of creative learning, Summer Bridge Activities keeps skills sharp all summer long!

    After researching these books, using them with my own kids and reading the rave reviews they’ve received online I was completely sold!  I ordered the Summer Bridge Activities Grades PK – K book and we’ve been working through it in just 15 – 20 minutes each day – it’s great!  These workbooks aren’t too easy either – they incorporate some challenges too which is exactly what I was looking for.  The book we purchased covers topics like: patterns, shapes, colors, numbers, phonics, writing and letters.

    Following the introductory pages is a “Summer Reading List” that suggests 34 different fiction titles and 12 nonfiction titles.  It’s divided into three sections of increasing difficulty; each 20-day section can be completed in a month.  Every section begins with a list of Monthly Goals and a Word List, followed by the 20 days of activity pages, and they conclude with a few “Bonus” pages.

    Section 1 features shape recognition, fine motor skill development, and numbers and counting activities provide a good variety of potential learning opportunities. Its bonus sections seem to focus on physical activity and character development. Section 2 highlights numbers and counting, handwriting and phonics, and colors. The bonus section following this section had a science activity, outdoor extension activities, and character development exercises. Section 3 focused on classification and phonics, handwriting and phonics, visual discrimination, grammar and language arts, numbers and counting, and the alphabet.

    63 flash cards complete the final “learning” portions of the activity book. There is also a certificate of completion you can remove from the book and fill in with your child’s name once they complete all of the exercises. For those who like a visible affirmation of “great job”, a page of 264 star stickers has been included to use as well.

    You can find the complete Summer Bridge Activity Series listed below.  Now that I’ve started using these workbooks with my kids, I’m excited to complete the entire series in the summers ahead!

    Summer Bridge Activities Grades PK – K
    Summer Bridge Activities Grades K – 1
    Summer Bridge Activities Grades 1 – 2
    Summer Bridge Activities Grades 2 – 3
    Summer Bridge Activities Grades 3 – 4
    Summer Bridge Activities Grades 4 – 5
    Summer Bridge Activities Grades 5 – 6
    Summer Bridge Activities Grades 6 – 7
    Summer Bridge Activities Grades 7 – 8

    Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post and I was not compensated to write it.  I purchased the workbook with my own money.  All opinions expressed are my own.

    Your turn:  What do you plan to do with your children to beat the summer slide? Have you used these workbooks with your kids before?  Share in the comments below!

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    family fun, summer camp at home, summer reading

    7 Weeks of Summer Camp at Home for Kids!

    The official start of summer is just a few weeks away…yikes!  Is the year already almost halfway over?  Many children look forward to an exciting summer camp they get to attend, but what if camp isn’t an option for your family? Perhaps money is tight and it’s not in your budget, your kids are too young, or they are not ready for longer periods away from home.  One solution is to design a summer camp experience at home, which can be affordable, fun, and easier than it sounds to pull off.

    I’ve teamed up with 13 other amazing bloggers to bring you a 7-week series of “Summer Camp at Home”.  For the next 7 weeks we’ll be bringing you two different themes per week filled with different books to read, yummy snacks to eat/prepare and activities to do with your kids and tweens.

    7 WEEKS OF

    Let us be your virtual “camp counselors” and follow some of the summer activities, snack idesa or field trips that we suggest. Depending on the ages of your kids, some activities or recipes may require a little prep or materials, but they’re perfect for summer in that they’re 1) fun, 2) relatively easy, and 3) some are designed to get the kids outside so you can enjoy a little peace and quiet.

    Although I think it’s important to have downtime and let kids be bored at times, having a list of suggested activities to do with your kids can be your secret weapon against boredom and a summer spent in front of a screen.  This summer camp series is designed to help you manage your time as a family as well as help the kids keep learning through the summer while having fun doing it.

    Want to join us?  It’s simple!
    For 7 weeks, we are going to develop fine motor skills, learn STEM basics, improve language and reading skills and sharpen social and leadership skills through imaginative play. Or if you look at it from the kids’ perspective, we are going to play and have so much fun this summer!  Best of all, we’ll be making memories that will last a lifetime.

    Starting Monday May 30th, the first two blog posts will be rolled out with two new themes being released every week thereafter for the next 6 weeks.  Our goal is to post every Monday although due to holidays or circumstances outwith our control, the post may be delayed a day or two.  Fear not, once the post goes live it will be updated in the links below.  At the end of the series, you may also have access to all 7 weeks of activities in one place.  We’re still working on how this will be rolled out so please bear with us.  If we’re able to get it done we’ll figure out a way to make it available to those who want it.

    Below are the 14 themes for this year’s 7 Week Summer Camp at Home Series. Please click on each link for all the ideas as each blog post goes live.  Be sure to check back each week to see the new ideas the next set of “camp counselors” suggest for the upcoming week ahead.

    Week 1: Monday 5/30 – Self-Love ThemeOcean Theme 
    Week 2: Monday 6/6 –  Saving Money ThemeGardening/Going Green Theme
    Week 3: Monday 6/13 – Black History ThemeMusic Theme
    Week 6: Monday 7/4 – Dinosaur ThemeCooking Theme
    Week 7: Monday 7/11 – Astronomy Theme & Around the World Theme

    We hope you enjoy this series as much as we enjoy putting it together!  Happy Camping!

    Your turn: How will you and your kids be spending your summer?  Feel free to share in the comments.

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    children's books, summer reading

    The Ultimate Diverse Summer Reading List for Kids!

    New: Click here for the printable PDF version!

    Summer break is just a few weeks away for my kids.  With summer comes lazy days, relaxation, vacation, camps, boredom, and lack of recall of everything our kids learned in school this year.  I’m a firm believer in reading and keeping kids engaged in learning activities over the summer to keep their minds from turning to a bowl of mush.

    Although I read a variety of different books with my kids, I wanted to create a diverse/multicultural summer reading list for parents and caregivers since I am often asked about diverse books for kids.  I’m always on the lookout for more good diverse books to read and promote!

    The following is a list of books that I believe provide wonderful multicultural reading experiences for kids. This compilation is filled with many books that I have personally read with my kids (or plan to read) and have impacted my life in some way. They made me laugh, they made me cry, they made me think, they made me imagine, they made me hungry!

    I’ve included books for African-Americans, Asians, Latinos, Peruvians, Brazilians, Native Americans and Pacific Americans.  I realize there are so many other great diverse books out there, but I hope you and your kids find some books on this list that resonate with you.  Happy Summer Reading!

    The Ultimate Diverse Summer Reading List for Kids!

    Board Books

    Shades of black : a celebration of our children by Sandra Pinkney
    shadesofblack
    Using simple poetic language and stunning photographs, Sandra and Myles Pinkney have created a remarkable book of affirmation for African-American children. Photographic portraits and striking descriptions of varied skin tones, hair texture, and eye color convey a strong sense of pride in a unique heritage. A joyous celebration of the rich diversity among African-Americans.

    My Heart Fills with Happiness by Monique Gray Smith

    myheartfillswithhappiness
    The sun on your face. The smell of warm bannock baking in the oven. Holding the hand of someone you love. What fills your heart with happiness? This beautiful board book, with illustrations from celebrated artist Julie Flett, serves as a reminder for little ones and adults alike to reflect on and cherish the moments in life that bring us joy.

    Bye-Bye Binky by Maria van Lieshout

    byebyebinky
    Every child’s life is filled with milestones. Some happen easily; others need a little extra support. Artist and mom Maria van Lieshout has been there. Drawing upon her own experiences, she has created an engaging series of books that are just right for children on the brink of major changes and the caregivers who encourage them.

    Peekaboo Bedtime by Rachel Isadora

    peekaboo
    In this story a toddler boy plays peekaboo with everyone from his grandparents to his puppy, until it’s finally time to snuggle into bed with his blankie.  The kids loved having this book read over and over again until it was finally time to bring it back to the library.

    Baby Dance by Ann Taylor

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    The pastel illustrations in this book show the fun and playfulness of this father and daughter sneaking a little special time together as Mommy sleeps nearby. Babies will love the rhythm — and the excuse for a little extra time with Daddy.

    Reach: a board book about curiosity by Elizabeth Verdick
    reach
    Wiggly baby on the floor. What is baby reaching for? Celebrate the many ways that babies reach out to discover and learn about the world around them. With lively rhyming text and vivid black-and-white photos of babies in action, this book is sure to engage babies and grown-ups alike. A great baby board book for floortime or anytime!

    Whose Toes Are Those? by Jabari Asim

    toes
    This book was gifted to us as a Christmas gift a few years ago.  Both kids favorite part of this book is the “this little piggy” rhyme.  This book also has easy and fun rhymes, vibrant colors and cute illustrations…just look at those toes on the cover!  A wonderful book for both infants and toddlers.

    Whose Knees Are These? by Jabari Asim

    knees
    The fun, rhyming language, and the overall simplicity of the story itself make it perfect for infants and toddlers alike. I like the fact that this book also promotes body awareness, introduces the concept of left and right, and encourages positive self-image and familial bonds.

    Global Babies by The Global Fund for Children
    globalbabies
    Appealing photos of babies from seventeen cultures around the globe are woven together by simple narration. GLOBAL BABIES presents children in cultural context. Diverse settings highlight specific differences in clothing, daily life, and traditions, as well as demonstrate that babies around the world are nurtured by the love, caring, and joy that surround them.

    Baby Parade by Rebecca O’Connell
    babyparade
    Here come the babies! It’s a baby parade! Wave to the babies as they go by in wagons, in backpacks, on foot, and in the arms of mommies and daddies. This adorable parade will be irresistible to toddlers (and caregivers) everywhere.

    Picture Books

    Mary Had a Little Glam by Tammi Sauer
    maryhadalittleglam
    This little Mary has STYLE! In this fun take on Mother Goose, fashion-forward Mary helps some of childhood’s most beloved characters go glam. From the kid who lives in a shoe (and dons some fab footwear, too) to Jack, who breaks his crown but gets a great new one, Mary’s school friends look fantastic in their finery. But are they now too well dressed for recess? Not to worry—Mary always shows her flair for what to wear!

    Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood by F. Isabel Campoy and Theresa Howell
    maybesomethingbeautiful
    What good can a splash of color do in a community of gray? As Mira and her neighbors discover, more than you might ever imagine! Based on the true story of the Urban Art Trail in San Diego, California,Maybe Something Beautiful reveals how art can inspire transformation—and how even the smallest artists can accomplish something big. Pick up a paintbrush and join the celebration!

    Ada’s Violin: The Story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay by Susan Hood
    adasviolin
    From award-winning author Susan Hood and illustrator Sally Wern Comport comes the extraordinary true tale of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay, an orchestra made up of children playing instruments built from recycled trash.

    Ada Ríos grew up in Cateura, a small town in Paraguay built on a landfill. She dreamed of playing the violin, but with little money for anything but the bare essentials, it was never an option…until a music teacher named Favio Chávez arrived. He wanted to give the children of Cateura something special, so he made them instruments out of materials found in the trash. It was a crazy idea, but one that would leave Ada—and her town—forever changed. Now, the Recycled Orchestra plays venues around the world, spreading their message of hope and innovation.

    Rattlestiltskin by Eric A. Kimmel
    rattletiltskin
    Rosalia is in debt to the strange little snake man Rattlestiltskin after he teaches her how to make tortillas so light they float in the air! Can she outsmart the trickster and keep her freedom? From renowned children’s book author Eric A. Kimmel comes this delightful reimagining of the classicRumplestiltskin with a Southwestern setting and Spanish vocabulary.

    Normal Norman by Tara Lazar and S. Britt
    normalnorman
    What is “normal?” That’s the question an eager young scientist, narrating her very first book, hopes to answer. Unfortunately, her exceedingly “normal” subject—an orangutan named Norman—turns out to be exceptionally strange. He speaks English, sleeps in a bed, loves his stuffed toy, goes bananas over pizza, and even deep-sea dives! Oh, no: what’s a “normal” scientist to do?

    What Does It Mean To Be an Entrepreneur? by Rana DiOrio & Emma D. Dryden
    whatdoesitmeantobeanentrepreneur
    When Rae witnesses an ice cream-and-doggie mishap, she’s inspired to create a big-scale solution to help get dogs clean. Rae draws on her determination, resilience, and courage until she―and everyone else in her community―learns just what it means to be an entrepreneur.

    When the Beat Was Born: DJ Kool Herc and the Creation of Hip Hop by Laban Carrick Hill
    whenthebeatwasborn
    Before there was hip hop, there was DJ Kool Herc.

    On a hot day at the end of summer in 1973 Cindy Campbell threw a back-to-school party at a park in the South Bronx. Her brother, Clive Campbell, spun the records. He had a new way of playing the music to make the breaks―the musical interludes between verses―longer for dancing. He called himself DJ Kool Herc and this is When the Beat Was Born. 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 breakdance, and how the music he invented went on to define a culture and transform the world.

    Jazz Day: The Making of a Famous Photograph by Roxane Orgill
    jazzday
    When Esquire magazine planned an issue to salute the American jazz scene in 1958, graphic designer Art Kane pitched a crazy idea: how about gathering a group of beloved jazz musicians and photographing them? He didn’t own a good camera, didn’t know if any musicians would show up, and insisted on setting up the shoot in front of a Harlem brownstone. Could he pull it off? In a captivating collection of poems, Roxane Orgill steps into the frame of Harlem 1958, bringing to life the musicians’ mischief and quirks, their memorable style, and the vivacious atmosphere of a Harlem block full of kids on a hot summer’s day.

    Tito Puente, Mambo King/Tito Puente, Rey del Mambo by Monica Brown
    titopuente
    In this vibrant bilingual picture book biography of musician Tito Puente, readers will dance along to the beat of this mambo king’s life. Tito Puente loved banging pots and pans as a child, but what he really dreamed of was having his own band one day. From Spanish Harlem to the Grammy Awards—and all the beats in between—this is the true life story of a boy whose passion for music turned him into the “King of Mambo.”

    My Best Friend Likes Boys More than Me by Sulma Arzu-Brown
    mybestfriendlikesboysmorethanme
    Meet Aisha and Helen. They are best friends. They are both intelligent and very attractive. However, Helen just got bit by the “boy crazy” bug. Find out how Aisha keeps Helen focused on her grades in school. The book is a great way for parents to start that unavoidable conversation about “boys.” You will love how the book prioritizes education in a fun, cool and relatable manner.

    The Quickest Kid in Clarksville by Pat Zietlow Miller
    thequickestkidinclarksville
    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. It doesn’t matter that Alta’s shoes have holes because Wilma came from hard times, too. But what happens when a new girl with shiny new shoes comes along and challenges Alta to a race? Will she still be the quickest kid? The Quickest Kid in Clarksville is a timeless story of dreams, determination, and the power of friendship.

    Daniel Finds a Poem by Micha Archer
    danielfindsapoem
    What is poetry? Is it glistening morning dew? Spider thinks so. Is it crisp leaves crunching? That’s what Squirrel says. Could it be a cool pond, sun-warmed sand, or moonlight on the grass? Mmaybe poetry isall of these things, as it is something special for everyone—you just have to take the time to really look and listen.

    A Morning with Grandpa by Sylvia Liu
    amorningwithgrandpa
    Mei Mei s grandpa is practicing tai chi in the garden, and Mei Mei is eager to join in. As Gong Gong tries to teach her the slow, graceful movements, Mei Mei enthusiastically does them with her own flair. Then Mei Mei takes a turn, trying to teach Gong Gong the yoga she learned in school. Will Gong Gong be able to master the stretchy, bendy poses?This book celebrates, with lively spirit and humor, the special bond between grandparent and grandchild and the joy of learning new things together. Readers of all ages will want to try out some tai chi and yoga too!

    Have You Seen Elephant? by David Barrow
    haveyouseenelephant
    Elephant wants to play hide and seek. See if you can help the others find him?he’s very good! Have You Seen Elephant? is an assured and exciting debut from a top emerging talent.

    Malaika’s Costume by Nadia L. Hohn and Irene Luxbacher
    malaikascostume
    It’s Carnival time. The first Carnival since Malaika’s mother moved away to find a good job and provide for Malaika and her grandmother. Her mother promised she would send money for a costume, but when the money doesn’t arrive, will Malaika still be able to dance in the parade?

    Dario and the Whale by by Cheryl Lawton Malone and Bistra Masseva
    darioandthewhale
    When Dario and his mother move to Cape Cod from Brazil, Dario has a hard time making friends since he doesn’t speak English well. But one day Dario meets someone else who has just arrived in New England and he doesn’t speak any English at all…because he’s a right whale! Day after day Dario and the whale meet at the beach. But what will happen when it’s time for the whale to migrate?

    Freedom in Congo Square by Carole Boston Weatherford
    freedominthecongosquare
    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.

    Twenty Yawns by Jane Smiley and Lauren Castillo
    twentyyawns
    Featuring lyrical text and beautiful illustrations, this bedtime tale from Pulitzer Prize winner Jane Smiley and Caldecott Honor recipient Lauren Castillo evokes the splashy fun of the beach and the quietude of a moonlit night, with twenty yawns sprinkled in for children to discover and count.

    As her mom reads a bedtime story, Lucy drifts off. But later, she awakens in a dark, still room, and everything looks mysterious. How will she ever get back to sleep?

    D Is for Dress Up: The ABC’s of What We Wear by Maria Carluccio
    disfordressup

    Maria Carluccio’s playful fashion alphabet celebrates the fun of getting dressed—and getting dressed up! From a sophisticated bow tie to a warm wool hat, this diverse celebration of what we wear from A to Z invites kids to get creative and embrace their own unique style.

    Tiny Stitches: The Life of Medical Pioneer Vivien Thomas by Gwendolyn Hooks
    tinystitches
    Vivien Thomas’s greatest dream was to attend college to study medicine. But after the stock market crashed in 1929, Vivien lost all his savings. Then he heard about a job opening at the Vanderbilt University medical school under the supervision of Dr. Alfred Blalock. Vivien knew that the all-white school would never admit him as a student, but he hoped working there meant he was getting closer to his dream.

    As Dr. Blalock s research assistant, Vivien learned surgical techniques. In 1943, Vivien was asked to help Dr. Helen Taussig find a cure for children with a specific heart defect. After months of experimenting, Vivien developed a procedure that was used for the first successful open-heart surgery on a child. Afterward, Dr. Blalock and Dr. Taussig announced their innovative new surgical technique, the Blalock-Taussig shunt. Vivien s name did not appear in the report.

    Overcoming racism and resistance from his colleagues, Vivien ushered in a new era of medicine children s heart surgery. Tiny Stitches is the compelling story of this incredible pioneer in medicine.

    City Shapes by Diana Murray
    cityshapes
    From shimmering skyscrapers to fluttering kites to twinkling stars high in the sky, everyday scenes become extraordinary as a young girl walks through her neighborhood noticing exciting new shapes at every turn. Far more than a simple concept book, City Shapes is an explosion of life.

    A Unicorn Named Sparkle by Amy Young
    aunicornnamedsparkle
    When Lucy sees an ad in the newspaper for a unicorn, she sends in her twenty-five cents and waits four to six long weeks for her very own unicorn to arrive. She imagines the flowers that she’ll braid into his beautiful pink mane, and she even picks the perfect name for him: Sparkle. But when Sparkle arrives, his ears are too long, his horn is too short, he smells funny–and oh, he has fleas. Lucy isn’t pleased, but in the end she warms up to Sparkle and realizes that even though he wasn’t exactly the unicorn she wanted, he might be just the one she needs.

    The Summer Nick Taught His Cats to Read by Curtis Manley
    thesummernicktaughthiscatstoread
    Nick loves to read books—and he loves to play with his cats, Verne and Stevenson. So naturally Nick decides it’s a great idea to teach his cats to read. But Verne and Stevenson don’t appreciate when Nick wakes them up with a flashcard that says NAP. Nick finally piques Verne’s interest with words like MOUSE and FISH. But not Stevenson’s. While Nick and Verne go to the library, Stevenson hides under the porch. Will Nick ever find a way to share his love of reading with his feline friends?

    Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn by Kenard Pak
    goodbyesummerhelloautumn
    As trees sway in the cool breeze, blue jays head south, and leaves change their colors, everyone knows–autumn is on its way!

    Join a young girl as she takes a walk through forest and town, greeting all the signs of the coming season. In a series of conversations with every flower and creature and gust of wind, she says good-bye to summer and welcomes autumn.  Read my review here.

    I Love Your Brown by Daneya L Jacobs
    iloveyourbrown
    In this love letter from mothers to brown daughters everywhere, little girls are reminded to love the skin they’re in. Girls come in all different colors, shapes, and sizes. Some have long hair, some have short, and others have straight hair or curly. Still, despite the differences, there is something all little brown girls have in common …they have the power to be anything!

    Real Sisters Pretend by Megan Dowd Lambert
    realsisterspretend
    This warm, engaging story, which unfolds entirely through the conversation of two adopted sisters, was inspired by the author’s own daughters, whom she overheard talking about how adoption made them “real sisters” even though they have different birth parents and do not look alike.

    Maggie and Michael Get Dressed by Denise Fleming
    maggieandmichaelgetdressed
    It’s time for Michael to get dressed! Maggie will help.
    Michael knows where each piece of colorful clothing should go. Yellow socks on feet, brown hat on head. But who will end up wearing the blue pants?

    Miles & Mia A to Z by Michaela Alexander
    milesandmiaatoz
    Miles & Mia A to Z is an educational, picture book that teaches children different letters of the alphabet in a fun way. Featuring rhyming text and colorful original illustrations.

    Thunder Boy Jr. by Sherman Alexie and Yuyi Morales
    thunderboyjr
    Thunder Boy Jr. is named after his dad, but he wants a name that’s all his own. Just because people call his dad Big Thunder doesn’t mean he wants to be Little Thunder. He wants a name that celebrates something cool he’s done, like Touch the Clouds, Not Afraid of Ten Thousand Teeth, or Full of Wonder.  But just when Thunder Boy Jr. thinks all hope is lost, he and his dad pick the perfect name…a name that is sure to light up the sky.

    One Day in the Eucalyptus, Eucalyptus Tree by Daniel Bernstrom
    onedayintheeucalyptustree
    With its striking cast of forest creatures, One Day in the Eucalyptus, Eucalyptus Tree is Daniel Bernstrom’s amusing and original tale of a plucky little boy who is gobbled up by a giant snake.

    Over the Ocean by Taro Gomi
    overtheocean
    Renowned children’s book creator Taro Gomi has created another masterpiece. In this beautiful testament to wondering, a young girl gazes out to where the water meets the sky and wonders what lies beyond the waves. Boats filled with toys? Skyscrapers filled with people? Houses filled with families? Or, maybe, over the ocean stands someone not so different from the girl herself, returning her gaze. In this celebration of imagination’s power, young readers will find joy in the mystery of the faraway, the unknown, and the just-beyond.

    The Stone Thrower by Jael Ealey Richardson
    thestonethrower
    African-American football player Chuck Ealey grew up in a segregated neighborhood of Portsmouth, Ohio. Against all odds, he became an incredible quarterback. But despite his unbeaten record in high school and university, he would never play professional football in the United States.

    Joseph’s Big Ride by Terry Farish and Ken Daley
    josephsbigride
    A refugee boy’s determination to ride a bicycle leads to an unexpected friendship.  Joseph wants only one thing: to ride a bike. In the refugee camp where he lives, Joseph helps one of the older boys fix his bike, but he’s too small to ride it.  Joseph and his mother travel to America, where everything is strange and new. One day, he spots a red bike that seems just right for him! It belongs to a girl with a whoosh of curly hair.

    We March by Shane W. Evans
    wemarch
    On August 28, 1963, a remarkable event took place–more than 250,000 people gathered in our nation’s capital to participate in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. The march began at the Washington Monument and ended with a rally at the Lincoln Memorial, where Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his historic “I Have a Dream” speech, advocating racial harmony.

    The Airport Book by Lisa Brown
    theairportbook
    In a book that is as intriguing as it is useful and entertaining, we follow a family on its way through the complexities of a modern-day airport. From checking bags and watching them disappear on the mysterious conveyor belt, to security clearance and a seemingly endless wait at the gate to finally being airborne.

    But wait! There’s more! The youngest family member’s sock monkey has gone missing. Follow it at the bottom of the page as it makes a journey as memorable as that of the humans above.

    Henry Wants More! by Linda Ashman

    henrywantsmore
    More games, more races, more tickles, more books—little Henry can’t get enough! When a toddler is armed with that useful word and the world is full of brand-new things, his family just doesn’t stand a chance. Follow Henry on his exhausting and all-too-familiar day filled with play . . . and a lot of love!

    More-igami by Dori Kleber
    moreigami
    Joey loves things that fold: maps, beds, accordions, you name it. When a visiting mother of a classmate turns a plain piece of paper into a beautiful origami crane, his eyes pop. Maybe he can learn origami, too. It’s going to take practice — on his homework, the newspaper, the thirty-eight dollars in his mother’s purse . . . Enough! No more folding! But how can Joey become an origami master if he’s not allowed to practice? Is there anywhere that he can hone the skill that makes him happy — and maybe even make a new friend while he’s at it?

    Fish for Jimmy: Inspired by One Family’s Experience in a Japanese American Internment Camp by Katie Yamasaki
    fishforjimmy
    For two boys in a Japanese-American family, everything changed when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor and the United States went to war. With the family forced to leave their home and go to an internment camp, Jimmy loses his appetite. Older brother Taro takes matters into his own hands and, night after night, sneaks out of the camp, and catches fresh fish for Jimmy to help make him strong again.

    Might-E by Jordan J. Scavone
    might-e
    What do you do when you start preschool? You play! You learn! But sit in the corner and refuse to speak to anyone?… Unfortunately if youre as shy and nervous as Emma, this is what you do. Or, you can stand up, put your mask on, and firmly place your hands on your hips and stand proud. Stand and be Might-E!

    Brick by Brick: A Snippet of the Life of Booker T. Washington by Louie T McClain II
    brickbybrick
    A children’s book snippet about the life, accomplishments, and achievements of the great Booker T. Washington – an inspirational African-American innovator, leader, scholar, and philanthropist.

    A Ride on Mother’s Back: A Day of Baby Carrying Around the World by Emery Bernhard
    arideonmothersback
    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. “This is an exquisite book, for the detailed, folk-art style gouache illustrations, its overall design, and the wealth of information it includes.”–Kirkus Reviews

    Come On, Rain! by Karen Hesse
    comeonrain
    Tess pleads to the sky as listless vines and parched plants droop in the endless heat. Then the clouds roll in, and the rain pours. And Tess, her friends, and their Mamas join in a rain dance to celebrate the shower that renews both body and spirit. Through exquisite language and acute observation, Karen Hesse evokes this refreshing experience, and Jon J Muth’s lyrical artwork perfectly reflects the spirit of the text.

    Emmanuel’s Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah by Laurie Ann Thompson
    emmanuelsdream
    Born in Ghana, West Africa, with one deformed leg, he was dismissed by most people—but not by his mother, who taught him to reach for his dreams. As a boy, Emmanuel hopped to school more than two miles each way, learned to play soccer, left home at age thirteen to provide for his family, and, eventually, became a cyclist. He rode an astonishing four hundred miles across Ghana in 2001, spreading his powerful message: disability is not inability. Today, Emmanuel continues to work on behalf of the disabled.

    Abigail’s Dream Adventures: My Friends and Me (Kindle edition) by Karen E. Franks
    abigailsdreamadventures
    It’s time for bed- and for sleepyheads all over the world to dream! Each night, Abby’s dreams take her to faraway places to visit her friends in never seen places and countries near and far.  Places with fairies, unicorns and pink cherries, shimmering mermaids and seahorses that twirl, wild leafy jungles, frog ponds and Bayan trees with mossy curls—fun adventures all shared with her best friend, Pearl.  Abby climbed into bed and snuggled down into her soft, warm blankets, her mind drifting off to those exotic places.

    Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music by Margarita Engle
    drumdreamgirl
    Long ago on an island filled with music, no one questioned that rule—until the drum dream girl. In her city of drumbeats, she dreamed of pounding tall congas and tapping small bongós. She had to keep quiet. She had to practice in secret. But when at last her dream-bright music was heard, everyone sang and danced and decided that both girls and boys should be free to drum and dream.  Inspired by the childhood of Millo Castro Zaldarriaga, a Chinese-African-Cuban girl who broke Cuba’s traditional taboo against female drummers, Drum Dream Girl tells an inspiring true story for dreamers everywhere.  Read my review here.

    The Hula-Hoopin’ Queen by Thelma Lynne Godin

    thehulahoopingqueen
    A spunky girl has a hula-hooping competition with her friends in Harlem, and soon everyone in the neighborhood—young and old alike—joins in on the fun.

    The Cazuela That the Farm Maiden Stirred by Samantha R. Vamos
    thecazuelathatthefarmmaidenstirred
    This is the story of how the farm maiden and all the farm animals worked together to make the rice pudding that they serve at the fiesta. With the familiarity of “The House That Jack Built,” this story bubbles and builds just like the ingredients of the arroz con leche that everyone enjoys. Cleverly incorporating Spanish words, adding a new one in place of the English word from the previous page, this book makes learning the language easy and fun.

    Abuela by Arthur Dorros
    abuela
    While riding on a bus with her grandmother, a little girl imagines that they are carried up into the sky and fly over the sights of New York City.

    Mango, Abeula and Me by Meg Medina
    mangoabuelaandme
    Mia’s abuela has left her sunny house with parrots and palm trees to live with Mia and her parents in the city. The night she arrives, Mia tries to share her favorite book with Abuela before they go to sleep and discovers that Abuela can’t read the words inside. So while they cook, Mia helps Abuela learn English (“Dough. Masa“), and Mia learns some Spanish too, but it’s still hard for Abuela to learn the words she needs to tell Mia all her stories. Then Mia sees a parrot in the pet-shop window and has theperfectoidea for how to help them all communicate a little better.

    Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match by Monica Brown
    marisolmacdonald
    Marisol McDonald has flaming red hair and nut-brown skin. Polka dots and stripes are her favorite combination. She prefers peanut butter and jelly burritos in her lunch box. And don t even think of asking her to choose one or the other activity at recess—she ll just be a soccer playing pirate princess, thank you very much. To Marisol McDonald, these seemingly mismatched things make perfect sense together.

    Maria Had a Little Llama by Angela Dominguez
    mariahadalittlellama

    Everyone knows about Mary and her little lamb. But do you know Maria?

    With gorgeous, Peruvian-inspired illustrations and English and Spanish retellings, Angela Dominguez gives a fresh new twist to the classic rhyme. Maria and her mischievous little llama will steal your heart.

    Bebe Goes Shopping by Susan Middleton Elya
    bebegoesshopping
    A quick trip to the supermercado? Not with Bebe in the shopping cart. Just as Mama is ready to throw up her manos, she gives sweet Bebe a box of animal cookies. A dulce, at last! Then they’re off to the checkout line, smiling all the way.

    Ruby’s Wish by Shirin Yim Bridges
    rubyswish
    Ruby is unlike most little girls in old China. Instead of aspiring to get married, Ruby is determined to attend university when she grows up, just like the boys in her family. Based upon the inspirational story of the author’s grandmother and accompanied by richly detailed illustrations, Ruby’s Wish is an engaging portrait of a young girl who’s full of ambition and the family who rewards her hard work and courage.

    Apple Pie Fourth of July by Janet S. Wong
    applepiefourthofjuly
    Shocked that her parents are cooking Chinese food to sell in the family store on an all-American holiday, a feisty Chinese American girl tries to tell her mother and father how things really are. But as the parade passes by and fireworks light the sky, she learns a surprising lesson.

    Betsey Biggalow is Here! by Malorie Blackman
    betseybiggalow
    Go on an adventure with little Betsey Biggalow!

    Dancing in the Wings by Debbie Allen
    dancinginthewings
    Sassy is a long-legged girl who always has something to say. She wants to be a ballerina more than anything, but she worries that her too-large feet, too-long legs, and even her big mouth will keep her from her dream. When a famous director comes to visit her class, Sassy does her best to get his attention with her high jumps and bright leotard. Her first attempts are definitely not appreciated, but with Sassy’s persistence, she just might be able to win him over.

    Marvelous Me: Inside and Out by Lisa Bullard
    marvelousme
    Alex is a marvelous little boy who is just like other people in some ways, such as getting angry sometimes, but also unique because of his special laugh, his grizzly hugs, and his own interesting thoughts. Includes activities.

    Ron’s Big Mission by Rose Blue
    ronsbigmission
    Nine-year-old Ron loves going to the Lake City Public Library to look through all the books on airplanes and flight. Today, Ron is ready to take out books by himself. But in the segregated world of South Carolina in the 1950s, Ron?s obtaining his own library card is not just a small rite of passage?it is a young man?s fi rst courageous mission. Here is an inspiring story, based on Ron McNair?s life, of how a little boy, future scientist, and Challenger astronaut desegregated his library through peaceful resistance.

    We Had a Picnic This Sunday Past by Jacqueline Woodson
    wehadapicnicthispastsunday
    A young girl describes her various relatives and the foods they bring to the annual family picnic.

    This is the Rope by Jacqueline Woodson
    thisistherope
    The story of one family’s journey north during the Great Migration starts with a little girl in South Carolina who finds a rope under a tree one summer. She has no idea the rope will become part of her family’s history. But for three generations, that rope is passed down, used for everything from jump rope games to tying suitcases onto a car for the big move north to New York City, and even for a family reunion where that first little girl is now a grandmother.

    For the Right to Learn: Malala Yousafzai’s Story by Rebecca Langston-George and Janna Bock
    fortherighttolearn
    She grew up in a world where women were supposed to be quiet. But Malala Yousafzai refused to be silent. She defied the Taliban’s rules, spoke out for education for every girl, and was almost killed for her beliefs. This powerful true story of how one brave girl named Malala changed the world proves that one person really can make a difference.

    Bee-Bim Bop! by Linda Sue Park
    beebimbop
    My kids and I adore this book!  Bee-bim bop (“mix-mix rice”) is a traditional Korean dish. In bouncy rhyming text, a hungry child tells of helping her mother make bee-bim bop: shopping, preparing ingredients, setting the table, and sitting down to enjoy a favorite meal. The enthusiasm of the narrartor is conveyed in the whimsical illustrations, which bring details from the artist’s childhood in Korea to his depiction of a modern Korean-American family. The book includes Linda Sue’s own bee-bim bop recipe!

    Big Hair, Don’t Care by Crystal Swain-Bates
    bighairdontcare
    Lola has really really REALLY big hair, much bigger than the other kids at her school, but that doesn’t stop her from telling anyone who will listen just how much she LOVES her hair! It´s not always easy being a kid. Designed to boost self-esteem and build confidence, this beautifully illustrated picture book is aimed at boys and girls who may need a reminder from time to time that it’s okay to look different from the other kids at their school. “Big Hair, Don’t Care” is available in English, French, and German.

    Lorraine Gets Her Crown by Erica V. Walton
    lorrainegetshercrown
    Lorraine’s 8th birthday is just two days away. She can hardly wait because she knows her parents will be giving her a special gift. When Lorraine finally gets her gift, she’s disappointed to find out it’s a gold tiara with pink stones. It isn’t until her mother explains the reason why she gave her a crown does she understand and appreciate it more. A story based on an affirmation taught to me by grandmother. The message about positivity and teaching kids how special and important they are. Every little girl deserves to be treated like a princess until she grows into a queen.

    Heart Picked: Elizabeth’s Adoption Tale by Sara Crutcher
    heartpicked
    Six-year-old Elizabeth is excited to have her dad visit school today but worries some of her classmates might notice they don’t look alike. How will Elizabeth respond when her friend says, That’s your dad? You don’t look like him.

    In a Village by the Sea by Muon Van
    inavillagebythesea
    Written in a spare, lyrical style using fresh, evocative imagery, In a Village by the Sea tells the story of longing for the comforts of home. A perfect book for teaching about diverse cultures and lifestyles through rich pictures and words, moving from the wide world to the snugness of home and back out again.

    Cora Cooks Pancit by Dorina K. Lazo Gilmore
    coracookspancit
    Cora loves being in the kitchen, but she always gets stuck doing the kid jobs like licking the spoon. One day, however, when her older sisters and brother head out, Cora finally gets the chance to be Mama’s assistant chef. And of all the delicious Filipino dishes that dance through Cora’s head, she and Mama decide to make pancit, her favorite noodle dish.

    The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi
    thenamejar
    Being the new kid in school is hard enough, but what about when nobody can pronounce your name? Having just moved from Korea, Unhei is anxious that American kids will like her. So instead of introducing herself on the first day of school, she tells the class that she will choose a name by the following week.

    My Name is Yoon by Helen Recorvits
    mynameisyoon
    Yoon’s name means “shining wisdom,” and when she writes it in Korean, it looks happy, like dancing figures. But her father tells her that she must learn to write it in English. In English, all the lines and circles stand alone, which is just how Yoon feels in the United States. Yoon isn’t sure that she wants to be YOON. At her new school, she tries out different names―maybe CAT or BIRD. Maybe CUPCAKE!

    The Sandwich Swap by Queen Raina
    thesandwichswap
    Lily and Salma are best friends. They like doing all the same things, and they always eat lunch together. Lily eats peanut butter and Salma eats hummus-but what’s that between friends? It turns out, a lot. Before they know it, a food fight breaks out. Can Lily and Salma put aside their differences? Or will a sandwich come between them?

    A Beach Tail by Karen Williams
    abeachtail
    This wonderful read-aloud book brings to life a summer experience that is all too familiar for young children. Karen Williams’s rhythmic text has been paired with Floyd Cooper’s brilliant illustrations, revealing the trip down the beach entirely from a child’s point of view. A gentle father-son bond is shown in both text and art, reassuring young readers even as they share in Greg’s moment of worry at finding himself lost and alone.

    Max and the Tag-Along Moon by Floyd Cooper
    maxandthetagalongmoon
    Max loves his grandpa. When they must say good-bye after a visit, Grandpa promises Max that the moon at Grandpa’s house is the same moon that will follow him all the way home. On that swervy-curvy car ride back to his house, Max watches as the moon tags along. But when the sky darkens and the moon disappears behind clouds, he worries that it didn’t follow him home after all. Where did the moon go—and what about Grandpa’s promise?

    Hush! A Thai Lullaby by Minfong Ho
    hushathailullaby
    This book contains a lullaby which asks animals such as a lizard, monkey, and water buffalo to be quiet and not disturb the sleeping baby. 1997 Caldecott Honor Book

    Peek!: A Thai Hide-and-Seek by Minfong Ho
    peekathaihideandseek
    Baby knows that Jut-Ay means morning has come, and it’s time to play. But where is Baby hiding? Eechy-eechy-egg! crows the red-tailed rooster. Is Baby near? Hru-hruu! Hru-hruu! whines the puppy dog. Is Baby crouching there? Jiak-jiak! Jiak-jiak! screeches a monkey in the banyan tree. Is Baby swinging there? Hornbill and snake, elephant and tiger — who can finally lead Papa to Baby’s hiding place?

    The Girl Who Wore Too Much (A Folktale from Thailand) by Margaret MacDonald
    thegirlwhoworetoomuch
    Like most young girls, Aree likes fine clothing and jewelry. But she is just a wee bit spoiled and has more dresses and accessories than she needs. So when word comes of a dance to be held in the next village, Aree can’t make up her mind: Now I can show off my fine clothes! But which color shall I wear? The pink, the fuchsia, the scarlet? The sky blue or aquamarine? Maybe violet? Deep purple? Magenta? Maybe chartreuse? Or emerald green?

    The Book Itch: Freedom, Truth, and Harlem’s Greatest Bookstore by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson
    thebookitch
    And as far as Lewis Michaux Jr. could tell, his father’s bookstore was one of a kind. People from all over came to visit the store, even famous people Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X, to name a few. In his father’s bookstore people bought and read books, and they also learned from each other. People swapped and traded ideas and talked about how things could change. They came together here all because of his father’s book itch.

    Lemonade in Winter: A Book About Two Kids Counting Money by Emily Jenkins
    lemonadeinwinter
    A lemonade stand in winter? Yes, that’s exactly what Pauline and John-John intend to have, selling lemonade and limeade–and also lemon-limeade. With a catchy refrain (Lemon lemon LIME, Lemon LIMEADE! Lemon lemon LIME, Lemon LEMONADE!), plus simple math concepts throughout, here is a read-aloud that’s great for storytime and classroom use, and is sure to be a hit among the legions of Jenkins and Karas fans.

    Summer Days and Nights by Wong Herbert Yee
    summerdaysandnights
    On a hot summer day, a little girl finds ways to entertain herself and stay cool. She catches a butterfly, sips lemonade, jumps in a pool, and goes on a picnic. At night, she sees an owl in a tree and a frog in a pond, and hears leaves rustling. Before long, she’s fast asleep, dreaming about more summer days and summer nights.

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

    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.

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

    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
    sewingstories

    Harriet Powers learned to sew and quilt as a young slave girl on a Georgia plantation. She lived through the Civil War and Reconstruction, and eventually owned a cotton farm with her family, all the while relying on her skills with the needle to clothe and feed her children.

    Later she began making pictorial quilts, using each square to illustrate Bible stories and local legends. She 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.

    Leo Can Swim by Anna McQuinn
    leocanswim
    Leo and Daddy go to swim class where they kick, bounce, and dive like little fish. Joining other babies and their caretakers in the pool is a guarantee for unforgettable fun.  Read my book review here.

    Whoosh!: Lonnie Johnson’s Super Soaking Stream of Inventions by Chris Barton
    whooshlonniejohnson
    You know the Super Soaker. It’s one of top twenty toys of all time. And it was invented entirely by accident. Trying to create a new cooling system for refrigerators and air conditioners, impressive inventor Lonnie Johnson instead created the mechanics for the iconic toy.

    A love for rockets, robots, inventions, and a mind for creativity began early in Lonnie Johnson’s life. Growing up in a house full of brothers and sisters, persistence and a passion for problem solving became the cornerstone for a career as an engineer and his work with NASA. But it is his invention of the Super Soaker water gun that has made his most memorable splash with kids and adults.  Read my review here.

    Before There Was Mozart by Lesa Cline-Ransome
    beforetherewasmozart

    Joseph Boulogne, Chevalier de Saint-George was born on Christmas Day in 1739 on the tiny island of Guadeloupe in the West Indies. He was the son of a white plantation owner and a black slave. On the day of his birth the midwife predicted one day Joseph would meet the king and queen of France. Joseph loved music especially his violin. When his family moved to Paris, Joseph decided to devote himself to music. 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.

    Poems for the Smart, Spunky, and Sensational Black Girl

    by Rachel Garlinghouse, illustrated by Sharee Miller 
    poemsforthesmartspunky

    Today’s girl has a lot going on! From beads, bullies, and birthdays, to school, sunglasses, and siblings, Poems for the Smart, Spunky, and Sensational Black Girl resonates and inspires! From Rachel Garlinghouse (author and mom) and Sharee Miller (owner of Coily and Cute) comes this one-of-a-kind poetry collection that will certainly bring a smile to your little lady’s face and heart.

    B is for Breakdancing: An ABC Book of Ways to Shake What Your Momma Gave You by Dr. Tamara Pizzoli

    bisforbreakdancing

    Not only is dancing all the fun, it’s universal! Peruse the pages of this book to brush up on your ABCs and see how people all around the world get down and groove to the beat. When you’re finished reading, put on your favorite song and try out a few moves of your own and some you’ve learned from the book!

    I Know I Can!
    by Veronica N. Chapman
    iknowican
    While giving a speech at her high school graduation, Faith, the class valedictorian, shares her childhood dreams, and the lessons that served as the foundation for her courage.

    I Had a Favorite Dress
    by Boni Ashburn
    ihadafavoritedress

    As the year passes, the narrator’s favorite dress goes through a series of creative changes, from dress to shirt to tank top to scarf and so on, until all that’s left of it is a good memory. Assisted by her patient and crafty mama, the narrator finds that when disaster strikes her favorite things, she doesn’t need to make mountains out of molehills—she “makes molehills out of mountains” instead! Structured around the days of the week, the story is also illustrated to show the passing of the seasons, a perfect complement to the themes of growing older and keeping hold (and letting go) of special mementos.

    Emi’s Coily Curly Cotton Candy Hair by Tina Olajide

    emi

    This is a great book for little African-American/bi-racial girls with natural hair.  My daughter adores this book and so do I.  We purchased this book and added it to our book collection.  Emi is a creative 7-year-old girl with a BIG imagination. In this story Emi shares a positive message about her Curly, Coily, Cotton Candy Hair and what she likes most about it. The vibrant illustrations and fun story teach basic natural hair care techniques and tips in a playful and memorable way.

    Princess Hair by Sharee Miller

    princess

    How cute is the cover of this book?  If you have a little daughter, granddaughter, niece, cousin or friend read this book to them.  Better yet, why not purchase it and add it to their own personal library.  I love reading this to my daughter and she loves this book too.

    One Love by Cedella Marley
    one
    Adapted from one of Bob Marley’s most beloved songs, One Love brings the joyful spirit and unforgettable lyrics of his music to life for a new generation. Readers will delight in dancing to the beat and feeling the positive groove of change when one girl enlists her community to help transform her neighborhood for the better.

    My Brother Charlie by Holly Robinson Peete
    charlie

    I had no idea what the book was about when I picked it up from the library.  It’s a heartwarming story about a boy who happens to be autistic, based on actress Holly Robinson Peete’s son, who has autism.

    Princess Cupcake Jones and the Missing Tutu by Ylleya Fields
    cupcake

    Princess Cupcake Jones has lost her beloved tutu.  In her quest to find it, Cupcake learns the importance of tidying up and putting things in their proper place.  As an added bonus in each book of the series, children will also have fun finding the hidden word in each inviting illustration. Helpful hints are a part of the book’s website, which also features downloadable color pages and other activities.

    28 Days: Moments in Black History That Changed the World by Charles R. Smith

    days
    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.

    Lola Plants a Garden by Anna McQuinn
    garden

    My daughter Sparkles has come to be very fond of the Lola character.  This is a cute story about Lola planting her own flower garden.  Love the illustrations in this book!

    Juneteenth for Mazie by Floyd Cooper
    juneteenth

    Mazie is ready to celebrate liberty. She is ready to celebrate freedom. She is ready to celebrate a great day in American history ― the day her ancestors were no longer slaves. Mazie remembers the struggles and the triumph, as she gets ready to celebrate Juneteenth.

    Lola at the Library
    lola

    This is a very cute book that the kids like to read over and over again.  This is the first book in the Lola series we’ve read and I look forward to reading more and purchasing them to add to our collection.  Lola has a big smile on her face. Why? Because it’s Tuesday–and on Tuesdays, Lola and her mommy go to the library.

    I Am Michelle Obama the First Lady by Margina Graham Parker
    michelle

    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!

    Barack by Jonah Winter
    barackjonahwinter
    Jonah Winter and AG Ford re-create the extraordinary story behind the rise of America’s first African-American president, Barack Obama, in this stunning picture book.

    I Like Myself by Karen Beaumont
    myself
    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.

    Night Time Routine by Sharee Miller

    nighthair

    I just adore books for little girls about natural hair!  This is another one to add to your collection if you have a daughter with natural hair.  Miss Jackie just wants to go to sleep, but not before going through her night time hair routine.  What a cute story to read to reinforce the importance of taking care of your hair and following a consistent regimen.

    Happy Hair by Mechal Renee Roe

    hair
    Happy Hair is a call and response picture book that promotes positive self-esteem and hair love to girls of all ages! Happy Hair covers different shades and hair types all while being fun and fashionable! This book is the foundation to building Happy Hair.

    Just the Two of Us by Will Smith
    two

    Will Smith— musician, actor, and father–brings us a moving celebration of fatherhood. This is a great book for dads to read to the kids on Father’s Day.

    Last Stop on Market Street by Matt De La Pena
    market

    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.

    Peter’s Chair by Ezra Jack Keats
    chair
    Peter has a new baby sister on the way and is not happy about it! All of his belongings are being painted pink and he knows his favorite chair is next. He decides to run away with his chair and faithful sidekick and pet, Willie. However, he soon realizes he’s too big for his chair and maybe a baby sister is not so bad after all.

    Bippity Bop Barbershop by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley


    A young boy, Miles, makes his first trip to the barbershop with his father. Like most little boys, he is afraid of the sharp scissors, the buzzing razor, and the prospect of picking a new hairstyle. But with the support of his dad, the barber, and the other men in the barbershop, Miles bravely sits through his first haircut. Written in a reassuring tone with a jazzy beat and illustrated with graceful, realistic watercolors, this book captures an important rite of passage for boys and celebrates African-American identity.

    Summer Jackson Grown Up by Teresa E. Harris
    summer
    Summer Jackson, a stylish, sassy 7-year-old is ready to be an adult, or so she thinks. Summer tackles “adulthood” with confidence — donning blazers and high heels, reading the newspaper, and talking on her cell phone. However, Summer soon learns that being a grown-up is not all it seems, and returns to the joys of being seven.

    I Had a Favorite Hat by Boni Ashburn
    ihadafavoritehat

    The narrator of this charming picture book loves her summer hat, but as the seasons change, her hat isn’t always appropriate for every occasion. She must use her crafting skills to turn the hat into a work of art, perfect for every season and holiday. Featuring the same characters from the first book, I Had a Favorite Dress, along with the hip, eye-catching art style that won it so many fans, this book is perfect for young crafters and their stylish parents.

    One Plastic Bag by Miranda Paul
    oneplasticbag

    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.

    Monster Trouble by Lane Fredrickson
    monstertrouble
    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.

    Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts
    thoseshoes
    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.

    Happy In Our Skin by Fran Manushkin
    happyinourskin
    An awesome book with rhyming text that celebrates diversity and being happy in your own skin.

    One Word From Sophia by Jim Averbeck
    onewordfromsophia

    A cute story about a girl who only has one true desire for her birthday. She wants a giraffe. Sophia gives a compelling presentation to her family complete with pie charts to try and persuade them.

    Mixed Me by Taye Diggs
    mixedme
    Meet Mike, a mixed-race kid who has an awesome head of thick and curly hair and lots of energy! He’s the perfect blend of both of his parents, but not everyone feels that way. That doesn’t bother Mike though because he thinks he’s just right. Written by actor Taye Diggs who has a mixed-race son named Walker.

    She Loved Baseball: The Effa Manley Story by Audrey Vernick
    theeffamanleystory

    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.

    Early September 2016 Picture Book Releases
    Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty
    adatwistscientist
    Introducing the new kid on the block: Ada Twist, Scientist!  From the creators of the popular books Iggy Peck, Architect and Rosie Revere, Engineer.  I cannot wait for this!! We absolutely love the first two books!

    Beautiful by Stacy McAnulty

    beautifulstacymcanulty

    BEAUTIFUL breaks barriers by showing girls free to be themselves: splashing in mud, conducting science experiments, and reading books under a flashlight with friends. This book will encourage all girls to embrace who they are and realize their endless potential.  Read my review here.

    Maya Angelou (Little People, Big Dreams) by Lisbeth Kaiser
    mayaangeloulittlepeoplebigdreams
    In the Little People, Big Dreams series, discover the lives of outstanding people from designers and artists to scientists. All of them went on to achieve incredible things, yet all of them began life as a little child with a dream. The book follows Maya Angelou, from her early traumatic childhood to her time as a singer, actress, civil rights campaigner and, eventually, one of America’s most beloved writers. This inspiring and informative little biography comes with extra facts about Maya’s life at the back.

    Dear Dragon: A Pen Pal Tale by Josh Funk
    deardragon
    A sweet and clever friendship story in rhyme, about looking past physical differences to appreciate the person (or dragon) underneath.

    George and Blaise are pen pals, and they write letters to each other about everything: their pets, birthdays, favorite sports, and science fair projects. There’s just one thing that the two friends don’t know: George is a human, while Blaise is a dragon! What will happen when these pen pals finally meet face-to-face?

    Early Chapter Book Series (Check out the multiple books in each series!)
    Sofia Martinez by Jacqueline Jules (recommended for ages 5 – 7 years)
    ClubHouse Mysteries by Sharon M. Draper (recommended for ages 8-12)
    Katie Woo Series by Fran Manushkin (recommended for ages 5-7)
    Keena Ford Series by Melissa Thompson (recommended for ages 6-8)
    Willimena Rules! Series by Valerie Wilson Wesley (recommended for ages 7-10)
    Better Nate than Ever and Five, Six, Seven, Nate! by Tim Federle (recommended for ages 10-14)
    Ruby and the Booker Boys Series by Derrick Barnes (recommended for ages 7-10)
    Ruby Lu Series by Lenore Look (recommended for ages 6-10)
    Calvin Coconut Series by Graham Salisbury (recommended for ages 8-12)
    Lulu Series by Hilary McKay and Priscilla Lamont (recommended for ages 7-10)
    EllRay Jakes Series by Sally Warner (recommended for ages 6-8)
    Bobby the Brave Series (recommended for ages 5-9)
    Dyamonde Daniel Series (recommended for ages 5-9)
    Miami Jackson Series (recommended for ages 5-9)
    Sugar Plum Ballerinas Series (recommended for ages 5-9)

    Novels for Teens and Tweens
    The Crossover by Kwame Alexander
    Booked by Kwame Alexander
    Dirt by Teffanie Thompson
    Serafina’s Promise by Ann E. Burg
    One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia
    Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
    P.S. Be Eleven by Rita Williams Garcia
    Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans by Don Brown
    The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
    You Got This!: Unleash Your Awesomeness, Find Your Path, and Change Your World by Maya S. Penn

    Want More Books?  Be Sure to also check out My Ultimate List of 2016 Picture and Board Books for Kids!

    Your turn: What books are you looking forward to reading with your little readers this summer?  Feel free to share in the comments.

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    read aloud, summer reading

    94 Days of Summer: 4 Books I’m Reading Aloud to Kick Off Summer

    In addition to being Father’s Day, this Sunday is the official start of summer — the longest day of the year known as the summer solstice.

    Summer is by far my favorite season and I look forward to it every year.  Did you know the June summer solstice date usually varies from June 20 – June 22nd?  For example, it’s on June 21 this year, but on June 20 in 2016.  A June 22 solstice will not occur until 2203. The last time there was a June 22 solstice was in 1971 – wow!

    In honor the longest day of the year, I picked up four books to read aloud to the kids this weekend.

    I think this is an awesome non-fiction book that has well-written explanations and vibrant illustrations.  The Longest Day provides answers to many questions about the summer solstice: its definition, how ancient cultures have interpreted and celebrated it, to current solemnizations.  This book also contains suggested readings and websites and activities for children to celebrate the sun’s longest day of the year.  I believe it’s best suited for children ages 6 – 10, but can be read aloud to children of all ages.
    Llama Llama Sand & Sun by Anna Dewdney
    We are huge Llama Llama (and Nelly Gnu) fans so when this book came out a few weeks ago I had to snatch it up from the library.  It’s a touch-and-feel tactile board book and quick read so not that advanced for older children.  Very cute book though about Llama Llama and his mama spending the day at the beach.The Night Before Summer Vacation by Natasha Wing

    Ahhh…who doesn’t love a summer vacation?  I know I do!  I could definitely use one right about now.  In this book, a little girl and her family are getting ready to go on vacation . . . or at least they are trying to.  In the effort to pack everything that will be needed, there’s bound to be something overlooked.  The rhyming text and colorful illustrations make this a fun book to read aloud.  A cute twist on Clement Moore’s classic book, The Night Before Christmas.

     

    Harry likes to play hide-and-seek, but it’s hard to hide a hippo!  When Harry and his friends are at the beach, they always play their favorite game, hide-and-seek. In a hammock, under a sand castle, or behind a palm tree — there are so many places for Harry to hide. Or try to, at least!  I think this is a cute book for babies and toddlers who enjoy a good game of peek-a-boo.

    After you finish reading to your little ones, perhaps you’d like to do an activity to celebrate the summer solstice.  Below are a few ideas you may want to try.

    Summer Solstice Extension Activities

    Plant Sunflowers:  Planting on the solstice will remind you how essential the sun is for growth.

    Draw/Paint Pictures of the Sun:  Creating sun prints invites you to capture beautiful images using the power of the sun.

    Brew Sun Tea: Brewing sun tea gives you the taste of summer in a glass.  Drink up!

    Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there and Happy Summer in advance!

    Your turn:  Have you read any of these books to your children?  Feel free to let me know in the comments.

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    summer reading

    94 Days of Summer: FREE Summer Reading Programs for Kids

    Summer reading programs aren’t what they used to be when I was a kid growing up.  I remember being rewarded with small items like stickers and a pizza party if your class had the highest number of reading logs turned in from summer break.I used to get so excited when the summer reading lists were handed out.  Now that I have kids of my own I still get the same sense of excitement when summer rolls around even though my kids are both under the age of three.

    I think summer reading programs are great!  They provide opportunities and incentives to encourage children to keep reading through the summer months.  There are plenty of fun programs to keep kids reading all summer long. Below are a few for your little bookworms to enjoy (ages 5 and up).

     


    Pizza Hut

    The Book It! reading program has been around for several years. Details for 2015 will be live in June and details can be found here.  The program kicks off June 22, 2015.
    This year the Barnes and Noble summer reading program, Imagination’s Destination, gives out a free book to each child who reads 8 books over the summer.
    This summer reading program runs May 19 – September 7, 2015.
    Limits to Be Aware Of
    The Barnes and Noble summer reading program is only available to school-aged children in grades 1-6.Only one book is available for each child who completes a reading journal and choice must be made from the selected books available at the store.

    I mentioned this challenge in my last post.  Scholastic has a summer reading challenge where kids read and then go online to record the minutes they’ve read during the summer. They’ll also be able to take weekly challenges to earn rewards.
    This summer reading programs runs May 4 – September 4, 2015.
    Chuck E. Cheese has a reading program where kids can earn free 10 Chuck E. Cheese tokens for reading each day for 2 weeks.  This reading program goes on all year.To get started, simply scroll down on the website to download the ‘Reading Rewards’ log sheet to keep track of books read.

    Note:  In addition to a reading incentive chart there are many other incentive charts including, good behavior, daily chores, clean room, good eater and more.Showcase Cinemas Reading Program

    Live near a Showcase Cinemas theatre?  The Showcase Cinemas summer reading program gives out free movie tickets to select kids movies that plays every Wednesday morning at 10:00 a.m. beginning on July 8, 2015 until July 29, 2015. This means that your kid can see 4 free movies this summer!
    Their summer reading program for 2015 is called Bookworm Wednesdays.
    How it works:
    Visit Showcase Cinemas Bookwork Wednesdays and click on Download the Book Report to open a PDF file of the book report form. Print out the book report and fill out the title of the book you read, the author, a description of the book, and the child’s name.
    Bring the completed book report into a participating Showcase Cinemas movie theater each Wednesday from July 8, 2015 to July 29, 2015 for the 10:00 a.m. movie to get free admission.
    Here’s the schedule for the free Showcase Cinemas kids movies:
    ·         July 8 – Rio 2
    ·         July 15 – Penguins of Madagascar
    ·         July 22 – How to Train Your Dragon 2
    ·         July 29 – Annie


    Limits to Be Aware Of
    The Showcase Cinemas summer reading program is available only at participating Showcase Cinemas locations.
    Parents who take their kid for the free movie get free admission as do children 6 years and younger without submitting a book report.TD Bank Summer Reading Program

    The TD Bank summer reading program awards kids $10 when they read 10 books over the summer.
    When a child reads 10 books, TD Bank deposits $10 into their new or existing Young Saver bank account.Bring the completed TD Bank summer reading program form into your local TD Bank before between June 1, 2015 and August 31, 2015. If your child has an existing Young Saver account, the $10 will be deposited into that account. If your child doesn’t have one, you’ll need to bring a form of ID for your child so a Young Saver account can be opened.

    Limits to Be Aware Of
    The TD Bank summer reading program is limited to children Kindergarten through 5th grade.
    Each child can only complete 1 form for the TD Bank summer reading program.
    They are offering kids ages 14 and under a chance to earn a $5 Gift Card for reading just 15 each day throughout the summer!Read 15 minutes a day for a month in June and July. (Grown-ups may read aloud to kids who are still learning.) Use this reading log  PDF , add up your minutes and have your parent or guardian initial each week. Once you’ve reached 300 or more minutes, bring your log to your local HPB to claim your Bookworm Bucks.

    Local Public Library
    Since my kids are too young to participate in any of the programs listed above (bummer), we’ll be checking out a few of our local libraries.Most library locations offer something special for thier community – often weekly!  Don’t forget to check out your local libraries to find out which programs they’ll be offering. Take a friend and make it a little field trip! Some locations will even be offering FREE books, prizes or crafts!

    You can also create your own summer reading program.  Check out this 10 week do-it-yourself themed summer reading program from Education.com.

    Your turn:  Am I the only mom who gets excited about this stuff? What’s your favorite summer reading program? Do your kids enjoy summer reading or dread it? Do prizes help motivate them?

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