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    diverse books, summer reading

    Reading Together Summer Reading Challenge: Download this FREE Diverse & Inclusive Summer Reading Chart for Kids and Adults!

    Happy Juneteenth, friends! I can’t think of a better day than today to unveil my latest FREE resource for you to use with your little readers, your students or on your own. If you’re an educator, it makes the perfect end of school year gift for all of your students no matter what age they are!

    To create this printable, I collaborated with Briana James of Artish Reader, a talented Art student who reached out to me on Instagram. She’s currently building up her portfolio and asked to collaborate on projects a few months ago. If you’ve been following me for a while, you may remember the first project Briana and I collaborated on for my 31 Days of Women’s History coloring sheet.

    I talked to Briana about my idea and concept and she used her creative genius to produce a high-quality reading chart. I couldn’t be more happier with it! Get in touch with Briana, give her a follow on Instagram, and support her as she continues to build up her art portfolio. It was such a pleasure to work with her once again and help support another Black woman at the same time.

    This coloring printable is a fun way to celebrate summer reading. It features an array of books and other items beautifully stacked on bookshelves. You can enjoy this coloring page printed in various sizes from 8.5 X 11 up to 24 X 36 if you’d like jumbo poster size.

    Each day during the summer months , color in one book or object until the whole poster is complete. Also, be sure to use the checklist to check off books as you read or complete the challenges.

    If you need book recommendations throughout the challenge, I have created several categorized lists in my online Bookshop and Amazon stores to assist you. Also, if purchasing new or used books isn’t in your budget, be sure to utilize your local library. Many libraries will likely have their own summer reading challenges going on as well so do those challenges too. The more reading, the better to help prevent the summer slide.

    Here are a few of my book lists to help get you started:

    The 2020 Ultimate List of Diverse Children’s Books
    Caribbean Picture Book Recommendations
    Muslim Themed Book Recommendations
    Latinx Book Recommendations
    Diverse & Inclusive Picture Books for Kids
    African-American Picture Books Featuring Males
    African-American Picture Books Featuring Females
    Native/Indigenous Picture Books
    Asian & Pacific Islander Book Recommendations

    Happy Reading & Researching this summer!

    CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THIS PRINTABLE! (Use this link for poster size printing)

    CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THIS PRINTABLE! (Use this link for 8.5 x 11 size printing)

    CHECK OUT MORE OF MY RESOURCES (INCLUDING MY POPULAR PRINTABLE READING JOURNAL and SUMMER READING BOARD GAME) ON MY TEACHER’S PAY TEACHERS WEBSITE AND GIVE ME A FOLLOW OVER THERE TOO.

    AS ALWAYS, THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT!

    Your turn: Are you excited to use this chart for summer reading? Feel free to share in the comments.

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    adult books

    Always Eat After 7pm: Week 4 Update Conclusion & Final Thoughts

    Disclaimer: This post is brought to you by our sponsor, “Always Eat After 7 PM”. As always, the opinions expressed below are my own.

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book Always Eat After 7pm and appreciated the conversational, irreverent tone by author and fitness expert Joel Marion.

    The biggest lessons I learned from the book are – you can totally eat after 7pm AND you can’t ignore your diet. Eating right and getting in regular exercise really does make a huge difference in your overall well being if your goal is to remain fit and in shape.

    The essential idea of this book is to re-learn how to eat whatever you want whenever you’re hungry (in moderation), without imposing rules or guilt on yourself about it. The chapters take you through a step-by-step process for this, with the idea being to work through them over time.

    There’s so much useful information in it that contradicts lots of completely baseless assumptions and myths I’d picked up over the years.  Always Eat After 7 PM really helped me to challenge leftover diet culture ways of thinking, good/bad perspectives on food, un-evidenced fears about health, and the compulsion to not trust my body and instead feel the need to control it.

    I plan to maintain my body by following a modified version of this diet while ensuring I continue to work out on a regular basis and drink plenty of water. My hope is that I can commit to maintaining this lifestyle for as long as I can with the understanding that if I “fall off the wagon” I give myself enough grace and get back on again.

    I’d highly recommend this book for people like me who want to tone up their bodies or people who want to lose weight and learn to maintain it afterwards. If you read it and decide to give it a try I’d love to know your thoughts and if you had success with it.

    Check out my previous posts below to read about my weekly progression.

    Week 1 Update
    Week 2 Update
    Week 3 Update

    Always Eat After 7 PM: The Revolutionary Rule-Breaking Diet That Lets You Enjoy Huge Dinners, Desserts, and Indulgent Snacks—While Burning Fat Overnight by Joel Marion is now available to purchase.

    About the Author

    Joel Marion is a six-time bestselling author, host of the top-ranked inspirational podcast Born to Impact, and the co-founder of BioTrust Nutrition (the largest eCommerce supplement company in the United States). Additionally, his work has been featured in the pages of more than 20 popular national newsstand magazines including Men’s Fitness, Woman’s Day, Men’s Health, Oxygen, Men’s Journal, and Clean Eating. He resides with his wife, Lisa, and two daughters in Clearwater Beach, Florida.

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    adult books

    Always Eat After 7pm: Goal Setting + An Update

    Disclaimer: This post is brought to you by our sponsor, “Always Eat After 7 PM”. As always, the opinions expressed below are my own.

    I recently finished reading the book Always Eat After 7pm written by Joel Marion.  It was certainly an informative and engaging read that taught me so much about healthy eating.  By following Joel’s straightforward approach, I was able to press the reset button on my entire diet and get serious about toning up my body. One of the best things was trying out some of the recipes from the book like the no-bake salted caramel bars, fruit tarts and the chili loaded baked potatoes…yum!

     In case you’re unfamiliar with the book and what it’s all about, here is a brief explanation and direct quote taken from the book:

    Always Eat After 7 PM is a three-phase program that teaches you how to lose big by strategically eating big when you are naturally hungriest—in the evening. This may sound too good to be true, but let me assure you it is no gimmick. It’s all about making strategic and smart food swaps, and you can still eat your favorite foods.”

    I’m happy to report I lost a total of four pounds since beginning my fitness journey.  At the start of this program I told you my goal was to tone up certain areas of my body.  What I didn’t expect was to lose a few pounds along the way which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  Although I feel and look relatively the same since the start of this program, I do notice I have slightly more energy in the mornings which lasts throughout my day until bedtime.

    Here are a few additional highlights from the book I’d like to share:

    • Protein is the most fat-loss-friendly food because it burns more calories while being digested than any other macronutrient.
    • The biggest challenge people face when following any type of diet is getting adequate amounts from whole foods each day to reap these benefits. This is when protein powder comes in handy and can help you further accelerate your fat loss.
    • Probiotics are friendly, living microbes in the gut that help us stay healthy.  You carry about four pounds of microbes (bacteria, yeasts, fungi, and so forth) in your gut—that’s about 100 trillion microbes.

    The recipes, the meal plan, and lots of scientific backup in this book make it easy to follow along and enjoy.  Joel also provides you with of motivation to keep going after you complete the program so you can maintain your weight.

    I’ll post my final update soon, so stay tuned!

    In the meantime, check out my two previous posts from the first two weeks here:

    Week 1 Update
    Week 2 Update

    Always Eat After 7 PM: The Revolutionary Rule-Breaking Diet That Lets You Enjoy Huge Dinners, Desserts, and Indulgent Snacks—While Burning Fat Overnight by Joel Marion is now available to purchase here.

    About the Author
    Joel Marion is a six-time bestselling author, host of the top-ranked inspirational podcast Born to Impact, and the cofounder of BioTrust Nutrition (the largest eCommerce supplement company in the United States). Additionally, his work has been featured in the pages of more than 20 popular national newsstand magazines including Men’s Fitness, Woman’s Day, Men’s Health, Oxygen, Men’s Journal, and Clean Eating. He resides with his wife, Lisa, and two daughters in Clearwater Beach, Florida.

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    children's books, diverse books, giveaways

    Kamala and Maya’s Big Idea + A Giveaway!

    KAMALA AND MAYA’S BIG IDEA

    by Meena Harris, illustrated by Ana Ramírez González

    Age Range: 4 – 8 years
    Grade Level: Preschool – 3
    Hardcover: 32 pages
    Publisher: Balzer + Bray

    Meena Harris debuts with an empowering picture book about two sisters who work with their community to effect change, inspired by a true story from the childhood of her aunt, US Senator Kamala Harris, and mother, lawyer, and policy expert Maya Harris.

    One day, Kamala and Maya had an idea. A big idea: they would turn their empty apartment courtyard into a playground!

    This is the uplifting tale of how the author’s aunt and mother first learned to persevere in the face of disappointment and turned a dream into reality. This is a story of children’s ability to make a difference and of a community coming together to transform their neighborhood.

    In Kamala and Maya’s Big Idea, two sisters decide they need a playground in the back of their building. They won’t take the landlord’s “no” as an answer and rally all the kids who live in the building to help them find a way. I love how at the girls call themselves the “per-sisters” at the end of the book because they were persistent and didn’t give up. Recommended for ages 4 – 8.

    Meena Harris was born into a family of strong women whose legacy continues to inspire her. Her grandmother, Shyamala Gopalan, was a cancer researcher and civil rights activist; her mother, Maya Harris, is a lawyer and policy expert; and her aunt, Kamala Harris, is a United States senator from California. Meena herself is a lawyer and entrepreneur. In 2017 she founded the Phenomenal Woman Action Campaign, a female-powered organization that brings awareness to social causes. She currently resides in San Francisco with her partner and two daughters.

    Ana Ramírez González worked as a visual development artist on Pixar’s Oscar-winning film Coco and illustrated the companion picture book Coco: Miguel and the Grand Harmony by Matt de la Peña. Ana is also the illustrator of Maybe Tomorrow? by Charlotte Agell. She grew up in Guanajuato, Mexico, and lives in Oakland, California.

    Follow Meena on Instagram @meenaharris or at phenomenalwoman.us.

    Kamala and Maya’s Big Idea

    Kamala and Maya’s Big Idea Giveaway

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    STEM

    Learning at Home: Caterpillars to Butterflies

    Butterfly Garden from Insect Lore

    Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, our family had the opportunity to watch caterpillars turn into butterflies at home. The pandemic caused me to get creative and look for easy and educational activities we could tackle at home. This was such a fun and exciting STEM-based activity for our whole family to participate in and experience. We’ll definitely be doing this again as an annual springtime tradition.

    We ordered the Butterfly Garden kit from Insect Lore which includes a Live Cup of Caterpillars. The caterpillars start off as baby caterpillars that will grow into beautiful Painted Lady Butterflies over the course of 7-10 days. It’s was a fascinating family-friendly experience that sparked an even greater interest in nature right before my kid’s very eyes. Not only did my kids learn about the life cycles of a butterfly, but this activity also allowed them to learn more about life lessons like patience and empathy.

    Once the butterflies emerged from their chrysalides, we fed them nectar and citrus fruits. After observing them in their butterfly habitat for three days, we set them free on a bright and sunny day in our backyard.

    If you ever need proof that there is a higher power, try watching caterpillars turn into butterflies over the course of a few days right before your eyes. It’s truly an amazing sight to witness the whole process take place over the course of about two to three weeks total. We look forward to meeting new butterfly friends next spring!

    Your turn: Have you ever tried this activity at home with your family? Feel free to share in the comments.

    About Insect Lore
    Insect Lore has been providing Hands-On STEM and Real-World understanding of the life-cycle of insects for over 50 years. With their immersive kits, learners get to witness the life cycles of some of nature’s most interesting insects up close and personal. With these intriguing kits, learners of all ages will get a glimpse into the fascinating world of insect metamorphosis. Insect Lore offers school kits, insect habitats and more.

    Learn more about these amazing STEM-based interactive educational activities at: insectlore.com. On the website, you can also view instructional videos and more!

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    adult books

    Always Eat After 7PM: Meet Author Joel Marion + An Update

    Disclaimer: This post is brought to you by our sponsor, “Always Eat After 7 PM”. As always, the opinions expressed below are my own.

    A few days ago, I introduced you to the book Always Eat After 7pm written by Joel Marion.  You can refer back to my first update post here.

    Today, I’m updating you on my first week progress since starting the 14-day Acceleration Phase of Joel’s program.

    Before I get into my update, let me fill you in on some of my favorite things I learned in the first part of the book:

    • Regular nut consumption has been shown to boost metabolism by as much as 11 percent and increase fat burning by up to 50 percent.
    • Almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, pecans, pistachios and walnuts are great late-night snacks fat burning snacks.
    • Other foods like cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, hard boiled eggs, grapefruit, blueberries and cherries are also recommended for late-night snacking
    • The simple 3-minute fat burning morning ritual recommended by Joel – this is my new favorite thing to do in the mornings!

    At the start of the second part of the book, Joel lets readers know what to expect during the first phase of his program:

    “During this phase, you get to eat a variety of protein choices and many different kinds of veggies. You’ll be limiting your calories and carb intake a bit so that your body shifts quickly into fat-burning mode; this is the only phase in which you won’t eat Super Carbs. You do get to enjoy berries, cherries, and dark chocolate, though, along with friendly fats, all of which supply energy and help you feel satisfied.”

    The goal is to focus on getting a certain ratio of macronutrients: protein, carbohydrates, and fat to ensure you’re getting enough for fat burning and overall well-being.  Other traditional diets recommend staying under a set calorie threshold each day.

    Once you figure out how many grams of each macro you want to aim for you can plan your meals accordingly.  Joel also recommends utilizing the help of apps like My FitnessPal and My Macros+ to help you easily track your macros daily.  It may sound overly complicated, but it’s not once you get the hang of it.

    I appreciate that there are daily menu and guides with serving sizes listed for both men and women shown in the book.  I found this to be super helpful and made the process feel less intimidating.  I’m also thrilled that many of the foods listed in the daily menus are foods I regularly eat like: grilled chicken breast, grilled lamb chops, and baked salmon.  Win-win!

    Since this is was week one of the program, I was allowed to have a breakfast snack, but the goal was to wean myself off of it through the week which I did for three days.

    Overall, my body feels wonderful, energized and more alert.  I also managed to lose two pounds even though weight loss is not my ultimate goal.  So far, eating at 7pm seems to be working!

    I’ll post another update soon, so stay tuned.

    In the meantime, get up close and personal with Joel Marion by reading a few interview questions below. Also, you can find my Week 1 update by clicking here.

    Q: What inspired you to write the book?

    A: After authoring 6 best selling books it was glaringly obvious there were 2 huge misconceptions about dieting that needed to be exposed. The first is that you can’t eat late at night or before bed, which science now shows is NOT true. And second, you can’t eat large portions that satisfy your natural instinct. This book solves both these problems by providing an evidence-based, enjoyable approach to dieting that can be used by any person to quickly achieve their weight loss goals.

    Q: You’re a six-time best selling author, what is different about this book compared to your others?

    A: Although many of the concepts are similar, the biggest difference is that you don’t have to deprive yourself of your favorite foods. You don’t have to deal with the burden of eating every few hours. And you don’t have to skip the carbs at dinnertime or avoid eating before bed.

     Q: How difficult is the Always Eat After 7 PM plan to follow?

    A: It’s not. And that’s exactly why I wrote the book. While any diet is never truly easy, it can be more enjoyable and much easier to adhere to when you understand how Always Eat After 7pm works because it caters to our bodies natural instincts.

    Always Eat After 7 PM: The Revolutionary Rule-Breaking Diet That Lets You Enjoy Huge Dinners, Desserts, and Indulgent Snacks—While Burning Fat Overnight by Joel Marion is now available to purchase.

    About the Author

    Joel Marion is a six-time bestselling author, host of the top-ranked inspirational podcast Born to Impact, and the co-founder of BioTrust Nutrition (the largest eCommerce supplement company in the United States). Additionally, his work has been featured in the pages of more than 20 popular national newsstand magazines including Men’s Fitness, Woman’s Day, Men’s Health, Oxygen, Men’s Journal, and Clean Eating. He resides with his wife, Lisa, and two daughters in Clearwater Beach, Florida.

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    children's books, giveaways

    Made for Me: + A Father’s Day Giveaway

    MADE FOR ME

    by Zack Bush, illustrated by Gregorio De Lauretis

    Published by Familius

    Recommended for ages 3 – 5

    Of all the children that ever could be,
    You are the one made just for me.

    From a child’s first uttered “Dada” to his or her first unsteady steps, nothing can adequately convey the joy and awe of watching the birth and growth of a new child. Now releasing as a board book filled with adorable illustrations and the refrain, “You are the one made just for me,” Made for Me is a winning presentation of tender moments that tie a father and his new child together–forever.

    This heartwarming story celebrates a father’s love for his child. Told in rhyming couplets with darling illustrations to match, this story follows a father from his child’s birth through toddlerhood. The repeated phrase “Of all children that ever could be, / you are the one made just for me” allows children to participate and engage in the story while anticipating what will happen next.

    Made for Me makes a great gift for new fathers, Father’s Day or Grandparent’s Day. It beautifully expresses a love for a child in the most endearing way.

    Visit Familius to learn more about the book.

    Ready for your chance to win a copy?  See the giveaway details listed below.

    Father’s Day Giveaway!One (1) lucky winner will receive a copy of Made for Me (U.S. addresses), courtesy of Familius!

    Made for Me: A Father’s Day Giveaway

    Made for Me by Zack Bush
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