A little-known but fascinating and larger-than-life character, Mary Fields is one of the unsung, trailblazing African American women who helped settle the American West. A former slave, Fields became the first African American woman stagecoach driver in 1895, when, in her 60s, she beat out all the cowboys applying for the job by being the fastest to hitch a team of six horses. She won the dangerous and challenging job, and for many years traveled the badlands with her pet eagle, protecting the mail from outlaws and wild animals, never losing a single horse or package. Fields helped pave the way for other women and people of color to become stagecoach drivers and postal workers.
Mary Fields, also known as Stagecoach Mary and Black Mary, was the first African-American female star route mail carrier in the United States. Two other women, Susanna A. Brunner in New York and Minnie Westman in Oregon, were known to be White mail carriers in the 1880s.
Born as a slave in Tennessee during the administration of Andrew Jackson, Mary was sixty years old in 1895 when she became the second woman and first Black person to ever work for the U.S. Post Office. Over the next six years, Mary and her pet eagle rode her stagecoach all over Montana and never missed a day of work, never failed to deliver mail and was never late once.
This story is so inspirational and empowering for readers of all ages. America was built in part by mail carriers and truckers, the people who move goods and products from place to place. Writer Tami Charles brilliantly explores the history of a woman whose contributions to the mail carrier industry was overlooked for years. I’m so grateful for historical picture book biographies like Fearless Mary that expose hidden figures like Mary Fields to ensure their stories are told to younger generations. It’s great for reading during Black History Month, Women’s History Month, or anytime of the year. Recommended age range: 5-7 years and up.
Your turn: Have you read this book yet with your little readers? Feel free to share in the comments.
Just when I think I can’t love and admire Oprah Winfrey anymore, she goes and does something EPIC that leaves me speechless and even more inspired. I still remember her Golden Globes speech from 2018 that gives me chills every time I watch it. Every. Single. Time. I am in awe of her journey, philanthropic efforts, financial growth and business success over the years. She’s is a shining example of a woman who came from nothing and through hard work, perseverance, a grounded sense of faith, an open mind and heart went on to become one of the most successful women in the world.
If you know me well, then you know Oprah is my ultimate role model and has been since the age of 7. I have fond memories of running home after school to watch The Oprah Winfrey Talk Show which later went on to become one of the most successful talk shows in the history of television.
I could go on to talk about the many accomplishments and achievements Oprah has had over the years, but that would make for a really long blog post. Instead, I’ve rounded up a list of books that either feature Oprah as the main character or feature her among other inspirational women. Enjoy!
Celebrate Oprah Winfrey’s most motivational and powerful moments, with quotes from the media mogul, and vibrant illustrations by Alison Oliver.
Oprah: The Little Speaker by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by London Ladd
At age three, Oprah began performing in churches, becoming known to adoring crowds as the Little Speaker. When she was asked what she wanted to be when she grew up, she answered, “I want to be paid to talk.” Here is the story of Oprah Winfrey’s childhood, a story about a little girl on a Mississippi pig farm who grew up to be the “Queen of Talk.” The host of the Emmy Award–winning Oprah Winfrey Show , she currently directs a media empire that includes television and movie productions, magazines, a book club, and radio shows.
Oprah Winfrey: The incredibly accomplished media mogul did not always have the life of her dreams. Oprah grew up extremely poor on a farm town in the South where her family had to make her dress from old potato sacks. But Oprah had a gift and that was a talent for speaking. Oprah eventually used her gift to change the world and create the life of her dreams. This is the story about the girl who would grow up to be Oprah.
This biography series chronicles the lives of some of our best known leaders, inventors, artists and role models. A source of inspiration for young dreamers, each book is proof that, regardless of who you are and where you come from, dreams do come true. As long as you work hard and never give up.
Oprah Winfrey: An Inspiration to Millions by Wil Mara
Meet Oprah Winfrey. Born into poverty, Oprah made herself a promise when she was just four years old: that she would have a better life. Through hard work and perseverance she made good on that promise, becoming the only African-American billionaire in Americaand one of the most respected celebrities in the world.
When Oprah Winfrey was a little girl, she watched her grandma hang clothes out on the line. Oprah adored her grandma, but she knew in that moment her life would be different… And she was right.
Discover how Oprah became a billionaire CEO and media mogul in this true story of her life. Then, learn 10 key lessons from her work you can apply to your own life.
Who Is Oprah Winfrey? by Barbara Kramer
We all know Oprah Winfrey as a talk-show host, actress, producer, media mogul, and philanthropist, but the “Queen of Talk” wasn’t always so fortunate. She suffered through a rough childhood and went on to use her personal struggles as motivation. Oprah’s kindness, resilience, and determination are just some of the many reasons why her viewers–and people all around the world–love her. The richest African American person of the twentieth century, Oprah is often described as the most influential woman in the world.
The Oprah Winfrey Story (We Both Read: Level 3) by Lisa Maria & Sindy McKay
Oprah Winfrey was born into poverty and struggled with a very difficult and troubled life as a young girl. Yet, Oprah has become one of the most influential people in the world, inspiring millions to create a better life for themselves and others. The story of her life is a powerful reminder of how dreams can be realized through determination, perseverance, and the kindness of a helping hand.
Meet 52 icons of color from the past and present in this celebration of inspirational achievement—a collection of stories about changemakers to encourage, inspire and empower the next generation of changemakers. Jamia Wilson has carefully curated this range of black icons and the book is stylishly brought together by Andrea Pippins’ colorful and celebratory illustrations. Written in the spirit of Nina Simone’s song “To Be Young, Gifted, and Black,” this vibrant book is a perfect introduction to both historic and present-day icons and heroes. Meet figureheads, leaders and pioneers such as Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela and Rosa Parks, as well as cultural trailblazers and athletes like Stevie Wonder, Oprah Winfrey and Serena Williams.
Girl CEO by Katherine Ellison
Mini-biographies of leading women entrepreneurs—from Katrina Lake to Oprah, Tavi Gevinson to Sheryl Sandberg, and Ursula Burns to Diane von Furstenberg—offer windows into what it takes to succeed, with a particular focus on the challenges faced (and overcome) by girls and women.
Aphra Behn, first female professional writer. Sojourner Truth, activist and abolitionist. Ada Lovelace, first computer programmer. Marie Curie, first woman to win the Nobel Prize. Joan Jett, godmother of punk. The 100 revolutionary women highlighted in this gorgeously illustrated book were bad in the best sense of the word: they challenged the status quo and changed the rules for all who followed. From pirates to artists, warriors, daredevils, scientists, activists, and spies, the accomplishments of these incredible women vary as much as the eras and places in which they effected change.
Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History by Vashti Harrison
An important book for all ages, Little Leaders educates and inspires as it relates true stories of forty trailblazing black women in American history. Illuminating text paired with irresistible illustrations bring to life both iconic and lesser-known female figures of Black history such as abolitionist Sojourner Truth, pilot Bessie Coleman, chemist Alice Ball, politician Shirley Chisholm, mathematician Katherine Johnson, poet Maya Angelou, and filmmaker Julie Dash.
Everyone has a purpose. And, according to Oprah Winfrey, “Your real job in life is to figure out as soon as possible what that is, who you are meant to be, and begin to honor your calling in the best way possible.”
That journey starts right here.
In her latest book, The Path Made Clear, Oprah shares what she sees as a guide for activating your deepest vision of yourself, offering the framework for creating not just a life of success, but one of significance. The book’s ten chapters are organized to help you recognize the important milestones along the road to self-discovery, laying out what you really need in order to achieve personal contentment, and what life’s detours are there to teach us.
Food, Health, and Happiness: 115 On-Point Recipes for Great Meals and a Better Life by Oprah Winfrey
In Food, Health, and Happiness, Oprah shares the recipes that have allowed eating to finally be joyful for her. With dishes created and prepared alongside her favorite chefs, paired with personal essays and memories from Oprah herself, this cookbook offers a candid, behind-the-scenes look into the life (and kitchen!) of one of the most influential and respected celebrities in the world. Delicious, healthy, and easy to prepare, these are the recipes Oprah most loves to make at home and share with friends and family.
Your turn: Which books would you add to this list? Feel free to share in the comments.
I’m claiming this right now…2019 will be the year I take my blog and social media presence to the next level! I have no idea how this will happen, but I’m stepping out on faith and trusting it will. I am determined to CRUSH it and grow in all areas of my life this year.
I’ve never been a big New Year’s Resolution person, but rather a goals oriented person. I don’t think you should have to wait for a new year in order to make changes in your life. If you know without a shadow of a doubt you want to make a change you just do it and figure out a way to get it done. Am I right? At any point in the year you can revisit your vision, habits, and goals, and set some intentions for what you want to improve.
This year I’ve decided try something new and BOLDLY share my list of goals for my blog. While I don’t really subscribe to making New Year’s Resolutions, I do I love using the New Year as an excuse to start a fresh with a new boost of energy and motivation. I’m setting myself a lot of goals this year for work, my personal life and my personal development and I’m really excited to see where the year takes me!
Here are my blogging goals for 2019 as they currently stand (in no particular order):
Grow my blog traffic to 20,000+ unique visitors a month (Blog Traffic/Followers)
Attend 2-3 blogging or book conferences or events for FREE that I don’t have to pay for
Be a guest on 4 podcasts (one podcast per quarter)
Launch an e-book (Topic to be determined)
Work on 1-2 Instagram social media takeover for major brands/companies
Provide more useful content to my audience (printables, worksheets, etc.)
Participate in more PAID/sponsored post/brand collaborations (Blog Monetization)
Sign up for and participate in additional affiliate programs (Blog Monetization)
Create an organized master content list filled with content ideas for blog and social posts (Content Creation/Organization)
Focus more on Pinterest to increase and drive more traffic to my blog
Incorporate more lifestyle, family and travel content into my blog and social posts (Content Creation/Organization)
Revive my newsletter and publish content more consistently for my subscribers (Content Creation/Organization)
Write blog posts at least 2-3 times per week (or more when my schedule permits) (Content Creation/Organization)
Increase my Pinterest followers to 2,500+ (Blog Traffic/Followers)
Increase my Facebook followers to 2,000+ (Blog Traffic/Followers)
Increase my Twitter followers to 5,000+ (Blog Traffic/Followers)
Track ALL of my income and expenses so I’ll have a clear picture of how much my blog/social income was this year.
Connect with a small tribe of like-minded, goal oriented bloggers to share ideas with and support
Use a photographer for some of my photos
I already have all of these goals (and more) written down in my 2019 journal, but sharing them somehow makes me feel even more committed to them. Note: The goals listed here are just general goals I jotted down, but in my journal each goal is a S.M.A.R.T. goal with timelines/deadlines against each one.
If you have a blog or are thinking of starting one this year, I hope this post inspires you to set some goals for yourself. Go on, give it a try. Write down your goals somewhere where you’ll see them regularly, for example on your blog notebook or on a memo board in your office. Seeing goals regularly and thinking about them often, will help you stay on top of them. Cheers to a fantastic and productive 2019!
Your turn: Do you write all of your goals down at the start of a new year and reflect on them throughout the year? Feel free to share in the comments.
Publisher: Little Bee Books Format: Hardcover Pages: 48 Age Range: 4 – 8 Grade Level: Pre-K – 3
Synopsis The roots of rap and the history of hip-hop have origins that precede DJ Kool Herc and Grandmaster Flash. Kids will learn about how it evolved from folktales, spirituals, and poetry, to the showmanship of James Brown, to the culture of graffiti art and break dancing that formed around the art form and gave birth to the musical artists we know today. Written in lyrical rhythm by award-winning author and poet Carole Boston Weatherford and complete with flowing, vibrant illustrations by Frank Morrison, this book beautifully illustrates how hip-hop is a language spoken the whole world ’round, it and features a foreward by Swizz Beatz, a Grammy Award winning American hip-hop rapper, DJ, and record producer.
Reflection Nostalgic. That’s the first word that came to mind the first time I read this book. I was immediately transported back to my childhood in the 1980’s when hip-hop reigned and was blasted on the radio and in the streets at every block party.
Hip-hop’s foundations were being laid in the 1970s, but it was DJ Kool Herc, a.k.a. Clive Campbell, who laid the first building block of hip-hop down in 1973.
The thing I love most about hip-hop music is it’s another form of storytelling. Just as the sound of the movement was created by re-purposing music that already existed, the success of hip-hop’s MCs was based on their willingness to shatter old forms of music and create a new style of self-expression. Enter hip-hop.
The Roots of Rap is a lyrical rhyming book accompanied by captivating illustrations by Frank Morrison. The book also features a foreward by Swizz Beatz and mentions both male and female rappers. Some of the artists mentioned are: DJ Kool Herc, The Sugarhill Gang, James Brown, Run-DMC, LL Cool J, 50 Cent, Tupac, Biggie, and more. All of these artists used rap music as a form of wordplay, repetition and extended metaphor to relate real-life experiences that were sometimes dark, violent, romantic, hopeful or funny.
When I was younger I remember feeling elated when female rappers started coming onto the scene unapologetically detailing their interpretations and experiences of the world they lived in. They all had distinct variations in style, flow and lyrical content, but what each woman had in common was a fiercely independent voice and the power to remain consistently and resoundingly herself. Little girls and older females will be thrilled to see female rappers like: Queen Latifah, Salt-N-Pepa and Lauryn Hill mentioned in this book too!
The Roots of Rap teaches readers about the history, creativity and diversity of hip-hop and how it has become a major genre of popular music in the 21st century. Recommended for ages 4-8 and up. Music lovers and lovers of hip-hop are likely to enjoy this one!
Your turn: Have you read this book yet? What are some of your favorite memories of hip-hop music? Feel free to share in the comments.
I enjoy the holidays for many reasons: family time, food, holiday parties, Christmas lights and cheesy Hallmark movies. Although I’ve always liked the holidays, becoming a parent has reawakened my holiday spirit and the joy of giving in many ways. I now look forward to the holidays with lots of anticipation and excitement in a way I never did before in my adult years. Yes, my children have helped me fall in love with the true meaning of Christmas all over again. They also taught me what it really means to give and to give with grace.
Three Ways My Children Teach Me About the Joy of Giving
Give to others without expecting anything in return
If you feel like doing something for someone, then just do it and don’t think about what you might receive in return. I find lessons like this can often be learned through your own life experiences as well as through reading books. When I read books like The Berenstain Bears and the Joy of Giving, I am often reminded of some very important lessons like giving without expecting anything in return. I have always like reading Berenstain Bears books and watching the cartoons on television when I was younger. I think these books teach great moral lessons and allow for further discussion and reflection with the discussion questions that are often found in the back of the book.
I love how Brother and Sister Bear learn to give generously to others in the book The Berenstain Bears and the Joy of Giving. They gave their remaining money cheerfully to others instead of thinking of themselves.
It is more blessed to give than receive.
A valuable lesson to be learned for readers of all ages. Being a parent is a constant reminder to me to give to others without expecting anything in return. For everything I do for my children on a daily basis, I never say, “What’s in this for me?”
When you learn to give freely without expecting anything in return, you are not burdened with the need for praise, thanks, or appreciation. In a word you learn, grace–where you are recipient of the blessing.
Give as much as you can year-round
My children have taught me the importance of incorporating giving into my life all year long. During the holiday season, it’s easy to share our good fortune and blessings with others. We’re constantly reminded to give to fundraisers, food drives, bell ringers and charities.
When I look at my children, I’m reminded daily to not only give my all to them, but to give as much as I can to others too. It’s important to me my children see me model charity and giving from January through December. I don’t want them to grow up thinking people are only in need, or happy to accept help, during the holidays.
Each act of giving changes the world for the better
Even the smallest act of giving makes a positive impact. I witness this firsthand whenever I give to my children or treat them with kindness. It makes them in turn want to give joyfully to others. My children constantly teach me whether I’m asked or not, to seek opportunities to help others when you can.
You never know when a simple act of helping someone will cause a long-lasting, positive ripple effect in the world. It might not be felt right away, but as the ripples spread outward and impact others, they’re likely to bounce back to you in surprising and wonderful ways.
Your turn: How have your children taught you about the joy of giving? Feel free to share in the comments.
About The Berenstain Bears and the Joy of Giving In The Berenstain Bears and the Joy of Giving, Brother and Sister Bear can’t wait for Christmas and all the presents they’ll open. But during the Christmas Eve pageant, something special happens! The Bear cubs learn a very valuable lesson about the joy of giving to others.
Thanksgiving Day is upon us once again here in the United States – it’s my absolute favorite holiday of the year. Not only do I love eating yummy food, but I also love spending time being surrounded by family and friends. And what is it about Thanksgiving that makes food taste so good on that specific day?
This year I’ve been more intentional about showing gratitude and appreciation for the things and people I have in my life. I thought since Thanksgiving is tomorrow it’s the perfect day for me to share a few bookish things I’m grateful for this year.
Started in July 2018 by my children, the mission of the 50 States 50 Books project has one main mission: help close the literacy gap in America and expose more children to diverse literature. Our goal is to collect 50 diverse children’s books for each of the 50 U.S. states and donate them to deserving schools, libraries, and other organizations throughout the country. So far, we’ve collected over 650 diverse children’s books and donated them to 13 different states.
We’ll soon receive a gracious 800-book donation from a publishing company which will help us complete 16 additional states. That will take our total to 29 completed states, with 21 remaining left.
So far the excitement and support for our project has been amazing! We’ve been featured in our local newspaper, local television morning talk show, The Huffington Post and Moneyish. The kids’ school even got in on the action and allowed us to have 3 donation boxes throughout the school for our book drive.
My kids also received a Kid Kindness grant for their project from Kindness Grows Here. The money received from the grant will go towards our shipping and supplies expenses allowing us to ship books 50 at a time to 6-8 different states.
If you’d like to support us by sending us new or gently used diverse children’s books for kids ages 0 – 17 you can send them here:
50 States 50 Books P.O. Box 992 Middletown, CT 06457
To make monetary donations (to help us cover shipping and shipping supplies) please visit our Go Fund Me page. My children also have a wish list of books to choose from if you’d like to make a book donation. You can find the wish list here.
2. The Bookstagram Community on Instagram Would you believe nearly 4 years ago I had no idea what Instagram was or how to use it? Yeah, I was a little late to joining the social media world, but now I LOVE it – especially Instagram. Instagram is the one social media platform that I gravitated to the most and it’s where I’ve found a sense of community.
Prior to joining Instagram, I was clueless there was this whole bookstagram community of book lovers out there like myself. I’m eternally grateful for the kind people I’ve met and collaborated with over the years. By sharing, networking and collaborating with others, I’ve been able to grow my audience organically to over 35,000 people on Instagram alone. I’ve also had the opportunity to work with brands and local businesses, libraries, connect with authors/illustrators and other bloggers. Oh, and let’s not forget all of the wonderful books I’ve found out about from other book bloggers, parents and educators! My TBR list is SO long because there are so many amazing books out there to read.
3. Completing My First Library Program In September 2018, I began my first ever library program at one of my local libraries. It turned out to be one of the best experiences I’ve had all year. Each week we explored a different region around the world, read picture books and worked on craft projects. The program was geared towards children up to age 6 and allowed us all to “travel around the world” through books.
Each week taught me new lessons about things like: giving, sharing, patience, kindness, empathy, and using your imagination. The kids also reminded me of the importance of incorporating laughter and play in your day.
Overall, 2018 has been a good year for me and my family thus far. With just a few more weeks left in the year, I’m excited to see the new bookish things I’ll be adding to my gratitude list in the weeks and months ahead.
Your turn: What are some bookish (or non-bookish) things you’re grateful for this year? Feel free to share in the comments.
There are so many amazing literary events that take place every year all over the world. One of my favorite events by far is Book Expo America. Last year was my first time attending and I’m happy to report I made it back for the second year in a row! You can read about my 2017 experience here which includes some helpful tips to keep in mind if you’ve never attended before.
Ok, so what is Book Expo America (BEA)?
I think BEA is a great event to attend if you want to network and get some face time with publishers/vendors, attend educational sessions, meet book bloggers or authors/illustrators, and get a glimpse of new and forthcoming books. Don’t forget to bring a rolling suitcase to help you carry all of the “free” books you’ll get while at the event. (I put the word free in quotation marks because while you don’t have to pay for any of the books you receive, there are costs associated with attending the event: travel, time, food, hotel, parking, etc.) So yes, the books are FREE (can you say book heaven?), but not really free if that makes sense.
BookExpo is carefully crafted with content and experiences for all those that play a part in the publishing industry. It’s where authors, booksellers, distributors, librarians, literary agents, publishers and more unite to build relationships, learn tactics to bolster business and get the pulse of what’s trending in today’s shifting marketplace.
Are you excited yet?
Some of the people I met this year include:
Don Diamont from the soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful (Can you say handsome?)
Author Tomi Adeyemi (I was totally fangirling…HARD. It’s so great to see all of her recent success!)
Vera, “The Tutu Teacher” (She is EXACTLY the same in person as she is on social media…except better!)
Actor Taye Diggs (Again, can you say handsome? I’ve been a fan for years! Did you know his real first name is Scott?)
Illustrator Shane Evans (Love ALLof his work! Have you read his latest book with Taye Diggs yet?)
Author Susan Verde (I finally got the chance to meet her in person…such a gentle soul. I totally want her to be my Yoga teacher!)
Illustrator Sean Qualls (Such a fan of his work! He signed my Grandad Mandela book…Yass!)
Illustrator Peter Reynolds (Finally got a signed Peter Reynolds book!)
Author Nic Stone (She is beautiful, amazing and so fun in person!)
Author Euka Holmes (What a beautiful and talented woman!)
Author Sarai Gonzalez (She’s so cute and such a great role model for young children!)
Author Angela Dalton (She came all the way from California to attend the event! She took a selfie with Vera and I on the stairs along with some other folks attending the event.)
In addition to meeting all of these fantastic people, I mingled with a few vendors including: Moonlite and Book Beau. I also met up with literary agents, book bloggers, publishers, librarians and subscription box owners. Overall, it was another amazing experience and I’m looking forward to attending again next year.
Mark Your Calendars for the 2019 Book Expo: May 29 – May 31, 2019 at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City. Book Con will take place June 1-2, 2019.
Your turn: Have you ever attended BEA (or Book Con) before? What was your experience like? Feel free to share in the comments.