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    children's books, cover reveal, diverse books

    COVER REVEAL: When Lola Visits by Michelle Sterling and Aaron Asis

    Today I’m excited to reveal the cover of a forthcoming 2021 picture book for one of my fellow bookish friends, Michelle Sterling. You may be familiar with Michelle’s popular Instagram accounts Avery & Augustine and Books for Diversity. Her book, When Lola Visits is tentatively scheduled to publish in the Spring of 2021.

    PublisherHarper Collins
    On Sale Date: May 18, 2021 available for pre-orders now!
    Written by Michelle Sterling illustrated by Aaron Asis
    Reading Level: 4 – 8 years
    Grade Level: Preschool – 3
    Pages: 40

    Synopsis
    For one young girl, summer is the season of no school, of days spent at the pool, of picking golden limes off the trees. But summer doesn’t start until her Lola—her grandmother from the Philippines—comes for her annual visit. Summer is special. For her Lola fills the house with the aroma of mango jam, funny stories of baking mishaps, and her quiet sweet singing in Tagalog. And in turn, her granddaughter brings Lola to the beach, to view fireworks at the park, and to catch fish at their lake. When Lola comes, the whole family gathers to cook and eat and share in their happiness of another season spent together. Yet as summer transitions to fall, her Lola must return home—but not without a surprise for her granddaughter to preserve their special summer a bit longer.

    In an evocative tale brimming with the scents, tastes, and traditions that define summer for one young girl, debut author Michelle Sterling and illustrator Aaron Asis come together to celebrate the gentle bonds of familial love that span oceans and generations.

    About the Author
    Michelle Sterling is a writer, photographer and speech-language pathologist. Her debut picture book When Lola Visits will be illustrated by Aaron Asis and publishes on May 18, 2021, from HarperCollins. You can find her sharing the latest children’s books at Avery & Augustine and Books for Diversity.

    Your turn: Are you looking forward to reading this book with your little readers? Feel free to share in the comments.

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    How We Make Sleep, Reading and Diversity a Priority in Our Home

    Disclaimer: We partnered with Hatch to share a few thoughts about the Hatch Restore and Hatch Rest and to showcase how we’ve incorporated these products into our bedtime routine. As always, any opinions expressed are my own.

    Sleep. It is absolutely essential to our overall well being. There are so many benefits to getting a good night’s sleep like: memory retention, improved appetite, increased energy and mood regulation.

    Reading also has amazing benefits for both your physical and mental health and those benefits can last a lifetime. The same is true for the topic of diversity. It can benefit and enrich our world by providing more colorful life experiences and enhance our social relationships and communities.

    When people are well rested and well read they are more likely to have empathy and be open to embracing diversity and inclusion in order to build a balanced world for our future children. Yes, sleep, reading and diversity can go hand in hand if you allow it to.

    Our nightly bedtime routine usually consists of the following

    • eat dinner together as a family
    • 15 – 30 minute clean up time (wash dishes, clean the kitchen, put away toys, gather books for story time)
    • bath time
    • story time (15 – 20 minutes)
    • bedtime for the kids (their Hatch Rest alarm clock goes off at 8:30pm during the school week)
    • My Hatch Restore alarm goes off at 9:00pm to prepare my mind and body for sleep

    We’ve enjoyed incorporating our Hatch Rest and Hatch Restore into our nightly routine. It has really helped us make sleep more of a priority in our household. Since you can personalize Hatch devices to fit the normal rhythm of your family that really makes it so easy and seamless to set them up on your own using their handy app.

    When it comes to reading and diversity, these two topics have always been a priority for our family. When searching for books that serve as mirrors and windows for my children, I’m always mindful of exactly which books we choose to read. While we don’t discriminate when it comes to literature, I do make it a point to select diverse books that reflect my children and our family. Why?  Because I know if I don’t expose my kids to these books, they might not see them otherwise.

    I believe all children should be exposed to a wide range of people, experiences, abilities, races and cultures. As a parent, my goal is to present my children with a full spectrum of brown and Black characters in a variety of books. I want their experiences of story and representations of the world to include people of color, people they can imagine being like — people like Oprah Winfrey, Barack Obama, Misty Copeland, Michelle Obama, and Michael Jordan — or fictional characters with whom they can identify.

    If you’d like to make sleep, reading or diversity a priority in your home, here are a few tips:

    • Set a goal – Whenever something is important to me, I make it a goal. Make it a goal to get a certain number of hours of sleep each night (or week), read a certain number of books or incorporate diversity into your life in various ways if it’s important to you.
    • Establish a custom bedtime routine that matches the rhythm of your family’s schedule
    • Limit screen time and electronic devices before bed
    • Read a variety of diverse books that showcase people of all colors, religions, abilities and cultures
    • Use a sound machine like the Hatch Restore which also includes guided meditations to help encourage sleep before bedtime

    Your turn:  I would love to hear your favorite tips on how you make sleep, reading or diversity a priority in your life. Feel free to share in the comments.

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    book reviews, children's books, diverse books

    All Because You Matter by Tami Charles & Bryan Collier (A Book Review)

    Title: All Because You Matter
    Published by Orchard Books an imprint of Scholastic
    Pages: 40
    Age Range: 4 – 8 years
    Grade Level: Preschool – 3

    Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Scholastic, Inc. in exchange for an honest review.  As always, all opinions expressed are my own.

    Synopsis
    Discover this poignant, timely, and emotionally stirring picture book, an ode to black and brown children everywhere that is full of hope, assurance, and love.

    Tami Charles pens a poetic, lyrical text that is part love letter, part anthem, assuring readers that they always have, and always will, matter. This powerful, rhythmic lullaby reassures readers that their matter and their worth is never diminished, no matter the circumstance: through the joy and wonder of their first steps and first laughs, through the hardship of adolescent struggles, and the pain and heartbreak of current events, they always have, and always will, matter. Accompanied by illustrations by renowned artist Bryan Collier, a four-time Caldecott Honor recipient and a nine-time Coretta Scott King Award winner or honoree, All Because You Matter empowers readers with pride, joy, and comfort, reminding them of their roots and strengthening them for the days to come.

    Interior page from the book All Because You Matter

    Reflection
    “They say that matter is all things that make up the universe: energy, stars, space…If that’s the case, then you, dear child, matter.”

    We all matter. Each person on Earth has something worth noticing and appreciating. This forthcoming October 2020 release written by Tami Charles and illustrated by Bryan Collier is a beautiful and affirming tribute to children.

    Our kids deserve to be fully seen by their grown-ups’ accepting eyes. Their presence, thoughts, and words should also be acknowledged at all times. This book is filled with so much heart, hope and joy that can be used as a conversation starter to help kids understand how extraordinary they are and how much their lives matter.

    Most people don’t realize how amazing they are, and our children are no exception. In fact, many of us often look for permission and acceptance from others to bring our full brilliance to the table.

    I think after reading this book, many adults will want to pull their little readers close, look them in the eye and let them know how much they believe in them and their abilities.

    When we believe in children, acknowledge them, validate their ideas and feelings, and encourage them to believe in themselves, we hand them the keys to their own power and brilliance. Wouldn’t you agree?

    Interior page from the book All Because You Matter

    “I wrote All Because You Matter to provide parents with a starting point for conversations about the racial climate in our country today. These are issues that should be discussed in all families, of all backgrounds, if we are to raise empathetic future leaders.” —Tami Charles

    “I tried to capture the musicality, rhythm, and bounce of the text as it takes readers on a journey that zooms through time and space shouting All Because You Matter. And I wanted to remind readers when they walk into a room, all those voices, faces and ancestors walk with them. You are not alone.” —Bryan Collier

    About the Author
    Former teacher. Wannabe chef. Tami Charles writes books for children and young adults. Her middle grade novel, Like Vanessa, earned Top 10 spots on the Indies Introduce and Spring Kids’ Next lists, three starred reviews, and a Junior Library Guild selection. Her recent titles include a humorous middle grade, Definitely Daphne, picture book, Freedom Soup, and YA novel, Becoming Beatriz. When Tami isn’t writing, she can be found presenting at schools both stateside and abroad.


    About the Illustrator
    Bryan Collier is an American writer and illustrator known best for illustrating children’s books. He won both the Coretta Scott King Award, as illustrator, and the Ezra Jack Keats New Illustrator Award for UPTOWN, the first book he both wrote and illustrated. He has won six King Awards as illustrator and he is a four-time Caldecott honor recipient. For his lifetime contribution as a children’s illustrator, Collier is U.S. nominee for the biennial, international Hans Christian Andersen Award in 2014.

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    EXCLUSIVE COVER REVEAL: I Am Smart, I Am Blessed, I Can Do Anything! by Alissa Holder and Zulekha Holder-Young

    Who can forget the viral video of three- year-old Ayaan Diop reciting his daily affirmations while walking to school? With his backpack on his back and a banana in-hand, Ayaan repeated the positive thoughts on his walk with his mother, who posted a video on her Instagram account.

    Ayaan Diop’s viral affirmation video taken by his mom Alissa Holder (video here), received hundreds of thousands of views on social media. Ayaan’s affirmation, I Am Smart, I Am Blessed, I Can Do Anything, was met with excitement from viewers everywhere including the Today Show, CBS This Morning, and Ellen Degeneres. Check out the synopsis of the book from the publisher written below.

    Publisher: Penguin Young Readers
    On-sale Date: December 29, 2020 available for pre-orders now!
    Written by Alissa Holder and Zulekha Holder-Young, illustrated by Nneka Myers

    Based on a viral video comes the story of one boy’s positive energy and how a sunny outlook can turn everything around.

    It’s a new day and Ayaan has woken up on the wrong side of the bed, where nothing feels quite right. What if he doesn’t know the answer at school? What if he messes up? But as he sets out that morning, all it takes is a few reminders from his mom and some friends in the neighborhood to remind him that a new day is a good day because…
    HE IS SMART,
    HE IS BLESSED,
    AND HE CAN DO ANYTHING!

    Mark your calendars for this December 2020 release.

    I Am Smart, I Am Blessed, I Can Do Anything! Art by Nneka Myers
    I Am Smart, I Am Blessed, I Can Do Anything! Art by Nneka Myers

    About the Authors

    Alissa is graduate of the State University of New York at Albany, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology. She has always had a passion for working with children and is currently working as teacher at a child care center in New York City. Alissa has always had a love for reading and a goal of writing her own children’s books. She is the mother of Ayaan Diop and Ayaan’s little sister.

    Zulekha is a graduate of Spelman College, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in economics. She has always loved reading and has passed that love along to her three children Amari, Amir, and Aria. She currently lives in North Carolina with her husband, children, and furry Dogter Mochi.

    About the Illustrator
    Nneka Myers is an illustrator and character designer based in Toronto, Canada. Since graduating with a BAA in animation from Sheridan College, her vibrant illustrations and designs have been published in several children’s books and in animated preschool shows.

    Visit Nneka’s website here to see some of her work.

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    children's books, cover reveal, diverse books

    EXCLUSIVE COVER REVEAL: Michelle’s Garden by Sharee Miller

    Michelle’s Garden by Sharee Miller

    Today, I am thrilled to collaborate with author/illustrator Sharee Miller to reveal the cover of her forthcoming picture book Michelle’s Garden. This is reveal is especially exciting because Former First Lady Michelle Obama will be debuting her podcast on Spotify later this week! Check out the synopsis from the publisher written below.

    Publisher: Little Brown Young Readers
    On-sale Date: March 2, 2021 available for pre-orders now!

    About the Book
    A tribute to Former First Lady Michelle Obama and her contributions in building a healthier future for all children from acclaimed author and illustrator Sharee Miller.

    Former First Lady Michelle Obama had an idea. A big, inspiring, and exciting idea! She would grow the largest kitchen garden ever at the White House. This wouldn’t be easy, since she’d never gardened before: Where should she start? What tools did she need? What would she plant?

    Everyone needs help when they’re learning something for the first time, even the first lady of the United States. So she gathered the help of local students, the White House staff, and even President Barack Obama. Together, they wouldn’t just grow a garden — they would inspire a nation!

    Mark your calendars for this March 2021 release.

    About Sharee Miller

    Sharee Miller lives and works in Jersey City with her husband and their two cats, Pumpkin and Spice. Her illustrations combine bright colors, patterns, and expressive characters to tell the stories she wishes she had as a kid. She is the author of Princess Hair and Don’t Touch My Hair!

    Visit Sharee’s website here to see some of her work.

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    children's books, diverse books

    Diversify Your Bookshelves: Download this FREE Printable Checklist

    If you’ve been following me for a while, you may know by now how passionate I am about teaching people understand the importance of daily reading and having diversity in literature. Through years of reading and research on my own, along with my own firsthand experience being a parent, I decided to create this checklist and other resources I’ve given away for free over the years, to help people like you and pass on the knowledge I’ve learned.

    My ultimate goal is to help parents, caregivers, grandparents, homeschoolers, librarians, and educators create a diverse library at home or school so they can teach the children in their lives about the importance of diversity, inclusion and the power of reading.

    By downloading this “Diversify Your Bookshelf” checklist, you can take your reading routine/habit the next level AND help diversify your bookshelf!

    This checklist is for you if…

    • You are a parent, caregiver or expecting parent and have a desire to diversify your home library
    • You are an educator or librarian who wants to enhance and diversify your school library
    • You have a desire to help children understand the importance of reading books that serve as both windows and mirrors (a phrase coined by Rudine Sims Bishop)
    • You want to raise anti-racist children

    Here are a few things to keep in mind if you have a goal to diversify your bookshelves:

    1. Start with a small subset of books if you have to, but just start.
    It’s okay if you start with a small, curated list of high quality books. If you can’t afford to purchase books all at once, borrow them from your local library or a discounted thrift store. Don’t worry about trying to check off all the boxes on this list at once. Curating a library takes time.

    2. Keep going. Learning to embrace diversity and anti-racism is an ongoing lifelong commitment.
    Once you’ve started reading diverse books, one of the most important things to do is to make it a priority. Be sure to include diverse titles in your family’s ongoing reading year round. By doing this, you may find that your conversations will deepen over time and the connections between the books and your real life may grow organically.

    3. Let this be about you as much as it is about your kids or students.
    It’s great that parents and educators are now envisioning a more hopeful future for their children or students, but it’s important to also take this journey alongside them. Always remember, kids learn more from what we do than what we say. Be sure to invest any necessary time looking inward too. This may include diversifying your own bookshelf and expanding your immediate social circle. Relish in the journey together.

    Happy Reading!

    Click HERE to download the checklist for FREE!

    Your turn: Have you recently diversified your bookshelves at home or in your school? Feel free to share in the comments.

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    Cover Reveal: Eyes That Kiss in the Corners by Joanna Ho

    Cover reveals are always exciting around here! Today, I am pleased to collaborate with debut author Joanna Ho to reveal the cover of her forthcoming picture book Eyes That Kiss in the Corners. The book is illustrated by Dung Ho. Check out the synopsis from the publisher written below.

    Publisher: Harper Collins
    On-sale Date: January 5, 2021, available for pre-orders now!

    About the book

    Some people have eyes like sapphire lagoons with lashes like lace trim on ballgowns, sweeping their cheeks as they twirl. Big eyes, long lashes.

    Not me.

    I have eyes that kiss in the corners and glow like warm tea.

    That’s the opening lines to this forthcoming January 2021 picture book release from #ownvoices debut author Joanna Ho. Check out the synopsis below from the publisher.

    This picture book tells a story about learning to love and celebrate your Asian-shaped eyes.

    A young Asian girl notices that her eyes look different from her peers’. They have big, round eyes and long lashes. She realizes that her eyes are like her mother’s, her grandmother’s, and her little sister’s. They have eyes that kiss in the corners and glow like warm tea, crinkle into crescent moons, and are filled with stories of the past and hope for the future.

    Drawing from the strength of these powerful women in her life, she recognizes her own beauty and discovers a path to self love and empowerment.

    This powerful, poetic picture book will resonate with readers of all ages and is a celebration of diversity.

    Eyes That Kiss in the Corners is available for pre-orders now. Recommended for ages 4-8.

    Eyes That Kiss in the Corners by Joanna Ho, illustrated by Dung Ho

    Visit Joanna’s website here to see some of her work.

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