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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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    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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    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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    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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    94 Days of Summer: 5 Things to Do Before Summer Break Begins

    There are 94 days of summer break this year.  That breaks down to: 8,121,600 seconds, 135,360 minutes, 2,256 hours.  How do you and your family plan to spend that time?

    It’s amazing how quickly the school year flies by, isn’t it?  Although summer doesn’t officially begin until June 21st, many schools are now in the last month of the school year including my daughter’s toddler program at her preschool.

    It’s hard to believe we’re almost at the halfway point for the year 2015.  That means summer break is right around the corner.  We signed up Sparkles for five weeks of summer camp including one week of vacation Bible school.  Mr. Tickles is still too young so he’ll still be at daycare during the week.

    In my previous life, (before kids) I had grandiose plans of how hubby and I would soak up the glorious sun, kick back and drink ice-cold lemonade, or finally get to visit friends, family and places that we couldn’t seem to fit into our winter schedules.  Now that we have a family I’ve had to scale back our plans for summer and plan more things to do as a family.

    I won’t bore you with our family summer bucket list, instead I’ll list five book related tasks I recommed you tackle now so you can relax later and make the most of your summer fun.

    1. Find a summer reading program or challenge for your kid(s) to participate in.  Your local library is a good place to start.  Every public library has a different summer reading program, but almost all of them have rewards and prizes for kids as well as fun events.  Alternatively, you can search online for challenges like the Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge.  Want to know about more challenges like this?  Stay tuned for a post next week where I’ll be giving you the scoop on some other reading programs for kids.

    2. Make a summer bucket reading list and a general summer bucket list of potential things to do.  If you have older children have a family meeting and ask everyone to come up with 3-5 things that they absolutely want to do this summer (e.g., go on a hike, take a long bike ride, have a picnic, camp, visit a local museum or other attraction). Schedule these activities on the calendar now (and make reservations or buy tickets, if needed) to make sure they happen.  Also, pick out some books that relate to the things on your list so the kids will be familiar with your adventure beforehand.

    3. Organize a summer reading and activity essentials tote for your car so you’re prepared for any adventure or get stuck waiting somewhere. Here’s a sample list of what to include:

    • Books, books, and more books!
    • Audiobooks
    • Magazines (for children and adults)
    • Sidewalk chalk
    • Bubbles! (who doesn’t love bubbles?)
    • Coloring books
    • Blank sheets of paper
    • Crayons, Markers, Bingo Markers, Pencils
    • Beach toys like pails, shovels, rakes, sand shapers, and trucks
    Of course you’ll want to include other items such as: bottled water, sunscreen, first-aid kit, etc.

    4.  Make a generic weekly plan. I started doing this last summer and found it to be so helpful.  It’s inevitable that other things will come up, but I like to have a loose weekly plan that I use when I don’t have the time, energy, or money to plan an exciting summer adventure.

    For example:
    Monday – Library Day to pick up books, magazines, and DVDs for the week.
    Tuesday – Playground Day
    Wednesday – Nature/Outdoor Activities
    Thursday – Cooking or Crafts
    Friday – Water Activities: Swimming, Splash Pad, Water Table
    Saturday – Playdates with friends/family
    Sunday – Family Day and Church

    5. Read books about safety and talk about it too.  Accidents can happen anytime, but since we tend to spend more time outdoors during the summer months the kids are more likely to get hurt.  If you have smaller children like me, read books about safety.  For older kids, have regular, age-appropriate conversations with your kids so that topics like playgrounds, swimming pools, private parts, being aware of their surroundings, bullying, and drugs are normal conversations rather than scary topics.

    Your turn:  Are you a (neurotic) planner like me or do you like to just wing it?  What do you and your kids have planned for this summer?  Please feel free to share in the comments.

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