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2019 Book Horoscopes by Women of Color: Let the Stars Decide Your Next Read

Looking for your next read?  Let the stars decide using your zodiac sign as your guide.  Below I’ve paired up a few newly released books (all written by women of color) with the twelve zodiac signs.  Will you trust the stars this year and discover your next read?

ARIES (March 21 – April 20)

TAURUS (April 21 – May 21)

GEMINI (May 22 – June 21)

CANCER (June 22 – July 22)

LEO (July 23 – August 22)

VIRGO (August 23 – Sept 22)

LIBRA (Sept 23 – Oct 22)

SCORPIO (Oct 23 – Nov 21)

The Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes

Becoming by Michelle Obama

Life In Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina by Misty Copeland

The Last Unicorn by Tiffany Haddish


SAGITTARIUS (Nov 22 – Dec 21)

CAPRICORN (Dec 22 – Jan 19)

AQUARIUS (Jan 20 – Feb 18

PISCES (Feb 19 – March 20)

Strategize to Win: the New Way to Start Out, Step Up or Start Over in Your Career by Carla A. Harris – Career

What I Know for Sure by Oprah Winfrey

All the Joy You Can Stand: 101 Sacred Power Principles for Making Joy Real in Your Life
by Debrena Jackson Gandy

I Almost Forgot About You by Terry Mcmillian – Love/romance

What We Lose by Zinzi Clemmons – loss, cancer, caught between worlds, trying to connect pieces of life

Your turn: What zodiac sign are you?  Feel free to share in the comments.

Diverse Books

Author Interview with Nicholas Solis: The Color Collector

Today, we’re chatting with author Nicholas Solis to discuss his new picture book, The Color Collector illustrated by Renia Metallinou.

Book Synopsis
The Color Collector is a poignant story about newness, friendship, and common ground. When a boy notices the new girl picking up all manner of debris and litter on their walks home from school he wants to know why. So she shows him the huge mural she’s created in her room that reminds her of the home she left behind. He learns all about where she’s come from and they both find how wonderful it is to make a new friend.

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The Color Collector by Nicholas Solis

The Interview

Q: Please tell us a little about yourself. Your background, where you were born, your current family life and anything else you would like to share.

A: Hello everyone and thank you for having me, Charnaie! I’m a huge fan and my wife absolutely loves you on instagram. My name is Nicholas Solis and I was born and raised in Austin, Texas. First and foremost, I’m a husband and a father. My wife and I have a baby boy, Leo, who is about to be one year old. I’ve been an elementary teacher for 21 years and I think it’s the best job in the world, even with this extremely crazy year.

About 7 years ago I started taking writing seriously. I took as many writing classes as I could find, and I slowly built up an amazing writing community around me. They are some of the most supportive people you can find.

Q: How did you become interested in being a writer? Did you always aspire to write books and tell stories?

A: I’ve always been interested in writing. When I was a kid I would write
knock-off Encyclopedia Brown detective stories and really deep poetry for a 10 year-old. I also remember just loving creative writing time in school. While other kids looked like they were being tortured to write a whole page, I was already on my fourth one.

I’m not sure if I always wanted to be a published writer though, but I knew
that I loved writing. I would write funny blogs when traveling and crazy stories for the students in my classroom. I loved entertaining people with my words. Throughout my teaching career a lot of my students have been the guinea pigs for a lot of these stories. In fact, when I shared the mock up of my first book, The Staring Contest, one of my students found a grammatical error. I emailed my editor right away and was like, “My 10 year old student found a mistake I missed!”

Q: How did you come up with the storyline for The Color Collector?

A: There was this piece of art hanging at this gallery in Austin, TX. The girl
had the saddest eyes I had ever seen and she was catching colorful leaves as they fell. I kept wondering why she was so sad, and the story started forming in my head. But it never flowed right. It was too long and too disconnected. I worked on it for weeks, but couldn’t get it. Then one night I woke up at 2am and the story was fully formed. I scribbled it all down, terrified that I would forget it. The text was sparse and read more like a poem than a story and I loved it. So the short answer is weeks or 30 minutes depending on when you feel it really came to life.

Q: What messages are you hoping readers will take away from The Color Collector?

A: My parents divorced when I was younger, so I moved around a lot. That
meant starting new schools as well. 7th grade was especially tough for me because I moved in the middle of the school year. I was miserable. But then one day, this kid named Dylan said hello to me. That’s it. He saw a quiet kid sitting alone and he said hi. But that one little action completely changed my world. We became friends and then I became friends with his friends. That led to me coming out of my shell and making more even friends. It was this ripple effect that completely changed the trajectory of my life. This book is about empathy and kindness and finding beauty in the things people toss aside. My greatest joy would be to know that this book
inspired someone to simply say hi to a new kid in class.

Q: Are there any authors you can recommend that you enjoy? Either for children or adults.

A: My go to recommendation is Shel Silverstein. When I was a kid, I remember climbing on top of my roof to avoid the world and just devouring his poetry. It was fun and quirky and it made me feel not so alone. Lately, I’ve been on the hunt for Own Voices authors. Celia Perez is awesome and really nails what it’s like for kids that might not fit one particular mold. Cristina Soontornvat is a personal friend of mine and she is on fire right
now, killing it in both fiction and nonfiction! I also really enjoyed Ernesto Cisneros book Efran Divided. David Bowles is also so prolific, I’m having trouble keeping up with everything he is producing.

Q: What is a book (or books if you have more than one) that you recommend often to others?

A: Following the Shel Silverstein recommendation, you can never go wrong with Where the Sidewalk Ends. On a picture book kick, I would say Dreamers by Yuyi Morales is so beautiful and Eyes That Kiss in the Corners is the perfect book to spread love and acceptance right now. For something a little more obscure, I would recommend Wild Pork and Watercress by Barry Crump. I love Hatchet and this book has that same sort of wilderness, survival appeal.

Q: Besides reading, what are some other things parents can do to set their children up for literacy success?

A: What a great question! I think the best thing that any parent can do is model, model, model. Surround yourself and your child with books and then just read in front of them. I do a great job of this when I’m teaching, but I need to do more of this at home now that I have a 1 year-old running around. I didn’t mind it before, but now that I know there are littles eyes watching me all the time I would like to move away from screens and move towards a book.

Q: Hardcover, Paperback or e-book (when reading a book on your own)?

A: I’ve tried e-books before but there really isn’t anything better than a book with actual pages you can turn with your fingers. Most of the children’s books I’ve been reading are hardcovers, but a good paperback you can shove into your backpack and pull out anywhere is hard to beat.

Q: Fiction, non-fiction or some other genre (when reading a book on your own)?

A: Fiction all day, every day. I know I should be more well rounded, but I love fantasy and world building. I’m working on a middle grade novel, so any book I read I analyze how their story and their world came to be. I am currently reading a biography, but fiction still captures my heart and imagination!

Q: What books are on your nightstand or e-reader right now?

A: I’m currently reading The Total Eclipse of Nestor Lopez by Adrianna Cuevas. I’m looking for a new fantasy novel to bring into my classroom and her book is terrific! I’m also reading A Boy Named Shel by Lisa Rogak. Maybe that is why I am on such a Shel kick again.

Q: Are you working on any special projects that you want to share with others?

A: I’m extremely excited about my next book, My Town, Mi Pueblo. It is with Nancy Paulsen Books and will be coming out late summer, early fall. Two kids, from opposite sides of the border, decide to visit the town on the other side of the bridge. As they spend time in the other’s town, they marvel at the different sights and sounds. But they soon discover that they have more in common than they do differences. It is in both English and Spanish, and I’m excited to see it in kids’ hands!

Q: How can people get in touch with you on social media or on your website?

A: Feel free to check out my website,, and my instagram and twitter handles are @teachsolis! Thank you for having me on today!

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Nicholas Solis

Nicholas is an award-winning elementary teacher with a Master of Arts degree in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Texas and a Master of Arts degree in Educational Administration from Concordia University. He has traveled the world and taught students in Tanzania, India, and Morocco. From all of his travels he has learned one important lesson: No matter the circumstances, kids are kids. When he’s not traveling, he enjoys spending time with his wife, their dog, and his brand new baby boy in Austin, Texas.


Science Buddies: Make Your Own Slime with Hero Elementary on PBS Kids

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Hero Elementary on PBS KIDS.

My kids LOVE slime! They like to squish it in their hands and add different colors to it. They also enjoy watching slime making videos to get new ideas. Not only is slime fun to make and play with, it’s also a great tactile activity that involves lots of learning and science.

After having so much fun making our own bubble solution at home last month thanks to Hero Elementary, this time we decided use the “Make Your Own Slime” printable (courtesy of Science Buddies) to make a few different batches of slime. Watch the Science Buddies slime video here.

Have you and your children checked out the Hero Elementary show on yet?

Geared towards children ages 4 – 7, Hero Elementary stars a diverse team of Super Students called Sparks’ Crew: Lucita Sky, AJ Gadgets, Sara Snap, and Benny Bubbles, led by their quirky and enthusiastic teacher, Mr. Sparks. Together they help people, problem solve, and try to make the world a better place for everyone.

As a science geek, I enjoy this show because the science curriculum addresses crucial components of children’s learning. It’s important for children to be able to understand their ability to develop and test ideas, ask questions, predict, and observe. These skills are also known to contribute to learning in other content areas, such as literacy, language development and critical thinking. Hero Elementary also showcases character and social-emotional concepts such as kindness, empathy, and commitment to working together to solve problems.

To make our own slime, we followed the easy step-by-step instructions listed on the printable and shown in the Science Buddies video. Our first batch of slime turned out okay. Once it settled for a few hours into our jars, the kids noticed we added too much contact lens solution. So, we tried again.

The second batch was much better and had the right consistency. It wasn’t too sticky or too slimy and had a nice amount of stretch. It was interesting to watch the kids measure each ingredient so carefully because they wanted to get their slime “just right.” Making slime is an awesome activity that uses scientific principles in everyday life to find solutions, answer questions and figure things out. As with anything you try in life, you may not get it right on your first attempt and that’s okay. You always try again. Yes, even when making slime.

Watching Hero Elementary can help children embrace their “Superpowers of Science” by combining science and literacy to build powerful learning. We always enjoy applying the lessons learned on screen at home.

If you are homeschooling or if your kids are participating in distance or hybrid learning, Hero Elementary can be used to supplement core curriculum and extend science lessons into real life.  Give it a try!

You can watch Hero Elementary on PBS KIDS.  Check your local listings for showtimes or watch anytime on or on the PBS KIDS video app.

This post is sponsored by Hero Elementary on PBS KIDS.


Wildgrain Subscription Box: The First-Ever Bake-From-Frozen Subscription Box for Clean Carbs

Are you looking for clean and high-quality carbs for your family with ingredients you can actually pronounce? Enter Wildgrain. The first-ever bake-from-frozen subscription box for clean carbs.

One of my goals this year is to eat healthier focusing on foods with clean ingredients that also have nutritional benefits. That’s why I’m so excited that I discovered Wildgrain Box! Have you heard of them yet? Each Wildgrain Box includes ready-to-bake frozen breads, pastas and pastries all delivered to your door with FREE shipping!

Customers receive a Wildgrain Box by default every month, but you can change your delivery frequency at any time. You can also skip boxes and change the date your account is charged. There is no time commitment for your subscription and you can cancel anytime.

Look at how much food was included in my box! You can make 30+ individual meals with each Wildgrain Box. The best part? All new customers will receive FREE sourdough rolls in every box for the life of their subscription. Oh, and did I mention they always offer FREE shipping?

Go here to check out this awesome box for yourself. I am seriously impressed with it and am anxiously awaiting our next box to come in the mail. Use my code HEREWEEREAD to get $10 off your first box.

Your turn: Have you tried Wildgrain Box yet? Feel free to share in the comments and let me know your experience.

Book Reviews

Brown Girls Reading: A Promised Land by Barack Obama A Joint Book Review with Charnaie Gordon & Nicole Blades

One of the joys of blogging is meeting other like-minded book lovers who share the same taste in books as you do. From the time I met author Nicole Blades, she and I clicked since with both have an affinity for great literature. Bonus points for us living in the same state and only a few miles apart from one another. She was the perfect person to read President Barack Obama’s memoir, A Promised Land with.

In case you haven’t read it yet, check out the synopsis below from the publisher.

In the stirring, highly anticipated first volume of his presidential memoirs, Barack Obama tells the story of his improbable odyssey from young man searching for his identity to leader of the free world, describing in strikingly personal detail both his political education and the landmark moments of the first term of his historic presidency—a time of dramatic transformation and turmoil.

Obama takes readers on a compelling journey from his earliest political aspirations to the pivotal Iowa caucus victory that demonstrated the power of grassroots activism to the watershed night of November 4, 2008, when he was elected 44th president of the United States, becoming the first African American to hold the nation’s highest office.

Reflecting on the presidency, he offers a unique and thoughtful exploration of both the awesome reach and the limits of presidential power, as well as singular insights into the dynamics of U.S. partisan politics and international diplomacy. Obama brings readers inside the Oval Office and the White House Situation Room, and to Moscow, Cairo, Beijing, and points beyond. We are privy to his thoughts as he assembles his cabinet, wrestles with a global financial crisis, takes the measure of Vladimir Putin, overcomes seemingly insurmountable odds to secure passage of the Affordable Care Act, clashes with generals about U.S. strategy in Afghanistan, tackles Wall Street reform, responds to the devastating Deepwater Horizon blowout, and authorizes Operation Neptune’s Spear, which leads to the death of Osama bin Laden.

Nicole’s Review

It was kind of fitting that the first book I finished in 2021 was Barack Obama’s instant bestselling memoir, A Promised Land. Mind, I started the book just after Thanksgiving 2020… but, listen, as you know, this thing is more than 700 pages long! For someone who typically shies away from books over 500 pages (375-ish is kind of the sweet spot), the fact that I read it cover to cover is a triumph. 

A Promised Land is good. Really good. So good that I’m ready for volume two of his memoir. (That thing better not be 900 pages, though, B! *long stare*) Obama is naturally smart, charming, and funny, and it all comes through on the page. He feels like a real person with humor and humanity. (He even drops a few F-bombs, which made me giggle a little.)

The book is beautifully written—candid and revealing while also being interesting and filled with warmth. The man knows how to tell a riveting story. And the details! He describes people places, rooms, even “The Beast”—the armored limo that is the presidential state car—with such precision, paying attention to even the smallest note. For example, he mentions a nun with a face as “grooved as a peach pit”…I mean, you can totally see the face, right? There are plenty of moments like that, where his words paint a clear picture. It’s not an easy task to do as a writer. It is a remarkable skill, fueled by an honest interest and curiosity in people, their lives, and your shared moments with them.

Early in the book, the essential question is posed: Why you, Barack? Why do you need to be president? His answer, in part, is one of my favorite quotes from the book:

“…Here’s one thing I know for sure, though. I know that the day I raise my right hand and take the oath to be president of the United States, the world will start looking at America differently. I know that kids around this country—Black kids, Hispanic kids, kids who don’t fit in—they’ll see themselves differently, too, their horizons lifted, their possibilities expanded. And that alone… that would be worth it.”

Listen. When I read that passage, I read it again, slowly. Then I got my Oprah on and highlighted the quote, and marked it with one of those sticky note flag strips. I wanted to remember it. I wanted to remember how it made me feel: Inspired. 

Charnaie’s Review

A Promised Land. What can I say? I expected this book to be a winner and it did not disappoint! Although it was long, I savored every page of this book like a fine wine. I will admit, it’s hefty 700+ page count was daunting in the beginning, but since Barack Obama is such an enjoyable and natural storyteller that definitely helped make it feel less daunting. And since I had the homie, Nicole Blades, holding me accountable to finish our “assigned” chapters, that definitely helped too.

It was refreshing to hear Obama admit to his mistakes, doubt himself on different occasions, climb out of credit card debt, get more insight into his relationship with Michelle, learn about his mom and have the ability to re-live the 2008 election, which I personally refer to as the “Yes We Can” era.

I found myself laughing out loud in some parts, shedding tears, and nodding in full agreement during other parts of the book. Oh, how I miss the Obama family dearly! Lucky for us, we get to enjoy his words here in A Promised Land and then again in Volume 2 once it’s released. Oh, and let’s not forget about Michelle’s book Becoming and both of their podcasts on Spotify!

I am in awe of the Obama family and have total admiration for them and their service. It’s a delight to hear a politician speak so candidly and eloquently with honesty and dignity. The one word that kept running through my mind while reading this book was: hope. Hope for a better future for my children and this world.

Here are two of my favorite quotes from the book:

“there are people in the world who think only about themselves. They don’t care what happens to other people so long as they get what they want. They put other people down to make themselves feel important. “Then there are people who do the opposite, who are able to imagine how others must feel, and make sure that they don’t do things that hurt people. “So,” she said, looking me squarely in the eye. “Which kind of person do you want to be?”
― Barack Obama, A Promised Land

“But you don’t choose the time. The time chooses you. Either you seize what may turn out to be the only chance you have, or you decide you’re willing to live with the knowledge that the chance has passed you by.”
― Barack Obama, A Promised Land

About Nicole

Author Nicole Blades

Nicole Blades is a novelist, speaker, and journalist who has been putting her stories on paper since the third grade. Born and raised in Montreal, Quebec, by Caribbean parents, Nicole moved to New York City and launched her journalism career working at Essence magazine. She later co-founded the online magazine SheNetworks, and worked as an editor at ESPN and Women’s Health.

As a freelance journalist, Nicole’s articles and essays have appeared in The New York Times, Runner’s World, Women’s Health, Good Housekeeping, Health,,, and more. Her latest book, HAVE YOU MET NORA?, along with her previous novels, THE THUNDER BENEATH US and EARTH’S WATERS, are available wherever books are sold.

Nicole is a proud member of the Tall Poppy Writers, a professional group of women writers committed to supporting and promoting its members’ work and connecting authors with readers. And she is also a National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer.

She has been a presenter and guest speaker at conferences such as Massachusetts Conference for Women; The Muse & the Marketplace; Mom 2.0 Summit; Well-Read Black Girl Festival; Writer’s Digest Conference; the Women’s Fiction Writers Association Retreat, and the Surrey International Writers’ Conference.

Nicole lives in New England with her husband and their son. You may find her on social media at: Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook

About Charnaie

Author Charnaie Gordon

Charnaie loves connecting people with diverse and inclusive books, kid-friendly products and family experiences they will love. She has been reading aloud with both of her children daily since they were born.

Charnaie is a wife, mom and a former Computer Programmer by education. She have over 15 years of experience in the Information Technology field and has both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Computer Science/Information Technology. She is now an author, podcast host, speaker, Digital Creator/Influencer and the founder of her children’s soon-to-be non-profit organization 50 States 50 Books where they collect and donate diverse children’s books to deserving kids in each of the 50 U.S. states.

Her blog Here Wee Read, is where she expresses her creativity and passion for reading, diverse literature, and literacy. More than anything else, she cares about connecting people with great books that they love because she believe that books are an absolute necessity . Her passion for diversity and inclusion is driven by a desire for everyone to have his or her own voice, whether it be through books, television, or other media. Charnaie believes it’s important that people of all races, and all ethnicities, are able to see themselves represented and included.

Charnaie lives in New England with her husband and their daughter and son. You may find her on social media at: Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook

children's literacy

My Orton-Gillingham Comprehensive Training Experience

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have recently seen me participating in a 30-hour Orton-Gillingham comprehensive training course. The comprehensive training is just ONE training option available if you want to learn the Orton-Gillingham methodology. Trainings and style can vary. You can view the different training descriptions that the Institute for Multi-sensory Education (IMSE) has here.

I chose the comprehsive course that also has a practicum in order to learn the approach and methods inside and out. My ultimate goal is to become a Certified Orton-Gillingham Tutor if possible. I took my training course through IMSE (The Institute for Multi-Sensory Education). There are other companies that train in the Orton-Gillingham methodology.

What is Orton-Gillingham?
Orton-Gillingham is a highly structured approach that breaks reading and spelling down into smaller skills involving letters and sounds, and then building on these skills over time. It was the first approach to use explicit, direct, sequential, systematic, multi-sensory instruction to teach reading, which is not only effective for all students but essential for teaching students with dyslexia.” (Definition taken from the IMSE website.)

The History of Orton-Gillingham
Orton-Gillingham was among the first teaching approaches designed to help struggling readers by explicitly teaching the connections between letters and sounds. In the 1930s, neuropsychiatrist and pathologist Dr. Samuel T. Orton and educator, psychologist Anna Gillingham developed the Orton-Gillingham approach to reading instruction for students with “word-blindness,” which would later become known as dyslexia.” (Definition taken from the IMSE website.)

What is the Orton-Gillingham Methodology?
The Orton-Gillingham Methodology is a direct, multisensory, structured, sequential, diagnostic, and prescriptive way to teach literacy. When reading, writing, and spelling does not come easily to individuals, such as those with dyslexia (or any new or struggling readers). It is most properly understood and practiced as an approach, not a method, program, or system. In the hands of a well-trained and experienced instructor, it is a powerful tool of exceptional breadth, depth, and flexibility.

It has been proven by research that when using a diagnostic, systematic, structured, multisensory approach faithfully, you take the guesswork out of reading.

My Training Course Experience
I’ll be honest and say I had no idea what to expect prior to taking this training course. While I was familiar with Orton-Gillingham, I had never used it and really didn’t know that much about it besides it being an effective approach to teach reading.

Since I don’t have an education background, (I have an IT background) I was unsure how quickly I’d be able to catch on and grasp the concepts. However, the instructor for our class at IMSE was AMAZING! She was a delight to learn from and very knowledge about all things Orton-Gillingham, literacy and phonological awareness. She made me feel at ease from day one right up until the last day.

Due to COVID, my training course was virtual and I had about 15 – 17 other people in my class. I was glad that the course was interactive giving you the opportunity to work in smaller groups during breakout sessions. The small group time allowed you time to really practice and hone the skills being taught by the instructor. In addition, it gives you the opportunity to communicate with others in the class and provide each other with constructive feedback.

The class started at 8am each day and finished up around 3:30pm for a total of 30 hours of Orton-Gillingham training. At the end of the course you receive a certificate of completion for the course. Please note: That certificate doesn’t mean you are a Certifified OG tutor, there is additonal training required for that which includes the practicum.

IMSE provided me with the following materials:

  • IMSE Comprehensive Training and Assessment Manual
  • Recipe for Reading by Bloom and Traub
  • IMSE Comprehensive Syllable Division Word Book
  • Phonological Awareness: Assessment Tools & Strategies by Zgonc
  • IMSE Phoneme Grapheme Card Pack
  • IMSE Syllable Division Cards
  • Set 1 IMSE Decodable Readers
  • Blending Board
  • Sand (for kinesthetic learning)
  • IMSE Interactive OG (online lesson planning tool) One-year subscription (additional years will require a renewal fee)

Some of the concepts I learned in the course include:

  • Encoding and decoding words
  • Syllable division patterns (multi-syllable words)
  • Vowel Intensive
  • Fluency
  • Red Words
  • Three-Part Drill
  • Phonological awareness
  • Vocabulary Development
  • Comprehension
  • Assessments
  • Guidelines for Weekly Lesson Planning for Students

Here are a few things I learned that I thought were interesting:

  • Dyslexia affects 1 in 5 people and it runs in families. Children DO NOT outgrow dyslexia. Children with dyslexia grow up to be adults with dyslexia.
  • Our brains are wired for speech, not reading.
  • The four phases of reading: pre-alphabetic phase, partial-alphabetic phase, full alphabetic phase, and consolidated phase.
  • The six stages of reading development
  • The Cat/Kite Rule (The Rules for letters C & K)

My training experience was absolutely amazing and so eye-opening! Who knew learning to read and teaching others to read could be so seamless and easy to comprehend? Throughout the course I kept thinking, all children should have the access to be able to learn to read this way. I definitely believe Orton-Gillingham should indeed be taught in every classroom. I truly believe Orton-Gillingham can make all children better readers. Here are a few reasons why I think this based on the things I learned during my training:

  • The Orton-Gillingham methodology uses systematic instruction techniques and resources to teach new concepts in the exact same way every time. By doing this, the brain is not expending energy trying to figure out a new method. Instead, the brain expects the routine of learning and can focus on the new concept being taught. Brilliant and way less confusing!
  • When teaching new concepts, the steps are clear and teach the rules one at a time. Each step builds from the previous step, building from simple to complex.
  • Learning is individualized to each student. Students should be able to move through the program at an individualized pace which allows for developing fluency and automaticity for each step. Students only move from one step to the next as they build fluency for each level of language skills.
  • Each student’s skill development is monitored along the way with assessments. The instructional practices are built upon what was observed in the previous lesson and what is judged to be necessary to move the student forward in the next lesson.

It’s also important to note that students with dyslexia need to master the same basic knowledge about language as any other learner. However, because of their dyslexia, they sometimes need more help when it comes to sorting, recognizing, and organizing language.

How I’m Planning to Use My Orton-Gillingham Training

As I mentioned earlier, my utlimate goal is to become a Certified Orton-Gillingham Tutor to help beginning and struggling readers learn how to read better. Since taking the course I’ve been continuing to use the skills I learned in class with my two children at home. I am also working with a Certified OG Instructor who is giving me a few hours of coaching in preparation for me embarking on the practicum. The practicum is a lot of work and it requires you to pass the KPEERI exam.

In addition, I have now acquired my first Kindergarten student who I will be tutoring starting next month. I need to complete 50 hours of tutoring which will be great pracice for me and allow me to keep my skills sharp. I’m excited for this new journey and look forward to seeing the progress my student makes in the coming months.

I’ll keep you posted on my journey along the way!

If you’d like more information about Orton-Gillingham or the Institute for Multi-Sensory Education please visit the IMSE website. There you can also find out the training requirements and pricing for each of the courses they offer. You can also purchase some of their products.

Your turn: What questions do you have about Orton-Gillingham? Feel free to ask your questions in the comments.

children's books

One Step Further Blog Tour by Katherine Johnson with Her Daughters

Welcome to the One Step Further Blog Tour!

To celebrate the release of One Step Further by Katherine Johnson and her daughters Joylette Hylick and Katherine Moore, and illustrated by Charnelle Pinkney Barlow on January 5th, blogs across the web are featuring exclusive photos and stories from the life of NASA Mathematician Katherine Johnson, plus 5 chances to win a hardcover copy!

Music and Math
A never-before-seen interview with Katherine and her daughters that didn’t end up in the final book
Joylette and Kathy in 1954
Joylette: Our whole family was also very musical. We played instruments: piano, organ, violin, cello. Music is a lot like math. One beat, two beats, three beats, four.
Kathy: Our home was full of music. Music and math.
Joylette’s violin

Katherine: We found joy with each other and in music.

Joylette: Mom directed the church choir and each of us sang in one choir or another. I also joined and played piano for the glee club at school. In 8th grade, I learned the violin. Our school orchestra conductor warned the other kids not to laugh when—
Kathy: At first, their orchestra sounded like cats!
Joylette: Did you snicker?
Kathy: I smiled.
Katherine: In the meantime, Jimmie started getting hammering headaches. The doctors said he needed surgery.
Joylette: Daddy kept getting weaker and weaker while I was in high school.
Kathy: His sickness was scary. “Lower your voices. Try to help.”
Joylette: Playing music comforted me. Four beats to a measure. Half notes. Quarter notes. I understood music’s symphonies and rhythms, unlike life’s. I conducted the student choir, performed Handel’s “Messiah” and learned the organ.  
Kathy: Taking care of Daddy made me dream of being a physical therapist.
Joylette: That summer we spent our days with him at the hospital.
Katherine: Every generation pushes the next one forward, just as each note propels the next.

Some of the family’s sheet music
Joylette: My parents’ passion for music had helped me find mine.
Kathy: Their love of education made our brilliant minds shine.
Joylette: In 1958, Hampton University offered me a partial music scholarship. I majored in math, but played piano and organ, sang, and helped conduct the choir.
Kathy: In high school, I sang and played piano. Since Joylette and Connie had played violin, I moved to my own rhythm. I found the cello mellow and soothing. 
Joylette: Eventually, I played the 9-foot grand piano and the big organ in Hampton’s Ogden Hall.


Blog Tour Schedule:

February 22nd – Multicultural Children’s Book Day Blog

February 23rd – Here Wee Read

February 24th – Make a Way Blog

February 25th – BookHounds

February 26th – Frantic Mommy


Buy: Amazon | Indiebound | Bookshop

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This inspirational picture book reveals what is was like for a young black mother of three to navigate the difficult world of the 1950s and 60s and to succeed in an unwelcoming industry to become one of the now legendary “hidden figures” of NASA computing and space research.
Johnson’s own empowering narrative is complemented by the recollections of her two daughters about their mother’s work and insights about how she illuminated their paths, including one daughter’s fight for civil rights and another’s journey to become a NASA mathematician herself. The narrative gracefully weaves together Johnson’s personal story, her influence on her daughters’ formative years, her and her daughters’ fight for civil rights, and her lasting impact on NASA and space exploration. Filled with personal reflections, exclusive family archival photos, and striking illustrations, readers will be immersed in this deeply personal portrayal of female empowerment, women in STEM, and the breaking down of race barriers across generations. Historical notes, photo/illustration notes, and a time line put the story into historical and modern-day context.
The inspirational tale of Johnson’s perseverance is both intimate and global, showcasing the drive of each generation to push one step further than the last. With its evocative family album-style format and novel approach to storytelling, One Step Further is sure to inspire the next generation of rising stars.
“Engaging, collage-style art augments the text, with speech bubbles, archival family photographs, and Barlow’s child-friendly illustrations. Concurrently accessible and intimate, this book will both inform readers and inspire them to reach for the stars.” 
Publishers Weekly
“A concise, engaging story of a Black family in the South during the Civil Rights era.” 
“The blend of Johnson’s and her daughters’ voices is intimate and inspiring.” 
Horn Book 
Joylette (L), Kathy (R), Katherine (F) 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Katherine Johnson was an American mathematician whose calculations of orbital mechanics as a NASA employee were critical to the success of the first and subsequent U.S. crewed spaceflights. She calculated and analyzed the flight paths of many spacecraft during her more than three decades with the U.S. space program, and her work helped send astronauts to the moon. She died on February 24, 2020. 

ABOUT THE CO-AUTHORS: Joylette Goble Hylick and Katherine “Kathy” Goble Moore grew up during the space race of the 1960s but never fully grasped their mother’s role in it until years later. Hylick graduated from Hampton University and received a Master’s at Drexel University. She followed in her mother’s footsteps, working at NASA as a mathematician before taking a job with Lockheed Martin as a Senior Requirements Engineer. She lives today in Mount Laurel, New Jersey. After attending Bennett College and Hampton University, and receiving a Masters of Science in Information Systems from Montclair State University (formerly Montclair State College), Moore spent 33 years working in public education as an educator and guidance counselor in New Jersey. She currently resides in Greensboro, North Carolina. 

ABOUT THE ILLUSTRATORCharnelle Pinkney Barlow, granddaughter of Caldecott-winning illustrator Jerry Pinkney, was surrounded by art as a child. Her passion for illustration grew after being introduced to the world of watercolors. She received her BFA in Illustration from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia and her MFA in Illustration as Visual Essay from the School of Visual Arts in New York City.
Follow Charnelle: Facebook | Instagram
  • One (1) winner will receive a SIGNED hardcover copy of One Step Further.  The book will be signed by Katherine Johnson’s daughters and co-authors Joylette Hylick and Katherine Moore.
  • Check out the other four stops for more chances to win
  • US/Canada only
  • Ends 3/7/2021 at 11:59pm ET

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diverse books

Sleeping Bear Press New Book Series + A Giveaway!

Have you seen this new SBP Learning series of picture books from the publisher Sleeping Bear Press? It features nonfiction social justice topics like: anti-racism, equality and racial justice. Sleeping Bear Press is generously sponsoring this giveway for one (1) winner to receive a copy of two of the latest books in the series. Check out the synopsis below from the publisher to read more about these informative books and enter the giveaway for your chance to win. Good Luck!

Racial Justice in America: Topics for Change by Kelisa Wing, Hedreich Nichols, and Leigh Ann Erickson

Topics on race in America have been avoided in children’s education for too long–allowing racist systems to continue to thrive. Racial Justice in America: Topics for Change explores current questions around race in comprehensive, honest, and age-appropriate ways. Developed in conjunction with educator, advocate, and author Kelisa Wing to reach children of all races and encourage them to approach race issues with open eyes and minds.

Marching for Change: Movements Across America by Joyce Markovics

Millions of Americans have marched and protested to fight inequality and to bring about social change. These large gatherings, filled with powerful and courageous voices, have shined a light on important issues and resulted in new laws. This book covers some of the most famous marches in U.S. history–and encourages readers to stand up for the things they believe in.


Sleeping Bear Press Prize Pack Book Giveaway


Muted by Tami Charles + A Giveaway!

Meet seventeen year-old Denver and her friends Dali and Shak. They are three high school friends who dream of escaping from their white hometown and becoming famous singers. The girls end up meeting one of the hottest R&B stars, Sean “Mercury” Ellis who takes them under his wing.

Muted is a young adult novel written completely in verse, and this is where this story excels. The format of the verse does an excellent job portraying Denver’s story. It has a diverse cast and an LBGTQ+ main character who is in love with her best friend. The ending of this book left me in complete shock…WOW! Check out the synopsis below from the publisher.

For seventeen-year-old Denver, music is everything. Writing, performing, and her ultimate goal: escaping her very small, very white hometown.

So Denver is more than ready on the day she and her best friends Dali and Shak sing their way into the orbit of the biggest R&B star in the world, Sean “Mercury” Ellis. Merc gives them everything: parties, perks, wild nights — plus hours and hours in the recording studio. Even the painful sacrifices and the lies the girls have to tell are all worth it.

Until they’re not.

Denver begins to realize that she’s trapped in Merc’s world, struggling to hold on to her own voice. As the dream turns into a nightmare, she must make a choice: lose her big break, or get broken.

Inspired by true events, Muted is a fearless exploration of the dark side of the music industry, the business of exploitation, how a girl’s dreams can be used against her — and what it takes to fight back.

About the Author
Tami Charles is a former teacher and full-time author of picture books, middle grade and young adult novels, and nonfiction. As a teacher, she made it her mission to introduce her students to all types of literature, but especially diverse books. While it was refreshing to see a better selection than what she was accustomed to as a child, Tami felt there weren’t nearly as many diverse books as she’d hoped for. It was then that she decided to reignite her passion for writing. Tami is the author of the middle grade novels Like VanessaDefinitely Daphne, and Becoming Beatriz, and the picture book Freedom Soup.

The Giveaway!
Enter to win a Muted prize pack that includes:
1 copy of Muted by Tami Charles
1 wireless rechargeable bluetooth speaker
1 retro tape cassette wallet

Muted by Tami Charles


Seasons Change: Backyard Science Fun with Hero Elementary on PBS Kids

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Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Hero Elementary on PBS KIDS.

When you think of a hero, who do you think of? A doctor? A teacher? A firefighter? A character with superhuman powers, a mask, and a cape? Well, the truth is that heroes come in all forms, shapes, and sizes. They can be any gender, young, or more seasoned. In fact, some of the most heroic acts in the world have been performed by kids.

Children are born with innate “superpowers” and a natural curiosity about the world around them. That is why the Hero Elementary series on PBS KIDS is so great for STEM loving children ages 4 – 7. It challenges them to investigate, observe, make predictions, and figure out solutions to problems.

Hero Elementary stars a diverse team of Super Students called Sparks’ Crew: Lucita Sky, AJ Gadgets, Sara Snap, and Benny Bubbles, led by their quirky and enthusiastic teacher, Mr. Sparks. Together they help people, problem solve, and try to make the world a better place for everyone.

My kids love the show because it is filled with lots of age-appropriate superhero action! I appreciate the fact that it showcases valuable social-emotional concepts such as kindness and empathy that kids can apply to their everyday lives.

After watching an episode of Hero Elementary, we went to the PBS KIDS website to download their Make Your Own Bubble Mix printable. We experimented with making our own bubble mix and then went outside to have some backyard science fun since it was not too cold.

Then we had a brief discussion about why the seasons change and how families adapt to seasonal changes by wearing specific clothing during different seasons. For example: boots, hats, gloves, sandals, and bathing suits.  We also talked about why we adjust the temperature in our home and various outdoor seasonal recreational activities like swimming, hiking, and skiing.

In the weeks ahead, we will be getting ready to transition from winter to spring. Therefore, we also got a head start on planting a few seeds to grow indoors during the remaining weeks of the winter season. Hopefully, by spring our seeds will have sprouted into flowers and we can transfer them from our egg carton to a bigger pot. It will be interesting to watch as our seeds begin to change over time and talk about the stages of a plant life cycle.

Watching Hero Elementary can help children embrace their “Superpowers of Science” by combining science and literacy to build powerful learning. We enjoyed applying the lessons learned on screen in our backyard science adventure.

If you are homeschooling or if your kids are participating in distance or hybrid learning, Hero Elementary can be used to supplement core curriculum and extend science lessons into real life.  Give it a try!

You can watch Hero Elementary on PBS KIDS.  Check your local listings for showtimes or watch anytime on or on the PBS KIDS video app.

This post is sponsored by Hero Elementary on PBS KIDS.

Book Cover Reveals

EXCLUSIVE COVER REVEAL My Busy, Busy Brain: The ABCDs of ADHD by Nicole Russell

Today I’m excited to reveal the cover of a forthcoming 2021 picture book for bestselling author Nicole Russell. In addition to being an author, Nicole is a lead advocate for mental health and the well-being of children. She serves as the Co-Founder and Executive Director of Precious Dreams Foundation, the non-profit teaching children in foster care and homeless shelters to self-comfort globally.

Publisher: Wise Ink Creative Publishing
On Sale Date: April 13, 2021
Written by: Nicole Russell, illustrated by: Antoinette Thomas
Reading Level: 5 – 8 years 
Grade Level: Kindergarten-Third Grade
Pages: 24
Link to Purchase: My Busy, Busy Brain: The ABCDs of ADHD

Nicole has ADHD and a busy, busy brain! Her special brain makes Nicole good at art, daydreaming, and exploring. Some days feel like a mental trip to outer space, on a rainbow carpet ride, with talking bumblebees . . . but sometimes, Nicole has a hard time concentrating in school. With a little courage, she learns how to get help for herself and use her voice to speak up for others.

My Busy, Busy Brain
 provides practical tools for children struggling with controlling their emotions, impulses, and concentration. This book is a beginner course for children curious about mental health and the challenges we feel but can’t see.

Short Summary: A resource for kids, parents, educators, and everyone else looking for insight into the experience of children with ADHD.

About the Author

Nicole Russell is a bestselling author and lead advocate for mental health and the well-being of children. She serves as the Co-Founder and Executive Director of Precious Dreams Foundation, the non-profit teaching children in foster care and homeless shelters to self-comfort globally. Russell uses her non-profit and creative tools to serve and advocate for youth through every aspect of her career.

Her bestselling self-help book, Everything a Band-aid Can’t Fix, is highly regarded as a must-have for teens everywhere and has been added to the curriculum of middle and high schools nationwide. Nicole’s accolades include GLAMOUR’s “Everyday Hero of the Year”, Observer’s “Top 20 Heroes Under 40”, Walmart’s “Community Playmaker Award” as well as a featured piece recognizing her efforts in O, The Oprah Magazine.

In 2020, Nicole was recognized by NBC and Essence as an essential hero for her efforts to serve and support the mental health needs of thousands of youth in the U.S. shelter system during the pandemic.

Nicole aspires to teach the world how to properly serve, with a focus on teaching young people how to advocate for themselves. My Busy, Busy Brain, Nicole’s first children’s book, is inspired by her personal experience with ADHD.

Connect with Nicole! Website | Instagram | Twitter

Book Cover Reveals

EXCLUSIVE COVER REVEAL: What’s Inside Your Backpack? by Jessica Sinarski + A Giveaway!

Today I’m excited to reveal the cover of a forthcoming 2021 picture book for one of my fellow bookish friends, Jessica Sinarski. You may be familiar with Jessica’s book Riley the Brave and her resource and training platform, Brave Brains. Her forthcoming book, What’s Inside Your Backpack? scheduled to publish February 4, 2021.

PublisherNational Center for Youth Issues
On Sale Date: February 4, 2021
Written by Jessica Sinarski illustrated by Joanne Lew Vriethoff
Reading Level: 4 – 7 years
Grade Level: Preschool – 2
Pages: 32

All around us, children are carrying backpacks that are heavy with more than just textbooks. Each day, they also bear the weight of difficult life experiences and intense feelings.

Zoey Harmon just wants to feel light-hearted and carefree. Unfortunately, she keeps getting weighed down by pesky “books” in her backpack, like Worry and Shame. Much to her surprise, she’s not the only one! Zoey learns that the adults in her life deal with difficult feelings too! Luckily, they have some ideas that can help her set aside the books she’s not meant to carry. Will it be enough to help her unload the heaviest book of all?

While there are no quick fixes for all of life’s complex problems, What’s Inside Your Backpack? highlights some of the ways we can nurture resilience in body and mind. Using the metaphor of books and bookmarks, author Jessica Sinarski offers gentle, effective strategies to help children impacted by trauma. By sharing their burdens with people they trust, kids can lighten their load and realize just how strong and courageous they really are!

About the Author
Jessica Sinarski, LPCMH equips parents and professionals to be healers for hurting children. Weaving user-friendly brain science into everything she does, Jessica ignites both passion and know-how in audiences. Extensive post-graduate training and 15+ years as a clinician, consultant, and parent educator led her to create BraveBrains, a resource and training platform for home, school, and community. She is also the author of the Riley the Brave picture books.

Jessica partners with school districts and child welfare agencies across the country to better incorporate effective trauma-sensitive practices into their work. She also shares her expertise as a contributor to magazines, blogs, and podcasts. When not writing and training, she continues to work as a bilingual therapist and clinical supervisor at an innovative adoption support agency. Jessica lives in Delaware with her husband and three busy boys. Find her on Instagram.

The Giveaway!
Jessica is giving away two copies of What’s Inside Your Backpack? to two lucky winners. Enter for your chance to win one of two copies below. Good Luck!

What’s Inside Your Backpack? Book Giveaway