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    young adult books

    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.

    Synopsis
    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

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    STEM

    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 PBSKIDS.org or on the PBS KIDS video app.

    This post is sponsored by Hero Elementary on PBS KIDS.

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    children's books, cover reveal, diverse books

    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

    Synopsis
    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

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    children's books, cover reveal

    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

    Synopsis
    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

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    black history, children's books

    THE MUSEUM OF THE BLACK FAMILY: DOWNLOAD THIS BLACK HISTORY MONTH RESOURCE FOR KIDS AND ADULTS!

    Black History is American History and should be celebrated and acknowledged all year, not just in February. Black History month reminds us that although there has been some progression over the years, there is still so much work that needs to be done. It’s a time to celebrate Black Joy, learn about Black inventors, scientists, and politicians. Read books not only about civil rights, but also read books about self-love and ones that showcase Black kids being everyday kids.

    I hope you’ll enjoy this FREE resource and use with your little readers, your students or on your own. If you’re an educator, why not print a poster sized copy for your classroom and work on it with your students? Parents and caregivers can also enjoy using this resource in their homes.

    To create this printable, I collaborated with Briana James of Artish Reader, a talented Art student. If you’ve been following me for a while, you may remember the first project Briana and I collaborated on for my 31 Days of Women’s History coloring sheet and The Mocha Express Holiday Reading Challenge.

    I talked to Briana about my idea and concept and she used her creative genius to produce this printable that corresponds to the Black History Month Theme for 2021 which is The Black Family: Representation, Identity and Diversity. Get in touch with Briana, give her a follow on Instagram, and support her as she continues to build up her art portfolio. It’s always such a pleasure to work with her and help support another Black woman at the same time.

    This coloring printable is a fun way to celebrate Black History Month. It features an array of influential Black/Afro-Latino/a celebrities, athletes, politicians, artists and activists from past and present. You can enjoy this coloring page printed in various sizes from 11 x 17 up to 24 X 36 if you’d like jumbo poster size.

    Each day during the month of February (or any time of the year), color in person or object until the whole poster is complete. I designed this printable to be used starting February 1st (in the U.S.), but you can start using it any day throughout the year you choose.

    The idea is to either read a book, do research, or work on a craft project about each person featured in the list. By the end of the challenge you should be more familiar with each person and their achievements.

    If you need book recommendations throughout the challenge, I have created several categorized lists in my online Bookshop and Amazon stores to assist you. Also, if purchasing new or used books isn’t in your budget, be sure to utilize your local library.

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

    African-American Picture Books Featuring Males
    African-American Picture Books Featuring Females
    Latinx & Afro-Latino Picture Books

    Happy Reading!

    CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THIS PRINTABLE! 

    CHECK OUT MORE OF MY RESOURCES (INCLUDING MY POPULAR PRINTABLE READING JOURNAL and 28 DAYS OF BLACK HISTORY) ON MY TEACHER’S PAY TEACHERS WEBSITE AND GIVE ME A FOLLOW OVER THERE TOO.

    AS ALWAYS, THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT!

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    children's books, diverse books, holiday books

    Keeping the Dream Alive: Celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. + Lakeshore Learning People Shapes Kit

    This week marks the 92nd birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. and next week we celebrate a federal holiday in his honor. Even if you do nothing to celebrate or acknowledge Dr. King, I think the holiday is a great opportunity to talk to children about racism, diversity, equality, kindness, friendship, and peace.

    Since his death in 1968, many have stepped up to carry on his legacy including: Stacey Abrams, Bryan Stevenson, Tamika D. Mallory and others. It has truly been inspring to see so many new activists and politicians continuing to stand up and speak out against injustices the same way Dr. Kig did years ago.


    Dr. King’s birthday allows me time to reflect on the words from the iconic “I Have a Dream” speech that took place at the March on Washington. When I listen to the speech, I begin to think about my own dreams for my children.  As parents and educators, we all want the best for our children, right?  In essence, we want them to be kind, smart, successful and to achieve all their life goals.

    In celebration of Dr. King’s birthday, we enjoyed using our People Shapes™ Project Kit to create a banner of people from diverse backgrounds all joined together in unity holding hands.  One of my favorite things about products from Lakeshore Learning is they allow my kids to imagine, create and learn as they play and sometimes have open dialogue about real world issues.  While working on our banner we read a couple of books about Martin Luther King Jr., talked about the March on Washington and ways Dr. King’s work and sacrifice has had a lasting impact on our lives.

    The People Shapes™ Project Kit can be used to create self-portraits, favorite storybook characters and more! You get 24 chipboard People Shapes in 12 People Colors®, plus cute felt outfits, craft hair, wiggly eyes, spangles, sequins, glue, craft sticks and more.

    Cheers to you, Dr. King on your birthday in heaven!  Thank you for the opportunity to meditate on your message and your legacy. How are you keeping Dr. King’s dream alive with your family? Feel free to share in the comments.

    You can use my Lakeshore Learning coupon code to get 25% off any single non-sale item. My coupon code is 6383. It can be used for purchases in-store or online.

    Valid ‪through 1/31/21 for one-time use in stores or online. Limit one coupon per customer. Not valid on items with shipping restrictions. Other exclusions may apply. Visit http://bit.ly/3bRGxeZ for details.

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    family fun, parenting, technology

    Winter Snow Fun with Hero Elementary on PBS Kids

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

    I have two superpowers. I disappear into books and I am a book recommender! When some people are not sure what to read, they turn to me: the book recommender. I can use my mind and reading skills to take a journey through your reading history and think up the perfect next read for you.  Everyone has a superpower even though each person’s strength is different. What superpowers do you have?

    Have you heard of the show Hero Elementary on PBS KIDS?  Hero Elementary is an animated STEM series designed to give kids important tools to help them solve problems by encouraging them to act like scientists.  It is also filled with fun, age-appropriate superhero action geared towards kids ages 4 to 7.

    I love that the show features a diverse group of Super Students who are all learning to master their Superpowers of Science.

    The main cast includes:

    • Lucita Sky: a Latina girl who can fly; ironically, she is also afraid of heights.
    • Sara Snap: An Asian American girl who has two powers: teleportation and super-strength.
    • Benny Bubbles: A Caucasian boy with the ability to generate forcefield-like bubbles. Benny’s also an animal lover.
    • AJ Gadgets: an African-American boy with the ability to project his thoughts visibly to others (dubbed “thought projection”). AJ’s also an avid inventor, and on the autism spectrum.
    • Mr. Sparks: a Latino man who’s the students’ teacher. He does not seem to have any superpowers, but still can teach superheroes-in-training.
    • Fur Blur: the class pet; she is a hamster with super-speed.

    After watching the “Snowy Journey” episode of Hero Elementary, we were inspired by Sparks’ Crew and read books about snow and did a few snowman activities using construction paper and ice.  My kids enjoyed making different observations about what happens to ice in the heat as it started to melt.    

    We also learned why snow is the color white and talked about some animals that hibernate in the winter.  Hibernation was a topic covered in the Hero Elementary episode “Snowy Journey” so it was a nice way to tie it back to things that were discussed in the show.  (Do you see our book snowman pictured here in the background?  We had fun making that together!)

    Hero Elementary goes beyond just showing kids how science is present in everyday life, it empowers them to make a difference in their own backyards and beyond by actively doing science.  I would highly recommend this animated series for any young budding scientists and fans of superheroes.  Also, 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 PBSKIDS.org or on the PBS KIDS video app!

    This post is sponsored by Hero Elementary on PBS KIDS.

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