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children's books

Lucky Leprechaun: How to Trap a Leprechaun Book Giveaway!

Giveaway HopWelcome to the 1st annual Lucky Leprechaun Giveaway Hop hosted by SaraLee’s Deals Steals & Giveaways. This is an open themed hop with NO minimum prize value. Enter to win the prize Grand Prize by our host for that lucky man in your life. Manscaped – The Perfect Package is sponsoring the prize. So be sure to enter the giveaway here than hop on over and enter all the other great prizes today!

I’m so excited to be a part of of the “Lucky Leprechaun” blog hop and to sponsor a copy of the book How to Trap a Leprechaun by Sue Fliess as my personal contribution.

About the Book


Legend has it that if you catch a leprechaun, he’ll grant you a wish. But, be careful! Leprechauns are full of trickery. To catch one, you’ll need to be clever in crafting your trap. Grab some glitter and glue and get prepared for your wily holiday visitors!

On the night before St. Patrick’s Day, leprechauns show up to steal your treasures and then disappear as quickly as they came. However, if you’re careful you might be able to catch one and then he’ll grant you a wish. You’ll have to be sneaky and set just the right trap to trap a leprechaun.

Sue Fliess’s read-aloud text and Emma Randall’s whimsical illustrations will provide much fun for young readers eager to catch their very own leprechaun! But beware: leprechauns may leave you with nothing but a cardboard box and a shoe or two.

Enter the giveaway here!

How to Trap a Leprechaun

Also, be sure to enter for your chance to win the grand prize and visit some of the other amazing bloggers involved in the giveaway blog hop!

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children's books

Kiss Me, I’m Irish!: 5 Diverse St. Patrick’s Day Picture Books

I never really used to do much to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day besides wear the color green and cook corned beef and cabbage. If I really wanted to get fancy I’d eat a green bagel or drink a green smoothie.  However, since becoming a parent, St. Patrick’s Day is now all about shamrocks, rainbows, setting leprechaun traps, teaching the kids about the holiday and finding fun ways to celebrate the day.  Needless to say, Pinterest is my best friend.

The kids and I also read a variety of St. Patrick’s Day themed books.  Here, I’ve listed 5 of our favorite St. Patty’s Day books that feature a diverse cast of characters.  Enjoy!

How to Trap a Leprechaun

Sue Fliess’s read-aloud text and Emma Randall’s whimsical illustrations will provide much fun for young readers eager to catch their very own leprechaun! But beware: leprechauns may leave you with nothing but a cardboard box and a shoe or two.

How to Catch a Leprechaun

You’ve been planning night and day, and finally you’ve created the perfect trap! Now all you need to do is wait. Is this the year you’ll finally catch the leprechaun? Start a St. Patrick’s Day tradition with this fun and lively children’s book.

How to catch a leprechaun?
It’s tougher than you think!
He’ll turn your whole house upside down.
He’s quicker than a wink!

Hooray for St. Patrick’s Day!

It’s Saint Patrick’s Day, and time to join in the celebration. Children can lift the flaps for interactive fun as they see the children in this book make holiday crafts, taste traditional Irish food, perform a play about Saint Patrick, and even march in a Saint Patrick’s Day parade. As an added bonus, they can search for the hidden leprechaun on each spread.

St. Patrick’s Day


Today in Mrs. Madoff’s class we all wore something green to school. Kate played the fiddle and we danced to Irish music. Then we learned about St. Patrick and many Irish tales and traditions. Now we know why there are no snakes in Ireland. Not every-one in school is all Irish like me, but we all can celebrate St. Patrick’s Day together!

Fiona’s Luck


The greedy Leprechaun King has locked away all the luck in Ireland and the whole country has fallen in to despair. Through clever charades, Fiona outwits the Leprechaun King and restores luck to the land.

Your turn: How do you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with your children?  What books would you add to this list?  Feel free to share in the comments.

Book Reviews

Love Is by Diane Adams (A Book Review)

Love Is by Diane Adams, illustrated by Claire Keane

Publisher: Chronicle Books
Pages: 32
Format: Hardcover
Age Range: 2-5 years old
Grade Level: Preschool – Kindergarten
Available for Sale: January 24, 2017

Synopsis
Perfect for Valentine’s Day—or any tender moment—this story of a girl and a duckling who share a touching year together will melt hearts old and young. In this tenderly funny book, girl and duckling grow in their understanding of what it is to care for each other, discovering that love is as much about letting go as it is about holding tight. Children and parents together will adore this fond exploration of growing up while learning about the joys of love offered and love returned.

Reflection
What exactly is love? How do you define it?  One definition I remember learning at a young age is: love is caring for others without any regard to what you get in return.

It seems most people have a different definition of the word love. And we are all correct in our own way, right?  I think Love Is does an amazing job teaching the smallest readers the meaning of the word love through playful text and whimsical illustrations.

You guys, I think this book is beyond adorable.  I am completely smitten with it!  After a little duckling follows a butterfly out of a park, a little brown-skinned girl sporting the cutest pom pom ponytails you ever did see, picks it up and brings it home to nurture it. As time goes on, you see the duckling grow and eventually moves on to go back out into nature with its family. In the end, the duck returns back to the girl with a new duckling family of its own.

The soothing rhyming text seems to flow so well throughout the book. I just love every single verse. This book truly touched me and even made me laugh and tear up in some parts because I think it’s so beautifully done.

“Love is missing, reminiscing, wishing things could stay the same.  It’s understanding even ducklings, like the seasons, have to change.”

“It’s peaceful sleeping, no more peeping, tucked in tightly, head to toes. Love is waking up together, side by side, and beak to nose.”

I also admire the loose, flowy lines and warm color palette the illustrator used for this book. There are gorgeous tones of: pink, red, yellow, purple and teal.  It’s no surprise this talented illustrator did some artwork for the movies Tangled and Frozen.  I’m looking forward to seeing more work from her in future books.

I think the overall message of Love Is teaches children how to love, nurture and care for others.  There are also themes of: growing up, coping with change and learning to let go of things.  The popular saying “If you love something, let it go. If it comes back to you, it’s yours forever.” echos throughout.  I love how when the little girl sees the butterfly again later in the book she then sees a brood of ducklings being led by the same duckling she raised who is now all grown up.  It’s a nice way to show things coming full circle.

After reading the book for the first time on my own, I sat quietly at the kitchen table and jotted down a few new thoughts on what love means to me. Here’s what I came up with:

Love is an action – It’s the way you talk and show your love to others and to God. It’s how you express your love to your spouse/partner, your children, your friends/family, animals and nature. It’s hugging, kissing and telling others how much you love them. It’s helping others when they are in need. It’s the way you take care of the things that mean the most to you.

Love is making sacrifices – I believe in order for true love to exist there must be some level of sacrifice involved. In my experience, becoming a wife and mother has taught me what true sacrifice and unconditional love is.

So again I ask, how do you define love?

I’d highly recommend reading this book with your little readers – especially around Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day.  A fun extension activity might be to ask kids what love means to them and write out their answers on paper hearts.

Your turn: How do you define the word love?  Will you be reading this book with your little readers?  Feel free to share in the comments.

children's books

20+ Multicultural Thanksgiving Books for Kids!

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday of the year.  Yes, I am a true foodie at heart, but that’s not the only reason I love Thanksgiving.  (Really, it’s not!)  To me, everything about the day provides a sense of comfort and gratitude.  Stuffing your face and eating until you’re comatose…well, that’s just a bonus.

I’m looking forward to enjoying family, tasty food, and of course reading some terrific books with the kids before the holiday arrives.  There are so many Thanksgiving-themed books available you may end up having a tough time deciding which ones to read.  To make it a little easier I’ve rounded up a collection of board and picture books that will teach kids the importance of gratitude, thankfulness, and kindness mixed in with a little fun and food…yum!  I’ve also added some culturally responsive/sensitive books to help teach children about the real story of Thanksgiving from a Native American perspective.

Board Books

My Heart Fills with Happiness by Monique Gray Smith, Julie Flett

What fills your heart with happiness? This little board book is adorable and helps to remind readers young and old that there is always something to be grateful for or happy about. It could be seeing the face of someone you love, walking barefoot in the grass, the sun shining on your face, or the smell of bannock baking in the oven. (I had never heard of bannock before reading this book.) This book is concise, but the thing I like the most about it is it features a Native-American little girl and her family sharing a tender moment.  Recommended for children ages birth to four years old.

Five Silly Turkeys by Salina Yoon

fivesillyturkeysToddlers will love the silly Thanksgiving turkeys in this fun counting book full of silly turkeys doing very silly things!  From twirling on a dance floor to being chased by a bee to tanning in the sun, these are no ordinary Thanksgiving turkeys. This shiny fabric–tabbed book is a holiday treat that is sure to be gobbled up quickly.

Five Little Thank Yous by Cindy Jin

This Thanksgiving book of five important thank yous is the perfect way for parents to celebrate and share the meaning of the holiday with their child.

Where is Baby’s Turkey? A Lift the Flap Book by Karen Katz

It’s time for Thanksgiving! In this interactive book from bestselling author Karen Katz, little ones can lift the sturdy, easy-to-lift flaps on each page to look for Baby’s turkey stuffed animal. Filled with bright, striking art, this book is sure to get little ones excited for the festive family holiday!

Picture Books (Includes Culturally Responsive Native American Books)

We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga by Traci Sorell

The word otsaliheliga (oh-jah-LEE-hay-lee-gah) is used by members of the Cherokee Nation to express gratitude. Beginning in the fall with the new year and ending in summer, follow a full Cherokee year of celebrations and experiences. Written by a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, this look at one group of Native Americans is appended with a glossary and the complete Cherokee syllabary, originally created by Sequoyah.

Fry Bread: A Native-American Family Story by Kevin Noble Maillard and Juana Martinez-Neal Ages 4 – 8

The story is told in simple, lyrical text.  Readers learn that fry bread is a food, it’s a shape, it’s sound, it’s history and more.  In short, readers learn that fry bread is an important symbol of the Native American culture.  At the end of the book, readers are invited into the story with the simple phrases, “Fry bread is you.”, “Fry bread is us.”  The back matter has a recipe for fry bread, an author’s note and more detailed information about fry bread.

May We Have Enough to Share by Richard van Camp Ages Birth to 3

Award-winning author Richard Van Camp wrote this book to express his gratitude for all that surrounds him and his family. The strength of their connections, the nature that provides for them, the love that is endless. Complemented by photos from photographers who celebrate their own gratefulness on the collective blog Tea & Bannock, the simple verse in May We Have Enough to Share is the perfect way to start or end your little one’s days in gratitude.

The Very First Native Americans by Cara Ashrose

Long before Columbus landed in America, hundreds of groups of people had already made their homes here. You may have heard of some of them—like the Sioux, Hopi, and Seminole. But where did they live? What did they eat? How did they have fun? And where are they today? From coast to coast, learn all about these very first Americans!

I Am Thankful: A Thanksgiving Book for Kids by Sheri Wall Ages 4- 8

Thanksgiving books for kids teach us about coming together with our loved ones and to give thanks for all that we have. I Am Thankful is an adorable, rhyming storybook that follows three different families as they celebrate the holiday with their own traditions, acts of kindness, and ways of giving back.

Kids will learn how to be thankful for the people and world around them as they delight in the sweet illustrations that show diverse families and exciting Thanksgiving adventures.

Our Table by Peter H. Reynolds

Violet fondly remembered the table. It’s the same table she and her family used to gather at and eat meals together. Now, everyone in the family is too busy to enjoy sit down meals and Violet sits alone at the table. Everyone is too preoccupied with their screens to pay any attention to Violet.

I love this book because it’s a true representation of what many families are currently experiencing. This book illustrates that while technology can be great, it’s different from physical connection and personal contact. Put your phones and devices away at the table and when in the presence of people you love and respect.

The People Shall Continue by Simon J. Ortiz

A classic for 40 years, The People Shall continue is an absolute must for reading about the history of Indigenous people in America. This is such a beautiful, profound and important book. Every library should have a copy of it.

Told in the rhythms of traditional oral narrative, this powerful telling of the history of the Native/Indigenous peoples of North America recounts their story from Creation to the invasion and usurpation of Native lands. As more and more people arrived, The People saw that the new men did not respect the land. The People witnessed the destruction of their Nations and the enslavement of their people. The People fought hard, but eventually agreed to stop fighting and signed treaties.

Encounter by Jane Yolen

When Christopher Columbus landed on the island of San Salvador in 1492, what he discovered were the Taino Indians. Told from a young Taino boy’s point of view, this is a story of how the boy tried to warn his people against welcoming the strangers, who seemed more interested in golden ornaments than friendship. Years later the boy, now an old man, looks back at the destruction of his people and their culture by the colonizers.

1621: A New Look at Thanksgiving by Catherine O’Neill Grace

Countering the prevailing, traditional story of the first Thanksgiving, with its black-hatted, silver-buckled Pilgrims; blanket-clad, be-feathered Indians; cranberry sauce; pumpkin pie; and turkey, this lushly illustrated photo-essay presents a more measured, balanced, and historically accurate version of the three-day harvest celebration in 1621.

Giving Thanks: A Native American Good Morning Message by Chief Jake Swamp

Giving Thanks is a special children’s version of the Thanksgiving Address, a message of gratitude that originated with the Native people of upstate New York and Canada and that is still spoken at ceremonial gatherings held by the Iroquois, or Six Nations.

The Sacred Harvest: Ojibway Wild Rice Gathering by Gordon Regguinti

Glen Jackson, Jr., an eleven-year-old Ojibway Indian in northern Minnesota, goes with his father to harvest wild rice, the sacred food of his people.

The Circle of Thanks by Bruchac

Fourteen poems with themes of thanksgiving and appreciation of nature, based in part on traditional Native American songs and prayers.

Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving by Eric Metaxas

This entertaining and historical story shows that the actual hero of Thanksgiving was neither white nor Indian but God. In 1608, English traders came to Massachusetts and captured a twelve-year-old Indian, Squanto, and sold him into slavery. He was raised by Christians and taught faith in God. Ten years later he was sent home to America. Upon arrival, he learned an epidemic had wiped out his entire village. But God had plans for Squanto. God delivered a Thanksgiving miracle: an English-speaking Indian living in the exact place where the Pilgrims landed in a strange new world.

Squanto Y El Primer Dia De Accion De Gracias/Squanto and the First Thanksgiving by Joyce K. Kessel

An introduction to the life of the Massachusetts Indian Squanto, best known for befriending the Pilgrims of the New Plymouth Colony.

Indian Shoes by Cynthia Leitich Smith

This collection of interrelated stories is heartwarming and laugh-out-loud funny. Author Cynthia Leitich Smith writes with wit and candor about what it’s like to grow up as a Seminole-Cherokee boy who is just as happy pounding the pavement in windy Chicago as rowing on a take in rural Oklahoma.

Four Seasons of Corn: A Winnebago Tradition by Sally M. Hunter

Twelve-year-old Russell learns how to grow and dry corn from his Winnebago grandfather.

Hiawatha and the Peacemaker by Robbie Robertson

Born of Mohawk and Cayuga descent, musical icon Robbie Robertson learned the story of Hiawatha and his spiritual guide, the Peacemaker, as part of the Iroquois oral tradition. Now he shares the same gift of storytelling with a new generation.

Hiawatha was a strong and articulate Mohawk who was chosen to translate the Peacemaker’s message of unity for the five warring Iroquois nations during the 14th century. This message not only succeeded in uniting the tribes but also forever changed how the Iroquois governed themselves—a blueprint for democracy that would later inspire the authors of the U.S. Constitution.

Hungry Johnny by Cheryl Kay Minnema

Johnny can hardly contain his excitement. In no time, he’ll be digging in with everyone else, filling his belly with all this good food.

But wait. First there is the long drive to the community center. And then an even longer Ojibwe prayer. And then—well, young boys know to follow the rules: elders eat first, no matter how hungry the youngsters are. Johnny lingers with Grandma, worried that the tasty treats won’t last. Seats at the tables fill and refill; platters are emptied and then replaced. Will it ever be their turn? And will there be enough?

A great introduction for children to learn about the Ojibwe culture.

Many Hands: A Penobscot Indian Story by Angeli Perrow

Why does everyone keep telling Lily that many hands make the basket? Didn’t she make the basket with her very own hands? It is the most beautiful basket of her 10-year-old life and no one will give her the credit she deserves. In the end, she learns a valuable lesson about pride and the spirit of community. Into the story is woven the process of basket making and a Wabanaki animal legend, as well as some words of the Penobscot language.

Thank You, Omu! by Oge Mora

Omu means queen in Igbo (spoken in Nigeria). It’s the name the author used for her grandmother while growing up.  Omu generously gives her delicious stew away to everyone in the neighborhood until there’s none left for her to eat. What will Omu do?

This book truly warmed my heart! It’s a beautiful and well-written story of family, love, sharing, community, and tasty food. Perfect for sharing around the holidays or any time of the year.

Pies from Nowhere by Dee Romito

Georgia Gilmore was a cook at the National Lunch Company in Montgomery, Alabama. When the bus boycotts broke out in Montgomery after Rosa Parks was arrested, Georgia knew just what to do. She organized a group of women who cooked and baked to fund-raise for gas and cars to help sustain the boycott. Called the Club from Nowhere, Georgia was the only person who knew who baked and bought the food, and she said the money came from “nowhere” to anyone who asked.

When Martin Luther King Jr. was arrested for his role in the boycott, Georgia testified on his behalf, and her home became a meeting place for civil rights leaders. This picture book highlights a hidden figure of the civil rights movement who fueled the bus boycotts and demonstrated that one person can make a real change in her community and beyond. It also includes one of her delicious recipes (homemade pound cake) for kids to try with the help of their parents!

Duck for Turkey Day by Jacqueline Jules

It’s almost Thanksgiving, and Tuyet is excited about the holiday and the vacation from school. There’s just one problem: her Vietnamese American family is having duck for Thanksgiving dinner – not turkey! Nobody has duck for Thanksgiving – what will her teacher and the other kids think? To her surprise, Tuyet enjoys her yummy thanksgiving dinner anyhow – and an even bigger surprise is waiting for her at school on Monday. Dinners from roast beef to lamb to enchiladas adorned the Thanksgiving tables of her classmates, but they all had something in common – family! Kids from families with different traditions will enjoy this warm story about “the right way” to celebrate an American holiday.

Over the River and Through the Wood: A Holiday Adventure by Linda Ashman

This rhyming book is so fun!  It features a multiracial family traveling by sleigh to get to Grandma and Grandpa’s house for the holidays.  Each family faces an obstacle that delays their trip, but in the end they finally reach their destination.

The Thankful Book by Todd Parr

From everyday activities like reading and bath time to big family meals together and special alone time between parent and child, Todd inspires readers to be thankful for all of life’s special moments. The perfect book to treasure and share, around the holidays and throughout the year.

Thanks a Million by Nikki Grimes
thanksamillion

What makes you thankful? A book? Weekends? Your family? How do you say thanks? With a flower? With a chocolate bar? With a surprise?

In sixteen extraordinary poems that range in form from a haiku to a rebus to a riddle, Nikki Grimes reminds us how wonderful it is to feel thankful, and how powerful a simple “thank you” can be.

Don’t Let Auntie Mabel Bless the Table by Vanessa Newton

auntiemabelAuntie Mabel and her family and friends have gathered for their big Sunday dinner and can’t wait to dig into a delicious, mouthwatering meal. Before they can begin, Auntie Mabel starts—and doesn’t stop!—blessing everyone and everything she surveys: the yams and Brussels sprouts, the table and chairs—even the president of the United States!

Auntie Yang’s Great Soybean Picnic by Ginnie Lo

Jinyi and her sister love visiting Auntie and Uncle Yang’s home, where they enjoy dumpling-eating contests and backyard adventures with their cousins. One weekend, on a Sunday drive among the cornfields near Chicago, Auntie Yang spots something she has never before seen in Illinois. Could it be one of their favorite Chinese foods—soybeans?!

This book has many parallels to typical Thanksgiving traditions, including a family road trip, hoards of aunts, uncles and cousins, and a big family meal.

Milly and the Macy’s Parade by Shana Corey
millyandthemacysparade
In the spirit of “Miracle on 34th Street” comes a heartwarming holiday story based on the true origins of the Macy’s Parade,endorsed by Macy’s. The Macy’s Parade is a treasured American pastime. But few people know that the first parade in 1924 was organized by immigrant employees at Macy’s eager to incorporate their old-world traditions into their new American heritage. With facility & flair, Shana Corey tells the fictional story of a Polish immigrant girl who helps envision this grand event.

Rice & Rocks by Sandra L. Richards
riceandrocks
Tradition takes flight in Rice & Rocks, a picture book celebrating food, culture and diversity.

Giovanni’s friends are coming over for Sunday dinner, and his grandmother is serving rice and beans. Giovanni is embarrassed he does not like ‘rice and rocks’ and worries his friends will think the traditional Jamaican dish is weird. But his favorite Auntie comes to the rescue. She and Giovanni’s pet parrot, Jasper, take him on a magical journey across the globe, visiting places where people eat rice and rocks. This exciting story celebrates the varied traditions of every culture while also highlighting the delicious similarities that bring us all together.

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.With Mama’s help, Cora does the grown-up jobs like shredding the chicken and soaking the noodles (perhaps Mama won’t notice if she takes a nibble of chicken or sloshes a little water on the floor). Cora even gets to stir the noodles in the pot carefully– while Mama supervises. When dinner is finally served, her siblings find out that Cora did all their grown-up tasks, and Cora waits anxiously to see what everyone thinks of her cooking.

Rivka’s First Thanksgiving by Elsa Okon Rael
rivkasfirstthanksgiving
More than anything, Rivka wants to celebrate Thanksgiving. She has learned all about the holiday in school and knows her family has a lot to be thankful for in America. But Rivka’s parents are Jewish immigrants from Poland, and they wonder what Pilgrims and Indians have to do with them. Is Thanksgiving really a holiday for Jews?

Sharing the Bread: An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving Story by Pat Zietlow Miller

sharingthebread
Celebrate food and family with this heartwarming Thanksgiving picture book. We will share the risen bread. / Our made-with-love Thanksgiving spread. / Grateful to be warm and fed. / We will share the bread. In this spirited ode to the holiday, set at the turn of the twentieth century, a large family works together to make their special meal. Mama prepares the turkey, Daddy tends the fire, Sister kneads, and Brother bastes. Everyone—from Grandma and Grandpa to the littlest baby—has a special job to do. Told in spare, rhythmic verse and lively illustrations, Sharing the Bread is a perfect read-aloud to celebrate the Thanksgiving tradition.

The Great Thanksgiving Escape by Mark Fearing

thanksgivingescapeIt’s another Thanksgiving at Grandma’s. Gavin expects a long day of boredom and being pestered by distantly related toddlers, but his cousin Rhonda has a different idea: make a break for it – out of the kids’ room to the swing set in the backyard! Gavin isn’t so sure, especially when they encounter vicious guard dogs (in homemade sweaters), a hallway full of overly affectionate aunts, and worse yet, the great wall of butts! Will they manage to avoid the obstacles and find some fun before turkey time? Or will they be captured before they’ve had a taste of freedom?

The Memory Cupboard by Charlotte Herman
thememorycupboard
For Katie, nothing compares to Thanksgiving at Grandma’s. There are the aunts and uncles, whom Katie loves to see each year. But a cherished object is broken at dinner, and Katie blames herself for spoiling the day.

Grandma’s Tiny House by Janay Brown-Wood

This sweet book introduces young readers to numbers one through fifteen as Grandma’s family and friends fill her tiny house on Brown Street. Neighbors, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and grandkids crowd into the house and pile it high with treats for a family feast. But when the walls begin to bulge and nobody has space enough to eat, one clever grandchild knows exactly what to do.

Gracias the Thanksgiving Turkey by Joy Cowley
graciasthethanksgivingturkey
In this warm holiday story, a young Puerto Rican boy saves the life of his pet turkey with help from his close-knit New York City family and neighborhood. Beginning Spanish vocabulary is woven into the text.

Feast for 10 by Cathryn Falwell
feastfor10

A counting book that features an African-American family shopping for food, preparing dinner, and sitting down to eat. Lively read-aloud text paired with bright collage illustrations.

The Little Kids’ Table by Mary Ann McCabe

thelittlekidstable
Everyone knows that the little kids table is the place to be for any holiday or family gathering. They just know how to have fun! This silly, rhyming story follows a group of rambunctious cousins from table setting to dessert.

Gracias Thanks by Pat Mora

graciasthanksIn a series of poetic sentences, a young boy (biracial Mexican/Caucasian) tells about some of the everyday things for which he is thankful. Come share the joy, and think about all the things for which you can say, ¡Gracias! Thanks!

Sweet Potato Pie by Kathleen D. Lindsey
sweetpotatopie
During a drought in the early 1900s, a large loving African American family finds a delicious way to earn the money they need to save their family farm.

Stone Soup by Jon J Muth
stonesoup
Set in China in Muth’s hauntingly beautiful watercolors.  Three strangers, hungry and tired, pass through a war-torn village. Embittered and suspicious from the war, the people hide their food and close their windows tight. That is, until the clever strangers suggest making a soup from stones. Intrigued by the idea, everyone brings what they have until– together, they have made a feast fit for a king!

Thanksgiving is for Giving Thanks by Margaret Sutherland

Thanksgiving is about everything that we are thankful for. Cheerful, colorful illustrations accompany the simple text in this celebration of family, friends, and the holiday that brings them all together.

Thankful by Elaine Vickers and Samantha Cotterrill

When the first snow falls, a little girl writes down the things she’s thankful for on strips of paper and links them together. As one idea leads to another, her chain grows longer. There’s so much good in her life: a friend, things that are warm, things that are cold, color, things that can be fixed. This beautiful story is a much-needed reminder to observe and honor life’s small joys.

Around the Table that Grandad Built by Melanie Heuiser Hill and Jamie Kim

A wonderful book about family, gratitude, teamwork, and food. It’s a cumulative story that features a diverse cast of characters and an array of diverse dishes like: tamales, samosas and rice pudding.

The Grumbles: A Story About Gratitude by Tricia Goyer and Amy Parker

The Grumble family tried not to complain but bills and laundry and sibling squabbles kept everyone rumbling. When Grandma Grateful comes for a visit, things change.

Gratitude is My Superpower by Alicia Ortega

Little Betsy will learn that happiness is made up of simple things in life, both small and big. With the help of the magic stone, she will begin to feel gratitude for her parents, friends, and toys. But what happens when little Betsy forgets to use the magic of her stone? She will realize that the power of gratitude is hidden in her heart.

“Gratitude is my superpower” will teach your little ones to appreciate the warmth of home, time spent playing with friends, and family relationships.

History Smashers: The Mayflower by Kate Messner Ages 8 – 12 and up

Through illustrations, graphic panels, photographs, sidebars, and more, acclaimed author Kate Messner smashes history by exploring the little-known details behind the legends of the Mayflower and the first Thanksgiving.


Your turn:  
What books will you and your little ones be reading for Thanksgiving?  Feel free to share in the comments.

Book Reviews

The Great Spruce by John Duvall (A Book Review)

The Great Spruce by John Duvall, illustrated by Rebecca Gibbon
thegreatspruce

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Format: Hardcover
Age Range: 5 – 8 years old
Grade Level: Kindergarten – Grade 3
Pages: 40

Synopsis
Alec loves to climb trees—the little apple trees, the wide willow trees, even the tall locust trees. But his favorite is the great spruce, with its sturdy trunk and branches that stretch up to the sky. Alec’s grandpa planted it as a sapling years and years before Alec was born, and every Christmas, Alec and his grandpa decorate the tree together, weaving tinsel and lights through its branches, making it shine bright.

But one day, a few curious men from the nearby city take notice of Alec’s glistening great spruce, and ask to take it away for their Christmas celebration. Though it’s a huge honor, Alec’s heartbroken at the idea of losing his friend. With great courage and creativity, Alec comes up with a plan to save his favorite tree in this joyful holiday tale.

Reflection
Like young Alec, in the book The Great Spruce, I have fond memories of climbing trees and playing outdoors as a young child.  I’ve always loved being surrounded by nature and natural elements as it seems to instill a sense of beauty and calmness in me.  As a parent, I try to expose my kids to things that are alive and growing in order to promote curiosity and exploration.  My hope is that my children will grow up to be citizens who respect living things similar to the way Alec respects trees.  I believe a consistent exposure to nature can help remind children that the world contains an infinite variety of things and all are important.

The Great Spruce is such a delightful and heartwarming story!  I really LOVE this story and young Alec’s passion for trees.  The simple act of Alec’s grandpa transporting a spruce tree many years ago to Alec’s backyard allowed Alec to get up close and personal with the tree and his environment.  It also provided him with endless hours of imaginative play as he pretended to be a scout searching for pirates along the river.  As a result, Alec became a better observer and felt more connected to the outdoors.

I love how Alec stood up and demanded the tree be transported to the city instead of being chopped down.  “Stop!” Alec screamed as the curious man stood right in front of the tree with a chainsaw in hand.  “You don’t have to cut this tree down…we can dig it up!  You can borrow the tree instead!” Alec said.  A bright smile spread across grandpa’s face as he grabbed two shovels and handed one to Alec.  Before long, everyone was digging up the tree, even the crew from the city!  Eventually, they dig up the great spruce tree and begin transporting it to the center of town.

At the end of the tree lighting ceremony a young girl asks Alec if his tree can remain in the city.  Alec tells her the tree is just visiting, but he hands her a pine cone from the tree.  He tells the girl to plant the cone in good soil in a place where it will get plenty of sunlight.  Months pass by and in the spring as Alec climbs his tree with his telescope in hand.  He notices the tiny sapling taking root in the big city square in the center of town where the young girl planted the pine cone Alec gave her months ago.

I think there are so many things to love about this book including the detailed and bright illustrations.  I also really like the fact that the book has sort of a chain reaction effect that started with Alec’s grandpa and ended with the young girl in the city.  I find it helpful that the back matter includes an author’s note which explains the Christmas tree tradition and how it came to be and photographs that show the process of transplanting a tree.

A well-written book that may help to inspire wonder and a passion for protecting trees in your child.  Check it out this holiday season!

children's books

Just Treats, No Tricks: 30+ Halloween Books Featuring Diverse Characters

While diversity in children’s literature has come a long way since my childhood, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done.  This couldn’t be more true when searching for diverse books based on specific holidays like Halloween. If you follow my blog or my Instagram page you’ll know I read a variety of books with my kids regardless of race, culture or religion.  Yes, that includes animal books too on occasion- we’ll read anything.  However, I also read lots of diverse books with my kids because it’s important for me to read books with them where they can see themselves being represented often.

So, imagine my surprise when I initially started searching for diverse holiday books years ago when my daughter was born.  I was disappointed that I found so few books where a diverse character was the main protagonist.  This remains true today although there are several books featuring diverse supporting characters.

Below you’ll find my list of diverse Halloween books for ages birth to 8 that feature diverse supporting characters or main protagonists. I hope you enjoy this list and find a few books to read with your little readers for Halloween!

Your turn: Did you enjoy this post and find it to be helpful?  Which books would you add to this list? Feel free to share in the comments.  I’d love to hear from you!

children's books

Picture Books to Read with Grandma & Grandpa On Grandparent’s Day

I’ll be honest and say I didn’t even know National Grandparent’s Day existed until my adult years. This is probably because it didn’t originate in the United States until the year 1978. It’s often one of those holidays that can be easily overlooked especially since it’s right around back-to-school, Labor Day and adjusting to new routines for both kids and adults.

Of course, one way the kids and I will be celebrating Grandparents Day is by reading lots of grandparent-related books like the ones listed below.  I’ve categorized some fantastic books for your to enjoy with your little readers. Hopefully you find at least one book from this list that resonates with you. Enjoy!

happy

African-American/Black

Grandad Mandela by by Ambassador Zindzi Mandela, Zazi and Ziwelene Mandela, illustrated by Sean Qualls

Grandad Mandela is a beautiful and important story told from the perspective of Mandela’s two youngest great-grandchildren and daughter.  The story begins with little Zazi and Ziwelene approaching their grandmother (Mandela’s youngest daughter, Zindzi) to tell them about their great-grandfather after finding a photograph of him around the house.  Mandela’s daughter goes on to her grandchildren the story of why Mandela went to jail when she was just eighteen months old.

Grandaddy’s Turn: A Journey to the Ballot Box by Michael S. Bandy

Based on the true story of one family’s struggle for voting rights in the civil rights era.  A  powerful and touching true-life story shares one boy’s perspective of growing up in the segregated South.

Time Together: Me and Grandma by Maria Catherine

Time with grandma is always special, and these special moments are captured in this picture book using beautiful illustrations and minimal text. From biking to bird watching, these small moments are the ones that create big memories and show the importance of family.

When Grandmama Sings by Margaree King Mitchell
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When Grandmama Coles gets a big chance, Belle gets one, too. Belle’s going to spend the summer touring the South with Grandmama and a swing jazz band! Belle’s never been outside Pecan Flats, Mississippi, and she can’t wait to go on the road with Grandmama, helping her read signs and menus and hearing her sing. There are so many new things to see on their travels through the Deep South. But some things aren’t new. Everything is segregated, just like at home. But Grandmama stands up for what’s right. And when she sings, Belle knows that Grandmama’s song can bring everyone together.

Grandmother and I by Helen E. Buckley
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Grandmother and I are sitting on the big chair, rocking. We rock back and forth, and back and forth.  Other people have laps for sitting on and backs for riding on. But when you have a cold or lighting is coming, nothing feels quite as right as rocking on Grandmother’s lap, listening to the little tunes that she hums.

Grandfather and I by Helen E. Buckley
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Everybody is in such a hurry these days–mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers. About the only people who aren’t in a hurry are grandfathers. With them there is always time to stop…and look…just as long as you like.  This gentle story about the warm, happy relationship between the oldest and youngest ones in the family was originally published in 1959 with illustrations by Paul Galdone.

15 Things Not to Do With a Grandma by Margaret McAllister and Holly Sterling
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The hilarious follow-up to 15 Things Not to Do with a Baby has all the warmth and humor of its predecessor, focusing on the relationship between children and their granny. DON’T hide an elephant in Grandma’s bed. DON’T send Grandma up to the moon in a rocket, or wear her pants on your head, or give her squashed jelly beans on toast for breakfast. But do… dance with Grandma, listen to Grandma’s stories, hug her and love her lots. She loves you!

Don’t Call Me Grandma
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Great-grandmother Nell eats fish for breakfast, she doesn’t hug or kiss, and she does NOT want to be called grandma. Her great-granddaughter isn’t sure what to think about her. As she slowly learns more about Nell’s life and experiences, the girl finds ways to connect with her prickly great-grandmother.

Bigmama’s by Donald Crews
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Four African American children travel with their mother, and when the train arrives in Cottondale, Florida, the summer at Bigmama’s house begins! Donald Crews brilliantly evokes the sights, sounds, and emotions of a memorable childhood experience.

Grandma in Blue with Red Hat by Scott Menchin
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When a young boy learns about what makes art special—sometimes it’s beautiful, sometimes it’s funny, sometimes it tells a story—he realizes that these same characteristics are what make his grandmother special, too. As a result, he finds the inspiration to create his own masterpiece that’s one of a kind.

The Baby on the Way by Karen English
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In an urban rooftop garden, a young African American boy named Jamal initiates an intriguing conversation with his grandmother when he asks her if she was ever a baby. Turns out Grandma was even once ?the baby on the way,? and she proceeds to tell the story of her birth, the tenth child in a poor farming family. As she discusses the events and traditions that accompanied her welcome to the world, from the fetching of the midwife to a folkways ritual of drinking water from a thimble, vivid, expressionistic paintings from a talented new illustrator evoke the past.  A gentle and satisfying book that will inspire young readers to gather other stories about being the baby on the way.

Grandpa’s Face by Eloise Greenfield
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Seeing her beloved grandfather making a mean face while he rehearses for one of his plays, Tamika becomes afraid that someday she will lose his love and he will make that mean face at her.

Grandma Lena’s Big Ol’ Turnip by Denia Lewis Hester
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Grandma Lena takes good care of the turnips she plants in her garden. One turnip grows so big that Grandma can’t pull it out of the ground! Even when Grandpa, Uncle Izzy, and the dog help Grandma yank and tug, the big ol’ turnip doesn’t budge.

Asian
Mei-Mei Loves the Morning
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Set in a contemporary city in China, depicts a typical morning in the life of young Mei-Mei and her grandfather. The warm and engaging watercolor illustrations bring this intergenerational story to life.

Grandfather Counts by Deborah J. Short
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When Helen’s grandfather, Gong Gong, comes from China to live with her family, he’s shocked to find that none of his grandchildren speak Chinese. How will he communicate with them? At first he keeps to himself. Then one day he joins Helen to watch the trains. He starts counting the train cars in Chinese, and she repeats the words. Then Helen says the numbers in English. They continue to teach each other, and Helen even learns her Chinese name, which means “flower.” In this luminously illustrated intergenerational story, the devotion between a young girl and her grandfather helps them overcome barriers of age and language. Grandfather Counts was selected as one of the 50 Multicultural Books Every Child Should Know by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC).

A Morning with Grandpa by Sylvia Liu
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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?

Dear Juno by Soyung Pak
dearjuno
Juno’s grandmother writes in Korean and Juno writes in drawings, but that doesn’t mean they can’t exchange letters. From the photo his grandmother sends him, Juno can tell that she has a new cat. From the picture he makes for her, Juno’s grandmother can tell that he wants her to come for a visit. So she sends Juno a miniature plane, to let him know she’s on the way.

Caribbean (Cape Verde)
Seaside Dream by Janet Bates
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Tomorrow is Grandma’s birthday, and the house is overflowing with family and friends. Hugs, laughter, and the smells of delicious food fill the air as everyone gets ready for a beach party. Cora is excited, but she is also worried because she still does not have a present for Grandma. Cora cannot think of anything special enough. Cora knows her grandmother misses her home country, Cape Verde. After a nighttime walk on the beach with Grandma, Cora finally comes up with an idea for the perfect gift. It is one that both of them will always remember and a way to help Grandma reconnect with faraway family.

Indian

Indian Shoes by Cynthia L Smith

What do Indian shoes look like, anyway? Like beautiful beaded moccasins…or hightops with bright orange shoelaces?  Ray Halfmoon prefers hightops, but he gladly trades them for a nice pair of moccasins for his Grampa.

Hot, Hot Roti for Dada-ji by F. Zia
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Aneel’s grandparents have come to stay, all the way from India. Aneel loves the sweet smell of his grandmother s incense, and his grandfather, Dada-ji, tells the world s best stories. When he was a boy, adventurous, energetic Dada-ji had the power of a tiger. Hunh-ji! Yes, sir! He could shake mangoes off trees and wrangle wild cobras. And what gave him his power? Fluffy-puffy hot, hot roti, with a bit of tongue-burning mango pickle. Does Dada-ji still have the power? Aneel wants to find out but first he has to figure out how to whip up a batch of hot, hot roti Overflowing with family, food, and a tall stack of fun, Hot, Hot Roti for Dada-ji is sure to warm the heart and tickle the tummy.

Grandfather Gandhi by Arun Gandhi
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One thick, hot day, Arun Gandhi travels with his family to Grandfather Gandhi’s village.  Silence fills the air—but peace feels far away for young Arun. When an older boy pushes him on the soccer field, his anger fills him in a way that surely a true Gandhi could never imagine. Can Arun ever live up to the Mahatma? Will he ever make his grandfather proud?

In this remarkable personal story, Arun Gandhi, with Bethany Hegedus, weaves a stunning portrait of the extraordinary man who taught him to live his life as light.

Be the Change: A Grandfather Gandhi Story by Arun Gandhi
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At Grandfather Gandhi’s service village, each day is filled, from sunrise to sunset, with work that is done for the good of all. The villagers vow to live simply and non-violently. Arun Gandhi tries very hard to follow these vows, but he struggles with one of the most important rules: not to waste.

How can throwing away a worn-down pencil hurt anyone? How can wastefulness lead to violence? With the help of his grandfather, Arun learns how every wasteful act, no matter how small, affects others. And in time he comes to understand the truth of his grandfather’s words: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

Italian
A Picnic in October by Eve Bunting
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Tony thinks it’s dumb to go all the way to Liberty Island for a birthday picnic. But that’s before he understands what the Statue of Liberty means to Grandma.

Latino/Latina

A Gift from Abuela by Cecilia Ruiz

Abuela can’t help thinking how much she’d like to give Nina a very special treat, so she saves a little bit of her money every week — a few pesos here, a few pesos there. When the world turns upside down, Abuela’s dream of a surprise for Nina seems impossible. Luckily, time spent together — and the love Abuela and Nina have for each other — could turn out to be the very best gift of all.

Abuela by Arthur Dorros
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Dive into Spanish text and fly high over beautiful New York City with Rosalba and her grandmother in Arthur Dorros’ enchanting Abuela.

Mango, Abuela, and Me by Meg Medina
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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 the perfectoidea for how to help them all communicate a little better.

Grandma’s Records by Eric Velasquez

grandmasrecords
Every summer, Eric goes to live with his grandmother in El Barrio (Spanish Harlem) while his parents work. Through the long hot days, Grandma fills her apartment with the blaring horns and conga drums of Bomba y Plena, salsa, and merengue-the music she grew up with in Puerto Rico-sharing her memories and passions with Eric.

But Eric sees Grandma in a new light when she gets them tickets to hear their favorite band in concert. The music sounds so different than it does at home on their scratchy records. And then the lead singer serenades Grandma right in front of the whole audience!

Multicultural
Ladder to the Moon by  Maya Soetoro-Ng
laddertothemoon
From Maya Soetoro-Ng, sister of President Obama, comes a lyrical story relaying the loving wisdom of their late mother to a young granddaughter she never met.

Little Suhaila wishes she could have known her grandma, who would wrap her arms around the whole world if she could, Mama says. And one night, Suhaila gets her wish when a golden ladder appears at her window, and Grandma Annie invites the girl to come along with her on a magical journey. In a rich and deeply personal narrative, Maya Soetoro-Ng draws inspiration from her mother s love for family, her empathy for others, and her ethic of service to imagine this remarkable meeting. Evoking fantasy and folklore, the story touches on events that have affected people across the world in our time and reaffirms our common humanity.

Other
Grandad’s Island by Benji Davies
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At the bottom of Syd’s garden, through the gate and past the tree, is Grandad’s house. Syd can let himself in any time he likes. But one day when Syd comes to call, Grandad isn’t in any of the usual places. He’s in the attic, where he ushers Syd through a door, and the two of them journey to a wild, beautiful island awash in color where Grandad decides he will remain. So Syd hugs Grandad one last time and sets sail for home. Visiting Grandad’s house at the bottom of the garden again, he finds it just the same as it’s always been — except that Grandad isn’t there anymore. Sure to provide comfort to young children struggling to understand loss, Benji Davies’s tale is a sensitive and beautiful reminder that our loved ones live on in our memories long after they’re gone.

Joone by Emily Kate Moon
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oone likes the color orange, ice-cream sandwiches, and playing outside. She lives in a yurt with her grandfather and her pet turtle, Dr. Chin, who rides around on her hat. Grandpa teaches Joone something new every day. Sometimes Joone teaches him something new, too, like how to make a daisy chain. Together they enjoy life’s small joys—sunsets, tree houses, and most of all, each other.

Grandpa Green by Lane Smith
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Grandpa Green wasn’t always a gardener. He was a farmboy and a kid with chickenpox and a soldier and, most of all, an artist. In this captivating new picture book, readers follow Grandpa Green’s great-grandson into a garden he created, a fantastic world where memories are handed down in the fanciful shapes of topiary trees and imagination recreates things forgotten.

Grandma’s Gloves by Cecil Castellucci
grandmasgloves
A child who loses a beloved grandparent finds comfort in carrying on the activities they shared in this sweet, genuine look at a universal rite of passage.

Grandma is always on her knees in the dirt, with her gardening gloves on, talking to her roses and laughing with the birds-of-paradise. Her home brims with plants and blossoms, and on hot days, she waters her granddaughter, her “most special flower of all,” with the garden hose. But a day comes when Grandma is no longer there to care for the little girl, who feels sad and small and alone until she remembers all that her grandmother taught her — and all that she now has to teach. Full of light and life and the solace of green growing things, this moving and beautifully illustrated picture book explores a timeless bond with warmth and joy.

Nana in the City by Lauren Castillo
nanainthecity
In this magical picture book, a young boy spends an overnight visit with his nana and is frightened to find that the city where she lives is filled with noise and crowds and scary things. But then Nana makes him a special cape to help him be brave, and soon the everyday sights, sounds, and smells of the city are not scary—but wonderful. The succinct text is paired with watercolor illustrations that capture all the vitality, energy, and beauty of the city.

Our Granny by Margaret Wild
ourgranny

Two children compare their granny with others. Some grannies have thin legs, fat knees, crinkly eyes, or big soft laps. Their granny has a wobbly bottom and wears an old red sweater that was grandpa’s. She has a style all her own–and to the children who love her, this granny is perfect. Full of warmth and good humor.

Llama Llama Gram and Grandpa by Anna Dewdney
llamallamagramandgrandpa
It’s an exciting day for Llama Llama; he’s going to visit Gram and Grandpa Llama and spend the night! His first night away from home….and from Mama. But he makes sure to pack everything he needs. And there are so many fun things to do with Gram and Grandpa. It’s not until he gets ready for bed that he realizes that he’s forgotten something important. Fuzzy Llama! Fortunately, Grandpa Llama has a wonderful solution and soon Llama Llama is having sweet dreams.  May you rest in peace, Anna Dewdney.

Baking Day at Grandma’s by Anika Denise
bakingdayatgrandmas
Three bouncing little bear siblings, wrapped tight in their winter clothes, can’t wait to tromp through the snow for Baking Day at Grandma’s!  In a rhyming text that begs to be sung, the bears and their grandma pour and mix and stir–with breaks for hot cocoa and dancing–to create the perfect wintry treat. Then they wrap it up in ribbons to show that sweets are even better when they’re shared. With a recipe in the back, this is a perfect family feel-good story for the fall, winter, and any holiday spent with grandparents.

Grandpa and Me by Karen Katz
grandpaandme
Let’s make a pizza with Grandpa! You can help. Lift the large, sturdy flaps to find everything you need.

Grandma and Me by Karen Katz
grandmaandme
This lift-the-flap book continues Katz’s board book series, following Where is Baby’s Mommy?, with this celebration of spending time with a special grandmother.

How to Babysit a Grandpa by Jean Reagan
howtovisitagrandpa
Written in a how-to style, the narrator gives important tips for “babysitting” a grandpa, including what to eat for snack (anything dipped in ketchup, ice cream topped with cookies, cookies topped with ice cream) what to do on a walk (find lizards and dandelion puffs, be on the lookout for puddles and sprinklers), and how to play with a grandpa (build a pirate cave, put on a scary play).

Filled with humor, energy, and warmth, this is a great gift for or from a grandparent, and perfect for lap reading when Grandpa comes to visit!

How to Babysit a Grandma by Jean Reagan
howtobabysitagrandma
When you babysit a grandma, if you’re lucky . . . it’s a sleepover at her house! And with the useful tips found in this book, you’re guaranteed to become an expert grandma-sitter in no time. (Be sure to check out the sections on: How to keep a grandma busy; Things to do at the park; Possible places to sleep, and what to do once you’re both snugly tucked in for the night.)

Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney
missrumphius
When Alice Rumphius was a little girl, she lived with her grandfather, an artist, by the sea.  During the day, he let her help him with his paintings. In the evening, he talked about his childhood in a faraway land.

Barbara Cooney’s story of Alice Rumphius, who longed to travel the world, live in a house by the sea, and do something to make the world more beautiful, has a timeless quality that resonates with each new generation. The countless lupines that bloom along the coast of Maine are the legacy of the real Miss Rumphius, the Lupine Lady, who scattered lupine seeds everywhere she went.

Time Together: Me and Grandpa by Maria Catherine

Small moments between a grandpa and child are chronicled in this picture book using beautiful illustrations and minimal text. From taking a nap to reading the newspaper, these small moments are the ones that create big memories and show the importance of family.

Your turn:  How will you be celebrating Grandparent’s Day with your little ones?  Feel free to share in the comments below.

children's books

5 Last-Minute Ways We’re Celebrating Easter

I love this time of year.  For me, Easter is a time of celebration, joy and hope.  There’s much realization for me about the power of the cross and God’s presence in this season of my life.  Easter is my yearly reminder of God’s transcendent love, and a reminder of our responsibility to “pay it forward”.

This year I really wanted to be intentional with Easter and come up with some fun activities to engage my kids. However, I was traveling for work for a few days, so I didn’t have time to plan out activities and fun things to do like I did last year during Holy Week.  And now with Easter being just three days away, I have no time to worry about elaborate crafts or fancy Pinterest activities.  Can you relate?

I just want to use the next few days to introduce the Easter story and plant seeds for important conversations about God’s sacrifice. I want to keep it as simple, purposeful and straight forward as possible for my kids’ short attention spans.

In addition to reading some great books, here are the other activities we have lined up for the next few days leading up to Easter.

5 Last-Minute Ways We're Celebrating Easter

1. We’re Going on a Nature Walk
Weather permitting, we’ll be going on a Good Friday nature walk at a nearby park.  This is a simple activity and it won’t cost you a thing (except a few cents to print out the free printables).  The Unlikely Homeschool has put together these wonderful cards to help guide conversation during your walk as a family or group.  The cards walk children through a scriptural account of Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem, His crucifixion, and His resurrection, all while they spend time outside appreciating God’s creation.  {free printable}

2. We’re Reading the Bible
This is one of my favorite Bibles that the children own.  The kids love it too!  Over the next few days we’ll be reading select passages and stories from this Bible related to the resurrection.

This incredibly clear and easy to understand Storybook Bible uses the rich, full-color illustrations of African-American artist Victor Hogan. The easy to read text is adapted from the International Children’s Bible, the Children of Color Storybook shows African-American and other children of color that they are an important part of God’s Word and His plan for the world. These 61 well-known stories of biblical characters and events helps children build self-esteem and serve as foundation for building Christian character and moral values. Both you and the child will love this book and it’s clarity.

3. We’re Cooking
There are so many wonderful Easter-themed recipes available to help teach kids the true meaning of Easter and the resurrection.  Below are a few that I like.  What are some of your favorites to try?

Resurrection Rolls | Resurrection Cookies | Empty Tomb Rolls Easter Tomb Biscuits Empty Tomb Cake

4. We’re Coloring
Coloring certainly won’t help your kids understand the true meaning of Easter, but it’s something fun and doesn’t require much effort.  Plus, coloring is a great way to enhance those fine motor skills!  Here are the coloring sheets we’ll be using. {free printables}

5. We’re Planting Magic Jelly Beans
This is a really cute Easter tradition I started with the kids last year…planting magic jelly beans on Easter Eve!  Simply plant some jelly beans into your own homemade wheat grass or use the grass outside in your yard.  Do this with the kids.  Then, early in the morning before the kids wake up (or right after they fall asleep at night) “plant” some lollipops in place of the jelly beans.  The kids will be so excited when they wake up and see their magic jelly beans have turned into a mini garden of lollipops.  So fun! {free magic jelly beans packet printable}

I hope these simple ideas help you and your kids celebrate Easter this weekend while having some fun.  Happy Easter!

Your turn: How will you celebrate the deeper meaning of Easter with your little ones this year?  How does your family celebrate Easter?  Do you have any fun crafts, games, recipes or activities you do?  Feel free to share in the comments.

children's books

18+ Easter Books Toddlers & Preschoolers Will Love

I have fond memories of Easter growing up as a kid.  To me, it’s always been such a wonderful time of year.  Nice spring weather.  Dressing up in our Easter finest.  Going to church.  Easter egg hunts galore.  Sunday dinner with family and friends.  And I can’t forget the chocolate or best of all…the books!

If you’re looking for some non-candy Easter gifts for kids books are always a great idea!  These 18+ titles are perfect additions to your little readers’ Easter baskets or your home Easter collection.  Enjoy!

Tiara’s Hat Parade by Kelly Starling Lyons, Nicole Tadgell

Tiara has a gift for storytelling; her momma has a gift for making hats. When a new store opens that sells cheaper hats, Momma has to set her dreams aside, but Tiara has an idea for helping Momma’s dreams come true again.

A Very Happy Easter by Tim Thornborough

Parents and children will love this fresh retelling of the Easter Story, which helps children understand both the story and the emotions of Holy Week.

The Easter story is filled with sadness, surprise and joy. As the events of Easter unfold, Children are encouraged to understand the emotions of those who knew Jesus and to join in by making facial expressions. They will also learn why Jesus’ death and resurrection mean we can be friends with God forever.

Sunday is for God by Michael McGowan

“Weekdays are for school and Saturday’s for having fun. But Sunday is the Lord’s Day. Sunday is for God.”

A boy longs to play in the river on this hot summer day, but instead he has to sit quietly in a pew. His collar itches and his tie’s too tight—why does the Lord care whether people get dressed up for church, anyway? But as hymns and prayers fill the room, he begins to appreciate the simple beauty of a day set aside for family and prayer. At the end of the service, he explains a prayer to his little sister by whispering, “The Lord will take care of us no matter what. Like Momma and Daddy”—a deeply comforting message for young readers.

When I Pray For You by Matthew Paul Turner

Do you pray over your children and family? If so, this is a definite must add to your collection. It’s SO beautifully written and is the perfect alternative for the book Oh, The Places You’ll Go…for praying families.

It’s filled with all the hopes and dreams I have for my children as I raise them to be responsible adults. This is the type of book you’ll want to curl up and read with your kids at bedtime, when they’ve had a bad day or whenever you want to reaffirm your unconditional love for them. It’s a treasure, for sure! Perfect for Easter, birthday, baby shower, Christening or graduation gift giving.

Early Sunday Morning by Denene Millner

Although this book isn’t specifically about Easter Sunday, I wanted to include it.

It’s almost little June’s big day to sing her first solo in the youth church choir and she couldn’t be more excited! But when it’s time to practice at choir rehearsal, June gets a little stage fright. As a result, her voice starts to tremble when she sings.  She overhears her friends making fun of her which hurts her feelings and makes her even more nervous and scared. With the help of her supportive family and community members, June gains back her confidence. But will she be ready to sing her big solo on Sunday morning in front of the whole congregation?

We’re Going on an Egg Hunt by Laura Hughes
weregoingonanegghunt
Join the Easter Bunnies as they set off on an exciting lift-the-flap Easter egg hunt. With ten eggs to find and count, it’s great fun. But watch out for the obstacles along the way – lambs, chicks, bees and ducks – and there’s even a wolfish surprise, so do take care. Based on the traditional ‘We’re Going on a Lion Hunt’ rhyme, this will be a huge hit with all fans of the classic We’re Going on a Bear Hunt.

If I Were a Rabbit by Jellycat


Ever wonder what it’s like to be a rabbit?  Little readers will enjoy this adorable touch and feel board book all about rabbits!

Dance Bunny Dance by Jellycat
dancebunnydance
Calling all little dancers!  This cute book will make little ones want to get up and shake their cotton tails…so fun!

The Itsy Bitsy Bunny by Jeffrey Burton
theitsybitsybunny
A fun and playful holiday twist on “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” makes this favorite nursery rhyme perfect for Easter!

The itsy bitsy bunny was hopping up the trail
Down fell the baskets past his tiny tail
Out came his friends to help him on his way.
For the itsy bitsy bunny was planning Easter day.

This Itsy Bitsy Bunny must hop at top speed so he can get all of his eggs hidden in time for the big holiday!  Little ones will love this fresh springtime spin on a classic nursery rhyme.

Too Many Carrots by Katy Hudson
toomanycarrots
We read this book several times and loved it!

Rabbit loves carrots. Maybe a little too much. In fact, his carrots are crowding him out of his cozy burrow. When his friends offer to help thats just asking for trouble. TOO much trouble! This charming and lovingly illustrated picture book shows how friendships get us over the rough spots in life, even if the going gets a little bumpy!

Peep and Egg: I’m Not Hatching by Laura Gehl
peepandegg
This book is another favorite that we’ve read this year!

Egg is not hatching.  No way. No how.  It is too scary out there.  Peep wants Egg to hatch so they can do fun things together, like watch the sunrise, splash in puddles, and play hide-and-seek.
But Egg is not cracking… Joyce Wan’s bright and bold illustrations will have young chickies giggling at Laura Gehl’s reassuring tale that takes the not out of I’m not.

Pat the Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt
patthebunny
This touch and feel book is a classic and great for tactile learning!  My kids adore this one!

Miz Fannie Mae’s Fine Easter Hat by Melissa Milich
mizfanniemaesfineeasterhat
How cute is this book cover?

When her husband and daughter buy her a beautiful new Easter hat, which is decorated with lace, flowers, fruit, and four tiny eggs, Miz Fannie Mae proudly wears the hat to church, and everyone thinks a miracle has taken place when the eggs hatch.

The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes by DuBose Heyward
thecountrybunny
The beloved tale of a mother rabbit who dreams of becoming an Easter Bunny that has won the hearts of readers for generations, is now available as a beautiful gift edition. The gift set includes a book and golden shoes charm—perfect for anyone who hopes to be wise, kind, and brave!

God Gave Us Easter by Lisa Tawn Bergren
godgaveuseaster
As Little Cub celebrates Easter with Papa, Mama, and her brother and sister, she begins to ask her papa questions about this very special day of the year.  Papa lovingly explains God’s plans for his children, while taking Little Cub on a memorable walk through her stunning Arctic world, and he shares how Easter came about in clear, simple terms that even the littlest cubs can understand.

Don’t Let Auntie Mabel Set the Table by Vanessa Newton
auntiemabel
This book isn’t necessarily about Easter, but it’s so fitting for families who may be gathering together for Easter dinner.  Absolutely hilarious and fun!

Auntie Mabel and her family and friends have gathered for their big Sunday dinner and can’t wait to dig into a delicious, mouthwatering meal. Before they can begin, Auntie Mabel starts—and doesn’t stop!—blessing everyone and everything she surveys: the yams and Brussels sprouts, the table and chairs—even the president of the United States!

That’s Not My Bunny by Fiona Watt
thatsnotmybunny
Who doesn’t love these Usborne touchy-feely books?  Aren’t they great for little readers?

Lots of baby bunnies! A touchy-feely board book with simple, repetitive text, tactile patches and bold illustrations suitable for babies and toddlers. A little white mouse appears on every page, for children to spot.

Emma’s Easter by Lisa Bullard
emma
Emma’s family is celebrating Easter! Emma and her little brother hunt for Easter eggs and candy. They go to church. Then relatives come over for a big meal. Find out the different ways people celebrate this special day!

The Golden Egg Book by Margaret Wise Brown
thegoldeneggbook
The illustrations in this book are so beautiful!

Once there was a little bunny. He was all alone. One day he found an egg. He could hear something moving inside the egg. What was it?

So begins the Golden Easter classic about a bunny—and a little duck that is about to hatch!

Dear Pope Francis by Pope Francis
dearpopefrancis
This book isn’t about Easter either, but since I adore Pope Francis and this book I’m including it.

If you could ask Pope Francis one question, what would it be?

Children have questions and struggles just like adults, but rarely are they given the chance to voice their concerns and ask the big questions resting deep in their hearts. In Dear Pope Francis, Pope Francis gives them that chance and celebrates their spiritual depth by directly answering questions from children around the world. Some are fun. Some are serious. And some will quietly break your heart. But all of them are from children who deserve to know and feel God’s unconditional love.

Rechenka’s Eggs by Patricia Polacco
rechenkaseggs
This book is visually stunning with gorgeous illustrations!

Old Babushka, known throughout all of Moskva for her beautifully painted eggs, is preparing her eggs for the Easter Festival when she takes in an injured goose. She names the goose Rechenka, and they live happily together until one day when Rechenka accidentally overturns a basket, breaking all of Babushka’s lovingly crafted eggs.

But the next morning Babushka has a surprise awaiting her in the basket. She cries: “A miracle!” It is one of many in this charmingly told tale of friendship and caring.

10 Easter Egg Hunters: A Holiday Counting Book by Janet Schulman
10easteregghunters
The adorable kids from the New York Times besteller 10 Trick-or-Treaters are back and they’re counting their way to Easter! Can you help them find all of the eggs the Easter Bunny has hidden in time for the Easter Parade?

The Easter Egg Artists by Adrienne Adams
theeastereggartists
The Abbotts, established Easter egg artists, let their son develop a style of his own when he shows interest in painting.

When God Made You by Matthew Paul Turner

Told in rhyming and playful text with beautiful illustrations, When God Made You inspires young readers to learn about their own special gifts and how they fit into God’s divine plan as they grow, explore, and begin to create for themselves.

The World is Awake: A Celebration of Everyday Blessings by Linsey Davis

The World Is Awake, A celebration of everyday blessings, written by Emmy Award winner and ABC News correspondent Linsey Davis with Joseph Bottum, is a lyrical, rhyming story for young children intended to make them feel safe and joyful, cradled in the hands of God.

Sawdust Carpets by Amelia Lau Carling

The Lau family have been invited to spend Easter with their cousins in Antigua, Guatemala. Although they are Chinese and Buddhist, Mamá loves the pageantry of Easter.

Your turn: What are your favorite Easter themed books for kids?  Feel free to share in the comments.

18EasterBooksforKids

children's books

The Year of the Monkey: A Book Review

This year, Lunar New Year – The Year of the Monkey – begins on Monday, February 8th and lasts until Jan 27th, 2017.  For nearly 5,000 years, the Chinese culture has divided time in cycles of twelve years.  An animal represents each year.  Therefore, if you are born in a particular year, then you share the personality of that animal.  This year it’s the Year of the Monkey, the ninth animal in the cycle. The next Year of the Monkey will be in 2028.

The Year of the Monkey: Tales from the Chinese Zodiac by Oliver Chin, illustrated by Kenji Ono
theyearofthemonkey
Recommended for children ages 4 – 9

Synopsis
Max is the son of the legendary Monkey King and Queen. Succeeding at school is not easy, but luckily playing in the gym is! Can Max forge his own claim to fame?  Empowering themes of self-discovery and cultural exchange, plus charismatic characters, have proven appeal with children, parents, and elementary educators.

theyearofthemonkey

Reflection
This book is part of a twelve book series that has a different book for each animal in the Chinese zodiac.  All of the books in the series are written in both English and simplified Chinese, which is a bonus if you can read/speak both languages.

I read this book with the kids a few weeks ago.  The kids seemed to really get a kick out of little Max!  He’s so curious and full of energy!  Their favorite part of the story was the jianzi tournament because it was so action packed.  We had fun trying to re-enact the scenes.  Jianzi looks like a game that sort of resembles what Americans call hacky sack.

Max is determined to be the best jianzi player, but his mom (the Monkey Queen) tells him to stop wasting his time “playing silly games.”  His parents want him to accomplish extraordinary things like they did.  After hearing all of the amazing stories from his parents’ past, Max starts to second guess himself about his love of jianzi and entering the tournament.  However, in the end his parents have a change of heart and push him and his friend to be the best and conquer the undefeated Dragon and the Tiger team.

I liked all of the colorful illustrations and the overall messages of teamwork, practice, courage, and determination.  I think this book is a fun way to introduce children to the lunar new year.  Be sure to point out the other animals in the Chinese zodiac that are shown throughout the book.  We had fun searching for them on the different pages!  I haven’t read any of the other 11 books in the series, but I’m sure they’re all equally as entertaining.

Another thing I liked is the back of the book lists the years from 1920 onwards that are Years of the Monkey (1920, 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016, 2028).  There is also a  list of the different qualities and characteristics people born in the Year of The Monkey may have. These include: carefree, curious, crafty, playful, nimble, and persistent.

Also, there is a scannable QR code provided if you are interested in downloading an interactive app for the book.  The app offers word-by-word highlighting, instant playback, and gives kids the ability to read at their own pace.

Read/purchase this book if…

  • You have a child(ren) or relative’s child born in the year of the monkey.
  • Your kids love anything related to monkeys.
  • You want to introduce kids to the sport of jianzi.
  • You are looking for a fun gift to give children for the Lunar New Year.
  • You want to teach children about any of the following topics: cooperation, friendship, creativity, teamwork, practice, cooperation, courage or determination.

Purchase The Year of the Monkey at:
Amazon | Book Depository | Immedium

Connect with the author (Oliver Chin)
Blog  |  LinkedIn   |  Twitter

Connect with the illustrator, Kenji Ono
Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter

Your turn: Do you plan to celebrate the Lunar New Year with your family or students?  Feel free to share in the comments.

black history

29 Black Picture Books for Black History Month, Or Any Month

Where did the month of January go?  I mean seriously.  We are currently just one day away from entering the month of February, Black History Month, can you believe it?  February is our 28-day time frame to shine and because this year is a leap year, we get a bonus day!  While I do believe Black History month should exist, I think the month of February should serve as the starting place for larger, year long discussions and explorations of acceptance and equality as well as African-American history and culture.

Being an African-American mom of two preschoolers, I always get a little annoyed when the one topic people seem to focus on the most when it comes to black history is slavery.  I don’t know about you, but I’m not teaching my children about slavery until they are old enough to understand and digest it.

I’ve often heard many parents, caregivers and educators say they find it difficult or intimidating to teach younger children about black history or choose books due to some of the sensitive topics and images from the past.  While I understand some events in our history are very painful (slavery, segregation, blatant discrimination and violence), there are several other topics and books that can be explored and discussed with children in a fun, lighthearted way.  I think it’s important for people to understand that Black history includes more than just slavery and the struggle for civil rights.

29BlackPictureBooks

There are so many wonderful picture books that feature black children as the main protagonists.  Here’s what I like to do with my kids when it comes to reading books during black history month (or any month):

  • Read about heroes and heroines from the past and present.  And I’m not just talking about Martin Luther King Jr., Harriet Tubman, Barack Obama, and Rosa Parks.  There are so many other people who have emerged as role models for all of our children.  I like to discuss the obstacles they overcame to make our lives better.  Not just for African-Americans, but for people of all races and colors.
  • Discuss and explore different items that African-American inventors have contributed to society.  This nation was not built alone by just one race of people.  Many of the things we use in every day life were invented by African-Americans.  For example: the cell phone, traffic light, the refrigerator, the zipper, the ironing board, peanut butter, and the list goes on!
  • Learn about the many “famous firsts” in African-American history.  I love to share stories of the individuals who were the “first” to accomplish a great feat – regardless of their race. During Black History Month (and every month), I try to make an effort to highlight African-Americans who’ve paved the way of us and helped to make our lives better.

Here are 29 picture book suggestions to explore.  Enjoy!

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.

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.

Freedom in Congo Square by Carole Boston Weatherford
freedomincongosquare
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.

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 by Barbara Herkert
sewingstories
Harriet Powers learned to sew and quilt as a young slave girl on a Georgia plantation. She began making pictorial quilts, using each square to illustrate Bible stories and local legends. Harriet 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.

Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer: The Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement by Carole Boston Weatherford
voiceoffreedom
Fannie Lou Hamer was a champion of civil rights from the 1950s until her death in 1977.  Voice of Freedom celebrates Fannie Lou Hamer’s life and legacy with a message of hope, determination, and strength.

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 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.

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.

Gordon Parks: How the Photographer Captured Black and White America by Carole Boston Weatherford

gordonparks
Gordon Parks is most famous for being the first black director in Hollywood. But before he made movies and wrote books, he was a poor African American looking for work. When he bought a camera, his life changed forever. He taught himself how to take pictures and before long, people noticed.

Molly, by Golly!: The Legend of Molly Williams, America’s First Female Firefighter by Dianne Ochiltree
mollybygolly
This legendary tale introduces young readers to Molly Williams, an African American cook for New York City’s Fire Company 11, who is considered to be the first known female firefighter in U.S. history.

Fly High!: The Story of Bessie Coleman by Louise Borden & Mary Kay Kroeger

flyhigh
When Bessie Coleman was a child, she wanted to be in school — not in the cotton fields of Texas, helping her family earn money. She wanted to be somebody significant in the world. So Bessie did everything she could to learn under the most challenging of circumstances. At the end of every day in the fields she checked the foreman’s numbers — made sure his math was correct. And this was just the beginning of a life of hard work and dedication that really paid off: Bessie became the first African-American to earn a pilot’s license.

Oprah: The Little Speaker by Carole Boston Weatherford

oprahthelittlespeaker
Here is the story of Oprah Winfrey’s childhood, a story about a little girl on a Mississippi pig farm who grew up to be the “Queen of Talk.” The host of the Emmy Award–winning Oprah Winfrey Show , she currently directs a media empire that includes television and movie productions, magazines, a book club, and radio shows. An author’s note is included.

Skit-Scat Raggedy Cat: Ella Fitzgerald by Roxane Orgil
skitscatraggedycat
With lively prose, Roxane Orgill follows the gutsy Ella from school-girl days to a featured spot with Chick Webb’s band and all the way to her number-one radio hit “A-Tisket, A-Tasket.” Jazzy mixed-media art by illustrator Sean Qualls brings the singer’s indomitable spirit to life.


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.

Granddaddy’s Turn by Michael S. Bandy

granddaddysturn
Life on the farm with Granddaddy is full of hard work, but despite all the chores, Granddaddy always makes time for play, especially fishing trips. Even when there isn’t a bite to catch, he reminds young Michael that it takes patience to get what’s coming to you. One morning, when Granddaddy heads into town in his fancy suit, Michael knows that something very special must be happening?—?and sure enough, everyone is lined up at the town hall! For the very first time, Granddaddy is allowed to vote, and he couldn’t be more proud

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!

Trombone Shorty by Troy Andrews
tromboneshorty
Hailing from the Tremé neighborhood in New Orleans, Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews got his nickname by wielding a trombone twice as long as he was high. A prodigy, he was leading his own band by age six, and today this Grammy-nominated artist headlines the legendary New Orleans Jazz Fest.

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.

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.

Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters by Barack Obama
obama
Did you know President Barack Obama is also an author?  In this tender, beautiful letter to his daughters, President Barack Obama has written a moving tribute to thirteen groundbreaking Americans and the ideals that have shaped our nation. From the artistry of Georgia O’Keeffe, to the courage of Jackie Robinson, to the patriotism of George Washington, President Obama sees the traits of these heroes within his own children, and within all of America’s children.

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.

I Have a Dream by Kadir Nelson
ihaveadream
Illustrator Kadir Nelson is extremely talented…I LOVE his work! This book contains snippets from the famous “I Have a Dream” speech as well as the speech in its entirety in the back of the book. The illustrations in this book are beyond amazing!

Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker by Patricia Hruby Powell and Christian Robinson
josephine
Josephine Baker worked her way from the slums of St. Louis to the grandest stages in the world. Meticulously researched by both author and artist, Josephine’s powerful story of struggle and triumph is an inspiration and a spectacle, just like the legend herself.

Harlem’s Little Blackbird by Renee Watson
harlemslittleblackbird
Zora and Langston. Billie and Bessie. Eubie and Duke. If the Harlem Renaissance had a court, they were its kings and queens. But there were other, lesser known individuals whose contributions were just as impactful, such as Florence Mills. Born to parents who were former-slaves Florence knew early on that she loved to sing. And that people really responded to her sweet, bird-like voice.

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.

Lillian’s Right to Vote by Jonah Winter
lilliansrighttovote
As Lillian, a one-hundred-year-old African American woman, makes a “long haul up a steep hill” to her polling place, she sees more than trees and sky—she sees her family’s history. She sees the passage of the Fifteenth Amendment and her great-grandfather voting for the first time. She sees her parents trying to register to vote. And she sees herself marching in a protest from Selma to Montgomery.

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.

When the Beat Was Born: DJ Kool Herc and the Creation of Hip Hop by Laban Carrick Hill

whenthebeatwasborn
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 break dance, and how the music he invented went on to define a culture and transform the world.

Little Melba and Her Big Trombone by Katheryn Russell-Brown
littlemelbaandherbigtrombone
Overcoming obstacles of race and gender, Melba went on to become a famed trombone player and arranger, spinning rhythms, harmonies, and melodies into gorgeous songs for all the jazz greats of the twentieth century: Randy Weston, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Billie Holiday, and Quincy Jones, to name just a few. Brimming with ebullience and the joy of making music, Little Melba and Her Big Trombone is a fitting tribute to a trailblazing musician and a great unsung hero of jazz.

BONUS BOOK!! (Released on February 1, 2016)

Don’t Call Me Grandma by Vaunda Michaeux Nelson
dontcallmegrandma
Great-grandmother Nell eats fish for breakfast, she doesn’t hug or kiss, and she does NOT want to be called grandma. Her great-granddaughter isn’t sure what to think about her. As she slowly learns more about Nell’s life and experiences, the girl finds ways to connect with her prickly great-grandmother

I believe Black History Month is about teachable moments, no matter how big or small.  But please, don’t just limit black history to a few short weeks during the month of February.  Instead, aim to make black history and culture a natural part of your children’s reading material throughout the year. I hope I’ve provided you with some book suggestions for children of all colors.  You don’t need a packaged curriculum or rigid adherence to school standards to craft a quality educational experience for children.  All you need is the desire to inspire, encourage, and educate.

Your turn:  What are your favorite Black children’s books to read?  Which ones would you add to the list?  Feel free to share in the comments.

children's books

I Have a Dream for My Children

The life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. will be celebrated this weekend throughout the United States.  Even if you do nothing to celebrate or acknowledge Dr. King, I think the holiday is a great opportunity to talk to children about diversity, fairness, equality, kindness, friendship and peace.

Every year since my kids were born, I’ve been reading Kadir Nelson’s book I Have a Dream with the kids. The book contains snippets from the famous “I Have a Dream” speech as well as the speech in its entirety in the back of the book.  There is also an accompanying CD to go along with it.

Reading this book makes me think about my own dreams for my children.  As parents, we all want the best for our children, right?  In essence, we want them to be smart, successful and to achieve all of their life goals.

Here are some of my hope and dreams for my children:

  • To be be happy, loving, respectful, and productive citizens of the world
  • To be confident
  • To think for themselves and form their own opinions
  • To be successful in anything they put their minds to
  • To always know their parents love and support them no matter what they do
  • To dare to be different despite what others may think or say
  • To be doers and not dreamers (from Shonda Rhimes book Year of Yes)
  • To work hard and play harder
  • To be loving and respectful of nature and the environment
  • To be willing to experience new and different things
  • To be curious, life-long learners and readers
  • To respect other people no matter what their differences may be
  • To love life with zest and vigor
  • To share their love with others and to be loved by others
  • To give back to those in need and to help make this world a better place no matter how small it may be
  • To be a good friend to others
  • To choose the right way even when the right way is much harder
  • To make mistakes and learn from them
  • To take risks and not be afraid of failure
  • To be healthy
  • To follow their passions and to live fully
  • To dance like no one is watching
  • To take amazing adventures (and sometimes take mommy and daddy along for the ride too!)

Ultimately, I hope my kids’ lives are filled with happiness, giggles, safety, and good health.  I want their lives to be filled with gratitude, joy, and giving.

Cheers to you, Dr. King on your birthday in heaven!  Thank you for the opportunity to meditate on your message and your legacy.

Your turn:  What are your hopes and dreams for your children? Do they mirror your own?  Feel free to share in the comments.

hereweeread