All posts in Best Books for Kids

10 Books for Kids Jerry Spinelli Wants You To Read

10 Books for Kids Jerry Spinelli Wants You To Read & GIVEAWAY

I’m thrilled today with a 2 question interview from Newbery winner Jerry Spinelli! The first question brings me back to when I first met with with my middle daughter, then probably around nine-years-old. The second question I pose him is to give me his Top 10 Books he thinks everyone should read. I’m also giving away a copy of his latest book, The Warden’s Daughter. Learn more about the book and enter the giveaway at the bottom.

I remember meeting Jerry Spinelli at an author event in Wellesley many years ago with my tween daughter. The front row was entirely made of a group of young girls — maybe 5th grade — who were huge fans of Stargirl. They were desperate to know what happened to her beyond the books. Jerry was so gracious and lovely to give them a hint, and I overhead them talking in the parking lot afterwards, giddy with joy. They were having a “I Met a Rock Star Moment.”

His connection with his readers really struck me. Many authors are asked about endings that are not specified. The query is often parried away, and the young reader left hanging, though you can imagine how important it is — what a big deal it is — to the child that they made a parent drive them to an event just to pose their question.

I noticed through my tween daughter too, who met him, how easily he makes a connection with fans. I could tell she was  ready to adopt him as her grandfather, and ready to practically slide into his lap and make him read aloud to her.

Jerry Spinelli and my daughte

PickyKidPix looks very young here … I think she was in 4th grade but she had read at a few of Jerry Spinelli’s books already. 

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#BlackHistoryMonth by Carole Boston Weatherford

#BlackHistoryMonth by Carole Boston Weatherford

I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Carole Boston Weatherford in Roxbury, Massachusetts last year. I was struck by her quiet elegance and dignity. Her books reflect that too.

Carole Boston Weatherford and Ekua Holmes with Mia Wenjen

Carole Boston Weatherford is on the left. Ekua Holmes is on the right.

I didn’t realize how many #BlackHistoryMonth stories that would have remained largely untold if not for Carole’s work. Today, I wanted to share with you her books in honor of #BlackHistoryMonth.

#BlackHistoryMonth by Carole Boston Weatherford

The Legendary Miss Lena Horne by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon

Lena Horne

Lena Horne, image from Wikipedia

Lena Horne was both an legendary actress and activist, born into a well educated and high achieving family. During the Great Depression, Lena started her career at the Cotton Club as a dancer in the chorus line. Her career catapulted from there, to Broadway, headlining an all-white band, to Hollywood. During WWII, her activist side emerged in full force, which resulted in being blacklisted during McCarthy’s Red Scare. Still, Lena persisted. With a new husband, she was able to further her career to become an international star, and use her fame in the fight for civil rights. [picture book, ages 4 and up]

Freedom in Congo Square by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie

Congo Square New Orleans

Congo Square, U.S. National Register of Historic Places, image from Wikipedia

“Slavery was no ways fair. Six more days to Congo Square.” The back story of the birth of jazz in New Orleans: because Louisiana was a French colony, then a Spanish colony, even slaves had Sunday off from work. In most states, African drums and music were banned. But once a week at Congo Square in New Orleans, hundreds of slaves and free blacks would congregate, play music, and dance. Told in simple rollicking rhyme, this picture book is exuberant as it is informational about a little known story that expresses a human’s capacity to find hope and joy even in the most difficult circumstances. And this resulted in the birth of jazz, America’s only original art form. Carole Boston Weatherford’s books are all exceptional. Both she and illustrator R. Gregory Christie are Coretta Scott King Honorees. Freedom in Congo Square is one of my (accurate) Caldecott picks. [picture book, ages 2 and up]

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Diverse Children's Books

#DiverseKid Lit Blog Hop: Love

Our theme for #DiverseKidLit in February is Love. Please consider sharing diverse books and resources that support love and families. (As always, the theme is only a suggestion. Diverse posts on alternate topics are always welcome.)

What Is #DiverseKidLit?

Diverse Children’s Books is a book-sharing meme designed to promote the reading and writing of children’s books that feature diverse characters. This community embraces all kinds of diversity including (and certainly not limited to) diverse, inclusive, multicultural, and global books for children of all backgrounds.

We encourage everyone who shares to support this blogging community by visiting and leaving comments for at least three others. Please also consider following the hosts on at least one of their social media outlets. Spread the word using #diversekidlit and/or adding our button to your site and your diverse posts.

DiverseKidLit

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3.6 Billion Social Media Share Impressions Multicultural Children's Book Day

3.6 Billion Social Media Share Impressions Multicultural Children’s Book Day

Multicultural Children’s Book Day (MCBD) generated 3.6 billion social media share impressions in three days (day before, day of, and day after).

3.6 BILLION Social Media Share Impressions Over Three Days

3.6 Billion Social Media Share Impressions Multicultural Children's Book Day

This is actually a conservative tally because 1) we did not track social media share impressions beyond the three days even though we had a robust presence on social media the month of January, 2) we had 400 reviewers but we did not track everyone (just the 30 reviewers with the largest social media followings on Twitter/Facebook), 3) we tracked Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Instagram and Pinterest (but we didn’t not track LinkedIn, YouTube, SnapChat, or Periscope).

Who was counted?

Why didn’t we track more? Expense. Our stats are hand tabulated by our Virtual Assistant, Susan Mayfield, using a series of linked Excel spreadsheets.

We started tracking MCBD stats two years ago. In 2015, we generated 26 million social media share impressions.

PragmaticMom Twitter Alone Generated 29 Million Social Media Impressions!

This year, in 2017, my Twitter alone generated 29 million social media share impressions. I tweeted or retweeted 379 times during the three day period and had 77,645 followers at that time. 379 x 77,645 followers = 29,427,455 social media share impressions. Read more…

10 Groundbreaking LGBTQ Children’s Books

10 Groundbreaking LGBTQ Children’s Books

Today my guest author is Laurin Mayeno.  She’s an activist mom at OutProudFamilies, and a Huffington Post blogger. Her new children’s book, One of a Kind Like Me/Único como yo (oneofalikeme.com), is illustrated by Robert Liu-Trujillo and translated by Teresa Mlwar. You might recognize Robert Liu-Trujillo’s work from his poster for Multicultural Children’s Book Day.

One of a Kind Like Me/Único como yo by Laurin Mayeno, illustrated by Robert Liu-Trujillo

This bilingual Spanish picture book gently introduces gender diversity. Danny wants to be a purple princess for the school parade, and his family helps him create a costume from thrift store finds. The author hopes that her book gives children a sense of belonging, courage to be who they are, and an appreciation for people who are different from themselves. [picture book, ages 3 and up]

This bilingual book (Spanish/English) is based on Laurin’s son, Danny. We are giving away a copy of One of a Kind Like Me/Único como yo. Please fill out the Rafflecopter at the bottom to enter.

———

Great news! The list of LGBTQ-themed children’s books is growing! Here are some of my favorite releases from the past two years, with a special focus on those that reflect many types of diversity in our families and communities.

10 Groundbreaking LGBTQ Children’s Books

1. The Boy and the Bindi by Vivek Shraya, illustrated by Rajni Perera

A boy asks his Ammi about the dot above her nose. When she gives him his own bindi, he discovers that it watches over him and allows him to explore and express who he is. This book is nothing short of magical! [picture book, ages 4 and up]

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Picture Books Celebrating Imagination and Friendship

Picture Books Celebrating Imagination and Friendship & GIVEAWAY

I’m delighted to have Jackie Azúa Kramer guest posting today with a picture book list that celebrates imagination and friendship. She picked some of my all time favorite picture books in her ten book list; half about Imagination and half about Friendship.

Her newest picture book is also a perfect blend of friendship and imagination. We are giving away a copy of The Green Umbrella too! Please see the giveaway at the bottom of the post.

The Green Umbrella by Jackie Azúa Kramer, illustrated by Maral Sassouni

Elephant’s green umbrella is also Hedgehog’s boat, Cat’s tent, Bear’s flying machine, and Rabbit’s cane. Elephant doesn’t limit the use of the green umbrella to keeping himself dry either; it’s his sword, balancing pole, and baseball bat. As the rain clears up, the animals each want their toy back. Instead of fighting, they come up with the perfect solution for more adventures together. [picture book, ages 4 and up]

How about you? What are your favorite books that spark the imagination, celebrate friendship or even BOTH?! Thanks for sharing!

Picture Books that Spark a Kid’s Imagination

1. The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires

A little girl has an amazing idea that she’s going to make the most magnificent thing! All she has to do is make it. But making her magnificent thing leads down a frustrating path of trial and error. This book best reflects–Inspiration + motivation + passion = Endless possibilities. The girl’s emotional journey reminds a child not to quit. [picture book ages 3 and up]

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Diverse Children's Books

#DiverseKidLit Theme is Love for Feb!

Our theme for #DiverseKidLit in February is Love. Please consider sharing diverse books and resources that support love and families. (As always, the theme is only a suggestion. Diverse posts on alternate topics are always welcome.)

For February’s #DiverseKidLit theme of love, I chose this wonderful documentary novel of Loving vs. Virginia. A few things to note:

  • Their last name is Loving.
  • Their crime was loving each other.
  • This happened in the state of Virginia, whose state slogan is “Virginis is for Lovers.
  • Had Richard Loving been African American and Mildren white, this case would never had been tried. He would have been lynched.

Loving vs. Virginia: A Documentary Novel of the Landmark Civil Rights Case by Patricia Hruby Powell, illustrated by Shadra Strickland

2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the landmark case that made mixed race marriages legal. That Richard and Mildred’s very last name is “LOVING” and that their crime is loving each other says something about fate perhaps. In 1955, in Virginia — state slogan: Virginia is for Lovers (formerly Virginia is for history lovers)– two teenagers fell in love amidst segregation, racism and cruelty.

Their marriage broke a Virginia 1924 law to preserve racial integrity and keep children of partial white ancestry out of all white schools. The fact that this law implied that one race was superior to another — this legislation allowed Negroes to marry those of other races, thus subjecting them to losing their racial purity — was an inconsistency that won their case.

It took nine long years during which they lived in exile in Washington DC for them to win their case. Told in mesmerizing free verse that makes you feel like you’ve stepped back in time, this chapter book is as important as their landmark case. Novel in verse, ages 8 and up.

What Is #DiverseKidLit?

Diverse Children’s Books is a book-sharing meme designed to promote the reading and writing of children’s books that feature diverse characters. This community embraces all kinds of diversity including (and certainly not limited to) diverse, inclusive, multicultural, and global books for children of all backgrounds.

We encourage everyone who shares to support this blogging community by visiting and leaving comments for at least three others. Please also consider following the hosts on at least one of their social media outlets. Spread the word using #diversekidlit and/or adding our button to your site and your diverse posts.

DiverseKidLit

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Fun Nonfiction Fact Books for Kids & GIVEAWAY!

Fun Nonfiction Fact Books for Kids & GIVEAWAY!

I’m not sure if it’s a boy versus girl thing, but my son loves nonfiction fact books much more than my two daughters ever did. I have to say that I’m enjoying learning about various topics; I feel like I’m preparing for Jeapordy! or an intense round of Trivial Pursuit.

I’m giving away a copy of My Encyclopedia of Very Important Things by DK, a gateway book for younger kids to explore nonfiction reference books. Please fill out the Rafflecopter at the bottom to enter.

What about you? Do you and your kids like nonfiction books? Thanks for sharing your favorites in the comments!

Fun Nonfiction Fact Books for Kids

My Encyclopedia of Very Important Things by DK

This is a four-color appealing encyclopedia for younger kids. With illustrations mixed with photographs, there is plenty of explanations written in short, simple sentences to keeps kids engaged. It’s perfect for young learners with lots of questions. [nonfiction illustrated encyclopedia, ages 5 and up]

It Can’t Be True 2 by DK

This is similar to National Geographic Kids 5,000 Awesome Facts [About Everything] so when you finish up that book and feel a void, continue with this series by DK. My son and I are working our way through the National Geographic Kids series of fact books and these fact based trivia books make perfect bedtime reading material because you can start and stop at any point, making for easier “lights out.” It Can’t Be True 2 series has more illustrations with bigger type than the National Geographic Kids 5,000 Awesome Facts so it might be more appealing to reluctant readers. If you read aloud to your child, you can start at a younger age, like 5 or 6. If your child is reading independently, then this series would be perfect for ages 8 and up. [nonfiction fact book, ages 6 and up]

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Top 10 Diverse Superhero Books & GIVEAWAY

Top 10 Diverse Superhero Books & GIVEAWAY

Please welcome author Gina Bellisario with a list of diverse superhero books! We are also giving away a signed copy of Ellie Ultra: An Extra-Ordinary Girl. A second winner will receive Ellie Ultra: Queen of the Spelling Bee. Please see the Rafflecopter at the bottom to enter to win.

Ellie Ultra: An Extra-Ordinary Girl by Gina Bellisario, illustrations by Jessika von Innerebner

The first book in an action-packed early chapter book series, An Extra-Ordinary Girl features a third-grade, African-American girl who is her city’s resident superhero. But when her powers make her stand out in school, fitting in proves tougher than fighting villains. [early chapter book, ages 6 and up]

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