All posts in Best Books for Kids

10 Amazing Multicultural Picture Books About Helping Others

10 Amazing Multicultural Picture Books About Helping Others

I think kids are naturally compassionate and it only takes a single story or book to motivate them to help out in someway. But can a child truly make a difference? I’m hoping these books will help demonstrate that, like a ripple effect, a small act of kindness, can make a big difference.

I didn’t set out to find books centered around bicycles but there are a few here that demonstrate how such a simple means of transportation can change lives. In fact, it’s this idea of how small things (and single ideas) can change lives that inspired this list.

What books for kids inspire you and your kids to change the world? Please share!

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Top 10 Earth Day Picture Books

Top 10 Earth Day Picture Books

Earth Day — April 22 — marks the anniversary of what many consider the birth of the modern environmental movement that began in 1970. Today is a good reminder to celebrate Earth Day every day and pass lessons on environmental stewardship to our children. To this end, I wanted to share resources for teaching kids about the environment.

Scholastic and OPEI (Outdoor Power Equipment Institute) have partnered to create lesson plans and activities that empower students in grades K through 5 and their families to champion best practices in taking care of the green space in their communities. The program sets out to inspire an interest in backyard science, environmental activism, and encourage spending time in the outdoors.

Resources include a teachers section, a parents section, and a free e-Book – a digital storybook about superhero TurfMutt and the Outdoor Powers.

I also have a book list of our favorite earth day picture books. What books that you enjoy am I missing? Please share! Read more…

Top 10 Multicultural Picture Books on Bullying

Top 10 Multicultural Picture Books on Bullying

My boxing friend Mark has an idea for a reality tv show that is both of our fantasies-come-true. The show would set up you and your bully in a boxing ring. It would be a real fight with a set date so that you could train, a pre-determined number of rounds and a referee. Of course, your bully opponent might not have been training for a fight for years … and that’s what makes this a fantasy! In reality, it would probably be depressing to fight those middle school bullies thirty plus years later (though putting up a good fight would earn my respect of my bully tormentor).

My kids have each had a few incidences of bullying over their short life. It was nothing too momentous, especially by my childhood standards. It’s no longer politically correct to solve conflict through physical fights (my boxing trainer laments; he’s pretty old school) and anti-bullying training in school with greater awareness by teachers has made bullying less blatant. It still exists though … and the rise of cyberbullying probably is one result of not letting kids solve conflicts through physical fighting. I suspect there is an innate primal drive for humans, much like wolf packs or chickens, to assert pecking order in order to establish an alpha leader and perhaps bullying is one negative outcome of that impulse. Read more…

5 Amazing Multicultural Novels in Verse and the Kid Lit Blog Hop

5 Amazing Multicultural Novels in Verse and the Kid Lit Blog Hop

It’s been such a great year for those who love both multicultural/diversity/inclusive books for kids AND novels in verse! I picked five amazing favorites that I’ve loved from this past year and hope that the popularity of these books will encourage more diversity books to be published!

What are your favorite novels in verse? Please share! Thanks!

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Booking Across America: Tennessee & Patricia McKissack

Booking Across the USA: Tennessee & Patricia McKissack

I am thrilled to be co-posting with Valarie Budayr of Jump Into A Book for the Book Across America blog tour.  I was late to the sign up so my birth state of California was already taken, as well as Massachusetts where I now reside. No matter. Tennessee was open where Valarie lives so I grabbed it for us.

We chose Patricia McKissack as our children’s author to represent Tennessee. Not only was she born there, but she’s very active doing school visits and book talks all over the state. You might not have heard of her … so we’ve included a list of her books as well as a book extension idea.

Patricia C. McKissack Read more…

Picture Book of the Day for Kids Living in Alcoholic Home

Living in an Alcoholic Home Picture Book of the Day

Today’s Picture Book of the Day comes from the Multicultural Children’s Book Day Twitter Party. We asked participants to tell us what inclusive, diversity and/or multicultural children’s books they having trouble finding. It’s a heartbreaking topic but kids who live in an alcoholic home was one such request. I researched and found these books at my local public library. Some of these books are still in print. I hope these books find their way into the hands of the kids who need this.

It’s interesting that there are so few books for kids about living in an alcoholic home as alcohol use disorders affect 16% of adults in the U.S., and more than 10 percent of U.S. children live with a parent with alcohol problems, according to a 2012 study. I would imagine kids who live in an alcoholic home feel very alone with this kind of problem and would benefit for books that show them that there are others facing this problem and give them ideas to help them cope.

I think the most important thing for kids who live in an alcoholic home to realize is that they are not the cause of their parent’s problem and that their parent has a disease which is no one’s fault.

Am I missing any books you recommend? Please share! Thank you! Read more…

Top 10 Best Multicultural Easy Readers

Top 10 Best Multicultural Easy Readers

It wasn’t easy finding great multicultural easy readers! My town library has about 49 cubic feet of easy readers — an entire wall — but about half have animal characters and most of the remaining books do NOT have characters of color. From my search that day, I’d say that about 2% of the square footage were multicultural books. I culled through all of these plus ran through the Geisel award-winning books and came up with my ten favorites.

Some of favorite Easy Readers include Little Bear, Mr. Putter and Tabby, Henry and Mudge, anything by Arnold Lobel, Fly Guy, Elephant and Piggie, Biscuit, and Dr. Seuss, but sadly, none of these books have diversity characters. I can understand that the animal based Easy Readers can not, but Mr. Putty could have a friend who isn’t white, right?! And Henry with his big dog Mudge could too. It doesn’t have to be a big deal; the friend just happens to be of color (and sometimes I prefer it that way). So just a thought to plant out there…let’s hope in 2016, Henry and Mr. Putter make new friends of color. Read more…

Best Multicultural YA Books & Kid Lit Blog Hop

Best Multicultural YA Books & Kid Lit Blog Hop

These are the Young Adult books from the 2015 Notable Books for a Global Society. Part I from the list of picture books is here and Part II of middle grade books is here.

Best Multicultural Young Adult Books for Teens

Silver People: Voices from the Panama Canal by Margarita Engle

Did you know that there was an Apartheid system in Panama during the construction of the canal? Whites were paid in gold and those of color, much lower wages —  in silver. Margarita Engle’s background as a botanist and agronomist is evident as she tells a story of the ecological impact of the Panama Canal as well as the Civil Rights story that is largely unknown.

I have an interview with Margarita Engle on Silver People at the Multicultural Children’s Book Day blog. [novel in verse, ages 12 and up]

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2014 Cybils Winners: Early Chapter Book and Easy Reader

2014 Cybils Winners: Early Chapter Book and Easy Reader

It was so much fun to judge the final round of the Cybils for Best Easy Reader and Early Chapter Book. I felt like our committee really pondered long and hard to come up with the winners in a multi-step process:

  • We procured the books, mostly from the library (copies were sent by publishers if your library didn’t have it)
  • We read all the books within about a 3 week period
  • We shared notes on each book via a shared Google Doc
  • We ranked the books within each category on the Google Doc
  • We meet via Google Chat to discuss and choose winners (about an hour)
  • The winners were written up with editing from the group

And the Cybils winners are …

Cybils 2014 Easy Reader Winner

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