All posts in Reading Lists: Picture Books

#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]

Read more…

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]

Read more…

Our 2017 Caldecott Predictions

Our 2017 Caldecott Predictions

I’m no expert in predicting the Caldecott but it’s a fun exercise. While it’s an award for illustration, I think it’s more than that.

The Caldecott Medal was named in honor of nineteenth-century English illustrator Randolph Caldecott. It is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children.

dis·tin·guished

successful, authoritative, and commanding great respect.

Caldecott medal

Caldecott Picture Books Should Appeal to a Wide Audience

The Caldecott is determined by adults, first and foremost, so the picture book has to appeal to adult sensibilities who then imagine this book for a young audience. I think this broad audience is also a fundamental characteristic for winning a Caldecott. In fact, the broader the better, both in age and in subject matter.
Read more…

10 Cozy New Winter Picture Books & GIVEAWAY

10 Cozy New Winter Picture Books & GIVEAWAY

It really depends on who you ask in my family when it comes to winter and snow. My husband hates the cold, and equates the snow with shoveling out, ice dams, and slipping on black ice. My kids take a more joyful view of snow. It’s no school snow days spent sledding down hills, snow ball fights, and hot chocolate with mini marshmallows.

PickyKidPix first snow in kindergarten

PickyKidPix and her friend Helena catch snowflakes on their tongues during their first snow in kindergarten. 

To put a happy face on the cold, my husband has opted for cozy and comforting home cooking. Our menu changes from grilling to long simmered soups and stews. For making winter cozier no matter what weather you are experience, try these cozy winter snow books with your kids. My favorite snow books are on my Top 10 Winter Books for Kids list. What are yours?

10 Cozy New Winter Picture Books

Sleep Tight Farm: A Farm Prepares for Winter by Eugenie Doyle, illustrated by Becca Stadtlander

It’s a lot of work to get the farm ready for winter! The strawberries need to be covered with hay. The fields need to be planted with oats and rye. The raspberry canes need to be cut back. For everything the farm gives, there’s something to be done. With the old fashioned charm of The Ox-Cart Man, this picture book captures the buzz of activity on the farm as winter approaches with calm, quiet fortitude.

Read more…

10 Hilarious Cat and Dog Picture Books

10 Hilarious Cat and Dog Picture Books

To celebrate the release of my latest picture book, Officer Katz & Houndini: A Tale of Two Tails, illustrated by Danny Chatzikonstantinou, Mia invited me to share my TOP 5 funny dog and cat picture books!

Dog my cats! It was virtually impossible to limit myself to 5 books each, but here goes! It’s raining cats and dog picture books!!

 10 Hilarious Cat and Dog Picture Books starting with …

Top 5 FUNNY Dog Picture Books

5. A Dog Wearing Shoes by Sangmi Ko

How can you resist this cover? I certainly couldn’t!

The shoe-wearing canine character of this dog adoption tale so reminds me of another favorite canine, Dr. Seuss’s Max.

Read more…

Picture Books for Finding Courage

Picture Books for Finding Courage & 3 Book GIVEAWAY

I’m so happy to welcome my guest author today, Laura Gehl, who has a Top 10: Picture Books for Finding Courage. Her list is not limited to Scared of the Dark picture books, but also includes both nonfiction and hilarious fiction books of overcoming fear. She’s also giving away 3 copies of her latest Peep and Egg book, Peep and Egg: I’m Not Trick or Treating, just in time for Halloween. Please fill out the Rafflecopter at the bottom to enter.

How about you? What books about childhood fears are you enjoying with your kids? I just read a remarkable one by Canadian astronaut, Chris Hadfield, about his fear of the dark and how he overcame that in order to explore the darkness of space: The Darkest Dark.

————-

I was a pretty fearful kid, with many of the typical childhood worries.  I was scared of robbers breaking into my house.  I was scared of something terrible happening to my parents.  I was scared of not fitting in at school.

And then I became a mom, and between my four kids, we had pretty much EVERY fear covered: fear of the dark, fear of needles, fear of heights, fear of worms (not proboscis worms, which can grow to more than 150 feet and are legitimately creepy…just regular earthworms).

Read more…

My Very Short Diversity Picture Book Videos

My Very Short Diversity Picture Book Videos

I’ve been making very, very short picture book videos on my YouTube channel. I only have 47 subscribers, so if you would subscribe, I’d be very grateful!

I made over three dozen picture book videos so far of newly published books, but I picked these five diversity books to highlight today.

5 Wonderful Diversity Picture Books Made Into a Very Short Video

Mamá the Alien by Rene Colato Lainez, illustrated by Laura Lacamara

The confusion of being a legal alien versus an alien from outer space makes its bilingual Spanish picture book the perfect conversation starter about the naturalization process. MAMA THE ALIEN by Rene Colato Lainez, illustrated by Laura Lacamara. ♫ Background song, Englishman In New York by Sting. [picture book, ages 4 and up]

Read more…

Picture Books for Toddlers About Being a Good Friend

Picture Books for Toddlers About Being a Good Friend & GIVEAWAY!

Maria Ashworth is my guest blogger today with a list of ten picture books to help toddlers and preschoolers learn how to be a good friend. Her picture book is called My Big Tree and introduces counting to 10. Animals in North America join a blue bird in a tree but must reorganize into segregated groups in order to make the bird happy.


10 Great Picture Books for Toddlers About Being A Good Friend

10. It’s Mine by Leo Lionni
Selfish frogs bicker about everything until a disaster strikes their pond. Then do they learn the value of friendship. The book is a perfect story for any child who needs a little reminder on why it is important to learn to share.

Read more…

19 Picture Books That Teach Important Life Lessons

19 Picture Books That Teach Important Life Lessons

Can picture books teach life lessons? I think so. To find life lessons, I went to some original sources … life lessons from a 90-year-old woman and a 99-year-old man. Their words of wisdom were similar and it’s about living well to live long.

I added in a few life lessons that I’ve found along the way and the picture books that help to illustrate it. How about you? What life lessons resonate for you? Please do share!

Laugh (Every Day)

A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever by Marla Frazee

Funny picture books are very popular in my house, but it’s hard to get both adult and child to snort laugh at the same time. Especially if said picture book gets read over and over again, which typically makes the humor wane over time.

Perhaps A Couple of Boys Have The Best Week Ever speaks to my son and I because he’s that kid. For all the outdoor enrichment activities that I plan for him, he’d rather be home in front of a screen. And he also has dryly sarcastic things to say about day camp and other activities forced upon him.

Humor is recommended for living a long full life. Laugh often, at least daily and surround yourself with people, and books, that make you laugh. That’s probably the #1 piece advice from those who have lived long and well. [picture book, ages 4 and up]

Read more…