• Top 10: Best Picture Books for Spring

    You wouldn’t guess that it’s spring here in Boston given the snow we’ve been getting in April! Still, I am dreaming of spring and getting my little garden going. These are my favorite picture books for garden inspiration. These books demonstrate that gardens can transform an environment, bring neighbors closer, and even become a political […]

  • African-American Female Musicians Picture Books

    March is Women’s History Month so I’ve started off with a video of a musician that is new to me, Hazel Dorothy Scott, a jazz prodigy who was prominent during the 1930s and 1940s. I could not find a picture book biography on her (yet) but here’s hoping that someone will write out. In the […]

  • 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 […]

  • What Do Muslims Really Want Anyway?! 17 Books on Muslim World for Kids

    Please welcome my guest poster today, author Elsa Marston who is my resident Middle Eastern Children’s literature go to! She has a list of recommended books for kids and teens at the bottom of the post. ———— Lately we’ve been reading about terrorist actions by Muslims in Europe and other places, events that have again […]

  • 10 Perfect Read Alouds for 4th Grade

    Fourth grade at my elementary school marks a really interesting immigration unit that introduced my kids to their first group project experience. They learned, the hard way, about freeloaders but the end result was a “Wax Museum” where each child played a wax statue that, when prompted by dropping in a fake coin in a […]

  • 10 Perfect Read Aloud Books for 2nd Grade

    I chose a collection of some of my favorite chapter books and picture books for second grade read alouds. Truth be told, I don’t really remember exactly what books my kids were read to in the classroom during 2nd grade. For some reason, it’s drawing a blank at our house. Second grade at our elementary […]

  • Top 10 Life Skills Kids Need Before College

    My book list of Top 10 Books to Teach Kids to Be More Responsible made me start to think about life skills that kids need before going off to college. That and the fact that my oldest, Grasshopper and Sensei, will be starting high school next fall so we have only 4 years to tackle this […]

  • Get Kids Reading Strategies: 12 Surefire Ways

    I searched five years of digital photographs looking for photos of my kids reading and I only came up with the handful here. Why? It’s not easy getting kids reading, especially to love reading enough that they choose it over more exciting things like screens, playdates or sports! I started my blog after my oldest […]

  • 10 Perfect Read Aloud Books for 3rd Grade

    I had the great fortune to meet The Nerdy Book Club founders at a dinner for Anne Ursu hosted by Walden Pond Press to celebrate her latest chapter book, The Real Boy. (It’s wonderful. I put it on my  Newbery 2014 Contenders list! And it just won a Middle Grade Fiction Nerdie). Colby Sharp, one of […]

  • 23 Great Picture Books for 5th Grade

    A reader asked me for a list of picture books appropriate for 4th and 5th grade. I wasn’t sure myself. Sure, there are advanced picture books but does the list have to hit the Core Curriculum agenda? Don’t 4th and 5th graders want to read solely chapter books, having left picture books behind in 1st […]

Inspirational Role Models Books for Kids & 3 Book GIVEAWAY

Most of these books are picture book biographies but not all these books are. Yet, they still are inspirational showing that the human spirit can rise above adversity. I’m giving away of three of these books. Please fill out the Rafflecopter at the bottom to enter.

Inspirational Role Models Picture Books

Step Right Up: How Doc and Jim Key Taught the World About Kindness by Donnal Janell Bowman, illustrated by Daniel Minter

William Key was born into slavery in 1833 but his masters allowed him to be educated along with their children. He had a special talent in caring for injuries and illnesses of both animals and people. After the Civil War, he was a free man and set up a veterinarian clinic where he sold a medicine he formulated. He became famous for a horse that he raised from a sickly colt and taught to read. It was through kindness that his horse, Jim Key, responded, proving that animals were intelligent, capable of emotions, and willing to learn if treated well. Together, Doc Key and his horse helped to raise funds for humane organizations including the ASPCA. [picture book, ages 6 and up]

I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsberg Makes Her Mark by Debbie Levy, illustrated by Elizabeth Baddleley

Fight for the things that you care about. But do it in a way that will lead others to join you.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg

Did you know that Supreme Court justices wrote:

The nature and proper timidity and delicacy which belongs to the female sex evidently unfits it for many of the occupations of civil life.

Woman has always been dependent upon man.

Ruth really, really disagreed with this, and she happened to be one of the few law professors in the country so she went to court to fight for equal treatment of women. In 1993, Ruth Bader Ginsburg became the first Jewish woman justice on the Supreme Court. She never forgot the discrimination she experienced as a child, and was and continues to be a voice for equality and justice. RBG is high on my list as a role model for girls, and indeed, anyone who pursues justice for all. [picture book biography, ages 4 and up]

Read more…

25 Wonderful Books for Kids Celebrating Summer (ages 2-12)

26 Wonderful Books for Kids Celebrating Summer (ages 2-12)

We made it to summer which starts today! Every winter here in Boston, it seems like summer will never arrive. It’s not just the warm we crave, but the relaxed schedule and the long days. It’s time to celebrate summer! What are your favorite books set during the summer? Thanks for sharing!

 

26 Wonderful Books for Kids Celebrating Summer

Picture Books That Epitomize Summer

And Then Comes Summer by Tom Brenner, illustrated by Jaime Kim

It feels like summer will never arrive, but when it does, it’s time for a celebration of simple things like breaking out the flip-flops, digging up the bikes, selling lemonade, and playing outside until it gets dark. Summer is a joyful feeling as well as season of sunshine and free play. This is a book to remember to enjoy the simple pleasures. [picture book, ages 4 and up]

Hot Day on Abbott Avenue by Karen English, illustrated by Javaka Steptoe

Wonderfully illustrated with collage art, this picture book makes palpable the hottest day of summer in an inner city as two best friends wait for the other to apologize so they can enjoy the pleasures this steamy day also brings — double dutch, ice pops, and their renewed bond of best friendship. [picture book, ages 4 and up]

What Can You Do With a Paleta?/ ¿Qué Puedes Hacer con una Paleta? by Carmen Tafolla, illustrated by Magaly Morales

A paleta is a Mexican popsicle and this gorgeously illustrated picture book portrays the glorious wonders of the paleta as well as life in the barrio (neighborhood).  [picture book, ages 2-8]

The First Strawberries by Joseph Bruchac, illustrated by Anna Vojtech

Joseph Bruchac retells this Cherokee legend of how strawberries came to be long ago when the first man and woman walked the earth and quarreled. The sun coaxed the angry woman back with these sweet offerings. [picture book, ages 3 and up]

Apple Pie Fourth of July by Janet Wong, illustrated by Margaret Chodos-Irvine

When her parents cook Chinese food to sell at their store on the 4th of July, the little 2nd generation Chinese American girl thinks that her parents “don’t get it.”  No one wants Chinese food on the 4th of July, right?  A simple story that depicts perfectly the straddling of two worlds that 2nd generation children feel and, as it turns out, there are all kinds of ways to celebrate America’s birthday!   [picture book, ages 2-6]

Little Pig Saves the Ship by David Hyde Costello

Little Pig is too little to go to sailing camp with his brothers and sisters so he learns about sailing and knots with his grandpa and poppy. Together, they help Little Pig sail the toy ship that they built for him. When the ship almost gets away, Little Pig’s skill with knots comes in handy. Read this picture book with younger siblings who are too little to go to camp. [picture book, ages 3 and up]

 

Summer Picture Books To Overcome Fears

Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall

Jubari is ready to jump off the high dive, but there as he thinks about it, there are a few things to do first! This is a sweet and and gentle story about finding the courage to take a big leap into the unknown, and the rewards that it brings. A perfect picture book for anyone thinking of jumping off the diving board! [picture book, ages 4 and up]

Read more…

Kid Lit Blog Hop Now MONTHLY!

June Kid Lit Blog Hop

Hello, welcome back to another month of terrific children’s literature. We welcome you to the June 2017 Kid Lit Blog Hop. This hop takes place every 3rd Wednesday of the month. It is designed to engage a  group of people who love everything that has to do with children’s literature. Everyone is welcome to join us: bloggers, authors, publicist, and publishers!

We have already seen some Summer books for kids around the blogsphere. Let’s show them off again on the blog hop and see what else you are reading!

Kid Lit Blog Hop Now MONTHLY! Read more…

Special Needs Books for Kids ages 4-16

Special Needs Books for Kids ages 4-16

Please welcome my guest author today, Sandra Woffington, with a special needs book list. Her book, Evil Speaks: Warriors and Watchers Saga #1,  is a middle grade novel that follows teens with disabilities on an epic, mythological adventure. Sandra is a middle school teacher who is passionate about teaching her students not to just tolerate those with differences – but include them.

Evil Speaks not only takes young readers on an epic mythological journey, it helps to break down stereotypes and encourage inclusion of people from all walks of life.

Evil Speaks follows the journey of this unique crew, along with Benny, a lonely fifteen-year-old whose paranoid mother has moved him from town to town after the disappearance of his father at age three. Benny has had enough. After a particularly bad argument, he decides to run away. Just as he packs his bags—boom!—the house explodes, catapulting Benny into a world he never imagined existed. The trail leads him to a gated neoclassic building in the woods where he meets this unlikely band of heroes, all who seem vaguely familiar to Benny. As unique and different as they all are, they share one common thread: each of them lost a parent on the exact same day. As they set out to uncover the mystery, the only clue they have to follow is the whereabouts of Benny’s grandfather, a strange—and dangerous—man. They must quickly learn to become warriors before the seven gates of evil are opened forever. [chapter book with special need blind, deaf, and paraplegic, for ages 8 and up]

p.s. See a longer Special Needs Reading List here. Read more…

HARLEM: Found Ways & Harlem Children's Books

HARLEM: Found Ways & Harlem Children’s Books

I brought my daughters and one of their friends to see an art exhibit on Harlem.

HARLEM: Found Ways Cooper Gallery in Harvard Square

We were fortunate to get a private tour by Vera Ingrid Grant, Director of the Ethelbert Cooper Gallery of African & African American Art at the Hutchins Center in Harvard Square, on her show, HARLEM: Found Ways, a collection of art reflecting Harlem today.

What really caught my eye was the unusual use way of displaying art in this exhibit.

Read more…

15 Great Korean Folk Tales for Kids

15 Great Korean Folk Tales for Kids

I’ve been fortunate to have been gifted with Korean folk tale picture book by my Korean mother in law. It’s a nice way to connect my kids with their (one-half) Korean heritage. They are also one-quarter Chinese and one-quarter Japanese, so I’ll continue with more folk tale posts to cover the different aspects of their Asian culture.

Are there any more countries whose folk tales you’d like to learn more about? Let me know and I’ll make you a list!

15 Great Korean Folk Tales for Kids

The Green Frogs: A Korean Folktale retold by Yumi Heo

I’m sad that beloved children’s book author and illustrator Yumi Heo lost her battle to cancer in November 2016. Heo’s husband Steven Dana announced the creation of a Yumi Heo Memorial Fund. The money raised will go toward continuing the training for her daughter, a competitive figure skater, and for a scholarship fund for students in Korea. Her whimsical illustrations make this funny Korean folktale about two young frogs with Opposition Disorder appealing to kids. Even those who listen to their mothers! In Korea, kids who don’t listen to their moms are called green frogs. [picture book, ages 4 and up]

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Homelessness in Children's Books

Homelessness in Children’s Books

In creating this list, I noticed that most of these homelessness stories have parents who work part-time jobs, often more than one. Despite shelter uncertainty, they are going about their lives, sending their children to school, and even going to college themselves. It’s usually a series of setbacks or a tragedy like the death of a breadwinner than sends them spiraling downward. This is not surprising given that most Americans are one paycheck away from the streets.

On a single night in January 2015, 564,708 people were experiencing homelessness — meaning they were sleeping outside or in an emergency shelter or transitional housing program. National Alliance to End Homelessness

Part of this 564,708 homeless number includes women and children. It’s a heart breaking statistic. Imagine families with children trying to go about their everyday life without a place to sleep. It’s becoming a more common sight in cities like Boston where I live.

With the spike in homelessness, has come the homeless spikes. Yes, it’s as horrible as it sounds. MacDonald‘s is one such company that puts anti-homeless spikes designed to keep the homeless away.

Some artists decided to fight back against the anti-homeless spikes, starting a movement they call “Space, Not Spikes.”

not spikes

“Space, Not Spikes” reclaimed the spiked area by covering it with bedding, pillows, and a bookshelf stocked with reading material. Upworthy

Hostile design doesn’t solve the issue of homelessness. It just tries to remove the homeless from the line of sight of those who have a place to live. And yet, there are humane solutions to homelessness like these tiny homes the size of garden sheds.

tiny homes for the homeless

My oldest, Grasshopper and Sensei, is headed for art college. She thinks about social issues from a design perspective. I hope that one day she will work on the issue of homelessness.

Maybe this book list will inspire kids to tackle this problem with solutions that start and end with compassion, not spikes? Here’s hoping!

How about you? What books would you add to this list? Thanks for your help!

 

Homelessness in Children’s Books

Homelessness in Picture Books

Uncle Willie and the Soup Kitchen by DyAnne DiSalvo-Ryan

Nationally, about one out of every eight people is poor. Many of them are children. The patrons of the soup kitchen include the unemployed, the needy, and the homeless. No one is excluded.

A young boy is nervous to see the Can Man in his neighborhood, but his Uncle Willie who works at the soup kitchen knows him well. The boy notices a woman sleeping on a park bench and decides he wants to learn more about his uncle’s soup kitchen. On his day off from school, he accompanies his uncle to work. It’s little things that he learns: children who sit in high chairs eat here; not everyone is homeless; somehow there is always enough food for everyone. [picture book, ages 6 and up]

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Kid Vid Fest

Summer Stop Motion Contest for Kids!

Kid Vid Fest

Do your kids like to make stop motion movies? My son uses Flipagram as an easy way to do Lego stop motion animation.

Stop Motion movie Contest for Kids Read more…

14 Picture Books to Teach Gratitude

14 Picture Books to Teach Gratitude

We all want our kids to be grow up to be happy. It turns out that gratitude is the surest path to happiness. These 14 picture books all have a different take on gratitude and thankfulness. What are you favorite books on this topic?

14 Picture Books to Teach Gratitude

Penguin Problems by Jory John, illustrated by Lane Smith

Mortimer, the little penguin is the opposite of grateful as he starts his morning.

“It’s way too early. My beak is cold. It’s too bright out here. I’m hungry. It snowed some more last night, and I don’t even like snow.”

As he hunts for food, he is also being hunted. He has so many problems (and complaints). Finally, a walrus sets him straight with some zen thoughts, challenging him to appreciate what he has both in his community and the natural beauty that surrounds him.

Do walruses understand penguins? They do seem to understand gratitude! Kids will enjoy this hilarious picture book about looking at things from a different perspective. [picture book, ages 3 and up]

The Quiltmaker’s Gift by Jeff Brumbeau, illustrated by Gail de Marcken

A greedy king is unhappy despite his piles of treasures and he thinks a quilt from the magical quiltmaker will fulfil him. She only gives her quilts to the poor and needy and agrees to make him a quilt on one condition:

“Make presents of everything you own, she said, “and then I’ll make a quilt for you. With each gift that you give, I’ll sew in another piece. When at last all your things are gone, your quilt will be finished.”

“I can’t do that!” cried the king. I love all my wonderful, beautiful things.”

“But if they don’t make you happy,” the woman replied, “what good are they?”

The king can not part with his treasures so he punishes her instead. With each attempt, she foils him with sewing projects that help an animal, who helps her in turn. Finally, the king decides to give away his things. Slowly he learns that giving away his treasures actually fills him with happiness.

This is a wonderful classic about how true happiness comes from giving to others in need. It belongs on every bookshelf! [picture book, ages 4 and up]

Read more…