• 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 […]

  • Red Envelope Crafts for 2nd Grade China Unit

    My mom friend Stella who is Chinese explains the ins and outs of Chinese Red Envelope etiquette and significance to 2nd grade kids. We did a special presentation as part of their 2nd grade China Unit that included: the Chinese invention of paper money, red envelope craft and background, Chinese silk children’s clothes, and Chinese money. […]

  • Best Beginning Chapter Books for 2nd and 3rd Grade

    Best books for beginning readers from my library. This list is perfect for 2nd grade and 3rd grade.

  • How To: Create a Great Kids’ Book Club (Activity and Book Suggestions)

    Some ideas on how to set up a book club for your child with examples of successful book club meetings.

How to Get the Most Out of Parent & Teacher Conferences

How to Get the Most Out of Parent & Teacher Conferences

Now that my kids are in high school and middle school, the Parent/Teacher conferences are much different than in elementary school when we met with one teacher for about fifteen or twenty minutes. That time period felt short, especially when the conferences were running late. The elementary school conferences focused on assessments the teacher gave as opposed to standardized testing, and how my child was doing. Next steps included ideas for books to read or additional ways to practice writing or math facts.

How to Get the Most Out of Parent & Teacher Conferences

Some of my son’s amazing teachers in elementary school on the last day of school!

Middle School Parent/Teacher conferences at my school are even shorter and we choose a combination of just two teachers: Math/History OR English/Science. The information was usually around completion of work, attitude in school, and quiz grades. Sometimes these conferences feel like confirming that the teachers know exactly who your child is.

How to Get the Most Out of Parent & Teacher Conferences

Our High School Parent/Teacher conferences are like a kind of sprint: 6 minutes per teacher and I think we can only meet with two. If the rooms are far apart — our high school has four floors — it is literally a sprint. This brief time period seems to focus on how my child is doing in that class from grades to attitude. It’s amazing but I found in high school that these teachers really have a good grasp of who my child is from early on.

How to Get the Most Out of Parent & Teacher Conferences

Given that there’s limited access to teachers (assuming that you don’t request or require more), my strategy is to:

  • Meet with teachers my child seems to complain about the most.
  • Meet with teachers that my child seems to have the hardest time academically.
  • Ask the teacher if they need things donated to their classroom. You’d be amazed how many teachers need basic items like hand sanitizer, and paper towels.
  • Convey positive feedback from my child about that teacher.
  • Thank them for their time. Parent/Teacher conferences make a long school day even longer for teacher!
  • How to Get the Most Out of Parent & Teacher Conferences

Today my guest author is Rocketship Education — a nonprofit network of public charter schools in the Bay Area, Nashville, Milwaukee, Tennessee and Washington, DC on Parent & Teacher Conferences. Since they are coming up in a few weeks, I hope this is helpful!

How about you? Please share your tips for getting the most out of Parent/Teacher conferences. Thanks!

My son’s 5th grade Parent/Teacher Conference focused on self assessment that he did of his own work and how he thinks he’s doing.

Read more…

Beautiful Barefoot Books

Beautiful Barefoot Books

I love the message Barefoot Books newest title, The Barefoot Book of Children. It’s about opening the hearts and minds of children to spark their curiosity to learn about people around the world. It’s about examining differences to find connections and similarities, thus discovering the humanity in each and every person.

Author Kate DePalma and senior editor at Barefoot Books would like to thank you personally for learning more about The Barefoot Book of Children.

The Barefoot Book of Children by Tessa Strickland and Kate DePalma, illustrated by David Dean

What can you see or hear or smell from where you are?

Which [languages] do you recognize?

Does [your name] have a meaning?

With gentle questions, this beautifully illustrated book helps kids see their place in the world as well as make connections to others who are different from them. It’s a book to encourage children to ask questions about how children live around the world. Each illustration vignette shows a child from a different culture but doing similar things: taking a bath, in their special getaway place, at a place of worship, and in their own home. Pair this book with the World Atlas. [large format picture book, ages 2 and up]

bfb-of_children_hc_3d_web_400px Read more…

Teaching Your Kid How and Why to Challenge Authority

12 Books For Kids That Challenge Authority & GIVEAWAY!

Please welcome my guest author today, Jen Downey, who writes the Ninja Librarian series.

Teaching Your Kid How and Why to Challenge Authority

A Baker’s Dozen Books

Challenge authority! Did you just feel a slither of uneasiness?

What parent wouldn’t? We’re the ones who have to get those kids into their beds when they don’t want to go. Ensure that some form of vegetable matter makes it down their throats. Frankly, I’d go stark raving mad if everyone in the family insisted on eating something different for supper.

What do you mean, it’s a good idea to give them examples of fictional and historical characters who challenged authority? Is that really a good idea? Do we really want our kids declaring the right to wear underwear on their heads during grocery store expeditions? Couldn’t we just hand them a nice bundle of books about authority and its challengers when they turn 18, and have signed leases on their first apartments?

If only. Read more…

Kid Lit Blog Hop Now MONTHLY!

Kid Lit Blog Hop


We want to welcome you to the September 2016 Kid Lit Blog Hop. Fall is finally here…YAY! There are some really great Autumn books out there for children. We have seen some list already. How about you share some of those on our monthly hop or for that matter, any great kid’s literature.


This exciting, monthly hop, is where we develop an engaged 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!

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Magnus Chase & The Hammer of Thor GIVEAWAY!

Magnus Chase & #HammerofThor Swag GIVEAWAY!

I think that I’ve mentioned a few times how much we love Rick Riordan books? My son has read every word that man has written with the exception of his adult novels. (Yes! He wrote for adults before Percy Jackson.) My son reads them so fast that I had to find other books like Percy Jackson and diversity books like Percy Jackson. He, of course, prefers the real thing.

My son raced through the first Magnus Chase book where it was fun to see Annabeth Chase. In order to follow the Nordic Mythology references, my son made a second attempt to read d’Aulaires’  Book of Norse Myths, and completed it this time. Honestly, Norse Mythology is a little confusing compared to Greek and Roman Mythology. The gods are more ambiguous with regard to “good versus evil.” We will definitely read Riordan’s new companion book to brush up on the Norse world. His books are particularly good at highlighting lesser known gods and stories so it’s always worth reading.

We also read the new Trials of Apollo Percy Jacksons series. At first, I liked the Magnus Chase book better. We also appreciated that Magnus Chase is set in Boston where we live. It was fun for us to read about places that we had been too. Apollo as a mere mortal takes some getting used to. This Apollo series also has the return of some of the Percy Jackson gang as supporting characters.

Riordan’s newest series are fresh and clever takes on the Percy Jackson series. He seems to be writing faster than ever, which greatly pleases my son. After reading each new book, my son always asks me when the next one is coming out. I used to quote one year, but now it seems to be a little faster but his craft continues to improve with that intoxicating mix of adventure, humor, and super powers. We are so excited for these next two books!

Are your kids also excited for the newest Magnus Chase book? What do you think of companion books? Do your kids read those voraciously too? Please enter to win a copy AND some swag below.

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Diverse Children's Books

Favorite Bilingual Books at #DiverseKidLit Linky

Thanks for joining us for #DiverseKidLit linky! Here’s my pick for favorite bilingual picture book:

Mamá The Alien/Mamá la Extraterrestre by Rene Colato Lainez, illustrated by Laura Lacamara

Our theme for today’s Diverse Children’s Books linkup is Favorite Bilingual Book(s). What are your favorite children’s books in two or more languages? (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.


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Razia's Ray of Hope in Afghanistan

What if You Could Never, Ever Go to School? Book GIVEAWAY

Please welcome my guest author today, Elizabeth Suneby. I met her at Paul Reynolds’ presentation at Charlesbridge Publishing. I had seen her book, Razia’s Ray of Hope: One Girl’s Dream of an Education, during our Multicultural Children’s Book Day celebration so it was nice to match the book with a face!

Razia’s Ray of Hope: One Girl’s Dream of an Education by Elizabeth Suneby

Razia Jan is an Afghan native who Global Citizen describes as “the woman who started a school in one of the worst places to be a girl.” She won a CNN Hero Award, given to ordinary people who do extraordinary things. This is her story about building a school for girls in Afghanistan in a poor, highly illiterate, conservative area where girls had never been allowed to go to school. Razia convinced the village elders to let her build a free, private K – 12 girls school and now more than 600 girls are studying Dari, English, math, science, history, computers and the Koran. [picture book, ages 8 and up]

Today, Elizabeth Suneby talks about what it was like to research and write Razia’s Ray of Hope. I’m also giving away a copy of her book below. Read more…

10 Great Adventure Books

10 Great Adventure Books & 3 Book GIVEAWAY!

I’m a big fan of the Gannon & Wyatt series by Keith Hemstreet and Patti Wheeler. It’s pitch perfect for boys ages 8 and up who like realistic adventure books (as opposed to fantasy á la Harry Potter and Percy Jackson). What’s great about these adventures is that the reader learns about geography and environmental issues while being captivated by a fast paced plot. There are also images and photographs sprinkled throughout the book, making it reader-friendly.

I’m giving away 3 copies of the newest Gannon & Wyatt adventure set in Hawaii. Please see below.

Other adventures include:

Today Keith Hemstreet is guest posting with his ten favorite adventure books that he grew up with.

As a child, I gravitated to stories about nature. Even better were books that combined high-stakes adventure and a spectacular environment — dogsledding in the Arctic, a voyage in the South Pacific, or a safari on the African savannah. Adventure stories such as The Call of the Wild, White Fang and Treasure Island were a few of the classics that I remember enjoying when I was young. As I got older, my interest in far-away places and exotic cultures led me to the local libraries where I studied maps and read the journals of famous explorers such as Lewis and Clark, Captain James Cook, and Sir Robert Falcon Scott. These journals are some of the greatest adventure tales ever told and inspired me to learn more about our fascinating and diverse world. Coauthor, Patti Wheeler, loved the books of James A. Michener—Alaska, Caribbean, Hawaii, to name a few. Together, it was these books along with our own travel experiences that inspired our middle-grade adventure series, Travels with Gannon & Wyatt.

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#ReadYourWorld vs #WeNeedDiverseBooks

#ReadYourWorld vs #WeNeedDiverseBooks

Valarie and I are gearing up for Multicultural Children’s Book Day on January 27th, 2017, so I thought this might be a good time to explain what I perceive to be the differences between two different but similar groups: Multicultural Children’s Book Day and We Need Diverse Books.

In a business analogy, one is a scrappy start-up. The other is a well-funded corporate entity, though, both organizations, in fact, are non-profits.

Let’s start at the beginning (a very good place to start)…

When Did It All Begin?

Multicultural Children's Book Day

Multicultural Children’s Book Day was conceived in the August of 2013. Valarie saw that I was re-focusing my efforts on promoting diversity books in response to Lee and Low’s report that the number of children’s books of a diverse nature has not changed over the last fourteen years, and asked me if I wanted to join her in starting a holiday to promote .  Our first event was Multicultural Children’s Book Day on January 27th, 2014 where we raised about $3k. We used this money for a part-time admin and to set up a non-profit and a website. Our revenues have doubled every year, allowing us to give away more books.

We Need Diverse Books

We Need Diverse Books started in April 2014 by young adult author Ellen Oh. They ran a successful Indigogo campaign that raised $333k in 2014. Their event is a forthcoming Diversity Children’s and YA Book Tradeshow Conference.

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