10 Great Picture Books to Learn About Mexico

10 Great Picture Books to Learn About Mexico

My kids studied Mexico in 2nd grade, a unit that was filled with crafts and excitement, including a Mexico Day Party. One of the student’s mother who teaches Spanish at the high school, even participated by dressing up as Frida Kahlo to teach the kids Spanish. At the end of fifth grade, some kids still talked about Mexico Day. Apparently making guacamole was a highlight of their elementary school experience!

Mexico 2nd grade unit

This collection of picture books is meant for all years of elementary school. I noticed that our 5th graders studied the Ancient Mayans.

10 Great Picture Books to Learn About Mexico

10.  Rain Player by David Wisniewski

This reads like a folk tale but it’s actually an original story set in Maya civilization. A drought been foretold. Chac, the god of rain, is displeased when a boy, Pik, speaks disrespectfully. To earn the god’s favor, Pik must win pok-a-tok, sending a five-pound ball of rubber through stone hoops on a walled court. If Pik is defeated, he and his teammates will be turned into frogs. Pik appeals to the Jaguar, the Quetzal, and the sacred cenote, who are persuaded to join his team. Will Pik be able to make the rains fall? [picture book, ages 6 and up]

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Diverse Children's Books

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I’ve been making very, very short videos of picture books like this one, Mama the Alien by Rene Colato Lainez.

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.

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Diverse Children’s Books linkup is Diverse Books for Back to School. Please consider writing and sharing your favorite books either about school / back to school or that might make a great read aloud during those first few weeks of school. (The theme is only a suggestion. Diverse posts on alternate topics are still always welcome.)

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164 Chapter Books for Difficult Situations: #MGGetsReal

166 Chapter Books for Difficult Situations: #MGGetsReal

Please welcome my guest blogger today, Kerry Cerra. She’s the author of Just a Drop of Water (9/11 and Religious Intolerance), but she’s here today with author friends –Shannon Wiersbitzky of What Flowers Remember (Alzheimer’s),Kathleen Burkinshaw of The Last Cherry Blossom (Hiroshima), Joyce Moyer Hostetter of Comfort (War Trauma), and Shannon Hitchcock of Ruby Lee & Me (School Integration) — to create a comprehensive list of realistic fiction for middle grade (ages 9 and up).

This list of 165 chapter books covers a plethora of topics. Let me know if you need a category that isn’t listed. I hope you find this list as useful and I do!

  • Chapter Books with Abandonment
  • Chapter Books with Verbal or Physical Abuse
  • Chapter Books with ADD/ADHD
  • Chapter Books with Adoption/Foster Care
  • Chapter Books with Substance Abuse
  • Chapter Books with Alzheimer’s/Dementia
  • Chapter Books Covering Anxiety
  • Chapter Books with Autism/Asperger’s
  • Chapter Books with Blended Families
  • Chapter Books with Body Image Issues
  • Chapter Books with Bullying
  • Chapter Books with Civil Rights/Integration
  • Books for Tweens with Deaf/Hearing Loss
  • Chapter Books with Death of a Parent/Grandparent
  • Chapter Books with Death of a Sibling
  • Chapter Books with Depression and Mental Illness
  • Chapter Books with Discrimination & Prejudices (religious, ethnic, etc.)
  • Chapter Books with Divorce
  • Chapter Books with Dyslexia
  • Diverse Chapter Books
  • Chapter Books with Eyesight/Blindness
  • Feeling like You’re a Bad Friend Chapter Books
  • Chapter Books About Following Your Dreams Despite Odds
  • Chapter Books with Gifted Characters
  • Chapter Books on Homelessness
  • Chapter Books Dealing with Illness
  • Chapter Books on Immigration
  • Books with LGBTQ
  • Chapter Books with Physical Disability/Disfiguration
  • Chapter Books with Self-Doubt
  • Chapter Books with Stepfamilies
  • Chapter Books with Suicide
  • Chapter Books with Survivor’s Guilt
  • Chapter Books About Wanting to Fit In
  • Chapter Books with War Trauma

——————–

Hands down my favorite thing about visiting schools as an author is the ability to recommend books to readers. Of course I speak about my own novel, but I always bring others with me. Lots of them. Why? Because I wholeheartedly believe it’s important for kids to be able see themselves in a story, and I know my book may not be that book for everyone. So I’m thrilled to be part of an exciting campaign, #MGGetsReal, with four other awesome authors. Our goal is simple: to highlight books which kids can relate to on a personal level—so they don’t feel so alone, afraid, or different.

All most of us have to do is remember back to our pre-teen years to know that kids long to feel one with the masses. To be accepted. To fit in. The recent video of a young girl, Emma, from Texas who wears a prosthetic leg is proof of this. With videotape rolling, Emma’s excitement is palpable as she realizes she’s getting an amazing gift, an American Girl doll. And lucky for myself and the millions (yes, millions) of viewers who have now seen the footage, we witness Emma’s genuine happy-shock reaction when she opens the box to discover that the doll is actually sporting a prosthetic leg just like her own. Seriously? Can you imagine anything better for this girl? Go ahead and view it here, but be careful, for Emma’s tears are infectious!

My own middle-grade novel, Just a Drop of Water, is the story of two thirteen-year-old boys—one Christian, one Muslim—and how their friendship is tested in the wake of September 11, 2001. It has strong themes of friendship, loyalty, bullying, and peace. Every so often at a school visit, I’ll encounter a Muslim student who pulls me aside to say how much the book, particularly the character of Sam, resonates with them and to thank me for writing it.

A handful of times, I’ve had kids tell me they are like the main character Jake. They too only see the world in black and white. With no gray. What’s right is right and what’s wrong is wrong. They are Jake! And like Jake, they sometimes get in trouble for it. I feel like the luckiest author in the world when I get to have these important discussions with them about how it’s okay to stand up for what you believe in, but to do so peacefully. And to know that sometimes my book is one that a kid connects to in such a personal way, well, it’s singlehandedly the reason why I write!

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Easy Sun Catcher Craft

Easy Sun Catcher Craft for Kids

This Sun Catcher Craft is easy and fun. I like it because it uses things you find around the house (with the exception of Epson Salt which I had to purchase).

Supplies on Hand:

Suncatcher Craft

  • spoon
  • 1/4 size measuring cup
  • bowl
  • clear, plastic lid; I used the lid from a takeout container
  • string
  • knife or scissors to punch hole in lid

Supplies You Might Have to Buy:

  • Epsom Salt. I bought this Espon Salt, $5.21, at my local drug store. You don’t need much but you can use the leftovers in a relaxing bath. It’s lavender scented too!

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Big Fat Notebooks Middle School Study Guides

#BigFatNotebooks Giveaway

Big Fat Notebook

Are you starting to think about school yet? Are your kids in school already? Yikes! We have a few more weeks to go before school starts. Our school system has stuck to the “After Labor Day” start day, but then we get out very late, during the third week of June.

Big Fat Notebooks for Those Who Don’t Know Much About History …

Today, I wanted to talk about Big Fat Notebooks, a study guide series for middle school students from the folks behind Brain Quest. There are five books in all that cover comprehensively all the material covered in Middle School: Math, Science, American History, English Language Arts, and World History. Whew! That’s a lot of material, right?

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My Son's Top 10: Funny Alien Books (ages 4 -12)

My Son’s Top 10: Funny Alien Books (ages 4 -12)

Is it just us or are aliens funny? I like the stories where the aliens are hanging out, living next door and blending in with humanity. No one seems to notice that they are little different. Alien invasions despite their superior technology and plan to dominate the world can also be humorous. We like alien adventures in any book genre as long as they don’t take themselves too seriously.

My conclusion after making this list: there are not enough funny alien books for kid out there! Authors! Please write more! They get kids reading.

 

Funny Alien Picture Books

Mr. Wuffles by David Weisner

It’s an alien invasion of very small aliens and Mr. Wuffles, the family cat, is intrigued. This is far more interesting than the cat toys his family has been tempting him with! The aliens want to get away but they need to repair their ship after Mr. Wuffles used it as a toy. The native insects are recruited for a double team against Mr. Wuffles and an escape plan is hatched. Who knew that aliens and insects speak the same language? [picture book, ages 4 and up]

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Poetry for Kids: Haiku using Japanese Art

Poetry for Kids: Haiku using Japanese Art

A traditional Japanese haiku poem is written in three lines:

5 syllables on the first line

7 syllables on the second line

5 syllables on the third line

Haiku is inspired by nature, combining two different images or ideas together.

My son’s 5th grade poetry unit included haiku inspired by Japanese block prints created by Katsushika Hokusai, considered one of Japan’s iconic artists.

I have block prints by Hokusai below that I photographed at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Which prints do you like? Do they inspire you or your kids to write a haiku? Please share your poems! Here are my son’s:

Getting Kids to Write Haiku using Japanese Art
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Civil Rights Movement Book Giveaways! #BlackLivesMatter

Civil Rights Movement Book Giveaways! #BlackLivesMatter

I’ve been seeing tweets about the Tuskegee Airmen that have been passing away. NPR has an article on Roscoe Brown: Remembering Tuskegee Airman Roscoe Brown, Educator And Civil Rights Trailblazer. He recently passed away in July at age 94.

Remembering Tuskegee Airman Roscoe Brown, Educator And Civil Rights Trailblazer

I wouldn’t have noticed the tweets, had I not been fortunate to read Carole Boston Weatherford’s excellent novel in verse You Can Fly, about the role the Tuskegee Airmen played in the Civil Rights Movement. I consider them the Jackie Robinson(s) of aviation.

I wouldn’t have read You Can Fly, had I not been fortunate to meet Carole at a book event for Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer; The Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement.

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15 Wonderful Chinese New Year Picture Books

15 Wonderful Chinese New Year Picture Books

Chinese New Year may be what most of us think of when we think of Asian New Year celebrations marked by dumplings, lion dances, new clothes, and feasts. I’ve included other Asian Lunar New Year picture books as well for those who want to explore further.

My list includes:

  • Picture Books About Families Celebrating Chinese (and Lunar) New Year
  • Picture Books About Chinese and Lunar New Year
  • Retold Fairy Tales with a Chinese New Year Twist
  • Chinese New Year Craft and Activity Books

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