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FREE Classroom Empathy Kit: Immigration & Refugees

FREE Classroom Empathy Kit: Immigration & Refugees

Our FREE Classroom Empathy Kit is ready to download and share!

As our fifth Multicultural Children’s Book Day holiday approaches on January 27, 2018, we are thrilled to present our second Classroom Kit for teachers, librarians, parents, and guardians.

Our 2017 Multicultural Children’s Book Day Classroom Kindness Kit is here.

Our 2018 Classroom Empathy Kit has a special poster from award-winning author Juana Medina. This kit’s emphasis is on understanding the immigrants and refugee experience and includes a booklist along with some excellent activity ideas. Read more…

Visiting California Institute of the Arts (Cal Arts Valencia)

Visiting California Institute of the Arts (Cal Arts Valencia)

The first stop of our west coast art school tour was California Institute of the Arts, or Cal Arts Valencia. It’s about a hour away from the LAX airport, give or take traffic. The good news is that you are generally going in the opposite direction of traffic, but take that lightly, because even “no traffic” does not mean that there are no slow spots.

We left from Torrance and it took an hour and half each way, and I would, having grown up in Southern California, consider the traffic to be light.

Visiting California Institute of the Arts (Cal Arts Valencia)

Once you arrive at Cal Arts, you go through a guard stop into the parking lot. It’s set in suburban sprawl that feels recent and very much like Orange County tract houses and commercial developments. The school itself though, is an oasis of creativity.

My daughter, Grasshopper and Sensei, has mixed feelings about Cal Arts since she is looking for a very specific art school experience. She wants a foundation year; Cal Arts does not offer one. She wants to study Industrial Design. Cal Arts does not have this major. She’s interested in film; perhaps animation but not character animation necessarily. Cal Arts has the most competitive Character Animation program that is a feeder into Pixlar and other coveted animation studios.

Visiting California Institute of the Arts (Cal Arts Valencia)

So why Cal Arts for her? It was the school tour that sold her. She loved the vibe of the school. She loved the Creative Animation program that is animation meets fine art. She also likes a school where kids are committed to their school experience and willing to collaborate. Cal Arts has that in spades!

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Young and Feminist

Young and Feminist: 3 Book GIVEAWAY

Please welcome Abby Richmond, a high school senior and friend of my oldest daughter. This book, Young & Feminist, is her brainchild. Her thoughts about being a feminist in these challenging times are below.

Young and Feminist edited by Abby Richmond

A collection of feminist essays by high school students. Contributors include Rose Bostwick, Alisa Caira, Sophie Chalfin-Jacobs, Clare Donohoe, Seika Ghavidel, Julia Greenblatt, Gabe Jasper, Zoe Jasper, Shanie Kalikow, Sam Kesselman, Zoe Lee, Chloe O’Neil, Madeline Ranalli, Abby Richmond, Maddy Sherbet, Sarah Vernovsky, Cate Waters, Kate West, Sophia Wilcox-Warren, and anonymous.

Please note that 100% of sales from this book will be donated to Planned Parenthood.

p.s. My daughter is also one of the contributing writers of this book and also did the cover.


By Abby Richmond

It’s a challenging time to be a feminist. Although sexism certainly existed in the country before Donald Trump was elected president, it now has a fresh face and firm role in governing our country. I’ve always taken notice of microaggressions and discrimination in my day-to-day life, but growing up as a cisgender straight white woman in an affluent city, I’ve been lucky to feel safe from the harshest realities of misogyny and other forms of bigotry. Donald Trump’s election, and the fervent support for his destructive policies and statements from wide swaths of the country, brought to light deeply-rooted sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, and xenophobia in our country. These dangerous tendencies were not as apparent as they should have been to people like me previously. Trump’s election signaled the end to an era of complacency for many liberals like myself in this country.

Donald Trump as bottom feeder by Zoe Lee

Mixed media art by Zoe Lee

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Skittles Rainbow Science Experiment Fail

Easy and Fun Rainbow Science Experiments

A rainbow is made of the colors red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet. Where did the rainbow come from? All the colors exist in sunlight. We can’t see them because they are mixed together.

When sunlight moves from the air to the water in the glass, it bends in a special way. When it bends, the light separates into all the colors of the rainbow. It’s called refraction. From How To Make a Rainbow video

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Zap Zap Kindergarten Math app for learning numeracy and number recognition

Kindergarten Math Summer Learning Fun

I’m thrilled to partner with Zap Zap to announce their new Zap Zap Kindergarten Math app!Zap Zap Kindergarten Math app

It’s no secret that kids love playing games on their screens, and they will practice math facts if it’s presented in the form of a puzzle or game.

Zap Zap Kindergarten Math app for learning numeracy and number recognition Read more…

Applying to Art School: Visiting School of Visual Arts

Applying to Art School: Visiting School of Visual Arts

My two daughters and I spent five days in New York City over February break to visit art schools for my oldest.

Jenny Brown Artist

Jenny Brown. Homesickness 2. Pen & collage on antique photo. 2016

We brought our friend along, the artist Jenny Brown, who attended School of Visual Arts for her M.F.A. for help navigating the streets of NYC. Our trip was jam packed and included 4 art museums, 1 art gallery, two art schools, two colleges, and a lot of foodie stops. Read more…

#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]

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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]

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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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