Author Archives: Keila Dawson

About Keila Dawson

New Orleans native, author, educator, ex-pat, world traveler, military spouse, chocolate lover, tennis player, and family historian

Book announcement news!

Book announcement news!

I am thrilled to announce Jeanette, Lindsay and I have a new book deal. The tenacious trio is at it again!

Multicultural Children’s Book Day

Multicultural Children’s Book Day

I’m thrilled to support the Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2021 campaign as an Author Sponsor. Read reviews on January 29th!

From the publisher:

“Hungry? Check the Green Book. Tired? Check the Green Book. Sick? Check the Green Book.”

In the late 1930s when segregation was legal and Black Americans couldn’t visit every establishment or travel everywhere they wanted to safely, a New Yorker named Victor Hugo Green decided to do something about it. Green wrote and published a guide that listed places where his fellow Black Americans could be safe in New York City. The guide sold like hotcakes! Soon customers started asking Green to make a guide to help them travel and vacation safely across the nation too. With the help of his mail carrier co-workers and the African American business community, Green’s guide allowed millions of African Americans to travel safely and enjoy traveling across the nation. For grades K-3rd. Available in ebook and hardcover form.

Find more Author Sponsors at the MCBD blog.

Picture Books and Activism

Picture Books and Activism

Read my article about introducing kids to activism through picture books over at the Nerdy Books Club blog. It includes a list. Happy reading!

October 2020 Mentor Text Author Study: Margarita Engle

October 2020 Mentor Text Author Study: Margarita Engle

The October Mentor Text Author Study looks at Margarita Engle’s latest picture book about pianist Teresa Carreño. Celebrating Latinx Heritage!

Click the book cover to read the post. Happy writing!

My Writing Journey + GIVEAWAY!

My Writing Journey + GIVEAWAY!

I had a chat with author Rosie Pova on her blog to discuss my road to publication, my latest picture book release NO VOICE TOO SMALL: Fourteen Young Americans Making History, and what’s next for me. Follow this link to read that interview.

Hope you enter the GIVEAWAY for a chance to win a copy of NO VOICE TOO SMALL!

Available now!

Charlesbridge | ISBN: 978-1-6235-4131-6
40 pages | ages 5-9

Bookshop | Blue Manatee Literacy Project | Charlesbridge | Amazon | B&N

I’m planning giveaways for my forthcoming book too. Stay tuned!

Beaming Books | ISBN: 978-1506467917
40 pages | ages 4-8

Coming January 26, 2020

PRE-ORDER:

Bookshop | Blue Manatee Literacy Project | Beaming Books | Amazon | B&N

Happy Book Birthday NO VOICE TOO SMALL!

Happy Book Birthday NO VOICE TOO SMALL!

What an amazing day! Lindsay, Jeanette, and I planned a fun-filled virtual book launch for NO VOICE TOO SMALL. An Unlikely Story Bookstore agreed to host us. The anti-bullying activist featured in the book, DJ Annie Red, agreed to perform.

And the day finally arrived!

It started with book lovers sharing the news of our book birthday…

…on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook. Messages poured in. Friends, authors, our publisher, book reviewers, booksellers. All sending congratulations and praise.

All morning long! Here’s a snippet of what happened…

We felt so much love for a book that so many poured so much heart into so it would be ready for this day, to be sent out into the world, and into the hands of children.

We even got a mention in the Washington Post! WOW!

At the book launch that evening, Lindsay, Jeanette and I spoke a bit about the book and thanked the the fourteen young activists, poets, our editor, art director and the our Charlesbridge team that were all a part of this project. We shared the opening and closing poems and one of the contributing poets, Lesléa Newman, read the poem she wrote about Zach Wahls. Jeanette demonstrated how she created the art for the book and drew a picture for us – live! DJ Annie Red performed an acapella version of her song “No You Won’t Bully Me”. Who had fun? WE DID!

We asked our audience to promise to use their voices and take the NO VOICE TOO SMALL pledge. Lindsay and Jeanette’s kids joined in!

So many friends, family, and creatives from the writing community came to our virtual event to support us. It was an unforgettable experience!

For weeks we noticed the “orange banner” on Amazon that designates a book as a #1 Release in a particular category which also compares and ranks books in the same categories.

The three Amazon categories for NO VOICE TOO SMALL are:

  • Children’s American History of 2000s
  • Children’s Social Activists Biographies (Books)
  • Poetry (Books)

On our book birthday, NO VOICE TOO SMALL became an Amazon Hot New Release in the category of Social Activists Biographies! But that’s not all.

Something else happened that didn’t involve sales or marketing or book promotion. Instead, someone helped make this night more special than it already turned out to be. Because it reminded me of why I write books for kids. And why this book matters.

The same day NO VOICE TOO SMALL released, a blog post Lindsay, Jeanette and I wrote for Reading For Research Month went live. We discussed books that inspired us.

In that post I wrote, “I have witnessed the power of story. It is undeniable.” Although I know that to be true, I didn’t know I would witness it on our book birthday. We may not know how or when or for whom books may affect, but we know the power of books. It’s undeniable! What a gift to see the reaction by Judy Adams to her featured story. Judy speaks UP about living with DOWN syndrome. At age twelve, she created Dimes for Down syndrome and grants wishes to others.

Kids need to see themselves in books. They want their stories shared. Adults can help empower, uplift, and amplify their voices.

Thanks to all for the support that made this a wonderful day for us and NO VOICE TOO SMALL.

Keila

Driving the Green Book Macmillan Podcast

Driving the Green Book Macmillan Podcast

Driving the Green Book is a brilliant podcast series hosted by Alvin D. Hall that explores travel and the Green Book during the era of legal segregation in the United States. Listen to stories from African Americans who used the guide to travel safely. And Hall makes connections to today’s events involving traffic stops and unfair treatment of Black travelers.

Read more about it and listen to the first episode at USA TODAY. And then subscribe!

September 2020 Mentor Text Study: Revisiting Tim McCanna

September 2020 Mentor Text Study: Revisiting Tim McCanna

In this month’s author study, I revisit master storytelling Tim McCanna. Click on the picture to see the post over at the Reading for Research blog!

OPENING THE ROAD: The Story Behind the Story

OPENING THE ROAD: The Story Behind the Story

OPENING THE ROAD is the true story behind the Green Book guide Black Americans used to travel safely during legal segregation and the mail carrier who wrote it. I was honored to reveal the cover of my upcoming release on author Tara Lazar’s blog. Click on the cover to see a sample spread from the book by the talented artist Alleanna Harris.

I also wrote about my inspiration, the story behind the story, and a little about my road to publication.

BEEP! BEEP! On our way, be there January 26, 2021!

And there’s a GIVEAWAY! Comment on the blog post to enter a chance to win a copy of OPENING THE ROAD: Victor Hugo Green and His Green Book.

Beaming Books | ISBN: 978-1506467917
40 pages | ages 4-8

Pre-order wherever books are sold!

Bookshop | Blue Manatee Literacy Project | Beaming Books | Amazon | B&N

Kirkus STARRED Review!

Kirkus STARRED Review!

It is what it is. GOOD TROUBLE!

NO VOICE TOO SMALL got a star 🌟 from Kirkus Reviews! Click on the picture to read the review.


Thank you to the wonderful words by  Nikki GrimesCarole Boston WeatherfordTraci SorellCharles WatersHena KhanJanet WongJoseph Bruchac,Guadalupe Garcia McCallAndrea J. LoneyLesléa NewmanGreg NeriS. Bear Bergman, and Fiona Morris.  And to Charlesbridge Publishing, our editor Karen Boss and Literary Agent Emily Mitchell who represented us in this project.

We can’t wait to share this book with readers of all ages!

Reviews are coming in!

Reviews are coming in!

ALL THE FEELS! Check out this video review of NO VOICE TOO SMALL by Kirsten Williams Larson.🎤 Empower youth. They are are our future and our hope.

Check out other reviews by Kirsten on her YouTube channel where she dives deep into nonfiction books. Excuse me while I grab a tissue. 😭

SLJ Review: Inspiring!

SLJ Review: Inspiring!

What does the School Library Journal think of No Voice Too Small?

Pre-order your copy today!

Charlesbridge | ISBN: 978-1-6235-4131-6
40 pages | ages 5-9

Bookshop | Blue Manatee Literacy Project | Charlesbridge | Amazon | B&N

August 2020 Mentor Text Study: Revisiting Kevin Henkes

August 2020 Mentor Text Study: Revisiting Kevin Henkes

Revisiting author/illustrator Kevin Henkes today over at the Reading for Research blog. Imagery, repetition, and alliteration, oh, my!

Picture Book Summit 2020 Author Study #3

Picture Book Summit 2020 Author Study #3

Join us at this year’s Picture Book Summit to hear the very talented picture book author-illustrator Peter Reynolds!

Check out the author study to learn more about him and while there register for the virtual conference.

Picture Book Summit 2020 Author Study #2

Picture Book Summit 2020 Author Study #2

Register for Picture Book Summit to hear the very talented picture book author Lesa Cline-Ransome! Read the author study to learn more about her and while there register for the virtual conference.

2020 nErDCampPA

2020 nErDCampPA

It was such a joy to spend time talking books with authors, educators, and kids at the first virtual nErDCampPA! I ended up on three panels, one about nonfiction, another about teaching activism through picture books and a storytime panel reading to the kids I write for.

Already looking forward to next year to talk about my new book!

Picture Book Summit 2020 Author Study #1 –

Picture Book Summit 2020 Author Study #1 –

Register for Picture Book Summit to hear the very talented author and illustrator Sophie Blackhall! Read the author study to learn more about her and while there register for the virtual conference.

July 2020 Mentor Text Study: Revisiting Nikki Grimes

July 2020 Mentor Text Study: Revisiting Nikki Grimes

It’s time for another Coronavirus Creative Mentor Text Author Study post!

In August 2018, I wrote a mentor text author study featuring poet and author Nikki Grimes. Since then, Grimes has released two new picture books this year. Let’s look at those books. Read more at the Reading for Research blog.

Happy reading! Stay safe!

NO VOICE TOO SMALL Book Trailer

NO VOICE TOO SMALL Book Trailer

The book trailer of the day on Shelf Awareness is NO VOICE TOO SMALL: Fourteen Young Americans Making History! Video by Jeanette Bradley.🎤 Jeanette, Lindsay, and I are so excited to get this book into the hands of kids. 👊

Releases September 22 from Charlesbridge Publishing.

You can preorder the book today anywhere books are sold!

Bookshop | Blue Manatee Literacy Project | Charlesbridge | Amazon | B&N

Book trailer created by Jeanette Bradley

Charlesbridge Publishing, September 22, 2020
Nonfiction picture book for ages 5-9
ISBN: 978-1623541316

June 2020 Author Mentor Text Study: Revisting Kim Norman

June 2020 Author Mentor Text Study: Revisting Kim Norman

This month I discussed informational picture books and looked at at Give Me Back My Bones by Kim Norman, illustrated by Bob Kolar over at the Reading for Research blog. What a fun read!

May 2020 Author Mentor Text Study: Revisiting Lesléa Newman

May 2020 Author Mentor Text Study: Revisiting Lesléa Newman

I took a look at Lesléa Newman’s latest book for our May Reading for Research mentor text author study!

Remote Learning with Authors & Illustrators

Remote Learning with Authors & Illustrators

Children’s picture book, middle grade, and young adult authors and illustrators are rallying to help during a time when schools are closing and students are challenged to study remotely due to COVID-19. We know parents will be challenged, too.

In addition to what schools are providing, here are some additional resources and homeschooling help.

I hope you find something useful!

Check back for updates!

Story Seeds kids use their own story ideas and pair up with real authors. Together they collaborate and “grow” their ideas into original short stories.

Picture book and middle grade author Kate Messner created Read, Wonder, and Learn! Favorite Authors & Illustrators Share Resources for Learning Anywhere are videos featuring picture book and middle grade authors and illustrators on her website. And it’s growing daily.

Authors Everywhere! is a YouTube Channel focused on providing content for kids like read alouds, writing prompts and writing exercises.

Author and illustrator Jarrett J. Krosoczka created “Draw with JJK” that will air every weekday at 1:00pm Central or catch the videos on his YouTube channel. 

Picture book and chapter book author Grace Lin created Ask Authors podcast, that launches March 17th. She plans to have a weekly 5-10 minute podcast featuring a guest author who will answer one question from a child reader. Episodes will end with a book review or a joke. Read more about the podcast in this article from the Daily Hampshire Gazette.

Nonfiction science Picture book author Melissa Stewart created mini-lessons on her website addressing content from her nonfiction picture books.

Musician Emily Arrow creates fun songs for many popular picture books. 

#StoryMarch includes illustration prompts by The Greater Boston Illustrators Group.

And I created a study guide for my picture book, The King Cake Baby that includes activities comparing and contrasting it to it to the classic Gingerbread Man story. And here’s an easy kid-friendly king cake recipe and the movement and song 5 Little King Cake Babies for preschool and Kindergarten aged children.

Explore the world of children’s literature on KidLitTV. Read alouds, author and illustrators interviews, crafts and cooking.

Picture book author Mac Barnett will begin reading his picture books on InstagramLive out loud at noon Pacific Time on March 15, 2020. The recording will be up for 24 hours.

Picture book author-illustrator Oliver Jeffers will read one of his picture books online starting this Monday, 2pm EST. Details coming!

Picture book author-illustrator Arree Chung will offer a month long Creativity Camp and focus on writing, drawing and storytelling if he gets enough interest. Find the details on his Facebook post here.

Picture book Author Tara Lazar will broadcast LIVE from her YouTube channel daily at noon Eastern time reading her books and giving writing tips.

Author/illustrator Mo Willems hosts LUNCH DOODLES with Mo Willems on his YouTube channel. Go check out Mo’s Studio!

Author/illustrator Katy Kelly is hosting virtual author visits to 2nd, 3rd and 4th grade classes reading one of her books every day until it’s finished. Connect with her at http://www.katykellyauthor.com/.

FREE Young Writer’s course for ages 6-10 from the fabulous folks who teach writing at Children’s Book Insiders!

Scholastic Learn At Home offers activities to keep kids reading, thinking, and growing while at home.

Picture book author and dance instructor Connie Dow has ideas for learning through movement activities, built around picture books for young children on her blog.

Picture book author/illustrator and former homeschool mom Danna York’s blog has ideas that incorporate books, nature, classic movies, art and more.

Find MORE resources on this Google Doc with of other creatives helping out. And check out the hashtag #kidlitquarantine on Twitter.

Other children’s book resources:

Storyline Online has picture books being read by celebrities. Each book includes supplemental curriculum developed by a credentialed elementary educator, aiming to strengthen comprehension and verbal and written skills for English-language learners.

Brightly Storytime is a read-aloud video series for Babies and Toddlers to Teens.

Free access to ebooks and audio books at Mims House books during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Librarian Bookends presents all things books! #UnitedByBooksCOVID19 – brilliant elementary and middle grade book resources from authors and illustrators, and publishers.

An Open Book Foundation is a nonprofit that brings authors and illustrators to qualifying D.C. schools to support literacy created a list of resources here.

Hope you found this post helpful. And feel free to share with others who have kids affected by these recent school closings.

Stay healthy!

Opening the Road: Victor Hugo Green and His Green Book

Opening the Road: Victor Hugo Green and His Green Book

GREEN LIGHT!

I am so excited to announce my latest book deal! And I am thrilled to be working with my agent Dawn Frederick at Red Sofa Literary, Beaming Books, editor Naomi Krueger and the talented illustrator Alleanna Harris to bring the story of Victor Hugo Green and his Green Book to young children. Stay tuned.

BEEP! BEEP!

Coming to a shelf near you on January 19, 2021

Why is there a baby in a King Cake?

Why is there a baby in a King Cake?

Ever wonder why there’s a baby in a King Cake? Or how the tradition of eating King Cake during the Carnival season came about? Read my guest post over at Alphabet Soup to find the answers.

Comment and enter the Rafflecopter giveaway for a signed copy of my picture book, THE KING CAKE BABY!

Happy Mardi Gras!

FREEDOM SOUP – A Multicultural Children’s Book Day Review

FREEDOM SOUP – A Multicultural Children’s Book Day Review

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2020 (1/31/20) is in its 7th year! This non-profit children’s literacy initiative was founded by Valarie Budayr and Mia Wenjen; two diverse book-loving moms who saw a need to shine the spotlight on all of the multicultural books and authors on the market while also working to get those book into the hands of young readers and educators. 

Seven years in, MCBD’s mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in homes and school bookshelves continues. All kids should have access to diverse books like the one I reviewed this year.

FREEDOM SOUP by Tami Charles and illustrated by Jacqueline Alcántara was sent to me Candlewick Press at no cost in exchange for an honest review. Published December 10, 2019, the book has earned four starred reviews! Read those reviews from Kirkus, SLJ (School Library Journal), Shelf Awareness, and Publishers Weekly.

Food is a wonderful way to celebrate culture and history. That’s exactly what Charles does in her story about the Haitian dish, Soup Joumou, also known as Freedom Soup. An intergenerational story, readers follow along as a young child and her grandmother cook together.

Every New Year’s Day Ti Gran makes Freedom Soup but on this day she is teaching Belle how to make the soup, just like she was taught when she was a little girl.

Readers can sway to the rhythm of Charles’ lyrical language and Alcántara’s colorful, expressive illustrations filled with movement. Both text and art will entice children to  dance like Belle and tap their toes like Ti Gran while imagining the sounds of the Haitian kompa music.

As they cook, Ti Gran teaches Belle the history of Haiti, the place where she was born.

“Know why they call it Freedom Soup” Ti Gran asks.

“Because it’s free?

It’s the same answer I always give. Ti Gran laughs her loud, belly-deep laugh.

“Oh, Belle. Nothing in this world is free, not even freedom.”

Charles recounts the country’s history of slavery so children understand what it meant to be enslaved. Ti Gran explains, “Freedom Soup was only for the free.”

As the soup cooks Belle and Ti Gran dance their way through the rebellion that lead to the revolution and cheer for Haiti’s independence.  Charles provides a recipe for Freedom Soup and an author’s note with background information on Haiti and her personal family connection to the story. FREEDOM SOUP is a fun and engaging story but it also introduces young children to the true history of a country and the people who resisted slavery and won their freedom.

FREE RESOURCES from Multicultural Children’s Book Day

TWITTER PARTY! Register here!

MCBD 2020  is honored to have the following Medallion Sponsors on board

Super Platinum

Make A Way Media/ Deirdre “DeeDee” Cummings,

Platinum

Language Lizard, Pack-N-Go Girls,

Gold

Audrey Press, Lerner Publishing Group, KidLit TV, ABDO BOOKS : A Family of Educational Publishers, PragmaticMom & Sumo Jo, Candlewick Press,

Silver

 Author Charlotte Riggle, Capstone Publishing, Guba Publishing, Melissa Munro Boyd & B is for Breathe,

Bronze

Author Carole P. Roman, Snowflake Stories/Jill Barletti, Vivian Kirkfield & Making Their Voices Heard. Barnes Brothers Books,  TimTimTom, Wisdom Tales Press, Lee & Low Books,  Charlesbridge Publishing, Barefoot Books Talegari Tales

Author Sponsor Link CloudJerry Craft, A.R. Bey and Adventures in Boogieland, Eugina Chu & Brandon goes to Beijing, Kenneth Braswell & Fathers Incorporated, Maritza M. Mejia & Luz del mes_Mejia, Kathleen Burkinshaw & The Last Cherry Blossom, SISSY GOES TINY by Rebecca Flansburg and B.A. Norrgard, Josh Funk and HOW TO CODE A ROLLERCOASTER, Maya/Neel Adventures with Culture GrooveLauren Ranalli, The Little Green Monster: Cancer Magic! By Dr. Sharon Chappell, Phe Lang and Me On The Page, Afsaneh Moradian and Jamie is Jamie, Valerie Williams-Sanchez and Valorena Publishing, TUMBLE CREEK PRESS, Nancy Tupper Ling, Author Gwen Jackson, Angeliki Pedersen & The Secrets Hidden Beneath the Palm Tree, Author Kimberly Gordon Biddle, BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 by Mia Wenjen, Susan Schaefer Bernardo & Illustrator Courtenay Fletcher (Founders of Inner Flower Child Books), Ann Morris & Do It Again!/¡Otra Vez!, Janet Balletta and Mermaids on a Mission to Save the Ocean, Evelyn Sanchez-Toledo & Bruna Bailando por el Mundo\ Dancing Around the World, Shoumi Sen & From The Toddler Diaries, Sarah Jamila Stevenson, Tonya Duncan and the Sophie Washington Book Series, Teresa Robeson  & The Queen of Physics, Nadishka Aloysius and Roo The Little Red TukTuk, , Nadishka Aloysius and Roo The Little Red TukTuk, Girlfriends Book Club Baltimore & Stories by the Girlfriends Book Club, Finding My Way Books, Diana Huang & Intrepids, Five Enchanted Mermaids, Elizabeth Godley and Ribbon’s Traveling Castle, Anna Olswanger and Greenhorn, Danielle Wallace & My Big Brother Troy, Jocelyn Francisco and Little Yellow Jeepney, Mariana Llanos & Kutu, the Tiny Inca Princess/La Ñusta Diminuta, Sara Arnold & The Big Buna Bash, Roddie Simmons & Race 2 Rio, DuEwa Frazier & Alice’s Musical Debut, Veronica Appleton & the Journey to Appleville book seriesGreen Kids Club, Inc.

Co-Hosts and Global Co-Hosts

A Crafty Arab, Afsaneh Moradian, Agatha Rodi Books, All Done Monkey, Barefoot Mommy, Bethany Edward & Biracial Bookworms, Michelle Goetzl & Books My Kids Read, Crafty Moms Share, Colours of Us, Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes, Educators Spin on it, Shauna Hibbitts-creator of eNannylink, Growing Book by Book, Here Wee Read, Joel Leonidas & Descendant of Poseidon Reads {Philippines}, Imagination Soup, Kid World Citizen, Kristi’s Book Nook, The Logonauts, Mama Smiles, Miss Panda Chinese, Multicultural Kid Blogs, Serge Smagarinsky {Australia}, Shoumi Sen, Jennifer Brunk & Spanish Playground, Katie Meadows and Youth Lit Reviews