Picture books

Picture books, School Visits, Writing Craft

Author Visit: Aga Khan Academy, Kenya

I am thrilled to have had my first in-person school visits with kids since the height of the pandemic at Aga Khan Academy in Mombasa, Kenya in June. Aga Khan Academy – Mombasa is a primary through secondary dual language, International Baccalaureate World School, with a residential option. Student leadership and community service are important strands within their school programming. The school admin, teachers, and support staff are incredibly dedicated and hardworking. I am thrilled to have had my first in-person school visits with kids since the height of the pandemic at this amazing school. The students made this visit so much fun!

I visited with Year 3, 4, 5 students in the primary school; read The King Cake Baby to the younger class and OPENING THE ROAD to the older classes. And they did some writing too. Students knew about Carnevale and one student even knew about Mardi Gras! They have also learned US history and that people are treated differently in America because of the color of their skin. And now they know more, soaked up that knowledge like little sponges. It was so good to be back among our future leaders. Some things are truly universal because one student asked how old I am! I told her old enough to be her grandmother. LOL!

My last visit was with Year 7 – middle school aged kids. The school asked me to discuss poetry. I promised they will love the poems I’d share from NO VOICE TOO SMALL. Then asked them to “show me” what mood they were in, because poetry is all about emotion and, at their age, they have experienced all kind of moods! HA. At first they were a little reserved, then I struck some poses, some cracked up, and joined in! Middle schoolers! I showed them the video of Charles Waters reading his spoken word poem about DJ Annie Red and they were hooked! They gasped at the story about Noah Barnes and were impressed with how Lindsay H. Metcalf followed rules to write a Tanka sequence about him. And of course I bragged about my friend Marcie Rinka Wessels, who writes beautiful and thoughtful Haiku, then shared my silly version “How to Haiku” when discussing voice. After the presentation, a teacher told me she saw a few boys chatting, walked over wondering what they were up to and they were engaged in a conversation about what is and isn’t poetry while discussing rap music. She was so happy! For the writing part, they started brainstorming and will write bio poems.

What a blast to be with kids again, and to visit with students at Aga Khan Academy – Mombasa.

Picture books, Writing Craft

Reading For Research Author Mentor Text Studies 2020

December – ReFoReMo Best Mentor Texts of 2020

November – Deborah Underwood

October – Margarita Engle

September – Mentor Text Research NO VOICE TOO SMALL Lindsay Metcalf, Keila V. Dawson, Jeanette Bradley

September – Tim McCanna

August – Kevin Henkes

July – Nikki Grimes

June – Kim Norman

April – 2020 ReFoReMo Challenge Reflections

May 2020 – Lesléa Newman

January 2020- Julie Abery

Diverse Books, Picture books

2021 June/July Perfectly Paired PB’s

This month’s reading for research post about picture book pairs on the ReFoReMo blog looks at sports, Pride, and 4th of July.

This new feature, Perfectly Paired Picture Books posts match mentor texts that represent the diverse audience who read the books we write based on similar story elements.

Nonfiction, Picture books

Celebrating Children’s Book Week May -9

Let’s Play! Kidlit For Growing Minds is hosting a 7-DAY 9-BOOK ‘Two Truths and a Lie’ giveaway!

We’re celebrating Children’s Book Week on Twitter, May 3-9. To enter, reply to each author’s original tweet. US educators ONLY. Winner selected every 48 hours!

Check out our Twitter page, @ForGrowingMinds, where we will retweet but don’t forget to reply to the original author’s tweet. Join us!

Diverse Books, Nonfiction, Picture books

OPENING THE ROAD

SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL: 

“Dawson’s text makes a stark, complex topic accessible and comprehensible to younger readers.”

VERDICT A compelling picture book that introduces the history of segregation and its impact in the U. S. to young readers.–Hilary Tufo, Columbus ­Metropolitan Lib., Reynoldsburg, OH

From a presentation on OPENING THE ROAD, students learn:

-the untold story of Victor Hugo Green’s contribution to history, making it a great foray into lessons on equity and social justice for young learners

-how to make historical connections from the past text to today

-the vocabulary needed to understand complex concepts in the long road toward seeking social justice

-to use skills in cause and effect connecting historical events and their impact on Black Americans.

-how research is used to write fiction and nonfiction stories

WHAT I DO AT SCHOOL VISITS:

-Discuss the importance of stories about unsung heroes like Victor Hugo Green.

-Introduce concepts and vocabulary needed to understand the story.

-Read OPENING THE ROAD.

-Discuss research methods, obstacles, and my writing process.

-Share an activity to make a real life connection to the story.

-Leave time for Q&A

ADDITONAL CONTENT:

Educational Guide with standards-aligned  Educational Activity Guide

Flipgrid Discovery LibraryOPENING THE ROAD has topics for students to explore in the Discovery Library. Parents and educators can access videos, and mini lessons specific to the topics, content and vocabulary used in the book. Readers can watch and respond to the videos with their own recordings and writings! For privacy, teachers can copy this module into their own classroom Flipgrid sites. 

ENDORSEMENTS:

“This intricately illustrated and inspiring book reveals the courageous spirit of Victor Hugo Green and reminds us that within us all lies the power to change the world.” —Oge Mora, author and illustrator of Thank You, Omu; Saturday; and The Oldest Student

“Opening the Road is a story of resilience in the Black American tradition of ‘making a way out of no way’–that is, challenging the limits of racism through ingenuity, community, and hope.” —Veronica Miller Jamison, illustrator of A Computer Called Katherine

“In Opening the Road, author Keila Dawson opens children’s eyes to the dangers of segregation and the power of the human spirit to resist and find detours around injustice.” –Nancy Churnin, award-winning author of Manjhi Moves a Mountain and The William Hoy Story

“This road trip into history detailing Victor Green’s efforts to bypass racial discrimination when traveling is a welcome companion to the stories of Rosa Parks and Elizabeth Jennings.” –Beth Anderson, author of Lizzie Demands a Seat and An Inconvenient Alphabet

Author visits, Picture books, School Visits

World Read Aloud Day 2021!

Happy World Read Aloud Day! I had a blast virtually visiting with students from the West Coast to the East Coast today. I enjoy interacting with curious kids.

And they never surprise me with their comments or questions!

These are from today:

“I’m a YouTuber, I know all about editing 24/7.”

“Do you get paid by each book you sell?”

🤣

I admit, I chuckled at the YouTuber but then asked for her name and wrote it down! You never know.

I got a WRAD Challenge from a friend to make a video about what I’m doing today. Here it is. Happy reading!

Activism, Diverse Books, Nonfiction, Picture books

OPENING THE ROAD Educator’s Guide

It’s a long, winding road toward social justice. Keep going!

Click on the cover for a free classroom guide to use with OPENING THE ROAD: VICTOR HUGO GREEN AND HIS GREEN BOOK.

Author visits, Louisiana, Mardi Gras, Picture books, School Visits

Kings’ Day School Visit

It was a pleasure to have Keila V. Dawson speak to my Kindergarten class about her book The King Cake Baby! She really connected with my kids and had them saying words in French by the end of her visit.  She inspired us to write our own class book!” Elizabeth Gates, Kindergarten teacher, Rothenberg Academy, Cincinnati Public Schools.

On January 6th, the first day of Carnival, I had the pleasure of virtually visiting with Kindergarten students at Rothenberg Academy in Cincinnati. We compared Cincinnati to New Orleans and talked about things that are the same and different. Ok, mostly we talked about food!

And I read THE KING CAKE BABY. So happy to have inspired them to write their own stories, and I can’t wait to read them!

Picture books, Writing Craft

Mentor Text Talk: OPENING THE ROAD

Today on the Reading for Research Month (ReFoReMo) blog, I share how I used mentor texts to write OPENING THE ROAD: VICTOR HUGO GREEN AND HIS GREEN BOOK. Coming to a shelf near you this month!

History, Nonfiction, Picture books

Unboxing OPENING THE ROAD!

Unboxing is popular among authors after receiving their author copies. So here’s my unboxing video of my new book releasing January 26, 2021!

OPENING THE ROAD: VICTOR HUGO GREEN AND HIS GREEN BOOK is the untold true story of the mail carrier who wrote the Green Book travel guides published from 1936 to 1966 that African Americans used to plan safe road trips & vacations when they didn’t have the freedom to go anywhere they wanted.

Beaming Books | ISBN: 978-1506467917
40 pages | ages 4-98

January 26, 2021

Pre-order wherever books are sold!

Bookshop | Beaming Books | Amazon | B&N

Diverse Books, Picture books

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.

Activism, Picture books

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! Here’s an exerpt:

Picture books, Writing Craft

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!

Activism, Nonfiction, Picture books

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!

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

Diverse Books, Nonfiction, Picture books

Opening The Road Reviews

HONORS:

  • Ohioana Book Award 2022 finalist.
  • Bank Street College of Education Best Books of the Year 2022 and with a ⭐️ for Outstanding Merit
  • Jane Addams Book Award Finalist 2021
  • New York Public Library Best Books for Kids 2021
  • John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum’s Noteworthy Book for Young Readers 2021

So honored OPENING THE ROAD earned a ⭐️ for outstanding merit on the Bank Street College of Education 2022 Best Children’s Books of The Year list! Congratulations to Team Green!

What an honor to see OPENING THE ROAD listed as a Jane Addams Children’s Book Award finalist for younger readers 2022!

I am so grateful that OPENING THE ROAD made the NYPL Best Books for Kids 2021 list!

School Library Journal subscribers can read their full review here.

“Dawson’s text makes a stark, complex topic accessible and comprehensible to younger readers.”

I am honored to see OPENING THE ROAD on the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum’s Noteworthy Books for Young Readers list of Stories of Protest, Resistance, and Change!

This review of OPENING THE ROAD on by Lisa Browne on her COLORUL STORIES blog warms my heart! My objective in writing this story – achieved!

TWOBOOKWORMS Blog review of OPENING THE ROAD: “Books like this make history interesting and personal.”

This 8th grade teacher created a lesson plan, Picture Books and the Green Book, to introduce her students to the Jim Crow era and recommended OPENING THE ROAD.

GoodreadsFromRonna Five Recommended Reads for Kids – Black History Month 2021

A review by Jilanne Hoffman for Perfect Picture Book Friday

A wonderful review from Vivian Kirkfield for Perfect Picture Book Friday

What a review! Click on the picture to read the full review.

Come 2021, The Green Book’s Creator Gets the Kid Lit Treatment History in the making! The story of the Green Book for the babies! by Carrie McClain, Black Nerd Problems blog.

Available now! Get your copy wherever books are sold!

Bookshop | Beaming Books | Amazon | B&N

Activism, History, Nonfiction, Picture books

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!

Activism, Nonfiction, Picture books

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!

Activism, Picture books

No Voice Too Small Activity Guide

I write activity guides for all my books. Enjoy!

Click on the cover to download a copy of the No Voice Too Small Activity Guide.

Flipgrid Book Club


Check out our NO VOICE TOO SMALL Flipgrid Book Club, featured in Flipgrid’s Discovery Library. Parents and educators can access videos, mini writing workshops, art class with Jeanette Bradley, and the No Voice Too Small pledge. Readers can watch and respond to the videos with their own recordings and writings! For privacy, teachers can copy this module into their own classroom Flipgrid sites. 

School Visits

With the knowledge that schools are reopening differently in every district – some online, some in person, some hybrid – Lindsay H. Metcalf, Jeanette Bradley and I have created a flexible school author visit package for NO VOICE TOO SMALL.

Diverse Books, Nonfiction, Picture books

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. 😭

Activism, Diverse Books, Nonfiction, Picture books

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 | Charlesbridge | Amazon | B&N

Picture books, Writing Craft

Reading for Research: Mentor Text Author Studies 2019

It’s been a joy to be a part of the 2019 Reading For Research team of bloggers that study stellar picture books.  

Best of 2019 from the Reading for Research Team

November 2019

Reading for Research Mentor Text Study: Cece Bell

October 2019

Reading for Research Mentor Text Study: Yuyi Morales

September 2019

Reading for Research Mentor Text Study: David Michael Slater

August 2019

Reading for Research Mentor Text Study: Susan Verde

July 2019

Reading for Research Mentor Text Study: Ashley Spires

June 2019

Reading for Research Mentor Text Study: Lesléa Newman

May 2019

Reading for Research Mentor Text Study: Anika Aldamuy Denise

March 2019

Five Favorite Mentor Texts

January 2019

Reading for Research: Mentor Text Study: Tim McCanna

Picture books, Writing Craft

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 books, Writing Craft

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!

I was honored to write about his work. Read my author study to learn more about him and while there register for the virtual conference.

Picture books, Writing Craft

Picture Book Summit 2020 Author Study #2

Register for Picture Book Summit to hear the very talented picture book author Lesa Cline-Ransome! I was honored to write about her body of work. Read my author study to learn more about her and while there register for the virtual conference.

Picture books, Writing Craft

Picture Book Summit 2020 Author Study #1 –

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

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