“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!
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.
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.
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/.
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.
This month’s Reading for Research author study takes a look at books by Susan Verde. Read how she connects with kids and invites them to learn and grow. Her books address compassion, empathy, mindfulness and community.
Themes/Topics: hijab fashion, modern Muslim women, religion
Brief Synopsis: UNDER MY HIJAB is written from the point of view of a young girl who observes how, when, and where her modern, independent, female family members wear their individual headscarves for work and play.
Why I like this book: Hena Khan’s story is for anyone curious about modern Muslim women who choose to wear a hijab.
Most often women cover their hair, ears, and neck but to show just how individual that choice is, the cool artist aunt covers her hair and ears pinned with a handmade jewel. Illustrator Aaliya Jaleel adds other details like henna designs worn on the hands of these characters while attending a social event.
At the end of the book, the author shares the cultural and religious significance of wearing the headcover.
I read the ARC for this review. UNDER MY HIJAB would
be a great addition to the home, school, and library.
Hear Ye! Hear Ye! STORYSTORM, author Tara Lazar’s story idea and writing craft event is coming to a computer screen near you soon! Visit her blog to read the rules and register.
Last year I created an insertable text Storystorm calendar to collect my story ideas and jot down notes from the daily posts. That way, my ideas and craft tips from the amazing Storystorm contributors are always at my fingertips. If you think it will work for you, download a copy below.
Thanks for hosting this wonderful writing event again Tara. And happy 10th-anniversary STORYSTORM!
Themes/Topics: biography, poetry, African-American life
A Song for Gwendolyn Brooks is about the African-American poet and author Gwendolyn Brooks (1917-2000) who wrote about the urban African-American experience.
The book is part of the “People Who Shaped Our World” series. Alice Faye Duncan captured the life and work of Brooks, beginning in 1925 at age eight, ending in 1950, the year she became the first African-American to win the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.
Why I like this book:
Duncan writes in lyrical text and shows observations informed the poet’s writing, even from an early age.
The author also gives examples of the kinds of struggles Brooks faced as a young, gifted writer as well as the support she received from her family. Brooks struggled with her confidence and her words. A teacher once accused Brooks of plagiarism so her mother had the young poet write a poem in front of her. As a teen when others were looking for work, Gwendolyn’s parents supported her dream and allowed her to “sit and think”. And from all her years of hard work, an adult Brooks realizes her dream and became a professional writer.
Back matter includes an author’s note, timeline, suggested readings by Gwendolyn Brooks and bibliography to learn more about one of America’s most influential writers.
I read the ARC for this review; the book release date is January 1, 2019. This book would be a great addition to the home, school, and library.
For more about poetry for kids, see the Poetry4kids website.
Publisher: Pelican Publishing Company, Inc. (September 2018)
Suitable for ages: 3-8
Themes/Topics: greed, ocean animals, pourquoi story
Brief Synopsis: In this pourquoi tale, Herz tells the story of how the squid, who once had 10 arms “all of equal length”, ended up with 2 long arms. A shivering squid, one scarf, and the need to stay warm in the cool ocean water set this tale in motion. When the squid steals clothes from other animals, he ends up learning a lesson, “if you do bad things, bad things will happen to you.”
Why I like this book: A fun read to help kids think twice about greed! Luke Graber’s illustrations are bold, expressive, and the details are hilarious. Herz weaves in ocean vocabulary throughout the story and includes information about squid in the back matter. Elementary teachers will be able to use the story as supplemental reading in a science lesson related to ocean animals.
Herz gives credit Jon Klassen’s THIS IS NOT MY HAT for the last spread. No spoilers here…read it to find out what happens.
I read the digital ARC for this review, the book release date is September 4, 2018.
Today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday pick is BE QUIET!.
Written/illustrated by: Ryan T. Higgins
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion, April 4, 2017
Suitable for: Preschool – Kindergarten
Themes/Topics: Friendship, Frustration, Patience
Brief Synopsis: Higgins writes a laugh out loud story about Rupert, Thistle and Nibbs, the mice he introduced in Hotel Bruce. Rupert wants to star in a book without words that is “visually stimulating” but Thistle and Nibbs cannot stop talking about being quiet.
Rupert: “FINALLY! I get my very own book to star in.
This is going to be great!
I’m going to make it a wordless book.
They are very artistic.
This book will have NO WORDS at all. Starting…NOW.”
Why I like this book: These mice are hilarious! Reading it aloud is so much fun. When Rupert uses vocabulary like “vishery strigulating” it is mistaken for “visually stimulating”. “Ima-gonna-pee-a” is mistaken for “onomatopoeia” as the mice banter.
Higgins entertains readers with visual puns like on the spread when Rupert tries to explain visually stimulating means strong illustrations and the mice suddenly have the physique of body builders.
A Perfect Picture Book Pair about sharing the spotlight with younger sibling. These stories feature the cutest DIVAS!
In STARRING CARMEN by Anika Denish and illustrated by Loren Alvarez Gómez, Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2017, Carmen is a showgirl! She loves an audience, the attention, and the applause! But her little brother Eduardo wants to perform with her. Can Carmen make room for him?
In FAMOUSLY PHOEBE author Lori Alexander and illustrator Aurelie Blard-Quintard, Sterling Children’s Books, 2017, Phoebe was always the family star, followed by camera-carrying “paparazzi” until the arrival of a new sibling. Can Phoebe find a new role to play?
APerfect Picture Book Pair or #PPBP showcases two books with universal themes, but one must include a diverse setting, or life experience, or main character. My goal is to support books in the market that contribute to diversity in children’s literature.
Mark Twain said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness…” I believe reading is too!
A Perfect Picture Book Pair about courage. These stories show it’s possible to overcome fear with the love and support of family.
In JABARI JUMPSby author-illustrator Gaia Cornwall, Candlewick Press, 2017, a boy declares to his dad that he is ready to jump off the high diving board for the first time. Or is he?
In THUNDER CAKE by author-illustrator Patricia Polacco, Philomel Books, 1990, a grandmother distracts her granddaughter frightened by an incoming storm by gathering all the ingredients needed to make a Thunder Cake – some from outside!
A PerfectPicture Book Pairshowcases two books with universal themes, but one must include a diverse setting, or life experience, or main character. My goal is to support books in the market that contribute to diversity in children’s literature.
Mark Twain said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness…” I believe reading is too!
Kids love to see their reflections in books. Join me and #ReadYourWorld!
Today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday pick is HER RIGHT FOOT by Dave Eggers. I am often asked, “Where are you from?” Sometimes I respond, “If you tell me your immigrant story, I will tell you mine.”
HER RIGHT FOOT is an important reminder that the majority of Americans are descendants of emigrants and immigrants. Maybe your ancestors were part of the early British-American colonies or the French and Spanish colonies as mine were. Maybe they came via the Gulf of Mexico as my great-grandfather did during the 19th century, or were greeted by the Statue of Liberty in the Atlantic upon arrival from a distant land. Regardless of your family origin, this story reminds us of the early motto of the United States, E pluribus unum, “out of many, one”.
Themes/Topics: Statue of Liberty, US History, Immigration
Brief Synopsis: Dave Eggers tells the story behind the making of the Statue of Liberty. As the story progresses, readers learn the history behind this gift from France and most importantly, that it represents how the United States is a country that embraces and welcomes emigrants and immigrants.
Opening pages: “You have likely heard of a place called France.
If you have heard of France, you may have heard of the French. They are the people who live in France.
You may have also heard of something called the Statue of Liberty.
Did you know that the Statue of Liberty comes from France?
This is true. This is a factual book.”
Why I like this book: Written in second person, the narrator addresses readers directly. The author uses a playful but instructive approach to introducing kids to fun facts about the design, construction and transportation of the Statue of Liberty. It artfully teaches the fact that our country is populated with people from many different countries and cultures from around the world and ties in the symbolism of Lady Liberty as a beacon that welcomes everyone to the United States.
Today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday pick is Arturo and the Bienvendio Feast. Arturo and his grandmother, Abue Rosa, return in this sequel to Arturo and the Navidad Birds. This is the perfect month to share a story about family and food. Every November families gather to give thanks for one another and share a Thanksgiving feast. Children will enjoy reading about Arturo and his family’s feast.
Themes/Topics: family, Latin American culture culture & food [spacer height=”10px”]
Brief Synopsis: Arturo and Abue Rosa plan a special feast to welcome Michael, the fiancé of his aunt, Tía Inés. Their menu includes Pupusas, curtido, fried plantains, chocolate almond cake and more. While cooking Abue Rosa gets a headache so she takes a nap. But Arturo can’t wake her up and the guests are coming. What can he do? Arturo saves the day of course! [spacer height=”10px”]
Opening pages: “Arturo stole a glance at his grandmother as he popped a handful of shredded cheese in his mouth.” [spacer height=”10px”]
“Arturo echó una miradita a su abuela mientras se metía un bocado de queso rallad a la boca.” [spacer height=”10px”]
“Leave some for the pupusas.” Abue Rosa threw the dough into the mixing bowl – thwack! – and massaged the masa into a smooth ball.” [spacer height=”10px”]
“Deja un poco para las pupuses.” Abue Rosa ventó la masa al tazón – jzas! – masajendo la masa hata formar una bala suave.”
Why I like this book: The tender relationship between Arturo and his grandmother continues in this sequel. Reading about Arturo and Abue Rosa reminded me of the special bond shared between my son and my mother when they cooked Louisiana Creole Filé Gumbo together. Food and family are important to culture and celebrations. Anne Broyles brings both together in this sweet story told in English and Spanish. In addition to recipes for Curtido (slaw) and Pupusas (stuffed, fried corn cakes), there is an author’s note. Also included is a glossary with phonetic pronunciations and definitions for the Spanish words used in the story. [spacer height=”10px”]
The illustrations are warm, and earthy colors represent Latin American culture. [spacer height=”10px”]
Resources: [spacer height=”10px”]
Lu and Bean Read podcast 11/16/2017 interview with author Anne Broyles. [spacer height=”10px”]
Mr. Donn’s Free lessons, games, presentations about Latin America. [spacer height=”10px”]
Read other perfect picture book Friday reviews at author Susanna Hill’s blog. [spacer height=”10px”]
What does the Hallmark channel, popular TV shows The Wonder Years,The West Wing, Dancing with the Stars and math have in common? Actress, mathematician and author Danica McKellar!
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Written by: Danica McKeller
Illustrated by: Alicia Padrón
Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers (2017)
Suitable for ages: 2-5
Themes/Topics: bedtime, numbers, counting
Brief Synopsis: Goodnight, Numbers is a bedtime book and concept book about numbers. Using the same pattern as the classic book Goodnight Moon, children say goodnight to things familiar to them – two hands, three wheels on a tricycle, four paws on a cat. The book highlights the fact that numbers are all around us.
Opening pages: “Goodnight, one fork, Goodnight, one spoon, Goodnight, one bowl, I’ll see you soon.”
Why I like this book: Genius! Really, the book and McKellar. The rhyme is perfect. The illustrations are soft and gentle and include diverse families. Children can see numbers are everywhere and practice counting along on every spread.
A letter to parents, grandparents and caretakers as well as an author’s note with suggestions on how to use the book is included.
It’s back to school time! So today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday pick is FRIENDS (Mostly). As new students start school and old students return to new classrooms, children will make new friends, some will lose old friends all will hopefully learn what friendship means and how to keep them intact.
Themes/Topics: Friendship, Jealousy, Kindness and Caring
Brief Synopsis: This book is about how two best friends make up when one allows jealousy to tear them apart.
Ruby and Henry,
Henry and Ruby,
Usually we’re friends, but sometimes we’re unfriends.
It all depends.
Why I like this book: The title tells all, you can be friends (mostly) and you can be unfriends too. Friendships often hit rough patches and kids need to find a way to work through those times. When Ruby is teased because she can’t float like her best friend Henry, she lashes out at him. And then she decides to walk away from their friendship. In the end, the two friends work out how to remain friends. A wonderful lesson for showing children what friendship looks like and how friendships work. And even when bad feelings come between friends, sometimes only one act of kindness can save a relationship.
When Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) voiced her objections about the nomination of Jeff Sessions for US Attorney General during his confirmation hearing on February 7, 2017, she was silenced. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) interrupted Senator Warren as she read from theletterwritten in 1986 by civil rights leader Coretta Scott King.That letter helped prevent the confirmation of Jeff Sessions as a federal judge for his home state of Alabama. McConnell accused Warren of making statements that impugn thecharacter of Sessions which he determined was against Senate rules. [spacer height=”10px”]
The senator presiding over the hearing advised Warren that she was out of order under Senate Procedural Rule 19. “I’m reading a letter from Coretta Scott King to the Judiciary Committee from 1986 that was admitted into the record,” Senator Warren argued. “I’m simply reading what she wrote about what the nomination of Jeff Sessions to be a federal court judge meant and what it would mean in history for her.” [spacer height=”10px”]
Senator McConnell asked for a vote. After a 49-43 vote split across party lines, Senator Warren was not allowed to finish nor speak again. Instead, she continued reading theletteroutside the door of the Senate floor. [spacer height=”10px”]
Defending his actions, Mitch McConnell later explained,“She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.” [spacer height=”10px”]
Inspired by that event, Chelsea Clinton wrote this book and featured thirteen other women in America who also faced opposition and or adversity but succeeded because they persisted. [spacer height=”10px”]
Written by: Chelsea Clinton
Illustrated by: Alexandra Boiger
Publisher: Philomel Books (May 2017)
Suitable for ages: 3-8
Themes/Topics: Women in US history, perseverance, resilience [spacer height=”10px”]
Brief Synopsis: In She Persisted, Chelsea Clinton introduces young readers to thirteen American women throughout history who, despite resistance from others or society, made positive contributions to our nation because of their persistence. [spacer height=”10px”]
Opening pages: “Sometimes being a girl isn’t easy. At some point, someone probably will tell you no, will tell you to be quiet and may even tell you your dreams are impossible. Don’t listen to them. These thirteen American women certainly did not take no for an answer. They persisted.” [spacer height=”10px”]
Why I like this book: She Persisted is an inspirational tribute to thirteen women whose contributions to our nation deserve recognition. Some of the women featured are well known and others are not. The colorful illustrations by Alexandra Boiger include a diverse cast of characters, girls and boys, that reflect our nation’s multicultural population. [spacer height=”10px”]
Perseverance, persistence, fairness, and dreaming big are common themes in children’s books. I enjoyed the inclusion of women in a book that also teaches US history. As a non-fiction book, there are endless opportunities for educational use. Students could conduct more in-depth study of each character, or research other lesser known female figures who have also helped shape our nation. The adults in this book are role models children should know about and look up to. The author includes a quote that explains why every child, especially girls, should read this picture book, “You can’t be what you can’t see.” -Astronaut Sally Ride [spacer height=”10px”]
This Perfect Picture Book Pair written by award winning author-illustrator Ashley Spires features girls with strong characters. Both books are wonderful examples of how they face challenges and demonstrate resilience. [spacer height=”10px”]
THE MOST MAGNIFICENT THING is about a girl who knows exactly what she wants to build and how it will work, but is frustrated because it’s not easy. So she quits. But she comes back and guess what? She gets it right! The book is a great example to kids that it’s okay to make mistakes and even get angry. We all face frustration and fear that we may not succeed in our endeavors. [spacer height=”10px”]
THE THING LOU COULDN’T DO is about a girl who loves adventure until her friends decide to do something Lou couldn’t do. She makes all kinds of excuses but eventually Lou faces her fear. Rather than feel like a failure, she sets a goal. Not everything we fear can be solved easily or quickly. Just recognizing the fear is a step in the right direction. [spacer height=”10px”]
A Perfect Picture Book Pair showcases two books with universal themes, but one must include a diverse setting, or life experience, or main character. My goal is to support books in the market that contribute to diversity in children’s literature. [spacer height=”10px”]
Mark Twain said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness…” I believe reading is too! [spacer height=”10px”]
Kids love to see their reflections in books. Join me and #ReadYourWorld!