Stories of a Colorful World Raise Kids that Love to Read Thu, 17 Sep 2020 17:12:44 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Stories of a Colorful World 32 32 173757390 Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month! Thu, 17 Sep 2020 17:12:44 +0000 Books offer wonderful ways to celebrate and reflect on who we are, where we come from, and who we look to be in the world. They can be the reflective mirrors of our lives and see the beauty and power that we project out into the world.  They can also be extremely valuable as windows that help us gain insight and connect us with the lives, cultures, and experiences of those that are different from our own. 

In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15th-October 15th), we pulled together a list of books that celebrate Latino heritage, culture, and identity.  From books about family traditions, legendary tales, brave luchadors, and contributions of important figures from the past and present, these books are good for not just sharing during Hispanic Heritage Month but all year long.  


Between Us and Abuela: A Family Story from the Border by Mitali Perkins and Sara Palacios (Ages 3-6)

It’s almost time for Christmas, and Maria is traveling with her mother and younger brother, Juan, to visit their grandmother on the border of California and Mexico. For the few minutes they can share together along the fence, Maria and her brother plan to exchange stories and Christmas gifts with the grandmother they haven’t seen in years. But when Juan’s gift is too big to fit through the slats in the fence, Maria has a brilliant idea. Here is a heartwarming tale of families and the miracle of love.


The ABCs of AOC: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez from A to Z by Jamia Wilson, Krystal Quiles (Ages 3-7)

This empowering and informative book is the perfect conversation starter for young people interested in government and activism, and the ultimate gift for anyone who wants to learn more about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

From Advocate to Feminist, Grassroots to Queens, and Revolutionary to Zeal, The ABCs of AOC introduces readers to values, places, and issues that relate to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s life and platform. A clear and engaging explanation of each term is paired with a stunning, contemporary illustration that will delight readers. This is an alphabet book like no other!

Lucia the Luchadora by Cynthia Leonor Garza and Alyssa Bermudez (Ages 3-7)

Lucía zips through the playground in her cape just like the boys, but when they tell her “girls can’t be superheroes,” suddenly she doesn’t feel so mighty. That’s when her beloved abuela reveals a dazzling secret: Lucía comes from a family of luchadoras, the bold and valiant women of the Mexican lucha libre tradition. Cloaked in a flashy new disguise, Lucía returns as a recess sensation! But when she’s confronted with a case of injustice, Lucía must decide if she can stay true to the ways of the luchadora and fight for what is right, even if it means breaking the sacred rule of never revealing the identity behind her mask. A story about courage and cultural legacy, Lucía the Luchadora is full of pluck, daring, and heart.


Federico and the Wolf by Rebecca J. Gomez, Elisa Chavarri (Ages 4-7) 

With his red hoodie on and his bicycle basket full of food, Federico is ready to visit Abuelo. But on the way, he meets a hungry wolf. And now his grandfather bears a striking resemblance to el lobo. Fortunately, Federico is quick and clever—and just happens to be carrying a spicy surprise! Federico drives the wolf away, and he and Abuelo celebrate with a special salsa. Recipe included.


Alma and How She Got Her Name by Juana Martinez-Neal (Ages 4-8)

If you ask her, Alma Sofia Esperanza José Pura Candela has way too many names: six! How did such a small person wind up with such a large name? Alma turns to Daddy for an answer and learns of Sofia, the grandmother who loved books and flowers; Esperanza, the great-grandmother who longed to travel; José, the grandfather who was an artist; and other namesakes, too. As she hears the story of her name, Alma starts to think it might be a perfect fit after all — and realizes that she will one day have her own story to tell. In her author-illustrator debut, Juana Martinez-Neal opens a treasure box of discovery for children who may be curious about their own origin stories or names.


If Dominican Were a Color by Sili Recio, Brianna McCarthy (Ages 4-8)


The colors of Hispaniola burst into life in this striking, evocative debut picture book that celebrates the joy of being Dominican.

If Dominican were a color, it would be the sunset in the sky, blazing red and burning bright.
If Dominican were a color, it’d be the roar of the ocean in the deep of the night,
With the moon beaming down rays of sheer delight.

The palette of the Dominican Republic is exuberant and unlimited. Maiz comes up amarillo, the blue-black of dreams washes over sandy shores, and people’s skin can be the shade of cinnamon in cocoa or of mahogany. This exuberantly colorful, softly rhyming picture book is a gentle reminder that a nation’s hues are as wide as nature itself.


La Princesa and the Pea by Susan Middleton Elya and Juana Martinez-Neal (Ages 4-8)

El príncipe knows this girl is the one for him, but, as usual, his mother doesn’t agree.

The queen has a secret test in mind to see if this girl is really a princesa, but the prince might just have a sneaky plan, too . . .

Readers will be enchanted by this Latino twist on the classic story, and captivated by the vibrant art inspired by the culture of Peru.


My Papi and His Motorcycle by Isabel Quintero, Zeke Peña (Ages 4-8)

When Daisy Ramona zooms around her neighborhood with her papi on his motorcycle, she sees the people and places she’s always known. She also sees a community that is rapidly changing around her.

But as the sun sets purple-blue-gold behind Daisy Ramona and her papi, she knows that the love she feels will always be there.

With vivid illustrations and text bursting with heart, My Papi Has a Motorcycle is a young girl’s love letter to her hardworking dad and to memories of home that we hold close in the midst of change.


Niño Wrestles the World by Yuyi Morales (Ages 4-8) 

Fwap! Slish! Bloop! Krunch! He takes down his competition in a single move!

No opponent is too big a challenge for the cunning skills of Niño―popsicle eater, toy lover, somersault expert, and world champion lucha libre competitor!

Niño Wrestles the World is in English with Spanish vocabulary, and is a fun, colorful story about a boy wrestling with imaginary monsters (including an Olmec Head and La Llorona) and adversaries like his younger sisters. This is a joyful picture book about imagination, play, and siblings.


Pepe and the Parade: A Celebration of Hispanic Heritage by Tracey Kyle and Mirelle Ortega (Ages 4-8)

Pepe wakes up energized to attend his first Hispanic Day parade. With new food to taste, music to dance to, and a parade to watch, Pepe couldn’t be more excited to celebrate and share his Hispanic heritage. Many of Pepe’s friends also attend the festival, celebrating their own Hispanic ties. Mexican, Dominican, Panamanian, Colombian, Honduran, Nicaraguan, Chilean, Puerto Rican, Salvadoran, Guatemalan, and Cuban cultures are all represented in the parade. A day filled with joy and pride, Pepe and the Parade is a jubilant celebration of culture and identity.


Sonia Sotomayor: A Judge Grows in the Bronx/La juez que crecio en el Bronx (English and Spanish version) by Jonah Winter, Edel Rodriguez (Ages 4-8)

The inspiring and timely story of Sonia Sotomayor, who rose up from a childhood of poverty and prejudice to become the first Latino to be nominated to the US Supreme Court.

Before Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor took her seat in our nation’s highest court, she was just a little girl in the South Bronx. Justice Sotomayor didn’t have a lot growing up, but she had what she needed — her mother’s love, a will to learn, and her own determination. With bravery she became the person she wanted to be. With hard work she succeeded. With little sunlight and only a modest plot from which to grow, Justice Sotomayor bloomed for the whole world to see.


Tito Puente, Mambo King/Tito Puente, Rey del Mambo: Bilingual Spanish-English by Monica Brown, Rafael Lopez (Ages 4-8)

In this vibrant bilingual picture book biography of musician Tito Puente, readers will dance along to the beat of this mambo king’s life. Tito Puente loved banging pots and pans as a child, but what he really dreamed of was having his own band one day. From Spanish Harlem to the Grammy Awards—and all the beats in between—this is the true-life story of a boy whose passion for music turned him into the “King of Mambo.”


Viva Frida by Yuyi Morales, Tim O’Meara (Ages 4-8) 

Frida Kahlo, one of the world’s most famous and unusual artists is revered around the world. Her life was filled with laughter, love, and tragedy, all of which influenced what she painted on her canvases.


Young Pele: Soccer’s First Star by Lesa Cline-Ransome, James Ransome (Ages 4-8)

How did a poor boy named Edson—who kicked rocks down roads and dribbled balls made from rags—go on to become the greatest soccer player of all time? Here is the story of the boy who with great determination, lightning speed, and amazing skill overcame tremendous odds to become the world champion soccer star Pelé. Talented author/illustrator team Lesa Cline-Ransome and James E. Ransome bring his inspirational story vibrantly to life. The theme of this Dragonfly Book is Sports.


Be Bold! Be Brave!: 11 Latinas who made U.S. History by Naibe Reynoso and Jone Leal (Ages 5-8)

Be Bold! Be Brave! 11 Latinas who made U.S. History, Sé Audaz! Sé Valiente!: 11 Latinas que hicieron historia en los Estados Unidos is a bilingual book that highlights 11 Latinas who excelled in various fields including medicine, science, sports, art and politics. By presenting the true biographical stories of these outstanding Latinas in rhyming verses, young readers will easily follow their journey to success. Some of the women highlighted include Antonia Novello (first female Surgeon General in the U.S.), Ellen Ochoa (first Latina to go to space), Sonia Sotomayor (first Latina Supreme Court Justice,) Rita Moreno (first Latina to win an Oscar), Selena, and Pura Belpre (first Latina to incorporate and promote bilingual literacy in Public Libraries).


Just a Minute!: A Trickster Tale and Counting Book by Yuyi Morales (Ages 5-8) 

In this original trickster tale, Senor Calavera arrives unexpectedly at Grandma Beetle’s door. He requests that she leave with him right away. “Just a minute,” Grandma Beetle tells him. She still has one house to sweep, two pots of tea to boil, three pounds of corn to make into tortillas — and that’s just the start! Using both Spanish and English words to tally the party preparations, Grandma Beetle cleverly delays her trip and spends her birthday with a table full of grandchildren and her surprise guest. This spirited tribute to the rich traditions of Mexican culture is the perfect introduction to counting in both English and Spanish. The vivacious illustrations and universal depiction of a family celebration are sure to be adored by young readers everywhere.


Me Encanta, I Love Puerto Rico by Gabrielle V. Degroat (Ages 6-8)

Welcome to the beauty of Puerto Rico. Its tropical landscape and beautiful, friendly people will greet you to the sun and the sand. History, culture, and of course the delicious menus will have you celebrating Puerto Rico with your friend, Pedro.


Sofia’s Party Shoes by Jacqueline Jules and Kim Smith (Ages 6-8)

Sofia finally gets to attend her first quinceanera! Her mom even buys her some new shoes. But when Sofia ruins her new shoes before the big party, Sofia might not get to attend after all. This early chapter book from the Sofia Martinez series includes Spanish words in the text, a Spanish glossary, discussion questions, and writing prompts.


Diego Rivera: His World and Ours by Duncan Tonatiuh (Ages 6-9)

Diego Rivera, one of the most famous painters of the twentieth century, was once just a mischievous little boy who loved to draw. But this little boy would grow up to follow his passion and greatly influence the world of art.
After studying in Spain and France as a young man, Diego was excited to return to his home country of Mexico. There, he toured from the coasts to the plains to the mountains. He met the peoples of different regions and explored the cultures, architecture, and history of those that had lived before. Returning to Mexico City, he painted great murals representing all that he had seen. He provided the Mexican people with a visual history of who they were and, most important, who they are.


Queen of Tejano Music: Selena by Silvia López, Paola Escobar (Ages 6-9)


Selena Quintanilla’s music career began at the age of nine when she started singing in her family’s band. She went from using a hairbrush as a microphone to traveling from town to town to play gigs. But Selena faced a challenge: People said that she would never make it in Tejano music, which was dominated by male performers. Selena was determined to prove them wrong.

Born and raised in Texas, Selena didn’t know how to speak Spanish, but with the help of her dad, she learned to sing it. With songs written and composed by her older brother and the fun dance steps Selena created, her band, Selena Y Los Dinos, rose to stardom! A true trailblazer, her success in Tejano music and her crossover into mainstream American music opened the door for other Latinx entertainers, and she became an inspiration for Latina girls everywhere.


Bravo!: Poems about Amazing Hispanics by Margarita Engle and Rafael Lopez (Ages 8-12)

Musician, botanist, baseball player, pilot―the Latinos featured in this collection, Bravo!, come from many different countries and from many different backgrounds. Celebrate their accomplishments and their contributions to a collective history and a community that continues to evolve and thrive today!

Biographical poems include: Aida de Acosta, Arnold Rojas, Baruj Benacerraf, César Chávez, Fabiola Cabeza de Baca, Félix Varela, George Meléndez, José Martí, Juan de Miralles, Juana Briones, Julia de Burgos, Louis Agassiz Fuertes, Paulina Pedroso, Pura Belpré, Roberto Clemente, Tito Puente, Ynes Mexia, Tomás Rivera.


Love Sugar Magic: A Dash of Trouble by Anna Meriano, Mirelle Ortega (Ages 8-12)

Leonora Logro o’s family owns the most beloved bakery in Rose Hill, Texas, spending their days conjuring delicious cookies and cakes for any occasion. And no occasion is more important than the annual Dia de los Muertos festival.

Leo hopes that this might be the year that she gets to help prepare for the big celebration–but, once again, she is told she’s too young. Sneaking out of school and down to the bakery, she discovers that her mother, aunt, and four older sisters have in fact been keeping a big secret: they’re brujas–witches of Mexican ancestry–who pour a little bit of sweet magic into everything that they bake.

Leo knows that she has magical ability as well and is more determined than ever to join the family business–even if she can’t let her mama and hermanas know about it yet.

And when her best friend, Caroline, has a problem that needs solving, Leo has the perfect opportunity to try out her craft. It’s just one little spell, after all…what could possibly go wrong?


The First Rule of Punk by Celia C Pérez (Ages 9-12)

There are no shortcuts to surviving your first day at a new school—you can’t fix it with duct tape like you would your Chuck Taylors. On Day One, twelve-year-old Malú (María Luisa, if you want to annoy her) inadvertently upsets Posada Middle School’s queen bee, violates the school’s dress code with her punk rock look, and disappoints her college-professor mom in the process. Her dad, who now lives a thousand miles away, says things will get better as long as she remembers the first rule of punk: be yourself.
The real Malú loves rock music, skateboarding, zines, and Soyrizo (hold the cilantro, please). And when she assembles a group of like-minded misfits at school and starts a band, Malú finally begins to feel at home. She’ll do anything to preserve this, which includes standing up to an anti-punk school administration to fight for her right to express herself!


Marcus Vega Doesn’t Speak Spanish by Pablo Cartaya (Ages 10-13)

Marcus Vega is six feet tall, 180 pounds, and the owner of a premature mustache. When you look like this and you’re only in the eighth grade, you’re both a threat and a target.

After a fight at school leaves Marcus facing suspension, Marcus’s mom decides it’s time for a change of environment. She takes Marcus and his younger brother to Puerto Rico to spend a week with relatives they don’t remember or have never met. But Marcus can’t focus knowing that his father–who walked out of their lives ten years ago–is somewhere on the island.

So begins Marcus’s incredible journey, a series of misadventures that take him all over Puerto Rico in search of his elusive namesake. Marcus doesn’t know if he’ll ever find his father, but what he ultimately discovers changes his life. And he even learns a bit of Spanish along the way.


The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora by Pablo Cartaya (Ages 10-13)


Save the restaurant. Save the town. Get the girl. Make Abuela proud. Can thirteen-year-old Arturo Zamora do it all or is he in for a BIG, EPIC FAIL? 

For Arturo, summertime in Miami means playing basketball until dark, sipping mango smoothies, and keeping cool under banyan trees. And maybe a few shifts as junior lunchtime dishwasher at Abuela’s restaurant. Maybe. But this summer also includes Carmen, a poetry enthusiast who moves into Arturo’s apartment complex and turns his stomach into a deep fryer. He almost doesn’t notice the smarmy land developer who rolls into town and threatens to change it. Arturo refuses to let his family and community go down without a fight, and as he schemes with Carmen, Arturo discovers the power of poetry and protest through untold family stories and the work of José Martí.


What are some of your favorite books to celebrate Hispanic Heritage?

Happy Reading!

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September 2020 releases Fri, 04 Sep 2020 18:16:03 +0000 We are already headed into fall and what a year this has been.  With school getting back into gear, we are settling into our regular routines.  Here are some new releases to add to your home libraries as days grow shorter and nighters a little chillier.

Families Belong by Dan Saks, Brooke Smart (Ages 1-3) Release date: September 1st

Families belong
Together like a puzzle
Different-sized people
One big snuggle

This deliciously warm board book is an appreciation of the unconditional love and comfort shared within a family. Through a handful of specific yet universal scenarios, from singing songs together to sharing food together, from dancing together to lying still together, this book invites the youngest readers to celebrate what it means for a family to be truly together.


I Am Every Good Thing by Derrick Barnes, Gordon C. James (Ages 3-7)  Release date: September 1st

Written as a poem in the first person, I AM EVERY GOOD THING is a series of affirmations covering a range of human experiences like facing setbacks, enjoying triumphs, and being part of a family and community.

This is a joyful, fun book with serious undertones. Writer Derrick Barnes’ and illustrator Gordon C. James’ dedications in I Am Every Good Thing set the tone. Barnes dedicates the book to boys and young men who came to be known to the world only because they were killed. James dedicates it to his son. The words and pictures show Black boys engaging in fun, stereotypically boyish activities like skateboarding and making paper airplanes, pursuing aspirations like studying science and showing love to others, from helping an elder cross the street to offering a family member a shoulder to cry on. The illustrations are lush and dynamic.


Rocket Says Clean Up by Nathan Bryon, Dapo Adeola  (Ages 3-7) Release date: September 1st

Rocket is off to the islands to visit her grandparents. Her family loves nothing better than to beach comb and surf together…but the beach is clogged with trash! When she finds a turtle tangled in a net, Rocket decides that something must be done! Like a mini Greta Thunberg, our young activist’s enthusiasm brings everyone together…to clean up the beach and prevent plastics from spoiling nature. Perfect for fans of Rocket Says Look Up! and Ada Twist, Scientist, this book is for any youngster concerned about our environment. Rocket Says Clean Up! will inspire readers of all ages to dream big and tackle problems head-on.


Peyton Picks a Perfect Pie: A Thanksgiving Celebration by America’s Test Kitchen Kids (Ages 4-8) Release date: September 1st

Peyton is particular. But she’s not picky. Grownups use that word a lot. Picky. Picky. Picky. It’s never a good thing. And it’s not fair. Peyton likes dogs and cats, scooters and bikes, pools, and beaches. And Peyton likes to try new things. She recently mastered long division in math class and loves to practice the saxophone–as long as her adorable dog Mila doesn’t howl! But Peyton is particular when it comes to food. Peyton doesn’t like it when two foods touch on her plate. Peyton doesn’t like green foods. Or orange foods. Or red foods. Peyton doesn’t like foods that are gooey or gummy, sticky or slimy, frosted or flaky. And Peyton most definitely doesn’t like chunky or lumpy foods.

Thanksgiving is our most universal holiday, beloved by adults and children. But Thanksgiving can also be a challenge for young eaters who struggle with new tastes and new experiences. Peyton is the hero of this food lover’s tale and she is determined to confront her fear of new foods by finding a Thanksgiving pie she truly likes, even if it’s flaky, lumpy, or chunky.


Resist! Peaceful Acts That Changed Our World by Diane Stanley (Ages 7-10) Release date: September 1st

From music to marches, from sit-ins to walk-outs, activists throughout history have defended the disenfranchised and demanded reform, refusing to back down even in the face of violent oppression and overwhelming opposition. Today, a new generation of activists has arisen, speaking up in unprecedented numbers against systemic oppression, bias, and injustice.

Resist!, a collection of 21 brief but comprehensive essays accompanied by striking artwork and rich supplementary material by Diane Stanley, reminds us of the activists who came before: the men and women who have used peaceful resistance and non-violent protests to make their voices heard.


Who Was Kobe Bryant? (Who HQ Now) by Ellen Labrecque, Gregory Copeland (Ages 8-12) Release Date: September 1st

Kobe Bryant was just an eighteen-year-old high-school basketball player when he decided to enter the National Basketball Association’s draft. Though he was the thirteenth overall pick by the Charlotte Hornets, he would never play a single game for them. Instead, Kobe was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers, where he would spend his entire twenty-season career, winning five championships and numerous awards. Author Ellen Labreque takes readers through each exciting moment, from his iconic dunks to his 81-point game–all the milestones that span Kobe Bryant’s legendary career and legacy.


Before the Ever After by Jacqueline Woodson (Ages 10-12) Release date: September 1st

For as long as ZJ can remember, his dad has been everyone’s hero. As a charming, talented pro football star, he’s as beloved to the neighborhood kids he plays with as he is to his millions of adoring sports fans. But lately, life at ZJ’s house is anything but charming. His dad is having trouble remembering things and seems to be angry all the time. ZJ’s mom explains it’s because of all the head injuries his dad sustained during his career. ZJ can understand that–but it doesn’t make the sting any less real when his own father forgets his name. As ZJ contemplates his new reality, he has to figure out how to hold on tight to family traditions and recollections of the glory days, all the while wondering what their past amounts to if his father can’t remember it. And most importantly, can those happy feelings ever be reclaimed when they are all so busy aching for the past?


BronxShapes (Bronx Babies) by Alex Rivera (Ages 0-3) Release date: September 8th

Take a walk through the Bronx and what do you see? CIRCLE wheels on a classic tricycle, a vast DIAMOND where the Yankees play baseball, colorful TRIANGLE flags above the bodega, and more! Bronxshapes, the second board book in a new series, teaches young readers about shapes through Bronx native Alex Rivera’s eye-catching photographs and creative design. The small square trim (7″ x 7″) and sturdy pages are a perfect format for toddlers, and the content inside promotes language acquisition and concept learning in both English and Spanish. Curl up with your little one for a bilingual storytime that helps them reach important developmental milestones.


Counting Kindness: 10 Ways to Welcome Refugee Children by Hollis Kurman, Barroux (Ages 3-6) Release date: September 8th

More than half of the world’s refugees are children, with millions of kids fleeing wars, floods, and other scary situations in search of a safe place to live.

Arriving in a new place is stressful for both newcomers and their new communities, especially when the newcomers are little ones. But this beautiful counting book captures the joy of finding a home and the power of a welcoming community. From playing to sleeping, eating to reading, celebrating to learning, Counting Kindness proves we can lift the heaviest hearts when we come together. Endorsed by Amnesty International.


Digging for Words: José Alberto Gutiérrez and the Library He Built by Angela Burke Kunkel, Paola Escobar (Ages 4-8)Release date: September 8th

In the city of Bogata, in the barrio of La Nueva Gloria, there live two Joses. One is a boy who dreams of Saturdays– that’s the day he gets to visit Paradise, the library. The second Jose is a garbage collector. From dusk until dawn, he scans the sidewalks as he drives, squinting in the dim light, searching household trash for hidden treasure . . . books! Some are stacked in neat piles as if waiting for Jose; Others take a bit more digging. Ever since he found his first book, Anna Karenina, years earlier, he’s been collecting books–thick ones and thin ones, worn ones and almost new ones– to add to the collection in his home. And on Saturdays, kids like little Jose run to the steps of Paradise to discover a world filled with books and wonder.


Speak Up Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell, David Catrow (Ages 4-8) Release date: September 8th


Molly Lou Melon’s mother taught her to use her big voice for good–to speak up for what’s right, for those who can’t, and even when it’s hard. So she does.

When school starts and a bully begins teasing everyone, including a new student, Molly Lou knows just what to do.

From standing up for a friend to admitting when you’ve made a mistake, Molly Lou shows us how speaking up is always the right choice.


Jabari Tries by Gaia Cornwall (Ages 4-8)  Release date: September 8th

Jabari is making a flying machine in his backyard! “It’ll be easy. I don’t need any help,” he declares. But it doesn’t work! Jabari is frustrated. Good thing Dad is there for a pep talk and his little sister, Nika, is there to assist, fairy wings and all. With the endearing father-child dynamic of Jabari Jumps and engaging mixed-media illustrations, Gaia Cornwall’s tale shows that through perseverance and flexibility, an inventive thought can become a brilliant reality.


Evelyn Del Rey is Moving Away by Meg Medina, Sonia Sanchez (Ages 5-7)Release Date: September 8th

A big truck with its mouth wide open is parked at the curb, ready to gobble up Evelyn’s mirror with the stickers around the edge . . . and the sofa that we bounce on to get to the moon.

Evelyn Del Rey is Daniela’s best friend. They do everything together and even live in twin apartments across the street from each other: Daniela with her mami and hamster, and Evelyn with her mami, papi, and cat. But not after today—not after Evelyn moves away. Until then, the girls play amid the moving boxes until it’s time to say goodbye, making promises to keep in touch, because they know that their friendship will always be special. The tenderness of Meg Medina’s beautifully written story about friendship and change is balanced by Sonia Sánchez’s colorful and vibrant depictions of the girls’ urban neighborhood.


Love is Powerful by Heather Dean Brewer, LeUyen Pham (Ages 5-8) Release Date: September 8th

Mari raised her sign for everyone to see.
Even though she was small and the crowd was very big,
and she didn’t think anyone would hear,
she yelled out.

Mari is getting ready to make a sign with crayon as the streets below her fill up with people. “What are we making, Mama?” she asks. “A message for the world,” Mama says. “How will the whole world hear?” Mari wonders. “They’ll hear,” says Mama, “because love is powerful.” Inspired by a girl who participated in the January 2017 Women’s March in New York City, Heather Dean Brewer’s simple and uplifting story, delightfully illustrated by LeUyen Pham, is a reminder of what young people can do to promote change and equality at a time when our country is divided by politics, race, gender, and religion.


Red Shoes by Karen English, Ebony Glenn (Ages 3-5) Release date: September 15th

Red shoes glowing–
Perched on a pedestal in the shop window
as if on a throne.
“I want those, Nana,” Malika says, as they pass the shop.
“We’ll see,” Nana says with a wink. “Looks like you could use a new pair.”

Malika is delighted when Nana surprises her with a beautiful new pair of red shoes! And with a click-clack-click and a swish, swish, swish, Malika wears her wonderful new shoes everywhere she goes. But one day, the shoes begin to pinch Malika’s toes. And alas, they don’t let her forget that her feet have grown! Soon Malika and Nana are off to the Rare Finds Resale Shop, where the shoes can be resold — so somebody else can enjoy them!

Who will be the next to wear the red shoes?  Malika wonders.


I Am One: A Book of Action (I Am Books) by Susan Verde, Peter Reynolds (Ages 4-8)  Release date: September 15th

I Ame One

One seed to start a garden, one note to start a melody, one brick to start breaking down walls: Every movement and moment of change starts with purpose, with intention, with one. With me. With you.


Everything Naomi Loved by Katie Yamasaki, Ian Lendler (Ages 6-8) Release date: September 15th

11th Street: it wasn’t pretty, but it was home. Naomi spends her afternoons scooting down the streets and drawing with chalk on the sidewalks with her best friend Ada, getting a slice of pizza and visiting her neighbor Mister Ray at his auto shop, and dreaming of fantastic worlds within her own.

But her beloved neighborhood is changing. Trees are chopped down, flashy new buildings spring up, and one by one Naomi’s neighbors are forced to move away. Faced with the rapid transformation of her once-familiar city block, Naomi turns to painting murals to preserve her favorite 11th Street memories. When something we love goes away we paint it on the wall so it’s always with us, Mister Ray tells her, and Naomi discovers that no matter how her world changes, as long as she has places and people to love, she will always have a home.


The Teachers March!: How Selma’s Teachers Changed History by Sandra Neil Wallace, Charly Palmer (Ages 7-10)  Release date: September 22nd

Reverend F.D. Reese was a leader of the Voting Rights Movement in Selma, Alabama. As a teacher and principal, he recognized that his colleagues were viewed with great respect in the city. Could he convince them to risk their jobs–and perhaps their lives–by organizing a teachers-only march to the county courthouse to demand their right to vote? On January 22, 1965, the Black teachers left their classrooms and did just that, with Reverend Reese leading the way. Noted nonfiction authors Sandra Neil Wallace and Rich Wallace conducted the last interviews with Reverend Reese before his death in 2018 and interviewed several teachers and their family members in order to tell this important story, which is especially important today.


Bunheads by Misty Copeland, Setor Fiadzigbey (Ages 5-8) Release date: September 29th

From prima ballerina and New York Times bestselling author Misty Copeland comes the story of a young Misty, who discovers her love of dance through the ballet Coppélia–a story about a toymaker who devises a villainous plan to bring a doll to life.

Misty is so captivated by the tale and its heroine, Swanilda, she decides to audition for the role. But she’s never danced ballet before; in fact, this is the very first day of her very first dance class!

Though Misty is excited, she’s also nervous. But as she learns from her fellow bunheads, she makes wonderful friends who encourage her to do her very best. Misty’s nerves quickly fall away, and with a little teamwork, the bunheads put on a show to remember.


Do you spy any new releases that you can’t wait to read?


Happy Reading!

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About Courtney Mon, 31 Aug 2020 15:25:37 +0000 You may be wondering “Who is Courtney, and why does she have a corner?” Well, I am here to tell you that there are good reasons for me to have this space all to myself. For as long as I have been Courtney Jackson, I have been drawn to teaching little ones, and they have likewise been drawn to learning from me.

Since I was a naïve, wide-eyed graduate from Spelman College, I have always wanted to be a kindergarten teacher. I recognized early on that a strong kindergarten education was the foundation needed for a successful school trajectory. Not long after my teaching journey began, I quickly realized that learning begins well before a child enters the classroom.

My firm belief that all children have the ability to flourish within an environment where they feel safe, loved, and capable, is rooted in a wealth of functional hands-on Early Childhood Education experience. My career-span includes time in charter schools in Texas, public schools in Georgia, and schools of both types (including Head Start) in Washington, D.C. It has taken a lot of stamina and grit to devote nearly two decades to teaching in low-income areas, but it makes it easier to fight the good fight knowing that your efforts are for the betterment of little Black boys and girls.

Having earned a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education from Spelman College, and a Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction from Central Michigan University, I have developed a reputation as a wielder of best practices, focusing on sound pedagogy and developmentally appropriate methods. As a seasoned early childhood champion, I continue to successfully partner with parents, administrators, and other educators in a child-first collaborative spirit to meet the educational needs of all children.

My professional experience plays a huge role in informing what I bring to my corner every week. I have extensive experience as a lead teacher in early childhood settings, with proven success in student achievement, as well as the mentorship and coaching of teachers and paraprofessionals. As an educational consultant, I have worked side-by-side with young children, families, teachers, and administrators to re-examine deeply held beliefs and patterns of teaching and learning. Currently, I am Assistant Director of an Early Childhood Learning Center, and my goal is to foster an understanding and appreciation of the connections between technology, pedagogy, and curriculum for the community in which I live and serve. Now that you know what brings me to you, I want to welcome you to my corner, and to our journey together in developing our little ones’ sense of self, curiosity, and life-long learning.

Creatively yours,

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I Am Smart! I Am Blessed! I Can Do Anything! Fri, 28 Aug 2020 15:38:11 +0000 We all fell in love with viral sensation 3-year-old Aayan who emphatically recited his daily affirmations.  It’s never too early to help children feel good about who they are and develop strategies for overcoming challenges that may arise.  A positive self-image is such a vital part of creating a sense of worthiness and an understanding that just our being is enough.  

We’ve created a collection of books that promote positive self-esteem and help children make positive life choices.  They cover issues such as identity, personal value, staying true to oneself, and standing up for your uniqueness.   These books can be powerful tools to help children feel seen, loved, and valued. 


The Wash Day by T.B. Darks, Fabian Ramadhan (Ages 2-8)

Love your hair! Love the journey! Join Nina on her wacky Wash Day adventure as she teaches the little girls of today confidence and self-love, wearing her natural hair and loving the process.


Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut by Derrick Barnes, Gordon C. James (Ages 3-8)

The barbershop is where the magic happens. Boys go in as lumps of clay and, with princely robes draped around their shoulders, a dab of cool shaving cream on their foreheads, and a slow, steady cut, they become royalty. That crisp yet subtle line makes boys sharper, more visible, more aware of every great thing that could happen to them when they look good: lesser grades turn into As; girls take notice; even a mother’s hug gets a little tighter. Everyone notices.

A fresh cut makes boys fly.

This rhythmic, read-aloud title is an unbridled celebration of the self-esteem, confidence, and swagger boys feel when they leave the barber’s chair. It’s a tradition that places on their heads a figurative crown, beaming with jewels, that confirms their brilliance and worth and helps them not only love and accept themselves but also take a giant step toward caring how they present themselves to the world. The fresh cuts, that’s where it all begins.


Cool Cuts by Mechal Renee Roe (Ages 4-8)

When the stars shine, the world is mine! I am born to be awesome! My hair is free, just like me! I am born to be awesome!

Boys will love seeing strong, happy reflections of themselves in this vibrant, rhythmic picture book celebrating a diversity of hip black hairstyles. From a ‘fro-hawk to mini-twists and crisp cornrows, adorable illustrations of boys with cool curls, waves, and afros grace each page, accompanied by a positive message that will make kids cheer. It’s a great read-aloud to promote positive self-esteem to boys of all ages, building and growing the foundation of self-love (and hair love!) and letting every boy know that “You are born to be awesome!”


Sulwe by Lupita N’yongo, Vashti Harrison  (Ages 4-8)

Sulwe has skin the color of midnight. She is darker than everyone in her family. She is darker than anyone in her school. Sulwe just wants to be beautiful and bright, like her mother and sister. Then a magical journey in the night sky opens her eyes and changes everything.

In this stunning debut picture book, actress Lupita Nyong’o creates a whimsical and heartwarming story to inspire children to see their own unique beauty.


Mommy’s Khimar by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow, Ebony Glenn  (Ages 4-8)

A young Muslim girl spends a busy day wrapped up in her mother’s colorful headscarf in this sweet and fanciful picture book from debut author and illustrator Jamilah Tompkins-Bigelow and Ebony Glenn.

A khimar is a flowing scarf that my mommy wears.
Before she walks out the door each day, she wraps one around her head.

A young girl plays dress-up with her mother’s headscarves, feeling her mother’s love with every one she tries on. Charming and vibrant illustrations showcase the beauty of the diverse and welcoming community in this portrait of a young Muslim American girl’s life.


Hair Love by Matthew Cherry, Vashti Harrison (Ages 4-8)

It’s up to Daddy to give his daughter an extra-special hairstyle in this ode to self-confidence and the love between fathers and daughters, from Academy-Award winning director and former NFL wide receiver Matthew A. Cherry and New York Times bestselling illustrator Vashti Harrison.

Zuri’s hair has a mind of its own. It kinks, coils, and curls every which way. Zuri knows it’s beautiful. When Daddy steps in to style it for an extra special occasion, he has a lot to learn. But he LOVES his Zuri, and he’ll do anything to make her — and her hair — happy.

Tender and empowering, Hair Love is an ode to loving your natural hair — and a celebration of daddies and daughters everywhere.


When God Made You by Matthew Paul Turner, David Catrow (Ages 4-8)

From early on, children are looking to discover their place in the world and longing to understand how their personalities, traits, and talents fit in. The assurance that they are deeply loved, and a unique creation in our big universe is sure to help them spread their wings and fly.

Through playful, charming rhyme and vivid, fantastical illustrations, When God Made You inspires young readers to learn about their own unique gifts and how they fit into God’s divine plan as they grow, explore, and begin to create for themselves.

‘Cause when God made YOU, somehow God knew
That the world needed someone exactly like you!


Alma and How She Got Her Name by Juana Martinez-Neal (Ages 4-8)

What’s in a name? For one little girl, her very long name tells the vibrant story of where she came from — and who she may one day be.

If you ask her, Alma Sofia Esperanza José Pura Candela has way too many names: six! How did such a small person wind up with such a large name? Alma turns to Daddy for an answer and learns of Sofia, the grandmother who loved books and flowers; Esperanza, the great-grandmother who longed to travel; José, the grandfather who was an artist; and other namesakes, too. As she hears the story of her name, Alma starts to think it might be a perfect fit after all — and realizes that she will one day have her own story to tell. In her author-illustrator debut, Juana Martinez-Neal opens a treasure box of discovery for children who may be curious about their own origin stories or names.


Just Ask!: Be Different, Be Brave, Be You by Sonia Sotomayor, Rafael Lopez (Ages 4-8)

Feeling different, especially as a kid, can be challenging. But in the same way that different types of plants and flowers make a garden more beautiful and enjoyable, different types of people make our world more vibrant and wonderful.

In Just Ask, United States Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor celebrates the different abilities kids (and people of all ages) have. Using her own experience as a child who was diagnosed with diabetes, Justice Sotomayor writes about children with all sorts of challenges–and looks at the special powers those kids have as well. As the kids work together to build a community garden, asking questions of each other along the way, this book encourages readers to do the same: When we come across someone who is different from us, but we’re not sure why, all we have to do is Just Ask.


A Boy Like You by Frank Murphy, Kayla Harren (Ages 4-8)

There’s more to being a boy than sports, feats of daring, and keeping a stiff upper lip. A Boy Like You encourages every boy to embrace all the things that make him unique, to be brave and ask for help, to tell his own story, and listen to the stories of those around him. In an age when boys are expected to fit into a particular mold, this book celebrates all the wonderful ways to be a boy.


Jingle Dancer by Cynthia L. Smith, Cornelius Van Wright (Ages 4-8)

Jenna loves the tradition of jingle dancing that has been shared by generations of women in her family, and she hopes to dance at the next powwow. But she has a problem–how will her dress sing if it has no jingles?

The cone-shaped jingles sewn to Grandma Wolfe’s dress sing tink, tink, tink, tink.

Jenna’s heart beats to the brum, brum, brum, brum of the powwow drum as she daydreams about the clinking song of her grandma’s jingle dancing.


Mixed Me by Taye Diggs, Shane W. Evans (Ages 4-8)

Mom and Dad say I’m a blend of dark and light:
We mixed you perfectly and got you just right.

Mike has awesome hair. He has LOTS of energy His parents love him. And Mike is a PERFECT blend of the two of them.

Still, Mike has to answer LOTS of questions about being mixed. And he does, with LOTS of energy and joy in this charming story about a day in the life of a mixed-race child.


I Promise by Lebron James, Nina Mata (Ages 4-8)

Just a kid from Akron, Ohio, who is dedicated to uplifting youth everywhere, LeBron James knows the key to a better future is to excel in school, do your best, and keep your family close. I Promise is a lively and inspiring picture book that reminds us that tomorrow’s success starts with the promises we make to ourselves and our community today.

Featuring James’s upbeat, rhyming text and vibrant illustrations perfectly crafted for a diverse audience by New York Times bestselling artist Nina Mata, this book has the power to inspire all children and families to be their best.


Thunder Boy Jr by Sherman Alexie, Yuyi Morales (Ages 4-8)

Thunder Boy Jr. wants a normal name…one that’s all his own. Dad is known as big Thunder, but little thunder doesn’t want to share a name. He wants a name that celebrates something cool he’s done like Touch the Clouds, Not Afraid of Ten Thousand Teeth, or Full of Wonder.

But just when Little Thunder thinks all hope is lost, dad picks the best name…Lightning Their love will be loud and bright, and together they will light up the sky.


I Am Human: A Book of Empathy by Susan Verde, Peter H. Reynolds (Ages 4-8)

Being human means we are full of possibility. We learn we dream, we wonder at the world around us. But we also make mistakes and can feel fearful or sad.

From the bestselling team that created I Am YogaI Am PeaceI Am Love, and I Am One comes a hopeful celebration of the human family. I Am Human affirms that we can make good choices by acting with compassion and having empathy for others and ourselves. When we find common ground, we can feel connected to the great world around us and mindfully strive to be our best selves.


Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match: Marisol McDonald No Combina by Monica Brown, Sara Palacios (Ages 4-8)

Marisol McDonald has flaming red hair and nut-brown skin. Polka dots and stripes are her favorite combination. She prefers peanut butter and jelly burritos in her lunch box. To Marisol, these seemingly mismatched things make perfect sense together.

Other people wrinkle their nose in confusion at Marisol-can’t she just choose one or the other? Try as she might, in a world where everyone tries to put this biracial, Peruvian-Scottish-American girl into a box, Marisol McDonald doesn’t match. And that’s just fine with her.

A mestiza Peruvian American of European, Jewish, and Amerindian heritage, renowned author Monica Brown wrote this lively story to bring her own experience of being mismatched to life. Her buoyant prose is perfectly matched by Sara Palacios’ mixed-media illustrations.


My Brown Skin by Thomishia Booker, Jessica Gibson (Ages 5-7)

Hey Carter! Children’s Book Series is all things “Brown Boy Joy”. From start to finish the books are filled with the wonderful things we love most about our children. Pictures entertain your child as you speak life into them while reading “My Brown Skin”. Your child is amazing and wants to hear it. Your child is wonderfully made! Let’s hear them shout it from the mountain tops. Every child deserves to grow up envisioning their dreams through the stories of characters that look like them and reflect their experiences. Diversity in children’s books matters. Stories are a child’s first steps into their imagination.  This hidden meaning is a reinforcement that our children deserve respect. We must remind our children that they are powerful and amazing. “My Brown Skin” is a heartwarming story about embracing who you are. A child’s first words of confidence and pride. Also in Spanish this Book Series proves representation really matters.


Magnificient Homespun Brown: A Celebrationby Samara Cole Doyon, Kaylani Juanita (Ages 6-8)

Told by a succession of exuberant young narrators, Magnificent Homespun Brown is a story — a song, a poem, a celebration — about feeling at home in one’s own beloved skin.

With vivid illustrations by Kaylani Juanita, Samara Cole Doyon sings a carol for the plenitude that surrounds us and the self each of us is meant to inhabit.


Black Is a Rainbow>by Angela Joy, Elkua Holmes (Ages 6-8)

A child reflects on the meaning of being Black in this moving and powerful anthem about a people, a culture, a history, and a legacy that lives on.

Red is a rainbow color.
Green sits next to blue.
Yellow, orange, violet, indigo,
They are rainbow colors, too, but

My color is black . . .
And there’s no BLACK in rainbows.

From the wheels of a bicycle to the robe on Thurgood Marshall’s back, Black surrounds our lives. It is a color to simply describe some of our favorite things, but it also evokes a deeper sentiment about the incredible people who helped change the world and a community that continues to grow and thrive.


The First Rule of Punk by Celia C. Pérez (Ages 9-12)

The First Rule of Punk is a wry and heartfelt exploration of friendship, finding your place, and learning to rock out like no one’s watching.

There are no shortcuts to surviving your first day at a new school–you can’t fix it with duct tape like you would your Chuck Taylors. On Day One, twelve-year-old Malú (María Luisa, if you want to annoy her) inadvertently upsets Posada Middle School’s queen bee, violates the school’s dress code with her punk rock look, and disappoints her college-professor mom in the process. Her dad, who now lives a thousand miles away, says things will get better as long as she remembers the first rule of punk: be yourself.

The real Malú loves rock music, skateboarding, zines, and Soyrizo (hold the cilantro, please). And when she assembles a group of like-minded misfits at school and starts a band, Malú finally begins to feel at home. She’ll do anything to preserve this, which includes standing up to an anti-punk school administration to fight for her right to express herself!


Genesis Begins Again by Alicia D. Williams (Ages 9-12)

There are ninety-six things Genesis hates about herself. She knows the exact number because she keeps a list. Like #95: Because her skin is so dark, people call her charcoal and eggplant–even her own family. And #61: Because her family is always being put out of their house, belongings laid out on the sidewalk for the world to see. When your dad is a gambling addict and loses the rent money every month, eviction is a regular occurrence.

What’s not so regular is that this time they all don’t have a place to crash, so Genesis and her mom have to stay with her grandma. It’s not that Genesis doesn’t like her grandma, but she and Mom always fight–Grandma haranguing Mom to leave Dad, that she should have gone back to school, that if she’d married a lighter-skinned man, none of this would be happening, and on and on and on. But things aren’t all bad. Genesis actually likes her new school; she’s made a couple of friends, her choir teacher says she has real talent, and she even encourages Genesis to join the talent show.

But how can Genesis believe anything her teacher says when her dad tells her the exact opposite? How can she stand up in front of all those people with her dark, dark skin, knowing even her own family thinks lesser of her because of it? Why, why, why won’t the lemon or yogurt or fancy creams lighten her skin like they’re supposed to? And when Genesis reaches #100 on the list of things she hates about herself, will she continue on, or can she find the strength to begin again?

What books do you use to help your little ones build positive self-images? 


You can find all of these books and many more in our store under the category: “You Are Enough: Picture books affirming skin, hair, and self-love.”  Check them out and others in our collections.  

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Author Interview: Natasha Tarpley Fri, 21 Aug 2020 19:47:57 +0000 I recently had an opportunity to sit down with author Natasha Tarpley and have a discussion about her influences as a writer, thoughts around diversity in the children’s book industry, family literacy practices for parents, and much more. 

Check out the highlights below, including some advice for parents and her current page-turners.  

A lot of your books highlight African-American life and celebrates it in a way that doesn’t feel heavy-handed.  How much of yourself, others, or your own experiences do you bring into your books?

I think I bring a lot. For example, I Love My Hair was inspired by a game my mom used to play when she was combing my hair.  We would pretend there were people in my hair, and we would go around and make up stories and just really have fun with that process.  That direct connection isn’t in the book, but that whole idea of using your imagination and having fun and the mother and daughter connecting, that was definitely part of it.  I mentioned that I used to go to the barbershop to get my hair cut, and then sometimes my brother would cut my hair.  That was a way for us to connect, as well.  Just bringing that sense of caretaking and nurturing with black men, with each other, and with black women, I wanted to bring that into these works. I have a middle-grade novel called The Harlem Charade, and that was set in Harlem. That book is a celebration of Harlem, the history in that community, but also an acknowledgment and a question of who has the power to shape a community’s story, their future, what do we want to preserve from the past, and how do kids play a role in that. One of the things I would like to do throughout all of my work is to create spaces for kids not only to see themselves but also to activate their own imagination or connection with themselves and how they want to connect to the world in a way that is powerful and true to who they are.  

We’re now seeing shifts, where the publishing industry is actually starting to acknowledge the inequity in diversity in books that are being published by the bigger publishing houses.  What are your thoughts on the importance of diverse representation in children’s books?

I am glad that all of the things that are happening are happening.  I was so excited to see the hashtag #publishingpaidme because it’s sort of been this quiet thing that a lot of us knew there was this disparity in how much authors were being paid.  And then creating the whole behind the scenes thing is good too, but we also have to figure out how just putting someone of color in a position doesn’t always change the narrative.  I don’t want to sound cynical, but sometimes the people that are selected are people who are doing good work, but they’re also occasionally comfortable with the mainstream narrative.  It’s good to have those people in those positions because I believe that they are going to bring about some diversity to those businesses and publishing houses. Still, I also want to get past this way of anointing one or two people and those handfuls of people are the ones given every award, so you end up not having diversity at all.  I’m sure they do good work, but I want us to get past putting these one or two people or publishing these one or two books and saying that is what diversity is.  I think fundamentally I want there to be an acknowledgment of our shared humanity.  I’m not espousing a ‘we are the world’ kind of thing but if you’re always looking at people in terms of “I need to do diversity” or “I need to talk about anti-racism” you never get to know them and get past those constraints that created the situation in the first place.  

Do you have any advice for parents to act as advocates for getting books that reflect their children and their communities?

I think parents should use whatever platforms you have to connect with publishers.  If there’s a book that comes out, we’ve seen this many times where a book will come out that doesn’t reflect what we feel is an accurate depiction, and so people speak to that.  I would say, even on a daily basis, speak up and say, “I really like this book about x, y, and z that you published.  I’d like to see more of that”, or “These books are not representing my children or my home life. I would like to see more of these kinds of books.”  I think however you want to express that, writing to publishers,  writing op-eds, or purchasing.  Making it known that “I’m going to purchase this book because… or I’m not going to purchase this book because…” Maybe if we all do that on an individual basis, those things begin to compile, and we have more of a presence with publishers.  But, I think that’s a good place to start.  

Did you have any literacy rituals or routines that you practiced as a child?

Both of my parents read to us. There are still stories my dad read that I remember.  We were always very interactive with the story.  The stories that I remember my dad reading, he would do little sound effects and things like that. 

I was a kid that loved books about food.  So if I was reading something with like a peasant stew, or crust of bread, I would always want to go out and taste those things.  Those are ways to extend the story.  We had a Little House on the Prairie cookbook.  In the book, they were making snow candy.  So, without our parents’ knowledge, we were trying to do this too.  But you know, snow in the city of Chicago is not the snow you want to eat and make snow candy. 

A lot of teachers also use,  for example, The Harlem Charade.  It has references to real places in New York. Even though we might not be able to go to those places, there’s still a lot of virtual stuff that you can do, like extending the stories that you’re reading virtually and doing some projects around that or something similar in your own neighborhoods. 

We also did a lot of hands-on things, not always centered around books. Something that sparked imagination and curiosity overall, so I think those are really important qualities to cultivate in kids beyond just reading. To have that desire to explore the world, and explore what’s going on, I think those are essential qualities for both readers and writers.  

What are you currently reading? 

I’m actually reading Harry Potter right now.  It’s partly research, and partly, I’ve never really finished the series.  There are definitely issues in that series and I guess J.K. Rowling has had some things come out.  I wish there were more representation of kids of color, but it is a really immersive story, and that is what I’m taking away and appreciating about it.  It’s a really good read during this time, just escaping into a world.  Rowling is really good at building that world.  

Do you have projects in the works or anything new coming out? 

I have a picture book coming out in 2021, which is going to be illustrated by Creative Soul Photography.  They’re a husband and wife team that are known for doing these beautiful and elaborate portraits of Black children.  It’s sort of allowed me to go back.  I wrote poetry very early in my career, so it’s a very poetic manuscript about celebrating who you are. 

I’m also writing a podcast called Opal Watson Private Eye.  It features a girl that is visually impaired in Chicago, and she has her own detective agency.  The first season of that has already been released on Pinna, an audio subscription-based platform for kids.  I’m just starting work on the second season.  That’s been fun to do a scripted series and build some skills in another genre.  

How can people stay connected with you on social media or your website? 

They can find me on my website or Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter: @natashatarpley.

Want to watch our full interview?  Click here.

About Natasha Tarpley: 

Natasha Tarpley is the author of the best-selling picture book, I Love My Hair!, as well as other acclaimed titles for children and adults. She is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, among other awards. When she is not writing books, Ms. Tarpley can usually be found reading them. She has also taken up the cruel and unusual hobby of running marathons. Ms. Tarpley is the co-founder of Voonderbar! Media, a multicultural children’s book media company. She lives with her husband and the ghosts of two cats on the south side of Chicago.

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Welcome Back to School! Fri, 14 Aug 2020 00:09:58 +0000 Within the next few weeks, we’ll all be venturing back off to “school”.  Whether your child is transitioning from one class to the next or one school to the next, going back full-time, part-time, or completely virtual, we want to help set you and them up to be successful and motivated to have an amazing year.  We’ve created a collection of books that highlight a few dimensions of the school experience.  We’ve divided them into these categories:

(1) first days: starting school or worrying about starting school;

(2) fitting in: interacting with peers;

(3) life lessons: experiences within and beyond the classroom;

(4) classroom adventures: characters taking on great heroic risks

(5) classroom comedies: humorous school stories.

As an educator, I can attest that so many things can happen within a school day.  Sit back, relax, and read a good book about navigating school life.  

First Days:

Butterflies on the First Day of School by Annie Silvestro, Dream Chen (Ages 3+) 

Rosie can’t wait to start kindergarten–she’s had her pencils sharpened and her backpack ready for weeks. But suddenly, on the night before the big day, her tummy hurts. Rosie’s mom reassures her that it’s just butterflies in her belly, and she’ll feel better soon. Much to Rosie’s surprise, when she says hello to a new friend on the bus, a butterfly flies out of her mouth As the day goes on, Rosie frees all her butterflies and even helps another shy student let go of hers, too.

The King of Kindergarten by Derrick Barnes, Vanessa Brantley-Newton (Ages 3-6)

A confident little boy takes pride in his first day of kindergarten, by the Newbery Honor-winning author of Crown. The morning sun blares through your window like a million brass trumpets. It sits and shines behind your head–like a crown. Mommy says that today, you are going to be the King of Kindergarten! Starting kindergarten is a big milestone–and the hero of this story is ready to make his mark! He’s dressed himself, eaten a pile of pancakes, and can’t wait to be part of a whole new kingdom of kids. The day will be jam-packed, but he’s up to the challenge, taking new experiences in stride with his infectious enthusiasm! And afterward, he can’t wait to tell his proud parents all about his achievements–and then wake up to start another day.

I Got the School Spirit by Connie Schofield-Morrison, Frank Morrison  (Ages 3-6) 

Summer is over, and this little girl has got the school spirit! She hears the school spirit in the bus driving up the street–VROOM, VROOM!–and in the bell sounding in the halls–RING-A-DING! She sings the school spirit in class with her friends–ABC, 123!

The school spirit helps us all strive and grow. What will you learn today?

School’s First Day of School by Adam Rex, Christian Robinson (Ages 4-8)

It’s the first day of school at Frederick Douglass Elementary and everyone’s just a little bit nervous, especially the school itself. What will the children do once they come? Will they like the school? Will they be nice to him?

The school has a rough start, but as the day goes on, he soon recovers when he sees that he’s not the only one going through first-day jitters.

Princess Cupcake Jones Won’t Go to School! by Ylleya Fields, Michael Laduca (Ages 5-7) 

Princess Cupcake Jones, the modern-day princess who loves her tutu and playing with her toys, is about to begin school . . . but says, “I won’t go!” Cupcake tries everything to avoid her first day–from pretending to be sick to even hiding! However, Mom stays one step ahead of her. Only after arriving at school and meeting a new friend does Cupcake realize that school might not be as scary as she thought. 

The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson, Rafael López (Ages 5-8) 

There will be times when you walk into a room
and no one there is quite like you.

There are many reasons to feel different. Maybe it’s how you look or talk, or where you’re from; maybe it’s what you eat, or something just as random. It’s not easy to take those first steps into a place where nobody really knows you yet, but somehow you do it.

Jacqueline Woodson’s lyrical text and Rafael López’s dazzling art reminds us that we all feel like outsiders sometimes-and how brave it is that we go forth anyway. And that sometimes, when we reach out and begin to share our stories, others will be happy to meet us halfway.

Elizabeti’s Schoolby Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen, Christy Hale (Ages 5-8)

It’s the first day of school and Elizabeti can hardly wait. She puts on her new uniform and feels her shiny shoes. School must surely be a very special place

Shortly after arriving at school, however, Elizabeti begins to miss her family. What if Mama needs help cleaning the rice? What if her baby sister wants to play? What if her little brother wants to go for a walk? But soon Elizabeti is making friends and learning her lessons. Best of all, she shares her experiences with her family that evening – and can apply what she has learned right away.

Mr. Shipman’s Kindergarten Chronicles: The First Day of School by Terance Shipman and Milan Ristic (Ages 6-9) 

When Dewayne, a soon to be kindergartner rushes in the house after going shopping for school supplies his sister Banicia and mother help him understand what’s about to happen. An entertaining story of the wonder and excitement of going to kindergarten. Join Banaica as she recalls The First Day of School in Mr. Shipman’s classroom. Mr. Shipman is their kindergarten teacher, and he makes The First Day of School an experience his students will never forget. Mr. Shipman shares it all with his class of delightful five-year-olds and builds excitement for your child for all the things, The First Day of School in kindergarten can be!

First Day in Grapes by L King Perez, Robert Casilla (Ages 6-9) 

All year long Chico and his family move up and down the state of California picking fruits and vegetables. Every September they pick grapes and Chico starts at a new school again. Often other children pick on him – maybe because he is always new or maybe because he speaks Spanish sometimes.

Chico’s first day in third grade turns out to be different. His teacher likes him right away, and she and his classmates are quick to recognize his excellent math skills. He may even get to go to the math fair When the fourth-grade bullies confront Chico in the lunchroom, he responds wisely with strengths of his own.

Make Way for Dyamonde Daniel by Nikki Grimes,  R. Gregory Christie (Ages 7-9) 

Dyamonde Daniel may be new in town, but that doesn’t stop her from making a place for herself in a jiffy. With her can-do attitude and awesome brainpower, she takes the whole neighborhood by storm. The only thing puzzling her is the other new kid in her class. He’s grouchy – but Dyamonde’s determined to get to the bottom of his attitude and make a friend.


Fitting In:

The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi (Ages 3-7)

The new kid in school needs a new name! Or does she? Being the new kid in school is hard enough, but what about when nobody can pronounce your name? Having just moved from Korea, Unhei is anxious that American kids will like her. So instead of introducing herself on the first day of school, she tells the class that she will choose a name by the following week. Her new classmates are fascinated by this no-name girl and decide to help out by filling a glass jar with names for her to pick from. But while Unhei practices being a Suzy, Laura, or Amanda, one of her classmates comes to her neighborhood and discovers her real name and its special meaning. On the day of her name choosing, the name jar has mysteriously disappeared. Encouraged by her new friends, Unhei chooses her own Korean name and helps everyone pronounce it–Yoon-Hey.

Nana Akua Goes to School by Tricia Elam Walker, April Harrison (Ages 4-8)

It is Grandparents Day at Zura’s elementary school, and the students are excited to introduce their grandparents and share what makes them special. Aleja’s grandfather is a fisherman. Bisou’s grandmother is a dentist. But Zura’s Nana, who is her favorite person in the world, looks a little different from other grandmas. Nana Akua was raised in Ghana, and, following an old West African tradition, has tribal markings on her face. Worried that her classmates will be scared of Nana–or worse, make fun of her–Zura is hesitant to bring her to school. Nana Akua knows what to do, though. With a quilt of traditional African symbols and a bit of face paint, Nana Akua is able to explain what makes her special, and to make all of Zura’s classmates feel special, too.

All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold, Suzanne Kaufman (Ages 4-8)

Discover a school where–no matter what–young children have a place, have a space, and are loved and appreciated. Follow a group of children through a day in their school, where everyone is welcomed with open arms. A school where students from all backgrounds learn from and celebrate each other’s traditions. A school that shows the world as we will make it to be.

A Friend for Henry: (books about Making Friends, Children’s Friendship Books, Autism Awareness Books for Kids) by Jenn Bailey and Mika Song (Ages 5-8)

In Classroom Six, second left down the hall, Henry has been on the lookout for a friend. A friend who shares. A friend who listens. Maybe even a friend who likes things to stay the same and all in order, as Henry does. But on a day full of too close and too loud, when nothing seems to go right, will Henry ever find a friend–or will a friend find him? With insight and warmth, this heartfelt story from the perspective of a boy on the autism spectrum celebrates the everyday magic of friendship.

Lailah’s Lunchbox: A Ramadan Story by Reem Faruqi, Lea Lyon (Ages 5-8)

Lailah is in a new school in a new country, thousands of miles from her old home, and missing her old friends. When Ramadan begins, she is excited that she is finally old enough to participate in the fasting but worried that her classmates won’t understand why she doesn’t join them in the lunchroom.

Your Name Is a Song by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow  (Ages 5-10)

Frustrated by a day full of teachers and classmates mispronouncing her beautiful name, a little girl tells her mother she never wants to come back to school. In response, the girl’s mother teaches her about the musicality of African, Asian, Black-American, Latinx, and Middle Eastern names on their lyrical walk home through the city. Empowered by this newfound understanding, the young girl is ready to return the next day to share her knowledge with her class. Your Name is a Song is a celebration to remind all of us about the beauty, history, and magic behind names.

The Arabic Quilt: An Immigrant Story by Aya Khalil,Anait Semirdzhyan (Ages 6-8)

Kanzi’s family has moved from Egypt to America, and on her first day in a new school, what she wants more than anything is to fit in. Maybe that’s why she forgets to take the kofta sandwich her mother has made for her lunch, but that backfires when Mama shows up at school with the sandwich. Mama wears a hijab and calls her daughter Habibti (dear one). When she leaves, the teasing starts.

The Year of the Book, Volume 1 by Andrea Cheng, Abigail Halpin  (Ages 6-9)

In Chinese, peng you means friend. But in any language, all Anna knows for certain is that friendship is complicated.

When Anna needs company, she turns to her books. Whether traveling through A Wrinkle in Time or peering over My Side of the Mountain, books provide what real life cannot–constant companionship and insight into her changing world.

Books, however, can’t tell Anna how to find a true friend. She’ll have to discover that on her own. In the tradition of classics like Maud Hart Lovelace’s Betsy-Tacy books and Eleanor Estes’One Hundred Dresses, this novel subtly explores what it takes to make friends and what it means to be one.

My Name Is Maria Isabel by Alma Flor Ada, K Dyble Thompson (Ages 7-10)

For Maria Isabel Salazer Lopez, the hardest thing about being the new girl in school is that the teacher doesn’t call her by her real name. “We already have two Marias in this class, ” says her teacher. “Why don’t we call you Mary instead?”

But Maria Isabel has been named for her Papa’s mother and for Chabela, her beloved Puerto Rican grandmother. Can she find a way to make her teacher see that if she loses her name, she’s lost the most important part of herself?

Planet Middle School by Nikki Grimes (Ages 8-12)

For twelve years, Joylin Johnson’s life has been just fine. A game of basketball with the boys-especially her friend Jake-was all it took to put a smile on her face. Baggy jeans, T-shirts, and hair in a ponytail were easy choices. Then, everything suddenly seemed to change all at once. Her best girlfriend is now flirting with her best guy friend. Her clothes seem all wrong. Jake is acting weird, and basketball isn’t the same. And worst of all, there is this guy, Santiago, who appears from . . . where? What lengths will Joy go to–and who will she become–to attract his attention?

In short poems that perfectly capture the crazy feelings of adolescence and first crushes, award-winning author Nikki Grimes has crafted a delightful, often hilarious, heart-tugging story.

New Kid by Jerry Craft (Ages 8-12)

Seventh-grader Jordan Banks loves nothing more than drawing cartoons about his life. But instead of sending him to the art school of his dreams, his parents enroll him in a prestigious private school known for its academics, where Jordan is one of the few kids of color in his entire grade.

As he makes the daily trip from his Washington Heights apartment to the upscale Riverdale Academy Day School, Jordan soon finds himself torn between two worlds–and not really fitting into either one. Can Jordan learn to navigate his new school culture while keeping his neighborhood friends and staying true to himself?

This middle-grade graphic novel is an excellent choice for tween readers, including for summer reading.

Feathers by Jacqueline Woodson (Ages 10-12)

“Hope is the thing with feathers” starts the poem Frannie is reading in school. Frannie hasn’t thought much about hope. There are so many other things to think about. Each day, her friend Samantha seems a bit more “holy.” There is a new boy in class everyone is calling the Jesus Boy. And although the new boy looks like a white kid, he says he’s not white. Who is he?

During a winter full of surprises, good and bad, Frannie starts seeing a lot of things in a new light–her brother Sean’s deafness, her mother’s fear, the class bully’s anger, her best friend’s faith and her own desire for “the thing with feathers.”

Jacqueline Woodson once again takes readers on a journey into a young girl’s heart and reveals the pain and the joy of learning to look beneath the surface.

Life Lessons:

Shin-Chi’s Canoe by Nicola I.Campbell,Kim Lafave (Ages 4-7)

When they arrive at school, Shi-shi-etko reminds Shinchi, her six-year-old brother, that they can only use their English names and that they can’t speak to each other. For Shinchi, life becomes an endless cycle of church mass, school, and work, punctuated by skimpy meals. He finds solace at the river, clutching a tiny cedar canoe, a gift from his father, and dreaming of the day when the salmon return to the river a sign that it’s almost time to return home.

Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts, Nora Z. Jones (Ages 5-8)

All Jeremy wants is a pair of those shoes, the ones everyone at school seems to be wearing. Though Jeremy’s grandma says they don’t have room for “want,” just “need,” when his old shoes fall apart at school, he is more determined than ever to have those shoes, even a thrift-shop pair that are much too small. But sore feet aren’t much fun, and Jeremy soon sees that the things he has — warm boots, a loving grandma, and the chance to help a friend — are worth more than the things he wants.

Booked by Kwame Alexander (Ages 10-12)

Can’t nobody stop you
Can’t nobody cop you…

In this follow-up to Newbery-winner The Crossover, soccer, family, love, and friendship take center stage. Twelve-year-old Nick learns the power of words as he wrestles with problems at home, stands up to a bully, and tries to impress the girl of his dreams. Helping him along are his best friend and sometimes teammate Coby, and The Mac, a rapping librarian who gives Nick inspiring books to read.

Miles Morales: Spider-Man by Jason Reynolds, Kadir Nelson (12+)

Miles Morales is just your average teenager. Dinner every Sunday with his parents, chilling out playing old-school video games with his best friend, Ganke, crushing on brainy, beautiful poet Alicia. He’s even got a scholarship spot at the prestigious Brooklyn Visions Academy. Oh yeah, and he’s Spider-Man.

But lately, Miles’s spidey-sense has been on the fritz. When a misunderstanding leads to his suspension from school, Miles begins to question his abilities. After all, his dad and uncle were Brooklyn jack-boys with criminal records. Maybe kids like Miles aren’t meant to be superheroes. Maybe Miles should take his dad’s advice and focus on saving himself.

As Miles tries to get his school life back on track, he can’t shake the vivid nightmares that continue to haunt him. Nor can he avoid the relentless buzz of his spidey-sense every day in history class, amidst his teacher’s lectures on the historical benefits of slavery and the modern-day prison system. But after his scholarship is threatened, Miles uncovers a chilling plot, one that puts his friends, his neighborhood, and himself at risk. It’s time for Miles to suit up.

All American Boys by Jason Reynolds,Brendan Kiely  (12+)

A bag of chips. That’s all sixteen-year-old Rashad is looking for at the corner bodega. What he finds instead is a fist-happy cop, Paul Galluzzo, who mistakes Rashad for a shoplifter, mistakes Rashad’s pleadings that he’s stolen nothing for belligerence, mistakes Rashad’s resistance to leave the bodega as resisting arrest, mistakes Rashad’s every flinch at every punch the cop throws as further resistance and refusal to STAY STILL as ordered. But how can you stay still when someone is pounding your face into the concrete pavement?  There were witnesses: Quinn Collins–a varsity basketball player and Rashad’s classmate who has been raised by Paul since his own father died in Afghanistan–and a video camera. Soon the beating is all over the news and Paul is getting threatened with accusations of prejudice and racial brutality. Quinn refuses to believe that the man who has basically been his savior could possibly be guilty. But then Rashad is absent. And absent again. And again. And the basketball team–half of whom are Rashad’s best friends–start to take sides. As does the school. And the town. Simmering tensions threaten to explode as Rashad and Quinn are forced to face decisions and consequences they had never considered before.  Written in tandem by two award-winning authors, this four-starred reviewed tour de force shares the alternating perspectives of Rashad and Quinn as the complications from that single violent moment, the type taken directly from today’s headlines, unfold and reverberate to highlight an unwelcome truth.

What Momma Left Me by Renée Watson (12+)

Serenity is good at keeping secrets, and she’s got a whole lifetime’s worth of them. Her mother is dead, her father is gone, and starting life over at her grandparents’ house is strange. Luckily, certain things seem to hold promise: a new friend who makes her feel connected, and a boy who makes her feel seen. But when her brother starts making poor choices, her friend is keeping her own dangerous secret, and her grandparents put all of their trust in a faith that Serenity isn’t sure she understands, it is the power of love that will repair her heart and keep her sure of just who she is.

Classroom Adventures:

The Dramatic Life of Azaleah Lane by Nikki Shannon Smith, Mari Lobo & Gloria Felix (Ages 6-8)

Azaleah’s big sister, Nia, has been cast as Willa Wonka in the school musical, and the entire Lane family is looking forward to the show. Azaleah has even helped plan a surprise dinner party for Nia at Avec Amour, Mama’s restaurant. But then the real drama starts. At the first rehearsal, all sorts of things go wrong: missing batteries, sets falling over, props misplaced . . .

It’s so many things, in fact, that Azaleah suspects “foul play.” And when the special effects on Nia’s costume don’t work at dress rehearsal, Nia is a nervous wreck. To top it all off, the high school journalism class is covering the performance for the school blog, and the director doesn’t have time to replace Nia’s costume. Nia has to wear it without the special effects. Azaleah becomes determined to make sure the musical isn’t ruined for Nia. Azaleah has to get to the bottom of the mysterious rehearsal troubles and finish party preparations before the curtain goes up.

Mindy Kim and the Yummy Seaweed Business, Volume 1
by Lyla Lee, Dung Ho (Ages 6-9)

Mindy Kim just wants three things:
1. A puppy!
2. To fit in at her new school
3. For her dad to be happy again

But, getting all three of the things on her list is a lot trickier than she thought it would be. On her first day of school, Mindy’s school snack of dried seaweed isn’t exactly popular at the lunch table. Luckily, her new friend, Sally, makes the snacks seem totally delicious to Mindy’s new classmates, so they decide to start the Yummy Seaweed Business to try and raise money for that puppy!

When another student decides to try and sabotage their business, Mindy loses more than she bargained for–and wonders if she’ll ever fit in. Will Mindy be able to overcome her uncertainty and find the courage to be herself?

To Catch a Cheat: A Jackson Greene Novel: A Jackson Greene Novel by Varian Johnson (Ages 8-12)

Jackson Greene is riding high. He is officially retired from conning, so Principal Kelsey is (mostly) off his back. His friends have great new projects of their own. And as he’s been hanging out a lot with Gaby de la Cruz, he thinks maybe, just maybe, they’ll soon have their first kiss.

Then Jackson receives a link to a faked security video that seems to show him and the rest of Gang Greene flooding the school gym. The thugs behind the video threaten to pass it to the principal — unless Jackson steals an advance copy of the school’s toughest exam.

So Gang Greene reunites for their biggest job yet. To get the test and clear their names, they’ll have to outrun the school’s security cameras, outwit a nosy member of the Honor Board, and outmaneuver the blackmailers while setting a trap for them in turn. And as they execute another exciting caper full of twists and turns, they’ll prove that sometimes it takes a thief to catch a cheat.

The Great Greene Heist >by Varian Johnson (Ages 8-12)

Jackson Greene swears he’s given up scheming. Then school bully Keith Sinclair announces he’s running for Student Council president, against Jackson’s former friend Gaby de la Cruz. Gaby wants Jackson to stay out of it — but he knows Keith has connections to the principal, which could win him the presidency no matter the vote count.

So Jackson assembles a crack team: Hashemi Larijani, tech genius. Victor Cho, bankroll. Megan Feldman, science goddess. Charlie de la Cruz, reporter. Together they devise a plan that will take down Keith, win Gaby’s respect, and make sure the election is done right. If they can pull it off, it will be remembered as the school’s greatest con ever — one worthy of the name THE GREAT GREENE HEIST.

The Magic in Changing Your Stars by Leah Henderson (Ages 8-12)

Eleven-year-old Ailey Benjamin Lane can dance–so he’s certain that he’ll land the role of the Scarecrow in his school’s production of The Wiz. Unfortunately, a talented classmate and a serious attack of nerves derail his audition: he just stands there, frozen. Deflated and defeated, Ailey confides in his Grampa that he’s ready to quit. But Grampa believes in Ailey, and, to encourage him, shares a childhood story. As a boy, Grampa dreamed of becoming a tap dancer; he was so good that the Hollywood star and unofficial Mayor of Harlem, Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, even gave him a special pair of tap shoes. Curious, Ailey finds the shoes, tries them on, taps his toes, and makes a wish. In the blink of an eye, he finds himself somewhere that if most definitely no place like home!

Classroom Comedies:

Do Not Bring Your Dragon to Recess by Julie Gassman, Andy Elkerton (Ages 4-7)

Dragons are more than just fire and wings. They have outside interests like slides and swings. But can a dragon follow the rules and use proper playground manners at recess? With the help of her best friend she can.  This is the third book in author Julie Gassman’s popular dragon series. Using a diverse cast, relatable situations, and rhyming text, the importance of recess etiquette has never been funnier

Do Not Bring Your Dragon to the Last Day of School by Julie Gassman, Andy Elkerton (Ages 4-7)

Another year of learning is in the books, and it’s time to celebrate! Dragon loves parties and picnics and playgrounds and is ready to celebrate too. But is it smart to bring a dragon to the last day of school? Find out if Dragon gets to join in the fun in this hilarious picture book by Julie Gassman (Do Not Bring Your Dragon to the Library, Do Not Take Your Dragon to Dinner, Do Not Bring Your Dragon to Recess, and Do Not Take Your Dragon on a Field Trip). The interactive story is perfect for reading out loud at storytime!

Keena Ford and the Second-Grade Mix-Up by Melissa Thomson (Ages 6-8)

Keena Ford doesn’t mean to be a troublemaker, but sometimes things get out of hand. Lucky for her, it’s the beginning of the second grade and Keena’s got a clean slate. So when her new second-grade teacher, Ms. Campbell, mistakenly thinks it’s her birthday and brings in a huge chocolate cake, Keena realizes that she’s gotten herself into a sticky situation. She knows she has to tell the truth, but it’s not easy to turn down her very own birthday cake and a chance to wear a sparkly crown. How will Keena get out of this mess?

EllRay Jakes Is Not a Chicken! by Sally Warner, Jamie Harper (Ages 6-8)

EllRay Jakes is tired of being bullied by fellow classmate Jared Matthews. But when EllRay tries to defend himself, he winds up in trouble. Then his dad offers him a deal: If he stays out of trouble for one week, they’ll go to Disneyland! EllRay says he can do it. But saying it and doing it are two very different things.

Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things by Lenore Look,Leuyen Pham (Ages 6-9) 

Here’s the first book in the beloved and hilarious Alvin Ho chapter book series, which has been compared to Diary of a Wimpy Kid and is perfect for both beginning and reluctant readers.

Alvin, an Asian American second grader, is afraid of everything–elevators, tunnels, girls, and, most of all, school. He’s so afraid of school that, while he’s there, he never, ever, says a word. But at home he’s a very loud superhero named Firecracker Man, a brother to Calvin and Anibelly, and a gentleman-in-training, so he can be just like his dad.

Miami Jackson Sees It Through >by Fredrick McKissack, Patricia McKissack, Michael Chesworth (Ages 6-9)

Miami’s class has a brand-new teacher, no-nonsense Miss Amerita Spraggins. She’s a real tough lady. She insists on assigned seats. She hands out detentions like coupons. She even refuses to call kids by their nicknames. Miami can’t take a whole year with crazy Miss Spraggins. He has to get out of her class!


You can find these books and many more in our “School-Themed Picture & Chapter Books” collection on our Bookshop store.  Bookshop’s mission is to financially support local, independent book stores.  We do receive a small percentage of the sales from books purchased through our links.  Support us and support independent book stores with your purchase. 


Comment below and tell us your favorite school-themed book.


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In Our Feelings: Books dealing with emotions Fri, 07 Aug 2020 19:14:35 +0000 This week we’ve compiled a collection of books that feature stories that show how different characters talk about their feelings, deal with various circumstances in life, and utilize different strategies to cope when difficult emotions arise.  How are you feeling right now and what do you do to take care of yourself?


The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle (Ages 0-4)  

As children follow the Grouchy Ladybug on her journey, they will learn the important concepts of time, size, and shape, as well as the benefits of friendship and good manners.

For generations, The Grouchy Ladybug has delighted readers of all ages with the story of a bad-tempered bug who won’t say please or thank you, won’t share, and thinks she is bigger and better than anyone else. Readers will love how this testy ladybug introduces them to many new animals and learns that maybe being grouchy isn’t always the best option.


Llama Llama Misses Mama by Anna Dewdney (Ages 2-5)

Strange new teacher.

Strange new toys.

Lots of kids and lots of noise!

What would Llama like to do?

Llama Llama feels so new . . .

It’s Llama Llama’s first day of preschool! And Llama Llama’s mama makes sure he’s ready.

They meet the teachers. See the other children. Look at all the books and games. But then it’s time for Mama to leave. And suddenly Llama Llama isn’t so excited anymore. Will Mama Llama come back?

Of course, she will. But before she does, the other children show Llama Llama how much fun school can be!


Pilar’s Worries by Victoria M. Sanchez, Jess Golden (Ages 3-5)

Pilar loves to dance. She pliés while brushing her teeth. She leaps when hurrying to ballet class. But when tryouts for her favorite ballet are held, Pilar is anxious. Auditioning makes her whole body feel scared. But by using some of the coping techniques she’s learned and focusing on her love for ballet, she is able to persevere. This gentle story is a great tool for children dealing with anxiety.


Ruby Finds a Worry (Big Bright Feelings) by Tom Percival  (Ages 3-6)

Meet Ruby–a happy, curious, imaginative girl. But one day, she finds something unexpected: a Worry. It’s not such a big Worry, at first. But every day, it grows a little bigger . . . And a little bigger . . . Until eventually, the Worry is ENORMOUS and is all she can think about. But when Ruby befriends a young boy, she discovers that everyone has worries, and not only that, there’s a great way to get rid of them too…  This perceptive and poignant story is the perfect springboard for talking to children about emotional intelligence and sharing hidden anxieties.


Ravi’s Roar (Big Bright Feelings) by Tom Percival  (Ages 3-6)

Ravi never minded being the smallest in his family. Until one day, his short arms can’t reach the monkey bars, he can’t find anyone during hide-and-seek, AND he’s too little to ride the big slide. Ravi is so mad–so furious–that he can’t control his temper anymore . . .

. . . and he becomes a ferocious, roaring TIGERBeing a tiger is great. Tigers can do anything they want But who wants to play with a growling, wild tiger who won’t share or behave? Ravi is about to discover something very important about voicing his feelings.


My Cold Plum Lemon Pie Bluesy Mood by Tameka Fryer-Brown, Shane Evans (Ages 3-7)

What color is your mood?

On a really good day, Jamie feels purple like the first bite of a juicy cold plum. And with a crayon in his hand, Jamie eases into a green feeling–like a dragon dancing through a jungle made of green jello.

But when his brothers push him around and make fun of his drawings, Jamie feels like a dark gray storm brewing.

What will it take to put Jamie back in a bright-feeling mood?

Through Jamie, young readers will learn to describe how they’re feeling in a unique way.

The Many Colors of Harpreet Singh by Supriya Kelkar, Alea Marley (Ages 4-8)

Harpreet Singh has a different color for every mood and occasion, from pink for dancing to bhangra beats to red for courage. He especially takes care with his patkahis turban–smoothing it out and making sure it always matches his outfit. But when Harpreet’s mom finds a new job in a snowy city and they have to move, all he wants is to be invisible. Will he ever feel a happy sunny yellow again?


Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes (Ages 3-7)

Wemberly worried about spilling her juice, about shrinking in the bathtub, even about snakes in the radiator. She worried morning, noon, and night. Worry, worry, worry, her family said. Too much worry. And Wemberly worried about one thing most of all: her first day of school. But when she meets a fellow worrywart in her class, Wemberly realizes that school is too much fun to waste time worrying.


I Am Human by Susan Verde, Peter Reynolds (Ages 4-8)

Being human means we are full of possibilities. We learn we dream, we wonder at the world around us. But we also make mistakes and can feel fearful or sad.

From the bestselling team that created I Am YogaI Am PeaceI Am Love, and I Am One comes a hopeful celebration of the human family. I Am Human affirms that we can make good choices by acting with compassion and having empathy for others and ourselves. When we find common ground, we can feel connected to the great world around us and mindfully strive to be our best selves.


A Place Inside of Me by Zetta Elliot (Ages 4-8)

In this powerful, affirming poem by award-winning author Zetta Elliott, a Black child explores his shifting emotions throughout the year.

There is a place inside of me
a space deep down inside of me
where all my feelings hide.

Summertime is filled with joy–skateboarding and playing basketballuntil his community is deeply wounded by a police shooting. As fall turns to winter and then spring, fear grows into anger, then pride and peace.


B is for Breathe: The ABCs of Coping with Fussy & Frustrating Feelings by Melissa Munro Boyd (Ages 4-10)

From the letter A to the letter Z, B is for Breathe celebrates the many ways children can express their feelings and develop coping skills at an early age. Fun, cute, and exciting illustrations, this colorful book teaches kids simple ways to cope with fussy and frustrating emotions. This book will inspire kids to discuss their feelings, show positive behaviors, and practice calm down strategies.


Even Superheroes Have Bad Days by Shelly Becker, Eda Kaban (Agest 5-9)

All kids have trouble getting a grip on their emotions, sometimes–even young superheroes But what do they do when they’re having a bad day? Colorful action-packed illustrations and a dynamite rhyming text reveal the many ways superheroes (and ordinary children, too) can resist the super-temptation to cause a scene when they’re sad, mad, frustrated, lonely, or afraid. From burning off steam on a bike or a hike, to helping others, this energetic picture book has plenty of fun ideas to help kids cope when they’re feeling overwhelmed.


Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School and Other Scary Things by Lenore Look, LeUyen (Ages 6-9)

Alvin, an Asian American second grader, is afraid of everything–elevators, tunnels, girls, and, most of all, school. He’s so afraid of school that, while he’s there, he never, ever, says a word. But at home he’s a very loud superhero named Firecracker Man, a brother to Calvin and Anibelly, and a gentleman-in-training, so he can be just like his dad.


Bird by Zetta Elliott and Shadra Strickland (Ages 7-10)

Young Mekhai, better known as Bird, loves to draw. With drawings, he can erase the things that don’t turn out right. In real life, problems aren’t so easily fixed.

As Bird struggles to understand the death of his beloved grandfather and his older brother’s drug addiction, he escapes into his art. Drawing is an outlet for Bird’s emotions and imagination and provides a path to making sense of his world. In time, with the help of his grandfather’s friend, Bird finds his own special somethin’ and wings to fly.

Told with spare grace, Bird is a touching look at a young boy coping with real-life troubles. Readers will be heartened by Bird’s quiet resilience and moved by the healing power of putting pencil to paper.


The Science of Breakable Things by Tae Keller (Ages 8-12)

Eggs are breakable. Hope is not.

When Natalie’s science teacher suggests that she enter an egg drop competition, Natalie thinks that this might be the perfect solution to all of her problems. There’s prize money, and if she and her friends wins, then she can fly her botanist mother to see the miraculous Cobalt Blue Orchids–flowers that survive against impossible odds. Natalie’s mother has been suffering from depression, and Natalie is sure that the flowers’ magic will inspire her mom to love life again. Which means it’s time for Natalie’s friends to step up and show her that talking about a problem is like taking a plant out of a dark cupboard and giving it light. With their help, Natalie begins an uplifting journey to discover the science of hope, love, and miracles.


Silhouetted by the Blue by Traci L. Jones (10-12)

Seventh-grader Serena Shaw is trying to keep up at school while rehearsing for the lead role in the spring musical and dealing with a father so blue he is nearly catatonic. With the aid of a not-so-secret admirer, as well as a growing sense of self-confidence, she faces the challenges of caring for herself and her ball-of-charm younger brother–all while attempting to lead the life of a normal pre-teen.

Readers will be drawn into this convincing portrait of a vivacious young person who is on a path to discovering that taking on responsibility sometimes means finding the best way to ask for help.


As Brave as You Are by Jason Reynolds (Ages 10+)

Genie’s summer is full of surprises. The first is that he and his big brother, Ernie, are leaving Brooklyn for the very first time to spend the summer with their grandparents all the way in Virginia–in the COUNTRY The second surprise comes when Genie figures out that their grandfather is blind. Thunderstruck, Genie peppers Grandpop with questions about how he hides it so well (besides wearing way cool Ray-Bans).

How does he match his clothes? Know where to walk? Cook with a gas stove? Pour a glass of sweet tea without spilling it? Genie thinks Grandpop must be the bravest guy he’s ever known, but he starts to notice that his grandfather never leaves the house–as in NEVER. And when he finds the secret room that Grandpop is always disappearing into–a room so full of songbirds and plants that it’s almost as if it’s been pulled inside-out–he begins to wonder if his grandfather is really so brave after all.

Then Ernie lets him down in the bravery department. It’s his fourteenth birthday, and, Grandpop says to become a man, you have to learn how to shoot a gun. Genie thinks that is AWESOME until he realizes Ernie has no interest in learning how to shoot. None. Nada. Dumbfounded by Ernie’s reluctance, Genie is left to wonder–is bravery and becoming a man only about proving something, or is it just as important to own up to what you won’t do?


Locomotion by Jacqueline Woodson (Ages 10+)


When Lonnie was seven years old, his parents died in a fire. Now he’s eleven, and he still misses them terribly. And he misses his little sister, Lili, who was put into a different foster home because “not a lot of people want boys-not foster boys that ain’t babies.” But Lonnie hasn’t given up. His foster mother, Miss Edna, is growing on him. She’s already raised two sons and she seems to know what makes them tick. And his teacher, Ms. Marcus, is showing him ways to put his jumbled feelings on paper.

Told entirely through Lonnie’s poetry, we see his heartbreak over his lost family, his thoughtful perspective on the world around him, and most of all his love for Lili and his determination to one day put at least half of their family back together. Jacqueline Woodson’s poignant story of love, loss, and hope is lyrically written and enormously accessible.


What Mama Left Me by Renee Watson (Ages 10-14)

Serenity is good at keeping secrets, and she’s got a whole lifetime’s worth of them. Her mother is dead, her father is gone, and starting life over at her grandparents’ house is strange. Luckily, certain things seem to hold promise: a new friend who makes her feel connected, and a boy who makes her feel seen. But when her brother starts making poor choices, her friend is keeping her own dangerous secret, and her grandparents put all of their trust in a faith that Serenity isn’t sure she understands, it is the power of love that will repair her heart and keep her sure of just who she is.


What are some other books you like that deal with our emotional health?  Leave a message in the comments.


Happy Reading!

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August 2020 new book releases Thu, 06 Aug 2020 15:50:54 +0000 August always reminds us that summer days are going to grow shorter and school is on the horizon.  As we prepare for the start of the school year,  we’ve collected a few diverse books releasing this month that can help to renew your child’s reading habits. 

You See Me, God: Inspired by Psalm 139 (Be Still and Know Stories) by Jan Spivey Gilchrist  (Ages 3-11)  Release date: August 4

Multiple award-winner Jan Spivey Gilchrist draws on her own childhood struggles as she creatively weaves images around this paraphrase of the powerful verses from Psalm 139. As children grow and start to notice differences among themselves, they can often feel excluded or alone. But the truth is . . . God created each one of us in His unique way and He has a purpose and a plan for each of us.

You See Me, God is a beautifully illustrated children’s book based on Jan’s understanding of how God sees her—and all of us—since before birth. The flowing poetry describes the beauty of Psalm 139 in a way children will understand, and the colorful, detailed illustrations will capture their imaginations, further bringing this important message to their young hearts.


Aretha Franklin (Little People, Big Dreams) by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara, Amy Blackwell  (Ages 4 – 7) Release date: August 4



The fourth of five children, Aretha was born in Tennessee and took the stage at an early age in her father’s church choir. She went on to become the best-selling rhythm and blues singer of all time, and the first woman to be installed in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. This moving book features stylish and quirky illustrations and extra facts at the back, including a biographical timeline with historical photos and a detailed profile of the broadcaster’s life.


Corazon Aquino (Little People, Big Dreams) by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara, Ginnie Hsu (Ages 4-7)  Release date: August 4



Little Cory was a shy, studious child with a great sense of justice. As a young woman and wife, she and her family felt compelled to speak out against the unjust leader who was ruining their country. Showing bravery, reliability, and honesty, she led the revolution that ended the dictator’s rule and went on to become the president of the Philippines. 


RESPECT: Aretha Franklin, Queen of Soul by Carole Boston Weatherford, Frank Morrison (Ages 4 – 8)   Release date: August 25



Aretha Franklin was born to sing. The daughter of a pastor and a gospel singer, her musical talent was clear from the earliest days in her father’s Detroit church where her soaring voice spanned more than three octaves. Her string of hit songs earned her the title “the Queen of Soul,” multiple Grammy Awards, and a place in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. But Aretha didn’t just raise her voice in song, she also spoke out against injustice and fought for civil rights.


Fauja Singh Keeps Going: The True Story of the Oldest Person to Ever Run a Marathon by Simran Jeet Singh, Baljinder Kaur (Ages 4 – 8) Release date: August 25


Every step forward is a victory.


Fauja Singh was born determined. He was also born with legs that wouldn’t allow him to play cricket with his friends or carry him to school miles from his village in Punjab. But that didn’t stop him.


Working on his family’s farm, Fauja grew stronger to meet his own full potential. He never stopped striving. At the age of 81, after a lifetime of making his body, mind, and heart stronger, Fauja decided to run his first marathon. He went on to break records all around the world and became the first person over 100 to complete the grueling long-distance race.


The true story of Fauja Singh reminds us that it’s both where we start and how we finish that make our journeys unforgettable.

Dark Was the Night: Blind Willie Johnson’s Journey to the Stars by Gary Golio, E.B. Lewis (Ages 5 – 8)  Release date: August 25



Willie Johnson was born in 1897, and from the beginning, he loved to sing–and play his cigar box guitar. But his childhood was interrupted when he lost his mother and his sight. How does a blind boy make his way in the world? Fortunately for Willie, the music saved him and brought him back into the light. His powerful voice, combined with the wailing of his slide guitar, moved people. Willie made a name for himself performing on street corners all over Texas. And one day he hit it big when he got a record deal and his songs were played on the radio. Then in 1977, his song–“Dark Was the Night”–was chosen to light up the darkness when it was launched into space on the Voyager I space probe’s famous Golden Record. His immortal song was selected for the way it expresses the loneliness humans all feel while reminding us we’re not alone.


The Dramatic Life of Azaleah Lane by Nikki Shannon Smith, Gloria Felix (Ages 6 – 8)  Release date: August 1



Azaleah’s big sister, Nia, has been cast as Willa Wonka in the school musical, and the entire Lane family is looking forward to the show. Azaleah has even helped plan a surprise dinner party for Nia at Avec Amour, Mama’s restaurant. But then the real drama starts. At the first rehearsal, all sorts of things go wrong: missing batteries, sets falling over, props misplaced . . . It’s so many things, in fact, that Azaleah suspects “foul play.” And when the special effects on Nia’s costume don’t work at dress rehearsal, Nia is a nervous wreck. To top it all off, the high school journalism class is covering the performance for the school blog, and the director doesn’t have time to replace Nia’s costume. Nia has to wear it without the special effects. Azaleah becomes determined to make sure the musical isn’t ruined for Nia. Azaleah has to get to the bottom of the mysterious rehearsal troubles and finish party preparations before the curtain goes up.


Tyaja Uses the THiNK Test by Linda Ryden, Shearry Malone  (Ages 6 – 8 )  Release date: August 13



Mrs. Snowden tells the kids that T = True, H = Helpful, N = Necessary, and K = Kind. If what you’re about to say isn’t any of these things, she tells them, you shouldn’t say it. Later that day, when Tyaja is about to criticize her friend Dhavi’s new haircut, she is stopped by four little elves sporting the letters T, H, N, and K, who reinforce Ms. Snowden’s lesson and remind Tyaja how friends should treat friends. Tyaja learns that she is the “I” in THiNK!

Isaiah Dunn is My Hero by Kelly J. Baptist  (Ages 8 – 10)  Release date: August 18



Isaiah is now the big man of the house. But it’s a lot harder than his dad made it look. His little sister, Charlie, asks too many questions, and Mama’s gone totally silent.  Good thing Isaiah can count on his best friend, Sneaky, who always has a scheme for getting around the rules. Plus, his classmate Angel has a few good ideas of her own–once she stops hassling Isaiah.


And when things get really tough, there’s Daddy’s journal, filled with stories about the amazing Isaiah Dunn, a superhero who gets his powers from beans and rice. Isaiah wishes his dad’s tales were real. He could use those powers right about nowKelly J. Baptist’s debut novel explores the indomitable spirit of a ten-year-old boy and the superhero strength it takes to grow up.


The Magic in Changing Your Stars by Leah Henderson (Ages 8-12) Release date: August 4

Eleven-year-old Ailey Benjamin Lane can dance—so he’s certain that he’ll land the role of the Scarecrow in his school’s production of The Wiz. Unfortunately, a talented classmate and a serious attack of nerves derail his audition: he just stands there, frozen. Deflated and defeated, Ailey confides in his Grampa that he’s ready to quit. But Grampa believes in Ailey, and, to encourage him, shares a childhood story.


Finish the Fight: The Brave and Revolutionary Women Who Fought for the Right to Vote by Veronica Chambers (Ages 8 – 12)  Release date: August 18

Who was at the forefront of women’s right to vote? We know a few famous names, like Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, but what about so many others from diverse backgrounds—black, Asian, Latinx, Native American, and more—who helped lead the fight for suffrage? On the hundredth anniversary of the historic win for women’s rights, it’s time to celebrate the names and stories of the women whose stories have yet to be told

Grasping Mysteries: Girls Who Loved Math by Jeannine Atkins Ages 10+  Release date: August 18



After a childhood spent looking up at the stars, Caroline Herschel was the first woman to discover a comet and to earn a salary for scientific research. Florence Nightingale was a trailblazing nurse whose work reformed hospitals and one of the founders of the field of medical statistics. The first female electrical engineer, Hertha Marks Ayrton registered twenty-six patents for her inventions.Marie Tharp helped create the first map of the entire ocean floor, which helped scientists understand our subaquatic world and suggested how the continents shifted. A mathematical prodigy, Katherine Johnson calculated trajectories and launch windows for many NASA projects including the Apollo 11 mission. Edna Lee Paisano, a citizen of the Nez Perce Nation, was the first Native American to work full time for the Census Bureau, overseeing a large increase in American Indian and Alaskan Native representation. And Vera Rubin studied more than two hundred galaxies and found the first strong evidence for dark matter.Told in vibrant, evocative poems, this stunning novel celebrates seven remarkable women who used math as their key to exploring the mysteries of the universe and grew up to do innovative work that changed the world.

Bee Fearless: Dream Like a Kid by Mikaila Ulmer (Ages 10+)  Release date: August 18

When Mikaila Ulmer was four, she was stung by a bee–twice in one week. She was terrified of going outside, so her parents encouraged her to learn more about bees so she wouldn’t be afraid. It worked. Mikaila didn’t just learn what an important role bees play in our ecosystem, but she also learned bees are endangered and set out to save them. She started by selling cups of lemonade in front of her house and donating the small proceeds to organizations dedicated to bee conservation. When she realized the more lemonade she sold, the more bees she could help, Me & the Bees Lemonade was born. Now she sells her lemonade across the country. From meetings with Fortune 500 CEOs to securing a deal on Shark Tank, to even visiting the Obama White House, Mikaila’s lemonade and passion for bee conservation have taken her far.

In Bee Fearless, part memoir, part business guide, Mikaila–now fifteen–shares her personal journey and special brand of mindful entrepreneurship and offers helpful tips and guidance for young readers interested in pursuing their own ventures, instilling in them the bee-lief that they can bee fearless and achieve their dreams too.

What books are you and your child looking forward to reading this August?

Happy Reading!

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About Kanika Wed, 05 Aug 2020 15:35:57 +0000 Hi!  I’m Kanika.  I’ve been an educator for 20 years now.  I started my career as a kindergarten teacher and fell in love with helping kids discover their reading identities.  Listening to them ask for certain books and trying to keep my libraries filled with high-engaging books, so they would be motivated to learn to read them on their own. 

As a teacher in underserved communities, I was dismayed by the lack of books that represented characters that looked like my students.  Most of our favorites featured white or animal characters, but very few reflected their brown and black hues.  I searched, and we cherished the few I could find. 

Those same books became instrumental when I became a mother.  I wanted my son to feel seen, loved, and confident, walking into the world.   I filled his room with books we read often, but the same challenge I faced in the classroom, I also met at home.  While I could find a few more books featuring diverse characters for him to enjoy, the challenge of finding books with diverse boy characters, particularly Black boys, still plagued us.  Boys of color have historically been and continue to be underrepresented and invisible in children’s literature.  There are still too few books that reflect positive and empowered depictions that contribute to the journey of raising bold and brilliant boys.  While there has been some momentum in the publishing world to find books featuring male characters of color, it can still be a challenge for parents.

While I no longer have a classroom of my own, educating is in my bones.  I love connecting people with diverse books, resources, and educational tips.

In December, my long-time college friend, Vanessa and I launched Stories of a Colorful World.  We wanted to increase access to children’s books that show diverse representations of characters of color, highlight the voices of #ownvoice authors, and instill a love of reading in our young people that will help them grow into life-long learners. We aim to put more diverse books into the hands of young readers while also making high-quality texts more accessible to parents that want to provide their children with a reading life that resembles the world around them.  Check out our store to find diverse books to fill your child’s library.  

We recently created The Brown Boy Bookshelf newsletter. Through the newsletter, myself and others provide book recommendations, learning activities, resources, and informative tips for parents of preschoolers dedicated to raising boys of color that love to read.  

We are now seeing how critical it is for kids to see themselves and others with empathy and love.  After the murder of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police department, I felt mentally and emotionally drained.  I thought about my Black son, who was only a few months away from entering high school.  I knew that some people would view him as a threat, and I was limited in my ability to protect him.  I needed a space where I could see, truly see, Black boys just being.  @black_boys_are is my attempt at that.  It’s an Instagram page that features a collection of pictures, stories & children’s books featuring black boys just being, a space where it’s okay just to be a Black boy.

Thank you for stopping by and joining us on this ride.  Please send any and all feedback. 🙏🏾

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What’s Cooking? Fri, 31 Jul 2020 23:37:12 +0000 Children’s books are a fun and exciting way to teach children about food.  Whether it’s whipping up some pretend meals, encouraging kids to try new foods, building an appreciation for different for traditions or learning where food comes from or respecting food, and the people who grow or cook it, books can be helpful tools to foster attitudes of curiosity, exploration, and appreciation.  Here are 16 excellent children’s books about food for kids. 

Just a heads up, Stories of a Colorful World may collect a share of sales from the links on this page. However, we only recommend items we love!

Baby Goes to Market by Atinuke ( Ages 2-5)

When Baby and Mama go to the market, Baby is so adorable that the banana seller gives him six bananas. Baby eats one and puts five in the basket, but Mama doesn’t notice. As Mama and Baby wend their way through the stalls, cheeky Baby collects five oranges, four biscuits, three ears of sweet corn, two pieces of coconut . . .

until Mama notices that her basket is getting very heavy! Poor Baby, she thinks, he must be very hungry by now! 


The First Strawberries: A Cherokee Story by Joseph Buchac  (Ages 3-5) 

Long ago, the first man and woman quarreled. The woman left in anger, but the Sun sent tempting berries to Earth to slow the wife’s retreat. Luminous paintings perfectly complement this simple, lyrical text. 


Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story by Kevin Noble Maillard (Ages 3-6)

Fry bread is food.
It is warm and delicious, piled high on a plate.


Fry bread is time.
It brings families together for meals and new memories.


Fry bread is nation.
It is shared by many, from coast to coast and beyond.


Fry bread is us.
It is a celebration of old and new, traditional and modern, similarity and difference.


What Can You Do with a Paleta? by Carmen Tafolla (Ages 3-7)



Discover the joys of a paleta–the traditional Mexican popsicle treat sold from the wagon with the tinkly bell that brings children running from every direction. Create a masterpiece, make tough choices (strawberry or coconut?), or cool off on a warm summer’s day–there’s so much to do with a paleta.


Green is a Chile Pepper: A Book of Colors  by Roseanne Greenfield Thong ( Ages 4-7)

Green is a chile pepper, spicy and hot.
Green is cilantro inside our pot.


In this lively picture book, children discover a world of colors all around them: red is spices and swirling skirts, yellow is masa, tortillas, and sweet corn cake. Many of the featured objects are Latino in origin, and all are universal in appeal. With rich, boisterous illustrations, a fun-to-read rhyming text, and an informative glossary, this playful concept book will reinforce the colors found in every child’s day!


Thank You, Omu!  by Oge Mora (Ages 4-8)

Everyone in the neighborhood dreams of a taste of Omu’s delicious stew! One by one, they follow their noses toward the scrumptious scent. And one by one, Omu offers a portion of her meal. Soon the pot is empty. Has she been so generous that she has nothing left for herself?


Bee Bim Bop by Linda Sue Park (Ages 4-7)



Bee-bim bop (the name translates as “mix-mix rice”) is a traditional Korean dish of rice topped and then mixed, with meat and vegetables. In bouncy rhyming text, a hungry child tells about helping her mother make bee-bim bop: shopping, preparing ingredients, setting the table, and finally sitting down with her family to enjoy a favorite meal. The energy and enthusiasm of the young narrator are conveyed in the whimsical illustrations, which bring details from the artist’s childhood in Korea to his depiction of a modern Korean American family. Even young readers who aren’t familiar with the dish will recognize the pride that comes from helping Mama, the fun of mixing ingredients together in a bowl, and the pleasure of sharing delicious food. Includes the author’s own recipe.


Too Many Tamales by Gary Soto ( Ages 4-8)



Christmas Eve started out so perfectly for Maria. Snow had fallen and the streets glittered. Maria’s favorite cousins were coming over and she got to help make the tamales for Christmas dinner. It was almost too good to be true when her mother left the kitchen for a moment and Maria got to try on her beautiful diamond ring . . .


This is the story of a treasure thought to be lost in a batch of tamales; of a desperate and funny attempt by Maria and her cousins to eat their way out of trouble; and the warm way a family pulls together to make it a perfect Christmas after all.


Bilal Cooks Daal by Aisha Saeed (Ages 4-8)



Six-year-old Bilal is excited to help his dad make his favorite food of all-time: daal! The slow-cooked lentil dish from South Asia requires lots of ingredients and a whole lot of waiting. Bilal wants to introduce his friends to daal. They’ve never tried it! As the day goes on, the daal continues to simmer, and more kids join Bilal and his family, waiting to try the tasty dish. And as time passes, Bilal begins to wonder: Will his friends like it as much as he does?


Duck for Turkey Day by Jacqueline Jules (Ages 4-8)



It’s almost Thanksgiving, and Tuyet is excited about the holiday and the vacation from school. There’s just one problem: her Vietnamese American family is having duck for Thanksgiving dinner – not turkey! Nobody has duck for Thanksgiving – what will her teacher and the other kids think? To her surprise, Tuyet enjoys her yummy thanksgiving dinner anyhow – and an even bigger surprise is waiting for her at school on Monday. Dinners from roast beef to lamb to enchiladas adorned the Thanksgiving tables of her classmates, but they all had something in common – family! Kids from families with different traditions will enjoy this warm story about “the right way” to celebrate an American holiday.


Bread Bread Bread by Ann Morris (Ages 4-8)



Bread is a food enjoyed by people in all parts of the world. Its many shapes, sizes, textures, and colors are as varied as the people who eat it. This photographic round-the-world tour provides a glimpse into the rich variety of world cultures, as well as an informative look at an important food that everyone agrees is as necessary as water and air.


Jah’s Vegan Planet by Ja’Lon Wright (Ages 4-8)



What if the world never ate animals? What if you grew up on a planet where everyone was vegan? Well, take a trip with Jah on his Vegan Planet and discover what happens when he visits Meatie’s World for the first time.


Rice and Rocks by Sandra L. Richards (Ages 5-6)



Giovanni’s friends are coming over for Sunday dinner, and his grandmother is serving rice and beans. Giovanni is embarrassed he does not like ‘rice and rocks’ and worries his friends will think the traditional Jamaican dish is weird. But his favorite Auntie comes to the rescue. She and Giovanni’s pet parrot, Jasper, take him on a magical journey across the globe, visiting places where people eat rice and rocks. This exciting story celebrates the varied traditions of every culture while also highlighting the delicious similarities that bring us all together.


Cora Cooks Pancit by Dorina K. Lazo Gilmore (Ages 5-7)



Cora loves being in the kitchen, but she always gets stuck doing the kid jobs like licking the spoon. One day, however, when her older sisters and brother head out, Cora finally gets the chance to be Mama’s assistant chef. And of all the delicious Filipino dishes that dance through Cora’s head, she and Mama decide to make pancit, her favorite noodle dish.


With Mama’s help, Cora does the grown-up jobs like shredding the chicken and soaking the noodles (perhaps Mama won’t notice if she takes a nibble of chicken or sloshes a little water on the floor). Cora even gets to stir the noodles in the pot-carefully– while Mama supervises. When dinner is finally served, her siblings find out that Cora did all their grown-up tasks, and Cora waits anxiously to see what everyone thinks of her cooking.


Hot, Hot, Roti for Dada-ji by Farhana Zia (Ages 5-8)



Aneel’s grandparents have come to stay, all the way from India. Aneel loves the sweet smell of his grandmother’s incense, and his grandfather, Dada-ji, tells the world’s best stories.


When he was a boy, adventurous, energetic Dada-ji had the power of a tiger. Hunh-ji! Yes, sir! He could shake mangoes off trees and wrangle wild cobras. And what gave him his power? Fluffy-puffy hot, hot roti, with a bit of tongue-burning mango pickle. Does Dada-ji still have the power? Aneel wants to find out but first, he has to figure out how to whip up a batch of hot, hot roti.


Freedom Soup by Tami Charles (Ages 5-9)



Every year, Haitians all over the world ring in the new year by eating a special soup, a tradition dating back to the Haitian Revolution. This year, Ti Gran is teaching Belle how to make the soup — Freedom Soup — just like she was taught when she was a little girl. Together, they dance and clap as they prepare the holiday feast, and Ti Gran tells Belle about the history of the soup, the history of Belle’s family, and the history of Haiti, where Belle’s family is from.


Happy Reading!
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