Friday, December 26, 2014

Meet the Author! Hezreen Abdul Rashid!

Meet children's author, Hezreen Abdul Rashid.

She is from Kuala Lumpur and loves the outdoors. Hezreen is an author, writer, teacher and student. Her first published book is called, Hassan & Hussein: The Riddle of 22 Lane.
It was published this year!!!!Congratulations, Hezreen!!!
 Today, Hezreen will share her Fab Five with us.

What is your favorite color?

Favourite colour crayon: red. It's the brightest and most cheerful colour. Whenever I see a rainbow, red is the first colour I notice.

What is your favorite book?

Road Dahl; Charlie and the chocolate Factory. Never got bored reading it.

Where is your favorite writing spot?

Favourite writing spot; my study area upstairs. There is a window and I get to see the lush football field in front of my house. It's scenic especially after it rains, the birds come out and the air is so clear!

What is the funniest thing you have ever done?

The funniest thing I have ever done happened during secondary school. We had to practice for the opening ceremony of a sport's event; it was a dance performance. There were at least 400 of us performing during a rehearsal one afternoon on a muddy field. I was enjoying the rehearsal, until I slipped and slid on the mud in full view of the audience! I was embarrassed, yes, but luckily I escaped unhurt.

What is your favorite food?

Favourite food; difficult question since I live in Malaysia. It has to be Laksa Johor. It's rich fish gravy with a lot of condiments and herbs, and we eat it with spaghetti! 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Recommended Picture Book: You're All My Favorite by Sam McBratney

Title: You’re All My Favorite

Author: Sam McBratney

Illustrator: Anita Jeram

Publisher: Candlewick Press, December 1, 2008 (Board Book Edition)

Age: 2 - 5

Topic: Insecurities of children, Family bonds, Parental love and reassurances, Uniqueness and Individuality.

Opening: Once upon a time there was a mother bear, a father bear, and three baby bears. A first baby bear. A second baby bear. And a third baby bear.

Book Summary: Mommy and Daddy Bear convince three worried cubs that there's plenty of love to go around in this comforting tale

Activity: make a family portrait. Discuss the qualities of every member of the house that makes them special and loved in their own way.

Why I Like This Book:
This is a quiet, warm and gentle tale of reassurance that no matter what, you are loved. It is hard to convince children that they are all special and loved equally by their parents. This book in a way helps parents to reassure their questioning little ones they are all special, all loved and all can be their parents’ favorite for their uniqueness and individuality.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Recommended Picture Book: Too Many Tamales by Gary Soto

Title: Too Many Tamales

Author: Gary Soto

Illustrator: Ed Martinez

Publisher: Puffin, August 8, 1996

Age: 4-8 

Topic: Cooking, Ceremony and Tradition, Extended Families, Mexican and Mexican American
Christmas, Problem Solving, Taking Responsibility for Mistakes.

Opening: Snow drifted through the streets and now that it was dusk, Christmas trees glittered in the windows.

Summary: Maria tries on her mother's wedding ring while helping make tamales for a Christmas family get-together. Panic ensues when, hours later, she realizes the ring is missing.

Resources: Find a discussion guide for the book here. Too Many Tamales writing prompt. Find a teacher's guide for the book here filled with fun activities that include art, writing and language, math and cooking, games and more.

Why I Like the Book:
Too Many Tamales teaches children the meaning of being responsible for their mistakes. It teaches problem solving and team work.It reinforces the importance of being truthful and honest. It does all of this in a warm and gentle manner that is not overly pushy and with humor as well.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Book Review: Ellie and Ace: The Case of The Bed Time Bandit.

Meet Ellie and Ace!

Soon to be…


Just about…

World-famous detectives!

Well, almost.

Any day now, if they solve enough cases.

And good news! They are on a case now. Someone is causing trouble all over their small town of Huckleberry Springs. Each night, the troublemaker strikes – breaking into houses, spilling garbage, and stealing toys. Nobody knows who the culprit is, but everyone blames someone else. Ellie and Ace have to solve the mystery fast – before their neighbors go to war.

My Review:
I can see this being a fun story for early readers. I have always adored books with child and animal detectives growing up so this is definitely for children who love pets and mysteries.

The story follows Ellie and her pet dog Ace as they try to uncover the mystery of who is behind the tipping of trash cans, theft, and other messes around the neighborhood. Ellie and Ace decide to set a trap to flush out the culprit. They are mighty surprised when they catch the thief red-handed or, all tied up! (pun intended so read the book :D)

With short chapters and easy to read text, children between the ages 6-8 who enjoy mysteries and animal antics may find this a fun read.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Recommended Picture Book: Mr. Squirrel and the Moon by Sebastian Meschenmoser

Title:  Mr. Squirrel and the Moon

Author: Sebastian Meschenmoser

Illustrator: Sebastian Meschenmoser

Publisher: North South Publisher Inc, January 1, 2015

Age: 4 - 8

Topic: Moon, Woodland animals, Problem solving, Teamwork, Humor

Opening: One morning Mr. Squirrel woke up because the moon had fallen onto his tree.

Summary: When Mr. Squirrel awakens to find that the moon has landed on his tree, he frantically tries to get rid of it before someone suspects him of stealing it and puts him in jail. But when he rolls the moon off of his tree, it's gets stuck on Mrs. Hedgehog's bristles and when the billy-goat arrives and butts it with his horns . . . Will the moon ever be the same again?

A few extended learning activities could include learning about the moon and moon phases as you see at least three of them in the book.

Learn about squirrels, their habitat, what they really like to eat and enjoy some squirrel crafts here and here.

Have children suggest ways the animals could put the moon back in the sky

Try out this adult-supervised cheese recipe: Paneer cheese

My Review:
What would you do if the moon landed on your doorstep or just outside your window?
This was a really cute story. A squirrel is awakened when what he thinks is the moon crashes onto his tree. He frantically tries to get rid of it so that he is not suspected to be the thief. What ensues next are hilarious ways other animals in the woods get involved and how they eventually send the "moon" back to where it belongs. I enjoyed the very engaging artwork and the humorous antics of the different animals! Children learn basic teamwork and problem solving skills following the misadventures of Mr. Squirrel and his woodland neighbors.

Disclaimer: I received an egalley of this book from the publisher for my honest review. The book will be published in January of 2015.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Recommended Picture Book: A Flower in the Snow

Title: A Flower in the Snow

Author: Tracey Corderoy

Illustrator: Sophie Allsopp

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, December 1, 2012

Age: 4-8

Theme: Friends, Friendship

Opening: In an icy kingdom faraway, lived a little girl called Luna.

Summary: Luna and Bear are best friends. They go together like peanut butter and jelly. Everything they do, they do together. Luna and her polar bear friend (Bear) discover a beautiful gold flower growing in the snow. But when the flower fades, Bear goes on a search around the world for another to bring to Luna. It's only when he returns home that the true strength of their friendship is revealed.

Ten Fun Winter Activities that goes with the book.
Make yellow paper flowers to stick in your snow-covered yard. Don't have snow? Create snow by gluing cotton balls to a cardboard box, then, add your yellow flowers.
Grow your own yellow flowers. Follow the instructions on the back of seed packets.
Learn about polar bears and their habitat, Enchanted Learning, BBC Nature Wildlife, Kidzone, and Polar Bears International.  

Why I like the book:
Luna and Bear show children, in a gentle way, just what friendship really means. Children see that Luna and Bear love to do things together. When Bear gives Luna a special flower, she cherishes it. When the flower dies, Luna becomes very sad and Bear goes off to find her another one. What Bear doesn't know, is that Luna misses him very much and is sad that he is gone. She has a big surprise for him when he returns home.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Recommended Picture Book: Nightsong by Ari Berk

Title: Nightsong

Author: Ari Berk

Illustrator: Loren Long

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers; September 25, 2012

Age: 4-8

Theme: Bats, Adventure, Growing up, New experiences, Echolocation

Opening: The sun had set, and the shadows clinging to the walls of the cave began to wake and whisper. “Chiro? Little Wing?” the bat-mother said to her child. “Tonight you must fly out into the world, and I will wait here for you.”

Summary: A young bat sets out on an adventure during his first solo flight to the pond to eat.

Enchanted Learning has bat resources that include crafts, activities, worksheets and more.
A short video of a Fishing Bat
Check out these Echolocation Facts.
Here is a song about echolocation that will have the kids jamming to the beat!
Bats 4 kids has bat resources including games, quizzes, facts and even instructions on how to build a bat house.
Check out BBC for more information about bats and other animals that use echolocation

Why I like the book:
What drew me to the book to begin with was Chiro! He is the cutest little bat I have ever seen! He has curiosity written all over his face! The illustrations are absolutely astounding. While it is a dark book, the colors were vivid. I especially loved the contrast between the black/gray of the night and the detailed colors in Chiro's echo field.
The author and illustrator did a great job complimenting each other, however, I feel like it was a bit long for the younger (4ish) crowd. I can see a few kids I know having quite a few questions about the book. But I think questions are great, that is how children learn!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Recommended Picture Book: Sophie's Squash by Pat Zietlow Miller

Title: Sophie's Squash

Author: Pat Zietlow Miller

Illustrator: Anne Wilsdorf

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade Books, 2013

Age: 3-7

Topic: Seasons, Fall, Squash, Friendship, Loyalty,

Opening:"One bright fall day, Sophie chose a squash at the farmer’s market. Her parents planned to serve it for supper, but Sophie had other ideas."

Summary: A young girl befriends a squash.

Resources: Download the activity page here and here. Fall is a great time to read this book. For science class, children can observe and document the changes in fall harvests like squash, pumpkins, apples and more.

My Review:
A sweet tale of love, loyalty and friendship. Sophie finds a quiet and loyal friend in a squash she picks up at the farmer’s market. She names it, Bernice. Her parents try to prepare her for what will happen to the squash as days and weeks pass. But Sophie believes her friend will last forever. That is, until she begins to notice the changes in her friend, Bernice. Sophie goes to the farmer’s market to find out how to help her friend. With her tips in place, Sophie waits all winter with her new friend, Ace, a goldfish. Spring brings Sophie, not just her friend Bernice, but a little surprise with it.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Recommended Board Book: People! National Geographic Little Kids Look & Learn

Title: People!

Author: National Geographic Kids

Publisher: National Geographic Children's Books; August 23, 2011

Age: 2-5

Topic: Classification skills, Diversity,

Summary: In this book, young children are able to learn important skills such as naming, sorting, counting, matching, and finding through fun, interactive games and activities. These popular games are featured throughout the National Geographic Little Kids series. Stunning photography is incorporated in order to demonstrate these early concepts.

My Thoughts: 
A great introductory book for learning all about classification and diversity. Girls, boys, babies, men, women, young, old,everyone has a place in this book.  Each page has a fun little fact to share, for example, did you know it takes longer to exhale than to inhale? The use of real photography helps children learn and explore their world and the people they share it with. "Everyone is different. But we are all people!"

Monday, September 22, 2014

Recommended Board Book: A Book of Sleep by Il Sung Na

Title: A Book of Sleep

Author: Il Sung Na

Illustrator: Il Sung Na

Publisher: Knopf  Books for Young Readers, January 11, 2011

Age: 1 - 3

Topic: Animals, Sleep

When the sky grows dark
and the moon glows bright,
everyone goes to sleep . . .
except for the watchful owl!

Summary: Join owl on a moonlit journey as he watches all the other animals settle in for the night.

My Thoughts: A sweet bedtime story that children will love to read over and over again. I love that owl appears on each page as he watches over all the sleeping animals. With wonderful illustrations and spare text, children learn how various animals sleep, including owl.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Recommended Picture Book: Me....Jane by Patrick McDonnell

Title: Me....Jane

Author: Patrick McDonnell

Illustrator: Patrick McDonnell

Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers, April 5, 2011
Age: 2 and up

Topic: Biography: Jane Goodall, Animals, Animal Welfare, Monkeys, Apes, Curiosity & Wonders

Opening: Jane had a stuffed toy chimpanzee named Jubilee. She cherished Jubilee and took him everywhere she went.

Summary: Me....Jane tells the story of the young Jane Goodall and her special childhood toy chimpanzee named Jubilee. As the young Jane observes the natural world around her with wonder, she dreams of "a life living with and helping all animals," until one day she finds that her dream has come true.
One of the world's most inspiring women, Dr. Jane Goodall is a renowned humanitarian, conservationist, animal activist.

Resources: the author provides four activity pages on his author website which include a coloring page, maze, word jumble and animal search.

My Thoughts:
This is a great book to introduce children to the famous, Dr. Jane Goodall and to the concept of animal welfare, caring for animals and their natural habitat. It reinforces the idea that with hard-work, dreams and aspirations, even children's dreams and aspirations, come true. While boys can learn a lot from the book, I love that it encourages girls in learning about the natural sciences. I loved looking at some of Dr. Jane Goodall's childhood drawings and illustrations included in the book.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Recommended Picture Book: F is for Feelings

Title: F is for Feelings

Author: Goldie Millar, Lisa Berger

Illustrator: Hazel Mitchell

Publisher: Free Spirit, July 7, 2014

Age: 3 - 8 years

Topic: Emotions, Feelings,

Opening: Every day I feel all kinds of feelings, in all kinds of places, with all kinds of people, in all kinds of ways.

Summary:  A friendly and positive ABC picture book that shares and reinforces emotional language and the ideas that some feelings are more comfortable than others but all emotions are natural and important.

Resources: There are great resources at the back of the book for parents and educators as well as activities to extend learning opportunities. Some include: Building a feeling vocabulary, Feeling word of the day, Sharing and comparing feelings, Make a feelings bulletin board, create games, songs and role plays and more.

My Thoughts: This is more than just an ABC of feelings, this book is a thoughtful and positive approach to teaching children to understand what they are feeling and what others may be feeling.  F is for feelings teaches vocabulary of various emotions and feelings children have and is perfect for reading aloud with children. The text really validates each emotion through its explanations. It teaches children to recognize and value their feelings. And a shout out goes to the illustrator for a wonderfully diverse range of children and talent for capturing each child and their feeling.  :)

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Freedom to Read Giveaway Hop July 2- 9th

Here is another giveaway hop and opportunity to score some great prizes being given away by some awesome bloggers! Fill in the rafflecopter below and then hop on to find more great finds!

Happy Hopping!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, June 20, 2014

Midsummer's Eve Blog Hop June 21st - 30th

What better way to start the summer than with a blog hop!

I am linking up with quite a few bloggers in the Midsummer's Eve Giveaway Hop hosted by I Am A Reader, Not a Writer.

Rules are simple.

Fill in the rafflecopter below and then visit the other cool blogs participating in this blog hop.

Happy Hopping!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Recommended Board Book: The Mitten by Jan Brett

Title: The Mitten

Author: Jan Brett (adapted)

Illustrator: Jan Brett

Publisher: Putnam Juvenile, October 4, 1996

Age: 1-3

Topic: Seasons: Winter, Woodland Animals, Sharing

Opening: Once there was a boy named Nikki. He wanted mittens as white as snow.

When Nicki drops his new white mitten in the snow, some curious woodland animals find it and crawl in for warmth. First comes a mole, then a rabbit, a badger and others, each one larger than the last.

These animal masks would be great for a play reenacting The Mitten story. For this art activity, cut out the mittens and the animals and let them crawl in just like the animals in the story. Teach story sequencing using sequence cards from Creating & Teaching's blog. Homeschool Creations has lots of printables to use with the story.

Why I like this book:
In this lovely illustrated story, a lonely white mitten becomes a cozy winter resting place for a variety of woodland creatures. It starts off with a small rabbit, and as more creatures appear, the larger they get until a bear squeezes in with the other critters. But when a tiny mouse tries to make his way in, the creatures get a big surprise! I love this edition because of it's brevity yet beautiful illustrations. The toddlers in my classroom love to look at it and listen to the story.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

We Need Diverse Books!!!!!

It is so important for children to read books about kids just like them. There is nothing worse than a child who feels invisible and the only time they are featured in a story is as a villain. Well, enough is enough. It is time to share their stories. It is time to share the heroic spotlight. It is time to give every child representation. It is time to diversify the bookshelves! Join the #weneeddiversebooks campaign and help raise awareness for the need of diversity in children's literature. Visit for more information and ways you too can spread the word.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Multicultural Books that Encourage Movement and Physical Activities

Check out these books that encourages young readers to learn and explore movement, exercise and sports in a fun way.

51% of Black and 41% of Hispanic children were told by doctors they were overweight in the years 2007 - 2010 according to the CDC. Obese children have a lower life expectancy compared to normal weight children. Black parents can help increase Black children’s life expectancy by encouraging physical activity. Research also shows exercise *”stimulates the formation of new brain cells” and **”physically fit kids do better in school.” This must be a part of the Black legacy, supporting Black achievement and preserving Black lives. Here are:

15 Black Children’s Books for Better Bodies and Better Brains

Maya Loves to Dance, by Cheryl Willis Hudson

Jonathan and His Mommy, by Irene Smalls

Kevin and His Dad, by Irene Smalls

I told You I Can Play! by Brian Jordan

JoJo's Flying Sidekick, by Brian Pinckney

Shoes Like Miss Alice's, by Angela Johnson

Happy Feet: The Savoy Ballroom Lindy Hoppers and Me, by Richard Michelson

Jump Rope Magic, by Afi Scruggs

Watch Me Dance, by Andrea and Brian Pinkney

I Am a Jesse White Tumbler, by Diane Schmidt

Jazz Baby, by Lisa Wheeler

My Nana and Me, by Irene Smalls

Catching the Moon; The Story of a Young Girl's Baseball Dream, by Crystal Hubbard

Rap A Tap Tap: Here’s Bojangles - Think of That, by Leo and Diane Dillon

Dancing in the Wings, by Debbie Allen

Monday, March 31, 2014

Twenty Minutes A Day......... Please visit their site for more excellent resources.

Twenty minutes a day is all it takes to get your child on the road to conquering literacy and loving it!

Friday, February 28, 2014

Book Review: Justice Pon Di Road by Aliona Gibson

Title: Justice pon di Road

Author: Aliona L. Gibson

Illustrator: Andy Chou

Publisher: Self-Published

Topic: Jamaica people and culture, Multicultural,

Age: 5-8

Opening: Justice is on his way to Jamaica, a beautiful tropical island in the Caribbean.

Summary: A young boy and his mother experience the sights, sounds and tastes of Jamaican culture on a morning walk.

Resources: The author adds a glossary of Jamaican words, Facts about Jamaica, a list of famous and notable Jamaicans including national heroes.

My Review:

Readers are invited to experience Jamaica with Justice and his mother as they take a walk "pon di road," which means 'on the road' in Jamaican.

I enjoyed the descriptive imagery used in the story, it brought to memory my own visit to Jamaica many, many years ago. I was older than Justice granted, but, I loved my visit just the same. Just like in the story, the Jamaican people are very warm and friendly.

I loved the language, Patois (patwa) which the author uses in the book for many of the common day-to-day words, like greetings, foods and more. I could almost here the Jamaican tongue as I read the words :)

We are also introduced to local culture and child-upbringing in Jamaica, like keeping children out of the rain, protecting them from all types of dangers (sun, sticks, dangerous busy roads, etc.,) and the various types of local food and drinks.

This is a really wonderful multicultural book and I enjoyed reading it and re-visiting Jamaica through Justice's and his mother's eyes.

Visit the author's website to learn more about Aliona Gibson and to buy the book!  Also, visit the book's Facebook page to show your support!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Black History Month: Celebrating Althea Gibson

In 1957, Althea Gibson was the first African-American to play in and win Wimbledon and the United States national tennis championship. She won both tournaments twice, in 1957 and 1958. In all, Gibson won 56 tournaments, including five Grand Slam singles events.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Recommended Picture Book: The Granddaughter Necklace by Sharon Dennis Wyeth

Title: The Granddaughter Necklace

Author: Sharon Dennis Wyeth

Illustrator: Bagram Ibatoulline

Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books, January 1, 2013

Topics: Family history, Heirlooms, Families - Mothers & Daughters

Age: 4-8

Opening: Once there was a girl named Frances, who took a boat across the sea. Her mother gave her a glittering necklace that would belong to me someday.

Summary: A mother shares with her daughter stories of the generations of women in their family as each individual has passed along the tales and a glittering necklace to her own daughter.

Heirlooms and family stories: Do you have an heirloom in your family? What is the story behind it?
Family Tree. Draw a family tree or visit this site for fun family tree building activities.
Make a pendant or heirloom together as a family if you don't have one already. Make sure to leave an account of why the pendant is special.

What I liked about the book:
Simple. Elegant. Poetic. Sharon, the narrator of the story, tells how a special heirloom, a beautiful necklace made out of crystal beads, was passed down through the women in her family on special occasions. She begins with how her mother got the necklace then moves back in her family history to her grandmother, great grandmother, great-great grandmother, all the way back five generations of women who wore the necklace. Then she tells how she got the necklace and how she will give the necklace to her own daughter. This is a heart-warming tale of love, family and gifts, passed down from one generation to another. I was moved by the author's note at the end of the story of how she came to learn about her Irish and African ancestry.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Freedom Song: The Story of Henry "Box" Brown by Sally M. Walker

Title: Freedom Song: the Story of Henry "Box" Brown

Author: Sally M. Walker

Illustrator: Sean Qualls

Publisher: HarperCollins, January 3, 2012

Topics: People & Cultures: African-American, Biography of Henry "Box" Brown, Slavery, Black History, Underground Railroad, Determination and Perseverance

Ages: 4-8

Opening: When Henry Brown came into this world, his family sang.

Summary: Henry “Box” Brown was a slave in the 1800’s on a plantation near Richmond, Va. Song was an important part of his life and he sang for all aspects of it. When Henry’s wife and children were sold to another master, Henry’s song stopped. And in the silence, he thought of an ingenious way to escape slavery and find freedom.

While not related to this book directly, Virginia Memory has an excellent Lesson Plan for the study of Henry "Box" Brown. What to know more about the underground railroad? Check out this website for a guided tour.

What I like about the book:
How far would you go to escape brutality, humiliation, cruelty and suffering? What would you do to be free?  I am in awe of the courage and daring plan Henry "Box" Brown used to escape slavery. This book is an excellent additional reading when studying slavery, the underground railroad and freedom stories. Even though most of the book details his journey to freedom as an adult, it is told in a voice that children will appreciate and follow.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Recommended Picture Book: Knockin' On Wood: Starring Peg Leg Bates

Title: Knockin' on Wood: Starring Peg Leg Bates

Author: Lynne Barasch

Illustrator: Lynne Barasch

Publisher: Lee & Low, (reprint edition) September 1, 2012

Topics: People and Cultures: African-American, Biography - Clayton 'Peg Leg' Bates, People with Disabilities, Tap Dancing, Overcoming Adversities, Discrimination

Age: 7 - 10

Opening: Back in 1912 in South Carolina, when Clayton was just five years old, he danced every chance he got.

Summary: Clayton "Peg Leg" Bates was one of the legendary tap dancers of the twentieth century. As a young boy, Clayton loved to dance, but when he lost his left leg in a factory accident at the age of twelve, no one thought he would ever walk again, let alone dance. But he proved that his peg leg could tap just as good as any!

Find a teacher's guide for the book at the publisher's website.

What I like about the book:
 I love a book that teaches me something for the first time! I have never heard of Peg Leg Bates before until I read "Knockin' on Wood." I was moved by his extraordinary will to live life to the fullest and go after his dream. His determination helped him turn his misfortune into triumph, setting an example for those who may or may not be dealing with a disability.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Recommended Picture Book: Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom

Title: Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom

Author: Carole Boston Weatherford

Illustrator: Kadir Nelson

Publisher: Hyperion Book CH; First Edition, August 8, 2006

Topic: People & Cultures: Harriet Tubman, African-American History, Biography of Harriet Tubman, Slavery, Underground Railroad, Faith & Spirituality

Age: 5-8

Opening: On a summer's night, Harriet gazes at the sky and talks to God.

Summary: Carol Boston Weatherford poetically describes Harriet Tubman's spiritual journey as she hears the voice of God guiding her North to freedom on that very first trip to escape slavery. Tubman, courageous and compassionate, and deeply religious, would take 19 subsequent trips back South, never being caught, but none as profound as this first.

Wild Geese Guides has a lesson plan to go with the book.
Teaching Books has three lesson plans to go with the book. (two of them are pdf's)

What I like about the book:
At one point in our lives, we have all read the story of Harriet Tubman. I have read many books dedicated to the courage and dedication of this African-American heroine. But I have never read it the way this author tells her story. I learned that Harriet Tubman was often afflicted with seizures and black outs due to a traumatic head injury caused by her slave master. She also had visions and dreams that she attributed to God since she was a religious woman. In "Moses," the author beautifully captures that faithful relationship between Harriet Tubman and God as she seeks freedom first for herself and then her family. Throughout the book, there is this constant spiritual connection, dialog between them from the beginning to the end.  The illustrations were equally thoughtful and compelling.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Recommended Picture Book: These Hands by Margaret H. Mason

Title: These Hands

Author: Margaret H. Mason

Illustrator: Floyd Cooper

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, March 7, 2011

Topics: People and Cultures: African-Americans, African-American History: Civil Rights, Families: Grandfathers & Grandsons

Age: 4-8

Opening: Look at these hands, Joseph. Did you know these hands used to tie a triple bowline knot in three seconds flat? Well, I can still help a young fellow learn to tie his shoes - yes, I can.

Summary: An African-American man tells his grandson about a time when, despite all the wonderful things his hands could do, they could not touch bread at the Wonder factory. Based on stories of bakery union workers.

Find a lesson plan to go with the book here.
Have child(ren) cut out an outline of their hand. Let them discuss what they can do with their hands. What can they not do with their hands. Let them trace the hands of different people (of different ages) in their family and discuss what they can and cannot do with their hands.

Why I like the book:
This is story is more than a historical reference of a time when blacks could not prepare the bread for the Wonder factory. It is also a story of appreciation and one generation passing on a legacy to the next. Joseph's grandfather does that by passing on his knowledge, his talents and his family history. I love his gentle nature in teaching his grandson and how Joseph is proud to show what he has learned from his grandfather.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Perfect Picture Book Friday: Bully by Patricia Polacco

Title: Bully

Author: Patricia Polacco

Illustrator: Patricia Polacco

Publisher: G. P. Putnam's Sons,

Age: 7 and up

Topic: Friendship, Cyberbullying, Bullies, Popularity, Schools

Opening: It was the first day at my new school.

Summary: Sixth-grade friends Lyla and Jamie, both new to their school, stand up for each other when a clique of popular girls bullies them online.

Facts about Bullying. How to identify a bully activity at Learning to Give
Top tips for kids. More tips at Teaching Tolerance.
Our Stories Count has some excellent classroom activities to get discussions and conversations going about bullying.

What I like about the book:
Lyla moves to a new home and is nervous about her first day at her new school. When she is there, she meets another student, Jamie who is also new. They become friends. When Lyla becomes friends with 3 of the popular girls in school, she begins to learn that they are not her real friend when they make her leave her friend Jamie and begin to make fun of him on facebook. When Lyla finally decides to stand up for Jamie, her "friends" turn on her. Lyla soon is faced with a bombardment of cyber bullying, threats and finally she is accused of cheating. Bullying has become a huge problem in our schools. The end results of such bullying has taken lives of innocent children. The last page provides a thought provoking question to the reader, What would you do?  It is time we start at an early age teaching children what a bully is, how to protect themselves from bullies and how to stand up for others who are bullied.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Recommended Picture Book: Blackout by John Rocco

Title: Blackout

Author: John Rocco

Illustrator: John Rocco

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion, May 24, 2011

Age: 4-8

Topic: Family life, City life, Electricity, Power Outage

Opening: It started as a normal summer night.

Summary: A family enjoys spending time with their neighbors and looking at the stars during a blackout on a hot summer night in the city.

So, what would you do if your power went out? Make a Plan with your family, make sure you have some basic items (flash lights/candles, extra batteries, and know where they are) and fun activities to keep everyone busy and happy. Some activities can include: star gazing, story circle, charades, songs, board games, card games, bbq, and so much more.
Here is a fun Haiku activity to go with the book.

What I liked about the book:
EVERYTHING! This book took  me back to my childhood when I lived seven miles from the nearest - not city- but town. The starry night was our television, we sat around a fire stove to keep warm and pop popcorn, my mom was the best story-teller I have ever known, and it was simply an amazing time spent together as a family. I really miss those times and this book brought it all back to me. In this story, a little boy wants to play a board game but everyone is too busy doing their own thing. So, he eventually sits in front of the tv and plays a video game until the power goes out. At first he is afraid until his mother comes and soon the family is out and about exploring the night as the city party's under the beautiful starry night sky. When the lights do come back on, everything seems to go back to normal only it doesn't for this family. They turn off their lights and sit down as a family and continues to play a board game together by candle light. Parents, don't wait till a blackout to have a family night. One day a week, turn off your electronics, turn off the lights, unplug the phones and be a family. And if you can get your block or neighborhood to join the fun, that is even better! :) 

Friday, February 7, 2014

Perfect Picture Book Friday: Windows with Birds by Karen Ritz

Title: Window with Birds

Author: Karen Ritz

Illustrator: Karen Ritz

Publisher: Boyds Mills Press, March 1, 2010

Age: 5 -7

Topic: Animals, Adapting to change, Moving

Opening: This was the house that had windows with birds.

Summary: A cat adjusts to a new home in an apartment, high above the ground after living in a house.

Resources: Tips on how to help pets adjust to a new home. Tips for children who are moving to a new home.

Why I like this book: This story is told from the cat's perspective. The cat loves his house and the boy that takes care of him. But when the boy suddenly takes him to a new home, the cat is distraught and hides from the boy and wails for his old home, his old hiding places and the birds in his window. It is only after some time has passed that the cat finds a way to love his new home when he sees birds flying outside his window, and new places to hide. This book is a great way to help children with change, especially to a new home. It also helps children become aware how this change can affect their pets and how they can help their pets adjust to a new home.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Black History Month: Picture Book Pick: Ellen's Broom by Kelly Starling Lyons

Hardcover Picture Book
Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons
Illustrated by Daniel Minter

Ellen always knew the broom resting above the hearth was special. But after it’s announced in church that the marriages of former slaves will be registered, she hears more about why it matters so much. For her mama and papa, who could be sold away at a master's whim and whose union had no legal protection, jumping the broom was a way to show their commitment to being husband and wife. Now, as the whole family travels to the courthouse dressed in their best, Ellen carries the broom with them. With love, ingenuity and pride, she finds a way to celebrate her parents' right to be legally married and remember their past.

Please visit Kelly's website for more information, resources and activities to go with the book

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Black History Month: Celebrating Harriet Tubman

NAME: Harriet Tubman

Birth Name: Araminta Harriet Ross
OCCUPATION: Civil Rights Activist
BIRTH DATE: c. 1820

DEATH DATE: March 10, 1913
PLACE OF BIRTH: Dorchester County, Maryland
PLACE OF DEATH: Auburn, New York 

Best Known For

Harriet Tubman escaped slavery to become a leading abolitionist. She led hundreds of enslaved people to freedom along the route of the Underground Railroad.
This US postage stamp was issued Feb 1, 1978 in honor of Black Heritage Month
"Harriet Tubman." 2014. The Biography Channel website. Feb 02 2014, 02:14

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Black History Month: Celebrating Benjamin Banneker

Name: Benjamin Banneker

Occupation: Astronomer

Education: Self taught

Birth Date: November 09, 1731

Death Date: October 25, 1806

Place of Birth: Ellicott's Mills, Maryland

Place of Death: Baltimore, Maryland

Best Known For
Benjamin Banneker was a largely self-educated mathematician, astronomer, compiler of almanacs, inventor and writer. In 1753, Banneker completed the construction of his own clock, which kept time until his death.
This US postage stamp was issued Feb 15,1980 in honor of Black Heritage Month.
"Benjamin Banneker." 2014. The Biography Channel website. Feb 02 2014, 01:56

Monday, February 3, 2014

Reccomended Picture Book: Razia's Ray of Hope: One Girl's Dream of an Education

Title: Razia's Ray of Hope: One Girl's Dream of an Education

Author: Elizabeth Suneby

Illustrator: Suana Verelst

Publisher: Kids Can Press, September 1, 2013

Age: 8 - 12

Topics: People and Places: Afghanistan, Girl's Education, Hope

Opening: My cousins and I raced down the road to see what the excitement was about. Men and women were gathering around an empty lot in our village.

Summary: Razia dreams of getting an education, but in her small village in Afghanistan, girls haven't been allowed to attend school for many years. When a new girls' school opens in the village, a determined Razia must convince her father and oldest brother that educating her would be best for her, their family and their community.

Resources: Razia's Ray of Hope Foundation has standardized curricular to go along with the book as well as a fact sheet. The book also includes some classroom activities as well as a glossary.

Why I like this Book:  Razia's Ray of Hope is a heart-wrenching yet empowering story of a young girl's courage to go after her dream of getting an education, a dream many young children in developed countries take for granted. It is based on the true stories of the students of the Zabuli Education Center for Girls just outside of Kabul, founded by Razia Jan, a CNN hero, who also appears in the story. The illustrations are beautiful and share insights into another country and culture a world away from us. This book belongs in every home and library.

Black History Month: Celebrates Ida B. Wells

NAME: Ida B. Wells                      

OCCUPATION: Civil Rights Activist, Journalist                            

BIRTH DATE: July 16, 1862                                

DEATH DATE: March 25, 1931                      

EDUCATION: Rust University, Fisk University

PLACE OF BIRTH: Holly Springs, Mississippi                           

PLACE OF DEATH: Chicago, Illinois
"Ida B. Wells." 2014. The Biography Channel website. Feb 02 2014, 02:15

This US postage stamp was issued Feb 1, 1990 in honor of Black Heritage Month.

Best Known For

Ida B. Wells was an African-American journalist and activist who led an anti-lynching crusade in the United States in the 1890s.   This US postage stamp was issued in Feb 1, 1990 in honor of Black Heritage 

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Black History Month: Celebrating Carter G. Woodson

NAME: Carter G. Woodson

OCCUPATION: Historian     

BIRTH DATE: December 19, 1875     
DEATH DATE: April 03, 1950
EDUCATION: Harvard University     
PLACE OF BIRTH: New Canton, Virginia
PLACE OF DEATH: Suitland-Silver Hill, Maryland
     Best Known For

Carter G. Woodson was an African-American writer and historian known as the "Father of Black History Month." He penned the influential book The Mis-Education of the Negro.

This US postage stamp was issued Feb 1, 1984 in honor of Black Heritage Month

"Carter Godwin Woodson." 2014. The Biography Channel website. Feb 02 2014, 02:04

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Feburary is Black History Month!

Black History Month Facts:

Who: Dr. Carter G. Woodson was the first to initiate the study of black history in schools, colleges and universities as well as the celebration of African-Americans in US history.
When: In 1926, Dr. Woodson launched Negro History Week in the second week of February. He chose that week because it marked the birthdays of two men who greatly influenced the black American population, Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln.
Why: Dr. Woodson saw throughout his own studies that African-American people were written out of the history books and when they were in the books, it reflected poorly on them. He wanted to bring national attention to the contributions of black people throughout American history.
To Celebrate......
..... this month, we will feature notable figures in history, picture books, art, activities, poems, historical facts and more. 

Friday, January 31, 2014

Happy Chinese New Year! Book Review The Year of the Horse: Tales of the Chinese Zodiac

Title: The Year of the Horse: Tales of the Chinese Zodiac

Author: Oliver Chin

Illustrator: Jennifer Wood

Publisher: Immeduim, December 31, 2013

Topic: friendship, bravery

Age: 3 - 8

Opening: After months of waiting, Mama and Papa horse finally welcomed their new baby.

Summary: 2014 is The Year of the Horse! Hannah the horse has a wonderfully talented family and a very special friendship with a boy named Tom, but she wants more than that. She yearns to have special skills like those of her parents and relatives. When Tom offers to take his art teacher’s newest painting to the governor in a far off capital, Hannah jumps at the chance to show a little horse can have a lot of courage.

Resources: You can find coloring pages of Hannah and her family.  Activity Village has a variety of resources including coloring pages, adorable bookmarks, printable origami booklets, Chinese Zodiac Chart, posters and more! 

What I like about the book:
What better way to start the Year of the Horse than with a children's book by that name?!?! This series is a great way to introduce children to the animals of the Chinese Zodiac. In this story, Hannah is a sweet character that embodies the characteristic of those who are born in the year of the horse. She is brave, loyal and a good friend. Children will enjoy the bright and playful illustrations and engaging dialogue. I like the end note at the end of the book that has more information about people born in the year of the horse.  

Monday, January 27, 2014

Happy Multicultural Children's Book Day!

Today is the day!!!! It's Multicultural Children's Book Day where we celebrate diversity in children's literature. This wonderful event is hosted by Pragmatic Mom and Jump Into a Book.  Bloggers across the world are sharing some of their favorite multicultural books that have been provided by sponsors Wisdom Tales Press , Chronicle BooksLEE and Low Books and author Susan Daniel Fayad

If you are a parent, educator, teacher or librarian looking for new multicultural children’s book titles to share with your little (or big) readers, you’ve come to the right place!  The Linky will also serve as a great reading list for the young readers in your life.

Want to celebrate MCCBDay? 

Here are some ideas you can use to get in the spirit!

I would like to give a big "Thank You," to Susan Fayad, author of My Grandfather's Masbah, for donating a digital copy of her book for review. You can find my review here.

So, are you ready to find some awesome Multicultural Children's Books? Then check out these blogs with reviews of over 100 books!

2GirlsLostInaBook · 365 Days of Motherhood · A Bilingual Baby · A Library Mama · A Simple Life, Really? · Africa to America · After School for Smarty Pants · All Done Monkey · Andi’s Kids Books · Anita Brown Bag  · Austin Gilkeson · Barbara Ann Mojica ·  Books My Kids Read · Bottom Shelf Books · Cats Eat Dogs · Chasing The Donkey · Children’s Book-a-Day Almanac · Children’s Books Heal · Church o Books · CitizenBeta · Crafty Moms Share · Discovering The World Through My Son’s Eyes · Early Words · Flowering Minds · Franticmommy · Gathering Books · Geek Club Books · GEO Librarian · Gladys Barbieri · Going in Circles · Growing Barefoot Bookworms · Growing Book by Book · iGame Mom · I’m Not The Nanny · InCulture Parent · Itsy Bitsy Mom · Just Children’s Books · Kid Lit Reviews · Kids Yoga Stories · Kid World Citizen · Kristi’s Book Nook · Mama Lady Books · Mama Smiles · Mission Read · Monkey Poop · Mother Daughter Book Reviews · Mrs AOk · MrsTeeLoveLifeLaughter · Ms. Yingling Reads · Multicultural Kids Blog · My White Board · One Sweet World · Open Wide The World · P is for Preschooler · Rapenzel Dreams · Randomly Reading · Reading Through Life · School4Boys · Sharon the Librarian · Spanish Playground · Sprout’s Bookshelf · Squishable Baby · Stanley and Katrina · Teach Mama · The Art of Home Education · The Brain Lair · The Educators’ Spin On It · The Family-Ship Experience · The Good Long Road · The Yellow Door Paperie · This Kid Reviews Books · Trishap’s Books · Unconventional Librarian · Vicki Arnold · We3Three · World for Learning · Wrapped in Foil