Wednesday, July 6, 2022

We have Winners in the #7DaysOfBooks for Children Celebration


Thank you so much to everyone who participated and supported our authors and each other in the 7 Days of Books celebration. It was so much fun to read your comments on the blog and out in social media. I wish I could send everyone who stopped by a copy of all the books!

Fortunately, there is a back-up for all of us! Your local libraries can a be huge resource for new books for young readers. They especially like to purchase books that their patrons are interested in, so if you have a chance, visit your library and let them know which titles you'd like to see on the shelves, if they aren't sitting there already.

And without further ado, here are our WINNERS! Winners will be notified by email with more info.

Day 1 Humor

Nelly Nunez:  A copy of DONUT from author Laura Gehl, illustrated by Andrea Zuill

Ashely Sierra: A copy of CHICKEN BREAK from author Cate Berry, illustrated by Charlotte Alder

Jessica Seitz: A PB critique or a copy of GET READY, MAMA! from author Sharon Giltrow, illustrated by Arielle Li

Day 2 Nature and Animals

Jessica Milo: A copy of WAKE, SLEEPY ONE from author Lisa Kerr, illustrated by Lisa Powell

Jenna Johnson: A PB critique from Michal Babay, author of I'M A GLUTEN-SNIFFING SERVICE DOG, illustrated by Ela Smietanka

Jennifer DuBose: A PB critique from Jen Lynn Bailey, author of THIS IS THE BOAT THAT BEN BUILT, illustrated by Maggie Zen

Becca Morfeld: A copy of OUT OF THE BLUE from author Elizabeth Shreeve, illustrated by Fran Preston-Gannon

Day 3 Persistence, Resilience, and Inspiration

Cathy Sheafor: A 20 min author chat or virtual classroom visit with Janie Reinart, author of WHEN WATER MAKES MUD, illustrated by Morgan Taylor

Reed Hilton-Eddy: A 20 min author chat or virtual classroom visit with Debbie Zapata, author of UP AND ADAM, illustrated by Yong Ling Kang

Day 4 Social-Emotional Learning

Jasmine Fang: A copy of AMERICAN DESI from author Jyoti Rajan Gopal, illustrated by Supriya Kelkar

Hannah Roy LaGrone: A virtual classroom visit or copy of THE HAPPIEST KID from author Sarah Bagley Steele, illustrated by Clarice Yunyi

Janet Sheets: A copy of BLOB from author & illustrator Anne Appert

Aimee Satterlee: A copy of DANCING IN THATHA'S FOOTSTEPS from author Srividyha Venkat, illustrated by Kavita Ramchandran

Stephanie Maksymiw: A copy of BRAVE IN THE WATER from author Stephanie Wildman, illustrated by Jenni Feidler-Aguilar

Day 5 STEM/Historical Nonfiction

CK Malone: A 30-min Q&A with Lynne Marie, author of THE THREE LITTLE PIGS AND THE ROCKET PROJECT, illustrated by Wendy Fedan

Aubrey Allie: A copy of A PENNY'S WORTH from author Kimberly Wilson, illustrated by Mark Hoffman

Ryann Jones: A PB critique from author Julia Lyon or a copy of A DINOSAUR NAMED RUTH illustrated by Alexandra Bye

Day 6 Family Relationships, Culture, & Traditions

Steena Hernandez: A author chat or copy of TOGETHER WE RIDE from author Valerie Bolling, illustrated by Kaylani Juanita

Susan Johnston Taylor: A copy of TOFU TAKES TIME from author Helen Wu, illustrated by Julie Jareema

Brenna Jeanneret: A copy of WILD AND BEAUTIFUL from author Amanda Esch-Cormier, illustrated by Naya Krichenko

Day 7 Problem-Solving

Jane Martin: An Ask Me Anything zoom meet with Elisa Boxer, author of ONE TURTLE'S LAST STRAW, illustrated by Marta Alavarez Miguens

Emily Holewczynski: A copy of LILA LOU'S LITTLE LIBRARY from author Nikki Bergstresser, illustrated by Sejung Kim

Katie Mahood: A copy of BUGS FOR BREAKFAST and tasty book swag from author Mary Boone

Stephanie Owen: CAYUGA ISLAND KIDS BOOK 3 SWAG from author Judy Bradbury

And That's a WRAP!  

Congratulations to all our winners. Keep Reading, Keep Sharing, Keep Supporting!

Saturday, July 2, 2022

7 Days of Books for Children, Day 7 Problem-Solving

Here we are! Day 7 of #7DaysOfBooks! 

Thank you so much for traveling with me on this journey! I hope that you have found some new titles to check out, as well as some old ones to pull off the shelves and read again with the young readers in your life.

As a teacher, I can't say enough for how important reading with children is

Twenty minutes a day of reading Out Loud with a child can make all the difference in putting that child on a path to success. When children are young, they are learning to read, which can be as enjoyable, and challenging, and rewarding as it can be. It also can be frustrating in learning how letters work together to form different phonic sounds, which is why learning to read, with daily exposure to words being connected in sentences is so important. By the time children are in the middle grades and in high school, students are reading to learn. See that subtle switch? In the upper grades it's expected that kids can interpret text in order to discern details and absorb information.

Thus, as we are at the end of this week, I hope you are inspired to dive into the summer reading program at your local library. In Utah, I've seen that the state-wide summer theme is "An Ocean of Possibilities.

Over the last week, we've certainly seen some ocean-related stories. But summer reading doesn't need to be all about that particular ecosystem. We've also seen books related to dinosaurs, building rockets, celebrating family, and laughing for laughing's sake. And so much more.

I particularly like today's topic because it involves books that touch on solving problems. We humans naturally lean toward trying to help one another in figuring things out. Perhaps this is why mysteries are popular with kids, as well as hands-on projects in school. Figuring things out is an activity which allows a child to view situations from all sorts of different perspectives. The more practice children have at finding solutions, the better they become at seeing alternative possibilities to current predicaments and daily situations. 

Plus, we have 4 giveaways today! Four! I hope you'll dive in and support these authors by buying their books or requesting them at your local library! 

Also, after checking out the book recommendations, be sure to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway. 

Because a new giveaway has been presented every day, you'll want to make sure you renew your chance to win and enter each Rafflecopter on each day. 

Best wishes! Happy reading! Thank you for stopping by and checking out #7DaysOfBooks!

One Turtle's Last Straw
written by Elisa Boxer, illustrated by Marta Alvarez Miguens (Random House Children's Books 2022). 

How many straws do you think young readers have used in their short lifetime? How many end up in the ocean where they can cause problems with marine animals? This book is a perfect story for launching young readers into the effects of plastic waste on our planet and the importance of recycling. It shows how one straw ended up in the ocean and caused problems for one turtle that ended up inhaling it as it ate. Keep in mind, this is one turtle of many that are affected by ocean pollution. The story also shows that the turtle was lucky enough to encounter marine biologists who were able to remove the straw. Overall, this book is perfect for the presentation of a problem and offering an easy solution that readers can take to eliminate plastic pollution. I may be biased given my love of oceans and marine life, but this book is a favorite!

Lila Lou's Little Library: A Gift from the Heart
written by Nikki Bergstresser, illustrated by Sejung Kim (Cardinal Rule Press 2021). I can completely relate to this book! 

When a girl realizes she has too many books, she comes up with a creative solution. She decides to share them with others by turning an old stump in her yard into a little library. Because my neighborhood has its own little library (which gets used frequently, based on the changes in stock that I see on my regular walks), this book holds a special place in my heart. I love the problem-solving approach where Lila Lou is able to come up with a positive outcome for her friends and neighbors! I also love this book because it shows the resourcefulness of the young girl in setting out to build something. Having grown up with similar encouragements, this book is a must-read for kids that like to dive into problems and create hands-on solutions.

Bugs for Breakfast. How Eating Insects Could Help Save the Planet
written by Mary Boone (Chicago Review Press 2021). 

A handful of years ago, I shared a short news article from National Geographic with my students. It shared how different insects pack an amount of protein that beats or meets what is found in regular hamburgers. My kids were mesmerized, but also somewhat grossed out. And truth be told, that kind of reaction is totally due to their lack of exposure to the idea. Because across the globe in other countries, insects are a regular part of the daily diet, and are regularly found at markets in order to make specific recipes. 

Mary Boone's book is fascinating, easy to read, and full of interesting and unputdownable facts. I highly recommend this book for any reader. According to the World Heath Organization, insects are going to become a more common-place household staple that will be found at the supermarket in the future. We might as well be prepared and educated on the topic, and most importantly take steps to save our planet. After all, it's the only planet we've got!

Book 3 in the Cayuga Island Kids chapter book series: The Case of the Messy Message and the Missing Facts
written by Judy Bradbury, illustrated by Gabriella Vagnoli (Cross Your Fingers 2022).

In this series young readers will certainly find a favorite character out of the five to identify with, as the characters contend with missing glitter pens, false information about chocolate chip cookies, and getting the facts right on a school research project about explorers. It's all about figuring out which facts are real, and which ones aren't and aspiring to be a good person.

This book hold multiple layers in finding solutions, treating others well, and fact-checking information--something every kid can benefit from getting practice at.

The Boy who Harnessed the Wind
written by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer, illustrated by Anna Hymas (Rocky Pony Books 2012). 

When the family of a young Malawan boy faces starvation after they lose their crops to drought, he figures out how to build a windmill in order to create electricity that can pump water out of the well so that it can be used in their agricultural fields. Need I say more? 

This memoir begs for being read aloud and shared with younger readers.

Princesses Can Fix It! 
written by Traci Marchini, illustrated by Julia Christians (Page Street Kids 2021). 

When alligators invade the castle and the king doesn't know what to do, three princess sisters pull their science and engineering skills together to solve the problem and save the day (or night--because that's when they spend their time figuring it out). 

This book is a wonderful introduction the simple tools (based in physics) that we actually use every day!

10 Things I Can Do to Help My World,
 written and illustrated by Melanie Walsh (Candlewick 2008, 2012).

This book remains a must-have for every collection. It offers simple, kid-centered approaches to things that kids can do to be less wasteful of resources and care for the planet, along with clear reasons why. Instilling this idea at a young age will make a world of difference in communities everywhere (pun intended), and . . . all because I love my world. 

Be sure to find a copy to share with the young children in your life.

The Brilliant Deep: Rebuilding the World's Coral Reefs
written by Kate Messner, illustrated by Matthew Forsythe (Chronicle Books 2018).  

This book is all about restoration science, and the fact that it presents it in a story that can be easily understood by kids is one of the main reasons I love it. As well as the idea that about ten years or so ago, the belief about coral reefs was that they couldn't be fixed after they died. However, when faced with challenges, scientists often rise up and meet them.

What a great example for young readers, especially with so many habitats in need of restoration on our planet. 

Can You Believe It? How to Spot Fake News and Find the Facts
written by Joyce Grant, illustrated by Kathleen Marcotte (Kids Can Press 2022). 

Learning to discern good facts from facts that are not based in truth is an important skill for young readers to learn and practice. It is one that will be used for all of their lives. 

I remember coming across a news article a few years ago about about a "new hybrid" corn crop in Minnesota that was so rigorous, it was taking over the highways and making them impassible given their strong root systems and crazy growth rate. When I read the article to my class, the students sat listening, mesmerized. I realized then and there that learning how to find good information for the research project they would be completing was a lesson I hadn't prepared on giving. If I'd had this book available at the time, it would have made my job much easier -- not only for me, but for the students. 

Told in kid-friendly text, with lots of illustrations and examples, this is a wonderful book for all young readers as they step from "learning to read" and into "reading to learn."

Today there are 4 giveaways! Be sure to follow the Rafflecopter below to log your entries.

1) An Ask-Me-Anything session with author Elisa Boxer

2) A signed copy of Lila Lou's Little Library from author Nikki Bergstresser

3) Book swag for the Cayuga Island Kids Book 3 from author Judy Bradbury

4) A signed copy of Bugs for Breakfast and tasty & decorative swag from author Mary Boone.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, July 1, 2022

7 Days of Books for Children, Day 6 Family Relationships, Culture, and Traditions

Welcome back to Day 6 with children's books that share stories of Family Relationships, Culture, and Traditions.

In today's list, I see one common thread that rings clear: family relationships are all about creating cherished memories together and caring for one another. Given that this is both a singular and universal experience that all humans hold, it's my hope that sharing these types of stories with young readers plants a seed for mutual understanding and respectful curiosity for what lies at the root of all of our planet's diverse families: Love. 

Believing that we can all recognize similarities in each other, in a sea of numerous traditions and upbringings, is certainly something to be celebrated.

As we ease into Day 6, here is a quote that resonates with me.

    "Rejoice with your family in the beautiful land of life." - Albert Einstein

    Happy reading, Happy requesting, Happy sharing!

Below you'll find 3 giveaways from authors Valerie Bolling, Helen Wu, and Amanda Esch-Cormier

Together We Ride written by Valerie Bolling, illustrated by Kaylani Juanita (Chronicle Books 2022). 

Once again Valerie Bolling has created another wonderful book that tells a story in sparse, rhyming text, which Kaylani pulls together in joyful illustrations. 

The story in this case is of a bicycle ride that is shared between a father and daughter, and then afterward, with the whole family. The words and pictures work seamlessly together. The simple rhyming text lends itself to building confidence in beginning readers. This book is one that will be enjoyed again and again. 

Tofu Takes Time written by Helen Wu, illustrated by (Yeehoo Press 2022). 

This story offers a tender exploration of a child's and grandmother's special relationship with tofu as they prepare it from scratch together. The impatience and perspective of the child is spot-on, along the patience and love from the grandmother. I was especially drawn to the child-like imaginings and lyrical prose that connected the steps of the recipe with elements of the natural world. 

All in all, this story will satisfy any young reader and spark a curiosity about what might be explored in their own kitchens, as well as those of others.

Wild and Beautiful 
written by Amanda Esch-Cormier, edited by Sarah Fabiny, illustrated by Naya Kirichenko (Little Adventures Press 2021). 

This tender story reads as a love letter from mother to child as memories are reminisced and hopes for the future are shared. The artwork in this book is absolutely stunning, and the loving and lyrical message rings from the pages like a song. It's a perfectly comforting book to share with a child at anytime of day.

When Lola Visits
written by Michelle Sterling, illustrated by Aaron Asis (Katherine Tegen Books 2021). 

This story, told through a bounty of similes and metaphors, a young child sets scenes of how she enjoys summer when her Lola visits from the Philippines. Steeped with lyrical language that soaks joy into each activity they share, this book will pull at the heart strings in all readers--young and old alike--and leave them longing to make memories of their own with each other. 

We Wait for the Sun written by Dovey Johnson Roundtree and Katie McCabe, illustrated by Raissa Figueroa (Roaring Brook Press 2021). 

This picture book is based on a story that Dovey Johnson Roundtree liked to tell about nighttime walks she took with her grandmother to pick blackberries in the forest, and how when the picking was over, they waited to enjoy the dawn together. 

Dovey Johnson Roundtree was born in Charlotte, NC, in 1914 and grew up to become a legendary civil rights attorney, which makes this lyrical story all the more wonderous and beautiful. 

Fishing with Grandpa and Skye written by Candace Spizzirri, illustrated by Beverly Love Warren (Spork Publishing 2022). 

Like the girl in this story, I also created special memories while fishing with my grandfather on a lake in Minnesota. With our time in the boat, there was always the joke of the big one that got away, the waiting and anticipation for a bite on the hook, and then the thrill of reeling one in. This lovely story captures all that. 

Readers will be inspired to make their own special memories together with a grandparent or parent, and speaking from experience like that of the author's, hopefully that will be on a lake in summer time!

Powwow Day
written by Traci Sorrel, illustrated by Madelyn Goodnight (Charlesbridge 2022). 

The combination of the lyrical language, sounds, and illustrations work together in this book to create an absolutely amazing reading experience for young children as they connect with River, a native American child who is working on recovering from illness. However, as she prepares to attend the celebratory Powwow day, she's anxious over whether she will be able to join in the dances and participate as she has done in the past. 

One of the many layers of this tender story involves discovering how we can both connect to and care for each other. Which in itself, is a beautiful thing.

Goodnight Ganesha written by Nadia Soloman, illustrated by Poonam Mistry (Viking Books for Young Readers 2021). 

One word to describe this story of nighttime routine for two children visiting their grandparents in India is this: STUNNING. 

The lyrical text, the gorgeous illustrations, the loving bonds and sentiments that come through on the pages amount to a wonderful bedtime experience. This book will evoke warm-hearted emotions in any child before being tucked in at night, no matter the cultural routines. Most certainly it will ignite a spark for special bedtime routines to be added to families that connect over stories at the end of the day.

I Dream of Popo written by Livia Blackburne, illustrated by Julio Kuo (Roaring Brook Press 2021).

"She whispers to me in a voice soft as bird song." 

This tender tale of the special bond between a Taiwanese girl and her grandmother and how it changes when the young girl's family moves away to San Francisco is for any reader who has experienced the feelings of separation. The beautiful similes and emotions found in this book shouldn't be missed. You'll want to share this story with your young readers. 

The Whole World Inside Nan's Soup written by Hunter Liguore, illustrated by Vikki Zhang (Yeehoo Press 2021). 

I could have put this book with the nature category, but it landed here to remind readers of the special bonds that can be formed in the kitchen through the stories and experiences that can be shared from parents and grandparents to children. In this story the interconnectedness of living things--from seeds to gardeners to the sun to the delivery systems and more are explored as a grandmother recounts all the numerous things that went into the pot of soup she is cooking on the store. This book is a wonderful example of the power of story and the spirit of childhood imagination, as well as the most important thing that is shared between a grandparent and child.

Today, we have 3 amazing giveaways! Follow the guidelines in the Rafflecopter below.

1) A copy of Together We Ride or a phone/book chat from author Valerie Bolling.

2) A copy of Wild and Beautiful from author Amanda Esch-Cormier

3) A copy of Tofu Takes Time from author Helen Wu.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, June 30, 2022

7 Days of Books for Children, Day 5 STEM and Historical NF

Here we are on Day 5 of #7DaysOfBooks with STEM/STEAM-related topics and historical nonfiction. 

I grouped these two categories together because they often are inter-related. Discoveries in science happen over time and our knowledge builds on all that has come before. Plus, if we want to know where we are heading in the future with scientific discoveries and where our values and priorities might lie with new technologies, then we need to have a clear understanding of where we've come from. 

Interest in the sciences, math and technology runs deep through my family roots--at least as far as I can tell. My great-grandfather ran a train-engine repair shop as a superintendent on one of the railroad lines in Pennsylvania. My father is an electrical engineer whose early career involved getting photographic transmissions from space. 

The arts are often linked with science as well. Not only was STEM was broadened to STEAM, many early naturalists were creatives and made detailed illustrations of the plant and animal specimens that they studied and collected in the field. On that end my mother has been a creative for as long as I've known her. I grew up in a house where the walls were decorated in painted designs rather than wall paper, and pottery pieces were part of every room's decor since she was and still is a potter. She also gardens, and holds a keen understanding of how things grow--which is its own kind of science--and then brings the harvest in to make the most savory of dishes.

Roots. Our History. Our understanding of the world and how things are connected. It's all intertwined. Or, at the very least, they're connected for today's post.

A Penny's Worth
, written by Kimberly Wilson, illustrated by Mark Hoffman (Page Street Kids 2022)

This story is worth every cent and more. Packed with fun puns and word play, Penny's journey to find her self-worth in a world of other more valuable currencies comes to life with the energetic illustrations. The cast of charismatic characters, along with sprinklings of money math, educational back matter, and layers of social-emotional learning make this a perfect book for every family and classroom. I imagine this one will see many repeated readings.

A Dinosaur Named Ruth 
written by Julia Lyons, illustrated by Alexandra Bye (Simon & Schuster 2021).

When a young girl finds dinosaur bones and fossils on her ranch in South Dakota, her curiosity is sparked about where they came from. Determined to one day discover what kinds of animals the fossils belong to, Ruth doesn't give up on trying to get experts to look at her findings. Students will be inspired to make observations about nature and learn about interactions between organisms and their environment in their own backyard. The lyrical and engaging text, vibrant illustrations, and interesting story line make this book a perfect introduction to changes in habitats over time, conducting research, and following one's dream.

The Three Little Pigs and the Rocket Project written by Lynne Marie, illustrated by Wendy Fedan (Mac and Cheese Press 2022).

When the class at Fairy Tale Elementary are given an assignment to build toss rockets in order to see which rocket will fly the furthest, everyone is excited except Bibi Wolf. Despite trying to hold back her competitors, Bibi's big bad breath actually helps the rocket of one pig fly the furthest. This story is a fun introduction for any STEM building project in the classroom. The back matter even includes instructions for making toss rockets. 

Jack Horner, Dinosaur Hunter, written by Sophia Gholz, illustrated by Dave Shephard (Sleeping Bear Press 2021).

The study of scientific topics and the nature of discovery come alive in this comic-style picture book about the world-renowned paleontologist, Jack Horner, who discovered the first dinosaur egg fossils and consulted on the Jurassic Park dinosaur movies (among many other things). Although he had severe dyslexia, Jack Horner didn't let trouble with reading stop him from pursuing what he wanted to do. Plus, he loved hands-on science, and the illustrations in this book do a superb job of bringing the scientific experiments that interested Jack to life. I highly recommend this book for its engaging and interesting text and fast-paced story-telling.

Kid Scientist. Marine Biologists on a Dive
written by Sue Fliess, illustrated by Mia Powell (Albert Whitman 2022). 

Because this book shows how large marine organisms are studied, it pairs wonderfully with CRAB BALLET (shared on Nature and Animals Day 2 post), which focuses on inter-tidal ocean life, and THE BRILLIANT DEEP, which focuses on restoring ocean reef habitats. The straight-forward text shows science-in-action as five friends take to the ocean with different tasks. Incorporating many parts of the scientific method, the illustrations and text are engaging enough to plant the seeds for developing an appreciation for life found in our underwater ocean world. I predict much curiosity will be sparked among young readers.

Birds of Prey. Terrifying Talons
written and illustrated by Joe Flood (First Second 2022).


Need I say more? This book is part of a nonfiction comic series that includes other titles like CROWS, CATS, and ROCKS & MINERALS. Packed full of information that might be found on the internet or in an encyclopedia, the graphic novel-style and story line will hook kids from page one in a presentation that is so much more interesting and meaningful than an internet search. Readers will learn about eating habits, evolution, and interdependences of raptors to other animals. I highly recommend this book because it's kid-friendly, fun, and educational. 

A True Wonder. The Comic Book Hero Who Changed Everything
, written by Kirsten W. Larson, illustrated by Katy Wu (Clarion Books, 2021). 

This story about the origins of the superhero Wonder Woman shows how she got her place in the comic book industry after the same man who had picked Super Man--an idea that had been rejected by every other syndicate in the business--decided to give a female superhero a chance. As time went on, the business of maintaining the Wonder Woman comic led to employing many other real-life woman wonders. Women like Alice Marble, a former top tennis pro; Joyce Hummel, a co-writer under the name Charles Moulton; and movie director Patty Jenkins. Young readers will see how Wonder Woman isn't only a superhero, she serves as a wonderful role model for equality, justice, peace, and following your dreams.

Listen. How Evelyn Glennie, a Deaf Girl, Changed Percussion, written by Shannon Stocker, illustrated by Devon Holzwarth (Dial Books for Young Readers 2022).

Sometimes, it's the things we're told that we can't do which inspire us the most. Such is the inspiring message of this book, where a young girl going through the heart-breaking and tremendously stressful experience of losing her hearing is determined not to lose the one thing she loves--creating music. This book will not only inspire students to go after their dreams, but also open their eyes (and ears) to the physics of sound. As a science teacher, I love this book not only for its story and beautiful text, but also for the subject. In our state our students begin learning about sound and sound waves in elementary school, which lands LISTEN with an A++++

Unspeakable. The Tulsa Race Massacre
, written by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Floyd Cooper (Carolrhoda Books 2021). 

An important book that delicately and deliberately handles a troubling and until recently a largely unknown part of American history. While reading I wondered what one event, which was based on decimating a thriving Black community, would look like. The end paper photo on the back cover reveals this, which made what I was feeling all the more raw and real. The final words of the story, which point toward rejecting hatred and violence and instead choosing hope, land the story in a place of longing for peace, equality, and love.

She Caught the Light. Williamina Stevens Fleming: Astronomer
, written by Kathryn Lasky, illustrated by Julianna Swaney (HarperCollins Children's Books 2021). 

This story shows how a bright and curious girl, whose experiences began with her father's photography business, got on track to becoming an accomplished astronomer due to the gentle nudge and suggestion from the wife of Professor Edward Pickering, for whom she worked as a housekeeper. This story shows how far one can go with a little help from others, and especially since Williamina's journey of classifying stars put her on a path toward connecting with other accomplished female scientists making discoveries in the field of astronomy.

Nothing Stopped Sophie, written by Cheryl Burdoe, illustrated by Barbara McClintock (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers 2018).

Even though Sophie Germain grew up during a time of social inequality--when women were not allowed to practice mathematics or sciences, she persevered and kept doing what she loved to do. She focused on becoming self-taught in math, because she loved how it helped find order and balance in the world. In doing so, she was able to solve what had been deemed an unsolvable problem, which was to come up with a mathematical equation for describing/predicting waves for the way sand grains created patterns on a glass plate when exposed to vibrations. However, solving it didn't come easily. She failed two times before finding success, and she was the only person - a woman, no less - to do so. 

There are 3 amazing giveaways for today, so be sure to enter! Follow the guidelines in the Rafflecopter below.

1) A 30-minute zoom Q&A with author Lynne Marie

2) A signed copy of A PENNY'S WORTH from author Kimberly Wilson

3) A PB-manuscript critique or copy of A DINOSAUR NAMED RUTH from author Julia Lyon

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

7 Days of Books for Children, Day 4 Social-Emotional Learning (SEL)

Welcome back to #7DaysOfBooks! Today we are spotlighting books that provide avenues for children to develop or deepen their social-emotional learning.

According to the Partners in Healing website social-emotional learning involves learning to "understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions." There are five core concepts in emotional learning which are shown in this graphic below.

Children and adults who are competent in managing these areas themselves tend to find more success in home, work, and life (Buffalo County Community Partners).

Readers might find that today's books could be easily placed with other categories, and that is the beauty of children's books. They hold multiple layers, affording multiples levels of engagement. I hope there are some new titles on this list for you to check out and enjoy yourself.

As for giveaways, there are a whopping 5 today! Five! So dig in, check out these books, these authors, and enrich your lives and the lives of your children with some more wonderful reading.

Here is a quote for today's category.

"The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another." - William James

American Desi written by Jyoti Rajan Gopal, illustrated by Supriya Kelkar (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers 2022). 

This lyrical, rhyming picture book shows the two sides of a young girl--her Indian heritage and her American one--and her journey to figuring out where she fits or identifies with most. The vibrant illustrations based in a metaphor of numerous depictions of fabrics exude joy and energy along with  a celebration of cultures that can be readily felt from the page. This book can be used to launch into discussion with young readers on self-image, where we each fit, and how we contribute positively in our diverse society. 

The Happiest Kid written by Sarah Bagley Steele, illustrated by Elsa Pui Si and Clarice Yunyi (Yeehoo Press 2022).  

Sally usually wakes up happy and goes through her day as the happiest kid. She's known for it by her parents. But when Sally wakes up seeing a cloud instead of the usual happy sun, she's unsure of how to handle her feelings or how to show them. This story gives kid-friendly insight into how to manage, acknowledge, and cope with sad feelings. 

It is a perfect story time book for home or in the classroom to help kids learn how to verbalize and handle their emotions, as well as recognize different feelings that can be seen in others. A++++

 written and illustrated by Anne Appert (HarperCollins 2021). 

This story is insatiably adorable in all the layers it holds for self-exploration, self-discovery, and self-acceptance. Kids will love going along with Blob's journey as they move from being able to take the shape of any animal that the narrator dreams up for them to taking on the shape of anything that they dream up for their self to ultimately figuring out what they discover is best for Blob. The misunderstanding of the name for Blob/Bob at the beginning is a perfect launching pad for Blob's quest in pushing past all the self-doubt that sets in before wrapping up in a perfect landing. 

Readers will giggle, but the story lends itself to deeper discussions of feelings and identity, as well as treatment of others.

Dancing in Thatha's Footsteps written by Srividhya Venkat, illustrated by Kavita Ramchandran (Yali Books 2021).

When young Varun catches a peek at his sister's dance class while she is learning to master the Indian dance of bharatanatyam, his curiosity is sparked, but he is reluctant to try it because he believes that "boys don't dance." However, as his grandfather Thatha shares more about his background and experience with the dance, Verun soon embraces his desire to enjoy what he wants to do and how to feel. This book is perfect in helping young learners overcome their own insecurities in trying something new.

Brave in the Water written by Stephanie Wildman, illustrated by Jenni Feidler-Aguilar (Lawley Enterprises, LLC 2021). 

When Diante is afraid to put his face in the water, his grandmother shares something she is afraid of, which is hanging upside down on the monkey bars. After learning to practice a bit of yoga, Diante is able to apply the breathing techniques he learned to help overcome his fears in the water. This book is a wonderful introduction to the use of controlled breathing to help ease anxiety and manage stressful situations. 

Having coached and taught swimming lessons for a number of years, this was a real fear for many beginning swimmers. Proper breathing was definitely part of the instruction, because breathing is something most kids don't think about--it just happens, so this book is a great introduction for bringing awareness to it.

What if, Pig? written and illustrated by Linzie Hunter (Harper 2021). 

I absolutely love the adorable factor and emotional connection that this story renders. Pig is liked by everyone, but that doesn't mean he's not a worrier. In fact, when Pig wants to throw a party, he worries about all sorts of things that could go wrong. He worries so much, he wants to cancel his party. 9Spoiler: When Mouse holds the party for Pig as a surprise, everyone comes and shares their worries with Pig.) I love how the story comes full circle at the end with Pig describing his friends in the same way they describe him. A+ on this one. 

A Little Space for Me written and illustrated by Jennifer Gray Olson (Roaring Brook Press 2020). This book offers a unique approach to a girl's desire to carve out her own space in her world. However, when her space leaves her feeling alienated from others, she lets them back in and shares her idea of space with them. This story offers an other-worldly introduction to mediation and escaping to the world inside our heads when we need quiet moments to ourselves. 

With the combination of simple text and illustrations, this book is a perfect introduction for kids to understanding their own internal thoughts.

Big and Small and In-Between written by Carter Higgins, illustrated by Daniel Miyares (Chronicle Books 2022). 

This book could easily have been categorized with the nature titles, but I'm putting it in the SEL group because I believe so many discussions could follow between adults and young readers about the feelings that each of the page spreads evoke. 

There are many different kinds of things that can seem big to a child. And equally so, there are many things that can seem small or in-between. Thus, for the deeper meanings that can be seen in the text and illustrations, I believe that this book begs for the readers and listeners to slow down and practice viewing things from different perspectives, which can be both a very grown-up way to look at the world, and also a very innocent way to look at the world. It all comes down to perspective! And for that reason, this book can be enjoyed over and over again in order for readers to deepen their understanding of their responses to the world around them.

Nigel and the Moon written by Antwan Eady, illustrated by Gracey Zhang (Katherine Tegan Books 2022). When Nigel tells his hopes and dreams for the future to the moon, he shares what he thinks he might want to be. An astronaut, a dancer, a superhero. But his doubts set in when he can't find the career of a dancer in the books at school. 

This tender story shows how Nigel comes to push past his uncertainty and share his dreams during Career Week with his friends and parents at school. This book is another wonderful title celebrating self-worth and courage for sharing a little of our hopes with others.

Bear is a Bear written by Johnathan Stutzman, illustrated by Dan Santat (Balzar and Bray 2021).

This imaginative story shows the bond and adventures that a child and her stuffed bear (depicted as a real bear, as considered from the child's perspective) take over the course of her life. This tender story is a wonderful tribute to the beloved toys/stuffed animals that bring comfort and what it means to grow out of them and perhaps rediscover them once again.

For today's giveaways, we have FIVE! 

1) A signed copy of AMERICAN DESI from author Jyoti Rajan Gopal

2) A signed copy of THE HAPPIEST KID and/or a zoom visit to 1 classroom from author Sarah Bagley Steele

3) A signed copy of BLOB from author/illustrator Anne Appert

4) A copy of DANCING IN THATHA'S FOOTSTEPS from author Srividhya Venkat

5) A paperback copy of BRAVE IN THE WATER from author Stephanie Wildman

Follow the instructions in the Rafflecopter. You can see all 5 giveaways there with the side arrows. Good luck!

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Tuesday, June 28, 2022

7 Days of Books for Children, Day 3 Persistence, Resilience, and Inspirational Titles

Welcome back to Day 3 of #7DaysOfBooks with children's books that share stories of persistence and resilience, and can serve as spring boards for inspiration.

With both new titles and older ones, I hope today's list directs you toward some that you weren't yet aware of but are drawn to sharing with the young readers in your life. 

Perhaps what impresses me most with these titles is that the resilience and inspiration in most of them first found roots in the heart of a child. Hearts made strong with hope, courage, and the belief for a better way of living, or a belief for following one's dream, along with a sense of self-worth. Three ideas that I hope are consistently nurtured by society today rather than being squelched or extinguished.

I'll share two quotes that spoke to me for this category of books. Perhaps you'll share one of your own.

"My barn having burned down, I can now see the moon." - Mazuta Masahide

"I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it." - Maya Angelou

As for giveaways with Day 3, there are 2 that follow below. Happy reading, shopping, and requesting at your libraries!

When Water Makes Mud, A Story of Refugee Children, written by Janie Reinart, illustrated by Morgan Taylor (Blue Whale Press 2021). 

When two young girls arrive at a refugee camp with nothing but their dreams, how many things can made from nothing? In this lyrical, achingly touching, and inspiring story, an older sister makes gifts from nothing--from a stick, a pebble, a bag, cardboard, and mud--in order to see a smile from her little sister. 

The book is dedicated to the thousands of children at the Bidibidi refugee settlement in Uganda. The publisher's profits from the sale of this book are donated to UNICEF, which is a wonderful cause to become part of!

Up and Adam, written by Debbie Zapata, illustrated by Yong Ling Kang (Kids Can Press 2022). 

A boy who sets out to help his community clean up after a storm not only lifts the hearts of his neighbors, but also will lift the hearts of all those who read it at story time. Because this book focuses on tasks that a young child is able to do, it models how even the youngest members of communities can be helpful--especially when that help is based in a shared smile. 

In addition, the authors note on the real Adam, a boy with Down's syndrome, gives room to further the discussion on abilities, as opposed to limitations that might be perceived in disabilities.  

Survivor Tree written by Marcie Colleen, illustrated by Aaron Becker (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers 2021). 

Stories that come out of the darkest moments in history have the power to resonate and instill an understanding of resilience and strength in ourselves. A few years ago I had the opportunity to visit the World Trade Center Memorial site, and I believe that this book sensitively captures the events of 9/11 by sharing the story of the tree that survived it all to become a symbol of hope in a beautiful and powerful way. 

I highly recommend this story to share the idea that we as a people can do hard things. That all beings--are capable of doing hard things, with proper attention and care. As we move forward facing the need for social and environmental change, this book can be part of those stories that help lay the foundation for doing what needs to be done.

Be the Change. A Grandfather Ghandi Story
 written by Arun Ghandi and Bethany Hegedus, illustrated by Evan Turk (Atheneum Books for Young Readers 2016). 

As important now as it was when it was first published, this story's heart pivots on a simple, yet difficult concept--the importance of not being wasteful. Growing up as the grandson of Mahatma Ghandi, a peacemaker known for effecting change without the use of violence, Arun struggled to understand a lesson that his grandfather wanted him to understand--the idea that wastefulness and violence are connected to each other. When Arun throws away the nub of a pencil (a simple example that small children will be able to relate to), eventually after he retrieves it, the connection becomes clear. The difference between passive and physical violence, and how neither can be ignored, is also shown in the story. In a world where conservative use of resources is becoming more important in order to maintain peace and harmony among nations, this book is a must-read and must-share. I'm so grateful for the connection that formed between Arun Ghandi, Bethany Hegedus and Evan Turk in allowing this story to be created. This book is one of many that should be in every elementary classroom and on every family book shelf.

Gibberish written and illustrated by Young Vo (Levine Querido 2022). 

Dat is going to school for the first time in a new country, and everything he hears and reads sounds like gibberish. Feeling alone and embarrassed, he almost gives up, but is lifted to a sense of hope through a patient and caring friend. 

Based on my own experience as a teacher to students from other countries and having discussed their feelings and perceptions about their situation, I love the illustrations, which begin with depictions of Dat's new surroundings as being strangely cartoonish (i.e, different from him). To me, this representation makes sense, because my immigrant students described everything as being strange and weird. Since Young Vo created this story from his own experience, I feel like I've taken first steps on a bridge toward understanding based on his illustrations. With the increasing number of non-English speaking students in schools, this book could help foster empathy, understanding, patience, and acceptance in the school community.

Making a Difference, An Inspirational Book About Kids Changing the World!
Young Change Makers Series written by Stacy C. Bauer, illustrated by Emanuela Ntamack (Hop Off the Press 2022). 

In a world where role models are sought to serve as examples for inspiring children, this book is it. Here, the role models are real kids themselves who have worked toward making a difference for causes they believe in. With kid-friendly text, each spotlighted child includes a fun photo of the "change-maker," some fun facts, inspirational quotes, and the story of what each kid has accomplished. 

This book also could serve as an idea-board for community-based classroom projects. I highly recommend it for all ages--for both independent reading and story times, because each spotlight is short, easy to read, and supported with colorful graphics.

I Color Myself Different written by Colin Kaepernick, illustrated by Eric Wilkerson (Scholastic, Inc 2022). 

Told in the first person from Colin's point of view, he shares his experience of having to explain why his hand-drawn family picture shows him as the only one with brown skin. This story does a wonderful way of sharing Colin's story of adoption, while Colin's voice effuses with self-confidence and self-love for how he looks and how he feels as a person, (which is unique and different from everyone else--they way we hope all kids feel). 

This book would be a great introduction to share in the classroom for those days when students are guided through sharing a little of who they are in pictures and/or words. Like the other titles here, I highly recommend it.

Freedom Bird. A Tale of Hope and Courage
 written by Jerdine Nolan, illustrated by James E Ransome (Simon & Schuster 2020). 

This historical fiction story about two children born into slavery and who find their way to freedom is told through the embedded metaphor of getting help from a large, injured, and mysterious heron-like bird that they help to protect and heal. With roots in the tradition of American black folktales, this lyrical and emotionally powerful story is a good one for sharing insight on the effect of slavery on children, families, community, and a nation.

Float written and illustrated by Daniel Miyares (Simon & Schuster 2015). 

This wordless picture book is about a boy who builds a paper boat from newspaper. In the rainy day adventure they take, resilience and imagination rise from disappointment and apparent disaster in order to create a new and different adventure to be enjoyed. The use of limited colors of grays, white, yellow, pale red and pale blue bring the reader into a world of belief where anything is possible, even when faced with obstacles.

The Oldest Student. How Mary Walker Learned to Read,
 written by Rita Lorraine Hubbard, illustrated by Oge Mora (Anne Schwartz Books 2020). 

This book could have been placed in the history or nonfiction categories, but I'm placing it with these other inspiring titles because I am blown away with profound admiration for Mary Walker's achievements. Born into slavery, and having survived it, as well as endured the hardships she faced after emancipation--Mary Walker was the epitome of hard work, selflessness, love, and determination. Author Rita Hubbard's narrative and Oge Mora's illustrations weave together a wonderful tale that I hope all young learners will be motivated and empowered by for whatever personal struggles they face in their own lives.

Exquisite. The Poetry and Life of Gwendolyn Brooks
, written by Suzanne Slade, illustrated by Cozbi A. Cabrera (Abrams Books for Young Readers 2020). 

This Robert Sibert Honor Book tells the story of the first black woman to win the Pulitzer prize for poetry. What I love about this book is the powerful message it shares in the importance of following your passion and not giving up on your dreams, made especially impactful since Gwendolyn started writing poetry when she was seven years old and saw her first poems published in a local newspaper when she was eleven. What a wonderful and inspiring story to share with young readers! 

It begs reconsideration of the oft-asked question, What do you want to be when you grow up? Because honestly, why put off going for one's dreams, when really, the roots can start growing deep while young?

Emmanuel's Dream. The true story of Emanuel Ofosu Yeboah written by Laurie Ann Thompson, illustrated by Sean Qualls (Schwartz & Wade 2015). 

There is so much to admire in this true story of a boy who not only was born with one good leg and one deformed one, but who also was raised by a single mother and by age 13 had to start working to support his family after his mother became ill. Overcoming all odds stacked against him, Emmanuel went on to bike around his country--traveling over 400 miles with only one good leg--in order to show that being disabled does not make a person unable

A powerful and inspirational addition for any book collection  that shows change can start with just one person.

And now for the giveaways! They are awesome!

Follow the Rafflecopter to make your entries. You'll see both giveaways with the side-arrows in the copter.

1) A 20-minute zoom Q&A about writing or 1 classroom visit with author Janie Reinart

2) A 20-minute zoom Q&A about writing or 1 classroom with author Debbie Zapata

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