We Need Diverse Books AND MORE!!


This is an important week for appreciating and sharing the diversity of the United States of America. On Monday we celebrate a true hero of diversity – Martin Luther King Jr. and on Friday we inaugurate our 45th president. What an excellent time for all of us to pause and reflect on the progress we have made, and the work we still need to do.

America is certainly not a perfect country and we have a long way to go before we truly meet standards of equality. BUT I am encouraged by the number of people who are willing to roll up their sleeves and do the hard work. If you – as a writer or educator are looking for places to plug-in, I’m listing just a few of the fine programs and organizations that are worth your time.


Celebrate the wonderful books and lessons that can be learned through Multicultural Children’s Book Day . Children’s reading and play advocates Valarie Budayr from Jump Into a Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom have teamed up to create an ambitious (and much-needed) national event. On January 27th, Jump into a Book and Pragmatic Mom will be presenting the first ever Multicultural Children’s Book Day as a way of celebrating diversity in children’s books.



WNDB – We Need Diverse Books – If you are a writer this is a fantastic program to encourage the development of books from diverse view points. Click on the icon to go to the newsletter and find out all about the program.



name The Founders of NAME envisioned an organization that would bring together individuals and groups with an interest in multicultural education from all levels of education, different academic disciplines and from diverse educational institutions and occupations.


Research and learn how you can make our world a better place for all citizens!

Girl Power!


It’s Girl Power Month!! Otherwise known as Women’s History month. And it’s time to bring out all those fantastic books about GIRL POWER! I’ve got some great lists of books to use in the classroom plus some really fun facts about women in history. Come on teachers – let’s celebrate women’s history!

Fun Facts
One of the greatest spies in World War II was a woman. Nancy Wake was known as The White Mouse and was one of the Gestapo’s most wanted spies with a 5 million-franc price on her head.

A woman was the ruler of one of the largest empress in the history of the world.  At one Queen Victoria’s empire included land on nearly every continent.  She ruled from Britain to India, Australia to Canada, South Africa to Egypt, and even controlled Hong Kong.  It was said that the sun never set on the British Empire.

The world’s first Novel was written by a woman. The Tale of Genji was published in Japan around 1000CE.  It was written by Murasaki Shikibu and was a story about life in royal Japanese court.

Nan’yehi was woman warrior for the Cherokee Nation.  When her husband was killed during battle in 1775, she took his place and led the Cherokee to victory.

Some Great Books!!!
Look Up!: Henrietta Leavitt, Pioneering Woman Astronomer by Robert Burleigh
Henrietta Swan Leavitt was born on July 4, 1868, and she changed the course of astronomyherietta when she was just twenty-five years old. Henrietta spent years measuring star positions and sizes from photographs taken by the telescope at the Harvard College Observatory, where she worked. After Henrietta observed that certain stars had a fixed pattern to their changes, her discovery made it possible for astronomers to measure greater and greater distances—leading to our present understanding of the vast size of the universe.

Solving the Puzzle Under the Sea By Robert Burleigh
Marie Tharp was always fascinated by the ocean. Taught to think big by her father who wassolving-the-puzzle-e1457211817862 a mapmaker, Marie wanted to do something no one had ever done before: map the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. Was it even possible? Not sure if she would succeed, Marie decided to give it a try.

Check out these book lists!
Disrupters, Daredevils, and Artists: Women Who Changed the World


21+ Children’s Books about Women Scientists


Kirkus list of great books for Women’s History Month



International Kid Lit Quiz

  1. Whose nickname as a student was Padfoot?Quiz%20Bowl
  2. What colour was the highly sought after and prized Arkenstone?
  3. Erasers are wolf-like creatures that go after children in what book?
  4. Who was the sparkly fish that gave away his scales?
  5. What bird’s singing, according to Hans Christian Andersen, brought tears to the Chinese Emperor’s heart?
  6. Who is Geronimo Stilton’s sister, the one that loves traveling and having adventures around the world?
  7. Where in space did four children land and leave a ‘Hello Dad!’ message in Frank Cottrell’s Boyce’s book Cosmic?
  8. What day of the week did Thor give his name to?
  9. What country forced its citizens to sign a Treaty of Treason?
  10. Who was the television-obsessed boy that visited Mr Wonka’s factory?
Can you answer these question?  The kids competing in the International Kid Lit Quiz can. hpThese are the easy questions!
Never heard of the International Kid Lit Quiz? You are definitely missing out!  Its like a traditional quiz bowl but it focuses on children’s literature and it’s world wide! It is open to students 10-13 years of age and this year’s national winners are invited to compete in the World Final in Auckland New Zealand.  The new World Wide champions will be crowned in August.
While it’s too late to enter this year’s competition it’s just the right time to start a team in your school. What better way to get students enthused about reading?  Start a school wide competition and maybe your students will be competing in the next International Kids Lit Quiz!
Meanwhile try some more of the practice questions:
  1. Annabeth is the daughter of which Greek goddess?
  2. Who would demand retaliation for any minor crime committed by a passing traveller such as picking a rose?
  3. The book Small Steps introduced the readers to which two characters from Holes: Percy-Jackson-percy-jackson-and-the-olympians-books-8244426-1024-768Zero, X-Ray, Armpit or Stanley?
  4. Which fictional primate was known as ‘The Eighth Wonder of the World’?
  5. Characters from which book literally jump out of the pages?
  6. Who ordered all of the spindles in his kingdom to be burnt?
  7. Who was the American boy that supposedly had the reputation of never telling a lie?
  8. What type of creature was a Psammead?
  9. What is special about this sentence: Never odd or even?
  10. What word in English is the most common spoken word?
  1. Athena sleep
  2. The Beast
  3. Armpit and X-Ray
  4. King Kong
  5. Inkheart
  6. Sleeping Beauty’s father
  7. George Washington
  8. Sand fairy
  9. It’s a palindrome – reads the same both ways
  10. The
Oh and the answers to the first ten questions – right here-ranbow
  1. Sirius Black
  2. White
  3. Maximum Ride (accept The Angel Experiment)
  4. Rainbow Fish
  5. The Nightingale
  6. Thea
  7. The MoonThursday
  8. Panem
  9. Mike Teevee

Books for Black History Month


Betsy Bird has just published an updated African-American Experience Children’s LiteracyKnockKnock-231x300 Guide.  This is a great list of books that you need to have in your school library.  Compare this list to your schools holdings and see what you need to add.  February is the perfect month to look at the diversity of the books in your collection.

You can see the complete list at schlibjourn:






Here’s a sampling of the picture book list:

Don’t Throw It to Mo! by David Adler, illustrated by Sam Ricks, ISBN: 9780606368001

Knock Knock: My Dad’s Dream for Me by Daniel Beaty, illustrated by Bryan Collier, ISBN: 9780316209175

Lucky Beans by Becky Birtha, illustrated Nicole Tadgell, ISBN: 9780807547823

Beautiful Moon: A Child’s Prayer by Tonya Bolden illustrated by Eric Velasquez, ISBN: pie9781419707926

My Cold Plum Lemon Pie Bluesy Mood by Tameka Fryer Brown, illustrated by Shane W. Evans, ISBN: 9780670012855

Duke Ellington’s Nutcracker Suite by Anna Harwell Celenza, illustrated by Don Tate, ISBN: 9781570917004

Max and the Tag-Along Moon by Floyd Cooper, ISBN: 9780399233425max

Firebird by Misty Copeland, illustrated by Christopher Myers, ISBN: 9780399166150

Mama’s Nightingale by Edwidge Danticat, illustrated by Leslie Staub, ISBN: 9780525428091

Last Stop on Market Street by Matt De La Pena, illustrated by Christian Robinson, ISBN: 9780399257742

Sunday Shopping by Sally Derby, illustrated by Shadra Strickland, ISBN: 9781600604386

A Dance Like Starlight: One Ballerina’s Dream by Kristy Dempsey, illustrated by Floyd danceCooper, ISBN: 9780399252846

Red, Yellow, Blue (and a Dash of White Too) by C.G. Esperanza, ISBN: 9781629146249

Chocolate Me! by Taye Diggs, illustrated by Shane W. Evans, ISBN: 9780312603267

Underground by Shane W. Evans, ISBN: 9781596435384

We March by Shane W. Evans, ISBN: 9781596435391



World Read Aloud Day


Celebrate World Read Aloud Day by having an author read to your class for free! WRADAmazing Author Kate Messner, has organized a group of traditionally published authors who are willing to read to your class via skype on February 24.  All you have to do is sign up.  And it’s FREE! Absolutely FREE!

Just go to her website and pick out one of the authors.  Kate has done all the leg work by finding authors who are willing to read. You just have to click on the author’s link and request a time that will work for you.  You can even sign up for multiple authors!

And if you are wondering – yes – I’m one of the volunteer “readers” and I’d love to visit your class!





Book Trailers – Great Teaching Tool


We’ve all see movie trailers.  Those tempting snippets of movies that make us want to go Goslingsee the new James Bond or the next Ryan Gosling flick.  And now you can use book trailers to tempt your students to check out new stories.  I’m not sure that Ryan Gosling is in any of the trailers…but still…

Book trailers can be a great tool for teachers.  Previewing a classroom read with a book trailer lets teachers ask prediction and context questions.

  • What is this book about?
  • Who is the main character?
  • What do you think will happen in this book?

And perhaps most important –

  • Do you think you will like this book – why or why not?

Take a look at the book trailers for The Marvels, O.J., and Oona.  They are great for opening a book discussion.

marvels  OJoona

But whatever book you choose – you will be able to have your students predict whether or not they will like the book based on the book trailer.  Then after they have read the book ask them if the book was what they had expected.  Did they like it more or less?  Was the book trailer accurate or was it misleading?  How would you change the trailer?

And even more fun is to have your students create their own book trailers.  So much more fun than boring old book reports.  With today’s technology it is easy to create a classroom full of book loving video journalists.


Some great sites to use are

  • Mr. Schu Reads – he has constant updates of new book trailers and interviews with authors and illustrators.
  • Scholastic Stacks has a great collection of book trailers and of course om fun ideas for using them.
  • Sime Kids has over 200 book trailers on their site.
  • And if you want your students to get an idea of how to make their own book trailers take a look at Book Trailers for Readers.  Some of these kids have a future in film and storytelling!

Happy Reading!




New Year New Books


The new year has arrived and 2016 is going to be a great year for books.  I’m getting my shelves ready for some new books that will be wonderful to use in the classroom.  Here’s a sample of some new stories that are headed to a library near you.  Get ready to check them out!

Very first on my list is We will Not Be Silent -The White Rose Student NotBeSilentResistant Movement that Defied Hitler. Its by one of my favorite authors – Russell Freedman and tells about the young members of the White Rose resistance who fought against Hitler with words.  Hiding in a cellar,they cranked out thousands of mimeographed leaflets declaring to Hitler “We are your bad conscience.”  The book includes historical photographs that illustrate the powerful true story.  This book will be released by Clarion in May so I have a little while to wait… but I know it will be worth it!

The Secret Subway is next on my list.  It tells the story of Alfred Beach and Subwayhis creation of a fan driven underground subway that was built in 1870. I can’t wait to see the wonderful illustrations in this picture book.  I plan to use it to introduce discussions about inventions and I know it will capture the imagination of my students.  Written by Shana Corey, this fun picture book will be out in March.  I can’t wait!

I only have to wait until February for Echo Echo by Marilyn Singer. I’m 9780803739925excited about this book because it combines poetry with Greek Myths. Singer used a new type of poem that is called a reverso where she presents a portrait and then recasts it backward, line by line, in a companion poem.  I think this will be a great way to teach both poetry and Greek Mythology.  I’ll be first in line at the library for this one!