Is one of your New Year’s resolutions to diversify your bookshelf, or simply to read more? Join our ADM Global Reads for Grownups online book club! Last year’s books took us to Puerto Rico, Russia, Cuba, Alaska, and the American South. And even more adventures await us, as our multicultural book club starts a new year with great reads from around the globe. Check out our 2021 booklist below, and come explore with us by joining us in our Facebook group!
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Multicultural Book Club for Grownups: 2021 Booklist
2020 has been a hard year in so many ways, but thankfully it was still a great year for children’s books! So while you are sheltering in place, there are plenty of wonderful books to read as you snuggle up with your kids. Here are some of our favorite picture new books for everyone to enjoy.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you. I received complimentary copies of the books below for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own.
Favorite Picture New Books for Kids
One positive aspect of 2020 is more time to read books together with your little ones! Enjoy these favorite new picture books:
Hey Grandude! couldn’t be more apropos for this year, when so many families are stuck at home. At a time when we can’t travel, what better book to read them one that celebrates a magical compass that takes you wherever you want to go! Written by Paul McCartney, one of the coolest grandudes of them all, this wonderful adventure book follows a super fun grandfather as he takes his four very diverse grandchildren (yay for mixed families in children’s books!) all around the world. This is a wonderful book for little explorers who find themselves suddenly grounded this year and longing for new adventures. Go here for a look at Sir Paul recording the audiobook.
We often think of animals as our pets, but did you ever wonder if they see it the other way around? The adorable picture book Cat Ladies clears that question up once and for all with a look at Princess, a cat has no less than four ladies she has to take care of! Princess has them all properly trained to play with her and give her the best treats, but her pretty situation is threatened when a stray human shows up and steals the spotlight. Can Princess get the little girl trained before it’s too late?
Do your kids love to make silly faces, too? It can actually be a fun way to teach them emotional intelligence, as they practice how they can express and identity different emotions. Bad Brows is a fun new book all about how expressive our faces can be! When Bernard’s eyebrows start behaving strangely, he realizes just how much difference they make in his life! Suddenly no one believes what he says, as his expression never matches his words. Bad Brows is a hilarious read that my kids ask for again and again!
If you have a truck lover in your house, you do not want to miss Two Tough Trucks, an adorable new picture book from Corey Rosen Schwartz & Rebecca Gomez (yes, the very same authors who brought you Hensel and Gretel Ninja Chicks!) Two Tough Trucks is a beautiful book about two very different trucks who are paired together on the first day of school. In time, they learn not just to work together but to appreciate each other’s strengths. A great lesson in choosing kindness and friendship, even with someone it seems you could never get along with. Don’t miss it and its companion book, Two Tough Trucks Get Lost!
I think we can all relate to being in a bad mood lately, no? Mootilda’s Bad Mood is another delightful picture book from Corey Rosen Schwartz (see above), who has teamed up with co-author Kirsti Call. Poor Mootilda is having a horrible day – nothing seems to be going right, even when she follows everyone’s suggestions to cheer herself up. Her ice cream falls on the ground, jumping rope just gets her tangled, and she tumbles off her bike. But Mootilda’s mood finally starts to change when she starts thinking of others and can finally see her situation with a sense of humor. Every kid will be able to relate to this book and learn from how Mootilda handles and ultimately emerges from her terrible mood. Really fun rhyming text, and I love that it doesn’t hold back on the bovine humor!
There was an old lady who swallowed a fly… Remember that rhyme? I used to love reciting it to my kids, and now my daughter loves reading books that play with that structure. There Was an Old Dragon Who Swallowed a Knight is one of the best I’ve seen of this genre. It is seriously one of my daughter’s favorite books! She loves the rhymes and the silly illustrations. My older kids love it as well because it is such a fun riff on knights, dragons, and castle life. And of course, they think it’s hilarious how (almost!) everything gets burped back out at the end. There are so many fun details in this book, plus a twist ending. A great read your kids won’t want to miss!
Do your little ones hate taking naps? I know mine always did! No More Naps!: A Story for When You’re Wide-Awake and Definitely NOT Tired is an adorable book all about a child who absolutely REFUSES to take a nap – and what happens when everyone else decides to take them instead. The illustrations are so funny, and tend to make anyone reading the book become veeeeery sleepy. My daughter loves this book, even though it is guaranteed to make her yawn!
My daughter went through a very long stage where Ninja, Ninja, Never Stop! was the only book she allowed me to read to her. In fact, she loved it so much that it eventually became the first full-length book she was able to read on her own! Now that is love!
This is one of her favorite new picture books because she was drawn to the idea of becoming a ninja. She also loves the wonderful rhyming text (which had a lot to do with helping her learn to read it to herself). But there’s also the humor, as the boy who became a ninja around his house was bested by his own little brother. Will this push them further apart, or can they join together to make an unstoppable team?
Things That Go Away is a lovely picture book about change and loss but also the endurance of love. It is a beautiful message to pass on to our children, especially this year. My kids were immediately drawn to the creative illustrations. Each page spread includes a translucent overlay that changes the scene as you pass it from one page to the other. This poignant book is one my daughter asks to read again and again.
It’s no secret that kids love dress up and pretend play! And now there’s a wonderful new book that celebrates children’s imaginative play. Good Guys, Bad Guys is the story of a brother and sister spending a glorious day playing pirates, cowboys, and more with the neighborhood kids. With its charming illustrations, this new picture book showcases the wonders of playing make-believe.
To the Moon and Back for You a beautiful new picture book about becoming a mother. It is the perfect gift for any mother who has struggled in her journey toward motherhood. It celebrates the love we have for our children before they are even ours. I love the gorgeous abstract illustrations and especially the fact that they showcase diverse families.
July 30, 2020EducationComments Off on Homeschooling Tips from a Veteran Homeschooler
The uncertainty of the coming school year has led to many people switching to homeschooling or at least considering their options. I have gotten a number of questions from friends and readers about what homeschooling is really like, and what resources I recommend. As a result, I decided to sit down and write out my top homeschooling tips based on my 5+ years of homeschooling, including favorite resources and how homeschooling is different from traditional school. If you have any additional questions, please ask in the comments!
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Homeschooling Tips and Resources from a Veteran Homeschooler
One of the great things about homeschooling is that it is so flexible. There are as many ways to homeschool as there are homeschoolers, so exactly how you go about it is really up to you! Structure, more flexibility, or no structure? Mostly online, some online, or none at all? You get to decide! While that freedom is wonderful, for many it may also be daunting. Read up on different types of homeschooling, such as classical (which we mostly follow), Montessori, Charlotte Mason, etc. and see what works for you.
2. Instruction time is less than you think.
With all of the homeschooling styles, however, one constant is that homeschooling instruction time is generally less than you’d expect, especially when compared to traditional schools. Consider that you are given more individual attention to their child than they would receive in school and that less time is taken up in administrative tasks like roll call and paperwork.
3. Your classroom may look very different.
While many new homeschoolers try to recreate a traditional classroom in their home (nothing wrong with this, some children work best in that setting!), oftentimes a homeschool work environment may look very different. While some of my friends are lucky enough to have a separate room in their homes that they’ve set up as a school room, my children usually do their work at our kitchen table (or, in the case of my oldest son, on the couch). But that is only some of the time. While we do a lot of book work, a lot of our instruction time is done outside our home – either in our backyard or at the park as we explore nature, or (when we are not in a pandemic) on field trips to museums and art centers.
For new homeschoolers, this may not “feel” like school, but trust me, your kids are learning tons! I’m sure my kids remember Alice in Wonderland much more because of the play we saw, and they always grasp a concept through hands on learning more quickly and fully than through lecture. And don’t discount the practical lessons they learn from helping with meaningful work around the house.
How do I get started?
1. Take time to figure out your priorities.
What is important to you? If you are planning to homeschool only for a short time, are there certain goals that you’re trying to achieve before your child returns to traditional school, such as improving math or reading skills? Does your child need more or less structure? Are you hoping to give your child more flexibility than she would typically get? Do you want to connect your child to nature? Do you want to read great books together? Do you want to focus on issues, such as racial justice, that aren’t well addressed in many schools? Once you are clear in your priorities, it is easier to pick a homeschooling method (see above).
2. Join a network.
I have done lots of research on educational methods and homeschooling, but still I’ve learned the most by talking with other homeschoolers. They are a great source of information as well as (also very important!) sympathy. Only another homeschooler can really understand what you’re attempting to do or what you’re going through while you do it.
It is easy to find Facebook groups for homeschoolers. My advice would be to join at least two of them: one local group and one specific to the method of homeschooling you are going to use. The latter will help you with homeschooling tips for putting your philosophy into motion. The local group can help you navigate local requirements as well as clue you in on local resources, like upcoming events or the best place to buy school materials. You may even start teaching together cooperatively. And of course, once we are able to mix more freely, you can get together for park dates!
3. Give yourself time to figure it out.
As with parenting itself, you won’t really know the best method for you and your family until you try some out. Keep your priorities in front of you, but allow yourself to change how you are going to achieve them. Over the years I have changed which curriculum I use with which child, how I organize our schedule, and what I have emphasized in our studies. To some extent this reflects my own evolution, while it also reflects how our family has changed.
When I began homeschooling, I had a five year old and a toddler. I only intended to homeschool my older son for about six months. He had outgrown preschool, and I was just biding my time until he was old enough for kindergarten. But as we began, I saw how he was blossoming in a way he never had in preschool. And (as my husband likes to point out, especially on the tough days), I discovered that I really enjoyed it! Now I am homeschooling all three of my children, ranging from TK to 5th grade. I am also much more clear about my homeschooling philosophy than I was when I started. But it takes time, which can be frustrating, but there is also a lot of joy and discovery in the journey.
What curricula do you recommend?
As with everything stated above, this really depends on your philosophy and your child’s needs. Below is what has worked for my family, which encompasses two very different learning styles. Most of what I am recommending is based on the Classical method, though most would work for other methods as well.
Here are the curricula, materials, and other resources I recommend:
Want to teach your children about racial justice but not sure where to begin? Looking for tools to incorporate discussions of race into your classroom? Luckily there are so many great resources available these days. You can find me today over at Multicultural Kid Blogs, sharing the best resources we have found from our bloggers and across the internet for teaching kids about racial justice. You’ll find everything from lesson plans to children’s books, plus much more:
February 27, 2020EducationComments Off on Keep Math Lessons Fun with Online Curriculum
Does your child struggle with math? Are you a homeschooling parent who dreads teaching math to your child? Keep math lessons fun with an engaging online curriculum! Read on to access a free trial, plus enter for a chance to win a subscription!
My 7 year old recently took a survey of our friends and family (kids and parents alike) to ask whether they liked math or science better. As a former member of my junior high school’s Algebra and Geometry teams, you might guess which I picked! Yet I was overwhelmingly in the minority. The results were 25 for science as compared to just 2 for math! (Thanks, sis! I knew I could count on you to love math as much as I do!)
I was floored, and yet it made sense. Over and over I hear from homeschooling friends how much they struggle when teaching their children math, either because their kids hate it, or the parents never liked it themselves, or both. And I’ve seen with my own children that the one subject they are most likely to put off until the end of the day is math.
Until we found an online program that was fun and engaging and that also ticked all the boxes for me as a parent and teacher. Read on to see why we love it, and how you can try it for free – and enter for a chance to win a free subscription!
Disclosure: I was sponsored by CTC math to review their comprehensive online math curriculum program and am excited to share my experience as well as an awesome giveaway! All opinions are mine alone.
Keep Math Lessons Fun with Engaging Online Curriculum
Is math time the most stressful time of day for you and your child? Try CTC Math, a fun and engaging online curriculum!
Engaging Online Math Lessons
Now that we’ve started this online math curriculum, my kids actually look forward to their math lessons. CTC Math is a computer-based program that uses short video tutorials with colorful graphics. These are then reinforced by interactive exercises. There is also the option to have the exercises read out loud, which is great for younger kids who may be just learning to read. Of course, it’s not just that the videos and exercises keep math lessons fun. That multi-sensory approach actually helps students grasp and retain the information more easily.
Easy to Navigate
My four year old was so interested in the CTC Math program after watching her brothers that she insisted on getting a chance with it. With just a brief introduction, my little preschooler is now able to use the CTC Math program on her own. That’s how easy it is to navigate! (Note: The lessons begin with kindergarten, but advanced preschoolers may be able to do some of the early counting lessons).
CTC Math is not simply a set of math games to reinforce what you are teaching. It is a full-fledged math curriculum that goes all the way from kindergarten to 12th grade. Although each video tutorial is short (keeping kids from losing interest), they cover each topic well. I feel comfortable that my children will get an in-depth understanding of each concept through this math curriculum, making my job as a homeschool parent so much easier!
Adjusts to Work for Your Family
One of the reasons I love homeschooling is that I can adapt my lessons to fit the needs of my children. CTC Math does the same. Your child can learn at their own pace – repeating lessons if needed, or jumping ahead. If your child is ahead in some concepts but behind in others, it is also easy to move between grade levels and find the exact lessons that they need. For example, my 1st grader was ready to move on to the 2nd grade level when it came to learning about place value, but still needed some reinforcement with his 1st grade addition. And if you’re not sure exactly where to place your child, you can use the diagnostic tests to hone in on exactly the level that they need.
Keeps Me Informed
Parents have a separate online portal from students, so I can get reporting on how my children are doing. I can log in from anywhere to check on how they’re doing, and even get weekly progress emails.
The pre-adolescent years are a time of great change, which often brings confusion but also growth. Kids have to deal with bullying, friendship, family issues, and discovering their own unique voices. For many, sports can be a fun way to sort through these issues while also exploring their own interests. Below are wonderful new middle grade books about sports that teach life lessons that kids this age often face.
Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of the books below for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Middle Grade Books About Sports and Life Lessons
Ollie dreams of being a pro wrestler one day, so he can win back the golden championship belt his mom lost to a cheating opponent years before. But it’s not until he is given a disgusting, old piece of gum that belonged to a former wrestling champion that this scrawny boy sees any hope that his dream might actually come true. Slamdown Town is the story of what happens when a kid is suddenly able to transform into the body of a pro wrestler. Ollie thinks it’s a dream come true – a chance to win back the championship belt, get enough publicity to save the local arena, and maybe even get revenge on his bullying older brother.
Yet as Ollie’s attention becomes more and more absorbed by his secret identity as a wrestler, it has grave consequences for his already lackluster grades and for his relationship with his best friend Tamiko. In the end, Ollie has to decide what is most important to him and what he’s willing to sacrifice to get it.
Slamdown Town is a super fun read, even for someone like me who isn’t a big fan of pro wrestling. It’s obvious that the authors are huge fans, and their (and Ollie’s) enthusiasm is infectious. Also, the dialogue is hilarious! I especially love Tamiko, Ollie’s best friend and a girl gamer who keeps Ollie on his toes. (And by the way, I love that Ollie and Tamiko are besties without any hint of romance). Plus the descriptions of his older brother and his attempts to be cool are particularly funny. A fun book that explores life lessons in a very unusual way.
When Jack starts fifth grade, he hopes that the bullying from the year before will stop, but instead it starts again with increased fervor. To make matters worse, he is afraid to tell his best friends and his parents, because he doesn’t want to look like a coward. Jack tries every solution he can think of to avoid the bullies, but they always find a way to make his life miserable. Meanwhile, his shame at not being able to handle the problem himself only increases.
Buddies, Bullies, and Baseball from TCK Publishing explores the all too common theme of bullying. What makes this latest book from Phyllis J. Perry different is that it not only gives Jack’s perspective as a bullied kid, it also helps him see how easy it is to be unfriendly people that are different. When Jack is assigned to help a new student from Germany, Jack struggles to be patient with Hans’ lack of English and frequent misunderstandings. Yet eventually he learns to appreciate Hans, in part through their common love of baseball.
When his bullies steal Jack’s prized baseball mitt, Jack knows they’ve gone too far and comes up with a plan to stop the bullying once and for all – but only after enlisting the help of his parents, friends, and teacher. A great book about friendship, courage, and knowing when to ask for help.
When my friend Daria from Daria’s World Music approached me about sharing her Indian drum craft along with a related children’s book, I was so excited! Daria and I have been friends for a long time, and I’m a big admirer of her work. She does such an incredible job of getting kids excited about world music. You can see below how much fun we had recently making the dhol Indian drum and reading a folktale about it!
Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of some of the resources below for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Indian Drum Craft and Book
The dholis a drum from North India and surrounding areas, especially the Punjab region. This double-sided drum is hung around the neck with a thick strap and played with wooden sticks.
It is easy to do with resources you probably have on hand right now.
The kids loved getting to decorate the drums with their own designs, but best of all was running outside once they were done to find sticks and get playing!
While the kids were working, I read them The Drum, a folktale from India about a boy who longs for his own drum. Being from a poor family, however, he knows they cannot afford it. But when his mother brings home a magical stick, given to her by a mysterious stranger, the boy’s luck changes. He immediately begins a series of adventures, where his compassion leads him to help people in need, who each repay him as best they can. In the end, he gets his drum! A really fun story of a good-hearted kid being rewarded for his kindness.
These wonderful books celebrate African-American heroines by having black girls not just as side characters but as protagonists, in settings as diverse as rural Jamaica, a modern city, and a space station. The list includes picture books as well as an early chapter book and a graphic novel, because black girl magic is for kids of all ages! Be sure to hop over to Multicultural Kid Blogs read the full list:
Welcome to one of my favorite annual events, Multicultural Children’s Book Day! This event helps promote multicultural books for children and advocates for more diverse children’s literature. You can join in by participating in today’s Twitter party (see below) and taking advantage of the linky party and free resources listed below! Read on for more details about Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2020.
Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2020
Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2020 (1/31/20) is in its 7th year! This non-profit children’s literacy initiative was founded by Valarie Budayr and Mia Wenjen; two diverse book-loving moms who saw a need to shine the spotlight on all of the multicultural books and authors on the market while also working to get those book into the hands of young readers and educators.
Seven years in, MCBD’s mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in homes and school bookshelves continues.
MCBD 2020 is honored to have the following Medallion Sponsors on board:
We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also works tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE.
Is a friend or family member welcoming a baby in the coming months? We have gift ideas for you! Here are adorable board books for babies, perfect to welcome a new little one. Several of them have a spring theme, so they are ideal books for a baby shower in the spring.
Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of the books below for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Books for a Baby Shower in the Spring
A book is a gift that lasts for years to come! Of course, they are great for cuddling up and reading to very young children, but they last even beyond those first few years. My daughter is now four, and the simple text of the books below is perfect for her to start sounding out words.
Enjoy these sweet board books, the perfect books for a baby shower in the spring!
It is physically impossible to pick up Welcome, Baby: Hello, Bunny and not say, “Awww!” At least, that is what always happens with me! I’m pretty sure I have little heart emojis in my eyes as well, because this chunky board book is full of adorable baby animals, doing activities that little ones will recognize from their daily lives, like playing at the park and, of course, reading bedtime stories! The shaped pages are easier for little hands to turn, besides providing extra color and texture to explore.
Welcome, Baby: Love You, Baby is part of the same series as Welcome, Baby: Hello, Bunny, and features many of the same super cute baby animals. This book explores the many ways that a parent can show their love for baby, from dancing to splashing in the tub. Glittery cut-out hearts of graduated sizes immediately attract children’s attention and add to the colorful illustrations. A sweet book to snuggle up and share together.
Spring Is Here! is part of the phenomenal Changing Faces series (read my review of I Love You, Elephant!). Babies will be fascinated by how the animal faces change as you turn the pages! Explore the joys of the season as the animals celebrate everything that’s great about spring, such as running in the grass and swimming in a pond. With simple text and engaging illustrations, this is a book guaranteed to keep them engaged!
Baby Up, Baby Down: A First Book of Opposites is part of the same series as the phenomenal first book of feelings, Making Faces: A First Book of Emotions (read my review). Little ones love to look at pictures of other babies, and this book is full of bright photos of babies demostrating such fundamental opposites as up and down, and clean and messy. (My daughter loves that last one! “That baby’s so messy!”) I love the simple, uncluttered look of these books, so that little readers can really focus on the pictures without too much distraction. A great book for learning first concepts!
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