Today it is more important than ever to teach children about embracing differences and forming friendships with those with whom at first they may seem to have nothing in common. It is the critical issue facing our little world citizens, yet in reality it is as simple as making a new friend on the playground or seeing yourself in the face of a stranger. This wonderful collection of children’s books – including picture books and a chapter book – use humor and inspiring XXXX to instill these values in our children.
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 cost to you.
Children’s Books About Embracing Differences
The Epic Adventures of Huggie & Stick is a laugh out loud book from the author of The Day the Crayons Quit about an unlikely pair and their lively trip around the world. What makes this book so hilarious is the constant shift in perspective between these two completely opposite characters. While upbeat Stick sees every situation as a wonderful adventure, grumpy Huggie is forever looking at the downside. Stick, for example, is enchanted by the “little elves in tuxedos” they discover on Antarctica, while Huggie describes these same penguins as “vicious” because they tried to nibble on him.
The biggest misunderstanding of all, of course, is whether Huggie and Stick are actually best friends (as Stick thinks) or not (as Huggie emphatically believes). Either way, you won’t want to miss their epic adventure together!
All Are Welcome is a beautifully written picture book about embracing differences and creating an environment of respect for all. The portraits of diverse children playing, learning, and sharing are gorgeous and demonstrate an ideal climate where diversity is seen as a community’s strength. Moreover, by portraying the children engaged in similar activities during their day, it powerfully shows how we are just as much alike as we are different.
I have been a fan of Joy Sun Bear for a long time. Joy is an adorable, curious little sun bear that promotes global education through a safe, online environment full of resources for children, parents, and educators.
And now he’s starring in his very first book! The Adventures of Joy Sun Bear: The Blue Amber of Sumatra covers many important topics, like environmental destruction and having courage to do the right thing, but at its heart it is also about embracing differences. When a group of refugees arrive in Joy’s part of the rain forest, he overcomes his initial reluctance (and the prejudices of his elders) to make friends with one of the newcomers: Tipah, a frightened young orangutan.
To help convince the others to welcome the refugees and help his friend, Joy embarks on a remarkable adventure, aided by magical creatures, in which he must rely on his wits but especially his heart to guide him.
I love the metaphor of the trickster used in the book to explain why the humans destroy the rainforest in the first place, and why Joy’s forest community is so convinced that the refugees are cursed. But the mischievousness of the trickster is matched by the light of the creatures that lend their aid to Joy and by the purity of his spirit.
I highly recommend this early chapter book for children that love animals, adventure, and the triumph of good.
A major focus at schools today is bullying, and for good reason. We often talk about how to help kids deal with being bullied, but there is another aspect that needs to be taken into account: what to do when they see someone else being bullied. Here are tips to teach kids to stop bullying by being allies to bullied students, to help break the cycle.
Keep in mind, these actions are not meant to replace adult involvement but rather reinforce it, as often a child is less likely to be picked on if they are with friends. Children should always tell a teacher or administrator if they see bullying. They can also be an ally, a powerful step towards preventing bullying from occurring or helping diffuse a bullying situation. For more on how to stop bullying visit this comprehensive website.
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of I Am Gandhi 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 cost to you.
Stop Bullying: Teach Kids to Be Allies
1. Distract the Bully
What should children do if they see another child being bullied? They can step in and stop the bullying – not by arguing with the bully or yelling at them to stop, but simply by distracting them. I was so impressed at my son’s recent karate class when the instructors taught the students to give the bully a compliment to distract them. This allows them to then take the bullied student by the hand and walk somewhere else. Distract with a compliment rather than getting into a combative situation. Brilliant!
2. Stop It Before It Starts
Most kids know who is being bullied at their school and when it usually happens. Teach them to keep an eye out for bullied students and try to head off the bullying before it begins. If they see a bully heading over to another student, they can get to that student first and invite them to join in a game on the playground, for example.
3. Practice Inclusion
Take this a step further by getting to know the bullied student and forming a friendship. When I was in elementary school, a friend of mine was constantly teased because of her looks and awkward behavior. Yet consistently if I was with her the other students tended to leave her alone – she was no longer an easy target. Having true friendships can also help stop bullying by helping build up the bullied student’s confidence.
4. Create a Respectful Environment
Students can also stop bullying by helping create an environment where everyone feels respected and safe. If children laugh along with the bully or stay silent, bullies feel encouraged to continue their behavior. Other students can help change a toxic environment by making it clear that bullying is unacceptable and making sure all students feel included. They can work together to think of ways to foster this type of environment – by showing kindness to others, or putting on a school program.
One of the greatest historical examples of a person being an ally to the persecuted was Gandhi. Not only did he stand up for justice when his own people were oppressed, he did the same for others, including the Untouchables, the lowest of the low at the time in India. Children can read Gandhi’s amazing life story in I am Gandhi, part of the people Ordinary People Change the World series. I love getting to use this book to teach my children about Gandhi and how it sparked a conversation between my boys about what it means to “gently shake the world” as Gandhi did.
One of the remarkable aspects of this book, as with all of the books in this series, is that it puts historical events and trends into terms that children can understand without watering them down, highlighting the lessons that they can have in the children’s own lives. For example, I am Gandhi teaches them about Gandhi’s concept of satyagraha, ultimately explaining it as a “truth force” – which, as one character points out, sounds like a superhero team!
Our copy of this inspiring, extremely readable biography came in the mail one day just before we meet with our homeschooling group, so my son took it with him. Several of the other mothers noticed his book and told me how much their children love this book series. I highly recommend it as a great source of inspiration for children to become part of the “truth force,” to bring about change and fight for a world where everyone feels valued.
Hispanic Heritage Month is the perfect time to share some of the many treasures of Latin American music with your children! Latin musical traditions are so rich and multifaceted, that it is sometimes hard to know where to begin! Here are some wonderful new picture books that celebrate Latin American music, from lullabies to rock and roll.
Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of the products 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.
Latin American Music to Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month
To start at the very beginning, in more ways than one, you really should go back to nursery rhymes and lullabies. They are the beginning of Latin American music because they have been enjoyed for so many generations, and because they are the first melodies that many children in Latin America hear, often in the lap of a loved one.
They range from the lively La víbora de la mar from Mexico to the gentle Duerme negrito from Cuba. (Keep in mind that many of these songs are enjoyed in more than one country, but the country mentioned is the one whose version is shared here).
It is perfect for non-native speakers like me, who didn’t grow up with these nursery rhymes and lullabies. With the CD, I can assure that my children hear the original songs as they were meant to be sung, plus the full lyrics (in English and Spanish) are at the back, so that we can learn to sing them ourselves.
But Latin American music isn’t just about lullabies. It is also about finding expression through modern media like electric guitars. Few Latin American musicians embody this spirit of fearless innovation like the legendary Carlos Santana, who forged his own path by creating a unique blend of Latin, European, and African influences. Carlos Santana: Sound of the Heart, Song of the World celebrates this giant of Latin American music by telling the story of Santana’s early years. It is a story of perseverance in difficult circumstances but also about the struggle to find your own voice.
Santana was heavily influenced by his father, a mariachi musician whom young Carlos admired greatly. Yet he also realized early on that his path was different from that of his father. He felt no joy in playing mariachi and wanted to experiment with new sounds rather than playing the same songs over and over.
Despite his misgivings, Carlos’ father eventually gave his son a used electric guitar, which would change the path of the teenager’s life – and modern music – forever.
The artwork of the book is stunning and uniquely suited to Santana’s style. In fact, the artist was the same that Santana commissioned to create the iconic cover of his Shaman album.
What is your favorite style of Latin American music?
Many of us have heard of Diwali or perhaps Holi, but there are actually many important festivals in India. And to add to the complexity, which festivals are celebrated (and how) depends on what part of India you are in. Today I’m thrilled to introduce a lovely picture book and crafts to help kids learn about Durga Puja, a fall festival related to Navrati. Kids will love learning about this holiday, which celebrates the triumph of good over evil!
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 cost to you.
Learn About Durga Puja
As a member of a minority religion, I can sympathize with author Shoumi Sen, who wanted to make sure that her young daughter would come to appreciate about their beliefs even without the support a large community of co-believers. Sometimes it can be hard to keep a child’s interest in your own religion when they almost totally surrounded by another. So Sen started to tell her daughter stories at night, making sure to tell them in a way that was fun and accessible.
These stories evolved into the “From the Toddler Diaries” series, designed to help Indian parents living outside India pass on their beliefs and traditions to their children. The series now includes Celebrate Durga Puja With Me! as well as Celebrate Holi With Me!. One thing I love about these books is that are very much aimed at young children, showing the joys of these Indian festivals in language that they can easily understand.
In Celebrate Durga Puja With Me! children learn about the major aspects of Durga Puja through colorful illustrations and rhyming text. I really captures the excitement and joy of the holiday as seen through the eyes of a child. Younger readers will enjoy the book as is, whereas older children can use it as a jumping off point to explore the foods, dances, and other traditions mentioned in the book.
All you looking for some not so scary books to share with your kids this Halloween? Here are some wonderfully silly Halloween books that will make your kids giggle, not scream (though there may be some groans at a few of the jokes)! And this post is part of a Halloween blog hop, so don’t miss the links to other fun Halloween themed posts at the end.
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of Does Frankenstein Get Hungry? 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 cost to you.
Silly Halloween Books Kids Will Love
Does Frankenstein Get Hungry? is the perfect read for any child who finds all the trappings off Halloween just a tad too scary. The young protagonist, when she gets too frightened of all things spooky, brilliantly turns the monsters and ghouls in her head from creepy to silly by asking pertinent questions, like whether Frankenstein gets hungry, or if Dracula flosses his fangs. (My son’s favorite, of course, was whether the boogeyman has boogers!) A great technique for teaching littles to conquer their fears!
AlphaOops: H Is for Halloween is such a great book for a range of ages – my toddler loves it she’s currently obsessed with the alphabet (and she gets to make her silly ghost noises), while my 5 year old laughs at all the jokes, like the running gag that the other letters keep stealing the letter B’s costume ideas. It’s a fun follow up to AlphaOops!: The Day Z Went First.
The Scariest Book Ever made us all laugh out loud, as we soon discover that this is absolutely not the scariest book ever. It’s actually a cute story about a ghost who is scared to go outside of his haunted house but eventually gains the courage to go to a Halloween party – with hilarious results! (Don’t worry, they all enjoy their Halloween cupcakes together in the end!)
Monster Trouble! has been a bedtime favorite for a long time now, and my son still laughs every time. Of course, I love the spunky heroine who is plagued by monsters who just want to play with her every night, so that she falls asleep in class the everyday. She tries every trick she can think of to get them to leave her alone so she can get some sleep, until one night she accidentally stumbles on the perfect (and very sweet!) solution.
Skeleton Hiccups is one of our favorite silly Halloween books and will definitely have your kids giggling, as the poor Skeleton attempts all the tried and true methods to cure himself of the hiccups. (Spoiler: Drinking water doesn’t help if the water just pours right back out!) It’s left to his buddy Ghost to come up with the perfect solution and prove that even Skeletons can get scared silly!
Even so, although it is tempting to simply say that we should support the books below solely for this reason (and this alone would be reason enough to support them), it must also be stated that these books are remarkable in and of themselves regardless of who wrote them, simply because they are wonderful books all children will enjoy.
Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of the books below for review purposes; however, all opinions mine. This book contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
New Diverse Books for Kids by Diverse Authors
5 decades before the current push for diverse books for children, there was Corduroy, a beautiful little gem of a book about a girl and her stuffed bear. What made it so ground breaking was that the little girl was black, which made a world of difference to children like Viola Davis, who used reading as an escape into an imaginary, idealized world. It was for that reason that when Ms. Davis, the winner of multiple acting awards, turned her hand to children’s literature, she decided to write a sequel to this beloved work.
Corduroy Takes a Bow is a deserving follow up to the original. Davis and illustrator Jody Wheeler bring Corduroy and his friend Lisa back to life in this gentle adventure at the theater, as Lisa and her favorite teddy bear accompany Lisa’s mother to a performance of Mother Goose. A beautiful tale that has the feel of a classic, it is a fitting tribute to the original and a lovely way to continue Corduroy and Lisa’s story.
The Day You Begin is the first of two books in this list by award-winning author Jacqueline Woodson, best known for Brown Girl Dreaming. Her new picture book is a beautiful work that speaks to any child who has felt out of place from everyone else, too different to fit in. So many children can find themselves in the pages – as someone who looks different, speaks a different language, who can’t run as quickly as the rest, or whose mother packs a lunch that seems strange to the other kids.
What’s so lovely is that even as the children in the book find refuge in each other, they still celebrate what is unique about themselves: “This is the day you begin to find the places….where every new friend has something a little like you – and something else so fabulously not quite like you at all.”
A special mention also for award-winning illustrator Rafael López, whose graceful images match the emotional depth of the text.
Sonia Sotomayor is a vocal advocate of reading, telling an audience recently that, “The key to success in my life, it’s the secret that I want to share with kids and how I became successful. I’m here as a Supreme Court Justice only because of books.” And so it is fitting that she write her own life story in the form of a children’s book, Turning Pages: My Life Story. (And as a tribute to her native tongue – learned in New York from her Puerto Rican parents, the book is also available in Spanish, as Pasando páginas: La historia de mi vida).
I was instantly drawn to the personal photos at the front of the book, as well as the wonderful illustrations by the legendary Lulu Delacre. Sotomayor’s story of overcoming adversity is truly inspiring, and I love how she makes the direct connection from books to social justice and the ability to help others. The main message to take away from this work, as emphasized by Sotomayor herself, is that if she can succeed at her dreams, so can any other child who loves to read.
Harbor Me is the book we need at this moment in history, a deeply emotional story about young people forced to grapple with big social issues like racism, sexism, prison, and guns. The pacing of the story is just right, as we gradually come to know this special circle of tween students, brought together by their teacher as a sort of social experiment, in the hopes that they could learn to support and help each other. In this one novel, Woodson manages to highlight a wide range of social issues, without making it seem trendy or gimmicky. Instead, each child’s story is treated respectfully, as are the ways that the other children respond and support them.
What really makes this middle grade chapter book come alive is the authenticity of the children’s voices and the emotional range and complexity they display. As in The Day You Begin, it is a book about finding your voice and learning to respect others’ as well.
While so many of the other books on this list tackle major social issues, The God Gene Chronicles: The Secret of the Gods (Volume 1) is just plain fun. It is a rollicking adventure story whose main protagonists are a trio of friends at a boys’ school in Mumbai. But make no mistake, this is life or death stuff, as two clandestine organizations fight for control over the fate of humanity.
Author Projesh Banerjea was fascinated by the idea of retelling the Hindu myths he grew up with in the style of the modern superhero tales he loved. The result is a page turning novel that older readers will enjoy from beginning to end – from the boys’ shenanigans at school to the underground world of good and evil that simmers all around them.
Through much of the book the boys move in parallel to this end-of-the-world battle, oblivious to what is happening just below the surface all around them, at times involving their teachers and even their own parents. But soon the two worlds collide, and each boy is caught up in a maelstrom that will invoke the ancient tales of the gods and ultimately mean for two of them either life as a bearer of the god gene – or death as a victim of the dark side.
I thoroughly enjoyed this action adventure, and how it brings ancient stories into modern times, reworking the Western idea of superheroes to suit an entirely different Eastern universe. Don’t worry – if you don’t have much background in Hinduism, the author has a primer at the beginning, and does a great job of weaving basic explanations into the story, so you won’t miss a step!
Pretend play is a wonderful way for children to work out their problems, try out new ideas, and explore imaginative worlds. It is an important part of a child’s intellectual and emotional development, as well as an integral part of cherished childhood memories.
And it’s not just for the very young! We often associate pretend play with toddlers and preschoolers, but I find that it is just as important for older children, who still have big imaginations and often use pretend play as a way to unwind.
Here are three simple tips for encouraging pretend play for your children, no matter what their age. You can also find below great books and music to set their imaginations on fire. Share your tips and resources in the comments!
Disclosure: I was sent complimentary copies 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.
Encouraging Pretend Play: 3 Simple Tips
Allow for Plenty of Free Time
This seems so obvious, yet it’s amazing how busy our schedules can be, especially when seen from a child’s perspective. If we are exhausted after shepherding our kids through schoolwork, errands, doctor’s appointments, etc., how do we think our children feel? Depending on your circumstances, opening up some free time for imaginative play may be as simple as a change in perspective, or it may mean a more fundamental restructuring of your schedule and perhaps cutting back on organized activities.
With my children I’ve found that they do better if they have plenty of downtime, whether it’s running around outdoors or playing with playdough or Legos. So, for example, in the mornings I make sure they get an hour of free play after breakfast so that it is easier for them to focus on schoolwork. Many children find pretend play a great way to decompress after school.
Provide Open Ended Toys
While my kids love toys with all the bells and whistles, to really encourage pretend play there is nothing better than open ended toys, which are great tools for children to project their imaginations. What this really means is to provide your children with toys that don’t have a set purpose but rather can be used in many different ways, such as sensory bins, building sets, or crayons and paper. Again, don’t put age limits on these toys – I’m always pleasantly surprised at how much my eight year old still loves playing with play dough.
Pretend play can introduce an element of fun into your everyday routine. My 5 year old regularly fights off storm troopers while we are at the grocery store, and your child could be a mermaid or a pirate during bath time. Many of our learning activities also incorporate some element of pretend play. For example, when we studied about knights and castles, we did a “knighting” ceremony and made shields and swords out of cardboard, followed by plenty of pretend play as knights!
Pretend play can also be a life saver if you are waiting at a doctor’s office or have a long car drive, though in those kind of spaces you might have to be more creative about what you can do!
Offer Big Ideas for Them to Dream with
A wonderful gift you can give your children is to introduce them to big ideas to excite their imaginations. In a way it is like giving them the vocabulary to dream with, the tools to construct their own imaginative worlds. Whether through exploring other cultures and cuisines, telling them tales from your childhood, or reading from great books together, these experiences of adventure and wonder will spark hours of pretend play!
Below are new wonderful books and music that are sure to expand children’s imaginative worlds and inspire pretend play!
My son loves How to be a T. Rex! In fact, just the other day he was telling me he was scared to go into our back bedroom by himself, when he suddenly stood up straighter and said, “Wait! I’m going to be a T Rex!” and scampered off alone. Thank you, Ryan North!
This fun book is all about a dinosaur-loving kid (a little girl! an African American little girl!) who just wants to be a T Rex, even though her older brother says it’s impossible. Of course, she eventually realizes that being a T Rex also has its downsides, so she comes up with an even more creative solution! And even makes up with her brother when he apologizes 🙂
Pirates are another set of classic characters that kids loved to act out. And now there is the perfect soundtrack! If You Want to Be a Pirate: Songs for Young Buccaneers is a brand new album of original songs from Tam Mason and the Blue Buccaneers. This group performs in costume (see below), often even on ships! This album was inspired by their youngest fans.
We have had so much fun listening to these swash-buckling tunes about parrots, a kindly kraken, and an invisible first mate. I also love that there’s even a song raising the environmental consciousness of young pirates, telling them that thanks to messy humanity you can’t see the treasure anymore because of all the trash.
If you have a pirate lover in your house, you won’t want to miss this album!
Sarabella’s Thinking Cap is a beautifully illustrated picture book for all of the day dreamers out there. I love it because it celebrates those children whose heads are perpetually in the clouds, at the same time as it offers ideas for how to help them function in a classroom setting. Thanks to her wise teacher, Sarabella isn’t shamed for having trouble focusing. Instead, he encourages her to come up with an invention that allows plenty of room for her imagination – and multiplication tables.
Want to raise confident kids? We all want to raise well adjusted kids who are ready to take on the world, but sometimes it can be hard to know how to best encourage and support them. Here are 5 pro tips to help you set your child on the path to success.
How to Raise Confident Kids: 5 Pro Tips
Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of the products 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 cost to you.
1. Support Their Dreams
Kids are full of amazing ideas and have a natural inclination to dream big. Ask any child what they want to be when they grow up, and you’re bound to get some fantastic answers! Yet adults often squash these glorious ambitions with a dose of (supposed) reality – this is often done with good intentions or perhaps just carelessly, but either way it just serves to make a child more self-conscious about their dreams.
Instead, find ways to support your child’s passion without pressure or judgment and give them space to experiment. Let them express themselves creatively without feeling the need to step in with a reality check.
And don’t forget to be a role model for them – share with them your own dreams and how you are following your passion!
I love Mia and the Rocket Ship Tree because it takes children’s fantasies seriously and encourages them to let their imaginations run wild. Author/illustrator Boaz Gavish created this colorful work for his niece when he saw the need for more books with girl heroes. And Mia is the epitome of a girl hero – a great role model for confident kids everywhere! The hand paintings showcase wonderfully Mia’s incredible (and tickly!) space adventures with her robot. This is a book sure to excite your child’s imagination and spark their own imaginative adventures.
But what I really love about this book is that when Mia decides to go on an adventure, she sets off despite the fact that none of her friends will join her. She is confident enough in herself that she doesn’t give up on her quest for a good adventure, even when others tried to change her mind. Beautifully creative book to share with your little explorer.
2. Encourage a Positive Outlook
Confident kids are optimistic about the future and are able to put a positive spin on events that don’t go according to plan. Teach your children how to see mistakes as opportunities for growth, and model flexibility and resilience when the unexpected happens. Being able to adapt to changing circumstances and have optimism about the future instills a sense of confidence in your child that she can handle whatever the world sends her way.
I have been a fan of Nikki McClure and her incredible cut paper art since my sister-in-law gave my firstborn a copy of Mama, Is It Summer Yet? In All in a Day, McClure teams up with Newberry Medal winner Cynthia Rylant to create a gorgeous picture book about embracing opportunities and learning from mistakes. This lovely book inspires young readers to see the beauty in each day. I especially love the message that each day is a chance to start fresh and seize the moment. Also a wonderful book for encouraging a love of nature and taking time to enjoy lying in the grass with a friend.
3. Embrace Their Uniqueness
One of the main reasons kids lack confidence is because they feel different from their peers. As adults we have grown to be more comfortable in our own skin, but children usually want to just fit in and not be seen as too “weird.” Help your child gain self-assurance by encouraging his uniqueness and helping him connect with others who share his interests. In the busyness of our every day, we can often slip into the habit of wishing our kids would just “act normal” – usually to make our lives easier, or perhaps because we think it will make their own more stress-free.
But in the long run, encouraging a child’s unique way of being in the world promotes self-confidence and sets him on the path to becoming a well-adjusted, interesting adult.
One of a Kind is a great book to nurture confident kids by encouraging them to march to their own beat. Here is a character who doesn’t mind standing out from the crowd and doing things his own way, from how he dresses to the music he loves. It also lets kids know that even if they sometimes feel so different from everyone else, they can often find others who share their interests.
I love the bold artwork in this book, which will remind your child of a graphic novel. Great book to encourage kids to not be afraid to make a splash.
4. Arm Them with Knowledge
A surefire way to raise confident kids is to arm them with knowledge. As children enter the tween years and are hit with all sorts of physical and emotional changes, it can be confusing and disorienting. Often children feel unsure of themselves and uncertain of how to relate to their peers, who are going through major changes themselves. Maintain open communication and let your kids know you are available for questions and conversations without judgment. Provide them with resources – books, websites, and trusted adults – who can help them understand the changes they are undergoing and begin to think through the grown up they wish to become.
The books cover an incredible range of topics – from nutrition and exercise to dealing with stress and discovering your passions. But what I most love is the respect with which the books treat their young readers and their concerns. I also love the emphasis that there is no “right” way to be or to experience puberty. Some kids, for example, may find themselves suddenly interesting in dating, while others may still run the other way at the mere mention of romance. No matter what you are feeling or going through, Blalik has got you covered and reassures you at every turn that you are completely normal and great just the way you are.
Be aware that these books address all topics, including sexuality, very openly and frankly, so be sure to preview them ahead of time. (And for yourself, don’t miss Blalik’s website, Grok Nation!)
5. Inspire Them
Surround your child’s world with role models and encouragement. Make sure they have other trusted adults in their lives that they can look up to, and fill their minds with real life examples of people who have followed their dreams and made a difference in the world. Because in the end, what really will make a difference to them is what touches their hearts and sparks their imaginations.
Every Voice is a danceable album of catchy tunes you and your kids will find yourselves singing long after you turn off the music. But more than just great music, it shares powerful messages that stay with you as well.
“You don’t have to be a cool girl…You can be a real girl.” The lyrics inspire confidence, compassion, and hope, all delivered via original songs from an award-winning artist.
The album is a departure for musician Kira Willey, who is best known for her yoga albums and mindfulness workshops. While there are slower, softer songs here, the majority are heart-pumping tunes your children will love to dance to. And of course, don’t miss guest singer Laurie Berkner, who also teams up with Willey on her “Music You Can Move To” radio series.
Great music for kids with a message you can feel good about!
What are your pro tips for raising confident kids?
The Thunderbird is an important symbol found in legends throughout North America. Sometimes friendly, sometimes threatening, this awe-inspiring bird was a supernatural creature that derived its name from the flapping of its powerful wings, which was said to produce thunder. Read on to find resources to teach children about this widespread Native American legend, as well as a new middle grade fiction series that celebrates mythical creatures.
The Thunderbird appears most frequently in legends of the Pacific Northwest, yet it can be found throughout North America. It appears in songs and oral histories, even in ancient stone carvings. With the flapping of their powerful wings and the lightning that would shoot out of their eyes, the Thunderbirds were said to bring rain and storms.
A Note About Sources
When learning about Native American cultures, it is extremely important to interrogate your sources. This is a highly sensitive topic among Native communities, and with good reason. For hundreds of years outsiders have appropriated and interpreted Native culture. Even when done with good intentions, this can distort the original context, so it is important to make sure that your source is reputable and respectful.
For example, when searching for resources on the Thunderbird legend, I came across many entries from “cryptozoology,” a branch of pseudoscience that attempts to prove the existence of creatures from legend. As a result, there is a lively search for the “real” Thunderbird, sometimes thought to be a surviving pterosaur and sometimes a monstrous creature related to the condor.
You also run into a lot of links about the cars and the airplanes named after the powerful Thunderbird!
As a result, I’ve collected for you reliable resources about the supernatural Thunderbird from Native American legends, so you can learn more about it with your children. Keep in mind that the Thunderbird appears in legends across North America, so you will run across some variation.
I also found a beautiful book at our local library, called Brave Wolf and the Thunderbird: Tales of the People. This traditional Absaroka (Crow) tale is here retold by Joseph Medicine Crow. It is an example of how the Thunderbird often is friendly towards humans and can help them. It is part of the Tales of the People series created with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian.
If you have a child that is fascinated by mythical creatures, then you don’t want to miss the wonderful new middle grade series The Unicorn Rescue Society. In the first book, The Creature of the Pines, we meet Elliot, a bookish boy starting his first day at a new school. He quickly teams up with Uchenna, his polar opposite in many ways except for how neither of them seems to be a bit of a misfit. But my favorite character is the wild-haired Professor Fauna, a mysterious teacher feared by most students. But when the children find a mysterious creature on a school field trip, they find that Professor Fauna is the only person in whom they can confide.
And thanks to him, they are introduced to the Unicorn Rescue Society – much to Elliot’s chagrin and Uchenna’s delight. Young readers will delight in their adventures with the Professor, and travel along with them to save a dragon in the just released second book in the series, The Basque Dragon. Highly imaginative book for anyone who believes (or wants to believe) that mythical creatures might still exist!
This book is part of the Basque Dragon book tour. Find out more in the links below!
Does your teen love vampire stories, especially if there’s a little romance mixed in? Here is a great new vampire series for teens that adults will love, too! These engrossing books tell of a girl finding her true self in a world where everything she knows has been turned upside down. Can she figure out who to trust in time to save herself and those she loves?
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.
New Vampire Series for Teens
I recently posted in a Facebook group that I was looking for a new book to read. In response, a friend (who happens to work at Audrey Press – it’s great to have friends who work at publishing companies!), contacted me to see if I would be interested in previewing a new YA book coming out this summer.
So of course I jumped at the chance to review a new series from Audrey Press, and I’m so glad I did!
The first book, Ascension, starts off with an important rite of passage in the life of a young Deuxsang, a “double blooded” human/vampire hybrid. The Deuxsang are a closely knit, secretive community, living among humans but guarded by their protectors, the vampires. But when the vampires come to test young Cheyenne for her ascension ceremony, the ritual is dramatically different (and more painful!) than the ones she has witnessed before.
Even more bewildering to her, however, is what she sees as her family’s betrayal – their failure to rescue her from the painful ceremony and their emotional rejection of her afterwards.
Fast forward several years, and Cheyenne is now a teenager still angry at her parents and confused about why she seems so different than everyone else. (Like how most teenagers feel, just amplified one hundred times!) To top it all off, she falls in love with Eli, who is not a Deuxsang and therefore completely off limits.
When Cheyenne is sent to New Orleans to spend the summer with her annoying older sister and creepy brother-in-law, bit by bit she learns that everything she had been taught about the world – about vampires and their rivals, witches, even about her own people the Deuxsang – has been a lie.
Or has it? Who can she believe? Can she trust her own heart?
I could not put this book down, right up to the cliffhanger ending – which made me so glad that I already had a preview copy of the sequel Clandestine, which comes out in July! In the second book in this new vampire series for teens, Cheyenne has been sent forcibly to college, where she is watched like a hawk and kept away from those that mean the most to her.
The betrayals grow deeper and more twisted, as Cheyenne learns more about the secret histories of the wars among vampires and witches – and the role of the Deuxsang in them. At the same time, Cheyenne is learning to harness her surprising talents. But which side will she fight for in the coming war and whom can she trust?
This is a wonderful new vampire series for teens (and grown ups!) It has everything – action, suspense, mystery, and romance, all with a healthy dose of teenage angst.
I also loved how it showcased New Orleans, which is the perfect backdrop for both the spooky scenes and the ones where Cheyenne and her friends are just out to explore and have fun in this beautiful city.
Don’t miss out on this wonderfully entertaining series! Pre-order Clandestine then catch up by reading Ascension while you wait!