Mar 222021
 
 March 22, 2021  Book Reviews 2 Responses »

Self-confidence comes from within, but for kids who are different from their peers, it can be especially challenging to develop. For many, learning to love themselves in the face of bullying or discrimination can be a hard lesson to learn. (Grownups have trouble with this, too!) Encourage your kids to have confidence in themselves with these new children’s books about loving the skin you are in.

Loving the Skin You Are In: New Children's Books | Alldonemonkey.com

Loving the Skin You Are In: New Children’s Books

Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of some 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.

Here are some of our favorite new picture books about loving the skin you are in. Share yours in the comments!

Itty-Bitty Kitty-Corn is my daughter’s new favorite book. After all, it has so many of the things she loves: adorable animals, a unicorn, and lots of sparkles! (Seriously, get the book just for the sparkly contoured cover!) But as a mom, I love the book’s message of acceptance and friendship. Kitty is sure that she is a unicorn, but no one else believes her, even though she has made a horn to put on her furry little head. She tries many different ways to convince them, but when an actual unicorn appears, Kitty sadly accepts that she will never be seen as a real unicorn…until the unicorn confesses that he is a kitty-corn just like she is! Everyone needs a friend like this who really “sees” you for who you are – inside and out!

“Why am I different? Why is life so much harder for me than everyone else?” A young tiger born without stripes wonders what is wrong with her, why she isn’t like everyone else. A Tiger Without Stripes presents a beautiful metaphor for children to think about differences. For every child who has felt not good enough or who has worried about not being like other kids, this lovely tale with its gorgeous illustrations helps them see themselves in a new light. Sometimes differences can be a gift – though life might be harder, the rewards are greater as well. Highly recommended.

I love the Sparkling Me series, which are perfect for teaching kids about loving the skin you are in. Small or Tall, We Sparkle After All: A Body Positive Children’s Book about Confidence and Kindness is the story of a little girl who just wants to grow tall, something so many kids can relate to! Shreya is tired of being teased, but, using examples from Hindu mythology, her mother teaches her that there are advantages to every size. Even more surprising, her brother tells her that he sometimes wishes he was small like her! A great book for kids of all sizes to appreciate what makes them unique.

How Our Skin Sparkles: A Growth Mindset Children’s Book for Global Citizens About Acceptance is a beautiful explanation for children about race and why skin colors vary so much. I love that it goes into the scientific explanation about melanin but also addresses the emotional side, about how a young boy feels sad because he’s so much darker than his friends. I also appreciate that it talks about how skin color can vary even in one family. It’s also cool to read a non-American take on the issue: the family at the center of the story is Indian, and the mother tells a story about Krishna to explain that each person’s color is part of what makes them uniquely beautiful.

Sparkles of Joy: A Children’s Book that Celebrates Diversity and Inclusion uses the celebration of Diwali to help kids appreciate their own and other cultures. When Riya invites her friends over for a Diwali playdate, it becomes an opportunity to share her traditions and learn about theirs. This is a such a beautiful book, because it helps children see the similarities between different festivals and how customs that at first might seem strange, are actually familiar – and fun!

Here is a lovely library find, perfect for biracial and/or bicultural kids. Pip is a normal pig, except that one parent is pink and the other is black. She doesn’t think much about it until a new kid starts pointing out all the ways that Pip is different. And Pip decides that all she wants is to be like everyone else. A Normal Pig encapsulates so much that mixed kids experience, from having other kids turn up their noses at your “weird” lunch, to the classic, “Is that your babysitter?” question when another kid sees your mom for the first time. But the best part of the book is the creative solution Pip’s parents come up with to show her that there are so many different -and wonderful- ways that families can be.

I want to raise my daughter to be fierce, kind, and thoughtful. Which is why when she’s older I’m excited to share with her these new books from the Smart Girl’s Guide series from American Girl. Recommended for ages 10+, Making a Difference: Using Your Talents and Passions to Change the World and Crushes: Dating, Rejection, and Other Stuff address issues important to tween girls: making a difference in the world and (gulp!) crushes. (I’m not ready for that last one yet!) I like that these books take girls’ emotions and concerns seriously, giving thoughtful, age-appropriate advice. Crushes is an update from a 2001 edition and now includes discussion of same-sex relationships and stereotypes. Making a Difference is perfect for this moment in history, when kids are exploring how to get involved in activism and helping others.

I post often about diversity in children’s literature, but one group of kiddos that is often overlooked are those with special needs. The folks at Leaps and Bounds PT saw this gap and decided to do something about it! Introducing the wonderful new picture book Petey Goes To PT. It is super cute and engaging for young readers, with bright, colorful illustrations. This sweet story of Petey and his first trip to physical therapy would go a long way towards helping a child get over their fears about attending PT. After reading the book, my own son said he thought physical therapy looked like a lot of fun! Plus, we can’t underestimate the power of a child seeing other kids with special needs in a book. Share this with a special kid in your life!

How do you teach kids about loving the skin that you are in?

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Inspiring Kids to Love Themselves

Mar 042021
 

Diversify your bookshelf or school library with children’s books that not only have diverse characters but that are written by diverse authors! But you won’t want to read these Own Voices books for kids just because it’s the “right” thing to do. They are simply wonderful in their own right! Each has a special story to tell, told in a unique voice that children (and adults) need to hear. What are your favorite Own Voices children’s books? Let me know in the comments!

Own Voices Books for Kids | Alldonemonkey.com

Own Voices Books for Kids

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.

Enjoy these wonderful Own Voices books for kids!

Do you have a little cowgirl or cowboy in your life? Then you won’t want to miss C Is for Country, a fun new picture book from Lil Nas X. (Yes, that Lil Nas X! Now he writes picture books too!) Through this engaging ABC book, the international superstar gives children a glimpse of why he loves country life so much. After all, D is for Dirt, and V is for a Very Naughty Pony! But the pages are also inspire kids towards inclusion and self-love, such as E is for Everybody, since we “can all share the shine.”

I love having a cowboy book that focuses on a Black boy – especially one that loves to wear pink boots and lots of glitz! It also showcases the warmth of Black family life, with meals together around the table and bedtime cuddles. This is a book that shows that everyone belongs, no matter what the genre of story.

Many children have had the painful experience of hearing their names butchered by teachers and students. Frequently, this is connected to overall feelings of being “weird” or just not fitting in with their peers, a feeling amplified by differences of race and culture. The gorgeous new picture book Your Name Is a Song tackles this issue and teaches children to appreciate their unusual names. Because who wouldn’t love to have their names turned into a song?

While the main character is Black, the book includes names from many cultures. My daughter was delighted to see the name of her aunt in Costa Rica included! The mother in the story empowers her daughter, who in turn passes this new appreciation on to other children and even to her teacher. Most poignant of all for me was the inclusion of the name Trayvon, which the author notes was done in honor of Trayvon Martin. I highly recommend this beautiful book, which would be great to have in school libraries. Imagine how wonderful it would be for a teacher to read this on the first day of school!

One of my favorite things about blogging is that it has enabled me to meet so many incredible people from around the world (and some right around the corner!) I had the pleasure of meeting author Meera Sriram several years ago through Multicultural Kid Blogs. She is such a lovely person and does the most incredible work. Her latest accomplishment is A Gift for Amma: Market Day in India, a gorgeous children’s book based on her own childhood experiences going to the market in India.

The reader goes along with a little girl through the marketplace, as she tries to decide on a present for her Amma (mother). I love how the book highlights in text and pictures all the rich colors to be found there, from the yellow of tumeric to the white of the jasmine blooms. A Gift for Amma: Market Day in India (available in Spanish as Un regalo para Amma: Día de mercado en India) is a feast for all of the senses, as we smell the flowers, see the peacock feathers waving in the breeze, listen to the drum beats, jump to avoid the rickshaws, and drool over the stacks of sweets. Not only do you get to enjoy the beautiful illustrations from Mariona Cabassa, you can also see the author’s photos of the actual marketplace at the back of the book.

How do we raise kind kids? This is one of the big questions I wrestle with as a parent, so I’m always glad to find helpful resources! Peacebe is an adorable character that helps kids learn virtues like kindness and honesty. One of the latest in this series is The Adventures of Peacebe and the Heartwatch- Kids Can Make A Difference Too!, which teaches kids about being a good citizen! Author Leneen Faith is a mom and teacher with a Master’s in Elementary Education, so she knows how to create books and activities that really capture children’s imaginations and hearts. Peacebekids is not only a book series but also a website with fun activities for kids.

Stories are such a great way to connect children to their heritage and give them a sense of belonging in the world – one reason why it’s so wonderful for them to spend time with grandparents and community elders. So I was thrilled to learn of the beautiful new book Chasing Butterflies in the Sunlight, inspired by the author’s own childhood and her desire to share it with her children.

Chasing Butterflies in the Sunlight is set in the 1970s and describes the main character’s many childhood adventures in her home on a university campus in Nigeria as well as her travels to Niger, England, and Scotland. I love that the book emphasizes the importance of family plus how it breaks down stereotypes about Africa through its portrayal of a cosmopolitan, well-educated, and well-traveled Nigerian family.

What happens when a mother far from home wants to share the beauty of her homeland with her children? In the case of author Emily Joof, it means beautiful children’s books that we can all enjoy! Joof’s picture books share the beauty of The Gambia, as seen through the eyes of her Swedish-born children. In Mangoes & MonkeyBread: Fruity Fun with Ella & Louis, two children are visiting The Gambia. When the boy becomes homesick for the strawberries of Sweden, his older sister patiently shows him all the wonderful fruit to be found in The Gambia. This is so similar to what happens when my children visit their relatives in Costa Rica!

In Our Favourite Things.: The Story of Home in The Gambia and Sweden, the children and their parents each share their favorite foods, places, and so on, showcasing the beautiful mix of cultures in their family. These books are must reads, especially for families like ours that blend traditions!

Exquisite is the perfect name for this gorgeous picture book biography of Gwendolyn Brooks, the first Black person to win the Pulitzer Prize, which she did with her second book of poetry. What makes this win even more remarkable was not just who Brooks was but what she wrote about – that is, the people that lived in her working class African American neighborhood in Chicago. Exquisite: The Poetry and Life of Gwendolyn Brooks is a great way to explore poetry with kids and encourage them to try writing it themselves. After all, Brooks started writing when she was very young, writing about dolls and sunsets!

Another new picture book is Spirit of the Cheetah: A Somali Tale, a coming of age story set in this eastern African country. Inspired by the stories she heard from her own father, co-author Khadra Mohammed has joined with Karen Lynn Williams to weave a powerful story about developing inner strength. Roblay thinks that winning a race will make him a man, but his grandfather teaches him to listen to the wisdom of nature to cultivate patience and call on the spirit of the river and the cheetah for which it was named. A beautiful story to help children think about what qualities they would like to develop, and to spark their interest in the cheetah, which is now an endangered species. Includes a section of fun facts about the cheetah.

Silverworld is a wonderful middle grade fantasy that draws on Arabic culture and legends. At the same time, the main character Sami is dealing with issues that any child can relate to – feeling out of place in a new home, worry over a sick family member, and frustration that no one takes you seriously because you’re “just” a kid. This is an amazing adventure story into a fantastical parallel world as well as an emotional journey as Sami learns to trust her own strength and abilities. I also love that it is such a loving portrait of a close knit Lebanese American family, drawn from the author’s own experiences.

Do you have an older kid that enjoys reading mysteries? Fantasy? Adventure stories? How about all three rolled into one?? Nujran and the Corpse in the Quadrangle is the second in the @prince_of_typgar series. The main character, Nujran, has just started at the prestigious University of Foalinaarc when a body is found in campus. This is only the first strange event that captures the reader’s interest in this fast-paced book, which also includes a prison break, romance, and a kidnapping. This YA thriller is a real page turner, plus fantasy fans will appreciate the incredible amount of detail that went into making this world come to life.

Prince of Typgar: Nujran and the Corpse in the Quadrangle

Prince of Typgar: Nujran and the Monks of Meirar

What are your favorite Own Voices children’s books?

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Jan 272021
 

Each year, Multicultural Children’s Book Day showcases diverse books for children and raises awareness about why representation matters. (Read more about this event at the end of this post!) This year, as part of Multicultural Children’s Book Day, I have the honor of reviewing five wonderful diverse picture books about positive qualities that children can develop, like friendship and compassion.

I’m also thrilled that most of the books highlighted below are not only diverse picture books but also #OwnVoices books. In other words, the author shares the same identity as the character whose story they are telling, such as an African-American writing about an African-American character. And each book focuses on children learning to value their inner strength.

Diverse Picture Books About Inner Strength | Alldonemonkey.com

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.

Diverse Picture Books About Inner Strength

Enjoy these wonderful diverse picture books about developing inner strength!


Friendship
So many children can relate to Evelyn Del Rey Is Moving Away, a tender tale of two best friends faced with the terrible news that they will no longer be living next door to each other. Daniela and Evelyn are as close as sisters, so for them it is unthinkable to be separated. When moving day comes, the two do their special handshake one last time and hug each other tight. They know that no matter what, they will always be best friends.

I love the vibrant urban setting and the sprinklings of Spanish throughout. Written by Newbery medalist Med Medina, this beautiful story is a testament to the enduring bonds of friendship, no matter the time or distance. Also available in Spanish, as Evelyn Del Rey se muda.

Kayla: A Modern-Day Princess

Dreaming Big
Moms often feel guilty for not being there for their children as much as they would like, because of work, school, or other responsibilities. Kayla: A Modern-Day Princess was born out of the challenges author Deedee Cummings faced as a single mom. In the story, Kayla’s mom works long hours but always takes time to start Kayla’s day off with affection and a reminder to never lose sight of your dreams. But these are more than just words: Mother and daughter celebrate together when the mom’s long hours result in a well-deserved promotion.

I love the illustrations, which lend the book a magical, fairy tale quality. Releasing in April 2021, this lovely story about chasing your dreams is a follow up to the author’s award-winning books This Is The Earth and In The Nick Of Time. Don’t miss this wonderful interview with the author and her encouraging words for busy parents.


Believing In Yourself
Best in Me, written by veteran educator Natalie McDonald-Perkins, addresses the topic of bullying head on. A school counselor gathers a group of students who have experienced bullying and helps them see the beauty in themselves. She tasks each of them with writing a poem about what makes them special. Their poems show the difficulties they have faced because of being different – because of disability, language, or looks. But as they share, it also becomes clear that the children have learned to see these differences as something to be proud of rather than ashamed. Moreover, the students show their support for one another, as they deepen their friendships and their empathy for each other. A beautiful book about loving what makes you special and always believing in yourself.

Vy's Special Gift
Compassion
One particularly poignant story is Vy’s Special Gift, based on a true story about pandemic life in the author’s homeland, Vietnam. A young girl stands in a long line in hopes of getting rice for her family. As time drags on, Vy notices a young boy in front of her and begins to sing and read to him to help him pass the time. Then, when she finally reaches the front of the line, she respectfully lets an older woman go first. As she reaches out for her own portion of rice, however, Vy discovers that there is no more. Yet her acts of compassion have not been forgotten. A heart-warming tale about community and neighbors looking out for each other during these difficult times.

Vy’s Special Gift also has the distinction of being read aloud on Room to Read by Dr. Maya Soetoro-Ng (Barack Obama’s sister).


Courage
A “Tail” of Three Lions is a picture book from the founder of Green Kids Club, which works to raise awareness among children about environmental issues. In this latest story, we meet Tau, a young lion whose two brothers are taken by poachers. Tau is determined to rescue his brothers, and so, when he grows older, he sets out to find them. Along the way, he learns about the cruelties of lion captivity as well as the efforts to help lions who have been mistreated. This adventure story is a wonderful way to spark a passion for protecting animals and their habitats. I also love the science section at the end of the book, with a deeper look at the issues raised in the story.

What are your favorite diverse picture books?

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Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2021 (1/29/21) is in its 8th 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.
Eight 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. Read about our Mission & History HERE.

MCBD 2021 is honored to be Supported by these Medallion Sponsors!

FOUNDER’S CIRCLE: Mia Wenjen (Prgamaticmom) and Valarie Budayr’s (Audreypress.com)

Platinum Sponsors: Language Lizard Bilingual Books in 50+ Languages, Author Deedee Cummings and Make A Way Media

Gold Sponsors: Barefoot Books, Candlewick Press, Capstone, Hoopoe Books, KidLitTV, Peachtree Publishing Company Inc.

Silver Sponsors: Charlotte Riggle, Connecticut Association of School Librarians, Author Kimberly Gordon Biddle, Pack-N-Go Girls

Bronze Sponsors: Agatha Rodi and AMELIE is IMPRESSED!, Barnes Brothers Books, Create and Educate Solutions, LLC, Dreambuilt Books, Dyesha and Triesha McCants/McCants Squared, Redfin Real Estate, Snowflake Stories, Star Bright Books, TimTimTom Bilingual Personalized Books, Author Vivian Kirkfield, Wisdom Tales Press,

 

MCBD 2021 is honored to be Supported by these Author Sponsors!

Poster Artist: Nat Iwata

Authors: Author Afsaneh Moradian, Author Alva Sachs & Three Wishes Publishing Company, Author Angeliki Stamatopoulou-Pedersen, Author Anna Olswanger, Author Casey Bell , Author Claudine Norden, Author Debbie Dadey, Author Diana Huang & Intrepids, Author Eugenia Chu & Brandon goes to Beijing, Green Kids Club, Author Gwen Jackson, Author Janet Balletta, Author Josh Funk, Author Julia Inserro, Karter Johnson & Popcorn and Books, Author Kathleen Burkinshaw & The Last Cherry Blossom, Author Keila Dawson, Maya/Neel Adventures with Culture Groove, Author Mia Wenjen, Michael Genhart, Nancy Tupper Ling, Author Natalie Murray, Natalie McDonald-Perkins, Author Natasha Yim, Author Phe Lang and Me On The Page Publishing, Sandra Elaine Scott, Author Shoumi Sen & From The Toddler Diaries, SISSY GOES TINY by Rebecca Flansburg and B.A. Norrgard, Susan Schaefer Bernardo & Illustrator Courtenay Fletcher, Tales of the Five Enchanted Mermaids, Author Theresa Mackiewicz, Tonya Duncan and the Sophie Washington Book Series, Author Toshia Stelivan, Valerie Williams-Sanchez & The Cocoa Kids Collection Books©, Author Vanessa Womack, MBA, Author Veronica Appleton & the Journey to Appleville book series

MCBD 2021 is Honored to be Supported by our CoHosts and Global CoHosts!

MCBD 2021 is Honored to be Supported by these Media Partners!

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FREE RESOURCES from Multicultural Children’s Book Day

Diversity Book Lists & Activities for Teachers and Parents

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TWITTER PARTY! Register here!

Join us on Friday, Jan 29, 2021, at 9 pm EST for the 8th annual Multicultural Children’s Book Day Twitter Party!
This epically fun and fast-paced hour includes multicultural book discussions, addressing timely issues, diverse book recommendations, & reading ideas.
We will be giving away an 8-Book Bundle every 5 minutes plus Bonus Prizes as well! *** US and Global participants welcome. **
Follow the hashtag #ReadYourWorld to join the conversation, connect with like-minded parts, authors, publishers, educators, organizations, and librarians. See you all very soon on Twitter!
Hashtag: Don’t forget to connect with us on social media and be sure and look for/use our official hashtag #ReadYourWorld.

Jan 112021
 
 January 11, 2021  ADM Global Reads for Grownups Comments Off on Multicultural Book Club for Grownups: 2021 Booklist

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!

Multicultural Book Club for Grownups: 2021 Booklist | Alldonemonkey.com

This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.

Multicultural Book Club for Grownups: 2021 Booklist

Join in the discussion of the books below by joining our online book club!

January 2021

Niksen: Embracing the Dutch Art of Doing Nothing

February 2021

Gods of Jade and Shadow

March 2021

Little Fires Everywhere

April 2021

The Stationery Shop

May 2021

Homegoing

June 2021

Becoming

July 2021

The Henna Artist

August 2021

The Dragonfly Sea

September 2021

Inferno: A Memoir of Motherhood and Madness

October 2021

Celestial Bodies

November 2021

The Vanishing Half

December 2021

Sabrina & Corina: Stories

Be sure to join us in our ADM Global Reads for Grownups Facebook group and don’t forget to check out the great reads we enjoyed last year and in 2019!

Dec 172020
 
 December 17, 2020  Book Reviews 2 Responses »

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.

Favorite New Picture Books | Alldonemonkey.com

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.

Dark Was the Night: Blind Willie Johnson’s Journey to the Stars is the inspiring true story of Willie Johnson, a Black gospel and blues musician from a small Texas town who rose to prominence in the early part of the 20th century. His story is brought to life for young readers by Gary Golio, known for his children’s biographies of performers, such as Carlos Santana: Sound of the Heart, Song of the World. Golio makes the connection between Johnson’s ability to reach out through the radio waves with his music’s journey, decades later, to the stars.

Go here to listen to Willie Johnson perform “Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground,” the wordless song that was such a profound expression of the loneliness all humans feel, that Alan Lomax included it on the Golden Record shot into space by NASA in 1977.

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.

What are your favorite new picture books?

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Jul 302020
 
 July 30, 2020  Education Comments 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

Homeschooling Tips and Resources from a Veteran Homeschooler

Don’t miss our Coral and Pearls Planner for Baha’i Parents or the Homeschool Supplement!

What is homeschooling really like?

1. That depends.

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:

Materials and Supplies to Start the School Year

Our top recommendations for:

On classical homeschooling: The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home

More homeschooling tips:

Homeschooling Multiple Children Without Losing Your Mind

Homeschooling Spanish for Multiple Children

Creating Your Own World Cultures Curriculum

Ask any further questions or share your own homeschooling tips in the comments!

Jun 092020
 
 June 9, 2020  Education, multiculturalism, parenting Comments Off on Resources for Teaching Kids about Racial Justice

Resources to Teach Kids About Racial Justice | Alldonemonkey on Multicultural Kid Blogs

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:

Resources for Teaching Kids about Racial Justice

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Before Obama: Harvey Gantt and Breaking Barriers in the South

Diverse Children’s Books by Diverse Authors

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Feb 272020
 
 February 27, 2020  Education Comments 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!

Keep Math Lessons Fun with Online Curriculum | Alldonemonkey.com

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.

Keep Math Lessons Fun with Online Curriculum | Alldonemonkey.com

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).

In-Depth

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!

Keep Math Lessons Fun with Online Curriculum | Alldonemonkey.com

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.

CTC Math Review | Alldonemonkey.com

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.

Try It Out!

Curious? Read more about CTC Math for homeschoolers, and try it out for yourself!

Freebie: Get a FREE CTC Math Trial

Discount: Get CTC Math for your family with this 50% discount special for homeschoolers!  No code needed.

CTC Math Family Membership Giveaway ($148 Value)!

Enter for a chance to win a 12-month suscription to CTC Math for the whole family!

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Feb 202020
 
 February 20, 2020  Book Reviews, parenting Comments Off on Middle Grade Books About Sports and Life Lessons

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.

Middle Grade Books about Sports and Life Lessons | Alldonemonkey.com

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.

Related Posts:

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Books About Bullying

Feb 132020
 
 February 13, 2020  crafts, Geography, multiculturalism, music, raising world citizens Comments Off on Indian Drum Craft and Book

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!

Indian Drum Craft and Book | Alldonemonkey.com

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 dhol is 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.

You can learn a bit more and watch the dhol drum being played. The rhythms that are played on the dhol are amazing!

Thanks to Daria, you can do this Indian drum craft and make your own dhol at home!

Indian Drum Craft and Book | Alldonemonkey.com

It is easy to do with resources you probably have on hand right now.

Indian Drum Craft and Book | Alldonemonkey.com

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.

Be sure to check out Daria’s store on TpT: you can make your own dhol, learn about the instruments of India, and more! 

Indian Drum Craft and Book | Alldonemonkey.com

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India for Kids: Favorite Resources for Elementary School

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