The New Big Book of U.S. Presidents

In honor of Presidents’ Day we are highlighting The New Big Book of U.S. Presidents by Marc Frey and Todd Davis for ages 8-12 years. This is the ONE children’s book of U.S. presidents my kids swear by. I bought this book the moment my elementary schooler insisted that he was going to be the “next” U.S. president. I knew he was too young to be the next president, but I wasn’t about to pass up the opportunity to feast on his new-found fascination. Let’s just say this book hasn’t been laid to rest since.  Furthermore, now that the other kids have followed suit, this has become one of the most frequently read books in our home. All our kids are intrigued by it. Here’s why:

1. The book offers fascinating facts. It is not just a “George Washington was the first U.S. president” kind of book. Kids need to know more than just that. It offers a lot more meat about each president’s personal and political life, going even further to include key historical events and achievements surrounding their presidencies, without being lengthy, redundant, or boring. 

2. The book is easy to read and comprehend. I love when a book explains its content to its kid readers so well to the point where adults have to do very little to no reiterating. Indeed, the book is jam-packed with lots of detailed facts and history, but don’t be overwhelmed; they are presented in the simplest, kid-friendly language that kids can easily grasp. Seriously.

3. The book includes a historical timeline. This timeline covers key historical topics that include arts, literature, politics, religion, science, education, etc., you name it. Again, don’t be overwhelmed. They are outlined in the simplest, chronological fashion that is a no brainer for your little reader to absorb.

4. The book has great illustrations. You can never go wrong with great illustrations, especially when your readers are primarily kids. These photos not only serve as a great supplement to the text, they add such incredible details to the point where without the text, they can almost easily stand alone. My kids particularly love associating each president’s name to his face. They also love in inclusion of old historical pictures of the events and persons highlighted in the text.

5. The book has a glossary of key terms. I particularly love a book that includes a glossary primarily because it helps kids review key terms mentioned in the book. It also serves as a summary of what is covered in the text. I see these as a great opportunity for a quick review or quiz to see how much information they actually retain from the reading.

Overall, this book is both educational and entertaining; there are both hilarious and serious aspects to it. This is a book the entire family will enjoy reading, while learning about presidential facts and figures. Let us know what you think. Until then, Happy Presidents’ Day! Happy Reading!   

By: Dawn Hoff, Book Kids








8 Must-Read Children’s Books to Celebrate Black History Month

28 Days - Moments in Black History

Take Your Child to the Library Day (TYCLD) is “an international initiative that encourages families everywhere to take their children to their local library.” My kids and I look forward to this day each year. Needless to say, we went this year and had a blast!  Moreover, while in the midst of all the fun activities, we stumbled upon a gem that we just can’t keep to ourselves. The gem I’m referring to is the book 28 Days: Moments in Black History that Changed the World (for ages 4-10 years) by Charles R. Smith.This book highlights prominent, influential African Americans of the past and present and their contributions and achievements that have helped shape history. 

One major feature of the book I particularly like is how it designates each day of February to a specific historical figure, fact, or event. The daily breakdown of information makes it shorter and easier for younger kids to grasp. It also gives them something to look forward to the following day. You may even want to take it a bit further and ask your child, students, etc., to guess who or what they think will be highlighted the following day. The book is written in a way that allows for that. This incredible feature is bound to raise much anticipation and enthusiasm throughout the book. 

Whether you decide to read the entire book through with your kids or simply read each section daily, this book will take you on an incredible journey through black history that will help you and your young readers better understand, reflect on, and celebrate the people and moments in African American history that changed the world. As always, we love hearing your thoughts on children’s books. Feel free to leave a comment or two about this books or other books you are reading to help you reflect on or celebrate Black History Month. Happy Reading!

By: Dawn Hoff, Book Kids


Heroes in Black History - True Stories

1.  Heroes in Black History: True Stories from the Lives of Christian Heroes by Dave Jackson & Neta Jackson (Authors) 

Book Synopsis:  Drawn from the lives of key Christians from the past and present, Heroes in Black History is an inspiring collection of 42 exciting and educational readings that highlight African American Christians through a short biography and three true stories for each hero. Whether read together at family devotions or alone, Heroes in Black History is an ideal way to acquaint children ages six to twelve with historically important Christians while imparting valuable lessons. Featured heroes include Harriet Tubman, George Washington Carver, William Seymour, Thomas A. Dorsey, Mary McLeod Bethune, Martin Luther King Jr., and many more. Includes brand new material as well as content from previous Hero Tales editions. (Ages 6-12 years)

One Hundred and One Read Aloud Stories

2. One-Hundred-and-One African-American Read-Aloud Stories by Susan Kantor (Author)

Book Synopsis: The newest volume in the popular Read-Aloud series, this engaging collection features the best African-American short stories and excerpts to read to children in under ten minutes. The diverse tales, selected for their rich histories, spiritual writings and adventurous characters, offer the perfect bed-time — or any other time — activities for parents, grandparents, siblings or babysitters. The book includes 50 beautiful drawings that capture the spirit of these tales, legends, lore and fables. The narratives are faithful adaptations of the oral and written stories passed down through the centuries. They include Langston Hughes, Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington and Paula Fox. (Ages 9 and up)

The Bus Ride that Changed History

3. The Bus Ride that Changed History: The Story of Rosa Parks by Pamela Duncan Edwards (Author), Danny Shanahan (Illustrator)

Book Synopsis: In 1955, a young African-American woman named Rosa Parks took a big step for civil rights when she refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white passenger. The bus driver told her to move. Jim Crow laws told her to move. But Rosa Parks stayed where she was, and a chain of events was set into motion that would eventually change the course of American history. Fifty years later, The Bus Ride That Changed History retraces that chain of events by introducing the civil rights movement one idea at a time. Take a ride through history with this unique retelling of what happened when one brave woman refuses to stand up so that a white passenger could sit down. (Ages 4-8 years)

The Palm of My Heart

4. The Palm of My Heart: Poetry by African American Children by Davida Adedjouma (Author),  R. Gregory Christie (Illustrator)

Book Synopsis: Black is dark, dark is lovely, lovely is the palm of my heart, and my heartbeats are filled with joy. When children are encouraged to celebrate their lives — their joys, their influences, their hopes — the results are pure poetry. Honest, wise, and inspiring, each of the twenty poems in this dazzling collection resounds with the unique rhythms of life, as seen through the eyes of African American children. (Ages 5 and up)

Music of Our Lord's Holy Heaven

5. Music from Our Lord’s Holy Heaven by Gloria Pinkney (Author), Jerry Pinkney, Brian Pinkney, and Myles Pinkney (Illustrators)

Book Synopsis: Tapping a wellspring of comfort, inspiration, and renewal, Gloria Pinkney has gathered twenty-two African-American spirituals and reverential songs which her husband, Jerry Pinkney, and sons Brian Pinkney and Myles Pinkney have lovingly illustrated. (Ages 4-10 years)

Moses - Harriet Tubman

6. Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom by Carole Boston Weatherford (Author), Kadir Nelson (Illustrator)

Book Synopsis: This poetic book is a resounding tribute to Tubman’s strength, humility, and devotion. With proper reverence, Weatherford and Nelson do justice to the woman who, long ago, earned over and over the name Moses. (Ages 5-8 years)

Richard Wright and the Library Card

7. Richard Wright and the Library Card by William Miller (Author), R. Gregory Christie (Illustrator)

Book Synopsis: As a young black man in the segregated South of the 1920s, Wright was hungry to explore new worlds through books, but was forbidden from borrowing them from the library. This touching account tells of his love of Blareading, and how his unwavering perseverance, along with the help of a co-worker, came together to make Richard’s dream a reality. An inspirational story for children of all backgrounds, Richard Wright and the Library Card shares a poignant turning point in the life of a young man who became one of this country’s most brilliant writers, the author of Native Son and Black Boy. (Ages 7-10 years)




Thanks & Giving: All Year Long

Thanks & Giving

While my family doesn’t celebrate every holiday, we celebrate books every holiday. Books have become a vital aspect of our pre, during, and post holiday celebrations. During any given holiday, we browse our local library bookshelves, racking up holiday books to read during that particular holiday. Nonetheless, over the years, we’ve noticed a certain pattern. The sooner we go, the greater our chances of finding great holiday books. Whereas, the later we go, the lesser our chances of finding them. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, considering it indicates that kids are actually reading books, more and more. However, that was of little consolation to the fact that a few years ago we got there later, only to find that all the great kids’ holiday books were GONE! Except one: Thanks & Giving: All Year Long by Marlo Thomas and Christopher Cerf.

I am not exactly sure why this book was still sitting on the shelf. I almost left it because I thought, “If this book is still sitting on this shelf, collecting dust, on the day before Thanksgiving, it must not be all that good or good at all.” Then I decided, “I have nothing to lose by checking this book out because after all, I don’t have that much of an option; after all, all the good books are taken anyway…and if we were to read anything Thanksgiving related, we’d have to take this book home with us,” …and we did!

Fast forward, almost seven years later, and we are still reading this book. Reading this book together during Thanksgiving has become a family tradition. Needless to say, borrowing this book from our local library some years ago has become one of the best decisions we’ve made when it comes to books. Here’s why:

1. This book practices what it preaches. Not only is the book about ‘thanks and giving’ the book itself is ‘thanks and giving’ meaning it serves as a fundraiser and that in itself provides the opportunity for giving.  All of the royalties from this book go to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital to aid with research and medicine. While we can easily obtain copies from most libraries, I’ve decided to purchase a personal copy specifically for this reason and purpose. I encourage you all, in the spirit and season of thanksgiving, to do so as well. You can find out more about the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital at

2. This book emphasizes ‘thanksgiving’ year-round. The attitude of gratitude and generosity is most often associated exclusively with Thanksgiving Day, when, in fact, it should be highlighted and practiced  year-round; and this book places very high emphasis on that, in the most understandable and exciting way kids can easily grasp.  Marlo Thomas writes “I love that the word “Thanksgiving” brings together two great ideas -thanks and giving- that we can celebrate every day of the year…so you see, we thank and give every day.”

3. This book provides lessons for all ages. Whenever I read aloud to my kids or have them read alone, I am often amazed at the lessons they pick up on from the book; nevertheless, what amazes me even more is that I end up learning as much, if not more from the “children’s book.” This book is the perfect example of that. There are great lessons to be learned and applied by all ages, not just kids; and this book is loaded with them.

4. This book boosts enthusiasm and interest. To put it simply, this is not a boring book at all. It is jam-packed with rich text and illustrations (through stories, songs, poems, comics, quizzes, etc.) that entice and captivate its readers interest and attention from beginning to end. When you pick up this book, know that there will be more than just reading involved. There will be a whole lot of singing, dancing, reciting, laughing, and anything else imaginable. This book is a very fun and interesting read for kids and adults alike.

5. This book represents diversity on so many levels. First, it has such rich, diverse mix of stories, songs, poems, comics, quizzes, etc., that are bound to appeal to kids of various reading interest, levels, and styles. Second, diversity is so richly embedded in its brilliant, colorful illustrations and text that it has great tendencies to attract kids of diverse backgrounds. Third, the obvious, diverse mix of contributors (authors, illustrators, poets, actors, musicians, athletes, etc.) all adding their own unique, personal perspectives and views to the mix, undoubtedly puts this book at a higher advantage of attracting and reaching diverse readers. Rarely do we find a kids’ book with such a diverse mix.  

As I write this, I am reminded of Frank Serafini’s  profound quote, “There is no such thing as a child who hates to read; there are only children who have not found the right book.” Parents, teachers, and all other adults, this book has proven to be the right book for my kids; and it might well be the right book for the kids in your lives as well. Give it a shot! Meanwhile, I would love to hear about books that have become a part of your family’s holiday tradition. Please leave a comment or two below. Happy Thanksgiving! Happy Reading!

By: Dawn Hoff, Book Kids