I Am Malala

“One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world.”  -Malala Yousafzai

We’ve been glued to Malala’s story even before the publication of her book, I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World (Young Readers Edition). We’ve followed her story from her tragic near-death experience, to her remarkable recovery, to her heroic efforts and stance for education, to her notable honor as the youngest ever to win the Nobel Peace Prize. We’ve been greatly inspired by her story of bravery, courage, and compassion, so much so that we’ve decided to select her book as our tweens/ teens’ book club pick for March. Our selection of this book was also influenced by the fact that March is Women’s History Month.

While most of our book kids and adults have read it, some haven’t. In any case, we are looking forward to having you join us in reading or rereading the story of and by a little girl with a BIG vision to change the world. As always, we love to hear your thoughts on books. Please leave a comment or two about this book or other books you are currently reading. Happy Reading!

About This Book: Malala Yousafzai was only ten years old when the Taliban took control of her region. They said music was a crime. They said women weren’t allowed to go to the market. They said girls couldn’t go to school.

Raised in a once-peaceful area of Pakistan transformed by terrorism, Malala was taught to stand up for what she believes. So she fought for her right to be educated. And on October 9, 2012, she nearly lost her life for her cause: She was shot point-blank while riding the bus on her way home from school.

No one expected her to survive

Now Malala is an international symbol of peaceful protest and the youngest ever Nobel Peace Prize winner. In this Young Readers Edition of her bestselling memoir, which has been reimagined specifically for a younger audience and includes exclusive photos and material, we hear firsthand the remarkable story of a girl who knew from a young age that she wanted to change the world — and did.

Malala’s powerful story will open your eyes to another world and will make you believe in hope, truth, miracles and the possibility that one person — one young person — can inspire change in her community and beyond.

About Malala: Malala Yousafzai was born in 1997 in the Swat Valley of Pakistan. In her short lifetime, she has already experienced devastating changes in her country, which has been transformed from a once peaceful land to a hotbed of terrorism. Malala, who now lives in Birmingham, England, says she has been given a second life, which she intends to devote to the good of the people and her belief that all girls everywhere deserve an education. The fund she started can be found at http://www.MalalaFund.org.

About Malala’s Fund: visit >> http://www.MalalaFund.org.

By: Dawn Hoff, Book Kids

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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

BONUS BOOKS: SEVEN ADDITIONAL BLACK HISTORY MONTH BOOKS WE THINK ARE ABSOLUTELY WORTH CHECKING OUT . . .

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)

 

 

 

Book Club – Book of the Month – February

Brown Girl Dreaming2

Our February tween/ teen book club selection should come as little to no surprise. We’ve highlighted this book in the past and hinted that it would be a future book club selection. The future is now, and we’ve selected the award-winning Brown Girl Dreaming (ages 10 and up) by Jacqueline Woodson as our February book club book of the month. 

We’ve chosen this book because it ties in well with our Black History Month theme . . . with an added bonus. The book does an excellent job delivering a very descriptive view of Woodson’s life experiences, growing up in the South and the North during the 1960’s and 1970’s, through a very unique, childlike perspective; one that has the tendency to grip young readers. 

Additionally, there’s an underlying, added dose of inspiration depicted through Woodson’s zeal for writing and storytelling, despite the fact that she has struggled in and through school. We find that particularly uplifting and empowering to young aspiring and/or struggling readers and writers (as well as adults). Hope you’ll enjoy reading this brilliant piece of children’s literature as much as we have.

As always, we’d love to hear from you. Be sure to share your thoughts about this book or other books you are currently reading. Happy Reading!

By: Dawn Hoff, Book Kids

 

 

Bandwagon Fans: When Life Mimics Football

Super Bowl - Image

Imagine this: Your team is on a winning streak; fans are on extreme highs. Eight consecutive wins, twelve overall. NFC South champions? Wow! Can’t beat that! Pep rallies, tailgate parties and festivities are almost everywhere. Not to mention the much anticipated positive media coverage. Team colors are dominating the crowded city streets. Fireworks decorating the skies. Sold-out stadium seats and team gears becoming all too common. High spirits and enthusiasms are in full effect. And then, in an instant, it happens. Your team messes up! They slip! They lose!  

And then there is life: You are on a winning streak. How? You are fulfilling, meeting, or perhaps even exceeding all of life’s expectations -yours, as well as everyone else’s. You are doing all that is asked, desired, required and/or expected of you. You are overachieving in many, if not all, aspects of life. You are realizing every dream that can possibly be dreamt. You are on an extreme high …the sky is the limit. The world loves and accepts you; it embraces and honors you; it cherishes and glorifies you; it is grateful, respectful, faithful, kind, loyal, and loving toward you. And then, in an instant, it happens. You mess up! You slip! You lose!

Now back to your team: Your team has lost. It doesn’t matter that they have won the previous games, the games that actually got them into the playoffs in the first place. It doesn’t matter that they have worked tirelessly to get to this point. What matters now is that “they should NOT have lost this game.” Losing this ONE game indicates that they did not work or try hard enough this time. As a result, the celebrations and enthusiasms are dwindling by the minute; streets are becoming clear, quiet, and gloomy; and words of inspiration and encouragements are replaced by words of sarcasms and criticisms.

And then there is life: It doesn’t matter that you have overcome many struggles and won many battles, accomplished many tasks, met and exceeded many expectations; whatever you do, “just don’t slip, fall, fail or lose.” Never mind the 99 percent of the times you’ve gotten it all right, the one percent moment you slip is what has come to define you. As a result, your “fans” begin to view you as a failure, a letdown, a disappointment. They begin to distance and disassociate themselves from you. They begin to treat you unfavorably. They begin to misunderstand you, shun you, criticize you. Just to say the least. Harsh reality, isn’t it?

That leads to these burning questions: Does one’s team actually get on that ball field expecting to lose? Probably not. Do they work tirelessly, training for the game and preparing to win? Probably so. Do they beat themselves up following a loss? Perhaps! Do they need “fans” adding insult to their injury? Probably not.

Similarly, do we approach the game of life expecting or planning to fail or lose? Probably not. Do we do the best we can preparing to succeed? Probably so. For whatever reasons our efforts fail to produce the best possible outcome, do we beat ourselves up? Perhaps! Do we need others adding insult to our injury by “helping” us beat ourselves up? Probably not.

There is a lesson to be learned here (from the game of football and the game of life), and that is, once we start focusing on the entire game season or life in its entirety rather than one unfortunate, flawed aspect of it,  we can learn to love, accept, appreciate and enjoy the game. No game is perfect. No one is perfect. Life isn’t perfect. There will be winning and losing in sports and life. So what do we do, as players and spectators of the game (of football and life)? We rise up, we revamp, and when all else fails, we keep pounding!!

As one football fan puts it, “The one good thing about losing is the absolute assurance that all the bandwagon fans  have officially left the station.” Any bandwagon fans in your life, those who choose not to stick around during your trials? Praise and thank God that they have officially exited; now you know who your real fans/ friends are. Hope everyone enjoys the Super Bowl! 

By Dawn Hoff, Book Kids

Kids Books - MLKThere are many ways we can honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. One way is through books. Books can be a powerful tool in educating kids on Dr. King’s contributions to humanity, particularly human rights and civil rights. Civil rights can be a rather complicated topic for young kids to tackle and absorb; that’s why we’ve selected these 10 books. 

We’ve chosen them primarily because they cover everything from Dr. King’s childhood to his adult years in the simplest ways kids can easily comprehend. They provide greater insight and understanding of who Dr. King was and what he stood for. We would love to hear from you. Tell us about some of the children’s books you use to educate, celebrate, or honor Dr. King’s legacy. Until then, dive in and let’s reflect on the life and legacy of one of America’s greatest human rights and civil rights leaders of all times. 

MLK JR7Meet Martin Luther King Jr.  by Johnny Ray Moore (Author),  Amy Wummer (Illustrator)

Book Synopsis: This title is suitable for ages 4 to 8 years. Beginning with King’s childhood and following his life through his ” I Have a Dream Speech” and subsequent death, this book reveals (in age-appropriate language) how King ended segregation in America and influenced the way we live our lives today. (Ages 4-8 years)

MLK JR2The Story of Martin Luther King Jr.  by Johnny Ray Moore (Author),  Amy Wummer (Illustrator)

Book Synopsis: This little board book uses only approximately 200 words to tell about the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. and to explain, in simple terms, how he ended segregation in America. (Ages 2 and up)

A Picture Book of MLK JrA Picture Book of Martin Luther King, Jr.  by David A. Adler (Author), Robert Casilla (Illustrator)

Book Synopsis: “Martin Luther King, Jr. was one of America’s great leaders. He was a powerful speaker, and he spoke out against laws which kept black people out of many schools and jobs. He led protests and marches demanding fair laws for all people.” Dr. King dreamed of a world free of hate, prejudice and violence. This book is about the life and ideals of an outstanding man. (Ages 6-8 years)

The MLK JR StoryThe Martin Luther King, Jr. Story: The Boy Who Broke Barriers with Faith (Great Hero Series) by T. S. Lee (Author)

Book Synopsis: The Passionate life of Martin Luther King Jr. A leader of unfailing faith who spent his life fighting for civil rights. From a small-town nobody as a boy to the “Father” of all black people around the world, black civil rights activist Martin Luther King changed the world through his faith in man and an endless passion for peace and equality. (Ages 9 and up)

MLK JR8Celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day with Mrs. Park’s Class (Stories to Celebrate) by Alma Flor Ada & F Isabel Campoy (Authors)

Book Synopsis: The students in Mrs. Park’s class prepare to celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Day by thinking about the values he taught. Contains an informative section on Martin Luther King, Jr. (Ages 5 and up)

MLK JR12My First Biography: Martin Luther King, Jr. by Marion Dane Bauer (Author), Jamie Smith (Illustrator) 

Book Synopsis: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a great man. His words changed the way people thought, and his actions spurred them on to change the world. With simple, lyrical text and bold, kid-friendly illustrations, this book introduces Dr. King to the youngest readers and inspires them to change the world. (Ages 4-8 years)

MLK JR6My Daddy, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by Martin Luther King, III (Author), AG Ford (Illustrator)

Book Synopsis: What was it like growing up as a son of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.? This picture book memoir provides insight into one of history’s most fascinating families and into a special bond between father and son. “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” Martin Luther King III was one of those four little children mentioned in Martin Luther King’s groundbreaking “I Have a Dream” speech. In this memoir, Martin Luther King Jr.’s son gives an intimate look at the man and the father behind the civil rights leader. Mr. King’s remembrances show both his warm, loving family and a momentous time in American history. (Ages 4-8 years)

MLK JR5 I Have a Dream by Martin Luther King, Jr. (Author), Kadir Nelson (Illustrator) 

Book Synopsis: From Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s daughter, Dr. Bernice A. King: “My father’s dream continues to live on from generation to generation, and this beautiful and powerful illustrated edition of his world-changing “I Have a Dream” speech brings his inspiring message of freedom, equality, and peace to the youngest among us—those who will one day carry his dream forward for everyone.”

On August 28, 1963, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington, Martin Luther King gave one of the most powerful and memorable speeches in our nation’s history. His words, paired with Caldecott Honor winner Kadir Nelson’s magnificent paintings, make for a picture book certain to be treasured by children and adults alike. The themes of equality and freedom for all are not only relevant today, 50 years later, but also provide young readers with an important introduction to our nation’s past. Included with the book is an audio CD of the speech. (Ages 5 and up)

My Brother Martin3My Brother Martin: A Sister Remembers Growing Up with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by Christine King Farris (Author), Chris Soentpiet (Illustrator)

Book Synopsis: “Mother Dear, one day I’m going to turn this world upside down.” Long before he became a world-famous dreamer, Martin Luther King Jr. was a little boy who played jokes and practiced the piano and made friends without considering race. But growing up in the segregated south of the 1930s taught young Martin a bitter lesson—little white children and little black children were not to play with one another. Martin decided then and there that something had to be done. And so he began the journey that would change the course of American history. (Ages 6-11 years)

By: Dawn Hoff, Book Kids

Book Club – Book of the Month – January

Esperanza Rising1

 

During the Great Depression, Esperanza is compelled to abandon her comfortable lifestyle in Mexico and enter into one filled with physical, emotional, social, and financial hardships and challenges in America. How does she cope and overcome?

In case you haven’t already guessed, our January tween/ teen book club selection is Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan. We’ve highlighted this book in the past, during National Hispanic American Heritage Month as a “highly recommended read.” Moreover, due to positive responses, we’ve decided to select it as our book club pick.

This book is a fitting selection for January because it ties in so well with the general themes of a new year; themes that reflect new beginnings, fresh start, triumphs over trials, victory over obstacles, overcoming challenges, rising above, moving forward, leaving the past behind, etc. -themes of inspiration and aspiration you’re bound to find throughout the book.   

Hope you’ll enjoy reading this book with your tweens and teens. Let me leave you with a very profound proverb, reflecting one of the many great messages found in Esperanza Rising, “The rich person is richer when he becomes poor, than the poor person when he becomes rich.”  Marinate on it as you dive into this inspiring read. Happy Reading!

We would love to hear from you. What books are you reading this New Year? Please leave a comment or two below.

By: Dawn Hoff, Book Kids