This is normally thought of in the context of school, but I think its important at home as well, especially when #raisingreaders!
I have been anxiously awaiting the release of this book since I learned of its existence. Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by Floyd Cooper is an informational picture book about the events of the same name.
To give just a little background without spoiling it all, in the early 1900s, there was a thriving Black community in Tulsa, Oklahoma. However, in 1921 there was a massacre in which the community in Tulsa was demolished and many people were killed or left homeless. I myself didn’t learn about this massacre until I was an adult, so I was eager to see how it would translate into a picture book. Let me just say, Weatherford and Cooper did a beautiful job of telling this piece of history in a way that is honest, clear, and understandable for children.
It was a recent #bedtimeread for us. This was new information for my kids, who were rightly irritated with the events, but were slightly comforted by the hopeful ending to the book.
If you yourself haven’t heard of this event, I would recommend this book. If you want a way to introduce this historic event to your children, I would recommend this book. Even if you and your children have heard of the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921, I would still recommend this book. Anyway, you spin it, everyone wins and everyone learns!
My daughter is 12 years old, and my son is 9. They regularly read chapter books, and rarely pick picture books off the shelf. But I still do.
There are a variety of different reasons why I’ve read to my kids from an early age, including lots of academic benefits. However, one benefit is the bonding we do during that time, even if it’s over silliness. Recently we’ve read a couple of books where my kids were older than the intended audience, but we still had a ball enjoying them together.
The other night we read Vinny Gets a Job by Terry Brodner. This cute story is about a dog who decides he needs to help his owner and also get a job. The adorable thing about this book is that each time Vinny applies for a job, the employers don’t seem to realize that he’s a dog…until after they’ve hired him and he does something only a dog would do. We giggled and made sarcastic comments throughout the story, wondering how these people didn’t realize he was a dog. Even though for us it was unbelievable, we bonded while reading the book.
Soon after we read Vinny Gets a Job, we read I am Not a Chair! by Ross Burach. Again, I don’t believe my 10 and 12 year old children were the author’s intended audience. However, we still giggled at how crazy it was that this poor giraffe could not catch a break, because everyone kept sitting on him like he was a chair. As a bonus, we got a lesson about getting the courage to speak up for yourself.
These two books are only a couple of the more recent examples of picture books that my kids and I still enjoy together as bedtime reads. Its an easy way for us to spend some relaxing quality time together, something that we need more often than not. If you’re looking for the same thing, I would suggest picture books, regardless of your kids’ age.
One of the things my kids and I really enjoy is reading about important figures in history we knew nothing about previously, but are grateful to learn about. It makes us feel special to learn about someone’s contributions that not many other people know about. So for Black History Month, I would like to share some of those books that we’ve read that highlight people or events you may not have heard of before.
Do you know who Sarah Goode is? We didn’t before we read this book. Sarah Goode was the first African-American woman to receive a patent and was the inventor of those cool cabinet beds. We enjoyed learning about Sarah’s skill at carpentry, as well as her persistence to make sure her hard work was patented. You can read more about the book Sweet Dreams, Sarah by Vivian Kirkfield here.
Sometimes its not a new person that we knew very little about, but a moment or era in history that we learned about, which was the case when we read, Follow Me Down to Nicodemus Town, by A. LaFaye, illustrated by Nicole Tadgell. This fictional book teaches us about the very real time after the end of slavery, when many Black people moved to the midwest and became Homesteaders. Definitely a book that made me want to learn more about this time. You can read my review of the book here.
Lastly, Sonny’s Bridge: Jazz Legend Sonny Rollins Finds His Groove by Barry Wittenstein and illustrated by Keith Mallett is our last bedtime read that introduced us to someone new. In this case, its about jazz musician Sonny Rollins, a Again, we really enjoyed Sonny’s passion for jazz and how committed he was to his passion, even when he had to step away because the fame got to be too much. Here’s where I talk more about this book.
Also, readbrightly.com is one of my favorite go-tos when I need new book ideas for the kids. They have an article on their website right now that has even more titles that can help expand your kids’ knowledge while #RaisingReaders. You can find that here.
I absolutely LOVE Dav Pilkey, the author of graphic novel series such as Captain Underpants and Dog Man. Are they my personal favorites? Nada. As much as I love books, the likelihood of you finding me with a Ricky Ricotta book in my hand are pretty low. However, Pilkey is the one author that I know will get my son to crack open a book and read it from start to finish, and for that, I love Dav Pilkey.
Now it gets better…not only does he get my child to read, but now he might get him to write too?! So in Dav Pilkey’s latest series Cat Kid Comic Club, the main characters are writing short comic stories, which has inspired my child to do the same thing! Naturally, he comes up with this great idea when he should be falling asleep (read more about his sleeping/reading habits here), but I’m still thrilled with it. In this book, the characters even talk about how to come up with ideas to write about, and my child used that philosophy to brainstorm ideas. Let me introduce you to…Robo Cheata
So, I share all this to say two things: 1) Dav Pilkey does a great job of getting kids into books, so if you think your child is remotely interested in silly stories, he’s your guy and 2) it may not be Dav Pilkey, it may be a different author your child wants to read that you aren’t excited about, but if they’re into it–let your child read try it out.
Remember, your goal is #RaisingReaders!