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.
Well, the kids and I did get quite a bit of reading in this year, even with the craziness of 2020. Although I only read 3 chapter books to them this year, we read a TON of picture books and started reading more books digitally. Together, we learned a lot from non-fiction picture books, got to know characters through series, and cracked up at quite a few characters we encountered this year. I can’t share ALL of what we read, but I would like to share a few of our favorites. Keep in mind, our list isn’t based on books released this year, just books that we read together this year.
Just last week, we finally finished Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia. The first book in this fantasy series was one that definitely lived up to its hype, about a young boy who accidentally ends up in a new world, where he meets characters and Gods from African American and African folktales. This book has lots of action and drama, and oh, I cannot forget Gumbaby, a character who nearly had my kids in tears from their laughter. Although the fantasy genre is not my jam, its my daughter’s favorite, so that’s part of the reason I chose it to read it to them. You can read more about how she started liking fantasy books here.
Near the start of the pandemic, I was looking for a book that would go with a movie we could watch afterwards, so we started reading Holes. This award winning book gave us drama, humor, and often had them begging for me to read one more chapter. I kinda wish I had read it sooner, but I am definitely glad we experienced it together. I wrote more about our experience here.
We definitely needed some opportunities to laugh this year, and one of our favorites was This is a Taco! written by Andrew Cangelose, and illustrated by Josh Shipley. This book is one of those that does a great job of integrating some actual facts (in this case about squirrels) with humor. Our main character is a squirrel and is excited to share facts about squirrels, but because his name is Taco due to his love of the food, things go a little haywire. This was one we read digitally during the summer, and one that they would have me reread all the time if they could.
Lastly, Your Name is a Song by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow and illustrated by Luisa Uribe is one of those books that has become a go-to purchase for gifts. In this book we encounter a young girl who is frustrated with the fact that her teacher could not pronounce her name correctly at school. The story follows the girl and her mother on their walk home where mom expertly explains to her child that every name is a song. The examples of names throughout the book include so many names that you rarely, if ever, see in children’s books. Although my kids don’t often have the experience of having their names mispronounced, I do, and they have classmates with names that are regularly mispronounced. My kids enjoyed the suspense of wanting to know what the main character’s name was and watching me work on saying the names correctly. I wrote more about this lovely book here.
So, if you didn’t get a chance to read one of our favorites this year, I hope you put them on your list for 2021!
As I’m writing this, it is my son’s 8th birthday, and we just finished our bedtime read. I was particular about my choice since it is a special day, and I luckily, I had just borrowed this gem from the library:
This book, by the daughter and husband of the late Amy Krouse Rosenthal, is a love letter to young boys that will help them grow into responsible, compassionate men.
One reason I love this book is because it says almost all the things I want to say, but am afraid that I won’t remember to say. People always quote the prolific advice their parents gave them, and gosh darn it, I want my children to do that too.
Another reason I’m all in with this book is because I think this is going to be a great book to start a tradition with. Since the Rosenthals have said almost everything I want to say, in order to make it stick, I think I’m gonna read it on his birthday every year. It’ll be our thing, and I will know I’ve given sound advice at least once a year.
I’ve already written about the companion book, Dear Girl, you can read about it here. Of course, my plan is to read that one to my daughter every year, so I’ll have that tradition going with each of them.
So, as you’re looking to raise readers, think about what sort of reading traditions could be appropriate for your kiddos. As for me, let’s just hope I can remember to break out the book each year.
Robots aren’t really my thing at all, so when my son brings me a book titled Robots At Your Service and says, “I really think you should read this” I’m utterly confused. But since it looks short, I tell him it’ll be my bedtime read that night and we’ll talk about it tomorrow.
Here’s the thing, as odd as I thought the choice was for me, I realize that my child is also giving me an opportunity to have a conversation with him. Right now he still wants to tell me everything, but I know there’s a chance the day will come where puberty, hormones, or just general teenager-ness will change that. So the fact that he’s inviting me to converse with him, and about a book no less, is something that I’m taking full advantage of. If I can make talking about books a “thing” now, then that may still be a thing in the future. I share all this to say, as you are #raisingreaders, if you have a child wanting you to read or just to talk to you about their book, go for it!
Additionally, did you know that scientists/inventors are trying to create microbots that can go inside a human’s body to figure out what’s wrong with them? Me either, but thanks to my son, I learned about it through this book! 🙂