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Book Review Parenting Raising kids Uncategorized

Book Review–Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre

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.

Just an example of the striking illustrations in this book.

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!

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Book Review Parenting Raising kids Uncategorized

Why I Still Read Picture Books To My Kids

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.

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Book Review Parenting

Book Review–Lift by Minh Le

I’m a sucker for a book with few words, or even no words. My kids and I love pouring over the illustrations of picture books, noticing every little thing we can. Our recent #bedtimeread, Lift written by Minh Le and illustrated by Dan Santat, is no exception.

In this book, Iris tells us that she’s got a job in her family, and that is to push the buttons on the elevator. But wait…someone (younger and related to her) tries to take her job.

In the midst of her “fit”, she discovers a new button that takes her way beyond anywhere those elevator buttons were taking her. After enjoying this newfound world, the tale ends with an understanding that as much as our siblings may annoy us, there’s still a bond there that’s unmatched.

Like I said, there aren’t many words in this story, so you would think it would take only moments to read…but no. The amount of time we spend staring at the illustrations, and then going backwards to look at them again once other things start making sense is immeasurable.

Reading books like these make for some of my most memorable #bedtimereads with my kiddos, so I’d definitely recommend trying out this beauty with your own.

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Book Review Parenting

#Bedtimeread–Your Name is a Song

In this colorfully illustrated picture book, Your Name is a Song by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow, our main character is upset after her first day at school because no one can pronounce her name correctly. On their walk home, her mother explains to her that her name is a song, and by using lots of other names as examples during their conversation, she turns the her daughter’s mood around.

By the next day at school, the young girl has gained the confidence to sing her name as a song, as well as a few others. My kids and I both enjoyed the suspense in wondering what the girl’s name was, as well as the beautiful illustrations done by Luisa Uribe.

As a person with a name that has been mispronounced most of my life, I could definitely understand what the main character was going through, and it made the book that much more powerful to me. I think that Thompkins-Bigelow does a wonderful job of explaining how important names are at a level that children will be able to understand. My favorite part of this bedtime read of a few nights ago is when Momma explains to her daughter, “…Their real names were stolen long ago so they dream up new ones. They make a way out of no way, make names out of no names–pull them from the sky!” What a way to explain how and why parents come up with unique names!

This is a beautiful book to share with young children at the beginning of a school year. It is a great way to boost the confidence in children who may be nervous about sharing their names and shows others how important it is to say their classmates/friends names correctly. Plus, I can only imagine the cheesy smiles and joy some kids would get hearing their name in a book, and there are definitely some original names in there. (And if that freaks you out at all, the awesome part is that Thompkins-Bigelow has the pronunciations next to them. Plus, how awesome is it for your kids to see an adult put in the work to say words correctly?)

Your Name is a Song by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow, illustrated by Luisa Uribe, has a release date of July 2020. We loved it, and I’m sure your kids will too!

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Book Review Parenting Raising kids Uncategorized

Book Review–Enough! 20 Protesters Who Changed America

I picked up this book due to the cover, because this silent protest at the Olympics is one of my favorite events in history, and the idea of reading a picture book about it was intriguing. When I read it, I discovered that it did not share the information in a way that I expected it to, but it was still informative nonetheless.

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This book, written by Emily Easton and beautifully illustrated by Ziyue Chen, goes through protests made in America, going back as far as the Boston Tea Party and as current as Colin Kapernick. I appreciate the wide range of protests included in the book, it helps the reader see that protesting can look a lot of different ways. However, the language in the book is very simplistic, like one sentence for each protest simplistic. So while that makes for an easy read, it also (hopefully) invites lots of questions. For example, while I know what “America says, ‘Time’s Up” means, children reading the book may not.

To be fair, Easton does have some pages in the back of the book that gives more detail about each event, but a child reading this book independently may not bother with that information.

So, if you do choose to read this book with your children, just be ready to explain some of these powerful protests in more detail to make sure they get the full benefit of this picture book.