Book Review: On a Magical Do-Nothing Day by Beatrice Alemagna

Smartphones, tablets, computers are a part of our lives and the lives of our families whether we embrace it or not. The American Academy of Pediatricsdeveloped guidelines to help parents make decisions about how and when to incorporate screen time into a child’s life. Under the age of 18 months, they do not recommend having screen time other than video chatting with family. Any age over that parents need to engage in a family media plan that will set boundaries on when, where and how media and screens will be consumed.

Although, technology is here to stay, it doesn’t mean we as parents have to give in to it. Our children still need time to play outside in mud puddles, be bored, and read.

(I am an Amazon Affiliate, the links to the pictures take you to Amazon, where if you make a purchase I receive a portion of the sale.)

On a Magical Do-Nothing Day, the author Beatrice Alemagna explores the complicated relationship parents, families and children have with screens. On a rainy day a mother and daughter go to a cabin in the woods while the father stays in the city. The mother works and the daughter mindlessly plays a videogame which irritates her mother. Who tells her, “Is this another day where you do nothing.” She takes the game and hides it, but the daughter finds it and goes outside. What she discovers is a world she couldn’t find in her video game.

smart phone and kids

Alemagna’s book reminds me of my youth spent exploring the woods and creek outside my front door. We weren’t allowed to watch TV during the day and at that age I wouldn’t want to. Boredom isn’t lethal, but sometimes as parents we act as it is. My kids are forever asking me to watch T.V. or play on the tablet or have “screen time” because they are bored. We set strict limits that works for our family but even with the limits it doesn’t stop the kids from asking to cure their boredom with so easy to digest media.

natural world

The book doesn’t just provide rich discussion about how to combat boredom it also has rich, lyrical vocabulary filled with imagery using metaphors and similes. The book uses a lot of directional/positional language which is great for young preschoolers beginning to understand the concept of over, under, top, bottom and etc. But the book can also be used with older preschoolers/kindergarten aged children with its sophisticated vocabulary.

As you read this book with your child you will notice that the narrative skills are developed strongly throughout the text. It focuses on imagination, discovery of the natural world, parent relationships, and yes screen time. This will help foster a conversation between you and your child and even family about how to handle the balance between t.v., games and quiet times without those screens. After reading the story talk about how you find quiet time in your day without screens. And if that isn’t something you do, maybe as a family you can learn to incorporate media free times together.

Kid painting Santa on a paper plate

Our kids need space to explore the world independently in a safe and unstructured way. They need time that isn’t scheduled with activities. They need time to be bored so they can create, develop and grow. Play is one of the most important times in our child’s day. It is where the most learning takes place. On a Magical Do-Nothing Day will take the story of a boring, rainy, dreary day and encourage our children to go explore a fascinating and ever changing world.

After Reading the Book

Go outside. Even if the weather is terrible. Dress appropriately and go explore.

As you walk with your child, ask her what she notices? How is today different than other days? What is the same? And if it is age appropriate, go to the backyard or a park and allow them some free range time to look around and play on their own.

For Parents

A good picture book is one that not only makes kids think and learn, but parents as well. There is a lot in this book to make us think about how we spend our time. The work/family balance, our relationship with phones and screens, and how we include time for ourselves to explore, create and dream. Use this book as a starting point for discussion about how your family will handle screens. Each family is different, so do what works best for you. We have decided that screens are limited to weekends, but during the week we will watch movies or a T.V. show together. And during school breaks, the rules are relaxed. But if the kids have screen limits, it is only fair to see how grown ups should too.

Articles on Screen Time

Common Sense Media

Consumer Reports

What do we do all day

Becoming Minimalist

Books on Wonder, imagination and exploration

Do you have a favorite book about play, imagination or boredom? Share in the comments at the end of the post.

Happy Reading

Finland loves to Read and How We Can Be More Like Them


Finland, Norway, Iceland, Denmark and Sweden have the highest literacy rates in the world. It is no surprise that book culture is celebrated in these countries and there is less focus on compulsory education and more focus on play, reading and family time.

Why Finland Ranks Number 1 for Literacy?

  1. They place a high value on reading.
  2. They focus in the preschool years on having children tell stories and hear stories.
  3. Most homes subscribe to a newspaper.
  4. They have one of the best library systems in the world.

Finnish quote


How are Their Numbers Different?

Finland, Where Reading is a Superpower

  1. 77 % of the population buys at least one book a year.
  2. 75% of parents read aloud to kids every day.
  3. Writing is one of the most respected professions.

How Much Do They Read?

Finland Reads

  1. There are 20 million books sold every year in the country which is an average of 4 books a person (including kids) in a country of 5.5 million people.
  2. 1 in every 6 people between the ages of 15-79 buys at least 10 books a year
  3. Book gifts are huge and about half of books purchased as gifts are given to family.
  4. There is at least one library in every municipality, 300 central libraries, 500 branch libraries, mobile libraries and one library boat.
  5. 40% of citizens are active patrons visiting a library at least twice a month.
  6. Each book is read about 2.5 times a year and there are about 7 books for ever Finn in the libraries.

christmas gift

What Can We Learn?

Creating a culture of readers starts at home. If mothers and fathers read and make it a priority, kids will read. If the US focused less on outcomes and more on creating storytellers and story hearers, our school success rate would improve. Making books a priority in schools, communities and as gifts, promote a culture of literacy and reading.


Don’t forget to enter the Building Future Readers Giveaway! Open until 12/23

We are hosting a holiday giveaway!

See this #AmazonGiveaway for a chance to win: Bear Stays Up for Christmas (The Bear Books). NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Ends the earlier of Dec 23, 2017 11:59 PM PST, or when all prizes are claimed. See Official Rules


What is one step you will do today to create a culture of reading in your family? What can we do to promote reading in our communities? Comment below!

Happy Reading

Book Review: I Love You Like a Pig by Mac Barnett

Reading aloud together is one of the most important parts of the day for any family. Not only does it build a reading routine, but it sets aside a special time for you and your child. A time of no interruptions, no consequences, no to do lists. It is simply a time to be together.

I Love You Like a Pig by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Greg Pizzoli, is a perfect read for curling up and spending time together. It provides whimsical ways to say I love you. The text and pictures work well together and allows the child to fill in the blank by deriving context for the pictures. After a few read throughs with your child, pause and have them say the end of the sentence. This not only builds narrative skills and reading comprehension but kids love to participate in reading and this is the perfect way to engage them with the book.

Books with onomatopoeia are always crowd pleasers. As a bonus they help build phonological awareness and letter knowledge. There are words sprinkled throughout the pictures and it helps to point those out.

Along with emotional vocabulary, the book has a lot of rich words that will grow the words your child knows. Tuna, fossil, banker are just a few of the words in the text, but if you look at the pictures with your child you will be able to expand their word knowledge even more. What kind of hats are the tuna fish, monster and elephant wearing? Bowler Hats. The cake the boy brings pig is a tiered cake. It has three layers. Talk about the pictures before or after you read the story and point out objects like the record player your child probably hasn’t seen before.

You can also build vocabulary by going on a word/object scavenger hunt. Write out different words in the book: pig, happy, monster, lucky, window, smiling, tuna, funny, fossil, sweet, banker, crazy, raspberries, tree, rowboat, bread, milk. Cut the words into slips and go around the house finding objects that fit the word. Label the object with the correct word slip. Teach letter knowledge along with new words.

The sound play in the text not only makes it a delightful read, but helps build phonological awareness. “Funny like a fossil.” or “You’re crazy like raspberries.” Help your child hear the f or z sound. Take it further and find words that start with those sounds in the room you are reading in.

After reading the book come up with your own fun and silly “I love you like…” sentences. It reinforces the narrative of the story and encourages your child to think up his own story. Write down what he says and have him illustrate. Another way to reinforce the ideas of the book is to make a graph of what different people in your family like to eat. One of the sentences is, “I love you like bread and milk.” Ask family members how many like milk, water etc. Plot it on a graph and introduce math skills along with reading.

I Love You Like a Pig isn’t just a fun book about all the different ways we love each other, it is a strong literacy tool that children will enjoy while they learn. It is a perfect example of how critical author/illustrator teams are in producing fun, lively books that will have kids and families reading over and over again.

Just a few of books by Mac Barnett


Does your family have any funny sayings to tell each other how you care?

Happy Reading

10 Ways to Ruin Reading for Your Kids


  1. Make them sit while you share a story. Kids bodies are meant to move and even if it doesn’t look like they are listening, they hear and are learning. Toddlers are more apt to run around, but keep reading.
  2. Keep books where they can’t reach them. One of Raganathan’s Five Rules of Library Science is books are for use. If kids can’t reach the books, they can’t use them! Have books on low shelves, baskets around the house, in the car and anywhere else they fit. And don’t worry if the books are destroyed. It doesn’t mean the kids aren’t ready for them, but that the books are well loved.
  3. Use books as punishment. Please, promise me right now, you will never use reading as a punishment. We want kids to associate reading with positive thoughts and memories, but if you use reading as a way to punish, they will hate reading.
  4. Read books like it is a punishment for you. We all have books that elicit a groan from our lips as soon as we see our child pick it off the shelf. It has no plot, it is longer than a George RR Martin book, or the stereotypes make you cringe. Still read the book like it is the most exciting piece of literature you ever read. Change the speed of your reading. Use lots of expressions and voices. Make it as fun to listen to as their favorite T.V. show.

mem fox quote

  1. Tell them to read while you watch T.V. or scroll through your phone. Our kids copy what we do, so if we want to build readers we need to be readers. And this means a physical book. Our kids can’t tell if we are using an e-reader app on a phone or tablet. Pick up a book and read.
  2. Reward your kids for reading. I am not a huge fan of Summer Reading Clubs and I get that it is a controversial statement. The intent is wonderful, but reward based behavior usually backfires and makes kids relate reading to something they have to be forced to do. Make reading a routine and skip the rewards.
  3. Don’t leave time in the day to read together. Many kids, even at a preschool age, are overscheduled. We don’t want them to fall behind in sports, music or technology, but think nothing of putting off reading time for another day. Reading should be a non-negotiable. Not only will it encourage a love of reading, it gives you and your family uninterrupted time together.
  4. Choose all the books for them. Did you like your summer reading list from school? Take your family to the library or bookstore and let them pick books. Slip in a couple of classics they might not choose on their own, but let them drive the selection and they will be excited to read.
  5. Don’t give them a place to read. Make reading special. Make sure there is a special spot for reading. It doesn’t take much. A couple of pillows, a blanket and a basket of books. You can get creative if you have the time or desire. Tents, blanket forts are all great places to snuggle up and read.
  6. Focus on the results not act itself. Don’t make story time together learning time. It will happen all on its own through the book choices and the discussions you have as you share the time together. The more books kids hear from the earliest age, the better they will do in school. It will happen. Don’t force it.

No substitute for books


Don’t forget to enter the Building Future Readers Giveaway! Open until 12/23

We are hosting a holiday giveaway!

See this #AmazonGiveaway for a chance to win: Bear Stays Up for Christmas (The Bear Books). NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Ends the earlier of Dec 23, 2017 11:59 PM PST, or when all prizes are claimed. See Official Rules

What do you believe helps create kids who love to read? Share ideas in the comments.

Happy Reading


Giveaway for Christmas


Find a new family favorite this Christmas!

One of my favorite picture book authors is Karma Wilson. Her books are rhythmic, full of unique words and fun to read. This is a book you will read over and over again.

christmas gift

I am hosting an Amazon Giveaway of one copy of this book for Christmas. Enter for a chance to win. No purchase necessary. The winner will be chosen randomly after December 23, 2017 at 11:59. Tweet the giveaway for your entry.

See this #AmazonGiveaway for a chance to win: Bear Stays Up for Christmas (The Bear Books). NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Ends the earlier of Dec 23, 2017 11:59 PM PST, or when all prizes are claimed. See Official Rules

Thank you so much for being a part of the Building Future Readers family! Wishing you a safe and happy holiday!


What is your favorite Christmas story? Share in comments.

Happy Reading

2017 in Review

Christmas 2017

There are always so many good books out there to review! And so many that form a solid base for your child’s future reading. This Christmas don’t forget to gift books!

Visit my Pinterest page below and the Building Future Readers blog to get a great list of suggestions from the past year’s reviews.

What books will you add to your shopping list this season?Happy Reading

Book Review: Tilly and Tank by Jay Fleck

I received access to an ARC of this picture book through Netgalley. I was not paid for my review.




Tilly and Tank by Jay Fleck celebrates friendship in the most unlikely pairs. This book is available on January 9, 2018 but can be preordered on Amazon.

(I am an Amazon Affiliate. I am not paid to review books, but if you click on links and make a purchase from Amazon I receive a portion of the sale.)

What I Like About This Book

A strong vocabulary is a precursor to reading. Parents who choose books with unique words (words that you don’t use in everyday conversation) help strengthen this skill so when the child begins to independently read she has a huge background of words to pull from. Tilly and Tank uses 23 words that you most likely don’t use when you talk with your child. Words like curious, detected, barrel, turret, puzzled and so much more. We call these million dollar words. Use them throughout the day to help reinforce the new word. It can take 10-15 times of word use for the new word to stick. Pick a few new words after the reading and find various ways to enrich your child’s vocabulary.

The simple, bright illustrations are easy to follow and highlight print awareness (knowing the parts of books and how to follow along the pages.) The text moves around with the pictures, so get your finger ready and follow the word trail. Not only does it highlight the print, it will also help your child connect the sounds they hear with the words on the page.

Simple narratives help pre-literate children learn to exercise their storytelling muscles. The simpler the story at a young age, the easier it is for the child to recall and retell after a few readings. Not only that, but as a parent guide your child with questions about the story that aren’t in the text. Ask what you think Tilly might be feeling when she sees the stranger from far away? Why do you think Tank responded the way he did (Good way to use a new word and help reading comprehension) In addition there are a lot of different emotions at work in the story and highlighting them and then talking about times your child might have felt the same way not only builds narrative skills, but helps the child better connect to the story and produce a positive reading experience.

Tilly and Tank isn’t just a refreshing story about friendship, it also hits many early literacy skills which will build strong future readers!

How To Use This Book

Make cards with some of the new words your child learned. Have a conversation with your child where you intentionally use the words and as you say them, put the card in front of your child to connect the sounds with the words.

Have your child retell the story and write it down in one line sentences and draw a picture to go along with the sentence. Cut the pictures and sentences from each other and practice reordering the story using the words and pictures.

Play a matching game! Take pictures of your child making different emotion faces. Happy, Sad, Angry, Excited etc. Print them out in duplicate and play a matching game.

Other Books to Read

Tilly and Tank not only explores relationships, but how to handle new situations or times when we feel uncertain about the people we meet. These books are great to follow up to the themes of Tilly and Tank.

What books do you read to help your child understand emotions? Post in comments to share suggestions.


Happy Reading

Author Interview! Charles Waters and Irene Latham

Yesterday I reviewed the book Can I Touch Your Hair: Poems of Race, Mistakes, and Friendship by Irene Latham and Charles Waters

Reminder, I am an Amazon Affiliate. I do not get paid to review or recommend books, but if you make a purchase by clicking on a link I receive a percentage of the sale.

I had the privilege of interviewing the authors about their book, their friendship and their lives and am excited to share the interview today!

Photo Nov 17, 1 16 46 PM

What would surprise our readers about you?

Irene and Charles: Most people are surprised when they find out that we met – for the first time – in November 2017 at AASL in Phoenix, AZ. We were online acquaintances when we started writing this book (in January 2015), and we completed the project through email, mostly, with the occasional text and phone call. Our real-life friendship really mirrors the friendship as portrayed in the book. We’ve also discovered we have quite a few quirky things in common, including but not limited to: we both worked at Disney World; we were both named for a great-grandparent; and we each grew up in big families as one of five siblings.

Our real-life friendship really mirrors the friendship as portrayed in the book.

How did the book come about?

Irene: The book exists because of our editor Carol Hinz. We had both been reading CITIZEN by Claudia Rankine, a book of poems for adults that deals with systemic racism. Carol wanted to bring this to a younger audience, to be a change agent, and she suggested one way to do that was a conversation, through poems, between a white poet and a black poet. I instantly thought of Charles.

 Charles: Irene reached out to me with a possible collaboration on a book at a time in my life when I needed, and had been working toward for years, an opportunity to break into the book business with a book of my own and not specifically having poems of mine in children’s poetry anthologies, which at the time had been my sole publications. It was opportunity meeting preparation because I was ready to go!

Photo Nov 05, 6 56 28 AM

In your book, two students are brought together for a school project and they are unsure about working together, not only because they are very different personalities, but because of the differences in their race. Did you find yourselves confronting any misperceptions or biases you didn’t realize you had?

Irene and Charles: One example that comes to mind involves the poem “Summer Reading” about THE BLACK STALLION by Walter Farley. This actually was a childhood favorite of Irene’s, and in an earlier draft of the poem the horse was referred to as “The Black,” just like in the book. Charles suggested that was possibly offensive, so we changed the poem. Later, after the book was final, our editor mentioned being disturbed by the fact that in THE BLACK STALLION there is a character described only as a “dark-skinned man.” This is the kind of subtle racism that changes our brains and takes conscious effort to re-shape. We are comforted by the fact that this kind of language/characterization would never pass muster in today’s publishing world! We are all learning.

We are all learning.

What is the most powerful lesson you learned from writing this book? What was the easiest part of writing the book? The hardest part?

Irene and Charles: We learned that no matter what your age, it takes courage, trust, and vulnerability to talk about race — and it is from that place where true friendship can grow. The easiest part was that once we got going, the poems came fast. We had a working draft of the manuscript within 3 weeks! The hardest part was cutting poems we cared about. A favorite poem that got cut was Willie Babe, about Irene’s (white) niece’s love for her black baby doll, which, as Charles says, is a  poem that dealt with, to quote the poem Walking Away by Cecil Day-Lewis, “How selfhood begins with a walking away, And love is proved in the letting go.”

How did your childhood experiences contribute to the narratives of each of the characters?

Irene and Charles: A fair number of the poems are if not true, then the spirit of them are true. For example, Charles had a teacher named Mrs. Vandenberg who pushed him to be his best self both in and out of the classroom. She was his high school teacher though, not his 5th grade one. Just like in the book, Irene was a quiet book and horse-loving kid, in part, due to moving 9 times and attending 11 different schools by the time she was 14. She really did want — and get — and Afro.

How do you hope parents, as well as teachers will use your book? What is one step parents and teachers can take right now to start a conversation about race?

Irene and Charles: Listen! Without interrupting. And bring into the home books and toys that show other cultures. Note — and celebrate! — differences. Allow children to be curious and ask questions — we are all learners! The quickest way to shut down a conversation, and to teach kids race isn’t to be talked about, is to scold.

Listen! Without interrupting.

I find poetry to be a perfect fit for every pre-literacy skill, but is often books parents shy away from the most. What books of poetry for young kids do you suggest to get families reading more poetry?

Irene and Charles: We love anthologies as a way to introduce readers to a bunch of styles and voices. Recent favorites include ONE MINUTE TILL BEDTIME, edited by Kenn Nesbitt; THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC BOOK OF ANIMAL POETRY, edited by J. Patrick Lewis; FIREFLY JULY, edited by Paul Janeczko, THE POETRY FRIDAY ANTHOLOGY FOR CELEBRATIONS, edited by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong; and SCHOOL PEOPLE (coming in February 2018), edited by Lee Bennett Hopkins. Some of these anthologies include our own poems.

Why do you think poetry intimidates people? Why do you think poetry draws us together?

Irene and Charles: Because poetry wasn’t properly taught in schools to many former students-now-teachers, it becomes an intimidating factor when passed down to their own students. Also, because poetry takes risks and isn’t always straightforward, it requires us to THINK and often, FEEL. That can be scary! But it you give it a minute, if you approach it with an open mind, poetry is SO accessible. It goes across many curriculums and can gets to the heart of the matter in the fewest words. It makes the ordinary extraordinary, it gives value to life.

Because poetry takes risks and isn’t always straightforward, it requires us to THINK and often, FEEL.

What do you believe is the biggest misbeliefs people have of poetry?

 Irene and Charles: I think many see poetry as superfluous — either unrelate-able and too-hard, or trite. Of course there are poems that fall into these categories. But poetry is an ocean! There’s a fish for every kind of reader! And hello, we NEED fish to survive. Our ecosystem depends on it and so we need beauty and the close attention of poetry — the way poetry can give us an experience in so few words and such a short amount of time. Poetry doesn’t have to be studied to a fare-thee-well in order to be understood. What a bunch of nonsense! Read poems out loud, enjoy them, move on.

Read poems out loud, enjoy them, move on.

Building Future readers hopes to build a lifelong habit of reading together. Do you read together as a family? What are your favorite books to share and why?

Irene: My husband Paul and I have three sons, now grown, and reading as a family was something we really enjoyed. Mostly we let the kids direct our reading, based on their interests — trucks, WWII, survival stories. A couple of titles that stand out as beloved by all: FEED by M.T. Anderson and HATCHET by Gary Paulsen. More recent titles I’d recommend: BROWN GIRL DREAMING by Jacqueline Woodson, ONE CRAZY SUMMER by Rita Williams-Garcia, and ESCAPE FROM ALEPPO by N.H. Senzai.

Charles: While I don’t have any children, I do have gaggles of nieces and nephews and have made sure they have many books, signed by the author no less, a bunch of them also generously given to them by Irene as well, that are stored on a special shelf at their grandparent’s house and ready to be read at any time. Personally I can remember reading A KICK IN THE HEAD edited by Paul B. Janeczko and being knocked sideways at the different poetic forms each poet conquered, I also remember being impressed for years to come at the book BRONX MASQUERADE by Nikki Grimes and the anthologies SHARING THE SEASONS and AMERICA AT WAR both edited by Lee Bennett Hopkins. A recent favorite of mine is the novel-in-verse INSIDE OUT AND BACK AGAIN by Thanhha Lai.

What is your memory of being read to as a child? Did you have a favorite book you listened to?

Irene: I was born to a super-reader father (he read at least a book a day his entire life!) and a schoolteacher mother, so yes, books, thankfully, have always been a part of my life. My early favorites were Shel Silverstein and Dr. Seuss. One of my treasures is a video of my nearly 70 year old father reading “Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout Would Not Take the Garbage Out” the same way he once read it to wee me while I sat on his knee.

Charles: Growing up I read THE BERENSTAIN BEARS series and Dr. Suess, as I got older it was the sports pages of the PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER. The three books that got me hooked on reading while becoming a teenager and young adult was OUT OF CONTROL: Confessions of an NFL Casualty by Thomas “Hollywood” Henderson and Peter Knobler, SHORT CUTS: Selected Stories by Raymond Carver and ORDINARY PEOPLE by Judith Guest.

Sadly, I didn’t get into poetry until I was 29 years old. It started with reading Jack Prelutsky before going into work by Marilyn Nelson, Nikki Grimes, Lee Bennett Hopkins, Paul B. Janeczko, Valerie Worth and many, many more. It’s my mission to make sure it doesn’t take another human so long to get into this life changing form. Poetry is as accessible as blue skies, sunshine, rain, apple pie and checkered tablecloths. Trust it, it will never let you down.

Poetry is as accessible as blue skies, sunshine, rain, apple pie and checkered tablecloths. Trust it, it will never let you down.

Thank you, Jessica, so much for having us!

Thank you so much to Charles and Irene for their time and thoughtful answers! I don’t know about you, but I have a lot of online shopping to do now 🙂

I will be giving away a copy of the book Can I Touch Your Hair when it is released in January. To win, comment below with your favorite poem from childhood.

Happy Reading

Book Review: Can I Touch Your Hair by Irene Latham and Charles Waters

Can I Touch Your Hair by Irene Latham and Charles Waters. Illustrated by Sean Qualls and Selina Alko. Publishing date: January 1, 2018 by Carolrhoda Books.

Available for preorder

Ages 8 and up

(I received an ARC of this book for a fair review. I was not paid for the review. However, I am an Amazon Affliliate and if you click on the link and make a purchase I receive a portion of the sale.)


Conversations about race at any age is difficult. It is a topic often avoided with kids because of the worry they aren’t old enough to handle the intricate topic. “Can I Touch Your Hair” provides a starting point for deeper conversations in our schools, our families and with our friends. The authors handle cultural differences and new friendships with sensitivity.

The writing and illustrating teams gave each character and picture its own distinct voice and style through free style poetry. This is the first picture book I have read using this technique, and I enjoyed its fresh approach to the picture book genre.

The book stayed away from stereotypes of each culture, and highlighted the fact they exist. Its universal theme of fitting in makes the book a relatable for everyone. Each of the characters struggles to find his or her place in the community they live in and find friendship in the last place they expected to.

Although the concepts are sophisticated, parents and teachers shouldn’t shy away from the book. Use the book  as a discussion starter about race and our similarities and cultural differences.

“Can I Touch Your Hair” shows no matter our perceptions we are all a part of the same community.

Try It At Home

reading together

Reading aloud should never stop. This book is a perfect read aloud book for older kids. Research shows that fluency improves when kids hear books being read aloud even if the child reads independently. The back and forth nature of Can I Touch Your Hair, makes it perfect for a read aloud. Your child can practice reading with emotion and pauses and learn from you as you read the same way.


Poetry aids self-expression and builds creative writing skills. Poetry isn’t only a great way to express emotions, it is a great way to build reading and writing skills. Free style poetry is a great way to introduce creative writing to kids because it doesn’t have the rules of other types. We often think of poetry as having to rhyme and this book is a perfect example of creativity at work. Write poems with your child about what is important in his or her life. Emotions she might have a hard time expressing or places where he feels insecure. Don’t stop there! Haiku’s are a great way to connect with nature and writing and are fun to produce. Poetry doesn’t have to be intimidating as the authors demonstrate.

letter writing

Rekindle the art of letter writing. Feeling different or out of place happens to all of us and as kids age they have a harder time telling us what they are feeling and what is happening in his or her life. A friend of mine when my kids were young suggested sharing a diary that the child can write in and the parent can respond to. It gives kids a chance to let out the emotions they have a hard time discussing and gives us as parents time to think through our response. Added benefits are increasing narrative skills through the letter writing or diary format and handwriting practice.

Try these Books:

Tune in tomorrow when Building Future Readers interviews the authors Charles Waters and Irene Latham about the book!



What books do you read to begin a conversation about race and cultural differences and similarities?

Happy Reading