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). https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/335fa96c601876e4 NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Ends the earlier of Dec 23, 2017 11:59 PM PST, or when all prizes are claimed. See Official Rules http://amzn.to/GArules.

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.)

friendship

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

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