Tag Archives: children’s books

I Am Martin Luther King Jr by Brad Meltzer, illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos (Dial, 2016)

Celebrating Multicultural Children’s Books

Recently, we celebrated Multicultural Children’s Book Day, where many bloggers around the world have shared about great multicultural children’s books.

Check out the origins of Multicultural Children’s Book Day at the main site and at Pragmatic Mom and Jump Into a Book.

The folks at Multicultural Children’s Book Day also put together a Classroom Kindness Kit.

We were given the opportunity to join in on the #ReadYourWorld fun and review a book that celebrates diversity!

I Am Martin Luther King Jr by Brad Meltzer, illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos (Dial, 2016)

About the book (from the publisher):

I Am Martin Luther King Jr. by Brad Meltzer, illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos (Dial, 2016)

We can all be heroes. That’s the inspiring message of this New York Times Bestselling picture book biography series from historian and author Brad Meltzer.

Even as a child, Martin Luther King, Jr. was shocked by the terrible and unfair way African-American people were treated. When he grew up, he decided to do something about it—peacefully, with powerful words. He helped gather people together for nonviolent protests and marches, and he always spoke up about loving other human beings and doing what’s right. He spoke about the dream of a kinder future, and bravely led the way toward racial equality in America.

This lively, New York Times Bestselling biography series inspires kids to dream big, one great role model at a time. You’ll want to collect each book.

My Kids’ Thoughts:

My son says: “I like it! But I don’t like when Martin Luther King Jr. couldn’t be friends with his best friend anymore. I like the fun illustrations and reading about Martin Luther King Jr.”

My daughter says: “I give this book 4 1/2 stars! I really love reading about Martin Luther King Jr., and I like when everyone comes together to let freedom ring and be kind to each other. I like the illustrations, and I don’t mind that Martin Luther King Jr. is shown as staying smaller the whole time, but I do think that’s a little confusing. At the end of the book, I feel like we can all help each other.”

My Thoughts:

This book is part of the “Ordinary People Change the World” series, which highlights amazing actions done by many people for justice and kindness throughout history.

My kids and I have been reading a lot about Martin Luther King, Jr. over the past year, and they were thrilled that we’d get to read and review this book.

The narrative is a bit longer for a picture book, so this book (and series) is better suited for ages 5 and up. This book included a lot of information within its pages though, which we all liked and appreciated. My kids enjoyed how the narrative was written as if Martin Luther King was talking to them, telling us his story. They also enjoyed the illustration style and formatting of having some folks talk in dialogue bubbles that added to the narrative. These spots allow for perfect places to take turns reading out loud.

The material sparks conversations on fair treatment and justice, even for the younger age group. Starting in childhood also helps younger readers relate what happened to minorities. I expected more back matter at the end of the book, although it makes since that the back matter is condensed since the narrative highlights many events within MLK Jr.’s life. I’m especially glad the book states, “…remember how far we’ve come. And how much more work there is to do.” The ending spread empowers readers to know our voices can come together to support each other.

I personally found the illustration choice of keeping Martin Luther King Jr. as child-sized throughout the book distracting rather than helpful. My kids noticed it too (as my daughter noted above), but it also didn’t bother them. (This is a style choice throughout the whole series, so it’s something I believe most readers can get used to.) The illustrations are colorful and interesting. We’ll definitely be checking out more of this series.

Check out more reviews of amazing multicultural books at the link-up!

Multicultural Children's Book Day

I also share about kidlit books, including many diverse books over at my Instagram account. Join me and let’s talk books!

Instagram for kidlit books and more

Celebrating multicultural children’s books is for every day! What favorite diverse books have you been reading lately?

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book as a MCBD reviewer. All opinions expressed are my own, and this is my honest review.

I am an affiliate for Amazon Associates. If you click on an Amazon link and then make a purchase, I receive a small commission. This does not affect your final cost at all. Thank you for supporting this blog and my family!

This site is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

One Small Donkey (Thomas Nelson, 2016)

A New Christmas Story for Little Ones {book review}

One Small Donkey (Thomas Nelson, 2016)

About the book (from the publisher):

One Small Donkey by Dandi Daley Mackall, illustrated by Marta Alvarez Miguens (Thomas Nelson, 2016)

Little ones can do big things for God!

Your family will love this heartwarming Christmas story told from an unlikely perspective: a donkey carrying Mary to Bethlehem. Though the donkey wasn’t the biggest, fastest, or strongest of all the animals, he had an important job all the same. Adults and children alike will love the message about how God has big plans for little ones.

My Kids’ Thoughts:

My son says: “I like it! I like at the end that there are children in the illustration with the animal and donkey and baby Jesus. I also liked the sound words like clip, clip, clop and knock, knock, knocks.”

My daughter says: “I like that it’s a Christmas story. I like that the donkey’s halter is red. I like that the donkey’s master is Joseph. Even though the donkey wasn’t as big or as fast as the other horses, he still had an important job to carry Mary. I like that other animals come along on the journey and then all together at the end and Mary gets to have a baby with Joseph and hold him.”

My Thoughts:

This story offers a sweet fictional look at Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem and Jesus’s birth. We first meet the small donkey without Joseph and Mary, and we’re introduced to donkey wanting to be like the big, fast, sleek horses instead of his own donkey self. We don’t actually see anyone excluding the donkey in these pages before Joseph calls for him, but this idea of poor self-esteem can be relatable.

I stumbled reading parts of this out loud at times. I feel like some of rhythm in these rhyming lines didn’t flow as well as others I’ve read from this author. I almost wondered if this particular story needed to be told in rhyme. Some of its lovely phrases would have remained lovely in the prose form, too.

That said, it’s an enjoyable read aloud and captures another perspective of the Christmas journey. Plus it offers an age-appropriate focus on how everyone — no matter how fast, slow, big, or small — has an important job and a way to help. (The author’s note gives an inside look to the inspiration for the story, too.) The illustrations are sweet, colorful (though maybe their skin was a little too whitened for what’s probably historically accurate?), and show a blend of textures that are pleasing to look at while reading. My kids (as noted above in their review) were drawn to many aspects of the illustrations.

We own the author’s Listen to the Silent Night (another fictional retelling of the birth story) and absolutely love it. The rhyme and rhythm there are smooth and so beautiful. One Small Donkey is a sweet story, but if you can choose only one, we highly recommend Listen to the Silent Night.

What is one of your family’s favorite Christmas picture books?

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher as a part of the BookLook bloggers program in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

I am an affiliate for Amazon Associates. If you click on an Amazon link and then make a purchase, I receive a small commission. This does not affect your final cost at all. Thank you for supporting this blog and my family!

This site is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

Cybils awards!

Nominate Your Favorite Book!

The Cybils awards are the Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary Awards. Bloggers from various avenues take your nominations and choose winners in different categories of children’s literature.

Cybils awards!

I’m honored to be a Round 1 panelist for the Easy Reader/Early Chapter Book category. That means I read a lot of books (that you nominate) between now and the end of the year and help provide a shortlist to the Round 2 judges who choose the final winners.

You nominate. We read. And winners are listed!

Today is the last day to nominate your favorite children’s books. Want to see what’s already nominated? Read here. Then go here to nominate your favorite (that isn’t already nominated). You can nominate one book per category.

But, you only have today left to submit your nominations! Share your favorites and stay tuned at the Cybils site to see what’s chosen.

Did you nominate a book? Which category?

Love Letters from God Bible Stories - Zonderkidz, 2014

3 New Children’s Books about Faith

We’ve recently had the opportunity to review three new children’s books from various publishers. Read below for our thoughts!

Three New Children’s Books about Faith

Your Core by Callie Grant (Graham Blanchard, 2014)

Your Core by Callie Grant, Illustrated by Missi Jay (Graham Blanchard, 2014) – This board book is another in the “Absorb” line of books from faith-based family publisher, Graham Blanchard. This book offers an explanation to young readers about what one’s “core” and “soul” is. This book doesn’t go into much detail at all, but the soul is a very hard concept to explain to anyone, especially to young ones. The text stays simple and mostly appropriate for ages 3-5ish. Some of the lines rhyme and some don’t, but the content itself is fairly solid. My kids enjoyed the brightly colored illustrations. The book ends with Ephesians 3:16-17, great versus to focus on for this topic. Your Core can help spark discussion in families about the core and soul.

The Good Dog by Todd Kessler

The Good Dog by Todd Kessler, Illustrated by Jennifer Gray Olson (Greenleaf Book Group Press, 2014) – This book is classified as a picture book, but it is nearly three times as long as the majority of traditionally published picture books. The story follows a young boy, Ricky, who finds as little dog, Tako, and whether or not Tako will be able to be a “good dog” and stay with Ricky’s family. The theme itself focuses on listening to what a person (or dog) is really trying to say/show and concentrating on truth. However, this book will probably be too long for most younger readers, not just because of the page count, but because this story is almost two separate stories. Much of the beginning pages could be shortened or cut to get into the action of the story much quicker without taking away from the point of the story or even character development. I also noticed two distinct places where the story jumped from one location or event to another bluntly without transition. Once in the action, the action stays fairly constant. The book discusses a sub theme of “good” and “bad” and how dogs/people can be labeled as “bad” but actually be “good.” This theme is an important one for young kids to understand, but families will need to discuss together how this book approaches it. This book is also on the expensive side for a picture book, with a list price of $18.95, which may reduce its accessibility.

Love Letters from God Bible Stories - Zonderkidz, 2014

Love Letters from God Bible Stories by Glenys Nellist, Illustrated by Sophie Allsopp (Zonderkidz, 2014) – We love this Bible stories book! This picture book-style Bible storybook is presented beautifully in colorful hardback with an almost scrapbook-like appearance. Each spread includes a retelling of a Bible story, a short focus verse, and a lift-the-flap “love letter” from God. The stories are paraphrased for the 4-8 age range and include emotional aspects in the retellings that allow readers to relate to the characters and events. Each story focuses on how the character learned from God and how God remains present in our lives no matter what circumstances may arise. A few of the details are left out of some stories (example: the creation story doesn’t detail the days of creation), but that doesn’t take away from the themes themselves. The focus verses are very appropriate and all short enough to be used as memory verses for even the preschool audience. The “love letters” are elegantly designed to look like envelopes on the outside and a one-paragraph letter from God to the reader on the inside. Each letter has an opening line, allowing you to write the reader’s name in to personalize each letter. These letters summarize the focus of each Bible story sufficiently. The illustrations are colorful, vibrant, and uniquely arranged on each spread. The book ends with an “invitation” to the reader to “join Jesus’s team” and a blank letter to allow the reader to write a “love letter” back to God. This storybook is a lovely addition to a family or church library.

What are some of your favorite new faith-focused children’s books?

Disclosure: I received a free copy of each of these books from their various publishers in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Disclosure: I am an affiliate for Signing Time and Amazon Associates. If you click on a Signing Time link or Amazon and then make a purchase, I receive a small commission. This does not affect your final cost at all. Thank you for supporting this blog and my family!

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8 Pretend Play Ideas for preschoolers and early elementary {featuring the picture book Tea Party Rules by Ame Dyckman} - undergodsmightyhand.com

8 Pretend Play Ideas {featuring the book Tea Party Rules by Ame Dyckman}

I’m usually on a search for ways to help my fella with special needs and his sister gain ideas and opportunities for pretend play.

My son is drawn to activities completed in conjunction with books we’re reading.

We’re particularly fond of Ame Dyckman’s picture books. When Boy +Bot came out, we reread it so often, I created a preschool robot unit using it. Boy + Bot is still regularly pulled off the shelf for rereads.

Just a few weeks ago, Ame Dyckman’s second picture book released, Tea Party Rules. It’s just as clever and fun to read as Boy + Bot.

And, it’s full of ideas for pretend play with a friend! So, of course, I had to make a little mini-unit out of it.

Read this post for reasons why pretend play is so important, plus general ideas for pretend play (including tips for special needs).

Continue reading below for more specific ideas for pretend play for preschoolers and early elementary ages.

8 Pretend Play Ideas for preschoolers and early elementary {featuring the picture book Tea Party Rules by Ame Dyckman} - undergodsmightyhand.com

8 Pretend Play Ideas for Anytime {but especially for accompanying Tea Party Rules}

  • Bathe stuffed animals and dolls. Often my baby girl wants to grab a wipe and wipe down her baby’s mouth, nose, hands, and feet. If your child needs a little more enticing to pretend play or is a sensory seeker, try giving a doll or stuffed animal a full bath in a small dishpan or tub. (Just use an animal that’s okay to get wet!)
    8 Pretend Play Ideas for preschoolers and early elementary {featuring the book Tea Party Rules by Ame Dyckman}
  • Dress up animals or dolls. Pretending to dress up a doll practices real-world play and life skills, motor coordination, and controlling strength when taking care to “dress” a toy.
    8 Pretend Play Ideas for preschoolers and early elementary {featuring the book Tea Party Rules by Ame Dyckman}
  • Dress up self. I’m not sure if most toddlers and preschoolers begin this way, but my kids pretend played with toys first before they began pretending with themselves being a character. I have a bin on a bottom shelf of one bookcase that remains filled with pretend play props. From fireman hats to costumes and old shirts to bags and even a broken iPad case, these props allow for open-ended pretend play.
    8 Pretend Play Ideas for preschoolers and early elementary {featuring the book Tea Party Rules by Ame Dyckman}
  • Play a simple command game. This was one of the first games my son directed on his own. Begin with a few simple commands (like “march,” “freeze,” “dance,” “jump”) and let your kids decide when to switch and what order to use those commands. While using less “pretending” than other games, it’s a great “first” pretend play game to practice making decisions during game play.
  • Act out a scene from a favorite book or show. This is currently one of my son’s favorite methods of pretend play. He loves to act out scenes from a favorite book (like Bathtime for Biscuit or Tea Party Rules) or a favorite Signing Time episode.
  • Pick a few items or pieces of equipment and create a game! This idea may suit elementary ages better, but preschoolers can play along with older siblings or friends. I explain one way to “create-a-game” in this post at The Homeschool Village, and you can modify it to fit your needs.
  • Let your friend pick his or her favorite game. My daughter will create a game and my son will join in. Other times, my son begins playing, and my daughter joins in, adding her own twist. I love seeing their unique ways of playing and how they take turns coming up with the game.
  • Have a tea party (or any other kind of pretend party)! No reading of Tea Party Rules would be complete without a tea party! Ame sent some awesome {pretend} cookies our way (thanks, Ame!), and we’ve put them to good use.

8 Pretend Play Ideas for preschoolers and early elementary {featuring the book Tea Party Rules by Ame Dyckman}

8 Pretend Play Ideas for preschoolers and early elementary {featuring the book Tea Party Rules by Ame Dyckman}

We even invited Cub! He’s really good at sharing.

8 Pretend Play Ideas for preschoolers and early elementary {featuring the book Tea Party Rules by Ame Dyckman}

If you want more ideas on encouraging creative play in general, check out this post.

How do you encourage pretend play with your preschoolers? Have you read Tea Party Rules yet?

This post was featured at Teaching Mama’s at the Toddler and Preschool Pinning Party!

This post is also linked up with The Homeschool Village’s Ultimate Homeschool Link-UpHomeschool Creation’s Preschool and Kindergarten CornerTuesday TotsToddler and Preschool Moms Pinning Party, the Weekly Kids Co-opShow and Share Saturday, and Free Homeschool Deals’ Ultimate Pinterest Party.

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