February 1 – World Read Aloud Day

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About the Holiday

Now in its 14th year World Read Aloud Day, founded by global non-profit LitWorld, encourages adults to read aloud to children not only today but every day. Reading aloud to children from birth is one of the best ways to promote language development, improve literacy, and enjoy bonding time together. Millions of people celebrate today’s holiday all across the United States and in more than one hundred countries around the world. Special events are held in schools, libraries, bookstores, homes, and communities, and authors and illustrators hold readings and visit classrooms in person and virtually. To learn more about World Read Aloud Day, visit LitWorld and check out their Activity Hub to find live events, virtual read alouds, downloadable bookmarks, posters, games, and more!

Love Is Loud: How Diane Nash Led the Civil Rights Movement

Written by Sandra Neil Wallace | Illustrated by Bryan Collier

 

Raised on Chicago’s South Side, Diane Nash is sheltered by her parents from the segregation of the South that they had grown up in. During the Second World War, Diane is taken care of by her grandmother while her father joins the army and her mother takes a job. Her Grandmother Bolton is from Tennessee and showers her with love. “You are ‘more precious than all the diamonds in the world,'” she told Diane, and growing “up in the rhythm and glow of her love” Diane knew “it must be true.”

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Image copyright Bryan Collier, 2023, text copyright Sandra Neil Wallace, 2023. Courtesy of Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books.

In high school kids of all colors learn together. Diane reads about segregation in textbooks, but it didn’t really touch her. Then she moves to Tennessee to attend Fisk University. Here, when her friends take her to a fair, Diane is confronted with the “sting of segregation” when she sees there are two restrooms: one labeled WHITE and the other COLORED. Her friends have grown up in this system; they tell her “to go along to get along,” but Diane “won’t follow rules if the rules are wrong.” The rhythms of her grandmother’s love and her pride in being “beautiful, honey brown” will not allow her to feel less than others.

In Nashville, Diane experiences the full indignation of segregation that demands separate water fountains and schools, back-of-the-bus seating, and—the worst for Diane—no eating at the lunch counter. She doesn’t want to be arrested for eating at a lunch counter, but neither does she want to let it go. Before each day of college classes, Diane and other students “pray and learn about change in a peaceful way.” They practice calmly sitting and ordering at a lunch counter, knowing that people may be rude, may push them off their stool, may throw sugar in their hair.

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Image copyright Bryan Collier, 2023, text copyright Sandra Neil Wallace, 2023. Courtesy of Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books.

In February of 1960, Diane, now at twenty-one years old, leads a group of students to a lunch counter in Nashville. Their presence shocks the cooks and waitress, who drops plate after plate from her shaking hands. “Inside [Diane shakes] too. Hands sweating, never forgetting the danger, the fear of being arrested for ordering a sandwich.” Bravely, despite coffee burns and thrown sugar, Diane and the students hold sit ins at lunch counters across the city. And when Diane is arrested, there are hundreds of others to fill her seat.

After a bombing in April Diane, “quietly walking, without any talking… silently leads six-thousand marching feet to the beat of love” to meet the mayor, who at first says there is nothing he can do. Looking him in the eye, Diane asks him questions he cannot deny, and he admits that prejudice and segregation are wrong—even at the lunch counter. “At that moment, love scores. It soars as six thousand loving hands roar with applause.” And in May—Diane has just turned twenty-two—Nashville’s lunch counters are fully integrated. Martin Luther King Jr. congratulates her on her peaceful victory as she moves on to change the rules of bus travel with Freedom Rides, to uphold the “law of the land [that] says everyone is free to sit or stand together in a bus traveling across America.”

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Image copyright Bryan Collier, 2023, text copyright Sandra Neil Wallace, 2023. Courtesy of Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books.

While the movement makes progress, even attracting the attention of the president, a Mississippi judge charges Diane “with putting Freedom Riders on a bus.” Before her trial, Diane, pregnant with her first child, writes a letter heard around the world that said “‘I believe that if I go to jail now, … it may help hasten that day when my child and all children will be free.'” Her case rivets the world as she chooses to go to jail instead of paying bail. 

After she is released, Diane turns her attention to the issue of voting rights and the state of Alabama, where four young girls are killed in a bombing in a Birmingham church and “where Black people are denied the right to vote.” Following Diane’s example, thousands of adults and children choose jail over bail in protest of the injustice until the Civil Rights Act is signed by President Johnson in 1964 and a year after that when he “signs the 1965 Voting Rights Act to legally end racial discrimination that prevented Black people from voting.” But Diane Nash doesn’t stop there. She takes her message of peace and peaceful change across the country for fifty years, teaching young people “how love creates change.”

Image copyright Bryan Collier, 2023, text copyright Sandra Neil Wallace, 2023. Courtesy of Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books.

Image copyright Bryan Collier, 2023, text copyright Sandra Neil Wallace, 2023. Courtesy of Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books.

Extensive back matter includes an Author’s Note and an Illustrator’s Note about the work of Diane Nash; a detailed timeline from her birth to 2022, when she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom; a list of video interviews with Diane Nash, four other books for young readers; sources for quotes found in the story; and a selected bibliography. A photograph of Nash and three other students integrating a lunch counter in Nashville and another of Nash leading demonstrators to meet the mayor of Nashville are also included.

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Image copyright Bryan Collier, 2023, text copyright Sandra Neil Wallace, 2023. Courtesy of Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books.

Compelling and moving, Sandra Neil Wallace’s lyrical storytelling about the life and work of Diane Nash rivets readers to this young woman’s courage, confidence, and conviction to overturn the injustice of segregation and inequality for Blacks. Punctuated with often-rhyming phrases, and sharp, short sentences Wallace’s text flows with a rhythm of urgency that perfectly conveys not only Nash’s resolve, but the stakes for the peaceful demonstrators and the atmosphere of the times.

Written in the third person, the story directly addresses Nash, but the repeated “you” also builds a chorus that reverberates in each reader’s heart, telling them that they are brave, that they are strong, and that they too can change the world with love. This format poignantly culminates on the last page. Here, Wallace changes the dynamic with a subtle turn of phrase that now directly embraces each reader, letting them know that Diane Nash worked for freedom “because she loved you even before you were born” and reminding them that “Love is fierce. Love is strong. Love is loud!”

Bryan Collier’s rich watercolor-and-collage illustrations draw readers in with their realistic depictions of Diane Nash as a baby and young girl cherished by her family, as a high school and university student, at the fair that changed the trajectory of her life,  leading peaceful demonstrations at lunch counters and across the South, and crossing the country to bring her message to young people. Nash’s self-assurance, courage, and determination are evocatively expressed, and a full-page portrait of Diane looking out at the reader mirrors Wallace’s invitation for them to look into her eyes and see her love there.

Scraps of photographs are sprinkled here and there among the pages, providing a spark of recognition of the time and places depicted. But it is the cut paper elements that make certain images of people and objects jump off the page, working powerfully with Wallace’s text to make readers feel that they too are at the fair, at the lunch counter, joining the throng of marchers. Each page is a masterpiece of history and story that invites study, thoughtful contemplation, and action.

Absorbing, eloquent, and impactful, Love Is Loud: How Diane Nash Led the Civil Rights Movement is biography at its best: a moving tribute Diane Nash set amid a far-reaching immersion in the time period. Love Is Loud belongs in every home, classroom, school, and public library collection to teach children about the contributions of Diane Nash as well as to remind them that vigilance and the work for freedom is an ever-ongoing pursuit.

Ages 4 – 8 

Simon & Schuster | Paula Wiseman Books, 2022 | ISBN 978-1534451032

About the Author

Sandra Neil Wallace writes about people who break barriers and change the world. She is the author of several award-winning books for children, including Between the Lines: How Ernie Barnes Went from the Football Field to the Art Gallery, illustrated by Bryan Collier, which received the Orbis Pictus Book Award and was an ALA Notable Book. A former ESPN reporter and the first woman to host an NHL broadcast, she is the recipient of the Outstanding Women of New Hampshire Award and creates change as cofounder of The Daily Good, a nonprofit bringing twenty thousand free, culturally diverse foods to college students each year through its Global Foods Pantries. Visit Sandra at SandraNeilWallace.com.

About the Illustrator

Bryan Collier is a beloved illustrator known for his unique style combining watercolor and detailed collage. He is a four-time Caldecott Honor recipient for Trombone ShortyDave the PotterMartin’s Big Words, and Rosa. His books have won many other awards as well, including six Coretta Scott King Illustrator Awards. His recent books include By and By, ThurgoodThe Five O’Clock Band, and Between the Lines. He lives in New York with his family. Visit him at BryanCollier.com.

Watch the Book Trailer for Love Is Loud!

World Read Aloud Day Activities 

2022 Presidential Medal of Freedom Ceremony

 

Watch as Diane Nash is awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in this White House video from July 7, 2022. You can find President Joe Biden’s remarks about Diane Nash at the 5:50 mark, and see her receive her medal at the 41:29 mark.

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Love Is Loud Curriculum Guide

 

Teachers, educators, and homeschoolers can download an in-depth, 6-page Curriculum Guide for Love Is Loud full of a variety of ways for students to connect with the book and history from Sandra Neil Wallace’s website here.

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You can find Love Is Loud: How Diane Nash Led the Civil Rights Movement at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

Picture Book Review

January 30 – It’s International Quality of Life Month

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About the Holiday

How one achieves their definition of a good quality of life may differ for every person, but in general it encompasses being happy and satisfied with one’s relationships, work, living conditions, and self. Whether you find happiness and quality of life in outdoor or indoor pursuits, with others or alone, at work or at home, this month’s holiday gives you time to get in touch with your inner quiet place and reflect on changes or improvements to bring you more peace and happiness in life.

Charlotte and the Quiet Place

Written by Deborah Sosin | Illustrated by Sara Woolley

 

Charlotte is a girl who likes quiet who lives in a noisy world. Everywhere she goes, it seems, it’s impossible to escape from sounds that disturb her peace. At home the hallway creaks where “the floorboards groan,” the living room is like an arcade where the “TV bellows and blares,” and the kitchen is filled with Otto’s barks for his dinner. Even in Charlotte’s bedroom, “which is supposed to be a quiet place, the old steam radiator hisses, whistles, and whines. Where can Charlotte find a quiet place?”

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Image copyright Sara Woolley, text copyright Deborah Sosin. Courtesy of sarawoolley.com

When Charlotte goes to school, things are no better. In the classroom kids are boisterous and bells ring; the lunchroom echoes with clattering trays and scuffing chairs; and the playground blares with big voices and stomping feet but also with the little squeaks and rattle of the swings. “Even in the library, which is supposed to be a quiet place, the children giggle, yammer, and yell. Where can Charlotte find a quiet place?”

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Image copyright Sara Woolley, text copyright Deborah Sosin. Courtesy of sarawoolley.com

The outside world resounds with the din of jackhammers, horns, sirens, shouts, cars, music, and the “screeches, rumbles, and roars” of the subway. “Even in the park, which is supposed to be a quiet place, the leaf blower buzzes, blusters, and hums.” Charlotte puts her hands to her ears. “‘Nooo!’” she cries, “‘I have to find a quiet place!’”

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Image copyright Sara Woolley, text copyright Deborah Sosin. Courtesy of sarawoolley.com

On Saturday Charlotte takes her dog for a walk in the park. Suddenly, Otto spies a squirrel and takes off running, wrenching his leash out of Charlotte’s hand. She chases after him down a hill, over a bridge, into the middle of a grove of trees. Out of breath, Charlotte and Otto sit beneath a tree. Gasping, Charlotte’s “belly rises up and down, up and down. Her breath goes in and out, in and out. Hooooo ahhhhh. Hooo ahhh.”

Slowly, Charlotte’s breath comes easier and “her mind slows down.” In this state, she discovers another, even quieter place. It is a place deep inside where her breath is soft and her “thoughts are hushed and low.” It is “a place as quiet as the small silence on the very last page of her favorite book, the silence right after ‘The End.’”

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Image copyright Sara Woolley, text copyright Deborah Sosin. Courtesy of sarawoolley.com

In a little while, Charlotte and Otto leave the grove, but now whenever home or school or the neighborhood is too loud, Charlotte remembers where she can find a quiet place. She simply closes her eyes and pays attention to that place deep in her belly and deep in her mind—“that quiet place inside.”

For so many children the world is a blaring, clattering place where their thoughts are drowned out by the noises around them. Deborah Sosin’s award-winning Charlotte and the Quiet Place validates these feelings and offers children a way to discover inner peace wherever they are. As a tonic to today’s hyper-stimulated environment, kids and adults alike will benefit from the method of mindful reflection Sosin presents. Sosin’s combination of evocative verbs and repetition makes the story fresh and an excellent read-aloud while also mirroring the sounds that are a part of our everyday life.

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Image copyright Sara Woolley, text copyright Deborah Sosin. Courtesy of sarawoolley.com

Sara Woolley’s beautiful watercolor illustrations vividly depict not only Charlotte’s world but the sounds that disturb her peace. Amid the fully realized home, school, and neighborhood environments, complete with realistic details kids will recognize, sharp cracks of equipment, blaring bells and whistles, high-pitched voices, and other noises spark the page. Portrayals of Charlotte, her hands over her ears and her eyes sad, express her distress in a way kids will understand. When Charlotte finds the grove of trees in which she first experiences inner peace, Woolley’s color palette turns softer, with peaceful tones of green, blue, and yellow where, previously, “louder” purples, reds, and golds predominated.

Charlotte and the Quiet Place is a very welcomed book for those times when peace seems elusive and will give comfort to children who prefer quiet places and have more introverted natures. The book would make a wonderful addition to all children’s book shelves as well as to school and public library collections.

Ages 4 – 8

Parallax Press, 2015 | ISBN 978-1941529027

Visit Charlotte and the Quiet Place on her own website! You’ll find resources, images and videos, and more!

View a gallery of artwork for books, comics, and other illustration work by Sara Woolley on her website!

Meet Deborah Sosin

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-interview-with-author-deborah-sosinDeborah Sosin is a writer, editor, and clinical social worker specializing in mindfulness-based psychotherapy. She holds an MSW from Smith College School for Social Work and an MFA from Lesley University. Debbie’s picture book, Charlotte and the Quiet Place, illustrated by Sara Woolley, was published by Parallax Press in 2015 and has won multiple awards including the 2015 INDIEFAB Book of the Year Gold Award, the 2016 Independent Publisher Book Awards Silver Medal, and the 2015 National Parenting Publications Bronze Award. Debbie’s essays and op-eds have appeared in the New York Times, Boston Globe Magazine, Salon, CognoscentiBrevity Blog, The Writer’s Chronicle, Journal News, Writer’s Digest, Zone 3 Literary Journal, JMWW Journal, The Manifest-Station, and elsewhere. Her essays also appear in the anthologies Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Cat Did What? and The Apollo 11 Moon Landing (Perspectives on Modern World History). (Photo by Kevin Day Photography)

You can connect with Deborah Sosin on: Her Website | Facebook | Twitter

Hi Debbie! I’m really thrilled to have you join me today to talk about your work. In your career you write for adults and children, work within the publishing industry, provide publicity services, and teach. How did you get started? Did you always want to write?

I kept a diary starting at around age ten and always loved writing for school or for fun. I started getting more serious about writing for publication in the past ten years, studied at GrubStreet, attended the Kenyon Review Writers Workshop, and eventually went back to school to get an MFA in Creative Writing. I wish I had started earlier, but it’s been rewarding to finally follow my true passion.

What influenced you to write Charlotte and the Quiet Place?

I wrote the book as an independent project as part of my MFA studies at Lesley University. They say “write what you know,” so I thought about my childhood growing up in kind of a noisy house, where my brother played the piano, my father had a radio and TV on simultaneously, and my mother was on the phone a lot. And then I thought about my longtime meditation practice and how tuning in to my breathing has helped me find a quiet place inside. So I wanted to write a story about children finding their own quiet place inside themselves.

You give school presentations on mindfulness and your picture book Charlotte and the Quiet Place for various ages. Is there an experience from any of these that you would like to share?

School visits are my favorite part of being an author! No matter what age the students are, they love to help me tell the story by repeating the “noisy” sounds and the “hoo ahh” breathing sounds. We usually do a few calming/breathing exercises together and, without fail, even the squirmiest group will settle into a beautiful, shared, often profound silence. Once, when asked where Charlotte finds her quiet place, one kindergarten girl said, “In her belly and in her brain, where it’s calm.” Many kids get that idea. What could be better? I also love showing them my early scribbles and illustrator Sara Woolley’s wonderful sketches and storyboards, and sharing the step-by-step process of publishing the book, from concept to completion

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Deborah Sosin reads Charlotte and the Quiet Place to students at Newton Montessori School. Photo courtesy of Newton Montessori School.

Can you talk a little about mindfulness and how it can benefit children?

Mindfulness has become a catchword these days, but my favorite definition is from Dr. Amy Saltzman: “Noticing what’s happening right here and now, with a friendly, curious attitude, then choosing what to do next.” Many top-notch scientific studies show that mindfulness can help kids with concentration, attention, self-soothing, anxiety, depression, sleep, mood, compassion, confidence…I could go on. Compared with adults, most kids are naturally mindful, that is “in the moment,” but kids do get stressed out and worried about the past or the future, so mindfulness helps. I sometimes worry that parents and teachers might use it for disciplinary reasons (“Enough! Go be mindful in the corner!”), which is not the point. It’s a whole-life practice, not a technique or intervention. And, as the book shows, mindfulness can lead us to a quiet place inside that we can access whenever we want.

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Students at the Cottage Montessori School in Arlington, Massachusetts play the Silence Game with director Karen Wagner, watching the sand in the hourglass. Photo courtesy of Stacey Moriarty.

Can you tell me a little about your work with Grub Street, a creative writing center in Boston?

I started taking classes at GrubStreet in 2008; my first class was “Six Weeks, Six Essays,” and from that class, I helped form a longtime regular writing group. I started blogging soon after and then submitted personal essays for publication, with some good luck. GrubStreet is a fantastic, inclusive community, with excellent faculty and a huge range of motivated, smart, and enthusiastic students, from beginners to veterans. After a few years, I applied to teach classes there and am proud to be on their instructor and consultant rosters now.

You are an accomplished choral singer, having performed at Lincoln Center, the United Nations, Boston’s Symphony Hall, and on an international tour. When did you begin choral singing? Do you have an anecdote you’d like to share from any of your experiences?

I’ve been singing my whole life and have been in choruses since elementary school. Singing with other people is extremely gratifying and, after all the “verbal”-type things I do, including my work as a psychotherapist, it’s a lovely change of pace. I spent about 15 years in the Zamir Chorale of Boston, which specializes in Jewish choral music. Our tours to Eastern Europe, Italy, and Israel were extraordinary. In 1999, when we sang at Auschwitz and Terezin, the sites of former concentration camps, it was hard to keep our emotions in check, but it felt important to revive the voices of the Jewish people that the Nazis had attempted to quell. A PBS documentary film, “Zamir: Jewish Voices Return to Poland,” chronicled our tour that summer. I think it’s still available through the Zamir Chorale website.

What’s the best part about writing for children?

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Children enjoy drawing their noisy and quiet places at an Oblong Bookstore event in NY. Photo courtesy of AM Media Group

After having focused almost exclusively on nonfiction for most of my writing career, it’s been wonderful to work in the very precise and rich world of picture-book writing with so many lovely, funny, imaginative, and supportive fellow writers I’ve met through SCBWI and the amazing Writers’ Loft in Sherborn, Mass.

Thanks, Debbie, for stopping by and chatting! I wish you all the best with Charlotte and the Quiet Place and all of your future endeavors!

International Quality of Life Activity

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Share a Smile Cards

 

Life is better when you share smiles with those you know—and those you don’t! Try it! When you’re out today at school or other places, look someone in the eye and smile. You’ll probably get a smile back—and you can be sure that you will have made the other person’s and your day better!

Here are some Smile Cards that you can share. Why not slip one into your dad’s pocket or your mom’s purse, put one in your friend’s backpack, or sneak one onto your teacher’s desk? You can even leave one somewhere for a stranger to find! Have fun sharing your smiles, and see how much better you and the others around you feel!

Click here to print your Share a Smile Cards.

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You can find Charlotte and the Quiet Place at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & NobleIndieBound | Parallax Press 

Picture Book Review

 

January 27 – It’s Celebration of Life Month

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About the Holiday

Today’s holiday was established by Food for Health International to encourage people to take a holistic approach to taking care of themselves, not only their physical health but their emotional health as well. Celebrating all that life has to offer while taking time to enjoy family and friends and be mindful of others through mutual respect, inclusion, empathy, and gratitude goes a long way towards greater happiness and health. Sharing today’s book with your kids is a wonderful way to celebrate this month-long holiday all year around.

A Beginner’s Guide to Being Human

Written by Matt Forrest Esenwine | Illustrated by André Ceolin

 

“Welcome to Humanity! You’re really going to enjoy it.” With this expansive greeting, Matt Forrest Esenwine invites kids in to learn what they need to know “… to get the most out of [their] human experience….” First up is family—that group of people who spend so much time with you and “care about you the most.” But what does a family do? “Families love each other, disappoint each other, support each other, and get angry with each other, over and over—sometimes all in the same day. Weird, right?” But you can be sure that the “…whole ‘caring about you’ part never stops.

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Image copyright André Ceolin, 2022, text copyright Matt Forrest Esenwine, 2022. Courtesy of Beaming Books.

So what do you do with all of that caring that comes your way? You can share it! How? Well, by being kind. Sure, we hear that word all the time, but what does “being kind” really look like? Esenwine and André Ceolin give some easy-to-emulate examples that don’t take any money or super strength or extra time. In fact, everybody carries one of the easiest—maybe even the most meaningful—way to show kindness right on their face: their smile.

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Image copyright André Ceolin, 2022, text copyright Matt Forrest Esenwine, 2022. Courtesy of Beaming Books.

Once kids have kindness down, Esenwine moves on to empathy and urges kids to imagine why others may act the way they do, to think about what else may be going on with someone at home, in school, or elsewhere. Using empathy leads to compassion. What does compassion mean and how does it work? Esenwine and Ceolin show readers a few examples as well as reminding them that “we humans are quite good at ending up in the same situations again and again. Whatever another person is feeling, chances are, you’ll feel the same way at some point too” with a gallery of portraits of kids depicting emotions we all experience from time to time—and, often, every day.

One way of thinking about and reacting to situations that “has produced excellent results for over two thousand years,” Esenwine reveals, is the Golden Rule. He then shows kids how to apply this thoughtful idea to a range of situations to create better communication and understanding than getting angry or pushy or impatient.

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Image copyright André Ceolin, 2022, text copyright Matt Forrest Esenwine, 2022. Courtesy of Beaming Books.

Esenwine acknowledges that there will be bad days among the good, but these too can be handled with honesty, apologies, and forgiveness. Yes, “being human can sometimes be messy,” but that’s where family and friends can help. And, of course, they’re there to celebrate the good times too. So what does all of this kindness and compassion and empathy come down to? The thing that connects us all: Love. “So, welcome to Humanity!” Esenwine emphasizes, “We hope you enjoy your humanness. And we love that you’re here.”

Sprinkled throughout the text are brief “Pro Tips” that in one sentence expand on an idea and give kids confidence in understanding and/or applying the values in their own life.

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Image copyright André Ceolin, 2022, text copyright Matt Forrest Esenwine, 2022. Courtesy of Beaming Books.

Matt Forrest Esenwine has created a book about treating others according to the Golden Rule that goes to the heart not only of how to do that but, so importantly, when and why. Sometimes the need for kindness and empathy can be apparent, as when a child or adult is sad, alone, or has a disappointment or obvious mishap. But what about when someone’s behavior seems to be a personal slight, disrespectful, or just going against the rules?

That’s were Esenwine’s gentle, straightforward, and honest storytelling invites readers to stop and really consider every person and situation individually, to dig deep into one’s own memory and experiences for better understanding and supportive responses. He also addresses the importance of apologizing and forgiveness. And he does all of this with humor and examples that will resonate with kids. Moreover, these elements provide a spark for further conversations among children and adults about specific incidents in a child’s life, possible reasons behind them, and how the child can respond in a kind, empathetic, and compassionate way.

From the first spread, which shows a sidewalk busy with people all thinking their own thoughts (some of whom reappear elsewhere), André Ceolin engages readers in looking closely and thinking about how the people may be feeling, what they are doing, and why they might be behaving in a certain way. He depicts the characters in detailed places and situations familiar to kids that will spark recognition and lead to meaningful discussions and understanding. Ceolin’s images on each page, as well as a portrait gallery of universal emotions, provide excellent social emotional learning tools for adults to share with children when talking about recognizing and reading others’ feelings through facial expressions. Bookending the text, Ceolin emphasizes the support and enduring love of family and good friends.

A well-conceived, heartfelt, and impactful book you’ll want to share again and again, A Beginner’s Guide to Being Human reminds readers that we’re all in this—school, work, sports, clubs: life—together and is a timely must-have addition to home, school, classroom, and public library collections.

Ages 4 – 8

Beaming Books, 2022 | ISBN 978-1506481739

About the Author

Matt Forrest Esenwine is an author and poet from Warner, New Hampshire. His debut picture book, Flashlight Night (Boyds Mills Press, 2017), was selected by the New York Public Library as one of the Best Picture Books for Kids of 2017. His poetry can be found in numerous anthologies, including The National Geographic Book of Nature Poetry (National Geographic Children’s Books, 2015), I Am Someone Else (Charlesbridge, 2019), and Highlights for Children. You can visit him at mattforrest.com and connect with him on Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | YouTube.

About the Illustrator

André Ceolin studied at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. He has illustrated over twenty books for children. André lives in Brazil with his family. You can visit him at andreceolin.com and on Instagram.

Celebration of Life Month Activity

CPB - Random Acts of Kindness cards

Kindness Cards

 

Here are some cheery cards that are sure to make the recipient’s day happier! Give them to a friend, a family member, your teacher, or your bus driver to show them that you care and that they mean a lot to you!

Random Acts of Kindness Cards Sheet 1 |  Sheet 2 | Sheet 3

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You can find A Beginner’s Guide to Being Human at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

Picture Book Review

January 24 – Global Belly Laugh Day

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About the Holiday

Laughter is a powerful uniter. Sharing jokes, funny videos, and, laugh-out-loud books is the perfect way to bring a group or family together. Not only is a hearty belly laugh fun, it’s good for your soul and your health! Today’s holiday encourages us to smile, laugh, and engage in all the things that bring us joy. It’s also a day to think about and thank those who share their funny stories, fun times, and laughter with us whether they’re professional comedians or your own family members. So celebrate today by spending time with friends, telling jokes, watching a funny movie, and, of course, reading hilarious books—like today’s! 

Turkey’s Valentine Surprise

Written by Wendi Silvano | Illustrated by Lee Harper

 

On a snowy February 14th at Farmer Jake’s farm, Turkey, Pig, Cow, Horse, the Sheep, and Rooster and the Chickens were exchanging Valentine’s Day cards and candy. One of Turkey’s cards made his wattle wiggle with laughter. “Dear Turkey, You are like no otter! From a Secret Admirer” it read. Turkey loved the valentine so much that he wanted to make one for each of his friends. He decided he would write clever messages and deliver his cards in disguise so his friends would never know who their secret admirer was.

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Image copyright Lee Harper, 2022, text copyright Wendi Silvano, 2022. Courtesy of Two Lions.

But how to get started? The chicks helped him find the “purr-fect” pun, and as Turkey designed his card with a smiling cat on it for Rooster, he came up with a costume that was sure to fool his friend.  Hidden (almost) in a barrel sporting wooden ears, button-and-straw whiskers, and a rope tail, Turkey crept to Rooster’s mailbox. No sooner had Turkey slipped the valentine into Rooster’s box than Rooster picked it up and read it. 

He took one look at the “cat” who had delivered it, and said, “‘I have a feline that you’re not a cat . . . you’re Turkey!'” Then he added, “‘But what a clever valentine!'” Turkey was disappointed that he’d been discovered, but with Rooster’s help made another valentine and disguise to try to surprise Horse. But Horse turned out to be just as perceptive as Rooster. “‘Oh, gobble, gobble,’ groaned Turkey. ‘I wanted it to be a secret surprise.'”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-turkey's-valentine-surprise-cat-disguise

Image copyright Lee Harper, 2022, text copyright Wendi Silvano, 2022. Courtesy of Two Lions.

Cow’s “toad-ally awesome” valentine went awry too, and so did Turkey’s plans for Sheep’s and Pig’s. Still, everyone thought Turkey’s punny valentines were wonderful. Turkey went home to cheer himself up with his own valentines. That’s when he saw a candy “heart that gave him one last idea.” With only two hours before the Valentine’s Dance, Turkey hurried to prepare his surprise. Before anyone had arrived at the barn, Turkey set up his surprise.

Turkey watched as his friends enjoyed his special delicious treat — complete with a witty message to show how much their “secret admirer” loved them. Then he sat down among them and enjoyed some of it himself, excited that “‘No one will ever know it was me!'” But did they?

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Image copyright Lee Harper, 2022, text copyright Wendi Silvano, 2022. Courtesy of Two Lions.

Everyone’s favorite Turkey and all the animals on Farmer Jake’s farm are back for the most loving holiday of them all, and Wendi Silvano gives kids plenty to love in her sweet and funny story. Fans of the series know how much the farm animals care for each other, and their feelings are on endearing display here as each animal has a box or bucket overflowing with valentines. When Turkey gets a punny valentine from a secret admirer, he’s excited and determined to give his friends the same thrill.

This idea gives Silvano carte blanche to sprinkle in as many puns as the pages will hold. Turns out the other animals are just as adept at puns as Turkey, giving kids lots to laugh about and, perhaps, even some inspiration for their own valentines. Kids will also be delighted to see Turkey return with his signature disguises. But in his last attempt, does Turkey really bamboozle his friends as their secret admirer? It’s up to readers to say yes or no. A few scattered clues may help them decide. The animals’ obvious delight in their Valentine’s Day cards – apart from the dramatic deliveries – shows their sensitivity to Turkey’s feelings as well as their own affection for their friend.

Lee Harper’s vibrant illustrations put Turkey and the other farm animals front and center as the punny valentines and candy hearts are prominently displayed to set kids giggling. Each of Turkey’s silly disguises will have kids laughing and talking about what he made them from. Turkey’s indomitable spirit is one of the most charming parts of the series, and here his desire to surprise his friends surpasses all of his disappointments in being recognized and keeps him going with infectious glee. 

Turkey’s Valentine Surprise is a laugh-out-loud, feel-great story that makes a terrific read for the run-up to Valentine’s Day or any time of the year as well as a fantastic gift for that special someone. Fans of the series as well as those new to Turkey’s antics will want to bring Turkey’s Valentine Surprise home to roost. The book is also a must for school and public library collections.

Ages 3 – 7

Two Lions, 2022 | ISBN 978-1542023665

About the Author

Wendi Silvano was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, and has lived in Oregon, Colorado, and Peru. The author of the Turkey Trouble series, she has a BA in early childhood education and taught preschool and elementary school for eleven years. She is the mother of five children and the owner of an assortment of odd pets that are not nearly as clever as Turkey. She now writes from her home in Colorado, where she enjoys hiking, reading, and playing the piano. Visit her at wendisilvano.com.

About the Illustrator

Lee Harper is the author-illustrator of the books CoyoteThe Emperor’s Cool Clothes, and Snow! Snow! Snow! Lee is also the illustrator of the Turkey Trouble series by Wendi Silvano as well as the Woolbur series, written by Leslie Helakoski. Lee has four children, a German shepherd, two barn cats, eleven chickens, and four sheep…but still no turkeys. Yet. He lives with his wife in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Visit him at leeharperart.com.

Global Belly Laugh Day Valentine Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-entangled-hearts-matching-puzzle

Entangled Hearts Matching Puzzle

 

These friends are collecting valentines! Can you help them follow the paths to find more in this printable puzzle?

Entangled Hearts Matching Puzzle

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-turkey's-valentine-surprise-cover

You can find Turkey’s Valentine Surprise at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

Picture Book Review

January 22 – Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day

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About the Holiday

Whether you have a cat (or many), enjoy playing with your friend’s cat, or just love watching cat videos, you know that cats are cute, curious, cunning, and completely captivating. They’re also great communicators, and we can learn a lot about what they want and what they don’t want if we pay close attention to their patterns of behavior. Today’s holiday was thought up by Ruth and Thomas Roy of wellcat.com to encourage cat owners to spend extra time with their cats and do just that. By understanding your cats better and and seeing to their needs, both you and your feline will forge a stronger bond, be closer, and be happier living together. 

P Is for Purr

Written by Carole Gerber | Illustrated by Susanna Covelli

 

Do you hear it? That low motor revving with happiness? That Purr with a capital P?  That distinctive hum can only be signaling one thing: a pure love for Carole Gerber’s and Susanna Covelli’s adorable alphabet book that delivers all sorts of information on cats, from different breeds to their cunning behaviors to their unique physical attributes. Beginning with “A” for American Shorthair, readers learn cat-centric vocabulary and surprising facts about this favorite furry pet. Did you know, for example, that American Shorthairs “crossed the sea on sailing ships and kept them free of rats”? And some of those weren’t just any ships. “Ancestors of American Shorthairs came on the pilgrims’ ships to guard their food from rats.”

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Image copyright Susanna Covelli, 2022, text copyright Carole Gerber, 2022. Courtesy of Familius.

At “I” we learn just how felines can be so aloof one minute and then snuggling up to you the next: “I is for Intelligence. / Cats are cunning and they’re smart. / They all know how to get their way / and creep into your heart.” How do they know? In a little cat-paw-clue sidebar, Gerber reveals that “The parts of cats’ brains are connected in exactly the same ways as human brains.”

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Image copyright Susanna Covelli, 2022, text copyright Carole Gerber, 2022. Courtesy of Familius.

In charming rhymes, Carole Gerber answers kids’ (and adults’) questions about which breed of cat is the chattiest, how fast a house cat can run, how cats release their claws, and how a cat tells you it’s time for some affection: “Underbelly, soft and warm. That’s the letter U. / A belly turned up on display? That’s a feline petting clue!” And what about all those whiskers that give cats their very distinguished look? Well, “W is Whiskers. They grow mainly on the face, / and help a cat to feel its way into every space.” 

Susanna Covelli’s fluffy, expressive cats and kittens gaze out at readers with their big, bright eyes, mischievous grins, and even those supercilious frowns we cat-owners know all too well. Tabbies, Siamese, black cats, white cats, a Maine Coon, and even a Sphynx stretch, yawn, leap, lie across knees for pets, groom, play, and sleep in heartwarming and humorous illustrations.

P Is for Purr would be a purr-fect addition to home, school, and public library collections for young children learning the alphabet and becoming readers as well as for cat lovers or those looking to welcome a cat or kitten into their lives. 

Ages 3 – 6 

Familius, 2022 | ISBN 978-1641707411

About the Author

Poet and author Carole Gerber has written sixteen picture books, three chapter books, and more than one hundred elementary science and reading texts for major publishers. Her most picture recent book, A Band of Babies, was named a 2017 Best Book for Children by Amazon editors. She holds a BS in English education and an MA in journalism from Ohio State, and has taught middle school and high school English as well as college news writing and factual writing at OSU. Learn more at www.carolegerber.com.

About the Illustrator

Susanna Covelli was born in a small town in Piedmont, Italy, earned an MA in architecture, and followed her passion for art and decided to attend a specialization course in both traditional and digital illustration at Scuola Iternazionale di Comics in Turin. Her art expresses her own imagination and inspiration from nature, and she has always been attracted by sinuous shapes, Baroque style, and out-of-the-ordinary perspective. You can connect with Susanna on Instagram.

Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day Activities

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Match the Kittens Puzzle

 

Little ones can have fun matching up the kitten pairs in this printable puzzle!

Match the Kittens Puzzle

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Purr-fect Friends Maze

 

Kids can help these cat friends get together to play in this printable maze!

Purr-fect Friends Maze Puzzle | Purr-fect Friends Maze Solution

 

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You can find P Is for Purr at these booksellers 

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

Picture Book Review

January 17 – It’s National Skating Month

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About the Holiday

National Skating Month was established by U.S. Figure Skating as a week-long celebration in March 2002 following the Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City. The holiday gives ice-skating rinks, clubs, and programs an opportunity to invite new families to the ice by offering free lessons and skating demonstrations. If figure skating isn’t your thing, you might like to take your skills to the hockey rink or just to a local pond for some free-style skating. However you choose to enjoy the ice, skating is fun and for everyone! To learn more about the holiday and find resources for bigger groups, visit the US Figure Skating website. To download and print fun skating-inspired puzzles and coloring pages from US Figure Skating, click here

The Three Canadian Pigs: A Hockey Story

Written by Jocelyn Watkinson | Illustrated by Marcus Cutler

 

Three pigs were just finishing their hockey scrimmage when a wolf sprang from behind some bushes, fangs sharp and claws at the ready to satisfy his hunger since they looked so delicious. But as they quickly took off their skates and packed up their gear, they said, “‘I’m soorry there, Wolf, you are soorely mistaken—'” To which the wolf replied, “‘Oh no! But I’m not! You’re Canadian bacon!'” The pigs jumped on their snowmobile and hurried home to their snow fort in town. 

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Image copyright Marcus Cutler, 2022, text copyright Jocelyn Watkinson, 2022. Courtesy of Sleeping Bear Press.

It didn’t take long for the wolf to catch up with them, and from outside their door, he shouted, “‘Little pigs! Little pigs! Let me come in!'” But they just replied, “‘Not by the pads on our shinny-shin-shins!'” The wolf threatened to blow the fort down, but this was no flimsy home built of sticks or straw. In fact, they told him, “‘there’s not one single flaw!'” The wolf wasn’t going to give up easily and he collected Moose and Bear to help him break in.

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Image copyright Marcus Cutler, 2022, text copyright Jocelyn Watkinson, 2022. Courtesy of Sleeping Bear Press.

When the three pigs had just enough of the wolf’s team’s attack, they came out and challenged them to “‘settle this fight the Canadian way'” with “‘a hockey game showdown.'” With a Canada goose as a ref, they took to the ice, attracting a crowd of spectators. The wolf and his team thought they’d win with ease, but the pigs “deked and they cut: / the pigs couldn’t be caught,” and when they scored, the wolf took to underhanded measures to stop them. 

But the pigs were too quick and too nimble, and they ran up the score. When the ref blew her whistle ending the game, the pigs celebrated saving their home, but the wolf “… full of frustration and hunger and spite, / … threw down his gloves and dove in for a bite.” It looked like the pigs were goners for sure, but Bear and Moose called him out on his poor sportsmanship. Wolf dropped the three pigs, feeling ashamed but still hungry. 

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Image copyright Marcus Cutler, 2022, text copyright Jocelyn Watkinson, 2022. Courtesy of Sleeping Bear Press.

Dragging his stick and hanging his head, the wolf trudged off the ice, but one pig called out to him, inviting him to join them in a feast back at the fort. When the wolf saw their spread of poutine, tourtière, beaver tails, butter tarts, and so many other mouthwatering delicacies, he apologized: “‘Pigs, I’m so sorry that I was a brute.'” / “‘There’s nothing for you to be soorry a-boot.'” a pig graciously told him. The pigs, Wolf, Bear, and Moose all made amends and piled up their plates. Then they settled in to watch a game on TV. And as “they put up their feet,” the wolf had to agree that “‘being friends with Canadian bacon is sweet!'”

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Image copyright Marcus Cutler, 2022, text copyright Jocelyn Watkinson, 2022. Courtesy of Sleeping Bear Press.

Full of clever rhymes, puns, valuable lessons, and dialogue that winks at Canadian pronunciations, Jocelyn Watkinson’s story flows as smoothly as a hockey puck on ice. Her regional take on the traditional Three Little Pigs story is fast-paced and suspenseful while touching on themes of sportsmanship, remorse and forgiveness, and friendship all framed with high-energy hockey action and plenty of humor. Especially welcome is Watkinson’s depiction of Bear and Moose confronting Wolf when he reneges on his agreement to let the pigs go if they win the game. Standing up to a friend or for what’s right can be hard, but Watkinson shows readers that having the courage of your convictions is honorable, honest, and can often turn a negative situation into a positive experience.

Marcus Cutler scores with his funny, emotion-packed illustrations that will have kids laughing and cheering for the pigs from page to page. Winter sports fans will love all the hockey action and will want to linger over the pigs’ hard-won trophy, on which Cutler had fun hamming it up with the names of some of hockey’s greats, The spread of favorite Canadian foods is sure to inspire game-night treat feasts. Cutler also highlights the important role of Bear and Moose, who ultimately appeal to Wolf’s better nature.

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Image copyright Marcus Cutler, 2022. Courtesy of Sleeping Bear Press.

In a humorous and foreshadowing scene, Bear halfheartedly scratches at the pigs’ snow fort with one paw while holding a steaming mug in the other as Wolf exhorts his friends to “ram and claw and maul” their way inside. When Bear and Moose finally challenge Wolf to live up to his deal, their disapproval is clearly visible to readers. Wolf’s resulting feelings, as well as their cause, are also evident, giving kids and adults openings for meaningful discussions on behavior.

Whether your kids wait all year for hockey season, are fans of fractured fairy tales, or simply love a great story, The Three Canadian Pigs is a funny and impactful read aloud that’s sure to become a story time favorite all year long and a book you’ll be glad you added to your home, classroom, school, or public library.

Ages 4 – 7

Sleeping Bear Press, 2022  ISBN 978-1534111608

Discover more about Jocelyn Watkinson and her books on her website.

To learn more about Marcus Cutler, his books, and his art, visit his website.

Skating Month Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-three-canadian-pigs-maze

 

The Three Canadian Pigs Activity Kit

 

The game’s on with the two puzzles and two coloring pages inspired by today’s book! Just download and print them from the Sleeping Bear Press site here:

The Three Canadian Pigs Activity Kit

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-three-canadian-pigs-cover

You can find The Three Canadian Pigs: A Hockey Story at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

Picture Book Review

January 11 – International Thank-You Day

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About the Holiday

Every January 11 International Thank-You Day encourages people around the world to express their gratitude to those who have made their lives better in some way. The beginning of the year is the perfect time to think about how we might thank all those who show kindnesses, provide services, teach us new skills, and share our lives. Teaching children how to express gratitude is a valuable lesson, and sharing today’s book with little ones is a wonderful way to get started. You’ll even find two creative activities that will help kids think about and share thankfulness all year through.

The Thank You Book

Written by Danna Smith | Illustrated by Juliana Perdomo

 

For little ones, “Thank you” may be one of the first phrases they learn when they begin getting out into the world. Thanking grandparents and other relatives, friends, teachers, librarians, store employees, and others becomes a part of every day. But for kids just learning manners and communication skills, prompts to say “thank you” may seem kind of random, confusing, and maybe even a bit intimidating.

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Image copyright Juliana Perdomo, 2022, text copyright Danna Smith. Courtesy of Little Simon.

This is where Danna Smith’s delightfully cheery story about sharing your appreciation comes in. With charming rhymes, Smith answers the questions of why, when, and to whom thanks are appropriate while infusing her story with the positive feelings that thanking someone for their kindness instills in the thanker and the one being thanked.

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Image copyright Juliana Perdomo, 2022, text copyright Danna Smith. Courtesy of Little Simon.

Smith begins with an inviting and easy-to-understand definition of thankfulness that will resonate with young children: “When someone is thoughtful or kind in some way, ‘thank you’ are two very nice words to say.” She then goes on to provide specific examples of times that gratitude is warranted as well as language to help kids express their feelings for specific acts of kindness. As illustrations show children engaged in various activities, readers discover they can say, “‘Thank you for helping.’ ‘Thank you for sharing.’ / ‘Thank you for teaching.’ ‘Thank you for caring.’”

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Image copyright Juliana Perdomo, 2022, text copyright Danna Smith. Courtesy of Little Simon.

But is saying those types of words the only way to show your gratitude? Children (and especially those who are reluctant to talk with people they don’t know well or feel shy about speaking up) learn that there are other ways to show gratitude, including giving hugs, drawings, and tasty treats.

Smith then reveals a well-known secret about saying thank you that will make today’s inclusive kids happy to be part of an appreciative community: “If you start with one thank-you, you’ll find it will grow.” And, indeed, Smith finishes her story by assuring readers that kids all over the world are thanking others for their friendship and kindness.

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Image copyright Juliana Perdomo, 2022, text copyright Danna Smith. Courtesy of Little Simon.

Danna Smith’s sweet board book, with its jaunty rhymes and enthusiasm for sharing gratitude is just the kind of story parents, teachers, and other adults will want to read with their little ones and little ones will want to hear again and again. Her open-ended phrasing allows adults and kids to discuss the types of people who are helpers, sharers, teachers, and care-ers, as well as those within their family and friends who are deserving of thanks and on which occasions. Smith also gives kids ideas for a wide range of ways to say thank you that may use their talents and mean more to them than words. These examples can also spark talks between parents, teachers, and other caregivers on other ways to show thanks. And what if you have a child who just feels appreciation deep inside? They are represented in these pages too.

Juliana Perdomo’s vibrant illustrations of kind acts by friends, parents, teachers, veterinarians, bus drivers, activity instructors, and others will enchant little ones and get them talking about all the times someone has done something nice for them. Readers of all ages can’t help but be filled with gratitude and good feelings when they’re greeted by Perdomo’s smiling and enthusiastic characters. Perdomo mirrors Smith’s text to give kids a concrete understanding of the concepts while filling her pages with cheer and heartfelt gratitude. The idea that saying thank-you can bring people together in a community and around the world is one that will excite kids and encourage them to show their appreciation.

Joyful and inspiring, The Thank You Book would be a favorite read aloud in any young child’s home library and is a must for all daycare, school, and public library board book collections.

Ages 3 and up

Little Simon, 2022 | ISBN 978-1665902922

Discover more about Danna Smith, her books, poetry, and paintings on her website.

You can connect with Juliana Perdomo on Instagram and Twitter.

International Thank-You Day Activities

 

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Thank You! Postcard

 

Do your kids have someone they’d like to thank for a kind act, a gift, or just for being a loved family member or friend? This cheery Thank You postcard makes it easy for kids to show their gratitude and share their love to people close by or far away. This card is also perfect to share for the upcoming holidays!

Thank You! Postcard

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-The-Thank-You-Book-Thankful-Jar

Thankfulness Jar

 

It’s good to remind yourself periodically – or even every day – of all the things you have to be thankful for and all the acts of kindness you’ve received. This activity sheet gives children (and adults who want to participate with their kids) a place to collect all these “thank-you”–worthy experiences. Just write a word or short description inside the jar each time you feel thankful. You might even want to share your appreciation with the people whose names appear in your jar with a note, a picture, a hug, or a homemade craft to show how much they mean to you. 

This Thankfulness Jar also makes a meaningful activity for Thanksgiving Day! Why not print a copy for each guest at your table, provide a pencil, and get everyone sharing what they’re thankful for this year!

Thankfulness Jar Activity Sheet

 

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-thank-you-book-cover

You can find The Thank You Book at these booksellers

Amazon  | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

Picture Book Review