All Posts By

Melissa Nikohl

  • Diverse Young Adult Novels

    Check out these new young adult novels perfect for any high school library. These books are perfect for any high school novel study.

    Check out these new young adult novels perfect for any high school library. These books are perfect for any high school novel study.

    I wish these young adult novels were available when I was a teen. Honestly, there are so many diverse YA novels available now, I’m extremely jealous. While there is still room for improvement, finding diverse characters in young adult novels isn’t as hard as it was 20 years ago.

    Here are a few books I’m loving on! Check out the audiobook versions too, they are equally amazing. 

    I will update this list as I find more books! Follow me on Instagram to get updates and ideas for other picture books! If there’s a book you think I should add, comment below!

    Just a friendly reminder, I am an Amazon Affiliate, so if you decided to use the links below to purchase the books, I do get a commission. The price of the books does not change for you. ❤️

    Legendborn

    Just months prior, Bree’s mother dies. She jumps at an opportunity to attend the University of North Carolina-Capel Hill’s summer program for high schoolers. But instantly, it isn’t what she thought it would be. Magic is the last thing Bree expects to encounter.

    Bree finds herself in the middle of a secret society of demon hunters. Yup, demon hunters.

    Legenborn is set to be a series, and I definitely see why. It is a page-turner full of action and teenage drama!

    Felix Ever After

    Kids these days are so lucky to see so many diverse characters in their books. I know there’s still room to grow, but I’m so jealous of all the options they have!⁣⁣
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    When I was a teen, I gave up on YA novels because of the lack of diversity and jumped straight into adult novels.⁣⁣
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    Felix Ever After is about a transgender teen questioning his identity and dealing with being harassed online.⁣⁣
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    This book made me so happy that social media was not a thing when I was in high school. Whew…the drama!⁣⁣

    SLAY

    Slay is a YA novel about a Black game developer (Kiera) who wants to create a safe space for Black gamers from around the world. So she develops a virtual reality game called SLAY.

    Kiera is a senior in high school who is struggling to manage her duties as a developer, her complicated relationship with her boyfriend Malcolm, and the big decision of college.⁣

    Yall know I love it when I can make connections to a book, and I made so many in just the first few chapters.⁣

    Just like Kiera, I got accepted to the HBCU Spelman. I decided not to attend because of financial reasons. But, this book brought back memories I haven’t thought about in years. And a lot of what-ifs and wondering.⁣

    This book took me back…but in a good way.

    Parachutes

    Have you heard of a parachute? Parachutes are Asian teenagers who are sent to live in homes in the U.S. while their parents (wealthy, of course) stay in Asia. Claire Wang’s parents decide to pull her out of her school in Shanghai and ship her off to California.

    Dani De La Cruz and her mother are Claire’s Californian host family. Dani and Claire’s differences make it hard to live with each other under the same roof. Until forced, they struggle to find common ground.

    Monday’s Not Coming

    Claudia has been gone all summer. On her first day of school, she expects to see her best friend Monday. When she arrives at school, Monday is a no-show, and nobody but Claudia seems to notice. Claudia instantly knows something is wrong begins looking into her disappearance immediately. And she doesn’t stop until she finds Monday.

    With Fire on High

    I checked the book out at least three times but never had time to read it.⁣

    Omg! Once I started it, I couldn’t put it down.⁣

    Emoni is a teen mom who got pregnant her freshman year of high school. But, this doesn’t stop her from continuing school or finding her passion, cooking. Her talents in the kitchen provide her with an opportunity to go on a culinary trip to Spain.

    With Fire on High made me smile, cry, and laugh!

    It had it all!⁣

    A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder

    If you’re looking for a murder mystery, then this is the book for you.

    Everyone thinks that high school senior Andie Bell was killed by her boyfriend, Sal. But Pip, a student from the same high school, doesn’t believe that’s true. So, for a school project, she decides to dig up the truth.

    I couldn’t put this book down! And, there’s a sequel, Good Girl, Bad Blood, that I can’t wait to read! Do yourself a favor and grab the audiobook; the narrators are so good!

    Dear Haiti, Love Alaine

    Alaine is a Haitian American from Miami. When she gets suspended from school, her parents ship her off to her family in Haiti.

    As part of her suspension, Alaine has to work at her aunt’s nonprofit to complete a school project,

    While in Haiti, Alaine learns a lot about herself and family secrets that were never meant to be uncovered.

    Alaine quickly learns that her time in Haiti will not be a vacation.

    The Black Kids

    I judge books by their covers.⁣⁣
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    And The Black Kids didn’t disappoint.⁣⁣
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    When The Black Kids begins, we are taken back to 1992 in LA. Tensions are high after the murder of Latasha Harlins and the beating of Rodney King.⁣⁣
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    Ashley Bennett is in the middle of two worlds, never fully belonging to either side. ⁣⁣
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    This book weaves history into the imperfect life of Ashley. Who sometimes is hard to like. But all teenagers are hard to like sometimes🤣. And really, she is just a kid trying to figure it all out. ⁣⁣
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    Some of the decisions she makes get herself and others in trouble.⁣⁣
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    I found myself saying girllll,a few times while reading. Ashley raised my pressure just a bit.🤦🏾‍♀️ ⁣⁣
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    I loved the big and tiny references. Flo-Jo and her nails were my favorite. ⁣⁣
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    The best part about references is that they pull you deeper into books.⁣⁣

    The author, Christina Hammons Reed, surely had no idea how 2020ish this book would be. ⁣⁣
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    Sadly, The Black Kids could be the same story if it took place in 2020.⁣⁣
    Just replace Latasha Harlins with Breonna Taylor and Rodney King with George Floyd.⁣⁣

    Add these young adult novels to your to-read list!  I’m reliving my teenage years through these amazing YA novels that take me back to those crazy teenage years. I promise you won’t be disappointed!

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  • Picture Books with Diverse Characters

    Check out these picture books with diverse characters! This booklist will help you add some diversity to your classroom or home library.

    Check out these picture books with diverse characters! This booklist will help you add some diversity to your classroom or home library.

     

    Diversity matters! It is important that kids not only see themselves in books but that they see others. This booklist will help add diversity to your classroom or home library.

    I will update this list as I find more books! Follow me on Instagram to get updates and ideas for other picture books! If there’s a book you think I should add, comment below!

    Just a friendly reminder, I am an Amazon Affiliate, so if you decided to use the links below to purchase the books, I do get a commission. The price of the books does not change for you. ❤️

    This is My Room! (No Tigers Allowed)

    Do you love books with unexpected endings?⁣

    I do!⁣

    I know I say this ALL the time, but this book is super cute!⁣

    I’m definitely adding it to my books as gifts list.⁣

    Jojo decides this is the night she is sleeping on her own.⁣

    But, she gets some unexpected guests that make it really hard for her to stay out of her big sister’s room!⁣

    We used this book to work on making predictions and my students had so much fun. They were shocked at the ending…literally, their mouths were open!😲⁣

    Federico and the Wolf

    I don’t know why I love different variations of Little Red Riding Hood, but I do!⁣⁣
    ⁣⁣

    Federico has to go visit his Abuelo but his grandfather looks a little strange. 

    If you have non Spanish speakers in your class, this is an excellent book to use to teach context clues. Spanish words are sprinkled throughout the book and there are great context clues to help readers figure out what those words mean.⁣⁣

    ⁣Help Wanted, Must Love Books

    Shailey loves bedtime stories with her dad. ⁣

    When her dad gets a new job and no longer has time for her, she FIRES him!🤣⁣

    And then she puts up a Help Wanted sign.🤣⁣

    She begins interviewing our favorite storybook characters to fill the position, but it doesn’t work out so well!⁣

    My students were yelling and jumping in their seats when they saw a character they knew.⁣

    They also started rolling their eyes at Shailey’s pickiness.⁣

    They loved this book! ⁣

    Of course, the book ended happily ever after!⁣

    My Rainy Day Rocket Ship

    What do you like to do on a rainy day?⁣

    That’s what I asked my students after we read this book. ⁣

    This week we are focusing on making connections and this was an excellent book to make students make text to self connections!⁣

    It was a great way to get to know my students more too!⁣

    My Rainy Day Rocket Ship is about a little boy who uses his imagination to have a blast on a rainy day!⁣

    This book reminded me of playing indoors with my brothers on rainy days. We had a gigantic playroom that we would destroy!🤣⁣

    Stella’s Stellar Hair

    When I saw the cover I immediately knew that the illustrator was the same illustrator from Honeysmoke…so I was already sold.⁣

    And I’m glad I picked it up!⁣

    Stella doesn’t know what to do with her hair!⁣

    So, Stella hops on her hoverboard to get help from her Aunties…who live on different planets in the solar system. 🌌⁣

    My favorite part of the book is the back, where we get facts about the planets and what hairstyles would be best for each planet. ⁣

    So cute!⁣

    The Paper Kingdom

    Daniel’s parents have a night job. When they are unable to find a babysitter, he has to go with them. Using his imagination, he’s able to turn a boring office into his very own kingdom.

    Saturday

    Ava is super excited that it’s Saturday because she gets to spend time with her mom. Her mom works Sunday through Friday, and this is the only day of the week they can be together. Everything starts great and then BOOM, there’s one bump after another in their plans. I mean, their day was jacked y’all.⁣⁣
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    But, Ava realizes that the most important thing was that they got to spend time together. They recognize that although the day was not what they wanted, it was still a good day. ⁣⁣
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    The Boy From the Dragon Palace

    The Boy From the Dragon Palace is a Japanese folktale and it’s really good!

    One day a flower seller receives a gift from the Dragon King, it’s a snot-nosed boy. 😂⁣

    The snot-nosed 🤧 boy brings the man everything he needs and wants until he crosses the line!⁣

    After I read this book with my students we talked about needs vs. wants. I read it around Christmas and a lot of my students talked about making their lists just a little bit shorter lol.

    Lucia the Luchadora

    When Lucia is told that girls can’t be a luchador (wrestler), she proves that girls are not just made of sugar and spice.⁣⁣⁣
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    This book is full of figurative language and gives plenty of opportunities to teach context clues. ⁣⁣⁣

    If you like this collection of books, check out my Ultimate List of Diverse Picture books! You’ll never run out of books to read!

    Are you looking for diverse picture books to add to your classroom or home library? Do you want to add diverse picture books to your collection, but you don’t have time to search for them? Are you a teacher that wants to use more diverse texts but are unsure how they will fit in with your units or curriculum? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you need this list! #diversepicturebooks #diverseclassroomlibraries #diversebooksforkids

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  • Diverse Middle Grade Novels

    Are you looking for diverse middle grade books? Then, this list is perfect. It has a great selection of books for students in upper elementary and middle school. Check them out!

    DIVERSE MIDDLE GRADE NOVELS

    If you’re looking for a diverse group of middle-grade books (books geared for kids in upper elementary to middle school), then this is the list for you!

    The characters in these books are from all around the world and allow readers to experience a variety of cultures!

    I will update this list as I find more books! Follow me on Instagram to get updates and ideas for other picture books! If there’s a book you think I should add, comment below!

    Just a friendly reminder, I am an Amazon Affiliate, so if you decided to use the links below to purchase the books, I do get a commission. The price of the books does not change for you. ❤️

    Front Desk

    Mia and her family have recently moved to the United States from China.⁣

    ⁣An opportunity arises for her family to manage a motel in Anaheim, California, where Mia decides to run the front desk. The front desk isn’t exactly Mia’s first job, but it the first job she keeps longer than a few hours.⁣

    ⁣What I enjoyed most about this book is that it encourages the reader to stand up for what is right. If I had fifth graders this school year, this would be our first novel of the year. ⁣

    ⁣Mia’s job at the front desk is a nonstop adventure!

    Clean Getaway

    Scoob and his Grandma go on an unforgettable road trip that doesn’t end as expected.⁣

    ⁣Scoob learns that his Grandma and Grandpa took the same road trip years earlier with the help of The Green Book.⁣

    ⁣I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It had excellent historical references that could lead to more research and discussions with your students or children. There are so many things you could do with this book. If I still had 5th graders.

    The night diary

    The Night Diary takes place in 1947 right after India was free from Britain’s rule. India is divided, and part of the country becomes Pakistan. Nisha is half Hindu and half Muslim and must leave her home because it has become too dangerous for Muslims. ⁣

    ⁣We follow Nisha and her family, who are now refugees as they make the dangerous trip to their new home. This is another book on this list with historical references that will leave kids wanting to learn more. 

    New Kid

    Class Act

    Jordan Banks and Drew Ellis are just a few of the Black students at RAD Middle School. Some days they fit right in, while other days they feel like outcasts. Through the ups and downs, they learn how to build friendships and survive middle school. 

    Save Me a Seat


    Most of my students LOVE Save Me a Seat. Ravi. who is a star student back home struggles is new to the United States and Joe is misunderstood. Both are outcasts, but find that they have a lot more in common than they think.  I pair physical copies of the book with the audiobook.

     

    The Only Black Girls In Town

    Alberta is a true California girl who loves to surf. She’s also the only Black girl in her class. That is until a new family moves into the bed and breakfast next door. Edie and her mother move to the small beach town for a fresh start. Alberta and Edie don’t have much in common but connect instantly. 

    While hanging out in the B&B, they find some old journals that contain a mystery that they have to solve!

     

    Becoming Muhammad Ali

    In Becoming Muhammad Ali, young Ali and his best friend Lucky take turns telling the story about how one of the greatest boxers in the world came to be. ⁣

    ⁣One of my former students is a boxer and would LOVE this book. I’m emailed his parents to let them know about this book!

    ⁣Although this book takes us back to the 50s, Ali’s childhood experiences are easily relatable to kids today.⁣

    ⁣Also included are moments in history like the murder of Emmitt Till and the integration of schools.⁣

    ⁣We also learn how Ali struggled in school because he was dyslexic.⁣

    ⁣Becoming Muhammad Ali is written in prose and verse. It was fitting that Ali’s voice is written as poetry, making his voice stand out. ⁣

    Isaiah Dunn is My Hero

    This is such a sweet story about 10 year Isaiah who is learning how to navigate life without his dad. ⁣

    I loved how so many adults in his life supported his interests and looked out for his well-being.⁣

    His relationship with the barber is soooooo sweet. I may or may not have teared up reading one of their interactions. 

    These middle grade novels will make a perfect addition to any home or classroom library!

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  • Picture Books for Women’s History Month

    Check out these picture books perfect for Women's History Month.
    Check out these picture books perfect for Women's History Month.

    Are you looking for picture books for Women’s History Month? Then, this list of diverse picture books is perfect for you! What makes this list special is that many of these women aren’t well known and their stories need to be shared. 

    Many of us currently benefit from their hard work and sacrifices. These women are incredible!

    I will update this list as I find more books! Follow me on Instagram to get updates and ideas for other picture books! If there’s a book you think I should add, comment below!

    Just a friendly reminder, I am an Amazon Affiliate, so if you decided to use the links below to purchase the books, I do get a commission. The price of the books does not change for you. ❤️

     


     

    She Loved Baseball: The Effa Manley Story

    Effa Manley (1897-1981)  was a civil rights activist and the owner of the Negro League Team, the Newark Eagles. ⁣

    Effa took good care of her players and made sure they got the respect and recognition they deserved long after they left her team. ⁣

    Effa was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006.⁣

    As someone who grew up in a city that loves baseball (St. Louis), I enjoyed this book.⁣

    I also loved this book because it is illustrated by my favorite illustrator, Don Tate. My school actually owns a copy of this book signed by him! How cool is that?

     

    Mother Jones and Her Army of Mill Children

    Mary G. Harris Jones, better known as Mother Jones (?-1930) is furious that children are working in factories to help their families make ends meet. ⁣

    She is disgusted that children are getting hurt and sometimes disabled because of the back-breaking work they are doing. ⁣

    In 1903, Mother Jones decided that enough is enough, so she and 100 children begin marching to Theodore Roosevelt’s summer home to protest child labor laws. ⁣

    Although this protest did not end child labor, it did help bring awareness and, of course, child labor became illegal eventually.⁣

    This book is written in first person, and you feel the wrath of Jones. That’s what makes it so good! My students really enjoyed this book!⁣

    Ready to Fly: How Sylvia Townsend Became the Bookmobile Ballerina

    Sylvia Townsend taught herself how to dance with books from a bookmobile!🩰⁣⁣
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    Growing up in the 1950s, Sylvia faced many obstacles, but it didn’t keep her from dancing.⁣⁣
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    Ready to Fly is a great story, and the illustrations are gorgeous!⁣⁣
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    The back of the book has a brief history of bookmobiles and pictures of how they’ve changed over time. ⁣⁣

     

     

    Maya Lin: Artist-Architect of Light and Lines

    Maya Lin (1959-) is the architect who designed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. ⁣

    Maya won the national contest that decided who would create the memorial. Although she won the contest, when others found out that Maya created the design, they were not happy that she won. They like that an Asian woman had won. Critics also said they didn’t understand her design. 

    Maya proved her unique design had meaning and was a perfect way to honor Vietnam Veterans.

    I loved that there are tons of figurative language in this book; it gave us plenty of opportunities to practice!

     

    Fearless Mary: Mary Fields, American Stagecoach Driver

    Do you know the story of the first Black woman to become a mail carrier?⁣

    In 1895, Mary Fields (1832-1914) took the job of driving a stagecoach in the Wild West!⁣

    Mary would do whatever it took to make sure her cargo was delivered safely. She fought off wolves and thieves. And she had no problem traveling the dangerous mountain trails.⁣

    She even had a pet eagle to help protect her and her packages!⁣

    We had a great time learning about this unsung hero!

     

    All the Way to the Top: How One Girl’s Fight for Americans with Disabilities Changed Everything 

    Do you know a little girl helped convince Congress to pass the American with Disabilities Act (ADA)?⁣

    That disability activist is Jennifer Keelan (1981-).⁣

    Jennifer Keelan was born with cerebral palsy and found out very quickly that it was not easy to get around in a wheelchair.⁣

    In 1987, when Jennifer was only six years old, she joined her first protest. This would be her first of many.⁣

    She was arrested at a protest in 1988.😲⁣

    All the Way to the Top is an excellent story about a courageous little girl that helped pass a law that made sure people with disabilities have access to the world.⁣

     

    Dolores Huerta: A Hero to Migrant Workers

    Many people know Cesar Chavez, but they don’t know the woman behind the scenes that made everything happen.  Dolores Huerta (1930-) is the little known civil rights activist who fought for the safety of migrant workers. 

    PBS produced an incredible documentary about her if you want to learn more.

     

    Wangari Maathai: The Woman Who Planted Millions of Trees

    Wangari Maathai (1940-2011) is known as the woman who planted 30 million trees and the FIRST African woman to win the Noble Peace Prize.⁣

    Wangari Maathai earned a scholarship to attend college in the U.S., along with hundreds of other Africans from then-Senator John F. Kennedy. When she returned to Kenya, Wangari noticed that the trees were gone. Animals were becoming endangered and the soil wasn’t good for crops. ⁣

    When Britain colonized Kenya, they cut down a lot of their trees to sell and use Kenya’s resources. The deforestation continued after Britain was overthrown so, Wangari began her fight to return Kenya to the beautiful country it once was by organizing the planting of millions of trees. 

     

    Ice Breaker: How Mabel Fairbanks Changed Figure Skating

    Mabel Fairbanks (1915-2001) was a Black and Native American figure skater. Mabel was denied opportunities to compete in competitions and qualifying events for the Olympics because of the color of her skin.

    She found ways to keep skating by performing in shows and she eventually became a coach to little-known and well-known (Scott Hamilton and Kristi Yamaguchi) figure skaters.  

    In 1997, she would become the first Black woman inducted into the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame. 

     

    Lizzie Demands a Seat!: Elizabeth Jennings Fights for Streetcar Rights

    Everyone has heard of Rosa Parks, but have you heard of Elizabeth Jennings (1827-1901)?⁣⁣
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    In 1854, Elizabeth Jennings lived in New York City and tried boarding a streetcar but was brutally denied. ⁣⁣
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    Lizzie Demands a Seat, takes us through Elizabeth’s fight for equal rights on public transportation.⁣⁣

     

    Queen of Physics: How Wu Chien Shiung Helped Unlock the Secrets of the Atom

    Wu Chien Shiung (1912-1997) was a Chinese physicist. ⁣

    Her parents made sure she was adequately educated, even if that meant she had to live far away from them. Chien Shiung developed a passion for math and eventually, physics very quickly! She would sneak and read her friends’ textbooks to learn everything she could. ⁣

    Chien Shiung means courageous hero, and it was fitting. She would lead an underground group to fight against the Chinese government even though she could have been punished or killed. ⁣

    She eventually moved to the United States, where she continued her study of physics. Chien Shiung helped many scientists with their research that earned them Nobel Prizes. She never got credit for her work. ⁣

    Although Chien Shiung never got the appropriate recognition, she definitely was a trailblazer.⁣

    She was the first female instructor at Princeton University.⁣
    She was the first female president of The American Physical Society.⁣
    She was the first person to receive the Wolf Prize in Physics. ⁣

    She rightfully earned the nickname Queen of Physics.⁣

     

    Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer: The Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement 

    Fannie Lou Hamer (1917-1977) was a civil rights leader who was determined to make a change. Her story is heartbreaking, but it was why she constantly fought for equal rights for the Black community.

    This is an excellent book that I highly recommend for parents and teachers to read. This book contains content and language that is more appropriate for older elementary/middle school students. You should use your best judgment if you’re reading this to your students.

    Fun fact, my cousin is related to her!

     

    Althea Gibson: The Story of Tennis’ Fleet-of-Foot Girl

    Althea Gibson was the first Black tennis player to win Wimbledon, the French and U.S. Open title. 🎾⁣

    Althea was known to be strong on and off the court, which made her the perfect person to tear down barriers in the game of tennis.⁣

    She also would become the first Black golfer in the Ladies Professional Golf Association! 🏌️‍♀️⁣

     

    What Do You Do with a Voice Like That?: The Story of Extraordinary Congresswoman Barbara Jordan 

    Barbara Jordan (1936-1996) was a former congresswoman who began her career as a lawyer and ended it as an educator.⁣

    She is known for her powerful voice; her most well-known speech was probably her opening speech for Richard Nixon’s impeachment investigation.⁣

    In Texas, you can find many schools named in her honor. ⁣

    The illustrations in this book are gorgeous, and it’s written by one of my favorite authors! ⁣

     

    Ruth Objects: The Life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg

    Ruth Bader Ginsburg (1933-2020) was a lawyer and a Supreme Court Justice (1993-2020)

    Isn’t the cover dope?⁣

    Ruth Objects takes us back to her childhood. We learn how she earned her position in the highest court in the U.S.

    If you like this list of diverse books, you’ll love The Ultimate List of Diverse Picture Books. There are over 250 books to use in the classroom and home libraries.

    Are you looking for diverse picture books to add to your classroom or home library? Do you want to add diverse picture books to your collection, but you don’t have time to search for them? Are you a teacher that wants to use more diverse texts but are unsure how they will fit in with your units or curriculum? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you need this list! #diversepicturebooks #diverseclassroomlibraries #diversebooksforkids

    Related Posts

  • Black History Books for Beginning Readers

    BLACK HISTORY BOOKS FOR BEGINNING READERS
    BLACK HISTORY BOOKS FOR BEGINNING READERS

    The 2020-2021 school year is my first year teaching first grade. I’ve always taught upper elementary or middle school. The first thing I’ve noticed is how hard it is to find nonfiction picture books for lower elementary students. Especially books that highlight leaders in Black history. If you’re here you’ve probably run into the same problem! 

    Your learners may not be ready to read these books independently, but they are simple enough that they can learn new information in one sitting. Okay, well there’s one that may take longer, but it is a necessary addition to the list!

    Do me one favor, promise me that you will incorporate Black history throughout the school year, not just in February. These stories can be told all year long!

    I will update this list as I find more books! Follow me on Instagram to get updates and ideas for other picture books! If there’s a book you think I should add, comment below!

    If you like this list of books, you’ll love The Ultimate List of Diverse Picture Books. There are over 250 books to use in the classroom and home libraries. 

    Just a friendly reminder, I am an Amazon Affiliate, so if you decided to use the links below to purchase the books, I do get a commission. The price of the books does not change for you. ❤️

    Carter Reads a Newspaper


    Dr. Carter Godwin Woodson (1875-1950) was a historian that dug for the facts. He collected information so that he could share African and Black 

    American history with the world. Dr. Woodson eventually created Negro History Week, which would ultimately become Black History Month. This book gives us a glimpse of his life and work. The illustrations are done by my favorite illustrator, Don Tate.

    This is the only book on this list that may take longer than one sitting to read. But, I felt that it was important to include it. 

    Ron’s Big Mission

    Before Ron McNair (1950-1986) became a physicist and astronaut, he was just a kid who loved to read. This story is about when Ron had enough of the discriminatory laws and did what he had to do.

    WHOOSH!: LONNIE JOHNSON’S SUPER-SOAKING STREAM OF INVENTIONS 


    If you don’t know Lonnie Johnson, I KNOW you’ve played with his invention, the Super Soaker. Lonnie Johnson (1949-) is a former NASA engineer ad has over 120 patents! This book is about how he followed his passions and ended up creating one of the most popular toys to this day! 

    Mae Among The Stars

    Mae Jemison (1956-) is an engineer, a physicist, and is the first African-American woman to travel to space. This book tells a story about how her dream of becoming an astronaut began as a little girl. Although her parents are supportive, her teacher and classmates are not. She sure did prove them wrong!

    A Computer Called Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Helped Put American on the Moon


    Katherine Johnson (1918-2020) This book is all about Katherine Johnson’s journey to become the mathematician that helped the United States win the space race and saved Apollo 13.

    Trombone Shorty


    Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews (1986-) is a New Orleans musician, known for playing the trombone and trumpet. As a child, he wanted to be in a band so bad he started one with his neighborhood friends. In this book, we learn how he got his big break!

    Ice Breaker: How Mabel Fairbanks Changed Figure Skating


    Mabel Fairbanks (1915-2001) was a figure skater denied the right to compete in many competitions including the Olympics because she was Black. Although she was unable to compete to show the world her talent, Fairbanks took up coaching to help children of all backgrounds.

    Ready to Fly: How Sylvia Townsend Became the Bookmobile Ballerina


    After watching Swan Lake on t.v., Sylvia Townsend decides she wanted to learn ballet. Getting lessons wasn’t easy so she taught herself how to dance with books from a bookmobile! I LOVE this book! 

    Fearless Mary: Mary Fields, American Stagecoach Driver

    Do you know the story of the first Black woman to become a mail carrier?⁣

    In 1895, Mary Fields (1832-1914)  took the job of driving a stagecoach in the Wild West!⁣

    Mary would do whatever it took to make sure her cargo was delivered safely. She fought off wolves and thieves. And she had no problem traveling the dangerous mountain trails.⁣

    She even had a pet eagle to help protect her and her packages!⁣

     

     

    Want more diverse books to add to your library? Check out this list below.

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  • Diverse Social-Emotional Picture Books

    Check out these diverse social emotional picture books.

    Check out these diverse social emotional picture books.

    I love social-emotional picture books. They are a great way to get kids talking about their feelings. What I love about this list of books is that all kids can see themselves represented in these books.

    I will update this list as I find more books! Follow me on Instagram to get updates and ideas for other books to read at home or at school! If there’s a book you think I should add, comment below!

    Just a friendly reminder, I am an Amazon Affiliate, so if you decided to use the links below to purchase the books, I do get a commission. The price of the books does not change for you. ❤️

     

    The Problem With Problems by Rachel Rooney

    Who doesn’t need help solving their problems?⁣

    The Problem with Problems helps kids recognize problems and share how to work through them.⁣

    A Little Space for Me by Jennifer Gray Olson

    We all need space sometimes. Even kids.⁣

    A Little Space For Me helps kids figure out what to do when they just want to be alone.⁣

    Allie All Along by Sarah Lynne Reul

    This book is so cute!!!⁣

    Allie breaks her crayon and is furious!⁣

    She’s so mad she’s unrecognizable.⁣ I can relate!😂

    Allie’s brother gives her different strategies to work through her anger and she eventually is herself again.⁣

    This is a great book to teach kiddos how to calm down when they are mad.⁣

    Being Frank by Donna W. Earnhardt

    THIS BOOK IS HILARIOUS!⁣⁣
    ⁣⁣
    Frank is too frank and is offending everyone with his honesty. ⁣⁣
    ⁣⁣
    Frank has zero tact. Zero chill. Frank is off the chain. ⁣⁣
    ⁣⁣
    With him offending everyone, he of course ends up alone.⁣⁣
    ⁣⁣
    One day he has a talk with his grandpa and learns how to kindly tell the truth. ⁣⁣⁣

    I’m Gonna Push Through by Jasmyn Wright

    This book is all about teaching perseverance.

    The Thank You Letter by Jane Cabrera

    This book was definitely an easy read for my 5th graders, but it was a great book to teach them about showing gratitude.⁣⁣
    ⁣⁣
    When we got done reading, I had the students write thank you notes for people they’re thankful for and gifts they received over the winter break.⁣⁣

    The Proudest Blue by  Ibtihaj Muhammad

    “Don’t carry around the hurtful words that others say. Drop them. They are not your words to keep. They belong only to those who said them.”⁣

    This is my favorite quote in this book. What a beautiful message that we ALL need to hear. ⁣

    It is the first day of school for sisters, Asiya and Faizah. What makes this day even more special is that it is Asiya’s first day wearing her hijab. ⁣

    Proudest Blue was a great book that is written by Olympic medalist Ibtihaj Muhammad.⁣

    Mindful Day by Deborah Hopkinson

    Mindful Day is a great book to remind us all to slow down and be thankful. ⁣⁣

    Check out The Ultimate List of Diverse Picture Books if you are looking to add more diverse picture books to your classroom or home library!

    Are you looking for diverse picture books to add to your classroom or home library? Do you want to add diverse picture books to your collection, but you don’t have time to search for them? Are you a teacher that wants to use more diverse texts but are unsure how they will fit in with your units or curriculum? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you need this list! #diversepicturebooks #diverseclassroomlibraries #diversebooksforkids

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  • Nonfiction Books Perfect for Kindergarten to Second Grade

    Are you looking for nonfiction books for primary grades? Check out these informational texts perfect for kindergarten to second grade. These books are perfect for teaching text features too.
    Are you looking for nonfiction books for primary grades? Check out these informational texts perfect for kindergarten to second grade. These books are perfect for teaching text features too.

    Are you looking for non-fiction texts for lower elementary students?

    Well, I have a solution for you!

    Red Chair Press has a fantastic collection of diverse biographies that are perfect for beginning readers.

    Some of the subjects are well-known, while others not so much. There are a few I didn’t know, like Prima Ballerina, Maria Tallchief, and Senator Daniel Inouye. 

    Oh, and I LOVE how the Cesar Chavez book didn’t leave out Dolores Huerta. I think she needs her own book (wink, wink). 

    Over the last few years, the amount of diverse biographies and literary non-fiction available on bookshelves has exploded. Unfortunately, they often leave out the little guys. Many of the books are too long or too complicated for younger readers. 

    This is what makes these beginner biographies a perfect choice. 

    They are bite-sized, but FULL of information!

    What I  also appreciate about these books is that they are full of text features. Having age-appropriate books to model what non-fiction text features look like is so bomb to me!

    Don’t believe me? Check them out below!

    I already have tons of ideas of how I can use them in my classroom! I’ll share a few of those ideas with you soon!

    Go check out this amazing collection from Red Chair Press!

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  • 3 Tips for Instructional Coaches From a Teacher

    Are you an instructional coach? Check out these tips for instructional coaches from a teacher! These tips will help you build the relationships you need to be successful! #instructionalcoach #tipsforteachers #tipsforinstructionalcoaches

    I’m not a fan of instructional coaches. Honestly, it is because, in my almost 11 years of teaching, I’ve never had one that helped me grow as an educator. I know amazing coaches exist; I’ve just never experienced one. So, this post is pretty much my wishlist that can help you become a stronger coach for your team.

    Be Trustworthy

    People don’t respond to people they don’t trust. Make your staff trust you by simply being honest. If you don’t know an answer to a question or how to do something, be honest about it. We know coaches are human, but nothing is more frustrating than to be given inaccurate information or the run around simply because they don’t have answers or solutions.

    If you make a mistake, own it and fix it. If fixing it means teachers will have to do more work, then you should do the work to make it right. I’ve had coaches that have caused minor to big mistakes and then not own up to it and then blame someone else! Do you think I trusted those coaches? Heck no! Our relationship was forever damaged. I lost respect for them, and nothing they did moving forward was credible. 

    Finally, keep your word. If you say you’re going to do something, do it. I had a coach tell my team they would help us test our kids. We were like cool! They are actually going to help us! When team members reached out for their help, guess what, they didn’t do it and then told my teammates to take care of it themselves. 

    Establishing trust is the best way to get your team on your side. It establishes credibility. You can deliver excellent information, but if your team doesn’t trust you, they won’t receive it. Teachers won’t apply what you’ve given them, and you’ll never get the results you want. 

    Be Supportive

    I mean, really be supportive. Don’t just give the line, if you need anything let me know. Because chances are, they won’t. There are so many ways you can be supportive. Think back to when you were a teacher. What did support look like to you and your team? Here are some different ways you can be supportive.

    1. Print off resources like tests, scantrons, centers
    2. Provide a bank of resources
    3. Do something for the teachers that they don’t have time to do
    4. Eliminate tasks when possible
    5. Provide solutions to problems
    6. Be open to feedback
    7. Be flexible with deadlines when possible
    8. Set reasonable deadlines
    9. Have clear expectations
    10. Provide examples
    11. Send friendly reminders

    Teachers have always had a lot on their plate, and there’s even more now. If you can find a way to support them and make their job a little easier, your team will appreciate you more than you know. 

    Be Passionate

    There’s nothing worse than an unmotivated and lackadaisical instructional coach. If you aren’t passionate about your job, then why should teachers respect you. I’ve actually had coaches tell me they took the position because they got tired of all the hard work that comes with being a classroom teacher. This is the biggest slap in the face. Not only were they flaunting that they are doing less work for more money, they let me know they didn’t take their position seriously. Them becoming a coach was a way to escape the classroom. Any position in education has to be executed with passion. We are directly impacting the quality of our students’ futures. 

    I hope this post helps current and future coaches meet the needs of the teachers they support. I know there are awesome coaches out there, but there are some bad seeds yall. Really bad. And some of us have, unfortunately, had the experience of working with them. The most important take away is to make sure you are building great relationships with your team if you want your team to give you the results you need. 

     

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  • Four Ways to Make Virtual Learning Engaging

    Are you teaching remotely? Are you having trouble keeping students in your virtual classroom engaged? Virtual learning doesn't have to be boring! Check out these tips to make your virtual classroom more engaged! #remotelearning #distancelearning #virtualclassroom #remoteteaching

    Are you teaching remotely? Are you having trouble keeping students in your virtual classroom engaged? Virtual learning doesn't have to be boring! Check out these tips to make your virtual classroom more engaged!  #remotelearning #distancelearning #virtualclassroom #remoteteaching

    Keeping students engaged in a virtual classroom is a challenge, but it is possible. Our engagement level is making students excited to join our live lessons or thinking about skipping.

    While I don’t have 100% attendance for each class (I’m self-contained), I do see all of my students at some point during the day. Check out some of my engagement tactics and start using them in your virtual classroom this week!

    Ditch the Routine

    Routines are king in a physical classroom, but they can get old real quick online. If students know what to expect, they are less engaged and less likely to show up, especially if no one is making them. I usually keep the same routine for a week and then change it up. 

    Here’s what I mean by mixing it up. 

    Week 1

    1. Sight Word Practice
    2. Phonics practice
    3. Short vowel practice
    4. Part of speech practice
    5. Writing practice

    Week 2

    1. Introduce Reading Skill of the Week
    2. Read Aloud, Applying Skill of the Week
    3. Sight Word Practice

    I’ve noticed, if each week the kids don’t know what to expect, then my virtual attendance is better. And they have more fun because we aren’t doing the same thing every week. To reinforce what we did during Week 1, I have students complete Seesaw assignments on those skills, aka virtual centers.

    Allow Noise

    Let them unmute themselves all at once a couple of times a day. Are they going to hear you? No, but this shouldn’t be a time when they need to hear you. Ask for a group response and tell them all to unmute themselves to respond.

    I know this sounds chaotic, but it works. And if you let students know that they need to mute themselves once they respond, they will! Set your ground rules first. If my first graders can do it, so can yours!

    I let my students unmute themselves when we are reviewing sight words, counting, and other times when I don’t need to hear them clearly. Is it noisy, yep. But this allows them to be loud and silly. AKA, they are engaged.

    In upper grades, you could have them echo read. That way, they hear it once clearly, and then they can read it together.

    Vary What is On Their Screen

    This is an absolute MUST! Your students do not want to look at that perfect slide show every day for every lesson! That is so boring, ya’ll. And I know some teachers are doing this because ya’ll are super proud of them, showing them all over social media. Lol. And look, we do need slide shows, but that should not make up your entire lesson.

    So, give them some variety. Show your face, show your hands working with manipulatives or writing, show a short video, show their work, make them the spotlight when answering a question. Changing up what they see is an easy way to keep them engaged.

    Add Music

    Music can make anything more engaging, especially virtual learning! Here are some ways you can infuse music into your virtual class.

    • Play music before class starts. I ask students to log-on 3-4 minutes before class; during this time, I play music while waiting for class to start.
    • Use music as a timer. If I give the students time to work on something independently, I’ll tell them they have until the end of the song to get it done. They love this! At first, they dance more than work, but once they realize I won’t give them extra time, they get the work done. 
    • Use music as a brain break. Although our live lessons aren’t extremely long, I can read my virtual classroom and see that I need to re-engage them. This works like a charm.

    We are not able to teach as much content online as we are in-person. So, ensuring that students are engaged in learning is important. Your students aren’t going to want to join your virtual class if you put them to sleep. Use these tips to keep students virtually engaged!

    What are some ways you’re keeping students engaged online?

     

  • How Teachers Can Build Relationships With Parents During Remote Learning

    Teachers, we have to make sure we are building strong relationships with parents while teaching online. Parents are the ones at home, making sure students are participating in remote learning. Parents are helping us make remote teaching possible. Get tips on how to make your virtual classroom more successful. Check out the blog post, How Teachers Can Build Relationships With Parents During Remote Learning. #parentinvolvement #virtualteaching #remoteteaching #remotelearning

    Teachers, we have to make sure we are building strong relationships with parents while teaching online. Parents are the ones at home, making sure students are participating in remote learning.    Parents are helping us make remote teaching possible.  Get tips on how to make your virtual classroom more successful. Check out the blog post, How Teachers Can Build Relationships With Parents During Remote Learning.   #parentinvolvement #virtualteaching #remoteteaching #remotelearning

    Teachers around the world are working harder than ever before. Some of us are struggling to learn new technology while delivering quality instruction. We are trying to figure out what to teach online and how to package it so students can understand virtually. Some teachers are now teaching online and in-person. And it is a lot. For many of us, there are people in our community who are helping us out tremendously. Especially with elementary students, our kiddos’ parents.

    If you want remote learning to work for you, you have to build relationships with your students’ parents.

    In previous school years, some of us made it optional to communicate regularly with parents. This school year is forcing many of us to communicate with parents more than ever before.

    Here are some tips for building relationships with parents.

    Minimize Your Communication with Parents

    Parents do NOT want your daily emails or messages. They are not their child’s personal assistant. Sure, most parents want regular communication, but they do not want daily reports. Seriously, just say NO! They are not reading your daily messages, and you are annoying them. AKA, you are becoming unlikeable. This is not what you want in a high-stress time.

    Some parents have multiple children, or their child has numerous teachers, so imagine if more than one teacher is reaching out to them throughout the week. How many emails and messages do you think they’ve received?

    Parents are also working a full-time job, many from home. Think about how many emails they are getting from work.

    I message parents at maximum twice a week. Lately, it’s only been once, on Fridays or Mondays. I prefer Friday’s because I can recap the week and share all the announcements that need at the end of the week. I’ve learned if I message them on Monday, then I had to email them on Friday to share anything that happened during the week. So emailing on Friday’s has cut out an extra email.

    There are special circumstances that require me to message more than twice a week, like if my principal needs us to deliver a message to parents immediately. And if that is the case, I make it very clear that the news is not coming from me.

    Although I keep my communication with parents minimal, I make sure they know they can always reach out to me.

    Have Routines and Procedures that Allow Students to be Self Sufficient

    When we were thrown into remote teaching, I wanted to make things easy enough that students could get their work done with little to no support from their parents. When the school year ended, I had a few parents thank me for making things simple enough that students could do work on their own.

    So, this school year, I had to keep that same energy! Even though now I have first graders (last year I had 5th), we are entering our fifth week of school, and my students can do most of it on their own. Of course, they need help to know what time to get online, but they can log onto Zoom by themselves. They’re able to complete assignments on their own. I’m still working on making instructions simple enough for six-year-olds, but I’m getting better each week.

    Express Gratitude

    Are we working harder than we would if we were in classrooms? Yes. But, the parents have to do extra work too. So, every once in a while, say thank you. Let them know you appreciate their help. Pre-COVID, being kind to parents and recognizing what they’ve done helped me build positive relationships.

    Think about when you’re doing something to help someone, and they don’t say thank you. Aren’t you less likely to help in the future? You don’t have to say thank you every day. But genuinely let them regularly see that you appreciate them.

    Speaking with parents about their children can be intimidating. But, we all know that when teachers and parents work together, the students are more successful. This cheat sheet will help you build relationships and increase students' growth. You won't have any issues regularly communicating with parents! Grab your cheat sheet and increase parent engagement this school year!

    Use a Communication App

    Communication apps like Remind, Class Dojo, and Seesaw are excellent apps to use if you want to make communicating with parents super easy. Email is cool, but think about how many times you told a parent you’ve sent them an email and they never opened it. The apps can be installed on their phone so they get a message from you like a text, or they can set up their account to have messages sent to their email. It’s the best of both worlds.

    I love using a communication app right now because my email inbox is popping. My district email sends out the district emails to another folder, so sometimes, I don’t see parent emails right away. Using an app keeps all my parent messages in one spot.

    And if you aren’t a fan of adding an app to your phone, all the above mention apps work well on the computer.

    For more information on communication apps, check out my blog posts 3 REASONS WHY TEACHERS SHOULD USE A PARENT COMMUNICATION APP THIS SCHOOL YEAR & 5 WAYS TEACHERS SHOULD USE A PARENT COMMUNICATION APP THIS SCHOOL YEAR.

    Look guys; we need parents. We’ve always needed them. If you haven’t made parent communication a priority, then it may be awkward at first. Use remote learning as an opportunity to make your parent communication become a strength.

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