All Posts By

Melissa Nikohl

  • Houston Hosts 2021 Black Bloggers

    Houston Hosts 2021 Black Bloggers

    Houston Hosts 2021 Black Bloggers

    Almost a month ago, I got a chance to go to Houston for a cultural event of a lifetime. Some dope bloggers in Houston invited bloggers from all over the United States to share with us some of their favorite Black businesses. The event started Friday afternoon and was jammed packed with activities until Sunday evening. 

    The hosts kept saying Houston was full, but I felt like this trip was a way to convince us to move. So it’s definitely on my radar now. 

    In this post, I’ll share everything we did during our Houston Hosts Black Bloggers 2021 experience.

    Friday

    We kicked off the weekend with lunch at Micos Hot Chicken. Unfortunately, I was late, so I only got to nibble, but it was good! Their chicken sandwiches with coleslaw were the perfect mix of texture and flavor. 

    Kale Me Crazy Houston

    Our second stop was Kale Me Crazy, a restaurant that offers healthy alternatives, perfect for after a workout of a light meal that won’t make you feel heavy. They also have a variety of lattes and health shots to get that energy boost you need. 

    After taking a quick break at our hotel, we got picked up in our Alto and headed to Kindred Stories. You’ve seen my booklists! You know I was in heaven! It was the cutest bookstore and the best place for happy hour. We had drinks and snacks and, of course, bought books. 

    After happy hour we went to the famous Lucille’s. We all met upstairs to have a special chef’s dinner just for us. We got to meet the owner (who was celebrating the ownership of the land) and the chef. It was three courses of yumminess, and drinks came with each meal.

    Saturday

    We met at Inner Me Studios for a morning pole workout session and breakfast. Donuts were from Glazed The Doughnut Cafe. They had every kind of donut you could think of and more!

    Glazed the Doughnut Cafe

    After our workout, we got changed hopped on the bus to start our Nom Noir Cultural Tour. This tour was amazing! And I’ve done food tours nationally and internationally. 

    Our first stop was The Breakfast Klub. The line was around the corner, but we were able to jump the line and head straight to our table. We had fried chicken, grits, spinach and mushroom omelet, and these fried muffins.

    Next, we headed over to a Jamaican spot called, The Reggae Hut. We had plantains, meat patties, jerk chicken, rice and peas, and shrimp.

    The Reggae Hut Houston

    We drove around the famous Third Ward and got a history lesson. We also stopped by (we stayed on the bus) Beyonce’s childhood home and continued on our way. 

    Our next stop was Ray’s BBQ Shack, where we had bbq, of course! 

    We continued our tour through Third Ward and got to see the George Floyd Street Mural.

    Project Row Houses was our next stop. The nonprofit turned row houses into mini museums. Each house hosts an artist’s work for several months.

    Project Row Houses

    I don’t think our tour would be complete if we didn’t stop and get some sweet treats! Right around the corner from the Project Row Houses is a fantastic bakery called Crumbville. The Blueberries & Cream Cheesecake was to die for yall!

    Saturday Night

    We only made two stops Saturday night, but they were the icing on the cake. 

    First, we had some bomb bbq at Fainmous BBQ. And I’m picky about my bbq yall. I have pitmasters in my family that can run circles around a lot of bbq joints. But I was thoroughly impressed by Tennessee-style bbq. The food was on point, including the sides! Oh, and Makers Mark was there to serve us up some delicious cocktails. And I love a good cocktail.

    Fainmous BBQ

    After dinner, we went to Kiss. It’s a nice-sized lounge with great food (yes, we ate again) and great drinks. 90s r&b is my thing, and the DJ played all the hits. 

    Sunday

    First of all, I’m so glad I took off work Monday because Sunday Funday was, as the kids would say, lit! 

    We started our day at 5015 Bar. They had a DJ, bomb drinks, and good food! Then, I got a chance to put some non-Texas friends on to Ranch Water. I completely forgot it was a Texas thing! 

    We left the bar and went to My Southern Brand’s event, where we had catfish and spaghetti! I’m from St. Louis, and everyone from the Midwest knows that catfish and spaghetti are a paired meal (argue with yo mama). The catfish was fried to perfection! 

    The Gumbo Club

    My flight was delayed, so I could make one more stop before heading back to Dallas. Candle-making class at Love and Make. I love candles, so this was a super fun experience, especially blending our fragrances.

    And that’s it, folks. That’s my rundown of the Houston Host Black Bloggers 2021. It was a beautiful, community-building experience that indeed highlighted some of the best Black businesses in Houston.

    Make sure you follow all the super talented hosts on Instagram: Black Girls Who BrunchThe Queen of YumDash of JazzMy Southern BrandBless the Belly, and Houston Hosts

    Our sponsors showed us so much love too! Thank you, H-E-B (I can’t wait to see you in Dallas). Alto rideshare (use code MNIKOHL10 for $10 off your first two rides) drove us everywhere in Houston, and I don’t know if you know about Houston traffic, but they were a lifesaver. And finally, Houston First and Black Restaurant Week.

  • Fantasy Novels About Black Girls With Magic

    FANTASY NOVELS ABOUT BLACK GIRLS WITH MAGIC

    FANTASY NOVELS ABOUT BLACK GIRLS WITH MAGIC

    Are you ready for some Black Girl Magic? Check out these Fantasy novels featuring Black girls. I know I would have loved the fantasy genre much more had these books been available when I was a kid. There is a mix of Young Adult and Middle-Grade novels on this list.

    Enjoy these novels all about Black girls who own their magic!

    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. ❤️

    I’m also a Bookshop Affiliate. Bookshop works with local independent bookstores to deliver books to your door. You can shop this entire list on Bookshop here.


    This Poison Heart (Young Adult) 

    Briseis is the Black Poison Ivy. This Poison Heart tells a story about Brooklyn native Briseis and her strange attraction to plants. 

    Briseis soon learns that her aunt has died and she has inherited her aunt’s rural estate. Briseis and her parents find out quickly that this house holds a lot of secrets.

    You get some magic and mythology in this one! I cannot wait for the sequel. Bookshop Affiliate Link

    Wings of Ebony (Young Adult)

    H-Town where you at? Rue hasn’t had the easiest life growing up in Houston, especially after witnessing her mother’s murder. But, Rue soon finds out why her life was full of challenges. 

    Rue finds out she is half-god and half-human, and if that isn’t enough, she gets snatched from her life in Houston to live on the hidden island Ghizon. A magical city full of people just like her.

    Rue has had enough and breaks Ghizon’s biggest law, and returns to Houston to check on her sister. But, unfortunately, when she goes back to her neighborhood, it is not the neighborhood she remembers. So Rue tries to find a way to save her sister and her community before more lives are ruined. Bookshop Affiliate Link

    Root Magic (Middle Grades)

    This middle-grade novel takes us back in time (the 1960s) and to the coast of South Carolina, home of the Gullah. The Turner family has just lost their matriarch, and twins Jez and Jay are struggling to deal with this tremendous loss. 

    Their hometown is full of evil, and it has nothing to do with the long history of root magic that runs in the Turner family. 

    My millennial friends will instantly connect to this book if they remember the Nickelodeon show, Gullah Gullah Island. Root Magic is a great historical fiction book perfect for middle grades. Bookshop Affiliate Link

    Legendborn (Young Adult) 

    I couldn’t put this one down!⁣

    Legendborn is a young adult fantasy novel that is an absolute page-turner. ⁣

    ⁣It’s been a few days since I’ve finished it, and I still don’t have the words to give this book the review it deserves. ⁣

    ⁣But here’s the rundown.⁣

    ⁣Bree Matthews just lost her mother in an accident. So when she gets the opportunity to attend a program for high schoolers at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, she gladly accepts. ⁣

    ⁣Her first night on campus throws her into a world she never knew existed. And it forces her to recognize some strange abilities that she didn’t know she had.⁣

    Legendborn is my favorite book on this list! Bookshop Affiliate Link

    Amari and the Night Brothers (Middle Grades)

    It’s pretty obvious why Marsai Martin is turning this book into a movie.⁣

    Amari & The Night Brothers is the first book in the Supernatural Investigations Trilogy.⁣

    ⁣Amari’s brother is missing, and she’s just gotten in big trouble at school.⁣

    ⁣When Amari receives a nomination to attend a summer camp where her brother worked, she jumps at the opportunity to attend, intending to find out what happened to her brother.⁣

    Amari has no idea that this secret summer camp is going to throw her into the supernatural world.⁣

    Every time I read a fantastic middle-grade novel, I wish I still had my 5th graders! Ugh! They would have love this book!⁣ Bookshop Affiliate Link

    The Gilded Ones (Young Adult)

    When we meet Deka, she is anxiously waiting on the blood ceremony to determine if she is pure and a rightful member of her village. But, of course, her blood is determined to be impure, and Deka is in fear of her life. 

    Deka thinks her life is over until she meets a stranger who makes her an offer she really can’t refuse. Deka gets an opportunity to leave her village and become a warrior and fight to save the empire with a group of girls just like her. 

    I really enjoyed The Gilded Ones. It had major Lord of the Ring vibes.  Bookshop Affiliate Link

    Children of Blood and Bone (Young Adult)

    Children of Blood and Bone is the first novel in the Legacy of Orïsha Series.

    It was on my to-read list forever, and my only regret is that I didn’t read it sooner. 

    Zélie lives in Orïsha, a village that was once full of magic and love. Unfortunately, magic and life were taken away by a merciless king, leaving Zélie without a mother and the village unrecognizable.

    When Zélie gets the opportunity to bring magic back to her home, she does everything in her power to make sure her village returns to that once place it once was. 

    I’m a big audiobook fan, and I believe that all books aren’t meant for audio; this was one of them. You’ll want a physical copy to enjoy it the best. Bookshop Affiliate Link

    Blood Like Magic (Young Adult)

    Voya Thomas is an indecisive teen witch from Canada waiting for her calling (her powers). Voya cannot get her powers until she completes the task assigned by her ancestors. Voya soon finds out that her completion of this assignment doesn’t just impact her, but also the future of her family. Indecisive Voya is forced to make a decision, something that she doesn’t know how to do. 

    There is a sequel expected to be released in 2022. Bookshop Affiliate Link

    A Song Below Water   (Young Adult)

    Effie and Tavia are best friends (more like sisters) that live in Portland, Oregon. Tavia is a siren who tries daily not to reveal her mythical ability to the world. Effie struggles with understanding her identity in a world that doesn’t like people who are different. Eventually, Tavia’s and Effie’s secrets are revealed and no one is prepared for what to do next. 

    It took me a few times to get into this book, but once I was hooked, I couldn’t put it down. I’m looking forward to reading the sequel A Chorus Rises. Its focus in on Effie and Tavia’s enemy Naema. Bookshop Affiliate Link

    Raybearer (Young Adult)

    Tarisai is pretty much abandoned by her mother, The Lady. But this doesn’t stop The Lady from shipping Tarisai off to the capital with a murderous task to complete. Tarisai must decide if she’ll betray the mother she never really had or follow her own path. 

    I mentioned that another book on this list isn’t a great audiobook, Raybearer isn’t either. There are too many details that you have to pay close attention to. I recommend reading a hard copy of this book. 

    The sequel, The Redemptor is on my to read list. Bookshop Affiliate Link

    This book list took me months to complete because I pride myself in reading all the books I post. I hope you enjoy these books as much as I do. 

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  • Long Distance Running Must Haves

    Long Distance Running Tips

    Long Distance Running Tips

    If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I started training for the Dallas BMW Half Marathon in late July. It’s been a challenging journey, and now that I’m towards the end, I wanted to share some of my long-distance running must-haves. These things have helped make my long-distance running experience safer and more comfortable.

    Body Glide– This has been the newest addition to my list. A few weeks ago, I started chafing on one of my shorter runs (6 miles). Yeah…I never want to experience that again. I used it for a 10-mile run and had no issues. 

    Compression Socks- When I ran the Tour De Fleurs Quarter Marathon, I felt a little rub in my shoes that I knew could eventually cause some problems. I knew I had to dump the Hanes and upgrade to something better. And I fell in love as soon as I put them on! I literally wear them around the house sometimes just because they make my feet feel so good!


    Gu Energy Gels– Gels work best for me to keep me fueled up on my longer runs. I tried them out with shorter runs near my home first, because fuel supplements can do different things to people, specifically stomach things lol. 

    Running Belt– I keep all my odds and ends in my belt. My favorite part about this one is that it comes with two water bottles. One holds water, and the other has my electrolyte water.


    Nuun Sport Electrolyte Tablets– These are my two favorite flavors that help keep me hydrated. I use the Lemon Chamomile flavor for after-workouts. 


    Cap Light– This light is so I can see during my early morning runs. I know there are brighter ones out there, but this worked well for me. I could see a safe distance in front of me without blinding passing runners. The light can also fold down so you can clip it to your running belt too!


    Safety Lights– These lights are so bikers and other runners can see me. When it’s pitch black, you need all the light you can get!

    Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments! Happy running!

  • 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. ❤️

    I’m also a Bookshop Affiliate. Bookshop works with local independent bookstores to deliver books to your door. You can shop this entire list on Bookshop here.

    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!

    Legendborn Bookshop Affiliate Link

    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!⁣⁣
    ⁣⁣
    When I was a teen, I gave up on YA novels because of the lack of diversity and jumped straight into adult novels.⁣⁣
    ⁣⁣
    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!⁣⁣

    Felix Ever After Bookshop Affiliate Link

    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.

    Slay Bookshop Affiliate Link

    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.

    Parachutes Bookshop Affiliate Link

    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 and begins looking into her disappearance immediately. And she doesn’t stop until she finds Monday.

    Monday’s Not Coming Bookshop Affiliate Link

    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!⁣

    With Fire on High Bookshop Affiliate Link

    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!

    A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder Bookshop Affiliate Link

    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.

    Dear Haiti, Love Alaine Bookshop Affiliate Link

    The Black Kids

    I judge books by their covers.⁣⁣
    ⁣⁣
    And The Black Kids didn’t disappoint.⁣⁣
    ⁣⁣
    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.⁣⁣
    ⁣⁣
    Ashley Bennett is in the middle of two worlds, never fully belonging to either side. ⁣⁣
    ⁣⁣
    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. ⁣⁣
    ⁣⁣
    Some of the decisions she makes get herself and others in trouble.⁣⁣
    ⁣⁣
    I found myself saying girllll,a few times while reading. Ashley raised my pressure just a bit.🤦🏾‍♀️ ⁣⁣
    ⁣⁣
    I loved the big and tiny references. Flo-Jo and her nails were my favorite. ⁣⁣
    ⁣⁣
    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. ⁣⁣
    ⁣⁣
    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.⁣⁣

    The Black Kids Bookshop Affiliate Link

    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. ❤️

    I’m also a Bookshop Affiliate. Bookshop works with local independent bookstores to deliver books to your door. You can shop this entire list on Bookshop here.

    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!😲⁣ Bookshop Affiliate Link

    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.⁣⁣ Bookshop Affiliate Link

    ⁣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!⁣ Bookshop Affiliate Link

    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!🤣⁣ Bookshop Affiliate Link

    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!⁣ Bookshop Affiliate Link

    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. Bookshop Affiliate Link

    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.⁣⁣
    ⁣⁣
    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. ⁣⁣Bookshop Affiliate Link
    ⁣⁣

    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. Bookshop Affiliate Link

    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. ⁣⁣⁣Bookshop Affiliate Link

    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. ❤️

    I’m also a Bookshop Affiliate. Bookshop works with local independent bookstores to deliver books to your door. You can shop this entire list on Bookshop here.

    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! Bookshop Affiliate Link

    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. Bookshop Affiliate Link

    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.  Bookshop Affiliate Link

    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. 

    New Kid: Bookshop Affiliate Link

    Class Act: Bookshop Affiliate Link

    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. Bookshop Affiliate Link

     

    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! Bookshop Affiliate Link

     

    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. ⁣ Bookshop Affiliate Link

    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.  Bookshop Affiliate Link

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

    Related Posts

  • 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. ❤️

    I’m also a Bookshop Affiliate. Bookshop works with local independent bookstores to deliver books to your door. You can shop this entire list on Bookshop here.


     

    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? Bookshop Affiliate Link

    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!⁣ Bookshop Affiliate Link

    Ready to Fly: How Sylvia Townsend Became the Bookmobile Ballerina

    Sylvia Townsend taught herself how to dance with books from a bookmobile!🩰⁣⁣
    ⁣⁣
    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. ⁣⁣Bookshop Affiliate Link

     

    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! Bookshop Affiliate Link

    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! Bookshop Affiliate Link

    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.⁣ Bookshop Affiliate Link

    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. Bookshop Affiliate Link

    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. Bookshop Affiliate Link

    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. Bookshop Affiliate Link

    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)?⁣⁣
    ⁣⁣
    In 1854, Elizabeth Jennings lived in New York City and tried boarding a streetcar but was brutally denied. ⁣⁣
    ⁣⁣
    Lizzie Demands a Seat, takes us through Elizabeth’s fight for equal rights on public transportation.⁣⁣ Bookshop Affiliate Link

    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.⁣ Bookshop Affiliate Link

    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! Bookshop Affiliate Link

    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! 🏌️‍♀️⁣ Bookshop Affiliate Link

    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! ⁣ Bookshop Affiliate Link

    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. Bookshop Affiliate Link

    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 was 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. ❤️

    I’m also a Bookshop Affiliate. Bookshop works with local independent bookstores to deliver books to your door. You can shop this entire list on Bookshop here.

    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. Bookshop Affiliate Link

    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. Bookshop Affiliate Link

    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!  Bookshop Affiliate Link

    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! Bookshop Affiliate Link

    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. Bookshop Affiliate Link

    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! Bookshop Affiliate Link

    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. Bookshop Affiliate Link

    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! Bookshop Affiliate Link

    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!⁣ Bookshop Affiliate Link

    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. ❤️

    I’m also a Bookshop Affiliate. Bookshop works with local independent bookstores to deliver books to your door. You can shop this entire list on Bookshop here.

     

    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.⁣ Bookshop Affiliate Link

    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.⁣ Bookshop Affiliate Link

    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.⁣ Bookshop Affiliate Link

    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.⁣⁣
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    One day he has a talk with his grandpa and learns how to kindly tell the truth. ⁣⁣⁣Bookshop Affiliate Link

    I’m Gonna Push Through by Jasmyn Wright

    This book is all about teaching perseverance. Bookshop Affiliate Link

    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.⁣⁣ Bookshop Affiliate Link

    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.⁣ Bookshop Affiliate Link

    Mindful Day by Deborah Hopkinson

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

    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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