• 4 Books to Help Teachers Create Culturally Relevant Classrooms

    4 Books to Help Teachers Create Culturally Relevant Classrooms

     4 Books to Help Teachers Create Culturally Relevant Classrooms

    This year I wanted to learn more about education outside of the professional learning at my district and school. I wanted to learn more about being a teacher that supported students’ social and emotional needs. This led me to seek out more information on culturally relevant/responsive teaching. 

    These books flow together perfectly and are great tools to help you meet the social-emotional needs of all your students. 

    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.

    Culturally Responsive Teaching & The Brain: Promoting Authentic Engagement and Rigor Among Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students

    This book is a great starting point to your Culturally Responsive Teaching journey. You’ll get a good foundation about Culturally Responsive Teaching (CRT) from this book, so I recommend that you read this first. 

    Once you learn the background information you need to know to understand CRT, you’ll learn how to identify your biases (we all have them), and how to apply what you learned in your classroom.

    Better Than Carrots or Sticks: Restorative Practices for Positive Classroom Management

    Better Than Carrots or Sticks, focuses on how and why we should move away from punitive discipline. A lot of times in education, we do things because we’ve always done them a particular way. Many discipline policies that we’ve used for years, have the opposite effect on students that we’re expecting. They also disproportionately target minorities, which many times is because we don’t understand our students’ culture and our own biases. 

    In this book, you’ll find research-based information as to why we should only use restorative practices in our classroom and schools. Like the previous book, the authors give you tips and tools on how to implement these practices with your students. 

    The Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools

    The Pushout explains what happens to black and brown girls after years of ignoring cultures, ignoring our biases, and punitive discipline. There are many books and research studies that focus on black and brown boys, but you can’t find a lot of information on the girls. 

    Studies show that black and brown girls are equally harmed in the education system. We push them out of the school system and often into the other harmful systems. 

    If you’re a teacher, whether or not you have black or brown girls in your classroom, you need to read this. Even if YOU are black or brown. 

    Sing a Rhythm, Dance a Blues: Education for the Liberation of Black and Brown Girls

    This is a follow up to The Pushout. Monique W. Morris gives us Sing a Rhythm, Dance a Blues to help us with the next steps to solve the pushout of black and brown girls. This book gives you tips on how to work with students who many would label as troublemakers, loud, or disrespectful. 

    We have a lot of work to do when it comes to supporting all students. A major part of becoming a culturally relevant educator is letting go of our biases. It is letting go of your “power.” Our students’ education isn’t about us; it is about them. Reading these books is not enough, but they will help you make shifts in your practice.


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  • Book Gift Guide for Kids: Diverse Picture Books

    Diverse Picture Books

    Diverse Picture Books

    I love reading picture books to my students! Some are simple others have a lesson that even adults can use. In this blog post, I want to share with you an amazing collection of diverse picture books.

    I recommend these books for students who are in 3rd grade or higher if they’re read independently. Of course, every child is unique, and some may be ready for reading for comprehension at an earlier age!

    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.

    Crown: An Ode to The Fresh Cut By Derrick Barnes

    This is one of my favorite books I read this year. As someone who frequents the barbershop, this book was super relatable. If you have a little one hesitant to go to the barbershop, this may be the book for you!

    Martina the Beautiful Cockroach: A Cuban Folktale Retold By Carmen Agra Deedy

    This is one of the cutest books I read all year! Martina, the Beautiful Cockroach, is a popular folktale in the Latinx community. Martina is ready to be married, and her grandmother tells her to do the coffee test to find the perfect mate! The coffee test is a test I may use in the near future lol! Guys, this really is a great book!

    The Story of Chopsticks By Ying Chang Compestine

    The Story of Chopsticks is a Chinese Folktale🥢about the creation of chopsticks, of course!⁣ A little boy struggles to find his place at the kitchen table until he finds a solution to his dinner problems!

    Lucia the Luchadora By Cynthia Leonor Garza & Alyssa Bermudez

    Luchadors are known to be mostly male, so when Lucia wants to be a Luchadora, the boys say that she should act like a girl. Lucia ends up saving the day, and she proves that girls are not just made of sugar and spice!

    When Penny Met POTUS By Rachel Ruiz

    Penny’s mom works at the White House and works for the POTUS!⁣

    ⁣When Penny gets an opportunity to go to work with her mom, and her #1 goal is to meet POTUS. Except she doesn’t know who they are. She spends the whole day searching for them and can only imagine who it is.⁣When she finally bumps into the POTUS, she can’t believe who she sees!

    The Best Mariachi in the World By J.D. Smith

    Everyone in Gustavo’s family is in their mariachi band, except him. ⁣⁣He feels like he’s an outcast. Gustavo gives up the idea of joining his family, and that is when he finds his way to be a part of the band.

    Iqbal and His Ingenious Idea: How a Science Project Helps One Family & the Planet By Elizabeth Suneby

    After Iqbal’s teacher announces there will be a class science fair, he goes straight home to develop a plan to win. With help from his sister, he makes an invention that makes him a top contender for first place but also helps his family during the never-ending monsoon season.

    Thunderboy Jr.By Sherman Alexi

    Thunderboy Jr. does not like his name! He wishes he had a normal name like his mother or sister. He wants a name that represents all the things he’s done and can do, a name that sounds more like him. By the end of the book, Thunderboy Jr. gets a name that is perfect for him.

    Rainbow Weaver By Linda Elovitz Marshall & Elisa Chavarri

    In Guatemala, weaving on backstrap looms is a tradition that Mayan women have done for years. Ixchel wants to follow in her family’s footsteps, but they think she is too young. Ixchel is determined to become a weaver and finds a way to weave while helping her family and the community.

     A Resource You Would Like

    The Free Interactive Read Aloud Guide

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  • Book Gift Guide for Kids: Non-Fiction Picture Books

    I love a good literary non-fiction picture book to read to my students, and all of these were hits! Some were fun, others inspiring, and a few led to more questions. I didn’t always think that my students would like non-fiction books, but the right ones make them want to go research more about the book’s subject!

    As before, I recommend these books for students who are in 3rd grade or higher if they’re read independently. Of course, every child is unique, and some may be ready for reading for comprehension at an earlier age!

    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 Girl Who Thought in Pictures: The Story of Dr. Temple Grandin⁣ by Julia Finely Mosca

    Diagnosed with autism as a young girl, Temple Grandin wasn’t expected to talk, and the doctors told her mother to send Temple away to get specialized help. ⁣
    ⁣Her mother refused, but after Temple got into some trouble at school, Temple’s mother sends her to live with her aunt on a ranch in Arizona.⁣⁣
    This is when Temple’s life changes. Temple realizes she has a gift, and she learns how to use it to change the livestock industry.
    Dr. Grandin is currently a professor and speaks around the world to bring awareness to autism.

    Emmanuel’s Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah by Laurie Ann Thompson & Sean Qualls

    Even though Emmanuel was born with a deformed leg, he never let that stop him. ⁣At this time, there were not high expectations for those who were disabled.

    His mother made sure that he would not let his disability keep him fro going to school. When Emmanuel got too big for his mom to carry him to school, he was determined to continue his education and hopped miles to school each day.⁣

    Once Emmanuel was older, he wanted to bring awareness to those who were disabled in Ghana. Emmanuel wanted to let people know that disabled people could do whatever they put their mind to, so he biked 400 miles across Ghana to bring awareness to his cause.

    Emmanuel currently runs a charity that helps students with disabilities.

    Whoosh: Lonnie Johnson’s Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions by Chris Barton

    Growing up, Lonnie Johnson enjoyed tinkering around with things. He took his passion for inventing things to college, where he won several awards for his inventions. After college, Lonnie to his ideas to the highest place possible and became a NASA engineer.

    Lonnie’s ideas were always flowing, so he continued creating at home. One day while trying to create a new cooling system for refrigerators and air conditioners, he came up with his next invention. A water gun! But not just any water gun, the one, and only Super Soaker! As a kid, the Super Soaker was one of my favorite toys! Pair this book with a Super Soaker to make a really cool gift!

    When the Beat Was Born: Dj Kool Herc and the Creation of Hip Hop by Laban Carrick Hill

    As a kid, Dj Kool Herc loved music. He loved how it made him feel. In Jamacia, Dj Kool Herc would watch his favorite DJ set up each Saturday dance parties. He couldn’t attend the party, but he dreamed about becoming a DJ.

    When he was 13, his family moved to the Bronx. He held on to his love of music and began tinkering around with his family’s speaker system until a big sound came out.

    Shortly after DJ Kool Herc threw his first party, he wanted to keep his guest dancing, so he developed a way he could spin two records at a time!

    DJ Kool Herc is known as one of the pioneers of rap, so this is a great book to give your child or students some history about how this genre began.
    Just be aware, you’re going have to fill them in on some things, which will probably make you feel old. I had to let my students know what an A and B side of a record are. lol

    The Boo-Boos That Changed The World: A True Story About An Accidental Invention (Really!) by Barry WITTENSTEIN

    We have Earle Dickson’s wife to thank for the creation of Band-Aids. She was a klutz. She was so clumsy; Earle had to wrap her wounds every day when he got home.
    A friend suggested Earle meet with Mr. Johnson (from Johnson and Johnson), to show him his bandage idea.

    After much trial and error together, they perfected his bandages. Surprisingly, Band-Aids were not an immediate success, and Earle’s struggle to success is shown throughout the book. The End.

    Sonia Sotomayor: A Judge Grows in the Bronx by Jonah Winter

    Growing up, Sonia wanted to be a detective, just like her favorite book character Nancy Drew.

    So, Sonia studied and was at the top of her class, and when she went on to college, she eventually decided that she wanted to become a judge.

    Sonia would become a judge, and she used her experiences of growing up in the Bronx to mold her into a stern but an empathetic judge.

    Eventually, her talents on the stand were noticed, and she was nominated by President Barack Obama to become a Supreme Court Justice. After much questioning by members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sonia Sotomayor became the first Latina Supreme Court Justice.

    A Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage⁣ by Selina Alko

    The Lovings was an interracial couple in Virginia that wanted to get married. Virginia was one of many states at that time where interracial marriages were illegal.
    The Lovings traveled to Washington D.C. to get married, but shortly after they returned, they were arrested for unlawful cohabitation.
    The Lovings fought for their right to be married, and their case went all the way to the Supreme Court. 1967, it was decided that it was unconstitutional for states to ban interracial marriages.

    For the Right to Learn: Malala Yousafzai’s Story by Rebecca Langston-George

    Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, then you know the story of Malala Yousafzai. Malala is known as the girl who was willing to risk her life to get an education. I love Malala’s story because it is a reminder that we shouldn’t take our access to education for granted.

    If you’re looking for more books, check out my science picture book recommendations!

  • Book Gift Guide For Kids: Science Picture Books

    Science Books for Kids

    Science Books for Kids

    Incorporating more science based books into my read alouds is going to be one of my goals for 2020, because there are so many and I barely scratched the surface this year. I at least wanted to share the ones that were a hit in my classroom! 

    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. 

    Also, I recommend these books for kiddos who are in 3rd grade or higher if they are reading the books independently. Of course, every child is unique and some may be ready for reading for comprehension at an earlier age!

    A Place for Pluto by Stef Wade

    Pluto finds out he is no longer a planet, and the eight other planets no longer want him hanging around.⁣⁣

    ⁣⁣So, Pluto goes out to search the solar system to find others like him!⁣⁣ If your kids or students love space, this is the book they need. Although the story is fiction, they give tons of facts about the planets, space, and what makes Pluto a dwarf planet.⁣⁣

    What Do They Do with All that Poo by Jane Kurtz

    The title sounds gross, I know, but this book is so much fun. All of my students loved this book, especially the boys. We learned about different animals’ poop and why each animal’s poop is different! Did you know that wombat’s poop is square, and sloths climb down a tree once a week to poop? Neither did I until I read the book! 

    ⁣⁣My students had so many questions and comments during the read aloud, it took forever to finish! Which is a good thing!



    Surprising Sharks by Nicola Davies

    I read this book every year, and I’ve never had a student that didn’t like it. Surprising Sharks gives the reader facts about the different species of sharks and other facts that are probably unknown to the average person. The reader also learns that shark attacks on humans are extremely rare and that  sharks should be more afraid of humans than we are them.

    Give Bees a Chance by Bethany Barton

    Edgar likes many things, but bees aren’t one of them. Edgar’s friend gives tries to convince Edgar that bees aren’t so bad. Give Bees a Chance explains the importance of bees and what we can do to keep them around. The book also gives you tips on what to do when a bee starts flying around you! I wish I knew what to do years ago because I’ve been stung twice! 

    Shark Lady: The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean’s Most Fearless Scientist by Jess Keating

    Look, kids love sharks, so you can’t go wrong with any books about sharks.

    My second book about sharks is about Eugenie Clark. As a girl, Eugenie loved sharks and thought they were beautiful creatures, not scary monsters like others thought. She learned everything she could about sharks when she was a young girl and after high school she decided to study zoology. 

    In college, many of Eugenie’s professors thought that women weren’t smart enough to be a scientist. They told her she should be a housewife or a secretary!

    Eugenie proved them wrong and became a successful zoologist that made many discoveries and even invented shark repellant!

    For weekly book recommendations follow me on instagram, @melissanikohl.


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  • My Favorite Read Alouds: November 2019

    We’ve been reading like crazy this month, and I wanted to share my favorite books that we read in my classroom this month! 

    Just an FYI, I am an Amazon Affiliate, which means if you use the link to buy the books, I get some change! No biggie if you don’t use the link!

    Now that we’ve gotten that out the way, here are my November picks!

    Who Stole Mona Lisa? by Ruthie Knapp

    I loved this book! We all know at one point Mona Lisa was stolen from the Louvre Museum, but do you know how Mona Lisa felt about her being gone for two years? Well, she tells her side of the story and shares the secrets of her life that only she knows. After reading this book, my students had tons of questions about the famous painting!


    The Doctor with an Eye for Eyes: The Story of Dr. Patricia Bath⁣⁣ by Julia Finely Mosca


    Dr. Patricia Bath loved science as a girl and turned her hobby into a career.⁣⁣ After attending medical school at Howard University, she interned at Harlem Hospital Center, where she found that African-Americans were two times more likely to be blind than whites.⁣⁣ She made eye health a priority and made the hospital perform surgeries for free to help members of the community regain their sight.⁣⁣

    ⁣⁣Dr. Bath also studied overseas, where she learned more about laser cataract surgery. Eventually, she invented the laserphaco probe, that removed cataracts.⁣⁣

    ⁣⁣Later in her career, she became the first woman ophthalmologist at UCLA and became chief of their residency program.⁣⁣

    ⁣⁣Dr. Bath passed away a few months ago, on May 30th, 2019.⁣⁣

    ⁣⁣What amazing life she lived!⁣


    The Water Princess by Susan Verde

    The Water Princess is about Model and Philanthropist Georgie Badiel’s experiences as a child.⁣⁣

    ⁣⁣Princess GieGie has to walk miles every day to get water for her family. She doesn’t understand why the water is so far away. After a long day of walking, Princess GieGie asks her mother why they have to walk miles for water. Her mother doesn’t entirely give her an answer but tells her that maybe she will solve their country’s problem one day.⁣⁣

    ⁣⁣Today, Georgie Badiel is doing just that. Since 2015, The Georgie Badiel Foundation has helped towns in the country of Burkina Faso get clean and accessible water. ⁣⁣

    ⁣⁣Georgie Badiel is truly The Water Princess.⁣⁣🌊👑

    Definitely check this one out!


    The Boy From the Dragon 🐉Palace by Margaret Read MacDonald

    A poor flower seller receives a gift from the Dragon King because kindness, it’s a snot-nosed boy. 😂⁣

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

    This folktale is a great reminder to be thankful for what you have. 

    Not only did this book have a great message, it was engaging and fun. My students were amused at how the snot-nosed boy was able to produce the gifts for the man!⁣


    Manfish: A Story of Jacques Cousteau 🌊⁣by Jennifer Berne

    Manfish was another book on this list that talks about turning your passion into a career. Jacque Cousteau always loved the sea. He served in the French Navy right after high school! He continued to follow his passion, and later in his career, he invented the Aqua-Lung, aka SCUBA, and made documentaries.

    The book also mentions how Jacques Cousteau began making saving marine life important. He wanted us to understand how we were hurting the life in the ocean through pollution. He 

    That is my list for November. Follow me @melissanikohl for more book recommendations!