Just Ask! by Sonia Sotomayor

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Be different. Be brave. Be you. These are the messages and themes in the picture book  Just Ask! by United States Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Just Ask is a wonderful book about  communicating to learn about one another’s differences. In the book Justice Sotomayor teaches children about how some kids with special needs use special tools to help them with illness or disabilities – tools such as canes, wheelchairs or a service animal.

Children that read the book will leave with a better understanding of the “quirks” of kids with special needs including:

  • Why a child with Tourette syndrome has ticks
  • Why a child on the autism spectrum doesn’t speak
  • Why children with diabetes have to take insulin

Children will finish the book understanding that kids with special needs can be just as smart and “normal” as those without special needs.

If you want the child in your life to grow up empathetic and tolerant of those different than themselves, Just Ask! is a wonderful book to begin a discussion. It is also available in Spanish under the title Solo Pregunta! which can be purchased on amazon.com.


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Everyone Cooks Rice by Norah Dooley

61ouazkboll._sy420_bo1204203200_Thanksgiving is almost here, and it’s a great time to read a book about food! Everyone Cooks Rice is a picture book that celebrates diversity by showing how our differences are more similar than we realize.

The book introduces children to several cultures including Barbados, Vietnam, Haiti and Italy – all through food. Kids learn new words related to rice dishes, such as what rice is cooked in. The book doesn’t simply mention the dish or foreign word – it describes the dish and it’s significance to the culture from where it came.

Everyone Cooks Rice presents immigrants as hardworking, bilingual people with the ability to speak more than one language, which is great way to teach children tolerance and multiculturalism. To further kids’ multicultural learning, the back of Everyone Cooks Rice features recipes mentioned in the book including Biryani, an Indian dish, and tofu with vegetables, a Chinese dish. It’s a fun, educational book that children and adults can both learn from!

Everyone Cooks Rice
Author: Norah Dooley,  Illustrator: Peter J. Thornton



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Halloween ABC

Halloween ABCHalloween is upon us and what better way to introduce this fun holiday to the youngest of children than with a book! Halloween ABC has lots of cute illustrations and also helps toddlers just learning to speak to learn the alphabet in a fun way.

Halloween ABC is also great for children who have a limited vocabulary, such as children with autism or other special needs.

The book uses silly words that will make children laugh, (E is for Eyeballs), (U is for Underpants) and even introduces action verbs (J is for Jump), (R is for Run) that encourage children to be active.

My only criticism of the book is that some words are too advanced; words like cauldron, invisible and quiver are words that even the most intelligent of parents or teachers would have difficulty explaining to a one or two-year-old child. The difficult words are few; the adorable illustrations and fun words make up the majority of the 26 words featured throughout the book.

Halloween ABC is a wonderful holiday book that any young child would love, and can be found at amazon.com or wherever books are sold.



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My Cancer Days

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September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, and in honor of children with cancer,  calicokidz.com is reviewing My Cancer Days – a sweet story of a young girl with cancer who describes her ups and downs of living with the disease.

The little girl tells of her good days – her yellow days which are the days that she feels good and is able to play like other kids. Then there are her purple days, the ones where she feels scared about her disease. But those don’t compare to her orange or red days which are the days she feels sick or angry.

This simple, yet beautiful book brilliantly describes all the feelings that a child with cancer can have through colors. But what makes My Cancer Days a wonderful book is that instead of focusing only on the horror of disease, the book teaches children how to cope with difficult circumstances in a positive way, showing children that it is OK to have different feelings about being sick; that it is perfectly normal.

My Cancer Days is simply a book of emotions about a child’s day-to-day feelings in her fight with cancer. It is a straightforward, yet tender story told in a way that will not frighten children. It is a book every child with cancer should have, as it validates their feelings of fear, sadness, joy and everything in between. Healthy children can also benefit from reading the book, as it can teach them to be sensitive to children who are terribly sick.

My Cancer Days is published by the American Cancer Society and can be purchased at https://acs.bookstore.ipgbook.com/ or on Amazon.com.

My Cancer Days
Written by Courtney Filigenzi | 
Illustrated by Nicole Tadgell


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Nola the Nurse Remembers Katrina

00002_scha_rs_cover_frontThirteen years ago today, Hurricane Katrina devastated the U.S. city of New Orleans. Nola the Nurse Remembers Hurricane Katrina tackles this delicate subject in a sweet picture book that tells the story of how a little girl deals with the life-changing event.

One day Nola tells her dolls a story about how Hurricane Katrina, and how it affected her family, friends, and her neighborhood. It’s a sad story, but also one of kindness and survival told in a way that will educate children, not scare them. Rather the book helps to create empathy for what happened that fateful day.

Nola is a young girl from New Orleans who wants to grow up to be a nurse like her mother. She begins to mend the dolls and stuffed animals of friends that were ruined by Hurricane Katrina. She tells a story to her dolls all about how the hurricane, and how her mother helped to restore dolls of her neighbors that were destroyed because of hurricane floods.

Hurricane Katrina happened over several days and ravaged the city of New Orleans terribly. Homes were lost, and people also lost their lives. Nola the Nurse Remembers Hurricane Katrina addresses the terrible events in a tender way that is both educational sensitive, so as not to scare young children. Nola the Nurse Remembers Hurricane Katrina is just one of the books in the Nola the Nurse series of books by Scharmaine Lawson, a nurse practitioner from New Orleans, Louisiana.

Nola the Nurse Remembers Hurricane Katrina
Written by Dr. Scharmaine Lawson, FNP, FAANP, FAAN |Illustrated by Marvin Alonso

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Ron’s Big Mission

Rons Big Mission_cover image_91Ax4+FyBDLThis week has been celebrations of the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 moon landing on the moon by astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins. But what you may not know is there are other astronauts that have also done amazing things! One of those astronauts is Ron McNair.

One day in the 1950’s young nine year-old Ron McNair works to be treated the same as every other human being. The story begins with Ron’s eagerness to visit the library; even being tempted to eat a donut does not halt his mission to get to the library.

Ron arrives at the Luke City Library, and when he’s ready to check out a book, he’s told he cannot check out a book because only white americans were allowed. This is just one example of racism children and adults endured before the Civil Rights Movement. Ron defends himself, and insists he should be able to check out a book, even after law enforcement is called.

Ron doesn’t back down, and continues to argues his case, and with the help of a kind desk clerk, Ron is able to check out his library books. 

Later in life Ron McNair becomes a successful pilot and astronaut, breaking barriers for African-American astronauts and all people of color. Ron also has an achievement program named in his honor at the New Jersey Institute of Technology.

The book teaches a valuable lesson that all children – black or white can benefit from: despite obstacles, if you stick to your beliefs, and stand up for yourself, anything is achievable.

Ron’s Big Mission
Authors: Rose Blue and Corinne J. Naden | Illustrator: Don Tate

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Freedom’s Gifts: A Juneteenth Story

JUNETEENTH_Freedoms Gift_cover imageToday commemorates another Juneteenth observance. If you’ve never heard of the holiday, there is no time like the present to learn!

Set in 1943 Texas on a hot summer day, Freedom’s Gifts: A Juneteenth Story, by acclaimed author Valerie Wesley, tells the story of two young girls, June and her cousin Lillie celebrating Juneteenth, an African-American celebration that commemorates  when Texas slaves were freed on June 19, 1865 (2 years after President Abe Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation).

Lillie, a pre-teen from New York, is none to pleased to be visiting family in Texas to celebrate Juneteenth, a holiday she describes as an “old timey” holiday. Lillie changes her tune however after hearing her great Aunt Marshall tell the story of how her sister Sophie was taken from her when they were both slaves, and how Sophie then found Aunt Marshall when Texas slaves were finally set free.

The book gives a realistic portrayal of children’s rebellious nature as well as the southern lifestyle of respecting one’s elders. And i’ts honest portrayal of living the pain of living through slavery, as described by Aunt Marshall’s character is realistic without being over-dramatic. The story also shines with watercolor illustrations by Sharon Wilson, whose pictures colorfully depict the south.

This story is one that every child should read, regardless of their race. Why? Because children and teenagers are so far removed today from the struggles of African-American’s of the past, that they are unaware of the significance of a holiday like Juneteenth.  Freedom’s Gifts: A Juneteenth Story was released in 1997, and can be found in local libraries and online at Amazon.com

NOTE: Juneteenth is no longer just celebrated in Texas, but also throughout the United States, including our own nation’s capital, which hosts many Juneteenth celebrations this year along with its neighboring suburban communities. Information for Washington, DC Juneteenth events can be found at www.nationaljuneteenth.com/Calendar.html. To find Juneteenth celebrations in your state, visit http://www.juneteenth.us/events/. For more information about the Juneteenth holiday, visit http://www.nationaljuneteenth.com/.

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