Saturday, January 26, 2019

Check Out These Wonderful Books to Share with Your Kids (of all ages) for Black History Month (Review)

Disclosure: I was sent review copies from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All views shared are mine and mine alone.

In just a few days it will be February...January seemed to whip right by, right?  Well, for some who are trying hard to keep their new year's resolutions, or have been dealing with the government shutdown affecting their pay, January may have dragged out.  But, with February comes a new month, which will be probably be better.  I saw a post on social media the other day that January was just a practice month for 2019, and I like that thinking.  So, with February on the horizon, lets finish with our practice month and make the remaining 11 months in 2019 even better.  And, with the new month also comes the celebration of African American History Month.  

Even though we celebrate the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. in January, I like spending the entire month of February studying and learning about different African Americans in history who helped with equality, ending slavery, women's rights, etc.  In addition to textbook and work I have planned for the girls, I am also incorporating some reading lessons for them, which include the following recent releases from the folks at Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group...

BRAVE BALLERINA: THE STORY OF JANET COLLINS by Michelle Meadow; illustrated by Ebony Glenn (Henry Holt BYR, January 8, 2019, Ages 4-8)
  • A lyrical picture book tribute to Janet Collins, the first African American principal dancer at the Metropolitan Opera House.
  • For fans of the award-winning picture books Firebird by Misty Copeland and Radiant Child by Jean-Michel Basquiat. Here is the beautifully told story of a gifted African-American pioneer in the arts.
  • With a spotlight on one of the most distinguished African-American dancers of the century, this is an important diverse offering from two African-American creators who are passionate about their subject. 
  • The narrative is inviting and will engage young readers in thoughtful reflection about overcoming challenges and inspire them to think "big" from an early age. 
  • Lyrical rhyme fortified by strong back matter makes for a great read-aloud and classroom tool.
My Thoughts:

Even though my girls are not in ballet anymore, they both still enjoy watching dancers perform on television, as well as read about them.  So, when I showed them Brave Ballerina: The Story of Janet Collins by Michelle Meadow, they were all smiles.  This book is about Janet Collins, the first African American principal dancer at the Metropolitan Opera House.  Written in rhyme, young readers will enjoy learning all about this amazing dancer, who was also a pioneer of the arts, and have paved the wave for the likes of Misty Copeland, showing that African American dancers are a force to be reckon with, and deserve to be front and center on the stage and in all aspects of the performing arts.

Usually books about African Americans center around advocates and those who made a mark in regards to politics and the government, but there are so many other things out there that African Americans should be acknowledged for their talents and remembered, and this picture book does just that.  Kids will walk away learning about Janet Collins, who they probably wouldn't read about in school books.  And, young readers who are of African American decent will feel proud knowing that Janet Collins was passionate about dance and overcame so many obstacles and struggles to become principal dancer.  It reminds kids that they can dream big and should never give up on their aspirations and goals, based solely on the color of their skin.  Everyone is equal and has so many wonderful gifts to share with the the world, just like Janet Collins did.

I highly recommend this book to parents and teachers as they start planning for next month's African American History Month.  This is one book you would never think to pick up, but once you read it to your children, you will be glad you did, and want to read it time and again.  We have only had this book for about week, and it has become a staple at bedtime with my girls.  They have even done addition research online to learn about this amazing dancer, and love picking up this book from the bookshelf to read on their own.

POCKET BIOS: Rosa Parks By Al Berenger (Roaring Brook Press, July 17, 2018, Ages 4-7)

POCKET BIOS: Nelson Mandela By Al Berenger (Roaring Brook Press, July 17, 2018, Ages 4-7)

POCKET BIOS: Martin Luther King Jr. By Al Berenger (Roaring Brook Press, July 17, 2018, Ages 4-7)  

About the Pocket Bios series:
  • Biographies with personality! These colorful, commercial, bite-size biographies introduce readers to fascinating figures from U.S. and world history, and feature engaging storytelling, cheerful illustration, kid-friendly infographics, along with puzzles, quizzes and games.
  • Pocket Bios titles include men and women from history, exploration, the sciences, the arts, the ancient world, and more. These are engaging stories, packed with cheerful illustration and kid-friendly infographics -- plus puzzles, games, and mazes.
  • We are focusing on high-interest subjects from US and world history, from ancient times to the present.

My Thoughts:

Last month I shared a post with reviews of a few Pocket Bios books.  In my post I talked about how these are great introductions for young children to learn about fascinating figures in history.  My girls still read the Marie Curie, Helen Keller and Anne Frank Pocket Bio books we were sent from Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group.  So, when they saw the above Pocket Bios arrive in the mail the other day, they couldn't wait to read them.  And, the Martin Luther King, Jr. book came at the perfect time as we spent a whole celebrating this amazing man and all that he did for civil rights.  If you follow my blog, then you know that my youngest daughter is a huge history buff and loves learning about famous people and events in US and World history.  So, she has become a huge fan of the Pocket Bio books.  She loves how they are jam packed with colorful illustrations, timelines and infographics, to help share all about these famous people, in a way that young children can understand.

What I love about these books in particular is that they are geared towards young readers, ages 4-7 years old.  The text itself is for older readers, say grade 2+, but the younger audience would be able to understand the biographies if they were read to them.  My girls who are reading chapter books now, were able to read these books on their own, and loved that they could not only read the words, but understand everything they were reading.  My youngest couldn't wait to read each of the Pocket Bios cover to cover and then come tell me all about Rosa Parks and Nelson Mandela.  While she knew a lot already about these people, she said the playful illustrations and easier to understand text made it easier for her to take in more specifics about each person's life, making it easier for her to understand and share what she had read.  Even my oldest daughter, who is not a big history fan, loves these books.  They are quick to read and chock full of information.  She found herself wanting to learn more about Rosa Parks, and spent time this afternoon watching educational videos online, and looking for more books about Rosa Parks at the library, so that she could read more about her, as part of her homeschool project I am having the girls to, showcasing a famous African American person and their contributions.

These books really are a great way to introduce young children to famous people, in a fun and educational way.  I especially love how the parts are dated so kids can see when they happened in context to today, as well as the "Did you Know?" section and maps that give kids a clearer picture of where these people came from, traveled etc.  We will definitely be buying other books in the Pocket Bios series to read and enjoy, and my youngest wants to spend some of her allowance money to buy more Pocket Bio books, in hopes of owning the whole collection, to read whenever she wants.

You can learn more about the Pocket Bios series from Macmillan Kids, and see the long list of famous people included in the series with their own book, by visiting as well as the author's page here:  I see many of these Pocket Bios books being great introduction for young feminists to learn about women who made history and worked to make the world a better place, and stood up and helped shaped the women's movement, as well as other African American figures that should be celebrated during the upcoming African American History Month.

Disclosure: I was sent review copies from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All views shared are mine and mine alone.

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