Tag Archives: characters of color

Father's Day Books for Dads and Their Sons

Father’s Day Books for Dads and Their Sons


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Did you know that dads play a critical role in their children’s literacy development? Studies show that boys are more likely to read when they see their fathers reading recreationally, and boys whose fathers read aloud to them score higher in reading achievement. Reading together is great father-son bonding time. To celebrate Father’s Day (or any day), grab one of these sweet reads and cozy up with your mini-you. And if you’re a mom reading this list, these titles make great Dad’s Day gifts!

Tough Guys (Have Feelings Too) by Keith Negley

Keith Negley's Tough Guys

Keith Negley is an illustrator turned children’s book author. Not surprisingly, the pictures in this book say so much more than the text. Use them to start a conversation with your son, and help disrupt conventional ideas about masculinity.

 Thunder Boy Jr. by Sherman Alexie and Yuyi Morales

This is a book about that fine line between being yourself and following in the footsteps of your parents. It’s especially perfect for a child who needs to grow into his name or who feels the weight of being a Junior. Budlong and Ashman were delighted at the alternate names the narrator suggests for himself, and Morales’ illustrations are stunning.

I Wonder: Celebrating Daddies Doin’ Work by Doyin Richards

I Wonder: Celebrating Daddies Doin' Work

This book celebrates the many ways fathers play a role in their children’s lives—cuddling, styling hair, rough-housing, potty-training, etc. Beautiful photos catch fathers of all colors and ethnicities in action.

Mighty Dads by Joan Holub and James Dean

books to read for father's day

Father and son construction vehicles work alongside each other in this book. My boys like the rhyme, repetition, and cute kid names like little Vator, Dozy, Grady, and Hoe-Hoe. Scholastic offers free printable Mighty Dads activities so your child can create a father’s day card, complete a maze, or do a matching exercise after reading.

Building with Dad by Carol Nevius and Bill Thomson

Building with Dad

Can you tell my boys are into building? Dad takes his son along to a construction site in this book with rhyming text and amazing illustrations. The ant’s eye view makes you feel like you’re right there with them. If you like the style of this author/illustrator team, check out Karate Hour and Baseball Hour next.

Dad’s Bald Head by Paul Many and Kevin O’Malley

Dad's Bald Head

Budlong and Ashman can definitely relate to the dad in this book who decides to shave off what little hair he has left on his head. While it takes some getting used to, the son realizes being bald doesn’t change who his dad is or how much he loves him.

My Dad Thinks He’s Funny by Katrina Germein and Tom Jellett

My Dad Thinks He's Funny by Katrina Germein

Even if you have your own set of eye-roll inducing dad jokes, you’re bound to pick up a few more in this book.  And when I say, “Dad, I don’t want to,” he says, “Okay, then…Do you want three?”

Just the Two of Us by Will Smith and Kadir Nelson

This book pairs the lyrics to Will Smith’s 1997 song with gorgeous pictures from one of my favorite illustrators. Nothing like exposing your kids to the “golden oldies”…sigh.

Daddy, Papa, and Me by Lesléa Newman and Carol Thompson

This is a sweet book about a boy lucky enough to have two dads to play with him. While I’m a huge fan of the true story of two male penguin fathers, And Tango Makes Threeit’s refreshing to find a book that shows the variations of human families.

My Dad Used to Be so Cool by Keith Negley

Keith Negley's My Dad Used to Be So Cool

Oh Keith Negley, I used to be so cool too, and now I write a mom blog. Parents will completely relate to how this dad’s pre-child life is almost unrecognizable after his son comes along. But would we want it any other way?

Pages from My Dad Used to Be So Cool



Jazz: A Black History Booklist for Preschool Cats


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A few years ago, my good friends and fellow educators entrusted me to play preschool with their son Ben, who is the same age as Ashman. Pretty naive of me to think teaching high school for ten years could prepare me for teaching three-year-olds, right? Ben and Ashman turned out to be the wriggliest force I had ever reckoned with! Nevertheless, I relished the challenge of finding topics and activities that held their interest. Jazz, a topic I selected in honor of Black History Month, turned out to have immense toddler appeal. Ben and Ashman loved learning about the instruments, rhythms and rhymes of this music born in New Orleans. I loved introducing them to notable Black musicians who made this style part of our American history. Here is a list of books we used to learn about jazz. Whenever possible, I’ve tried to explain the sensory activities we paired with the book…because if there’s one thing Ben and Ashman taught me, it’s that kids gotta move! Continue reading


Check It Out: Chapter Book Series by Steve Brezenoff


Budlong is currently on a mystery fiction kick thanks to his teacher’s awesome third grade reading unit. During winter break, we went to the public library to stock up. While Budlong went in search of Zombie Zone, the last book in Ron Roy’s series A to Z Mysteries, I went on a desperate hunt to find his next favorite series. Gotta stay one step ahead! That’s when I discovered author Steve Brezenoff and three of his series that were guaranteed to meet Budlong’s (unspoken) criteria:

  • Pictures (Like many boys his age, Budlong judges a book worthy of his time by whether it has pictures. The full-page, color illustrations in these books score huge points with him),
  • Just right reading level (Grade 2-3)
  • Adventurous, fast paced plots with relatable (but slightly older) characters

Series are particularly useful in creating positive reading experiences at this age. A story’s exposition (that part of the book that introduces the characters, the setting and the conflict) is often the most challenging to get through but also the most essential to understand. When readers already know the background information, they are motivated to read more books in the same series.

It’s only been a week and a half since my discovery and Budlong has read six books from these series. If you are wondering what your grade school reader should read next, check these out!

Museum Mysteries

The Capitol City Sleuths are four friends with exceptional access to the city’s museums, thanks to their parents who work there. They solve crime and learn a little culture along the way. Currently, there are eight titles in this series.

Museum Mysteries Series by Steve Brezenoff

Field Trip Mysteries

Help four best friends in Mr. Spade’s sixth-grade class solve crimes on their field trips before they get back on the bus to school. With field trip destinations that range from national parks to big cities to bowling alleys and amusement parks, your reader is sure to find a topic that interests him. This series contains at least 20 titles and is now branching into another series called “You Choose Stories.” They feature the same characters but allow the reader to choose from multiple possible endings.

Field Trip Mysteries by Steve Brezenoff

Return to Titanic

Tucker and Maya discover a collection of special Titanic artifacts that have the power to transport them back in time to the ship’s maiden (and final) voyage. After meeting a new friend traveling aboard, they decide to race against time and fate to save him. This series has the added benefit of also appealing to Ashman. If you know Ashman personally, you know he is our resident Titanic historian. He builds Lego replicas, draws diagrams and subjects random strangers to Titanic trivia quizzes. The three of us started this series as a read aloud, but Budlong went rogue and is just finishing the last book today!

Return to Titanic Series by Steve Brezenoff


Win a Snowy Day hat and book

Book Giving Day 5: A Little Red Reading Hood (Giveaway ends 12/12!)


We’ve made it to Day 5 of “The 12 Days of Book Giving”!  As promised, I’m switching things up a little: today I’ll be giving one of YOU the gift!

Read on for details.  But first, let’s do a Book Giving roundup:

4 Children’s Book Clubs

3 Gift of Nothing’s

2 Homemade Audiobooks

and An Almost Empty Box!

Book Giving Idea #5

day 5 book giving

I taught myself to crochet last year because Budlong wanted to be Harry Potter for Halloween and needed a Gryffindor scarf. Then, I feverishly moved on to making baby hats inspired by children’s books.  I’ve found they make unique baby shower gifts and newborn photo props.  In addition, the book/hat gift package immediately connects a child to a well-loved book.  After all, we are raising readers here, right?

This red pixie hat inspired by Ezra Jack Keats’ book The Snowy Day is quite possibly my favorite. The stretchy hood fits over a child’s head much like a ski mask (and can’t be pulled off easily by those stubborn babes that won’t keep a hat on!)

Snowy Day Hat front view

Silver snowflake buttons hold the flaps in place.

Snowy Day hat profile

And it comes to an impish little point at the top.  How cute is that?

Snowy Day back of hat

But it desperately needs a real live baby boy or girl to wear it!!!

Do you know one???

Click on the link below for a chance to win this hat plus a hard cover copy of The Snowy Day. Make sure to answer the question about which size hat you’d prefer if you won: newborn (seen on doll), 3-6 months, or 6-12 months.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The giveaway starts today, December 5, 2016 and ends on the last day of our Book Giving series: December 12, 2016. I will contact the winner by email. For shipping purposes, you must live in the contiguous United States to enter.

I hope you’re having as much fun as I am with this series. We’d be honored to have you join us tomorrow for Day 6. As always, thanks for reading!

Hat based on pattern by Katie Hanken
Featured image based on "Presents" by Andrew Butitta, CC-BY-SA-2.0