Sunday, November 16, 2014


Would you like to win a free signed copy of You Are Beautiful by Robyn Z. Abdusamad illustrated by Fatimah Ashaela Moore Ibrahim?

Robyn Z. Abdusamad author of You are Beautiful would like to give young readers the opportunity to win a signed copy of her book set to release on November 28, 2014.

Here’s how to enter the contest:

Have the child in your life write why they are beautiful and include an illustration. If your child cannot write yet, have them draw a picture and write their exact words describing why they are beautiful. The author will choose a winner and send the winner a signed copy of the book.

DEADLINE for entries is November 28, 2014. The winner will be announced on December 5, 2014.

Please scan and email entries to or mail them to 919 Pacific Ave. Lansing, MI 48910. Please also include name, age, grade, school, and address.

Good luck!!!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Interview with Robyn Abdusamad author of You Are Beautiful.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Robyn Abdusamad author of You Are Beautiful set to release November 28th! This is an amazing book discussing topics that we should not be afraid to discuss with children. Learn more about Robyn and her book You Are Beautiful in this awesome interview below!

Tell us about your new book You Are Beautiful?      
My new book, You Are Beautiful is about two sisters who have their first encounter with a racial comment and are saddened by what they hear.  It is a heartfelt and inspirational lesson that provides a solution to embracing diversity with knowledge and kindness.

What prompted you to address racism and other bias in a children's book?
Well, the reality is that we live in a society where race is often a silent backdrop for a person’s bias, which ultimately becomes a determining factor for many things. However, children are brought into the world without biases or prejudices. Yet along the path to adulthood many children adopt values and beliefs from the friends and adults in their life. When we teach tolerance, diversity, and multiculturalism, it helps children broaden their awareness and acceptance which is what prompted me to address racism in a children’s book. Learning and respecting diversity helps create a more harmonious world for everyone.

Why did you become a children's author?
I have always had a love for writing.  My children and experience working in the school system inspired me to become a children’s author because I saw the need for more books to address the importance of diversity and multiculturalism.

What message do you want children to take away after reading You Are Beautiful?
The message I would like for children to take away from YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL is that despite the outside differences, people are often similar on the inside.  After reading my book, every child should understand that their skin color is unique and beautiful.

What message do you want adults to take away after reading your book?
The message I would like for adults to take away from the book is the importance to have that conversation with their children about race and any other form of bias they might encounter away from home.  I am sure the conversation will be uncomfortable for some, but I would like for my book to be an introduction to that conversation.

What types of conversation do you think your book will ignite?
I hope this book will serve as a platform for our youth as well as adults to learn and understand that labels can influence our judgment about people; it is essential to recognize the importance of getting to know people before making any type of judgment about them.  

How important is it to incorporate multicultural texts in the classroom?
It is very important to incorporate multicultural texts and activities in the classroom because we live in a society that is made up of different religions, ethnicities and cultures.  So, if there is an emphasis of multicultural activities across the curriculum this would help improve positive socialization behaviors among children and perhaps adults too.

Your book is asking its readers to think about identity. How important is it for African American children (or any other ethnic group) to see themselves in picture books?
Books are mirrors in which children see themselves emulated. When children are represented in literature and other media, they start to see themselves as valuable and worthy of notice. Conversely when children do not see truthful representations of themselves, they may internalize the message that they are not worthy of notice.  Therefore, it is very important for children of minority groups to see themselves in picture books and it is also important for children regardless of race to read books about people in all parts of the world. This will assist in fostering their understanding and respect for their own and others' cultural groups; it will help them to see themselves as members of the global community and it will supports the lifelong process of learning about multiple perspectives and experiences.

Do you have any advice for educators on how to use your book in the classroom?
Absolutely, educators can use my book in their classroom as an introduction to teaching diversity and multiculturalism to their students.  Also, I have activities on my website that they can print and use for their class at

Do you have any advice for parents on how to use your book in the home?
Sure. Parents can also use the book as a learning tool to help them discuss importance of racism, diversity and multiculturalism.  As I mentioned before, it may be uncomfortable for some parents but it will be infinitely rewarding to speak openly and honestly with them on the matter.  They, too, can use the activities on my website.

How can people reach you for author visits or questions?
People may reach me for author visits or questions by emailing Omera Productions at

Anything else you want to say?
Yes, I would like to add that “YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL” is a book that provides a meaningful lesson about ethnic diversity and the importance of compassion and unity.  My book is scheduled to be released on November 28th on in paperback and Kindle format, but people may pre-order a copy of the book now through my publisher at  Those who pre-order will receive an autograph copy of the book.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

October 13th Happy Native American Day!

There are so many wacky days we can celebrate each year. Every day there is something to celebrate. In honor of whoever comes up with these days, CKBTS will acknowledge a few of these national holidays a month. Each post I will give you a book suggestion and reading activity to help you celebrate with us! Happy reading and Sunkisses.

Candid Thoughts
October 13th Happy Native American Day!

A part of history you don’t hear about too often is Black Native Americans and how this ancestry came to be. To this day my grandmother tells me stories about my great-great grandmother, who she claims “Indian.” But she cannot to tell me what tribe or prove the allegation. Many African American families can relate to this same story. Unfortunately, because it is difficult for African American to trace their African heritage it is just as hard for them Native American ancestry.
Black Native Americans refers to African American descents with a significant amount of Native American ancestry and who have strong ties to Native American culture. The accurate number or Black Native Americans in this country is unknown, but it is estimated about 180,000 are in the country today. The history of this combination of races has been neglected in U.S. history until recently, so it is a still developing. Black Native Americans came to interact around early slavery. Africans that were runaway slaves, captives of war, slaves to the Native Americans, and freed slaves married within the different tribes. Most of these tribes were of the Southeast region (Cherokee, Creek, Seminole, Choctaw, and Chickasaw).

There is only one picture book that I’m aware of that share a story of the interaction between Native Americans and African Americans during the slave era. Crossing Bok Chitto: A Choctaw Tale of Friendship and Freedom by Tim Tingle and illustrations by Jeanne Rorex Bridges, is a story about Martha Tom, a young Choctaw girl, knows better than to cross Bok Chitto, but one day—in search of blackberries—she disobeys her mother and finds herself on the other side. A tall slave discovers Martha Tom. A friendship begins between Martha Tom and the slave’s family, most particularly his young son, Little Mo. Soon afterwards, Little Mo’s mother finds out that she will be sold. The situation seems hopeless, except that Martha Tom teaches Little Mo’s family how to walk on water to their freedom.

This picture book is a great opportunity to teach children about the connection between these two races. Share this story and other stories about the Native American culture with the children in your life so that they can learn and appreciate a culture indigenous to this country.

Have your child(ren) research the Southeastern tribes listed above and ask family members if your family has any native ancestry.


Saturday, October 4, 2014

October 8th Bring a Teddy Bear to School Day

There are so many wacky days we can celebrate each year. Every day there is something to celebrate. In honor of whoever comes up with these days, CKBTS will acknowledge a few of these national holidays a month. Each post I will give you a book suggestion and reading activity to help you celebrate with us! Happy reading and Sunkisses.
Candid Thoughts
Happy Bring a Teddy Bear to School Day (October 8th)

What better book to read about a Teddy Bear than the 1968 classic Corduroy by Don Freeman. This book has been read and adored across generations. And of course I love it because it features a brown skinned girl as a main character, Lisa. This book is like an early version of the movie Toy Story in that it appeals to the wonder and fantasy of toys coming to life when no one is in the room. And I think that is why this book has maintained interest over the decades.
It is quite interesting that Freeman decided to portray Lisa as a Black girl in 1968. It was published six years after The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats broke the color lines in children’s books by having his main character as an African American boy. And during that time and for a long time that was rare. I found no commentary on why he chose to make Lisa Black but I did find on his website maintain by his son that he wanted to show the vast difference between a luxury department store and the simple life during that time and depict simple values. Hopefully, he wasn’t depicting the haves and the have nots to be white and black. Anyway, there are some feminist criticisms out there of the book but I don’t quite agree with them. I’ll let you read it and determine your own opinions! Corduroy comes in a board book, hardcover, soft cover, and over-sized book. There are also two follow up books you would enjoy as well, Corduroy Lost and Found and A Pocket for Corduroy. I hope you enjoy Courduroy as much as I did and still do!
Reading Activity
Every child has a teddy bear. My step-daughter’s teddy bear’s name is Mr. Fuzzy Pants (she found him the other day and refused to put him in the Goodwill bag). Have your child(ren) write or draw a story about their teddy bear and create a magical adventure!


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Happy Constitution Day!

There are so many wacky days we can celebrate each year. Every day there is something to celebrate. In honor of whoever came up with these days, CKBTS will acknowledge a few of these holidays a month. Each post I will give you a book suggestion and reading activity to help you celebrate! Happy reading and Sunkisses.
We the Kids
Candid Thoughts
Constitution Day (September 17th)!
Happy Constitution Day! To celebrate this holiday I suggest reading We the Kids: The Preamble to the Constitution of the United States illustrated by David Catrow. This book does not go into vast detail about the U.S. Constitution; however, it is a good way to begin a conversation about it. Catrow’s illustrations are fun and engaging. He inserts his dog Bubbs into each illustration and you find yourself looking for him each time you turn the page. The topic of the U.S. Constitution is a hefty one for children to chew. Catrow does a good job at putting the complex concepts of the Constitution into manageable chucks for children to understand. However, the approach has a very “kumbaya” feel to it. Meaning, it does not address that people of color were not included in the writing of the U.S. Constitution. He did not address this issue making me believe he wrote this for a very young age group. He did however; insert a very cute little black girl as a re-occurring character throughout the book. I thought that was nice even though the constitution was written without her in mind. This book has great illustrations and would be a great way to begin the conversation about the U.S. Constitution, but if you are looking for a book that is more encompassing of the entire dialog about the U.S. Constitution, this is not the book for that.

Things to Think About
The U.S. Constitution is heavy stuff in relationship to African Americans. We were not thought of when it was drafted, nor at the table, or afforded the rights within it. It is hard to address tough topics like racism and discrimination to young people especially when those encounters are far less than that of our ancestors. I think young people feel they are so far removed from such a discriminatory and racist past but they are not. We have been out of slavery less time than we were in it. When you really reflect on that it puts things into perspective.
Reading Activity
In honor of National Constitution Day have your child(ren) write a household constitution. Start by reading We the Kids and discuss the issues above. Have your reader(s) read the definition of constitution (a body of fundamental principles or established precedents according to which a state or other organization is acknowledged to be governed). Explain that you all are going to draft a household constitution. As they begin to come up with ideas remind them to be inclusive and fair to everyone in your household. Get creative with it and put it on nice paper for them to decorate. Post it somewhere in the house for everyone to see and be reminded of their household rights.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Babies Need to Read Too!

Wow it’s been since May 2013 since I last posted. Life changes have caused me to abandon writing about a topic I love. However, that life change has also inspired me to have an increased passion about literacy and promoting African American literature. That life change was being pregnant and giving birth. This is my first child. And I don’t think anything or anyone could have prepared me for all of the ups and downs of being pregnant or for child birth, breastfeeding, taking home an infant, and working full time with an infant. Going through this I have found that women are super beings. What we go through only someone with super powers can survive it!
As my due date got closer and closer, I couldn’t wait to read to my new baby. Apart of the items I packed in my bag for the hospital was several board books. The day she was born I read to her every day in the hospital and every day since then.

Your baby is not too young to read to. Research shows that reading to your child is the single most important thing you can do to prepare your child for reading and learning. There is a national campaign called Read Aloud 15 Minutes ( that promotes the importance of reading aloud to children. Spending 15 minutes reading with your child is the minimum it takes to expose them to reading. Over the span of 5 years if you spend 15 minutes reading to your child they would have spent 27,375 minutes reading-that’s 456.25 hours.
If your baby or toddler has an older sibling(s) get them involved too. I have an 8-year old step daughter and since day one in the hospital, I have had her read to her sister too.  On top of figuring out when you have 15 minutes to read to your baby, consider what books you are reading to him or her. As they get older their vision gets better. It’s important for African American babies to see themselves in books.  So look for books that reflect multicultural children. Below is a list to get you started and remember just 15 minutes of reading a day is enough to make a huge impact in your baby’s learning development. Take a look at one of my past post about board books

A list of African American Board Books:

  • Girl of Mine by Jabari Asim illustrated by LeUyen Pham
  • Whose Toes are Those? by Jabari Asim illustrated by LeUyen Pham
  • I Can Do It Too! by Karen Baicker illustrated by Ken Wilson-Max
  • You Can Do It Too! by Karen Baicker illustrated by Ken Wilson-Max
  • Little Mister by Randy DuBurke ( hard to find may be out of print)
  • Whose Knees are These? by Jabari Asim illustrated by LeUyen Pham
  • Animal Sounds For Baby by Cheryl Willis Hudson illustrated by George Ford
  • Good Morning, Baby by Cheryl Willis Hudson illustrated by George Ford
  • Good Night, Baby by Cheryl Willis Hudson illustrated by George Ford
  • Let's Count, Baby by Cheryl Willis Hudson illustrated by George Ford
  • Joshua by the Sea by Angela Johnson illustrated by Rhonda Mitchell
  • Rain Feet by Angela Johnson illustrated by Rhonda Mitchell
  • Please, Baby, Please by Spike Lee, Tonya Lewis Lee illustrated by Kadir Nelson
  • I Smell Honey by Andrea Davis Pinkney illustrated by Brian Pinkney
  • Pretty Brown Face by Andrea Davis Pinkney illustrated by Brian Pinkney
  • Shake Shake Shake by Andrea Davis Pinkney illustrated by Brian Pinkney
  • Watch Me Dance by Andrea Davis Pinkney illustrated by Brian Pinkney


Monday, May 20, 2013

Comic Books and Graphic Novels

Candid Thoughts
In my opinion, comics are great for children to read and to create. Comics can offer fun and complex story plots that children love.  They are also a great tool for teaching children how to write stories using dialogue. Like all books, it’s important for African American children to see themselves in books, and comics are no different. This genre has scarce representation of African Americans and it can be difficult to find comic books and graphic novels that have African American characters and experiences. However, this is changing and there are some good ones out there(see the list below).

Things to Think About
If you have a resultant reader or want to give your child a new genre to read, comics and graphic novels would be a great start to igniting the pleasures reading. Comics may not be your thing or you may not approve, but consider offering them to your child. Who knows it may become their favorite reading genre!

Reading Activity
There are a variety of programs that children can create comic books online. Most of them are user friendly and FREE! Here is one that can get you started. Check it out:

Suggested Book List (Comics and Graphic Novels)

  • The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby by George Beard and Harold Hutchins illus. by Dav Pilkey ( from the creators of Captain Underpants)
  • Luke on the Loose by Harry Bliss
  • WordGirl: Coalition of Malice by Chris Karwowski illus. by Steve Young
  • Monster and Me by Robert Marsh illus. by Tom Percival
  • Billions of Bats: A Buzz Beaker Brainstorm by Scott Nickle  illus. by Andy J. Smith
  • The Boy Who Burped Too Much by Scott Nickle illus. by Steve Harpster
  • Invasion of the Gym Class Zombies. by Scott Nickle  illus. by Matt Luxich
  • Ker-splash! by George O’Connor
  • Black Jack: The Ballad of Jack Johnson. Charles R. Smith illus. by Shane W. Evans.

Middle School / High School
  • In Search of the Fog Zombie: A Mystery About Matter by Lynda Beauregard  illus. by Der-Shing Helmer.
  • Ultimate Comics Spider-Man. Vol. 1. Brian Michael Bendis  illus. by Sara Pichelli
  • Living on Spongecake: The Curtis Chronicles. Vol. 2. Ray Billingsley illus. by author.
  • Mama's Boyz: The Big Picture; What You Need To Succeed! Jerry Craft  
  • The Secret Science Alliance and the Copycat Crook. Eleanor Davis  
  • The Prison-Ship Adventure of James Forten, Revolutionary War Captive by Marty Rhodes Figley adapt. by Amanda Doering Tourville. illus. by Ted Hammond and Richard Pimentel Carbajal
  • Muhammad Ali: The King of the Ring. by Lewis Helfand  illus. by Lalit Kumar Sharma The Sons of Liberty. Vol. 1. by Alexander and Joseph Lagos illus. by Steve Walker
  • Investigating the Scientific Method with Max Axiom, Super Scientist by Donald B. Lemke  illus. by Tod Smith and Al Milgrom
  • Shadow Rock. by Jeremy Love illus. by Robert Love
  • Patricia C. and Fredrick L. McKissack, Jr. Best Shot in the West: The Adventures of Nat Love. illus. by Randy DuBurke.
  • The ElseWhere Chronicles: The Shadow Door. by Nykko Bk. 1. tr. from French by Carol Klio Burrell. illus. by Bannister
  • Media Meltdown: A Graphic Guide Adventure by Liam O’Donnell illus. by Michael Deas
  • John Henry, Hammerin' Hero: The Graphic Novel. by Stephanie Peters   illus. by Nelson Evergreen
  • Bessie Coleman: Daring Stunt Pilot by Trina Robbins illus. by Ken Steacy
  • 21: The Story of Roberto Clemente by Wilfred Santiago
  • Archie & Friends All-Stars. Vol. 3: The Cartoon Life of Chuck Clayton by Alex Simmons  illus. by Fernando Ruiz  
  • Ororo: Before the Storm by Marc Sumerak  illus. by Carlos Barberi and Scott Hepburn
  • Princeless: Save Yourself. Bk. 1. by Jeremy Whitley  illus. by M. Goodwin.