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.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Reluctant and Struggling Readers

If you have a struggling reader at home there are some tips that can help you to motivate them to read. Here are some things to think about before you try some reading activities with your reluctant reader. Reading 30 minutes a day helps your child get into the routine of reading. It becomes expected before bed. Allow your child to choose his or her own reading materials. Do not put them in a box; the first step is getting them to read often and for pleasure. Last, remember children model behavior. If your child never sees you read what makes you think he or she will believe that they need to read.  A struggling or reluctant reading is not the end of the world. Instead of freaking out and overloading them with work, help them find enjoyment in reading, and it will become natural in no time!

Here are five tips to help your struggling reader:
  • Pair books with audio. Whether you go to the library and get books on CD, tablet or phone this gives your child the opportunity to interact with the text in a different way.
  • Create your own audio books. Record your child reading ; play it back and read along with the book.
  • Turn the closed captioning on your TV or DVD. This way your child can see how images, spoken, and written language work together.
  • Comic books. Comic books are fun to read and not as text heavy as books. Comic are a great way to get your struggling reader involved in reading.
  • Wordless books. Wordless books allow children to come up with their own version of the story. It encourages creativity and builds on language skills.

Here are some book suggestions for your struggling reader:
  • The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
  • Please, Puppy, Please by Spike Lee and Tonya Lewis Lee illustrated Kadir Nelson
  • Keena Ford series by Melissa Thomson
  • Miami Jackson Series by Patricia McKissack, Fredrick McKissack and Michael Chesworth
  • Christopher Paul Curtis books
  • Hip Hop Speaks to Children with CD: A Celebration of Poetry with a Beat (A Poetry Speaks Experience) by Nikki Giovanni, Alicia Vergel de Dios, Damian Ward, and Kristen Balouch
  • Shel Sliverstine poetry books
  • The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby by George Beard and Harold Hutchins illustrated by Dav Pilkey. (Creators of Captain Underpants)
  • Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis
  • Mr. Chickee's Funny Money by Christopher Paul Curtis
  • The Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein
  • Falling Up by Shel Silverstein
  • Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein

See a more extensive list of books in the “Book List” tab above.

Leave a comment, become a follower, and share with a friend!!!!!! Sunkisses-Candid

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

March Reading Month 2013!

March is National Reading Month!  This year for National Reading Month, create a reader friendly home.  Reading shouldn’t just happen at school, it should be encouraged and displayed at home as well. Here are five activities you can do with the children in your life to promote reading.
  • Instead of hiding your books on a bookshelf or piled up in a bin, display them! Try laying out four or five books on the coffee table or side tables. This will encourage them to pick up a book and read. Rotate the books every couple of weeks to keep their interest. I set books on the table in our living room. My step-daughter will just be passing by, stop, and pick up a book. Then sit down and read one after the other. Prior to sitting books out I couldn’t even get her to look at any books on her bookshelf.  Keeping books out in a common area screams pick-me-up and read me!
  • Have a Read-A-Thon sleepover. Have the kids bring sleeping bags and books. Allow them to create reading forts. Turn out the lights and let them read with flash lights. Break up the read-a-thon by cooking snacks (allow them to read the recipe directions and prepare the snacks with you), storytelling, act out a book, and create crafts that allow them to re-tell a story they read. Have each child keep track of how many books they read that night and give out certificates and prizes for completing the Read-A-Thon.
  • If you don’t already, read at least 30 minutes a day with your child. Don’t allow busy days to be the excuse on why you didn’t read. On busy days just read a poem or a few jokes from a joke book. Now is a good time to begin a reading routine. You want your child to get to a point where they remember to read before bed before you do.
  • Tell a family story and have your child draw what you’ve shared. You can also read the title of a book (do not show them the cover) and have them draw the cover then compare the covers. It is interesting to see the variations of covers.
  • Visit the library and allow your child to get their very own library card. Keep a list of books that you and your child want to check out. Remember this is an opportunity to demonstrate the value of books. Help them learn responsibility by taking care of the library book, remembering when it is due, and how to repair pages if they rip them.
Share your experiences with these activities and share your own encouragement reading activities by posting comments below!
                                                                                                                                                                      –Sunkisses Candid