Review Policy

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Book Review: I am Jazz

Authors: Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings
Illustrator: Shelagh McNicholas
Interest Level: Ages 5 and Up

From the Book Jacket: From the time she was two years old, Jazz knew that she had a girl's brain in a boy's body. She loved pink, and dressing up as a mermaid and didn't feel like herself in boy's clothing. This confused her family, until they took her to a doctor who diagnosed Jazz as transgender and explained that she was born this way. Jazz's story is based on her real-life experience and she tells it in a simple, clear way that will be appreciated by picture book readers, their parents, and teachers.  

Why It's On My Bookshelf: So happy to see Jazz's book published. I have seen her interviews with Barbara Walters and Oprah. She is so inspiring. I think a lot of kids who have gone through this probably wished they had a book like this growing up. The book does such a great job helping kids understand what it means to be transgender. She also shares the challenges she faced with teachers and kids. But she overcomes it because she stays true to her IDENTITY. Such a great resource. Thank you, Jazz, for helping kids!

Learn more about Jazz here:

A Link to This Book and Others You Might Find Helpful:

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Book Review: Lend a Hand - Poems About Giving

Author: John Frank
Illustrator: London Ladd
Interest Level: Ages 6 and Up

From the Book Jacket: From sharing your sandwich to volunteering to help build a home, from planting a tree to offering your seat to an elderly person on a bus, simple acts of kindness are the first steps to changing the world. This collection of tender and empowering original poems celebrates the joys of bridging the invisible boundaries among people of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities. Young readers will feel inspired to lend a hand to others and practice kindness and giving everyday. 

Why It's On My Bookshelf: With Thanksgiving upon us I like to start looking for books with a message of gratitude to share with students. This year I found a really special book of poems about generosity - Lend a Hand: Poems About Giving. Each poem is so touching. It's all about acts of service done from the heart with kindness. Children will have a huge takeaway from all the beautiful inspiring poetry. I'd love to seem them write poems of kind deeds they have done or seen. Or be inspired to act. I was looking at all of the books I have reviewed on kindness - this is surely at the top. This can be shared any time of the year but with the holidays nearing I think this is so appropriate. Love the below poem called Sandwich. (fyi they are all this awesome)

A Link to This Book and Others You Might Find Helpful:

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Book Review: The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade

Author: Justin Roberts
Illustrator: Christian Robinson
Interest Level: Ages 4 and Up

From the Book Jacket: Hardly anyone noticed young Sally McCabe. She was the smallest girl in the smallest grade. But Sally notices everything - from the twenty-seven keys on the janitor's ring to the bullying happening on the playground. One day, Sally has had enough and decides to make herself heard. And when she takes a chance and stands up to the bullies, she finds that one small girl can make a big difference. 

Why It's On My Bookshelf: I've been waiting for a book like this. It only takes one person, doesn't matter who they are, to make a really big difference. An awesome difference. When we talk to kids about being bystanders it's so important to share it's really about leadership. Sally is a great example of bravery, courage, and leadership. A bystander who refuses to keep quiet. I notice bystanders are often silent about bullying not because of fear of retaliation but they've become desensitized to what they are seeing. So when unkind acts happen - it becomes normalized. Lets help stop that cycle. 

This book is going to be in HEAVY rotation in my bully prevention lessons. GET A COPY!

A Link to This Book and Others You Might Find Helpful:

Monday, November 3, 2014

Book Review: Forget Me Not

Author: Nancy Van Laan
Illustrator: Stephanie Graegin
Interest Level: Ages 5 and Up

From the Book Jacket: Julia remembers when Grandma was still her old sweet self - when she still made fried chicken and biscuits the times Julia visited, and her eyes twinkled like candles on a cake. But ever so slowly, Grandma has been getting more forgetful. Soon, she can't even remember Julia's name, and her family sees that Grandma can no longer take care of herself. How Julia and her parents cope with these difficult changes makes for a gentle and reassuring story about a young child's unconditional love for a cherished grandparent.

Why It's On My Bookshelf: This book is a wonderful validation for those who are experiencing the loss of a grandparent due to Alzheimers. When I say loss - I don't mean death. The grandparent is physically there but not able to recall the past or their loved ones. This is hard on everyone but especially so on children because it is confusing. Forget Me Not gently explains Alzheimers while empowering the child that they can continue to still love their grandparent. Such a helpful resource for families. 

A Link to This Book and Others You Might Find Helpful:

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Book Review: Sam's Pet Temper

Author: Sangeeta Bhardra
Illustrator: Marion Arbona
Interest Level: Ages 3 and Up
Free Activity Page Click HERE

From the Book Jacket: Sam has a new pet. It's a TEMPER, and he found it on the playground. At first, the Temper is great company. But before long, it becomes hard to handle, and Sam starts to wish it would leave him alone. One dreadful day, the Temper takes things TOO FAR, and Sam knows he has to do something. He tries one thing after another, but the Temper won't back down. Will Sam find a way to tame his Temper?

Why It's On My Bookshelf: This is a great book for kids who are struggling with emotional regulation. Especially those kids who are really trying and frustrated with their anger because they feel like they can't control it. I liked all of the examples of how the anger pops up in his life at home and school and one day it goes too far. Sam is sent home from school. At the end of the story Sam is able to handle his anger and stop the misbehavior cycle. He tells the Temper he is stronger and does breathing. This is an awesome resource for helping kids manage their anger. 

A Link to This Book and Others You Might Find Helpful: 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Book Review: Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin

Author: Chieri Uegaki 
Illustrator: Qin Leng
Interest Level: Ages 5 and Up

From the Book Jacket: When Hana announces that she'll be playing violin in the school talent show, her brothers laugh so hard they nearly fall out of a tree. But Hana doesn't let that stop her - she practices and practices, inspired by memories of the time she spent in Japan with her ojiichan, a professional violinist. But when the day of the performance arrives, will she be able to overcome a sudden case of nerves? From the author of the bestselling Suki's Kimono comes a celebration of music, individuality and the very special bond between a child and her grandparent. 

Why It's On My Bookshelf: I love finding these stories. It's awesome to discover your talent. But it can be so defeating when you are mocked for that gift. Hana does not give up or give in to quitting. She continues to pursue her passion. I try and tell kids when we don't follow our hearts desires then how can we fulfill our purpose? That's our jobs as humans. To fill ourselves up with the things we love to do. What an inspiring read for children and adults. 

A Link to This Book:

Friday, September 19, 2014

Book Review: Moody Cow Meditates

Author/Illustrator: Kerry Lee MacLean
Interest Level: Ages 4 and Up

From the Book Jacket: It all started one stupid, rotten day when everything went wrong…
Peter the cow is having a BAD day. After missing the bus and wiping out on his bike he loses his temper and gets in trouble. To make matters worse all the other kids are teasing him, calling him Moody Cow. Peter’s day just seems to get worse until his grandfather comes over and teaches him how to settle his mind and let go of his frustration through a simple and fun exercise. This vibrant and funny children’s book is a playful way to introduce children to the power of meditation. With full color illustrations by the author, Moody Cow Meditates is a wonderful book for parents and children to share together.
Why It's On My Bookshelf: At the beginning of the school year I attended a district counselor meeting to share what successful resources we have been using. A few counselors gave praise to the book Moody Cow Meditates and how the use of Mind Jars in their schools was impactful with kids. I kept thinking - how can I not have this book yet?? 

I bought it after the meeting and can't wait to put it to use. This is a great book to teach kids calming skills through the use of a Mind Jar. Moody Cow is lacking the tools on how to deal with anger and frustration. He also says 'okay, maybe I overreacted.' I was really glad this concept was introduced because we have a lot of kids that treat small deals like huge ones. Moody Cow also says he does things on purpose. What a great way to open up the discussion about making good choices. Can't wait to make Mind Jars with our students!

I also love this video on Mindfulness. If you don't have time to make a Mind Jar....just use a glitter ball. Love!

A Link to This Book and Others You Might Find Helpful:

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Book Review: Emily's Blue Period

Author: Cathleen Daly
Illustrator: Lisa Brown
Interest Level: Ages 6 and Up

From the Book Jacket: Emily wants to be an artist. She likes painting and loves the way artists like Pablo Picasso mixed things up. 

Emily's life is a little mixed up right now. Her dad doesn't live at home anymore, and it feels like everything around her is changing. 

"When Picasso was very sad," says Emily, "he only painted in shades of blue. And now I am in my blue period." It might last quite some time. 

Why It's On My Bookshelf: This is a story of a girl who is struggling with her parent's divorce and living between two homes. As she is studying about Pablo Picasso, she relates to the sadness he once felt in his life. It's hard to cope with dark feelings when you don't know what to do with them. She is inspired through art to find her healing. 

Her art teacher gives the class an assignment to make a collage of their house. But since Emily has two homes she is not sure which one to make. Her mom and little brother remind her a lot of people have more than one home. "Home is where the heart is." Emily is inspired to create a collage that represents her home, not a house. She says, "It's the home of my heart."

That night Emily notices a purple blob in the middle of her collage. She is upset her brother scribbled on the collage. But he shares, "It's not a scribble. It's a purple heart. I think your collage is the home of my heart, too!" This was my favorite part of the story. Both children find healing through her artwork. 

If you are working with children going through family change and they are feeling torn or mixed up about going between two homes - I highly recommend this book. What I love as a counselor is the opportunity it gives me to create a heart collage as part of the healing process. This is bibliotherapy at it's best and great art therapy. 

A Link to This Book and Others You Might Find Helpful: 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Book Review: If Kids Ran the World

Authors: Leo and Diane Dillon 
Interest Level: Ages 5 and Up 

From the Book Jacket: All roads lead to kindness in this warm, uplifting celebration of generosity and love. In simple words and fanciful illustrations, Caldecott Medalists Leo and Diane Dillon present a rainbow of children who lend a helping hand to make our global village a happier place. And who better to show the joy of giving than kids? With their boundless imagination and enthusiasm, children know that anything is possible - including building a peaceful world where food, shelter, medicine, and education can be had by all. If you ran the world, what would you do?

Why It's On My Bookshelf: This is a great community builder. I read it once and had all kinds of ideas of how I would do a lesson with it. You could bring the message of this book to the school and classroom and really narrow the focus to character traits you want to build. If Kids Ran the World is such an inspiring read aloud and will be impactful to your community of learners. I have such a desire to see kids grow during the school year - this is your kick start to that growth!

A Link to This Book: 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Book Review: It's Okay to Make Mistakes

Author/Illustrator: Todd Parr
Interest Level: Ages 3 and Up

From the Book Jacket: It's okay to fall down. You can always get back up. It's okay to color outside the lines. It's good to follow your own path. 

In a colorful, kid-friendly way, Todd Parr shows reader that mistakes are okay - that's how you learn. 

Why It's On My Bookshelf: I've become so passionate about this message. Todd Parr does a great job of keeping it simple and understandable for the littles. I see this as a great read for the preschool -first grade kids. But really - you can use picture books for any age. I read this to our two year old daughter and I heard her later in the day playing and singing, "Making mistakes is okay...." She made up a whole song about it. So this will be in my library at school and home. We are moving this generation away from perfectionism and towards living a life free of anxiety and full of courage. Yes to that!

A Link to This Book and Others You Might Find Helpful: