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1. Shelves Filled with Books of All Sizes And Colors

Today’s Guest Blogger is Susan Brunecz, an Instructional Coach at Paul L. Dunbar Academy in Cleveland, Ohio.

IMG_3764When our students entered their classes on the first day of school two weeks ago, a roar of excitement erupted! They had just laid eyes on their new classroom libraries. Their shelves were filled with brand-new books of all sizes and colors. What a way to start the year!

But books weren’t always so plentiful. Last year, many shelves were bare. Only a few classes had established libraries.

Being new to this school, my goal was to get as many books as I could into our classrooms. Thanks to generous supporters, every class now has a library of its own.

Many of the children who attend our school move frequently, living with a friend or a relative. Others live in shelters or temporary housing. Our school is the most stable place our kids have and the best way for them to access books. Here they are encouraged to read all that they can.

IMG_9419-editNow, when you peek into a classroom, you’ll find students exploring the pages of books at their reading level. And when they finish, they’ll find a new book waiting to be read.

There are still schools out there whose shelves are bare. They need your help.

Please donate today to help kids start the school year with classrooms full of books. Your gift will be matched.

 

First Book was able to provide books to the students at Paul L. Dunbar Academy thanks to the support of JetBlue.

The post Shelves Filled with Books of All Sizes And Colors appeared first on First Book Blog.

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2. Educators say this about First Book…

A new school year is upon us. And as always, it’s critical that teachers and program leaders have the right tools, so that they can succeed. According to a recent First Book survey, the books they get from First Book make a big difference – to them, and to the kids they serve.

best educators they can be

In our survey of our educator community, 79 percent of respondents agreed that access to books from First Book helps them be the best educators they can be.

If you work with kids in need, you can receive books and resources to use in your classroom or program. Make it a great school year and sign up with First Book today!

The post Educators say this about First Book… appeared first on First Book Blog.

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3. Monthly Book List: Our Five Favorites for August

Our favorite books this month will get kids exploring the outdoors, show them the importance of kindness and illustrate the bond between parents and children, no matter the distance. You’ll also find a beautiful coming-of-age story for older readers and a tale about life during wartime.

Pre-K – K (ages 3-6)

outdoor_oppositesOutdoor Opposites by Brenda Williams

Jenn’s pick this month: “This colorful book featuring a diverse group of friends is perfect for young children! Use it to get kids up and moving, learning about opposites, and exploring the great outdoors.”

Grades 1-2 (ages 6-8)

the_invisible_boyThe Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig

Kelsey’s pick this month: “I love this book! It will speak to any child who has ever gone unnoticed and help all kids understand how kindness can fill others and bring color to the world.”

 

 

Grades 3-4 (ages 8-10)

knock_knock_sfapKnock Knock: My Dad’s Dream for Me by Daniel Beaty

Miriam’s pick this month: “So moving and so beautiful! This compassionate story of a son’s love for his father despite their separation will touch readers of all ages.”

 

 

Grades 5-6 (ages 10-12):

war_that_saved_my_lifeThe War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Alison’s pick this month: “I can’t stop talking about this book! It’s one of the most honest and accessible books I’ve read about the long-term impacts of neglect and abuse, and an empowering look at life with a disability. On top of all that? It’s an engrossing novel about life in war-time, finding family, and allowing yourself to feel and show love – to yourself, and to others.”

7th & up (Ages 13+):

aristotle_dante_discover_1Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Matthew’s pick this month: “This is one of the most honest and beautiful coming-of-age stories about personal identity, relationships, and love (both platonic and romantic) that I have ever read. Aristotle and Dante’s poetic journey will stay with you.”

The post Monthly Book List: Our Five Favorites for August appeared first on First Book Blog.

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4. Children Should Have Books

Diane Brownstone

Diane Brownstone

Diane Brownstone grew up one block from the nearest public library. She attributes her love of literature to her early proximity to books. “The public library of my youth gave me an addiction to books that has enriched my life.  My wish is to give this experience and pleasure to many other young people.”

Years later, Diane and her husband Clyde created the Brownstone Family Foundation to share the joy of reading with kids in need. The stars aligned when Diane was introduced to First Book while supporting the Reach Out and Read program site at Bellevue Hospital in New York City.

Soon after, her charitable work led Diane to the Office of Advocacy (OOA) of the New York City Administration for Children’s Services. The OOA supports families and youth affected by poverty, limited employment and educational opportunities, discrimination, substandard housing and violence. Many families served by the OOA struggle to fulfill their children’s most basic needs.

OOA playroom_Diane Brownstore post

The updated playroom at the Office of Advocacy.

Diane recalls her first visit to the office. The room where kids wait, often en route to visit incarcerated parents, “had nothing but an old couch and toys that had to be washed with Clorox.”

Today the room is beautiful, filled with high-quality books for children of all ages. A quilt handmade by Diane hangs from the wall.

Diane’s generosity has also provided books to hundreds of children and families served by the OOA. One of the most gratifying experiences has been to give books as baby shower gifts to first-time teen mothers. The young mothers are grateful for these books, an acknowledgement of their child’s intellectual potential. And though they may lack the resources to purchase books, the mothers know the benefits of reading to their child.

For Diane, the motivation to support programs like the OOA is simple. “Children who don’t have books should have them. They should be accessible, because reading is a treasure for your whole lifetime.”

The post Children Should Have Books appeared first on First Book Blog.

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5. It’s Time to Play (And Win!)

Games and activities are a fun, hands-on way for kids to learn through play. They help kids tackle complex subjects like STEM, foster problem solving skills and build imagination. We’ve picked some of our favorite games and activities to get kids of all ages interacting and learning in the coming school year.

How would you use these activities in your school or program? If you are a registered member of First Book’s community of educators working with kids in need, you can enter to win a collection of games and activities for your classroom, school or program. Simply share how you’d use these activities with the kids you serve by commenting on this Facebook status between August 6th to August 14th. See rules below.

Ages 4 to 6

construction_worker_roleMelissa and Doug Construction Worker Costume Set

Work zone ahead! Your little construction worker will be ready for the job with this bright orange, machine-washable, vest with reflective material and a tool belt; a yellow hard hat; “safety” goggles; a hammer; a saw; and a name tag for personalizing.

 

Ages 4 to 9

thames_kosmos_physics_forcesThames and Kosmos Little Labs: Physics

Discover the mechanical physics of force and motion by building simple machines such as levers, gears, and pulleys.

 

 

Ages 4 to 9

finger_puppetsFinger Puppets

Finger puppets are fun! Make and decorate adorable characters using the materials in this kit. Then put on a show for your family and friends! Includes pre-printed designs and blank designs to decorate yourself.

 

Ages 7 to 12

thames_kosmos_wind_powerThames and Kosmos Wind Power

Wind is one of the world’s most promising sources of clean, renewable energy. Build a working wind turbine to harness power out of thin air.

 

 

Ages 7 to 12

easy_paper_airplanesEasy Paper Airplanes: Fold 10 Zooming Flyers

Make 25 fantastic fliers! You can create a sky-full of fabulous-looking paper planes, from old-time gliders to cutting-edge jets, which soar, swoop, sail, and dive. The kit includes fascinating background information on every model.

Ages 10 to 15

thames_kosmos_smart_carThames and Kosmos Smart Car Robotics

Explore the cutting edge of automotive technology with this futuristic car. Construct the sleek, high-tech car, and then control the car’s motorized wheels with a tablet or smartphone. Use the free downloadable app to script a simple program that instructs your car to automatically follow a predetermined course through a virtual cityscape.

 

*Entries by individuals serving kids in need who are registered First Book will be eligible to win a selection of games and activities like those featured above, up to a $200 value. Eligible educators should enter to win by posting his/her answer to the question “How would you use these in your classroom, school or program?” to this status on First Book’s Facebook page before 12AM on August 15th. A winner will be chosen at random from all eligible entries on August 17th and notified via email. The games and activities awarded to the winner will will be selected for age range of the children served.

If you work with kids in need, you can sign up here.

The post It’s Time to Play (And Win!) appeared first on First Book Blog.

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6. How to Foster a Love of Reading

93% of educators and program leaders use books from First Book to develop a lifelong love of reading in their students.

But how can we help kids develop this love of reading? First Book hosted a Twitter chat last week wherein educators around the country convened to discuss their experiences and tips for fostering a love of reading in the kids they serve.

Here are some of the highlights from our chat. To see full answers to all six questions, visit the hashtag #FirstBookEDU on Twitter or read our full recap on Storify.

Why is it important for kids to love reading?

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7. Monthly Book List: Our Favorite Books for July

Once a month, our team of book enthusiasts share their picks for the best in children’s and young adult books.

This month, Lori, Alison, Matthew, Jenn and Miriam have selected tales on finding oneself, nurturing friendships, appreciating grandparents, adapting to change, and coping with loss — with adorable illustrations, silly stories and powerful narratives.

Pre-K – K (ages 3-6)

how_to_grow_a_friendHow to Grow a Friend by Sara Gillingham

Lori’s pick this month: “Colorful, eye-catching illustrations, and a diverse cast of characters make this a perfect read-aloud for preschool. A great book for back to school, springtime, or anytime!”

 


Grades 1-2 (ages 6-8)

grandmaGrandma in Blue with Red Hat written by Scott Menchin, illustrated by Harry Bliss

Alison’s pick this month: “I am so in love with this book! Clever and sweet, it’s a wonderful salute to grandparents that also offers a great lesson in art appreciation. Adorable!”

 

Grades 3-4 (ages 8-10)

alvin_ho_allergic_to_babiesAlvin Ho #5: Allergic to Babies, Burglars, and Other Bumps in the Night written by Lenore Look, illustrated by LeUyen Pham

Jenn’s pick this month: “I love Alvin Ho! He’s a super funny kid who worries about everything, and a lot of kids can relate to his feelings. You’ll love this laugh-out-loud story about family, siblings, and adapting to change.”

5-6 (ages 10-12):

five_lives_of_our_cat_zookThe Five Lives of Our Cat Zook by Joanne Rocklin

Matthew’s pick this month: “This hilarious and heartwarming novel about a cat with twenty six toes and the two kids who adore her is one of my favorite family stories. It’s a great book about coping with loss and caring for loved ones.”

 

7th & up (Ages 13+):

heaven_angela_johnsonHeaven by Angela Johnson

Miriam’s pick this month: “I first read this book when I was in 8th grade and it has stayed with me into adulthood. Quiet, powerful, and tender, this is a wonderful, award-winning novel about a girl who uncovers a big family secret and finds herself in the process.”

 

The post Monthly Book List: Our Favorite Books for July appeared first on First Book Blog.

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8. Increase Your Students’ Interest in Reading

87 increased interest in reading

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When kids receive new books their faces light up, they cherish their books and keep them by their side at all times. Without any prompting from their teachers they trade books with one another, start small books clubs and encourage one another to read. They become more interested in reading and learning.

The teachers and program leaders who use books from First Book have seen this firsthand when they give books to the kids they serve.

If you work with kids in need, you can receive books and resources for your classroom or program. Sign up with First Book to spark an interest in reading in your students!

The post Increase Your Students’ Interest in Reading appeared first on First Book Blog.

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9. 300,000 Books for Kids to Take Home

Rochester, New York was recently ranked one of the poorest cities in the United States. More than half of its children live in poverty.

IMG_5115(2)But on an early summer day, the students in the Rochester City School District have a spring in their step as they walk down the hallway – they’re getting 10 new books to take home for the summer.

“You get to keep these books!” says one student to one of their new classmates. “You don’t have to give them back, these books are ours!”

“Our kids’ lives are different from the lives of kids in Rochester’s suburban neighborhoods,” says Aimee Rinere, secretary of the Rochester Teachers Association. “It’s not safe for them to go outside.  There are many obstacles our kids face on a daily basis including poor attendance at school, unsafe neighborhoods, and finding their next meal.  They simply don’t have the opportunities, books and resources other kids have.”

IMG_5117The district’s Superintendent, Rochester Teachers Association and the Rochester Association of Paraprofessionals are dedicated to the success of his students and getting them to read at grade level by the third grade, no matter the obstacles. As a way to combat summer learning loss every student has received books to take home for the past two years. Over 300,000 books have been given away in total.

The students in Kindergarten to Second Grade were each given ten books, and this year five were books of their choosing. The older students were able to choose two books to take home.

“Some of the older girls chose the same book. They made plans to meet during the summer to read them together and have a book club,” Aimee explained.

Some students who didn’t want to take books home were met by the protests of their classmates.

“Why don’t you want to read? You should take a book. It will make you a better student,” they said. Without any prompting from the teachers or librarians, the students are now encouraging each other to read.

“We couldn’t put these books into kids’ hands without First Book’s help,” said Aimee. “We’re leveling the playing field for our kids’ with these books, and at the end of the school year we know that, if nothing else, they have the resources we are giving them.”

The post 300,000 Books for Kids to Take Home appeared first on First Book Blog.

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10. The Best Way to Keep Kids Reading Over the Summer

IMG_1654“Kids will always be more excited about reading, if they can choose what to read,” says Stephanie Phelix, Library Media Specialist at Belle Forest Community School in Memphis, TN.

“If it’s a cookbook or the cheat codes to their video games, it’s still reading. When they’re at the grocery store, they can read the signs around the store. If the boys want to read books about Spiderman or comic books, that’s reading too!”

She believes reading of any kind is valuable for her students. This summer, however, she wanted to give her students the best resource to keep them reading over the summer – books they are excited to read.

IMG_1660Stephanie’s school serves students from a wide range of socioeconomic backgrounds and goes out of its way to make sure every child is successful.  But as a brand-new school, one thing they didn’t have were  books to send home for the summer. With support from First Book and partner Conn’s HomePlus®, each child was able to choose one book to take home for the summer.

“I tell them, read what you want to read. The books we sent home with them are a great start,” says Stephanie. “Giving them books and other tools at the end of the school year keeps them motivated.”

The post The Best Way to Keep Kids Reading Over the Summer appeared first on First Book Blog.

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11. How First Book & The White House are Transforming Education Today

Barack Obama Education Quote

At the heart of First Book’s mission to help children in need read, learn and succeed is the distribution of educational content. Breaking down the barriers to accessing books and other information can lift the kids we serve and their communities out of poverty and into bright futures.

When President Obama announced the ConnectED Initiative two years ago, he set an ambitious goal to provide 99 percent of American students with access to next-generation broadband internet in their classrooms and libraries by 2018. And this past April, the President followed up on this commitment with the Open eBook Initiative, a program aimed at creating a world-class digital library and making it available to students aged 4-18 from low-income families.

First Book is proud to partner with the White House to support this bold program that will bring all of America’s classrooms into the digital age. Specifically, First Book will help ensure the eBooks library reaches students in low-income families.

Many of the 180,000 schools and educational programs we serve are already working to transform their districts’ teaching and learning in the digital age. We’re excited to support Open eBooks to reinforce their efforts and take strides to ensure all children have a world of knowledge within reach.

The post How First Book & The White House are Transforming Education Today appeared first on First Book Blog.

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12. Monthly Book List: Our Five Favorite Books for June

This month’s book list features stories about two adorable pigs and jazz trailblazer Melba Doretta Liston. Flip through a page-turning mystery inspired by Chinese folklore, find a magical pen that can finish homework and learn about a man who inspired millions of students worldwide.

Pre-K – K (Ages 3-6):

Toot and puddleToot and Puddle Written and illustrated by Holly Hobbie

Heartwarming and utterly adorable, this modern classic celebrates small moments, friendship, individuality, and the joy of spending time with the people (or pigs) you love. A terrific read-aloud!

Grades 1-2 (ages 6-8):

little_melba_big_tromboneLittle Melba and Her Big Trombone Written by Katheryn Russell-Brown and illustrated by Frank Morrison

Jazzy rhythms and expressive art fill the pages of this dynamic picture book biography about a little-known but highly influential musician. Kids will be inspired to tap their toes and pursue their dreams.

Grades 3-4 (ages 8-10):

strarry_river_of_skyStarry River of the Sky Written and illustrated by Grace Lin

Family, forgiveness, and magic are the focus of this richly imagined tale inspired by Chinese folklore. Readers will be drawn in by the story’s compelling mysteries and beautiful full-color illustrations. Stunning!

Grades 5-6 (ages 10-12):

all the answersAll the Answers By: Kate Messner

Kids will love this lively and empowering story about friendship, family, risk-taking, and one really extraordinary pencil! Perfect for fans of Andrew Clements, Wendy Mass, and Linda Urban.

7th & up (Ages 13+):

of beetles ad angelsOf Beetles and Angels: A Boy’s Remarkable Journey from a Refugee Camp to Harvard By: Mawi Asgedom

Mawi’s memoir about his family’s move, as refugees, from rural Ethiopia to suburban Ohio is eye-opening, moving, entertaining, and inspiring. This is one of those books that should be read by both kids and their care-givers, all of whom are likely to be wowed by it.

The post Monthly Book List: Our Five Favorite Books for June appeared first on First Book Blog.

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13. This is a Life He Never Imagined

IMG_4043

When Antwon’s kids get a little older, he plans to tell them what he’s been through. A 25-year-old father of three, he’s working hard to give them all a better life.

Today, he is employed as a plumber, studying to get his GED and has completed a leadership and empowerment program for young fathers… twice. But this is a life he never imagined.

Antwon grew up in the Woodland Terrace housing development in Washington, DC where many families live off an annual income of $7000 per year.

“My mother worked on and off. She was raising five kids. She was struggling.” When his siblings’ father, who his family relied on for financial support, passed away, “everything changed.” As the oldest child, Antwon felt a tremendous sense of responsibility.

“The only thing I cared about was taking care of my family, but my mind wasn’t thinking that I could get a job. I wasn’t old enough to get a job. I was 13 at the time, and I got into street life. I was selling drugs.”

Antwon faced time in prison. While he was incarcerated, his mother passed due to a stress induced seizure.

A few weeks before returning home, something hit Antwon. “I had children, and I couldn’t do nothing for them but stand on the block all day. I needed a job. I needed to stay off the streets.”

IMG_7800That’s when Antwon connected with Smart from the Start, a family support, community engagement and school readiness organization. As a First Book partner, the nonprofit helps parents and caretakers become their child’s first teacher by supplying them books to help break the cycle of chronic school underachievement.

“I read to them. They like the sticker books, but I read,” he shares with a smile. “My oldest son, he is in school now. He’s got good grades. I sneak up on him sometimes, but I never let him know I’m coming. I just peek in the classroom. He’s doing good.”

Antwon knows there is work ahead, but he’s incredibly motivated. He needs to earn his GED to get an apprenticeship. Eventually, he wants to become a firefighter. But above all else he wants his kids to have a better life than he had.

“I want to motivate them to do better than I have done – finish school, get a good jobs; if they have kids, take care of their kids, be responsible.”

“It’s crazy,” he tells us, “I’ve seen a lot of things, but now I don’t even look back… My whole life has just changed.”

The post This is a Life He Never Imagined appeared first on First Book Blog.

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14. Our Crazy Summer Reading Program Was A Go!

Today’s Guest Blogger is Amy Bartilotti, the Communities in Schools Site Coordinator at Bellwood Elementary School in Chesterfield, VA.

Amy Bartolotti CIS Summer AppealSummer is particularly difficult for kids from low-income families. With few books at home and limited access to libraries, they often fall behind.

Last year, my colleagues and I decided to dream big, ignore budgets and create a summer reading program to help our at-risk readers. No more than an hour after we had made our final plans, we got an email from First Book.

Oh my goodness! We were getting hundreds of brand-new books! Our crazy reading program was a GO!

Thanks to First Book, our students were able to pick out new books that were mailed to them every two weeks. They came with a letter of encouragement from their teacher.

The results were phenomenal! Instead of falling behind, 95 percent of our readers maintained or improved their developmental reading assessment scores.

I cannot begin to tell you how grateful we are. Our little corner of the world is a bit brighter because of First Book.

Please give to First Book to keep kids reading all summer long.

The post Our Crazy Summer Reading Program Was A Go! appeared first on First Book Blog.

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15. A Year-Round Need for Books

Books Year Round

Summer is on its way. But that doesn’t mean teachers, program leaders and the kids they serve don’t need books.

In fact, access to books is important year-round and this is especially true in the summer. When school is in, students have access to books and resources provided by their schools.  But when school lets out, kids in need don’t have the same access they had at school.  They may not have books at home. Their community library may be hard to access. And this stands as a barrier to their ability to succeed in school and in life.

Whether it’s the beginning of a summer program, the end of the school year or time to go back to school, one thing is clear – educators and program leaders need books for their students!

Do you work with kids in need and need books? Do you know someone who does? Sign up with First Book to access books year-round.

Source: First Book Nurturing Survey, September 2014-April 2015. N=1386

The post A Year-Round Need for Books appeared first on First Book Blog.

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16. Thank A Teacher

Thank a teacher ecard 2015 v3

Educators leave a lasting impression on every mind that crosses their path. As another school year comes to a close,  show your gratitude to a teacher in your life by sending them this card today.

The post Thank A Teacher appeared first on First Book Blog.

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17. Jessixa Bagley and Laurie Ann Thompson Chat with First Book

Today’s blog post is part of our Stories For All Project series, focused on sharing the latest announcements and impact stories about our effort to put diverse, inclusive books into the hands of kids.

Jessixa Bagley and Laurie Ann Thompson authored two of our 2015 Stories for All Project title selections. The new picture book authors recently joined us for a Twitter chat to discuss their books “Boats for Papa” and ”Emmanuel’s Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah” and why diversity and inclusion are important in children’s stories.

Here are some of the highlights. You can see full answers to all seven questions and questions from our audience on the Storify for this chat.

Why do you think it is important that diverse books are available to all children?jb2

 

 

 

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How can books featuring diverse voices and experiences contribute to inclusivity?

jb3a jb3b

 

 

 

lat3a

lat3b

 How have you seen your book affect a reader?

jb7 jb7a

lat7 LAT8

Find out more! View the Storify of this Twitter chat.

 

The post Jessixa Bagley and Laurie Ann Thompson Chat with First Book appeared first on First Book Blog.

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18. Monthly Book List: Our Five Favorite Books for May

Our May book list includes fun, magical books featuring adventures with an adorable elephant, funny stories about sisters for young readers, the story of strong man Charles Atlas, a laugh-out-loud tale about pranksters and one of the best teen romances ever written.

Pre-K – K (Ages 3-6):

elliotLittle Elliot, Big City By: Mike Curato

Elliot loves the adventure of living in the city but his size often gets in his way. Readers’ hearts will melt when Elliot meets an unlikely friend at just the right moment and the two take on the town together. A sweet, beautifully illustrated book!

 

For  1st & 2nd grade (Ages 6-8):

ling_ting_not_sameLing & Ting: Not Exactly the Same! By: Grace Lin

Young readers will be utterly charmed by these funny stories about a delightful pair of sisters and their everyday adventures. Clever and funny, this series is great for kids who are ready for beginning books with chapters.

 

For 3rd & 4th grade (Ages 8-10):

strong_man_atlasStrong Man: The Story of Charles Atlas By: Meghan McCarthy

Who knew that Charles Atlas, the so-called “Strong Man” who once pulled a 145,000 pound train with his bare hands, was bullied as a kid? This inspirational picture book biography with playful cartoon illustrations is a great starting point for conversations about kindness, healthy eating, and healthy living.

5th & 6th grade (Ages 10-12):

terrible_twoThe Terrible Two By: Marc Barnett

It’s prankster vs. prankster in this hugely appealing story, great for reluctant and eager readers alike. Get ready to laugh your pants off, read the funniest bits aloud to your friends, and even learn some very interesting facts about cows!

7th & up (Ages 13+):

eleanor_and_parkEleanor & Park By: Rainbow Rowell
Every so often a young adult novel comes along that is so remarkable you want to press it into the hands of everyone you meet. THIS IS ONE OF THOSE BOOKS! Pure magic, it might just be the best teen love story ever written.

 

The post Monthly Book List: Our Five Favorite Books for May appeared first on First Book Blog.

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19. Our Five Favorite Books for April

Our five favorite books for April will help kids celebrate each other’s unique differences, process with the emotions of moving, learn about the culture of Haiti — even teach them a few magic tricks!

For Pre-K – K (Ages 3-6):

bad_bye_good_bye“Bad Bye, Good Bye”by Deborah Underwood

In very few words, this warm and reassuring picture book captures the emotions kids experience in the process of moving. Over the course of the story, a boy goes from sadness to joy as his family moves from the country to the city, saying goodbye to old friends and hello to new ones.

For  1st & 2nd grade (Ages 6-8):

not_typical_dragon_1“Not Your Typical Dragon” (First Book Marketplace Special Edition) by Dan Bar-el

Kids will laugh out loud at this funny, lovable story about a young dragon who can breathe everything but fire. A terrific lesson in recognizing and appreciating everyone’s unique talents!

For 3rd & 4th grade (Ages 8-10):

vanishing_coin“Magic Shop Series #1: The Vanishing Coin” by Kate Egan

This engaging chapter book series hooks kids with a fun plot and a great bonus – lessons for performing magic tricks! Kids with attention issues or those struggling with bullies will especially relate.

5th & 6th grade (Ages 10-12):

stella_by_starlight“Stella by Starlight” by Sharon Draper

Through the eyes of a quirky, relatable 12-year-old, readers are transported to 1932 when the Klu Klux Klan resurfaces and unsettles a close-knit community. Kids will root for Stella as they witness her inspiring determination to face her biggest fears head on.

7th & up (Ages 13+):

“Hold Tight, Don’t Let Go”hold_tight by Laura Rose Wagner

This deeply affecting novel provides a rich exploration of Haiti’s culture through the experiences of Magdalie, a teenage survivor of the 2010 earthquake. Magdalie’s resolve to make a better life for herself makes this an empowering story for anyone who is suffering a loss or coping with tragedy.

 

 

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20. First Book Joins White House to Bring Thousands of e-Books to Kids in Need

iStock_000014235579MediumWe know that access to books – in all forms – is critical for children to develop into readers.

Now, through a new White House-led initiative, First Book is helping connect children in need across the country with access to thousands of e-books. The initiative, announced today by President Obama, is part of a broad effort to ignite kids’ love of reading by improving access to digital content and public libraries.

Through the initiative, called Open eBooks, publishers are providing $250 million worth of e-books for free to children from low-income families. 10,000 of their most popular titles will be included.

The books will be accessible through an Open eBooks app, which is currently being developed by the New York Public Library, the Digital Public Library of America and the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Once complete, the app and all the e-books will be available to programs and classrooms serving children in need through First Book.

Know someone working in the lives of children in need? Encourage them to sign up with First Book.

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21. The Stories for All Project: 60,000 New Books to Increase Diversity, Promote Inclusivity

When children see their lives reflected in the books they read they become more enthusiastic readers. Their educational outcomes improve. They succeed in school and in life.

But few books actSFAP Pie Chart Infographicually reflect the cultures and circumstances of the kids First Book serves, all of whom live in low-income households and many of whom are of minority backgrounds. In fact, a mere 11 percent of 3,500 children’s books reviewed by Cooperative Children’s Book Center this year are about people of color.

This is the reason we created the Stories for All ProjectTM – the only market-driven solution to increase diverse voices and promote inclusivity in children’s literature.

Today, we’re proud to share our latest news with you: With support from Target, KPMG and Jet Blue Airways, First Book is making 60,000 copies of outstanding children’s titles featuring diverse characters and storylines available for the first time ever in affordable trade paperback format, to fuel learning and educational equity.

We chose these titles fromStories for All group photo hundreds submitted by publishers with input from the 175,000 educators and program leaders we serve. By aggregating the demand and purchasing power of this educator community, we have become the first organization to create a viable and vibrant market for books that reflect race, ability, sexual orientation and family structure in our ever-diversifying world.

Each of our selections contributes unique perspectives underrepresented in children’s literature while remaining relatable to all readers. As part of this current effort, First Book is thrilled to make available two titles by new picture book authors:

  • “Niño Wrestles the World” written and illustrated by Yuyi Morales
  • “And Tango Makes Three” written by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell and illustrated by Henry Cole
  • “Tiger in My Soup” written by Kashmira Sheth and illustrated by Jeffrey Ebbeler
  • “Boats for Papa” written and illustrated by new author/illustrator Jessixa Bagley
  • “Emmanuel’s Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah,” written by first-time children’s author Laurie Ann Thompson and illustrated by Sean Qualls,
  • “Knock Knock: My Dad’s Dream for Me,” written by Daniel Beaty and illustrated by Bryan Collier

Copies of all six titles will be available through the First Book Marketplace.  The first three titles are also available for the first time in paperback format on Target.com and at Target stores nationwide.

Every day, in communities around the country and around the world, we see the critical need to further our human understanding and embrace the gifts and experience each of us brings. The Stories for All Project and promotes understanding, empathy and inclusivity with stories that can help all children see and celebrate their differences and similarities.

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22. These Children Saw Themselves in a Book

Today’s blog post is part of our Stories For All Project series, focused on sharing the latest announcements and impact stories about our effort to put diverse, inclusive books into the hands of kids in need.

Cathy Gaudio reads aloud to a group of students in Phoenix, Arizona.  It’s a special day – every child at Sun Canyon Elementary is going home with a book of their own. The book, “Pelitos” by Sandra Cisneros, is bilingual. She reads one page in English, soon echoed by her bright-eyed helper reading the page in Spanish.  The children are thrilled.

“’Pelitos’ talks about how we all have different kinds of hair – showing that everyone’s differences are worth celebrating” explains Cathy.

IMG_0607Cathy, the Program Manager of AARP Foundation Experience Corps Phoenix, is joined by the school’s reading tutors for the celebration.   For an hour every week, 90 retiree volunteers from the program tutor 300 children in ten schools throughout the city. Sun Canyon is one such school.

On this day, the students gained more than reading skills from their tutors.  They saw themselves in the book they enjoyed.

“When these students can see themselves in books, they get more excited about reading, and that’s exactly what we’re trying to inspire in them,” says Cathy. “There’s one reference to very long hair that’s shiny. After we finished reading one little girl went to her book and opened to that page saying ‘This is me!  This is my hair!”

The young girl’s discovery created a larger conversation in the classroom.

“But this is me!” said one child.

“But I have curly hair, so this is me,” said another.

“At that age, they all accept each other and can find something very personal in that book,” Cathy observes.

Every child was able to find a reflection of themselves and they were overjoyed.

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23. Six Diverse Stories: Our 2015 Stories for All Project Selections

Today’s blog post is part of our Stories For All Project series, focused on sharing the latest announcements and impact stories about our effort to put diverse, inclusive books into the hands of kids.

Last week, we announced our latest action in the Stories for All Project – we selected six outstanding titles that showcase characters and storylines often underrepresented in  children’s literature and are making 10,000 copies of each title available in affordable trade paperback format for the first time ever.

The first three titles are available now on the First Book Marketplace and in Target stores nationwide.

Nino Wrestles the World PB“Niño Wrestles the World”

Written and illustrated by Yuyi Morales, celebrates play and the power of the imagination through the unforgettable, underpants-wearing Niño. Pulling from Mexican folklore, Morales pits a series of silly, slightly spooky opponents against Niño. But no foe can stand up to the cunning competitor. He takes down his challengers with a Slish! Boop! Crunch! – playfully defeating each one. Winner of the Pura Belpre Illustrator Award for affirming Latino culture and experience, and the SCBWI Golden Kite Picture Book Illustration Honor.

And Tango Makes Three PB“And Tango Makes Three”

Written by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell and illustrated by Henry Cole, follows two male penguins in the Central Park Zoo through their fruitless efforts to hatch a rock. One day a zookeeper gives the dedicated fathers-to-be an extra egg that needs to be cared for. From this egg comes Tango, the very first penguin in the zoo to have two daddies. Based on a true story, winner of the ASPCA Henry Bergh Award.

Tiger in My Soup“Tiger in My Soup

Written by Kashmira Sheth and illustrated by Jeffrey Ebbeler, features a young Indian-American boy determined to make his older sister read aloud his favorite story about a ferocious tiger. When she repeatedly puts him off, his imagination takes over and the tiger springs from his alphabet soup. An epic battle between boy and tiger commences, all behind the back of the distracted sister. While the hero eventually gets both his story and his reheated soup, he keeps a wary eye out for the tiger’s return.

Boats for Papa“Boats for Papa”

Written and illustrated by new author/illustrator Jessixa Bagley, explores the healing love between a child and parent. Buckley the beaver loves to carve toy boats out of driftwood from the beach nearby. With Mama’s permission, he sends a boat out to sea for his father, whom he misses very much. Buckley believes that if the boat does not come back, it must have reached his Papa. He sends boat after boat to Papa, each one more beautiful that the last. Then one day

Buckley finds all of his boats carefully collected and kept by his Mama. Buckley sends one last boat – this time with a new message.

Emmanuels Dream PB“Emmanuel’s Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah”

Written by first-time picture book author Laurie Ann Thompson and illustrated by Sean Qualls, is an inspiring true story about triumph over adversity. Born in Ghana with one disabled leg, Emmanuel was dismissed by most people, but taught by his mother to reach for his dreams. He hopped to school more than two miles each way, learned to play soccer, left home at age 13 to provide for his family, and eventually became a cyclist. In 2011, he rode an astonishing four hundred miles across Ghana spreading his powerful message: disability is not inability.

KnockKnock PB“Knock Knock: My Dad’s Dream for Me”

Written by Daniel Beaty and illustrated by Bryan Collier, is a heartbreaking and hopeful story about love and loss. Every morning, a boy and his father play a game. While the boy pretends to sleep, his father knocks on the door and approaches the bed to say, “I love you.” One day, there is no knock. This powerful and inspiring book shows the love that an absent parent can leave behind and the strength that children find in themselves as they grow up and follow their dreams. Winner of the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award.

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24. The Right Book at the Right Time

Today’s blog post is part of our Stories For All Project series, focused on sharing the latest announcements and impact stories about our effort to put diverse, inclusive books into the hands of kids.

Today’s guest blogger is Melissa Spradlin, Executive Director of Book’em in Nashville, TN.

First Book supporters provide 33,000 new books to kids in needHaving the right book at the right time can make a difference in a child’s life – sometimes forever. That is why having a variety of books to choose from is so important to our program.

Every day I work with Book’em in Nashville to make kids and teens owners of books, helping them discover the joy of reading.

Our public schools serve over 80,000 students of different ages and different backgrounds. They represent more than 100 different countries, many different ethnicities, races and languages.  They are creative, giving, curious, caring, amazing kids.

Because we have such a diverse population, it is extremely important to showcase diversity in the books we have available for our children. You never know what book might turn a child into a reader, but books that speak to their experience get enthusiastic readers  even more excited and inspire  readers who are a bit more reluctant.

Being able to choose from a variety of diverse books allows our kids to see themselves represented in ways they can relate to. It also helps broaden our students’ horizons and pave the way for a more inclusive future.

We are grateful that First Book’s Stories for All Project™ has allowed us to provide diverse, inclusive books to the children we serve.

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25. What Does the Stories For All Project Mean to You?

Today’s blog post is part of our Stories For All Project series, focused on sharing the latest announcements and impact stories about our effort to put diverse, inclusive books into the hands of kids.

On May 6th, we hosted a Twitter chat to talk about how books featuring diverse voices help children learn and grow. Educators from across the country joined publishers, thought leaders, supporters and partners to share their thoughts.

Here are just a few highlights from the conversation. View the entire Twitter chat on Storify.

What does the #StoriesforAll Project mean to you?

Why is it important that diverse books are available to all children?

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