Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Rhyme Schemer by K.A. Holt

 Rhyme Schemer by K.A. Holt is a novel told in verse and was published in 2014. 

Kevin, the main character, is the youngest in his family - an afterthought - born after four older brothers with names all starting with a P. Kevin is a poet and a bully, but the tables get turned on him when one of his victims finds his poetry notebook. 

I like the relationships in this book. The librarian is completely amazing - as most librarians are. I think it's a librarian thing. The relationships with his older brothers are realistic. They tease, fight, and love one another. 

I like novels written in verse because they are quick reads with a lot said in not many words. 



Link to our NICU book registry to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit so their parents can read to them while they grow. You can also donate gently used books to our project by sending them to me or to Angie. Email me for a mailing address. We can use both English and Spanish books. If you have a graduate of the NICU, or if you have a baby whose life you would like to honor by donating books to this project, let me know, and I can make a book plate with their name for the books you donate.

Read to a child today even if that child is you. 


Thursday, January 7, 2021

Black is a Rainbow Color by Angela Joy and Ekua Holmes

Black is a Rainbow Color by Angela Joy and Ekua Holmes was published in 2020. This book was sent to me by the instructor of an inclusion class I'm taking, and I'll use this beautiful book in my classroom. 

The story is written as poetry, and the author, Angela Joy, included resources and connections to notable and newsworthy events in history that go along with this book. This means that there are many segues to expand a child's knowledge of our history and world. She also includes poems and a timeline of Black Ethnonyms in America, so this book can grow with your child. It could be read to a very small child, but it can also be used with teens. 

The story begins: "Red is a rainbow color. Green sits next to blue. Yellow, orange, violet, indigo, they are rainbow colors, too, but my color is black . . . and there's no black in rainbows."

The first page that has a resource connected to it reads: "Black is a rhythm. Black is the blues. Black is side-walking in spit-shined shoes." When you turn to the back of the book, Angela Joy explains "Side-walking in spit-shined shoes" and the connection to the Montgomery bus boycott. 

I appreciate how versatile this book is and can image it being a favorite of many children as they discover and then rediscover it again as they grow and see that it offers more than they realized.  

Ekua Holmes is the artist behind the bold, vivid, and beautiful illustrations that add to the storybook. 


We received a few more donations to our book project last week. 

A graduate of our NICU sent these books. 

Shelley Lomax sent these cute board books. 

Angela Jensen sent us these fun winter books. 

Read to a child today even if that child is you. 

Link to our NICU book registry to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit so their parents can read to them while they grow. You can also donate gently used books to our project by sending them to me or to Angie. Email me for a mailing address. We can use both English and Spanish books. If you have a graduate of the NICU, or if you have a baby whose life you would like to honor by donating books to this project, let me know, and I can make a book plate with their name for the books you donate.


Saturday, January 2, 2021

2020 NICU Book Project Donation Total

2020 NICU Book Project Donations

I started collecting books in 2014 for the NICU where my daughter works to honor the lives of my own twins and also of two grandchildren who did not survive pregnancy. As a reading teacher, I saw that children who were read to, had better attention spans and did better in school. It took me a year to gather 150 books sorted into packets of 5 books each. I delivered them in September of 2015. I had only planned on making this one donation, but the books were so appreciated by the parents, that I kept on gathering books.

Other people started donating books so we could try to send every NICU baby home with a packet of books. Parents read these books to their babies during their often lengthy stays, helping their baby's brains and creating bonding moments full of love. 

Each packet has a half sheet handout explaining why it is important to read to your baby. I put at least one board book in each packet, and we also create packets for families whose first language is Spanish.

I worried that our project wouldn't be able to reach all the babies in our NICU this year because of the pandemic. I rely heavily on being about to go shop in person for books at a discount. I generally purchase several hundred books a year for this project and there was no way I could safely shop in person, but I shouldn't have worried because when Angie let the word get out that we were nearly out of books, many, many donors stepped up and sent books. We were the recipients of a few book drives and at least one large anonymous donor. 

We have never had as many donors as we have had this year. We had at least 100 donors, but because of book drives and anonymous donors, I have no idea exactly how many people participated in our project this year. If you helped bring books to our NICU babies, I thank you for keeping our project afloat in this weirdest of all years. 

We collected 1,788 books this year, most of them were new because of the pandemic. Those that were not new, were sanitized and quarantined to make sure they were safe before being given to families. 

We had a few last minute donations this year, which were included in our 2020 totals. I always photograph and mention those donations on my blog, so here these donations. 

These were donated by Sara Robinson. Board books are always appreciated. I like each baby to get at least one board book in their packet.  

Megan Smith sent these four books. Spanish books are greatly appreciated as they aren't always easy to find.

Ginger Nielsen sent this selection of cute books. There are touch and feel, board books, Spanish books, and paperbacks in this group. 

An anonymous donor sent 63 new board books, pop-up books, and Spanish books in this selection. 

McKenna Vance sent this selection of hardbacks. I try to put at least one hardback in each packet and for some reason, we don't get a lot of them donated, so they are appreciated. 


I want to thank each and every person who donated to our project and to those who donated to the multiple book drives. I couldn't reach so many on my own. Your support is greatly appreciated.  It makes me happy that my little project to honor my babies has become our project and is growing and thriving. Together we are spreading literacy to the very smallest among us.

Read to a child today even if that child is you. 

Link to our NICU book registry to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit so their parents can read to them while they grow. You can also donate gently used books to our project by sending them to me or to Angie. Email me for a mailing address. We can use both English and Spanish books. If you have a graduate of the NICU, or if you have a baby whose life you would like to honor by donating books to this project, let me know, and I can make a book plate with their name for the books you donate.


Tuesday, December 29, 2020

First Day of Unicorn School by Jess Hernandez and Mariano Epelbaum

First Day of Unicorn School by Jess Hernandez and Mariano Epelbaum will be published in January of 2021. I was lucky to receive an ARC from the author, but this book is available for ordering right now. I taught with Jess at a middle school, and her sense of humor shines through in her debut book. 

This is the story of Milly the donkey who gets accepted to unicorn school, but since she isn't a unicorn, she wears a party hat and masquerades as one. She meets all the other unicorns when she is distracted and bumps into one and then stumbles into the others. What she doesn't realize until later is that none of the other animals are unicorns either. 

I like that this story shows the importance of being your true self and that often we all feel like we are suffering from imposter syndrome. This would be a fun story to read to young children in pre-school or elementary school and have them create their own unicorn disguises. They could also find the similarities they share with each other. 

Mariano Epelbaum created the cute and brightly colored art for this book that is fitting for unicorns. 

Read to a child today even if that child is you. 

Link to our NICU book registry to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit so their parents can read to them while they grow. You can also donate gently used books to our project by sending them to me or to Angie. Email me for a mailing address. We can use both English and Spanish books. If you have a graduate of the NICU, or if you have a baby whose life you would like to honor by donating books to this project, let me know, and I can make a book plate with their name for the books you donate.

Friday, December 4, 2020

Red Kayak by Priscilla Cummings

 Red Kayak by Priscilla Cummings was published in 2004 and is the first book of a three book companion set. I read the second book, The Journey Back, several years ago, so when I spotted Red Kayak in a little free library, I scooped it up. 

Brady Parks, the main character, is hailed as hero when he rescues a small boy from the waters of the Chesapeake Bay, but he makes a discovery that puts all that he did in question. 

Brady and his friends, Digger and J.T. are close, but their friendship may not survive the poor choices that are made. Brady keeps his discovery a secret, but he must choose between what he knows is right and his friends. 

This story shows how important it is not act on impulse, but to think things through, take a breath, even when anger takes control. The consequences of rash actions can often haunt us and others for a lifetime. 


The Cope Family, who had twins in our NICU, sent this selection of quality books for the babies at our hospital. Thank you so very much!
Link to our NICU book registry
 to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit so their parents can read to them while they grow. You can also donate gently used books to our project by sending them to me or to Angie. Email me for a mailing address. We can use both English and Spanish books. If you have a graduate of the NICU, or if you have a baby whose life you would like to honor by donating books to this project, let me know, and I can make a book plate with their name for the books you donate.

Read to a child today even if that child is you. 



Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Genesis Begins Again by Alicia D. Williams

Genesis Begins Again by Alicia D. Williams was published in 2019 and won a Newbery Honor medal, the Coretta Scott King Award, and was a finalist for the William C Morris Debut Award. 

Genesis, the main character of this story, deals with poverty and housing instability because of her father's gambling and alcohol addictions. Genesis loves her parents and they love her and each other, but life with an addict is hard.

Genesis's grandmother is willing to help Genesis and her mother, but her help comes at a cost. Grandma is a multi-generational victim and perpetrator of colorism. Genesis, like her father, has very dark skin - even her gums are dark. She doesn't like herself and has a list of the reasons she dislikes herself - being too black is only one of the items on her list. 

I enjoyed this well-written story of a young girl trying to fit in a society that doesn't always appreciate her gifts. The author dealt realistically with the father's addictions, issues of poverty, relationships, and the struggle to fit in. 



My daughter, Caitie Jolley, donated these books to our NICU book project. If you haven't read these books, they are incredibly fun to read to a little one. Thank you, Caitie. 


Link to our NICU book registry to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit so their parents can read to them while they grow. You can also donate gently used books to our project by sending them to me or to Angie. Email me for a mailing address. We can use both English and Spanish books. If you have a graduate of the NICU, or if you have a baby whose life you would like to honor by donating books to this project, let me know, and I can make a book plate with their name for the books you donate.

Read to a child today even if that child is you. 



Sunday, November 22, 2020

A Perfect Day by Lane Smith

A Perfect Day by Lane Smith was published in 2017 and tells the story of a perfect day for several animals in Bert's yard. He explains what makes it a perfect day for each animal. "The warmth of the sun  felt good on Cat's back. Cat liked to be in the flower bed where the daffodils grew. It was a perfect day for Cat." 

The dog, chickadee, and squirrel are all having a perfect day until a bear comes and scares them all into the house. What they leave behind gives Bear a perfect day. I can't wait to share this one with the grandkids if the pandemic ever ends. 

I love the art in this book and wish it was the original paintings because the texture on the original art begs to be touched. This would be a fun book to have children try to copy the art style because of all the different textures. It would be fun to figure out how Smith made them all. 


The Mello family donated these four Seuss books in honor of their nephew Liam. The recipients of theses books will know they were donated in his honor  

Angie donated these 12 fun books. Thank you! 

Read to a child today even if that child is you. 

Link to our NICU book registry to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit so their parents can read to them while they grow. You can also donate gently used books to our project by sending them to me or to Angie. Email me for a mailing address. We can use both English and Spanish books. If you have a graduate of the NICU, or if you have a baby whose life you would like to honor by donating books to this project, let me know, and I can make a book plate with their name for the books you donate.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Robomop by Sean Taylor and Edel Rodriguez

Robomop by Sean Taylor and Edel Rodriguez was published in 2013 and is the cute story of a robot mop that lives in a bathroom lavatory in the basement of a large building. He likes his work keeping things clean, but he's lonely and longs to see the world. 

Eventually, the facility gets a new Bellebot Cleanerette, and Robomop is in love. Unfortunatly, he's being replaced. Will this friendly, dancing robot end up at the dump, or will he find a place where his personality is appreciated?

Edel Rodriguez's illustrations are fun and full of emotion. I can't wait to share this one with the grandkids to see what they think. Covid19 needs to go away, so I can have regular visits with my grandkids again.  



Read to a child today even if that child is you. 

Link to our NICU book registry to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit so their parents can read to them while they grow. You can also donate gently used books to our project by sending them to me or to Angie. Email me for a mailing address. We can use both English and Spanish books. If you have a graduate of the NICU, or if you have a baby whose life you would like to honor by donating books to this project, let me know, and I can make a book plate with their name for the books you donate.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys

Out of the Easy, a historical fiction by Ruta Sepetys, was published in 2013. This story is set in 1950 era New Orleans and is the story of Josie Moraine, the daughter of a brothel prostitute. This is a book for older teens because of the mature content. 

I found this story interesting, sad, but also hopeful. Josie is smart and has found ways to keep herself safe from the life her mother lives. She is likable and has good friends. I liked the little bit of romance in her life and found her relationship with the Madame of the brothel interesting. 

Josie's need for a father and how it effects her life was portrayed realistically. It's hard to grow up without a good father.  I liked the ending to this story, but I felt so badly for Josie's friend, Patrick. His character could be a whole new novel. 

Quotes:

"'Don't hate her, Jo,' he told me. 'Feel sorry for her. She not near as smart as you. She wasn't born with your compass, so she wanders around, bumping into all sorts of walls'" (pg 37).

"I love you the more in that I believe you have liked me for own sake and for nothing else" (pg 284).

Ruta Sepetys is an author who tells a good story. I've enjoyed the books of hers that I've read so far and look forward to reading more of her work. 

 

Read to a child today even if that child is you. 

Link to our NICU book registry to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit so their parents can read to them while they grow. You can also donate gently used books to our project by sending them to me or to Angie. Email me for a mailing address. We can use both English and Spanish books. If you have a graduate of the NICU, or if you have a baby whose life you would like to honor by donating books to this project, let me know, and I can make a book plate with their name for the books you donate.

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Booked by Kwame Alexander

Booked by Kwame Alexander was published in 2016 and is a book told in verse. I love stories written in verse, especially ones that appeal to teens because this type of book helps make a reader. 

Nick Hall, the main character of this book, is a soccer player, his dad is a writer who wrote a dictionary called Weird and Wonderful Words, and his mom is a horse trainer. Nick is expected to read and know the words in his dad's book, but he doesn't enjoy learning all these words. Nick also has a crush on a girl from his etiquette and dance class. He has a best friend and twin bullies who have the same name as twin bullies that I had in my childhood - Dean and Don. 

Nick has a really good relationship with his mom and when she takes a job out of town to train a horse, he is angry and sad about her being gone. 

He says:
"Thought
It does not take
a math genius
to understand that
when you subtract
a mother 
from the equation
what remains
is negative" (pg 59).

There is a lot of word play in this story, found poetry, good teachers, good friends, and loving parents.  I like that this author is careful with language in his books because it makes it easier to get them approved for our school district's book list. Students love his books. 





Read to a child today even if that child is you. 

Link to our NICU book registry to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit so their parents can read to them while they grow. You can also donate gently used books to our project by sending them to me or to Angie. Email me for a mailing address. We can use both English and Spanish books. If you have a graduate of the NICU, or if you have a baby whose life you would like to honor by donating books to this project, let me know, and I can make a book plate with their name for the books you donate.

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Dear Martin by Nic Stone

Dear Martin by Nic Stone was published in 2017. I've been actively seeking out books written by authors and illustrators of color.  Nic Stone tells an important story about bias and racism in our current day.

I liked this story because of the tie to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I liked that the main character is introspective. I think this would be a good book to teach at the high school level.

Justyce, the main character, attends a mostly white school with his best friend Manny. Justyce is an excellent student who experiences daily micro-aggressions and often blatant racism. The story opens with Justyce being detained and put in handcuffs even though he has not committed a crime. This experience haunts him throughout the story.

One day while driving with Manny, the radio turned way up, they encounter an off-duty cop who in anger shoots at the boys. The media fallout is brutal. This story has mature language. It's an important story where Justyce continually tries to live his life in the manner of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. but finds there are no easy answers to What would Martin do?


Link to our NICU book registry to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit so their parents can read to them while they grow. You can also donate gently used books to our project by sending them to me or to Angie. Email me for a mailing address. We can use both English and Spanish books. If you have a graduate of the NICU, or if you have a baby whose life you would like to honor by donating books to this project, let me know, and I can make a book plate with their name for the books you donate.


Read to a child today even if that child is you. 

Sunday, October 25, 2020

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo was published in 2018 and is a novel written in verse. This is one of my favorite books that I read this year. Acevedo's writing is beautiful. I listened to the novel and it was brilliantly narrated by the author. In fact as soon as it ended, I began listening to it again - it's that good. 

Xiomara Batista is the main character and she is a poet. She tells her story through poems. Often she shares the feelings of her heart, but in reality, she doesn't share those thoughts with anyone else. Through her story the reader knows what it is like to be sexually harassed, to have a first period, to be a twin, to feel your voice is being silenced, to feel you have a voice, to question religion, to question one's relationship to those they love, and to feel responsible for unwanted attention from men. 

This story is about Xiomara finding her voice in a home and a society who tries to quiet her, and her voice is strong, powerful, and beautiful. One of my favorite poems was "How I Feel about Attention" I'll share the first and last verse of this poem. 

"If Medusa was Dominican 
and had a daughter, I think I'd be her. 
I look and feel like a myth. 
A story distorted, waiting for others to stop
and stare. 

"If I was her kid, Medusa would tell me her secrets:
how it is that her looks stop men
in their tracks            why they still keep on coming. 
How she outmaneuvers them when they do" (48). 

I plan on buying all Acevedo’s other books. 



Angela Jensen donated 13 copies of If You Give a Dog a Donut by Laura Numeroff and Felicia Bond to our NICU book project. 


We’ve been able to give books to every baby who has been in our NICU this year because of all our generous donors. Thank you. 

 Link to our NICU book registry to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit so their parents can read to them while they grow. You can also donate gently used books to our project by sending them to me or to Angie. Email me for a mailing address. We can use both English and Spanish books. If you have a graduate of the NICU, or if you have a baby whose life you would like to honor by donating books to this project, let me know, and I can make a book plate with their name for the books you donate.

Read to a child today even if that child is you. 

Sunday, October 4, 2020

When We Were Alone by David A. Robertson and Julie Flett

When We Were Alone written by David A. Robertson and  illustrated by Julie Flett was published in 2016. Robertson tells the story of a child helping her kokom (grandmother) in the garden and asks her questions about why she likes so many colors among other questions. Through these question, the child learns about her kokom's experience of being sent to a residential school with her brother and how restrictive the school was. 

Everything was taken from her and her brother: their long hair, their language, their brightly colored clothing, and their families. She explains how she was able to get through that hard experience and how she appreciates having all of those things in her life now. She explains to her granddaughter how when they were alone, she and her friends and brother would get around the rules. 

This book introduces children to the reality of residential schools. Both the author the illustrator are Native Americans. Julie Flett's illustrations are beautiful as always and portray the emotion of the story. I like the use of Native language in the story and the gentle way Robertson tells the story. I always love a story with a wonderful grandmother because I was blessed with such a good one. 



Teresa Moore donated 20 hardbacks to our NICU book project. I appreciate her support of our project, and hardbacks are always in short supply for us. 




Link to our NICU book registry to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit so their parents can read to them while they grow. You can also donate gently used books to our project by sending them to me or to Angie. Email me for a mailing address. We can use both English and Spanish books. If you have a graduate of the NICU, or if you have a baby whose life you would like to honor by donating books to this project, let me know, and I can make a book plate with their name for the books you donate.


Read to a child today even if that child is you. 


Sunday, September 27, 2020

If You Ever Want to Bring a Piano to the Beach, Don't! by Elise Parsley

 If You Ever Want to Bring a Piano to the Beach, Don't! by Elise Parsley was published in 2016 and is just a cute as her book, If You Ever Want to Bring and Alligator to School, Don't. As I read and laughed at this book I thought of my oldest daughter and her addiction to her piano when she was young girl. I had to make her go play outside because she would stay on the bench and play piano all day otherwise. 

Parsley's illustrations are hilarious. Magnolia pushing her piano to the beach is the best. She says, "But on the way, your arms will get heavy. Then your legs will get draggy. So you'll find the perfect way to move the piano along." 

Her poor piano goes through a lot, and Magnolia is her typical emotional self. 


We've had some new donations to our NICU book project. We were low on hardbacks, but it seems that whatever we need seems to come our way.

Michelle Schwendiman sent these books over. They are so cute and were such a good price that I went and used some of our donated money to purchase a big stack of them. 

Books from our anonymous donor:
These are from Kohl's and ended up costing only $2 each. 

Max the Brave was sent to us from Theo's mom Britney Shaw. This is such a cute story. 


Liam's mom, Miranda Heinz, sent these cute board books.   


I've been so blessed by people who have chosen to give to our project. In our often chaotic world, it helps me see the good and know that we are contributing to literacy, gentleness, and the bond between parent and child. 

Link to our NICU book registry to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit so their parents can read to them while they grow. You can also donate gently used books to our project by sending them to me or to Angie. Email me for a mailing address. We can use both English and Spanish books. If you have a graduate of the NICU, or if you have a baby whose life you would like to honor by donating books to this project, let me know, and I can make a book plate with their name for the books you donate.

Read to a child today even if that child is you. 

Saturday, September 5, 2020

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi was published in 2020. This book was originally published as Stamped From the Beginning by Ibram X Kendi, and is a remix written by Jason Reynolds for teen readers. I am hoping our school district will add this book to our approved book list because I'd like to use it in my classroom. 

Our school librarian loaned me the school's copy, but I found I needed to annotate - a lot, so I bought my own copy. This book, while not a history book, details the roots of racism in our world and especially in the United States. 

One great thing about this book is it gives just enough information about many topics to make you want to learn more, so it becomes a great catalyst for research. It touches on so many things that are at the roots of systemic racism. This book makes me feel like we can do better and that we must to better. 

Page xvi; "There will come a time when we will love humanity, when we will gain the courage to fight for an equitable society for our beloved humanity, knowing, intelligently, that when we fight for humanity, we are fighting for ourselves." ~Ibram X. Kendi




Read to a child today even if that child is you. 

Link to our NICU book registry to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit so their parents can read to them while they grow. You can also donate gently used books to our project by sending them to me or to Angie. Email me for a mailing address. We can use both English and Spanish books. If you have a graduate of the NICU, or if you have a baby whose life you would like to honor by donating books to this project, let me know, and I can make a book plate with their name for the books you donate.