Valarie Budayr's Blog

February 19, 2017

As of the writing of this blog post I am truly shocked that February is half over!

And I thought JANUARY was a blur!

It’s only been a few weeks since the 1/27/17 MCBD celebration and we can promise all of you that we are still recovering….but in a good way. Multicultural Children’s Book Day grows exponentially every year and I truly think the positivity of this event was sorely needed this year more than ever.

Again, the MCBD team was touched and elevated by the overwhelming support and enthusiasm surrounding our diverse children’s literature online celebration. In the days following the crescendo of the event (the crazy-fun Twitter Party) we all have spent hours sifting through the amazing thoughts, comments and requests that were offered up during our Twitter Party on 1/27/17 and picked the best-of-the-best share with our valued 2017 Sponsors.

Here is just a sampling of the Special Moments we LOVED from Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2017.

Go HERE to view this info-packed blog post and you can also get a larger sample of our Twitter Party Storified HERE.

Another notable accomplishment we pulled off during the fast-paced months preceding MCBD is the fact we published an eBook as a fundraiser for ongoing MCBD projects! It is currently for sale on Amazon here.

Read Your World: A Guide to Multicultural Children's Books for Parents and Educators

Read Your World: A Guide to Multicultural Children’s Books for Parents and Educators is a “Best Of” list of diversity books lists for children contributed by 20 bloggers and 2 authors.

Read Your World: A Guide to Multicultural Children’s Books for Parents and Educators will be priced at $4.99 and 100 percent of proceeds will go towards donating books to teachers for their classroom libraries.

In fact, for each book purchased, one book can be donated to a teacher! Read more about the ebook and the booklists it contains HERE.

MCBD Stats

About a bajillion (OK, maybe not that many) women hours were spent patiently tabulating these social media share impressions using an effective (albeit MCBD closely guarded formula) to arrive at these numbers for the 25-27th. We are proud to note that #Readyourworld was trending THREE different times on Twitter on the 27th and Instagram boasted 1300 hashtag mentions during the days leading up to our special event.

Want to know what we discovered? Here’s the grand total of social media share impressions from 1/25 to celebration day on 1/27…..

Social media share impressions for Multicultural children's book day

Yes, that’s “billion” with a “b!” Read the full MCBD Recap and Thank Yous post HERE.

But along with being the Co-found of this amazing event, I am always busy working hard at my “day job” which is being a children’s book publisher and author. 

Dragons Are Real

Here are a few things people may not know about me:

I have 33+ years’ experience as a composer and is a two-time NEA Meet the Composer winner.
I have 25+ years’ experience as a professor of piano and a piano teacher.
I have 15+ years’ experience as a public speaker and presenter.
I have 10+ years’ experience as a children’s book author and publisher.
I have 10+ years’ experience as a blogger.
I have 4+ years’ experience Co-founder of the non-profit Multicultural Children’s Book Day: an initiative that focuses on the importance of diversity in children’s books and getting those books into the hands of young readers, parents, educators and librarians.
I have 2+ years’ experience as a Labyrinth leader and designer.
I have 1+ years’ experience as a Secret Garden Designer and Consultant

Whew! I get tired just reading this! And let us not forget that I have a couple of decades experience as a wife and mom to three

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Published on February 19, 2017 03:24 • 1 view

February 14, 2017

Read Aloud. Change the World.

World Read Aloud Day

Celebrate World Read Aloud Day by reading aloud and taking action on behalf of the 758 million people who cannot read.

World Read Aloud Day motivates children, teens, and adults to celebrate the power of words.  This global literacy movement is about taking action to show the world that the right to read and write belongs to all people.  World Read Aloud Day asks everyone to celebrate the day by grabbing a book, finding an audience, and reading out loud.

From the time my children were born until this very moment, one of our favorite things to do is to read aloud as a family. Currently our family read aloud favorite is The Hobbit sitting by the campfire. If you haven’t tried it, I highly recommend it. It takes on a whole different feel being outside by a fire.

Here’s a link to a wonderful PDF with all sorts of activities and ideas on how to celebrate World Read Aloud Day.

The most important part about today is to read aloud to someone whether near or far. You can be sitting near them, read as a family, a classroom, across the seas via Skype or some other virtual technology. Just Read and have a ball!

Not sure what to read? Here’s are some of my “read out loud” book picks to help families celebrate this special day (click the book image to see the original post with book extensions and activities):

Look to the skies for some Stargazing & Astronomy Booklist for the whole family.


As a child, author Lucy M. George wrote stories and poems, directed several plays (starring her sisters) and enjoyed making magic potions out of household goods. She studied English Literature at University and now lives in Wales near the sea where she writes and works. To date she has published over a dozen children’s books for young readers to enjoy and I was lucky enough to be able to enjoy her two latest titles from her Busy People series.

Busy People: Astronaut by Lucy M. George

Busy People

My newest book, Dragons are Real, makes an awesome read aloud! As readers turn the pages and learn the truth about Dragons, they will see that the fiercest beasts in known history can actually be the best of friends. It’s a lesson in finding companionship in the most unusual of places. Dragons are Real is a magical book filled with stunning illustrations and hints that dragon are indeed all around us

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Published on February 14, 2017 03:14 • 1 view

February 12, 2017

It’s almost #bookgivingday! This fun yearly event will occur on Tuesday 14th February 2017. Valentine’s Day is not the only thing happening on February 14th! Yes we’re giving ourselves a little book love to celebrate International Book Giving Day. International Book Giving Day takes place on February 14th each year. Our aim is to get books into the hands of as many children as possible.

With huge thanks to Marianne Dubuc, the Book Giving Day Team has 3 translated versions of her International Book Giving Day poster.

French? Spanish? Italian? They’ve got you covered! Go here to locate this adorable poster in other languages.

International Book Giving Day is a 100% volunteer initiative aimed at increasing children’s access to and enthusiasm for books.

Most children in developing countries do not own books.

In the United Kingdom, one-third of children do not own books.

In the United States, two-thirds of children living in poverty do not own books.

In addition, we encourage people to support the work of nonprofit organizations (i.e. charities) that work year round to give books to children, such as Room to Read (international), Books for Africa (international), Book Aid International (international), The Book Bus (international), First Book (U.S.), Reading is Fundamental (U.S.), Reach Out and Read (U.S.), Pratham Books (India), Indigenous Literacy Foundation (Australia), The Footpath Library (Australia), Nal’ibali (South Africa) and Duffy Books in Homes (New Zealand).

International Book Giving Day has continued to grow & grow. In past years, International Book Giving Day was celebrated by people in Australia, Canada, South Africa, France, India, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, the Philippines, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States, Germany, Nigeria, Nicaragua, Brazil, Egypt, Poland, Greece, Portugal, Mexico, Macedonia, Malawi, Hungary, Malaysia, Israel, Denmark, Thailand, Indonesia, Jordan, China, Puerto Rico and Bulgaria. We hope that people around the world will think about the best ways to help children in need in their communities.


Seven Simple Ways to Celebrate International Book Giving Day!

1. Give a Book to a Friend or Relative: Celebrate International Book Giving Day by giving a child a new, used or borrowed book.

2. Leave a Book in a Waiting Room or Lobby: Choose a waiting room where kids are stuck waiting and there are few to no good books available.

3. Donate a Book: Wrap up a box of children’s books that your kids have outgrown.

 4. Do Double Duty: Have a child include books along with their Valentine’s day festivities at school by giving a book with their Valentines Cards.

5. Think Out of the Box When Donating: Donate your books to your local second hand store, library, children’s hospital, or shelter. Another place would be the Books for Africa project. Books for Africa is inviting people to donate directly to:

6. Write About it and Spread the Word: If you are a blogger, write a post promoting it and add the Book Giving Day badge to your blog.  Spread the word!

7. Embellish: Print off some of these adorable bookplates from Book Giving Day artists and spread the word that way.


International Book Give Day

I decided to add an element of fun with my book giving and created these easey peasey bookmarks to share.


You Will Need:

Paint sample strips
Heart punch
Round paper punch
Colorful ribbon has some great downloadable ones you can color yourself (good for adults and kids!)

What are YOU doing to celebrate?


My book A Year in the Secret Garden has won a Gold Level Mom’s Choice Award! Let’s CELEBRATE!

If you are looking for wonderful crafting activities, cooking project the whole family can participate in and character studies that help readers delve deeper into important characters like Mary, Dr. Craven, Colin, Ben Weatherstaff, Martha and Mrs. Metlock, this book is for you.

Mom's Choice Award Sale

Readers, parents, teachers and librarians can grab their copy of A Year in the Secret Garden on the A Year in the Secret Gardenwebsite and on Amazon.

The post Let’s Get Ready for International Book Giving Day! (2-14-17) appeared first on Jump Into A Book.

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Published on February 12, 2017 05:36 • 19 views

February 9, 2017

 A Great Smokey Mountain Booklist

Many of the long-time readers of JIAB already know that my home is nestled in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains; just a few miles from the entrance to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Throughout the year my family and friends and I spend many hours in the park enjoying all of the natural beauty. One of my many favorite places to visit is Elkmont.

Elkmont is a region situated in the upper Little River Valley of the Great Smoky Mountains of Sevier County, in the U.S. state of Tennessee. Throughout its history, the valley has been home to a pioneer Appalachian community, a logging town, and a resort community. Today, Elkmont is home to a large campground, ranger station, and historic district maintained by the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.


Now in disrepair, the deep history or this beautiful place is the perfect place to let your story-telling imagination run wild, or just spend some time soaking up the gorgeous scenery, relaxing and indulging in some “porch sittin’.”

My beloved state and area has also inspired many, many wonderful books about The Great Smokey Mountains. Here are a few of my favorites:

Black mountain Black Mountain Express. A Smoky Mountain Bedtime Tale by R.W. Wells

Two young boys discover more about themselves while discovering the world around them in an effort to solve mysteries, myths and legends. Black Mountain Express is filled with intrigue and adventure, with magic, mischief and mayhem as well.



Coat of many colors Coat of Many Colors  by Dolly Parton

Miss Dolly Parton lives amongst us in these hills we call home. Our mountains set the stage for the story about Dolly Parton’s mom and how she took a box of scraps to make a coat for her sweet girl aka Dolly. The young girl is so proud of her coat but the kids at school make fun of her for having a coat made of rags. From the love her mother had sewn into the coat had given the girl the strength and confidence to deal with this unkind situation.

Here’s the back story to Miss Dolly. She is one of the kindest and most generous women I’ve ever met. She has single handedly greeted each child who is born in the state of Tennessee with 5 books a year for the first five years of their lives. She understands that many homes cannot afford books or have a reading tradition. Children can be enrolled in the hospitals they are born in or on-line.

She also supports her hometown of Sevierville Tennessee by paying 5 college scholarships every year to seniors at Sevierville High.

 She has provided hundreds of jobs for her once depressed local economy by converting an old amusement park into Dollywood. She has many businesses in the area and looks to hire local first. She has greatly cared for her community.

Christy Christy by Catherine Marshall

Christy Huddleston leaves her privileged life to teach in the impoverished Smoky Mountains. Her deep faith carries her through many trials and tests. It’s here that she falls in love, learns the way of the mountain people, and leads a simple but fulfilling life. This story is based on the of author Catherine Marshall’s mother. The T.V. series was filmed in Townsend, which is right next door to my little town.



OnTopOfSmoky On Top of Old Smoky (A Collection of Songs and Stories) by Ronald Kidd

This book has a really fun design. This book gives an experience of living in the Appalachian Mountains through songs and stories. There isn’t really specific information about the smoky mountains but a lot of fun is to be had by reading the stories and singing the songs. This book is one of our favorites.


Smoky mountain rose Smoky Mountain Rose: An Appalachian Cinderella Story by Alan Schroeder & Brad Sneed

This version takes Perrault’s original and lands it smack in the middle of the Smoky Mountains. This is what we call a “pass around”. It’s so fun to read, everyone wants a turn. It is completely written in dialect and has it’s own unique touches to the story. The artwork by Brad Sneed is priceless and really adds so much character to the book. This was one of the first books we read when we knew we were moving here. It’s really fun to read with a very thick southern accent.


Watersnakesyearsigned2H%20(2) A Water Snake’s Year by Doris Gove

We had the pleasure of having Doris Gove as our visiting author a few years back. This is a beautiful look at the year in the life of a Northern Water Snake. We follow her from her winter hibernation in the ground through her life cycle to the next hibernation the following year. This book has so much information about how a snake survives and has to change living places due to bad weather. The illustrations are beautiful and greatly add to the story.


Troublesome cubs Troublesome Cubs  by Lisa Horstman

This is a true story about a bear cub who fell asleep in a dumpster and got picked up by a garbage truck. Lisa Horstman not only wrote the story but she brought it to life with her wonderful illustrations.Written in delightful rhyme, the story has a happy ending and some important lessons to protect wildlife.


Salamanders Great Smoky Mountain Salamander Ball Lisa Horstman

One day a young girl visiting the Smoky Mountains spies a salamander heading off to the ball. This is a great story with wonderful illustrations.



Orient Orient – Hero Dog of the Appalachian Trail –by Tom McMahon

Orient was the guide dog of the first blind man to hike the 2,000 Appalachian Trail: his journey from puppy to guide dog. After reading this book we had such a great appreciation for guide dogs and the people they serve. a wonderfully written story.


Perfect christmas tree The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree: An Appalachian Story by Gloria Houston & Barbara Cooney

The Armistice has been declared, but still there is no sign of Ruthie’s father in their little Appalachian town. So, in accordance with the traditions of Pine Grove, it falls to Ruthie and her mother to bring home the perfect Christmas tree to donate to the town. Ruthie had accompanied her father to the rocky cliff where he marked a tree in the spring, so she and her mother set out to find it again, and haul it home. Their trip becomes the basis overnight of a new town legend; Ruthie, chosen for the role of the heavenly angel in the the church Christmas play, finds herself outfitted in a made-over wedding dress of the finest silk another “miracle” wrought by her hardworking mother.



Thunder Thunder on the Tennessee by G. Clifton Wisler

Willie dreams of honor and glory as he goes to fight the North with his dad. He is outfitted in a dashing uniform to help defend the banks of the Tennessee River. The young boy is completely unprepared for the horrors of war and the terrible sacrifices his family will have to make. The book is very detailed in the battle scenes. Men and boys would enter the war laughing only to have a change of heart after the first battle.



Sequoyah Sequoyah: The Cherokee Man who Gave His People Writing by James Rumford

This is a great read aloud non-fiction book. During their California vacation many questions arise about why the Giant Sequoias are named that and who was Seqouyah anyway? He was the inventor of the Cherokee alphabet and ran a newspaper for his tribe. They were the first native american tribe to become literate in their own language first.

Along with very nice illustrations are the accompanying Cherokee text right next to the english text. By the end of this book you have a wonderful experience of the man and his language.

Origin of the milky way The Origin of the Milky Way and Other Living Stories of the Cherokees by Barbara R. Duncan

Cherokee people have lived in the Great Smoky Mountains for thousands of years. During all this time, they have told stories to each other to explain how things came to be, to pass on lessons about life, and to describe the mountains, animals, plants, and spirits around them. The Origin of the Milky Way and Other Living Stories of the Cherokee collects 26 stories that are great for kids and are still being told by storytellers today.

Presented by members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in their own words, the stories appear in free-verse form, like poems on the page, so that if you read them aloud, you can hear the rhythm of the stories as they were originally told. Barbara R. Duncan provides a helpful introduction that describes Cherokee people’s past and present ways of life and their storytelling.

My First Book about Tennessee (The Tennessee Experience)

This reproducible book is an introduction to your great state. Kids will learn about their state history, geography, presidents, people, places, nature, animals, and much more by completing these enriching activities.



What’s Great About Tennessee? (Our Great States)

What’s so great about Tennessee? Find out the top ten sites to see or things to do in the Volunteer State! Explore Tennessee’s wilderness, mountains, country music, and rich history. The Tennessee by Map feature shows where you’ll find all the places covered in the book. A special section provides quick state facts such as the state motto, capital, population, animals, foods, and more. Take a fun-filled tour of all there is to discover in Tennessee.


Did I miss any? I know the last time I visited the Sugarland Visitors Center, the shelves of the gift shop was bursting with amazing books that I am dying to read.

****Some of these links are affiliate links. That means if you click and buy, I may get a very small commission. This money goes towards postage and supplies to keep books and ideas in the hands of young readers!


The day has come! The much-anticipated release of Ascension by Hannah Rials is finally HERE!

Enter this world of vampires, set in the south, and realize you are being pulled in more—and deeper—with each page.


Steeped in the mystery, intrigue and rich history of New Orleans and the secretive world of the Deuxsang, teen vampire, Cheyenne, and her forbidden love, Eli, embark on a very different, and vastly more dangerous, journey as the net of betrayal tightens around them. This intense and fresh novel is enchanting, engrossing and impossible to put down right up to the cliffhanger ending. Remember, the end is not the end.

What an extraordinary debut novel with new and intriguing twists on vampires—a strong female protagonist as one. I already can’t wait for book two.-Jill Murphy Long, author of The Conduit

This book is by the far the BEST YA/Adult fiction that I’ve read in a very long while. So exciting!-Rebecca F

The wait is over-Ascension is here! Thrilling and entertaining, like the experience on a crazy roller coaster. Hannah has grown into the most amazing writer. Watching her journey has been as much fun as holding the book in my hands. A “must read” for YA and thriller fans!-Valarie B


Grab your copy of Ascension HERE and visit Hannah on Facebook, Twitter and on her website.

The post Kidlit picks from my own home turf: A Great Smoky Mountain #booklist appeared first on Jump Into A Book.

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Published on February 09, 2017 19:55 • 29 views

February 5, 2017

Welcome to Weekend Links! This is the time where I share the best-of-the-best of all of all the amazing booklists, topics and resources that I have discovered via my Internet travels throughout the week.

This last week I’ve noticed that the topic of reading aloud to kids is a hot one.

Maybe it’s because World Read Aloud Day is coming up (Feb 16th)

World Read Aloud Day

Or maybe because Scholastic was kind enough to let me repost and share their Kids & Family Reading Report, 6th edition, on JIAB and much of this new report spoke of the importance of reading out loud to kids.

This year, key findings include the growth of reading aloud to young children, inequities around access to books, a look at diversity in children’s books, and a focus on reading attitudes and behaviors of African-American and Hispanic families as well as parents’ list of books/series every child should read, kids’ favorite books, and summer reading. To read and access the full report go HERE or click the image below.

Scholastic Kids & Family Reading Report

Bottom line; reading at any age is soooo important. I recently found some great articles that reinforce this fact so I will post them here for you to read and enjoy:

Why Keep Reading Aloud in the 5th Grade? Monique at Living Life and Learning offers up a great perspective.

Reading Aloud

@NerdyBookClub Parenting, Bonding, and Reading Aloud by Jenny Houlroyd

@NerdyBookClub Reading Aloud by Debbie Shoulders

TOP TEN Read-Aloud Books for Students with Special Needs by Aimee Owens

Slow Reading Family Style by…ME!

reading aloud

Read Aloud to Ignite a World of Possibility at Huffington Post


Here are some booklist ideas as well

You Clever Monkey’s

Why Reading Aloud Matters

Intentional Homeschooling has 13 Read Aloud Books for Grade One.

50 Memorable Read-Aloud Books for Kids from KCEdventures

Do you read aloud in your family? Which books are the best for reading aloud?

Looking for more ways to not only get your youngsters reading, but get them OUTSIDE as well? Enjoy more month-by-month activities based on the classic children’s tale, The Secret Garden! A Year in the Secret Garden is a delightful children’s book with over 120 pages, with 150 original color illustrations and 48 activities for your family and friends to enjoy, learn, discover and play with together. AND, it’s on sale for a limited time! Grab your copy ASAP and “meet me in the garden!” More details HERE!

A Year in the Secret Garden

The post Weekend Links: Why Reading Aloud Matters appeared first on Jump Into A Book.

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Published on February 05, 2017 07:26 • 1 view

February 1, 2017

Today, Scholastic released the latest research from the newest Kids & Family Reading Report, 6th edition. We learned what kids – and parents – want in books, as well as kids need for more guidance on books to read for fun.

 For 10 years, this nationally representative research from Scholastic has surveyed kids ages 6-17 and their parents (with an additional sample of parents with children ages 0–5) around attitudes and behaviors about reading books for fun.

 This year, key findings include the growth of reading aloud to young children, inequities around access to books, a look at diversity in children’s books, and a focus on reading attitudes and behaviors of African-American and Hispanic families as well as parents’ list of books/series every child should read, kids’ favorite books, and summer reading.

The full report for the Scholastic Kids & Family Reading Report is live here:

Scholastic Reading Report

  Top things EVERY parent needs to know about kids’ reading:


Parents underestimate that kids need help finding books. Only 29% of parents agree “my child has trouble finding books he/she likes” whereas 41% of kids say finding books they like is a challenge – this percentage of kids increases to 57% among infrequent readers (reads less than one day a week) in comparison to 26% of frequent readers (reads 5-7 days a week).


What do kids and parents want in books? When looking for children’s books to read for fun, both kids (37%) and parents (42%) most agree they “just want a good story” and a similar percentage want books that make kids laugh. Over 1 in 10 (13%) kids (ages 12-17) say they specifically look for books that have “culturally or ethnically diverse storylines, settings or characters.”


What does “diversity” mean to parents in children’s books? Overall, parents with kids ages 0-17 provide a wide variety of defining “diversity” featuring different experiences, backgrounds, religions and more.


Good news! Reading aloud has grown as a practice at home. More than 3 out of 4 parents (77%) with kids ages 0‒5 start reading aloud before age one. This significantly increased to 40% in 2016 from 30% in 2014. Research also found the number of times parents read aloud to their kids also increased from 2014, with 62% of parents reading to kids ages 3-5 about 5-7 days a week in comparison to 55% in 2014.


Top books EVERY child should read: Parents told us the books or series they felt all children should read and they include: Harry Potter, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, The Magic Tree House, Dr. Seuss and Chronicles of Narnia.


Methodology, In Brief

Results of the Kids & Family Reading Report are from a nationally representative survey with a total sample size of 2,718 parents and children, including 632 parents of children ages 0–5; 1,043 parents of children ages 6–17; plus one child age 6–17 from the same household, conducted from September 19, 2016 through October 10, 2016. The research was managed by YouGov. For the full methodology, see

Scholastic Reading Report

One More Thing- Be sure and check out our robust and extensive Diversity Book Lists & Resources for Teachers and Parents!

Diversity booklists for teachers

The post Scholastic Shares their newest Kids & Family Reading Report, 6th edition appeared first on Jump Into A Book.

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Published on February 01, 2017 10:16 • 2 views

January 31, 2017

Happy New Year! There are hints of snow in our forecast and I’ve talked to many friends in various parts of the world who are knee-deep in the stuff. Whether its the first snow, or the last, these natural acts are always filled with much anticipation.

Winter is just beginning now, but before we know it, Spring will be on everyone’s thoughts and the last. Even then there will be changes of surprise snowfall that will leave the Spring daffodils peeking out from under the snowflakes. All of this reminds me of a book I use to read to my girls when they were small called,”The Last Snow of Winter.” by Tony Johnston and Frisco Henstra.


It’s about an artist, Gaston Pompicard, who once worked for Kings. During the first snow of Winter he went outside and sculpted the likenesses of the neighborhood children in the snow. Everyone in the billage enjoyed this so much. They couldn’t wait to see who was next.



Soon winter would be over, and just like today, the last snowfall of winter finally came. When it did, poor Gaston was in bed sick with a cold. To cheer him up, this group of grateful children left their sculptor friend the last gift of winter.


As Gaston always says,” A sculptor for kings is a fine thing to be. But a sculptor for friends is finer.”

Something To Do:

In the book Gaston prepares and eats pea soup. I don’t know about you, but I’m not a pea soup lover so I made a big pot of lentil-vegetable soup. It’s so easy to make. Enjoy this last day of winter and happy spring.


What’s Needed~

2 cups of french lentils
2 chopped yellow onions
2 cloves of minced garlic
3 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon of ground black pepper
1 teasponn of dried thyme or a few stalks of fresh
1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin
3 stalks of diced celery
2 long carrots,peeled and diced
32 oz of chicken stock
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

In a pot cover the lentils with water,bring to a boil and let cook for about 15 minutes. Drain the water off.

In a large soup pot saute the onions and garlic with the olive oil,salt, pepper,cumin and thyme for about 20 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.

Add the celery and carrots and saute for 10 more minutes.

Add the tomato paste and let it cook for about 40 seconds and then add the chicken stock and lentils.

Cover this with a lid until it comes to a boil.

Once the soup is boiling, uncover it and let it cook for about an hour until all of the lentils and vegetables are cooked through.

Once finished,add the red wine vinegar and serve hot.




Enjoy more month-by-month activities based on the classic children’s tale, The Secret Garden! A Year in the Secret Garden is a delightful children’s book with over 120 pages, with 150 original color illustrations and 48 activities for your family and friends to enjoy, learn, discover and play with together.


Whimsical author/illustrator Marilyn Scott-Waters and I created this book to not only encourage families to read and participate in some “unplugged” activities, but to also delve into the beauty and the wonder of this classic children’s tale. Get the full scoop on this vibrant book HERE and “meet me in the garden!”



The post The Last Snow of Winter (and a book-inspired soup recipe!) appeared first on Jump Into A Book.

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Published on January 31, 2017 02:21 • 1 view

January 29, 2017

Promoting and having conversations about kindness is at the top of everyone’s minds these day after a nerve-wracking and “interesting” 2016.

Having conversations is great, but parents, teachers, caregivers, community leaders and law makers need to make this very special noun and make it into a verb. Actions, follow-through, leadership and projects, that take the act of showing our world kindness from simply a verbal idea to a physical one, is the next step and being kind and spreading that act throughout our homes, schools, communities and world.

Here are some great ideas and examples of those who are making KINDNESS a verb. Enjoy!

Brainerd Police Department Offers Relief From Cold Temperatures Through Giving Tree


Think Kindness has 11 Great Family Kindness Ideas

Kindness activities

15 Inspiring Kindness Trees Found In Schools


David McPhail Inspired Activities {Virtual Book Club for Kids Blog Hop}

Pennies of Time has a great activity and Object Lesson on Acts of Kindness


Kindness Activity-The Ripple Effect Experiment

Now more than ever, a message of hope, compassion, empathy and understanding is needed.

Now more than ever, we need to come together as a nation of beautifully diverse people and encourage and implement KINDESS.

Kindness is word that many of us are hearing more and more thanks to a concerning, tense and sometimes scary 2016. It something we all as humans need to be mindful or especially when it comes to being role models for kids. As always, encouraging and teaching kindness to children starts at home and in the classroom.

Powerhouse Children’s Publishing Company, Scholastic, has noted that books and activities that promote kindness will be a key trend in 2017.

What will you do to instigate KINDNESS in your life?


TEACHERS…are you

Looking for Kindness Classroom books and activities for your students?
Multicultural Children’s Book Day’s Downloadable Kindness Classroom Kit for Educators, Caregivers and Homeschoolers is OUR gift to YOU.

Our FREE Classroom Kindness Kit from Multicultural Children’s Book Day includes:

– Diversity Kindness books for ages 4-12

– Classroom Kindness activities, both quick and project based

– Be A Hero Be Kind poster by Jarrett J. Krosoczka

– Multicultural Children’s Book Day poster by DEMI

Go here to download and Be Kind, Be a Hero today!

The post Weekend Links: Ways to Make “Kindness” a Verb appeared first on Jump Into A Book.

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Published on January 29, 2017 03:48 • 1 view

January 28, 2017

Another Multicultural Children’s Book Day has come and gone and again, I am happy to say the event was a huge success!

Every year (for the last 4) on January 27th we celebrate all of the great diversity and multicultural Children’s books out there. I am a little late in getting these two reviews posted from 2017 Sponsor, Candlewick, posted…but it’s been busy her at JIAB Headquarters!

First, a little about the publisher. Candlewick is committed to making the world a better place as well as providing over 200 beautiful and diverse book titles a year. They have both their readers and the environment as their main focus to creating beautiful books in a sustainable way.

Today I have two really special reads. The first is Green Pants by Kenneth Kraegel and the second is Bronze and Sunflower by Cao Wenxuan .

Green Pants

green pants

Jameson only wears his green pants. He wears them everywhere and when he wears them, there is nothing he can’t do. The only problem is, if he wants to be in his cousins wedding, he’ll have to take off those green pants and wear black ones instead with his tuxedo.

Faced with an impossible decision of being in his cousins wedding or wearing green pants, Jameson finds a solution that will make everyone happy.

This book made me laugh out loud and reminded me of my own little girl who wore her patent leather shoes everywhere, even to bed.

Kenneth Kraegel has a magical talent of bringing the character of Jameson to life in a relatable fashion with not only his engaging photos but his fun loving illustrations. On another note Kraegel shows a deep respect for Jameson has his quirks and world views. He shows a patient mother who sets firm but gentle boundaries between wearing black pants and wearing green pants while respecting her son’s feelings the entire time.

This book is a great lesson in respecting individuality while respecting others and their wishes at the same time. A beautiful story that will capture the heart.

“Kenneth Kraegel is the author-illustrator of the picture books The Song of Delphine and King Arthur’s Very Great Grandson, which was a New York Times Notable Book and a Wall Street Journal Best Book of the Year. He lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan.”

Bronze and Sunflower


I was thrilled to receive this book. Back in April 2016 author Cao Wenxuan won the Hans Christian Andersen prize for children’s literature. This is awarded every year to an author who has made an impact on their national culture. Meaning they are a household name in the country they’re from. I had heard of Cao Wenxuan and even seen his books at various book festivals but they were always in Chinese. How excited I was to discover the Candlewick Press has published and english version of Bronze and Sunflower.

This book has a gentle pace which took me a chapter to work through. But please stay with the book through until you capture the flow of it. When that happens we end up in a captivating rural world in China, facing the challenges and dilemmas that faced those people at that time. Wenxuan expertly lets us in through the eyes of two children Bronze and Sunflower.

After a traumatic fire, Bronze became a mute, he simply couldn’t speak. Sunflower arrived from the city during the cultural revolution. Her mother had died and her father left her by herself while he toiled in the fields during the day and had to attend political party meetings at night.

Sunflower knew Bronze as the boy across the river. They would sit and stare, wave, and acknowledge each other from across the river.

One day Sunflower’s father dies in a storm leaving her a complete orphan. The people at the Cadre School took Sunflower to the village to be adopted by one of the families there. After much soul searching, Bronze’s family takes Sunflower in and she becomes part of their family.


The story continues with deepening the loyal bonds family hold for one another. How they come through difficult times because they work together.

I greatly appreciate the skill and mastery Wenxuan shows in telling this story from a very genuine place. He does not protect the reader from the tragedy and at times tragic human condition.

Because this book is in translation, he has a different rhythm than a usual native tongued English book. It also adds something special to the story. This book is easy to read and brings the reader gently in to this unfolding tale. I recommend it as a unique story and read. I’m so thrilled to have this book on my shelf and have greatly enjoyed the moments I’ve spent inside the pages of this book.

Somethings to Do

Writing Chinese Characters

In the story Sunflower teaches Bronze how to read and write. She hands him a stick so he can write the figures in the sand. Here’s a simple, step by step work sheet so you can try a few easy words on your own.

A Sunflower House

In the story Sunflower’s father loved sunflowers. So much so that he named his daughter after his favorite flower. He painted them when he had time and loved to just walk through them. A secondary theme in the story is Bronze’s family along with Sunflower had to rebuild their home after a terrible storm. In this activity we’re incorporating both themes. Let’s enjoy sunflowers in the shape of a house.

Sunflower Houses are very easy to build. Once it’s grown up into a house, be sure to take a few good books inside to create a cozy afternoon of reading. For instructions on how to do this have a look here.

How to Make Slippers

One of the way Bronze, Sunflower and the family raised enough money to build their new house was to make reed shoes or slippers. I imagine many of us don’t have reeds that we can pound and sew into shoes. Here’s a fabric version of the slippers. 

Bronze and Sunflower Activity Guide

Candlewick Press has put together a very insightful and meaningful classroom activity guide as a companion to this book. It’s perfect for classrooms, book clubs, and among family and friends. You can find it here. 

**some of these links are affiliate links

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The post MCBD Book Review Round-Up: Green Pants and Bronze and Sunflower appeared first on Jump Into A Book.

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Published on January 28, 2017 15:59 • 1 view

January 27, 2017

Welcome to our 4th Multicultural Children’s Book Day! Here’s how to celebrate:

Link up your diversity book reviews
Win diversity book bundles at our Twitter Party tonight! We’re giving away 100+ children’s books from 9pm to 10pm EST. RSVP here. Use hashtag: #ReadYourWorld.
Get your a copy of Read Your World: A Guide to Multicultural Children’s Books for Parents and Educators . It’s FREE today through January 31st!

Read Your World: A Guide to Multicultural Children's Books for Parents and Educators

Book Reviewers: Please link up your book reviews here. We have set up FOUR linkys so you can add your blog review based whether your review is on a BLOG, INSTAGRAM, FACEBOOK, or YOUTUBE.

Please add here:

1) BLOGGERS: Reviewers who posted on their blog, Link Up Your BLOG Posts for Multicultural Children’s Book Day Here:

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2) INSTAGRAM: Reviewers who posted on Instagram, Link Up Your INSTAGRAM Posts for Multicultural Children’s Book Day Here:

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3) FACEBOOK: Reviewers who posted on Facebook, Link Up Your FACEBOOK Posts for Multicultural Children’s Book Day Here:

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4) YOUTUBE: Reviewers who made a video on YouTube, Link Up Your YOUTUBE Posts for Multicultural Children’s Book Day Here:

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Join us tonight at the Multicultural Children’s Book Day Twitter Party! We are giving away 12 diversity children’s book bundles; one every six minutes.

Multicultural Children's Book Day Twitter Party

January 27th

9 pm to 10 pm EST

Hashtag: #ReadYourWorld

Please RSVP for Twitter Party below

All winners need to be signed up so that we can send you your book bundle.

You can see the question and book bundle prizes here.



Did you know that we published an ebook this year?!

Read Your World: A Guide to Multicultural Children's Books for Parents and Educators

Read Your World: A Guide to Multicultural Children’s Books for Parents and Educators edited by Mia Wenjen with contributors:

Alex Baugh of Randomly Reading

Amanda Boyarshinov of The Educators’ Spin On It

Valarie Budayr of Jump Into a Book

Erica Clark of What Do We Do All Day?

Rebecca Flansburg of Frantic Mommy

Anna Geiger of The Measured Mom

Svenja Gernand of Colours of Us

Michelle Goetzl of Books My Kids Read

Jennifer Hughes of The Jenny Evolution

MaryAnne Kochenderfer of Mama Smiles

Marie-Claude Leroux of Marie Pastiche

Katie Logonauts of The Logonauts

Stephanie Meade of InCulture Parent

Leanna Guillén Mora of All Done Monkey

Becky Morales of Kid World Citizen

Carrie Pericola of Crafty Moms Share

Jodie Rodriguez of Growing Book by Book

Melissa Taylor of Imagination Soup

Mia Wenjen of PragmaticMom

Katie of Youth Literature Reviews

and authors…

Uma Krishnaswami

Elsa Marston

Finally, did you get our free Classroom Kindness Kit? It includes Be a Hero Be Kind poster by Jarrett Krosoczka, a diversity kindness book list for ages 2 through 12, and classroom kindness activities.

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Need help finding a diverse book for your kids or classroom? Check out

Diversity Book Lists & Activities for Teachers and Parents
Our Diverse World Book Lists for Kids (this is a general book list)

It’s also broken out by country/geographic area:

Our Diverse World: Africa
Our Diverse World: Asia
Our Diverse World: China
Our Diverse World: Japan
Our Diverse World: Korea
Our Diverse World: India
Our Diverse World: Armenia
Our Diverse World: Australia
Our Diverse World: Latin America
Our Diverse World: Mexico
Our Diverse World: Middle East
Our Diverse World: Scandinavia

Diversity in Children’s Books Presented as Every Day (this is a book list)


Books on World Religions for Kids (this is a book list)

It’s also broken out by holiday and/or religion.

Diverse Thanksgiving Books for Kids
Diverse Christmas Books for Kids
Muslim Books for Kids
Jewish Books for Kids
Hindu Books for Kids
Buddhist Books for Kids
Confucianism & Taoism Books for Kids
Baha’i Books for Kids
Day of the Dead Books for Kids
Las Posadas Books for Kids

Seeing Yourself in Children’s Books

Special Needs Books for Kids
LGBT Book Lists for Kids of All Ages
African American Books for Kids of All Ages
American Indian Books for Kids of All Ages
Asian American Books for Kids of All Ages
Hispanic American Books for Kids of All Ages

Diversity Books By Genre

Diverse Board Books
Diverse Picture Books
Diverse Easy Readers & Early Chapter Books
Diverse Chapter Books
Diverse Biography Picture Books
Diverse Graphic Novels
Diverse Fantasy and Science Fiction for Kids
If You Like This: Read This Diversity Book for Kids
Bilingual Books for Kids

General Diversity Book Lists (this is a book list)


Thank you so much for joining us for our 4th Multicultural Children’s Book Day!!

Find more diversity, multicultural, and inclusive books on our Multicultural Children’s Book Day Pinterest Board. Follow on Pinterest to get daily updates.


The post Multicultural Children’s Book Day Reviewers: Link Up Your Reviews HERE appeared first on Jump Into A Book.

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Published on January 27, 2017 02:37 • 2 views