Author Archive

Introducing “Can I?” by Jessie Nagra and Kurt Hershey

Posted on October 9th, 2020 by Carolyn Hart

Can I by Jessie Nagra

Can I? written by Jessie Nagra and illustrated by Kurt Hershey

Generously illustrated late primary/middle-grade fiction that explores individuality, independence and acceptance published by Friesen Press

I think most parents hope their children will share (at least) some of their passions. Whether introducing kids to music, sports, books or hobbies, there is often an underlying desire to have your offspring share your enthusiasm for a band, an author, a team or an activity.

My youngest son loves team sports and we have watched him play competitive soccer, softball, basketball, volleyball and hockey. For quite some time, he played soccer and hockey concurrently. We held our breath to see what he would choose when he could no longer manage the demands of both.

Johnny’s facing a slightly different challenge. His dad eats, sleeps and breathes soccer. He is excited each and every time Johnny plays and he secretly hopes to coach the team. Ready with suggestions for improvement, Dad wears a team tracksuit and whistle to each of Johnny’s games.

Johnny’s soccer coach is loud and angry. The team is on a losing streak and the lopsided score is not helping his mood. Johnny’s not having fun either but is hesitant to tell his soccer-fan father.

“Dad….I don’t like soccer. I don’t want to play it anymore.”

Generously illustrated, with engaging illustrations and text, Can I? explores themes of independence, individuality and acceptance — especially within families. Sharing with a child or children will offer up a golden opportunity for thoughtful discussion about independence and freedom to pursue one’s interests and passions.

Available in paperback, hardcover and e-reader formats.

Can I? at Amazon.com

Can I? at Amazon.ca

Introducing Tammy Kersey, picture book author

Posted on September 24th, 2020 by Carolyn Hart

Tammy Kersey is the author of What the Dickens?!?!:  The Tale of a Rascally Pup

Tammy Kersey is a children’s picture book author and founder of Tale Wagger Stories, an online inspirational resource that she hopes to build for parents who seek to empower and instil confidence in their young children. Her focus on the empowerment of children at a young age grew out of personal experience with unemployment and the realization that she had not been taking charge of her own destiny. A very active five months of exploring career options, publishing LinkedIn articles, experimenting with children’s stories, and doing some good, honest soul searching led to a surprising truth: she was free to write her own story. The idea was invigorating and empowering. She wanted to share it with others and chose the path of helping parents use storytime to build their children’s confidence, teach them to question, share opinions and ultimately take control in shaping their own lives. Tammy’s first book, What the Dickens?!?!: The Tale of a Rascally Pup, launched in April 2020 and she currently has a second book almost ready for editing. Tammy has worked as a marketing professional for most of her career and has a degree in History from The College of William and Mary where she met her husband, Ian. They live in Williamsburg, VA and have two adult children, Emily and Andrew. Tammy’s real-life four-legged inspirations are Oscar, Felix and Tristan.

Website URL https://TaleWaggerStories.com

Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/TaleWaggerStories/

Pinterest https://www.pinterest.com/TaleWaggerStories/

What is the title of your latest published children’s book?

What the Dickens?!?!:  The Tale of a Rascally Pup / A children's picture book

What the Dickens?!?!: The Tale of a Rascally Pup

Who do you think should read it? What are you most proud of? 

I think children 3 to 8 are the perfect audience, but I do have fans covering a broader age range. Grandmas especially like this book. And puppy lovers. I think I am most proud of the rhythm and meter of the verse, which makes it fun to read and more appealing for young children.

What the Dickens?!?!: The Tale of a Rascally Pup at Amazon.com

What the Dickens?!?!: The Tale of a Rascally Pup at Amazon.ca

If we were watching over your shoulder as you work on a book, what would we see? Where do you work? What does your writing process look like?

Well, that would be embarrassing! I write in a nice, bright upstairs bedroom where I have set up a desk/work area. You would likely see me reading and re-reading phrases and sections as I’m writing. You might see a bit of choir directing, as I’m working through the meter of a story. And you would likely see me laughing out loud when I hit on something funny. I definitely remember having a good laugh when I wrote about Grandma’s lips disappearing. You’ll have to read the story.

What are the joys of being an author? What do you derive your greatest pleasure from?

The most rewarding part of this experience has been the reactions from children. I have received several priceless pictures of young children reacting to the book. I have a 4th grader who told her mom that she was going to follow me for the rest of her life because I liked to write my own books. There are just no words that can fully describe seeing and hearing their joy.

Have any of your books been published electronically? If so, what was that process like? What sort of feedback have you had from readers?

My first book, What the Dickens?!?!: The Tale of a Rascally Pup, has been published in both Kindle and EPub versions. We did have to make a few file adjustments from the print versions, but I was fortunate to have someone to help navigate this part of the publishing journey. It was fairly straightforward and I viewed it as another step in my overall process. Feedback from readers has been great so far. You can see the reviews on Amazon!

If you weren’t an author, what sort of work do you envision yourself doing? Have you had other careers or do you have another career now?

I actually do have a day job! I am a Sales and Marketing Manager for a product design and manufacturing company. We create a wide range of product, from beautiful commemorative museum ornaments, sculpts and ceramics to wild and zany troll dolls. There’s never a dull moment!

If you could dine with any author/illustrator (alive or dead), who would you choose and why?

Amy Krouse Rosenthal! I am in awe of what she accomplished. Her books (a few favorites are I Wish You More, Dear Girl, and Duck! Rabbit!) are so simple and beautiful in their words and message. And the relationship that she developed with her readers was unique and personal. I can only imagine what more she would have accomplished with more time.

(Read elsewhere on our site about Exclamation Mark and This Plus That: Life’s Little Equations by Amy Krouse Rosenthal)

Do you do school or library presentations?

I am available for school and library presentations in a 150 mile radius of the Tidewater Virginia area, or classroom Zoom calls anywhere (these work especially well currently!). My first Zoom call was with a Kindergarten class in Kansas. I love to do a story reading along with a confidence/creativity building activity and/or a Q&A on writing and publishing a book. Kids have great questions on this topic!


We are thrilled to introduce author/illustrator Scot Ritchie

Posted on August 27th, 2020 by Carolyn Hart

Photo of author illustrator Scot Ritchie

Scot Ritchie is an award-winning illustrator and author with more than 65 books to his credit.

His books have been translated into French, Korean, Indonesian, Polish, Finnish, Arabic and Dutch. Scot has worked with the National Film Board of Canada and has had his illustrations exhibited at the National Gallery of Canada. He lives in Vancouver, Canada.

Connect with Scot online –

Link to author/illustrator website

Author/illustrator Instagram: scot.ritchie

Check out Scot’s outstanding artwork here

Tell us about your latest published book

Lilliana and the Frogs by Scot Ritchie

Lilliana and the Frogs is published by Harbour Publishing. I wrote it for kids who love nature or kids who need more nature. So that pretty much includes everyone. I’m most proud that it conveys, in a playful way, a message of respecting and enjoying nature.

Lilliana and the Frogs at Amazon.com

Lilliana and the Frogs at Amazon.ca

Who is your favorite author now? Why do you connect with this particular author and his/her work?

Patricia Highsmith is my favourite author. She is a straightforward, clean writer – something that is a good fit for kids books. I have to include my favourite illustrator – Sempé. His work is very low key but always with a wry sense of humour.

When did you realize that you would be a writer/illustrator? Is there a particular person who has inspired and/or supported your work along the way?

After illustrating a number of books I decided to try writing my own stories. There were two motivations, one artistic and one practical. Artistically it felt natural to create the other half of a children’s book. But behind that publishing was going through some lean years and I knew I could increase my income by writing. It’s worth mentioning that being able to do both really is a gift because you are seeing what you are writing and, hopefully then, not over writing. The person who was the biggest influence on me was Sheila Barry. She was smart, kind, funny and reassuring.

If we were watching over your shoulder as you work on a book, what would we see? Where do you work? What does your writing / illustrating process look like?

The kernel of an idea can come from something I see. Sometimes I start with rough sketches. Or, as in the case of my newest book, Lilliana and the Frogs, the story comes first. This story developed from something I did as a little boy mixed in with my passion for nature. Writing is a combination of typing, having a coffee, going for a walk on the seawall, returning for a coffee and a sit… then doing it all again. Sometimes walking can be the most helpful. I don’t necessarily think about the story. In fact, I often park it in the back of my head and let that part of my mind do some sorting. Another vital part of the process is putting it away for a week or two so that it’s fresh when I look again. I have also recently discovered the joys of working with a good editor. It’s so useful to have an outside view, especially somebody who knows the world of kids books. Drawing for me is the most fun part and it usually comes after I’ve got a good grasp of the story. By then I know the characters and locations. Sometimes I will do thumbnails for the whole book beforehand but often not. After 60 some books I can pretty well map it out in my head.

What are the joys of being an author/illustrator? What do you derive your greatest pleasure from?

Not to get too philosophical but I think being able to find things inside you and express them is a pretty nice gift. You’re left with a book that people can enjoy and you also discover aspects of yourself you may not have known were there. I love that ‘Lilliana and the Frogs’ just might excite some kids to get out to the pond and snoop around. And to top it all off, it seems to me that people in the children’s publishing business are pretty nice all round.

If you weren’t an author/illustrator, what sort of work do you envision yourself doing? Have you had other careers or do you have another career now?

I’ve been freelancing as an artist or writer for my whole life. I often joke it helps if you only have one skill, that way you sink or swim. If I was to do something else I’m a nature lover and especially fascinated by the amazing world of insects. Plus I’m an avid traveller so let’s say my ideal (alternate) job would be studying beetles in Greece.

Introducing Malcolm Harris, author of The Golden Crown, a Shubby and the Mammacs Adventure

Posted on July 16th, 2020 by Carolyn Hart

Malcolm Harris has written two books, The Golden Crown, a Shubby and the Mammacs Adventure, a junior edition of his children’s picture book and a memoir titled, A Mere Mortal.

Author Malcolm Harris

Thinking back to your own childhood, is there a particular author or illustrator who was a favorite? Why do you suppose that person’s work resonated with you?

My parents bought me very few books, so I have no recall of any author impacting upon me at that age. My inspiration has been my daughter, now 30, who provided the idea for my first children’s picture book when she was 3 years of age.

Who is your favorite author now? Why do you connect with this particular author and his/her work?

I thoroughly enjoy reading Michael Palin’s diaries. I also read a lot of memoirs recommended on We Love Memoirs group on Facebook. Palin is both intelligent and humorous.

Author website

Twitter: @malharrisauthor

Facebook page

Was it difficult for you to get your first book published? What suggestions/words of encouragement do you have for aspiring authors?

Like everyone else, it took me an age to approach countless agencies. I decided on self-publication. I don’t feel that this has hindered my success such as it is, but it does mean you have a lot of self-promotion to do if you want to make your book a success.

How do you stay connected with your readers? Have you gone on book tours? Do you engage on social media or through a website?

Most of my contact comes through Facebook and my website. I belong to several Facebook groups, in particular, We Love Memoirs. This is a group of like-minded readers and authors, and touted as the friendliest group on Facebook. I was about to conduct a library talk when covid intervened.

If you weren’t an author, what sort of work do you envision yourself doing? Have you had other careers or do you have another career now?

Well, I am a retired local authority officer, so work is now hobby-based. I love photography, and publish the occasional picture through Shutterstock, having had a studio in the dim and distant past. I also worked on commercial radio and took part in several stage shows and plays. My book, A Mere Mortal, tells the story in full!

The Golden Crown, a Shubby and the Mammacs Adventure by Malcolm Harris

Who do you think should read The Golden Crown, a Shubby and the Mammacs Adventure? What are you most proud of? 

My children’s book is aimed at infants between the ages of 2 and 4, written simply is easy to follow language and super coloured illustrations.

The original version of Shubby and the Mammacs is aimed at 4 to 7-year-olds as a night-time reader and aid to first self-reading.

SHUBBY AND THE MAMMACS: The Golden Crown at Amazon.com

SHUBBY AND THE MAMMACS: The Golden Crown at Atmazon.ca

Introducing Judy Hilgemann, author/illustrator of The Great Grizzlies Go Home

Posted on July 9th, 2020 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts profiles author Judy Hilgemann.

Judy Hilgemann has always lived in coastal British Columbia. She grew up on northern Vancouver Island, studied and lived in various Canadian cities, then settled on Haida Gwaii. She paints in watercolour, acrylic, and encaustic.

The rugged west coast wilderness, the local character of coastal communities, and the details of the natural world, are her inspirations. Whenever possible, she creates plein-air watercolour paintings in nature, and then works up larger paintings from the studies, back in her studio.

Be sure to visit Judy Hilgemann’s website to view some of her illustrations, including murals for BC Children’s Hospital and for the Haida Gwaii Literacy Poster Project.

Follow Judy on Twitter @judyh615

Judy’s first illustrated children’s book, “B is for Basketball”, was published in the spring of 2011 and has since been used as a “Welcome To
Kindergarten” book across Canada
. Her latest book is “The Great Grizzlie Go Home”, a picture book about a true event, published by Harbour Publishing in April 2020.

The Great Grizzles Go Home is illustrated by Judy Hilgemann

Who do you think should read The Great Grizzlies Go Home? What are you most proud of? 

All ages! Am most proud of the illustrations.

The Great Grizzlies Go Home at Amazon.com

The Great Grizzlies Go Home at Amazon.ca

Was it difficult for you to get your first book published? What suggestions/words of encouragement do you have for aspiring authors/illustrators?

It was a bit difficult to get my first “trade” fiction publication. There are just so many great ideas and authors and illustrators out there – must be very hard for publishers to chose between them all. One of the encouraging things I was told, was not to give up too soon – that sometimes the book idea you are attempting is just not right for the publisher you approach. So keep trying many different publishers.

Thinking back to your own childhood, is there a particular author or illustrator who was a favorite? Why do you suppose that person’s work resonated with you?

During my childhood I loved Maurice Sendak picture books the most. I loved the magical realism, the way humans interacted with animals, and the zany imaginative characters.

When did you realize that you would be a writer/illustrator? Is there a particular person who has inspired and/or supported your work along the way?

When I was a very small child (6) I knew I wanted to be an artist. By the time I was 10 or 12 I was illustrating books for myself as I read them, making little sketches of the images that the stories put in my head. My parents encouraged me all along, as did my friends and teachers. When I was 15, I worked for a potter, as a studio-helper. One day I overheard her describing me as having “talent dripping from her fingertips”. I have never forgotten that phrase, and I have striven to honour this gift ever since.

If you weren’t an author/illustrator, what sort of work do you envision yourself doing? Have you had other careers or do you have another career now?

I have worked in many other jobs along the way, but drawing, painting, and illustrating have always been my main goal. Graphic Design was an obvious choice for first-year college, although I learned it was hard to find enough work in small northern places in that field. So I got a teaching degree which would allow me to work almost anywhere. Then life and family happened, and it’s been a wonderful blur and mix of all those things ever since.

If you could dine with any author/illustrator (alive or dead), who would you choose and why?

I would choose to dine at the home of turn-of-the-century Swedish artist, Carl Larsson because I love his work, his mastery of composition, the way he incorporated his children into his paintings, and also because I would love to go to Sweden where I have ancestors to visit!

Introducing Sari Cooper, author of The Horse of the River

Posted on July 2nd, 2020 by Carolyn Hart

Dr. Sari Cooper authored The Horse of the River
Photo credit – Marley Gillian Eisen

Sari Cooper is a doctor and writer. She has lived in Canada all her life except for an 18- month stint in Australia. She spends most of her time working as a Family Physician and looking after her own family. But she always loved writing and was able to bring her passion to life after being inspired to write The Horse of the River. The inspiration came after a horseback riding and rafting retreat while on vacation in New Zealand. There she learned about natural horsemanship and had some harrowing experiences while rafting. She currently lives in Victoria, BC.

Author website

Author Instagram account

Author Facebook page

Sari Cooper’s first published book is The Horse of the River. It is a children’s horseback riding adventure, published by Harbour Publishing.

The Horse of the River by Sari Cooper is published by Harbour Publishing

Who do you think should read The Horse of the River? What are you most proud of?

The natural audience for this book is children ages 8-12 who like adventure. But it would be enjoyable for anyone who likes middle-school-age fiction. I am most proud of the strong positive female lead, and the themes of friendship and resiliency. I also think it’s got some pretty humorous moments.

The Horse of the River: A Camp Canyon Falls Adventure (Camp Canyon Falls) at Amazon.com

The Horse of the River: A Camp Canyon Falls Adventure (Camp Canyon Falls) at Amazon.ca

Was it difficult for you to get your first book published? What suggestions/words of encouragement do you have for aspiring authors/illustrators?

Yes, it was close to 7 years from the time of completion to the time of publication. If you get rejections from all the large publishing houses, seek out the smaller ones that might have a space for a new unknown author with a story that aligns with their values. Ask people to read and provide feedback. Listen without defensiveness. Don’t be afraid to rewrite. It almost always gets better.

If we were watching over your shoulder as you work on a book, what would we see? Where do you work? What does your writing process look like?

I work where I am comfortable. Sometimes on the couch, on my bed, in my office chair. Where it’s quiet and usually when no one else is home. Writing is my side line. My work as a physician keeps me very busy, as does my family. So I grab pieces of time to write when I can. It isn’t a routine for me. It happens when I’m inspired and excited about it.

What are the joys of being an author? What do you derive your greatest pleasure from?

I genuinely get a rush when I hear from a reader that they enjoyed the book. I love hearing that they couldn’t put it down at a specific part, or when they tell me a small detail they enjoyed, which often happens to be one of my own favourite parts. When I hear from someone in my target audience I try to connect with them when appropriate. I was reviewed by a 10-year-old reader who liked the book and I sent her a signed bookmark and some stickers and a personal message through the magazine where the review was published. It was my first review from a reader in my target audience who didn’t know me personally. I would have to say my greatest pleasure as an author is simply hearing that kids are reading and enjoying my book.

What are the biggest challenges you have faced as an author?

TIME!! And distraction. Because I have a career other than writing which is both challenging and fulfilling, I often will choose downtime at the end of the day or on days off. But I’ve been more energized lately and am working to carve out time to write more.

If you weren’t an author, what sort of work do you envision yourself doing? Have you had other careers or do you have another career now?

I work as a Family Physician in Victoria, British Columbia. It’s busy and challenging work. It allows me to connect with people and it has taught me a lot about character and compassion. I suppose it informs my writing quite a bit.

Lots of Prek Learning Opportunities with the Cows Can’t Series

Posted on July 1st, 2020 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts takes a look at the Cows Can't series of books for preschool-age children

It is not often that we write about an entire series of picture books. This week, we had an opportunity to look at all of the books in the “Cows Can’t” series. We looked at the board book and paperback editions. The books are also available as ebooks and hardcovers.

The “stubby and stout” board books are a good size for small hands. The paperback editions are large enough to share in a group setting but not-too-large for young children to manage comfortably.

The series’ illustrations are a highlight, they appear to be drawn and painted on a canvas backdrop. We especially appreciated the intensity of the colors in the two later books.

Cows Can't Jump written by Dave Reisman and illustrated by Jason A. Maas

Cows Can’t Jump written by Dave Reisman and illustrated by Jason A. Maas

Picture book about animal behaviors published by Jumping Cow Press

While sharing a message that is respectful of individuality and tolerant of differences, author Dave Reisman introduces a menagerie of four-legged, winged and scaly creatures. Cows Can’t Jump features rich vocabulary very young children are unlikely to encounter in everyday conversation – “Bulls can’t slither … but they can stampede.” and “Cats can’t wallow… but they can pounce.” Sharing these books and others like them offers a terrific opportunity for vocabulary development, especially when adults “extend the learning” by talking about and even demonstrating word meanings.

The series is best-suited to preschoolers although it is worth mentioning that some children may find the random mix of farm animals, jungle animals and domestic animals surprising or confusing. For children who are concerned about animal habitats, this can be presented as adding an element of silliness to the story.

Cows Can’t Jump is also available in a bilingual edition that includes both Spanish and English: Las vacas no pueden saltar (Bilingual Spanish/English Edition of Cows Can’t Jump (Cows Can’t Series)) (Spanish Edition)

Cows Can’t Jump: Animal Actions at Amazon.com

Cows Can’t Jump: Animal Actions at Amazon.ca

Cows Can't Quack written by Dave Reisman and illustrated by Jason A. Maas

Cows Can’t Quack written by Dave Reisman and illustrated by Jason A. Maas

Picture book about animal sounds published by Jumping Cow Press

Whereas Cows Can’t Jump focussed on animal actions and verbs, Cows Can’t Quack playfully introduces animal sounds and the words we use to name them, Monkeys can’t bleat … but they can chatter.” and “Wolves can’t snort… but they can howl.”

Cows Can’t Quack: Animal Sounds at Amazon.com

Cows Can’t Quack: Animal Sounds at Amazon.ca

Cows Can’t Spin Silk (originally published in 2016) shares what woodpeckers, alligators, spiders, skunks, wasps and beavers can do.

Cows Can’t Blow Bubbles (published in 2019) introduces the engaging action words associated with peacocks, swans, pufferfish, Beluga whales, pelicans, gnats and more.

Introducing Elizabeth Jurado, Author

Posted on June 25th, 2020 by Carolyn Hart

Elizabeth Jurado is the author of Saygar the Magnificent

Elizabeth Jurado was born and raised in El Paso, Texas, a U.S. – Mexico border city. Throughout Elizabeth’s life, the American and Mexican culture merged into one, leaving an impressionable impact in her memories of the food, the language, and the Spanish folktales not heard anywhere else. Many of Elizabeth’s childhood memories are weaved into the pages of her book. Elizabeth remains in El Paso with her family and three cats.

You can connect with Elizabeth Jurado on Facebook and Goodreads

Saygar the Magnificent is written by Elizabeth Jurado

Elizabeth’s latest book is Saygar the Magnificent, a middle-grade fantasy.

Her book is intended for readers ages 8 and beyond. Saygar the Magnificent is a humorous adventure sprinkled with the Mexican culture. It is about compassion, acceptance, and the power of believing in one’s self. It’s about standing up for those who can’t stand up for themselves, overcoming difficult situations with creative non-violent solutions, and the gaining of fortitude and resilience in one’s character.

Saygar the Magnificent on Amazon.com

Saygar the Magnificent at Amazon.ca

Thinking back to your childhood, is there a particular author or illustrator who was a favorite? Why do you suppose that person’s work resonated with you?

I was such a shy girl growing up and found making friends overwhelming. I turned to the world of books to help me through those difficult days. I absolutely loved anything by Beverly Cleary and Eleanor Estes. I was drawn to their work because of their humor. Another of my favorite authors would be Roald Dahl. I was awestruck by the energy jumping off the pages of his books. I had never seen so many exclamation marks in just about every page in all his books. I was greatly influenced by these three magnificent writers!

Was it difficult for you to get your first book published? What suggestions/words of encouragement do you have for aspiring authors?

It was difficult trying to get Saygar the Magnificent published. I did the query letters to both agents and publishers and the stamped signature rejection letters were disappointing. By the beginning of 2018, I had given up. By chance, I met Lisa Caprelli of Happy and Fun Lifestyle, LLC who decided to give me the opportunity I had been looking for. I published Saygar the Magnificent in 2019, and I’m currently working on Saygar the Superhero. To all aspiring authors, don’t give up. Concentrate on writing the best book you can and work with a professional editor. Then, you will be ready when that opportunity shows up!

What are the biggest challenges you have faced as an author?

My biggest challenges have been getting used to being the center of attention. My awkward shyness is still alive and well in me. I wrestle with stage fright and all the other fears that come with public speaking. I have made improvements, but I still need a lot of work.

If you weren’t an author, what sort of work do you envision yourself doing? Have you had other careers or do you have another career now?

Once upon a time, decades ago, I had been a substitute teacher and a first-grade teacher. I stepped away from it to plunge into the challenging role of a stay-at-home Mom. For the last twenty-three years, I have been raising my three sons. Its been the best time ever with my energetic sons, who kept me on my toes!

Have any of your books been published electronically? If so, what was that process like? What sort of feedback have you had from readers?

My book comes in print, e-book, and audiobook. The audiobook process was interesting. I had to listen to auditions by narrators and found the many variations of my book to be quite funny. As soon as I heard Rick Struve‘s audition, I knew he was the one. According to the reviews, Rick Struve did a wonderful job narrating my book.

Introducing Young Adult Fiction Author Emma Smith

Posted on June 18th, 2020 by Carolyn Hart

Emma Smith, Young Adult Fiction Author

It is our pleasure to introduce young adult fiction author, Emma Smith. She is the author of Fate of the Emerald Fae.

Emma hasn’t released her first book just yet but she is hoping it will be released by the end of August. It’s called Fate of the Emerald Fae. It’s a young adult fantasy novel.

Emma is a 19-year-old university student who currently lives in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. She is planning on becoming a high school English teacher while continuing her writing. Her love of reading and writing stems from years and years of her mother reading aloud to her. Eventually, Emma read novels independently and aspired to write one herself. Featured is a photo of Emma, her boyfriend, and her dog!

You can connect with Emma on her Facebook page and on Instagram. At the present time, Emma is self-published.

Fate of the Emerald Fae by Emma Smith

Tell us about your book. Who do you think should read it? What are you most proud of?

My book should be something teenagers and even adults will want to read. It’s not necessarily just a young adult book. I’m really proud of the world and magic system I’ve created in this novel and I’m hoping it becomes a world that someone can get sucked into just like the many other worlds that other authors have created.

Thinking back to your own childhood, is there a particular author or illustrator who was a favourite?  Why do you suppose that person’s work resonated with you? OR Who is your favourite author now? Why do you connect with this particular author and his/her work?

Growing up, there were so many authors that I loved to read but one that stuck with me most, like many other people, was Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling. I remember being completely sucked into the series and loving it so much. To this day, I collect Harry Potter merchandise and this past November I was able to finally visit Universal Studios where the Wizarding World is! Being able to connect with characters like Hermione and Luna in the stories made the books relatable for young people and aspiring authors like myself.

When did you realize that you would be a writer?  Is there a particular person who has inspired and/or supported your work along the way?

Writing has always been a hobby of mine. I’ve always loved creating worlds and new characters, it just never completely developed until the last few years or so. Teaching creative writing as well as writing as an author has always been my dream. My parents, as well as my friends, family members, and boyfriend, have always supported me so much in my dreams of becoming an author and I am so grateful to have so many people excited about my book release!

What are the biggest challenges of being an author?

The biggest challenge for me as an author has been coming up with unique ideas. Having read so many books, it can be difficult to try to create completely unique ideas from the hundreds of other novels out there in the world. Motivation to actually write has also been a struggle, as writer’s block is a very real thing! 

Have any of your books been published electronically?  If so, what was that process like?  What sort of feedback have you had from readers?

Seeing as Fate of the Emerald Fae is being released electronically, I have an adequate amount of experience with releasing ebooks. It’s a fairly simple process through amazon and I’ve actually enjoyed the process so far. Feedback from beta readers has been good and releasing books through Amazon is a very good way to release a novel like this! Especially for new authors looking to start off small.

Fate of the Emerald Fae (Epacia Academy Book 1) at Amazon.com

Fate of the Emerald Fae at Amazon.ca

Discover a diverse selection of Children’s Picture Books About Ramadan

Posted on May 18th, 2020 by Carolyn Hart

Picture Books About Ramadan recommended by Storytime Standouts

These children’s books offer an opportunity for children and adults to learn about the rituals and traditions associated with the observance of Ramadan.

For someone not familiar with Ramadan, it is interesting to read all of the stories and notice how they are alike and different (eating dates is mentioned in two of the picture books, for example. Likewise, looking at the illustrations we can find some colors are more prominent than others.)

Night of the Moon A Musline Holiday Story is a picture book about Ramadan

Night of the Moon: A Muslim Holiday Story written by Hena Khan and illustrated by Julie Paschkis

Picture book about Ramadan published by Chronicle Kids

Yasmeen is a seven-year-old Pakistani-American girl who learns that the crescent moon outside her bedroom window symbolizes a new month in the Islamic calendar. Yasmeen falls asleep, eagerly anticipating the special foods, the new clothes, the celebrations and the gifts that are part of the observance of Ramadan.

Yasmeen is happy when her teacher leads a discussion about Ramadan and she is able to explain fasting to her classmates. She learns more at home when her family eats dates and drinks milk after sunset and before enjoying a delicious dinner together.

Later in the month, Yasmeen attends a special dinner with extended family and helps to prepare food for sharing at the family’s Mosque.

Throughout Night of the Moon, Yasmeen watches the night sky and how our view of the moon changes over the course of a month. Gorgeous, rich illustrations beautifully match the tone of the story. We experience the young girl’s joy in learning about and experiencing Ramadan with her family and friends.

Author’s notes and a glossary provide additional information for readers including definitions and a pronunciation guide for some of the vocabulary introduced by the author.

Night of the Moon: A Muslim Holiday Story at Amazon.com

Night of the Moon: A Muslim Holiday Story at Amazon.ca

A Party in Ramadan is a picture book about Ramadan written by Asma Mogin-Uddin and illustrated by Laura Jacobsen

A Party in Ramadan written by Asma Mobin-Uddin and illustrated by Laura Jacobsen

Picture book about Ramadan published by Boyds Mills Press

Leena is excited to be invited to her friend’s birthday party. There is going to be a pony to ride and cake to eat. Unfortunately, the party is on the same day that her aunt will be visiting her family and sharing in their iftar dinner.

Leena is confident that she can attend the party with her friends but not eat cake or have anything to drink. She reassures her mother that she can manage but feels embarrassed when her mom explains fasting to the party host.

Leena’s friends are supportive of her and one of them even offers to skip eating cake. Leena assures her that is not necessary While the others eat, Leena starts to feel tired and headachey. She looks forward to going home and eventually falls asleep at the party.

Leena wakes up at home and is happy to help prepare the dates and is excited to enjoy dinner with her family and her aunt. She is proud that she was able to manage the party and resist eating or drinking with her friends.

An extensive Author’s Note provides additional information about Ramadan and why and how women and girls wear a Hijab.

A Party in Ramadan at Amazon.com

A Party in Ramadan at Amazon.ca

Ramadhan and Eid-Ul-Fitr written and illustrated by Azra Jessa is a picture book about Ramadhan

Ramadhan* and Eid-Ul-Fitr written and illustrated by Azra Jessa

Picture book about Ramadan and Eid-Ul-Fitr published by Tahrike Tarsile Qur’an, Inc

An Inspiration for young authors and illustrators, Azra Jessa was just eight years old when she wrote this story. She used “Paint” to create the illustrations. She writes in first-person and explains that Muslims follow the lunar calendar and that during the month of Ramadhan*, Muslims fast and do not eat or drink during the day. She writes that during Ramadhan* Muslims help others, and focus on kind words.

Azra also describes how her family celebrates the day of Eid with new clothing, prayers, a charitable donation, visits with friends and family and delicious food.

An afternote provides information about Child Aid International

*Ms. Jessa uses a different spelling for “Ramadhan” than what is used in the other picture books.

Ramadhan and Eid-ul-Fitr at Amazon.com

Ramadhan and Eid-ul-Fitr at Amazon.ca

Ramadan Moon written by Na’ima B Robert and illustrated by Shirin Adl

Picture book about Ramadan published by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books

Intriguing, rich collage illustrations are a highlight of this picture book about Ramadan and the rituals and celebrations associated with it. A five-person family watches for a sliver of moon to appear, knowing that Muslims around the globe share their excitement for “The Month of Mercy.”

During the day we keep busy with all sorts of good deeds: Our voices flow with the words of God In unplanned harmonies.

Ramadan Moon At Amazon.com

Ramadan Moon at Amazon.ca

Children’s Books to help explain our pandemic

Posted on April 25th, 2020 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts shares free, downloadable books to help explain a pandemic to children.

Free picture book downloads for parents and caregivers who are trying to explain the current pandemic and the need for social distancing to children.

It is important to note that all of these picture books are meant to be read aloud and discussed with children by a parent, teacher or caregiver. These stories are not intended for children to read independently. We strongly recommend that adults read the books before sharing them with a child.

We will update this article as more books are published digitally. Please contact us or leave a comment if you are aware of books that should be included. Thank you.

I will be Patient... written and illustrated by Jose Fraguso

I Will Be Patient written and illustrated by José Fragoso

Advisor: Dr. Castrejón, Gregorio Marañón Hospital, Madrid.

Picture book to help explain a pandemic published digitally and free of charge by NubeOcho.

#IWillBePatient

Also available in Spanish.

Appropriate for preschool children, I Will Be Patient shares a reassuring message that healthcare workers and scientists are working hard to help us. Briefly acknowledging “armchair quarterbacks” who complain, the author quickly transitions to positive, child-appropriate messaging about how each one of us can make a difference.

  • Washing hands
  • Physical distancing
  • Staying home
  • Staying in contact with family members, especially grandparents
  • Doing homework

Bright, colorful illustrations are a highlight of this story for young children. Sharing factual information and a message of hope and encouragement, we especially liked the frothing handwashing bubbles and the (eventual) return to the fun and friends found at playgrounds around the world.

Download a copy of I Will Be Patient from the publisher’s website here


Coronavirus A Book for Children will help parents explain a pandemic to children.

Coronavirus A Book for Children written by Elizabeth Jenner, Kate Wilson and Nia Roberts and illustrated by Axel Scheffler

Consultant: Professor Graham Medley Professor of Infectious Disease Modelling, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

Picture book to help explain a pandemic published digitally and free of charge by Nosy Crow

Listen to the audiobook, read by Hugh Bonneville

Appropriate to share with children aged 5 years and up, Coronavirus A Book for Children provides detailed information about how viruses are spread, symptoms experienced by people who are infected by a coronavirus, why people are worried about the disease and why we need to physical distance.

Detailed, engaging illustrations feature a racially diverse community and individuals with mobility impairments.

Extensive afternotes provide additional resources for children and adults.

Download a copy of Coronavirus A Book for Children from the publisher’s website here


The Mystery of the Missing Soap written by Geeta Dharmarajan and illustrated by Suddhasattwa Basu and Charbak Dipta

Picture book to encourage hand-washing during a pandemic published digitally and free of charge by Katha. Katha is based in India and serves children and their families who are living in poverty.

Katha uses a framework of “THINK, ASK, DISCUSS, ACT and ACTION.” (TADAA) to share important information and to foster learning.

Suitable for late primary and older children, the book includes instructions for making soap using reetha berries. Afternotes provide facts about Coronavirus and handwashing.

The Mystery of the Missing Soap has been published in five languages: English, Hindi, Tamil, Marathi and Assamese.

Read a copy of The Mystery of the Missing Soap and/or download a copy here.


My Hero is You was developed by the (UNICEF) Inter-Agency Standing Committee Reference Group on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings, and supported by global, regional and country-based experts, in addition to parents, caregivers, teachers and children in 104 countries. It was illustrated by Helen Patuck

Picture book to help explain a pandemic published digitally and free of charge by IASC

Also available in Arabic, Chinese French, Russian, and Spanish

Appropriate to share with children aged six and older, My Hero is You is a metaphorical picture book that sees Sara discover ways to make a positive difference while travelling to destinations around the world on the back of a dragon.

“Remember our story. You can keep those you love safe by washing your hands and staying home. I am never far away. You can always be with me when you go to your safe place.” “You are my hero,” she whispered. “You are my hero too, Sara. You are a hero to all those who love you,” he said.

from My Hero is You

My Download a copy of My Hero is You or read it online.


Right now, I am Fine written by Dr Daniela Own and illustrated by Bulce Baycik

Right Now, I am Fine written by Dr. Daniela Owen and illustrated by Gülce Baycik

Picture book to help children manage anxious thoughts published digitally and free of charge on the author’s blog

#rightnowIamfine

A narrated copy is available on YouTube and an accompanying coloring book is also available for download

Written specifically for children who are experiencing worries, fears, discomfort, or nagging thoughts during challenging times, Right Now, I am Fine will give children (and adults) very specific steps to take when experiencing troubling emotions, especially anxiety.

Simple, straightforward language and easily-implemented suggestions make the ideas shared in this picture book accessible to children of all ages. We can almost hear the author’s soothing voice and recommendations, helping us to cope with our worries and fears.

“It is important to remind ourselves that we are fine, right now.”

Dr. Daniela Owen

Download a Copy of Right Now, I am Fine


A Kids Book About Covid-19 by Malia Jones

a kids book about COVID-19 written by Dr. Malia Jones

Children’s book to help explain Covid-19 published digitally and free of charge by A Kids Book About, Inc.

Dr. Malia Jones is a social epidemiologist

Also available in Spanish

a kids book about COVID-19 relies on text and graphics to share information and is best suited to children aged 5 years and up. It includes a thoughtful, reassuring introduction for parents, a fact sheet and recommendations for follow-up questions and discussion.

We especially liked the author’s reference to “cocooning” and encouraging children to about other creatures that live (for a while) in a cocoon. Families who choose to print a kids book about COVID-19 could suggest that children color it as an extension activity.

This book publisher requires an email address.

Request a link to download/print a kids book about COVID-19 here.

LIVE with epidemiologist Malia Jones

Ask your COVID questions to Dr. Malia Jones of Dear Pandemic! Get Malia's FREE e-book, A Kids Book About COVID-19, here: akidsbookabout.com/pages/covid-19To play with the computer models from this chat, head to: ccl.northwestern.edu/netlogo/For at-home hands-on STEM activities, download our NEW Lesson Plans:sciencewithsophie.com/guides

Posted by Science With Sophie on Tuesday, April 7, 2020


Talking about COVID-19 with young children

Talking About Corona Virus-19 with Young Children prepared by UNICEF LACRO Early Childhood Development team and reviewed by the Health, Child Protection, and Education in Emergencies areas

Illustrated by Sol Diaz

Available in English, Spanish, French and Portuguese.

An interactive book that includes cut and paste activities and an opportunity to draw or have an adult scribe. The content in Talking About Corona Virus-19 with Young Children is most appropriate for preschool-age children.

Choose your preferred language and download Talking About Corona Virus-19 with Young Children here


The Big Alone written by Alex Avendaño and illustrated by Jan Avendaño

Picture book about physical distancing and feeling lonely published digitally and without charge on the sisters’ website

Available in English, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Tagalog

#TheBigAlone

An absolute delight, The Big Alone captures the loneliness and sadness experienced by children and adults who are physical distancing. Charming, black and white digital illustrations beautifully convey emotions through facial expressions, especially eyes.

The realization that being physically separate does not have to mean “alone,” is uplifting and inspiring.

Download The Big Alone here


Oaky and the Virus by Athol Williams and Taryn Lock is a picture book about staying well during the CoronaVirus pandemic

Oaky and the Virus written by Athol Williams and illustrated by Taryn Lock

Children’s book to help explain viruses published digitally and free of charge by Theart Press

#OakyFun

Theart Press is a South African publisher specialising in inspirational books. All book profits go to READ to RISE which is a non-profit organization that promotes youth literacy in South Africa.

​Oaky and Oaket are brother and sister. They love to play with their friends. When a virus threatens their community, they are determined to stay well. They can’t trap the virus because it is too small to see. Instead, they learn a song that reminds them to wash their hands, wear a mask and stay home. They are both disappointed that they can’t see their friends but they resolve to read, play with toys and bake a cake.

Suitable for preschool-age children, Oaky and the Virus is part of a series of books about Oaky and Oaket. Afternotes include questions about the story and ways to extend learning.

Download a copy of Oaky and the Virus here


Easter Fun in Picture Books

Posted on April 7th, 2020 by Carolyn Hart


Storytime Standouts shares Easter-theme picture books for children.

Easter is the perfect to time add new picture books to a child’s library. Matching stories to seasons and holidays creates opportunities for children to make connections with family celebrations — and maybe even some festive baking! Today we are sharing three fun picture books for children who celebrate Easter to enjoy.

Storytime Standouts shares Easter-theme picture books including Eggs, Eggs!

Eggs, Eggs! A Lift-the-Flap Boardbook created by Salina Yoon

Easter Lift-the-Flap Board Book published by Price Stern Sloan an imprint of Penguin Random House

A twelve-page board book that includes four sturdy flaps and concludes with a fold-out. This is a story for very young children. We follow Molly, Pete and Kate as they search for Easter eggs.

Young readers will enjoy the bright, colorful illustrations, feeling textures on the cover and on some of the pages while peeking behind the flaps to discover baskets, rabbits, eggs and more.

When one child is unsuccessful in her hunt, the others pool their sweet treats and demonstrate a positive message about sharing.

Best for very young children, the board book is larger than some so it is suitable for small group settings.

Eggs, Eggs! at Amazon.com

Eggs, Eggs! at Amazon.ca
Storytime Standouts shares Easter-theme picture books for children including The Gingerbread Bunny

The Gingerbread Bunny written and illustrated by Jonathan Allen

Easter Lift-the Flap Picture Book published by Picture Corgi an imprint of Random House Children’s Books

When a Little Old Woman and a Little Old Man bake a yummy gingerbread bunny and decorate it with chocolate, they can’t wait to taste it. They put it near a window to cool but, before they get a chance to taste it, the gingerbread bunny escapes out an open window and triggers a merry chase.

Catch me? Ha ha! That’s really funny! You can’t catch me, I’m the GINGERBREAD BUNNY!

Soon the Little Old Woman, the Little Old Man, Farmer Smith’s cats, Mrs. McBride’s dogs, Lady Fanshawe’s chickens, and Reverend Pugh’s pigs chase the Gingerbread Bunny through the village, to a river and an apparently helpful Fox.

A good choice for 4-6-year-olds, The Gingerbread Bunny is quite true to the traditional Gingerbread Man tale so children will be able to make comparisons with other stories. Charming illustrations include 8 flaps that conceal what is happening behind a door, inside farm gates and in the tall grass near the river. We especially noticed and appreciated the (drawn and watercolored) facial expressions of the gingerbread bunny and his pursuers. Look for shock, determination, teasing, charm and, ultimately, denial.

The Gingerbread Bunny at Amazon.com

The Gingerbread Bunny at Amazon.ca

Bake some gingerbread bunny cookies to enjoy with this story
Storytime Standouts shares Easter-theme picture books including It's the Easter Beagles, Charlie Brown

It’s the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown created by Charles M. Schulz

Easter Picture Book published by Simon Spotlight an imprint of Simon and Schuster

The always popular Peanuts gang celebrates Easter. Peppermint Patty and Marcie do their best to decorate Easter eggs, without much success. Sally needs new shoes for the special day and Linus is happily confident that the Easter Beagle will deliver special treats on Easter Day. Meanwhile, Lucy is focussing on her plan for a can’t-fail Easter egg hunt and Charlie Brown predicts disappointment.

True-to-character, this is a story that will be best enjoyed by children who are familiar with, It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and/or A Charlie Brown Christmas.

It’s the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown at Amazon.com

It’s the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown at Amazon.ca

Click Here to Explore All Easter Theme Printables and Picture Books

Storytime Fun with Bears

Posted on April 1st, 2020 by Carolyn Hart


Storytime with Bears features videos of authors and others reading stories about bears. Includes free printables for children.

Storytime Fun with Bears –

Today, rather than highlighting new books or books about a particular theme, we thought we would share videos of authors and an illustrator reading their picture books featuring bears. It is terrific to see their enthusiasm and personalities shine as they share these outstanding stories and share storytime fun with bears.

We hope this will be a helpful resource for families who don’t have access to these picture books at home or at their public library.

Storytime Fun with Bears – Storytime Standouts shares bear-themed picture book readings and learning activities for children. #prek #kidlit Click To Tweet

“A Brave Bear” read by author Sean Taylor

Ask your child, “Why does Dad want Bear to do small jumps?” “Why does Bear want to do big jumps?” “What time of year is it in this story? Why do you think that?”

A Brave Bear at Amazon.com

A Brave Bear at Amazon.ca

“Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?” read by author Bill Martin

Read our post about this classic picture book.

Ask your child, “What was the color of the bird?” “What did the blue horse see?” “Can you think of words that rhyme with ‘see’?”

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? at Amazon.com

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? at Amazon.ca

“The Very Cranky Bear” written and illustrated by Nick Bland

Read our post about this very cute book.

Ask your child, “Which animal was plain?” “Why did the bear roar?” “Why did sheep stay outside the cave?” “How did sheep make a pillow for Cranky Bear?”

The Very Cranky Bear at Amazon.com

The Very Cranky Bear at Amazon.ca

Michael Rosen Performs “We’re Going On a Bear Hunt”

Read our post about this terrific book for children.

Ask your child, “What noise did the family make when they moved through the mud?” “Why did the family stumble in the forest?” “What was inside the narrow, gloomy cave?” “Why won’t the family go on another bear hunt?”

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt at Amazon.com

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt at Amazon.ca

“Where’s My Teddy” read by author/illustrator Jez Alborough

Ask you child, “What was Eddie’s teddy’s name?” “Who was sobbing (crying) in the forest?” “How do you think the teddies were lost in the forest?”

Where’s My Teddy? at Amazon.com

Where’s My Teddy? at Amazon.ca

Free Bear-Theme Printables for home and school

Going on a Bear Hunt is a free Storytime Fun With Bears printable from Storytime Standouts

image of PDF icon  We're Going on a Bear Hunt

Predictable text, rhyming and opportunities for dramatic play make the We're Going on a Bear Hunt chant a favorite with children.

image of PDF icon  The Bear Went Over the Mountain

Add actions when you sing this song

Teddy Bear theme interlined paper for children is a free printable included in our Storytime Fun with Bears.

image of PDF icon  Writing paper for kids - Three Bears

Three Bears theme interlined paper for beginning writers.

image of PDF icon  Teddy Bear Interlined Paper

Teddy Bear printing paper for children

Bear-theme vocabulary printing page included in Storytime Fun with Bears from StorytimeStandouts.com

image of PDF icon  Storytime Fun with Bears

Storytime Standouts shares bear-themed printables and bear-themed picture book videos from well-loved authors.

More books we’ve written about that feature bears

Storytime Standouts writes about Me and You
Storytime Standouts writes about The Three Snow Bears
Storytime Standouts writes about The 3 Bears and Goldilocks
Storytime Standouts writes about Jack the Bear
Storytime Standouts writes about Fraser Bear, A Cubs Life
Storytime Standouts writes about Big Bear Hug

A Celebration of Love and Families

Posted on February 18th, 2020 by Carolyn Hart


Storytime Standouts shares Love Makes a Family

Love Makes a Family written and illustrated by Sophie Beer

Board Book about Family Diversity published by Dial Books for Young Readers

“It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength.” Maya Angelou

There are so many wonderful ways that families express their unconditional love. In Love Makes a Family, we see adults helping, cheering, consoling, entertaining, snuggling, playing, protecting, cherishing and more.

Ms. Beer shows us happy, loving and racially diverse families of all kinds. She chooses bold colors for the illustrations that will captivate young children. Whether searching for a child’s missing shoe or enjoying a fun tea party in a treehouse, the family activities and expressions of affection that she has illustrated are delightful. The author’s enthusiasm for imaginative play, being out of doors and bedtime stories is contagious and inspirational. From morning ’til night, family members are depicted expressing a beautiful rainbow of love for each other.

We reviewed a large, sturdy board book copy of Love Makes a Family that is well-suited to a group setting. Tracking the bold text and watching for the word, “LOVE” would be a great way to extend learning with preschoolers. A great choice for Valentine’s Day and/or a Circle Time about families, the book is also available for Kindle.

Love Makes a Family at Amazon.com

Love Makes a Family at Amazon.ca

Storytime Standouts recommends Love Makes a Family by Sophie Beer

More by Sophie Beer

Explore Gender Stereotypes and Dysphoria with these Picture Books

Posted on September 26th, 2019 by Carolyn Hart


Explore Gender Stereotypes and Dysphoria with these Picture Books

Picture books that explore gender stereotypes –

We have done our best to include stories that feature boys and girls enjoying activities that might be traditionally be labelled “feminine” or “masculine.”

As well, you will find picture books that can be used to provoke discussion about stereotypes and acceptance and others that specifically address gender identity and gender dysphoria.

We want to share valuable resources for children, families, teachers and librarians. If you would like to suggest additional picture books, please email or leave a comment. Thank you.

10,000 Dresses is a picture book that Challenges Gender Stereotypes

10,000 Dresses written by Marcus Ewert and illustrated by Rex Ray
Picture book that explores gender identity and stereotypes published by Triangle Square

When Bailey dreams, her thoughts turn to dresses and how wonderful it would be to try each one of them on. She imagines one dress made of crystals and another made of lilies, roses and honeysuckles. When Bailey tells her mom, dad and brother of her dreams and her wish to have dresses like the ones in her dreams, they each dismiss her and remind her that she is a boy and boys don’t wear dresses!

Fortunately, Bailey runs away from her house and her family’s closed minds. At the end of her block, she meets an older girl who wants to create dresses but lacks creative inspiration. Together, Bailey and Laurel design dresses that, “show us OURSELVES.

10,000 Dresses is on the 2009 American Library Association Rainbow Book List and was found to be “exceptional and highly recommended.”

10,000 Dresses at Amazon.com

10,000 Dresses at Amazon.ca


Storytime Standouts shares picture books that examine gender stereotypes including Henry Holton Takes the IceHenry Holton Takes the Ice written by Sandra Bradley and illustrated by Sara Palacios
Children’s book about individuality and following one’s dream published by Dial Books for Young Readers

Henry’s family LOVES hockey! His sister plays, his parents play, his cousins play and everyone assumes that Henry will play hockey too. Henry does learn to skate but his unconventional style is not quite right for the sport. Holding a stick doesn’t feel good. Henry prefers to twist, turn and sway on the ice rather than bodycheck an opponent.

When Henry gets a chance to see a local ice dancing club at the arena, he decides that is where he belongs. Henry’s grandmother is the first family member to accept his choice but others soon follow and celebrate his goal of becoming an ice dancer.

As someone who has spent quite a lot of time in hockey rinks, I found it surprising to see Henry on the ice without hockey gloves and a helmet. It is disappointing to think that Henry had to “bench himself” for weeks in order to be heard. A solid reminder that respect for individuality and personal preferences is paramount – even with young children.

A Glossary of Hockey Terms is included.

A somewhat predictable storyline, Henry Holton Takes the Ice is best-suited to children aged 5 and up.

Henry Holton Takes the Ice at Amazon.com

Henry Holton Takes the Ice at Amazon.ca


I Am Jazz is a picture book about Gender Dysphoria

I Am Jazz written by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings with pictures by Shelagh McNicholas

Biographical picture book about a child with Gender Dysphoria published by Dial Books for Young Readers

For long as Jazz can remember, she has loved pink and dancing and makeup and mermaids. She likes to pretend that she is a “pop star.” She has friends who are girls and they love to do things together but Jazz knows that she has “a girl brain but a boy body. This is called transgender.”

Her family thought of Jazz as a boy but she insisted that was not right. Eventually, Jazz and her parents go to a doctor and the doctor explains that Jazz is transgender.

With coaching, Jazz’s teachers and coaches ensure that Jazz is treated like other girls. Jazz acknowledges that some classmates tease her but she takes comfort in the friendships she shares and she embraces being different.

I Am Jazz is on the 2015 American Library Association Rainbow Book List.

I Am Jazz at Amazon.com

I Am Jazz at Amazon.ca


Introducing Teddy is a picture book about gender fluidity and friendship

Introducing Teddy written by Jessica Walton and illustrated by Dougal MacPherson

Picture book about friendship and gender fluidity published by Bloomsbury

Thomas the Teddy and Errol spend time together every day. Errol pulls Thomas in his wagon, Errol and Thomas plant seeds together and they sit together in a treehouse.

One day, Errol notices that Thomas seems withdrawn.

Thomas has something he needs to say but he worries that he might upset Errol. He feels that he could lose his friend if he is truthful. Errol assures Thomas that their friendship will withstand the news, whatever it is.

“Thomas the Teddy took a deep breath. “I need to be myself, Errol. In my heart, I have always known that I’m a girl teddy, not a boy teddy.”

Errol reassures Tilly that she will always be a friend and the two of them get back to fun and games with a third friend. Ava likes building robots and rides a scooter.

A lovely story that is suitable for very young children, unlike some of the other picture books we write about, Introducing Teddy does not have characters who tease or berate the character for transitioning from male to female.

Introducing Teddy is on the 2017 American Library Association Rainbow List

Introducing Teddy at Amazon.com

Introducing Teddy at Amazon.ca


Jacob's New Dress is a picture book about non traditional ways to express oneself as a boy

Jacob’s New Dress written by Sarah and Ian Hoffman and illustrated by Chris Case

Picture book about gender nonconformity published Albert Whitman and Company

Jacob loves the dress-up corner at preschool and can’t wait to wear the pretty pink dress when he plays with his friends. A classmate does not approve of Jacob’s choice and suggests that Jacob choose something more masculine.

“The dress-up corner is where we come to use our imaginations,” Ms. Wilson said. “You can be a dinosaur, a princess, a farmer — anything!”

After school, Jacob talks with his mother and she reassures him that boys can, indeed, wear dresses. Jacob tries on a favorite Halloween costume but wants a less special dress to wear to school.

The following day, Jacob appears in a dress-like outfit he has made himself, using a bath towel. It does not make it through the school day so Jacob and his mom set about sewing a dress together.

Bright, bold illustrations effectively depict Jacob’s emotions and especially exhuberant excitement when able to express himself freely. A lovely picture book to share at home or in a classroom setting.

Jacob’s New Dress at Amazon.com

Jacob’s New Dress at Amazon.ca


Picture books that challenge stereotypes including Katie Morag and the Dancing ClassKatie Morag and the Dancing Class written and illustrated by Mairi Hedderwick
Picture book about individuality published by Transworld Publishers

Katie Morag & the Dancing Class is a delightful picture book from Mairi Hedderwick. Set in Scotland, it has been decided that the Isle of Struay children will benefit from dancing classes. Despite the efforts of her two grandmas, Katie Morag has more interesting things to do than learn ballet. Much to Granma Mainland’s dismay, Katie prefers wellies to ballet slippers and never manages to arrive at her ballet class on time.

One Saturday morning, Katie misses the entire class, arriving just as The Big Boy Cousins begin their tap dance class. As those who know Katie might suspect, she is more inclined toward tap dancing than ballet and before long Grannie Island is rummaging in her cupboards for metal tacks.

Katie Morag has long been a favorite in our household. We first met her in Katie Morag Delivers the Mail and have enjoyed her many adventures and misadventures very much. There is a gentleness to the stories and a wonderful sense of community. In this book, the contrast between the two grandmas (Granma Mainland and Grannie Island) is highlighted. Of course, both want what is best for Katie but it is Grannie Island who understands her best.

Katie Morag and the Dancing Class at Amazon.com

Katie Morag and the Dancing Class at Amazon.ca


Challenge Gender Stereotypes with picture book Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine DressMorris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress written by Christine Baldacchino and illustrated by Isabelle Malenfant
Picture book that examines gender stereotypes published by Groundwood Books

Probably my favorite picture book on this list, Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress is beautifully illustrated and uses onomatopoeia to describe the sounds Morris hears when he chooses to wear a tangerine dress from the dress-up center at school.

He likes the noises the dress makes-
swish, swish, swish when he walks and crinkle, crinkle, crinkle when he sits down.

He takes turns wearing all the different shoes, but his most favorite ones go click, click, click across the floor.

Morris hears the taunts of his classmates and he would like to join in their activities but he remains true to himself and, eventually wins them over.

Beautifully written and illustrated, Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress shares an important message about acceptance that should be shared widely.

Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress is on the 2015 American Library Association Rainbow Book List.

Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress at Amazon.com

Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress at Amazon.ca


My Princess Boy written by Cheryl Kilodavis and illustrated by Suzanne De Simone explores gender identityMy Princess Boy written by Cheryl Kilodavis and illustrated by Suzanne De Simone
Picture book about gender identity, social acceptance and unconditional love published by Simon and Schuster

What happens if a young boy loves to dress up in pink and sparkles? In a dress and a tiara? In a pretty ballet costume? In this boy’s family, his preferences are celebrated and respected. Mom, Dad and his older brother are all accustomed to having him choose to wear jewellery and to wear clothing that most will think of as feminine. Outside of home and close friendships, the world may not be as accepting for example, he has been stared at when shopping and trick-or-treating.

Young readers are encouraged to think about what might happen at school and how they might react if a classmate or friend wanted to make unconventional choices.

My Princess Boy has faced some criticism because all of the faces lack features and, although we are told that he likes pretty things,” the main character does not smile, nor do his family or friends.

The concept of acceptance and unconditional love is an excellent one but I do wonder if having the central character older than four years might have been a better choice. I can well-imagine four-year-olds being puzzled by why a Halloween costume is an issue. The Dress-Up Centre at my sons’ preschool was not particularly focused on gender stereotypes and Halloween costumes for four-year-olds are pretty much “anything goes.”

My Princess Boy website

My Princess Boy at Amazon.com

My Princess Boy at Amazon.ca


Picture books that challenge stereotypes including The Only Boy in Ballet ClassThe Only Boy in Ballet Class – written by Denise Gruska and illustrated by Amy Wummer
Picture book that explores stereotypes published by Gibbs Smith

Tucker loves to dance and especially likes ballet.

“It feels right to him. Like breathing.”

His unconventional passion for dance means that his classmates view him as weird and he is generally the last person chosen for team sports. Rather than joining other boys for football practice, he rushes to a dance class. Enroute, he endures teasing but, once he arrives at the studio, his heart swells and he feels pride in accomplishment.

At home, Tucker’s mom is very supportive of his involvement in ballet, “I don’t like that you love to dance. I love that you love to dance!”

A visiting uncle is not nearly as compassionate. He thinks Tucker ought to play football.

An afternoon ballet recital is a perfect opportunity to demonstrate his love of ballet, as Tucker takes on the role of a prince during a performance. Tucker’s mom and sisters are delighted with the show. Unconvinced, Uncle Frank remains committed to the merits of more ‘manly’ sports.

While walking home from the recital with his family, a member of the neighborhood football team spots Tucker and asks, “Hey, Twinkle Toes, wanna play football?” With Uncle Frank at his side, Tucker is hard-pressed to say, ‘no.’ Before long he is wearing a football jersey and helmet and suddenly finds himself involved in an important play during a championship game.

“In the point of a toe, he was on the shoulders of every boy who had ever made fun of him, and they were carrying him across the field chanting, “Tuck-er! Tuck-er! Tuck-er” Even Uncle Frank was dancing.” A “magical” solution to being accepted is perhaps not quite as strong a statement as we may have hoped for, ballet remains Tucker’s joy and he is shocked but pleased when a group of football players decides to join his ballet class.

The Only Boy in Ballet Class website

Best suited for children aged five and up.

The Only Boy in Ballet Class at Amazon.com

The Only Boy in Ballet Class at Amazon.ca


Challenge Gender Stereotypes with picture book Red: A Crayon's StoryRed: A Crayon’s Story written and illustrated by Michael Hall
Metaphorical Picture Book published by Greenwillow Books

Wrapped in crimson paper and labelled, “Red,” something just isn’t right. When Red mixes with Yellow, instead of creating something orange, they produce a big green mess. Red’s family members have opinions and the other art supplies want to help but adding masking tape, snipping his label and sharpening his tip don’t change a thing.

It is only when Red meets Berry that he is encouraged to express his blueness. It is not long until his true color and qualities are celebrated by family and friends.

An excellent resource for provoking discussion about labels and how categorizing a child (or adult) as shy, learning disabled, athletic, musical, gifted, hyperactive, masculine or feminine can limit their potential and disrespect their unique qualities, preferences and attributes.

Red: A Crayon’s Story is a metaphorical story that, with guidance will prompt reflection and critical thinking about labels by (older) children and adults.

Red: A Crayon’s Story is on the 2016 American Library Association Rainbow Book List

Red: A Crayon’s Story at Amazon.com

Red: A Crayon’s Story at Amazon.ca


Sparkle Boy is a picture book that looks at gender stereotypes and fluiditySparkle Boy written by Leslea Newman and illustrated by Maria Mola

Picture book about a boy who likes things that sparkle published by Lee and Low Books Inc.

Casey knows exactly what he likes and he is sufficiently confident to ask for it. He watches and admires his sister, Jessie when she wears a shimmery skirt. Casey wants to wear a skirt too and his mama hesitates at first but soon gives him one to wear. Next, Casey is drawn to  his sister’s beautiful nail polish. Before too long, his father is painting his son’s finger nails.  Finally Casey’s grandmother comes for a visit and she gives one of her bracelets to Jessie to wear. Casey wants one too and Grandma gives him one.

Sparkle Boy beautifully depicts the unconditional and non-judgemental love of a Casey’s parents and grandmother. Casey’s sister, Jesse is not quite ready to accept her brother’s personal choices until he is publicly ridiculed. Then, Jesse’s love and acceptance is beautifully portrayed.

A glowing picture book that encourages self-expression and embraces respect for all.

Sparkle Boy at Amazon.com

Sparkle Boy at Amazon.ca


William's Doll Challenges Gender StereotypesWilliam’s Doll written by Charlotte Zolotow and illustrated by William Pène Du Bois
Classic picture book that challenges gender stereotypes published by Harper & Row

Although William’s Doll has faced some criticism due to illustrations that appear “dated,” the message in Ms. Zolotow’s story remains timely. When William explains that he would like to have a doll to cherish, his dad, his older brother and his brother’s friend each respond negatively. His father gives him traditionally “masculine” toys, including a train set and a basketball. William’s brother thinks playing with a doll is “creepy” and his brother’s friend calls him a “sissy.”

When William’s grandmother comes to visit, he shows her that he can play basketball well and he can play with trains but neither will replace the doll that he hopes for. William’s grandmother understands how important this is to him and buys him one at a store. Her unconditional love and acceptance is exactly what William needs.

A lovely message to share with young children, my only concern is that William will still have to deal with older children who name-call and a father who is determined to have his son play with “boy” toys. These would both be important issues to explore after reading this thought-provoking classic picture book.

William’s Doll at Amazon.com

William’s Doll at Amazon.ca


Resources

12 Things Every Gender Nonconforming Child Wants You to Know   by Kira Walton and published on Read it Forward

American Psychology Association – Society for the Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity

Gender Diverse and Trans-Gender Children from the American Academy of Pediatrics

Please make time to explore further –
Our Collection of Quotes about Diversity and Tolerance for Kids
Children’s Books About Asperger Syndrome and Autism
Children’s Books About Family Diversity
Children’s Books About Individuality
Looking at Princesses in Picture Books
Celebrating Grandparents and Family Diversity


Professional Resources for Children’s Librarians and Teachers

Posted on August 24th, 2019 by Carolyn Hart

When planning Storytime in libraries or Circle Time in classrooms, children’s librarians and teachers will find these professional resources very helpful

Circle Time and Storytime Resources  for Children's Librarians and Teachers

An effective Storytime or Circle Time is carefully planned to be welcoming, inclusive, engaging and educational. It should include a variety of enjoyable activities and well-considered materials.



When selecting books to share with a group, for example, non-fiction, as well as fiction, should be introduced. Writing style, book format and illustrations are also considerations – having some books with rhyming text is great but having every story told in rhyme would be tiresome. Big, bold illustrations will be seen more easily than those in small, lap books.


Most children’s librarians and teachers have a selection of props to enhance their Storytime and Circle Time programs. Flannelboards are often used as well as musical instruments, hand or finger puppets and other props. I also like including Cut and Tell stories, which involve cutting paper with scissors as a story is told or Fold and Tell stories. Similarly, Draw and Tell Stories are told and illustrated on the spot rather than ‘read’ aloud to a group.



Teachers and librarians who present on-going programs will want to include elements that repeat (such as welcoming and ending rituals) as well as including some unexpected activities that will make each session unique and memorable. Having extra copies of the books that you share will encourage children to borrow them and read them again at home.


The length of the sessions will depend on the age of the children, the size of the group, the collective attention span of the children attending and whether or not other adults are present. Teachers and Librarians who include movement in Circle time and Storytime will help children to manage their energy and participate successfully.

Watch as Sheryl Cooper shares tips for a successful circle time

She shares secrets to a successful Toddler Circle time on her blog.


Professional Resources for Planning Library Storytime and Preschool Circle Time

In addition to these resources, be sure to explore our free printables songs, rhymes, fingerplays and chants



Professional Resources for Children's Librarians and Teachers including I'm A Little Teapot! Presenting Preschool StorytimeI’m a Little Teapot – Presenting Preschool Storytime Compiled by Jane Cobb and illustrated by Magda Lazicka
Professional Resource for Children’s Librarians and Preschool Teachers published by Black Sheep Press

Featuring more than 60 potential storytime themes, I’m a Little Teapot is a handy resource that includes booklists (fiction and non-fiction), 500+ nursery rhymes/fingerplays, songs and “more ideas.”

For example, for a frog theme, I’m a Little Teapot includes 11 suggested stories to read aloud, 5 non-fiction books and 5 fingerplays. For a clothing theme storytime, there are 29 suggested picture books to read aloud (plus 10 ‘More Stories’ and 3 ‘non-fiction’ titles, 10 nursery rhymes, 16 fingerplays and many ‘More Ideas’).

The book also includes an extensive list of recommended resources, presentation tips and suggestions for program planning, including program structure. Ms. Cobb recommends a core list of felt stories for storytime and references the use of traditional folk and fairy tales with preschoolers.

One of the strengths of this resource is that it does not assume that teachers have access to an extensive library of books or that they know fingerplays or songs. I have used the book when preparing for preschool programs and have found it to be easy-to-use and inspiring. I’m a Little Teapot includes ‘Conventional’ themes and as well as some unexpected ones like Giants and Royalty.

I’m a Little Teapot! Presenting Preschool Storytime at Amazon.com

I’m a Little Teapot!: Presenting Preschool Storytime at Amazon.ca


Professional Resources for Storytime including Step into StorytimeSTEP into Storytime written by Saroj Nadkarni Ghoting and Kathy Fling Klatt
Professional Resource for Children’s Librarians and Preschool Teachers published by American Library Association

STEP is an acronym for Story Time Effective Practice.

Almost one-third of this resource consists of professional development for librarians who present storytime programs to very young children.

The first section of the book includes a chapter that examines STEP and deals with implementation within a library system and also by an individual. Chapters 2,3,4 make a connection with child development including Developmentally Appropriate Practice, Intentionality and Scaffolding (adjusting the level of instruction to match the child’s readiness).

The second section of the book makes a connection between best practices and a child’s social/emotional development, cognitive development, physical development and language/literacy development.

Parent Education is a key component of STEP. The authors recommend that presenters model and speak regularly to parents about ways to support their child’s development.

The remainder of STEP into Storytime consists of plans (including scripts) for traditional and sequential storytimes.

As an example, the “Yummy in My Tummy” plan includes introductory remarks, an opening song, parent tip, Do You Know the Muffin Man?, a non fiction book, two fingerplays, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, an action song, a song featuring sign language, two action rhymes, a counting book, an activity, a parent tip, a rhythm stick activity, rhyme with puppets, a song, a parent tip, a closing action rhyme and an extension activity.

STEP into Storytime does not provide alternate books (to be used if the teacher or librarian does not have access to the preferred book(s).

STEP into Storytime: Using StoryTime Effective Practice to Strengthen the Development of Newborns to Five-Year-Olds at Amazon.com

STEP Into Storytime: Using Storytime Effective Practice to Strengthen the Development of Newborns to Five-Year-Olds at Amazon.ca


Storytime Standouts Shares Professional Storytime Resources for Teachers and Librarians including Storytimes for EveryoneStorytimes for Everyone!: Developing Young Children’s Language abd Literacy written by Saroj Nadkarni Ghoting and Pamela Martin-Diaz
Professional Resource for Children’s Librarians and Preschool Teachers published by American Library Association

This resource is intended for librarians. Almost one-third of the book is devoted to professional development, including providing information about emotional/social, cognitive, physical and language/literacy development and ensuring that the recommended program is properly implemented by a library system as well as by a storytime presenter.

The author presents two different models: traditional storytime and sequential storytime.

“Both models include parent tips to help the adults understand the connections between the activities being presented and how they impact early literacy skills and other areas of child development… The traditional model usually starts with the longest story first and includes a mix of books songs, rhymes, fingerplays, and other language activities targeting all ages throughout the storytime…. The sequential model is designed so that each of three segments is planned with a specific age in mind- the first segment focuses on infants and toddlers….”

The remainder of the book provides detailed scripts for traditional and sequential storytimes, including remarks for parents and instructions for the participants.

As an example, for the Where’s the Beach? (sequential) storytime, the author provides an opening song, an action rhyme, a flannel board story, a song, an action rhyme, a transition song, a factual book, an action rhyme, a picture book, a transition song, a picture book, a fold and tell story, a song and a closing song.

Storytimes for Everyone!: Developing Young Children’s Language & Literacy at Amazon.com

Storytimes for Everyone!: Developing Young Children’s Language and Literacy at Amazon.ca



Transforming Preschool Storytime written by Betsy Diamant-Choen and Melanie A HetrickTransforming Preschool Storytime: A Modern Vision and a Year of Programs written by Betsy Diamant-Cohen and Melanie A Hetrick
Professional Resource for Preschool Teachers published by American Library Association

Beginning with a comprehensive overview of the benefits and components of preschool storytime, Transforming Preschool Storytime: A Modern Vision and a Year of Programs provides a step-by-step plan for organizing a storytime and detailed scripts for 8 six-week programs, each focussing on a different book.

I am very partial to I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More! so, naturally, I gravitated to the series of sessions suggested for the book. Week #1 is an introductory session that included hearing the story read aloud, singing and painting. Week #2 adds a theme of houses, a flannelboard activity and playing with colorful scarves. Week #3 adds an exploration of body parts, a coloring activity and some body control games. Week #4 has a theme of bathtubs and includes a careful look at David Catrow’s I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More! illustrations including a discussion about lines, colors, shapes as well as scarf activities. Week #6 extends the learning by looking at other books by Karen Beaumont including I Like Myself! .

Transforming Preschool Storytime: A Modern Vision and a Year of Programs at Amazon.com

Transforming Preschool Storytime: A Modern Vision and a Year of Programs at Amazon.ca



5 Terrific Picture Books About Children Having Problems Learning to Read

Posted on July 19th, 2019 by Carolyn Hart


5 Picture Books About Characters Having Trouble Learning to Read

If you are supporting a child who is having difficulty learning to read, these are picture books that share an encouraging message. Reading well involves learning a variety of strategies and practising them with increasingly difficult text. For a child who has difficulty with letter recognition, dyslexia, phonemic awareness or comprehension, reading can be a terrible struggle. Hearing about the experiences of other children can be a help.

Here, we share five picture books that will be helpful for children who are having trouble learning to read.

“Learning to read and read well is already hard enough: it takes years of practice to make knowledge of reading automatic, transparent and fluid. When children practice reading in a context that’s kind– with books they love, teachers who understand reading, and systems devised to make a hard thing easier — they’re more inclined to practice, remember, make sense of, get better at, and love reading.”

Nancie Atwell in The Reading Zone: How to Help Kids Become Skilled, Passionate, Habitual, Critical Readers

5 Terrific Picture Books About Children Having Problems Learning to Read Click To Tweet

I Don't Like to Ready by Nancy CarlsonI Don’t Like to Read! written and illustrate by Nancy Carlson
Picture book about Having Trouble Learning to Read published by Puffin

Henry likes first grade but he does not like reading. He avoids it at school and at home. One day, his teacher asks him what the problem is and he confides. His teacher offers extra help and before too long, when a babysitter is not available to read aloud to Henry and his sibling, Henry takes over, reading with increasing confidence and emerges with a love of reading at home and at school.

Ms Carson’s illustrations are a highlight of this engaging picture book. Henry’s body language, especially as a non-reader, is a terrific addition to her delightful story.

Level of Reading Intervention – Resource teacher at school, extra practice at home
Reason for reading difficulty (if any identified) – N/A

I Don’t Like to Read! at Amazon.com

I Don’t Like to Read! at Amazon.ca


Lily and the Mixed Up Letters is a story about difficulty learning to readLily and the Mixed Up Letters written by Deborah Hodge and illustrated by Fance Brassard
Picture Book about Having Trouble Learning to Read published by Tundra Books

Lily enjoys school and especially opportunities to create art. Unfortunately, grade two is not as much fun as kindergarten and grade one were. Reading aloud is especially worrisome for Lily and, when her teacher announces Parent Day will include having each student read out loud, Lily confides her lack of confidence reading to her mom,

I can’t do it,” she sobs. “I can’t read my page on Parent Day. It’s too hard. All the other kids can read their pages, but I can’t read mine.”

Lily’s mom is empathetic and requests that she receive extra help at school. Her teacher assigns a peer Reading Buddy and Lily also practices at home. By Parent Day, Lily is ready for the challenge.

Level of Reading Intervention – Peer reading buddy at school, extra practice at home
Reason for reading difficulty (if any identified) – N/A

Lily and the Mixed-Up Letters at Amazon.com

Lily and the Mixed-Up Letters at Amazon.ca


Children's books about learning disabilities, Miss Little's Gift
Miss Little’s Gift written by Douglas Wood and illustrated by Jim Burke
Autobiographical Picture Book about Living with ADHD and Difficulty Learning to Read published by Candlewick Press

Douglas is in grade two and he doesn’t like having to sit still. He interrupts his teacher; he has problems with reading and on the playground. He is very resistant to staying after school in order to get extra help with reading but Miss Little is firm and determined. She finds a book to match his interests, she encourages him and she gives him just enough help. Miss Little’s Gift is a celebration of the difference a wonderful, caring teacher can make.

Level of Reading Intervention – extra time with a classroom teacher
Reason for reading difficulty (if any identified) – ADHD in Author’s Note

Miss Little’s Gift at Amazon.com

Miss Little’s Gift at Amazon.ca


Miss Malarkey Leaves No Reader BehindMiss Malarkey Leaves No Reader Behind written by Judy Finchler and Kevin O’Malley and illustrated by Kevin O’Malley
Picture book about a reluctant reader and a persistent teacher published by Bloomsbury USA

In Miss Malarkey Leaves No Reader Behind, we meet a student who is able to read but simply does not like reading. He much prefers playing video games with his friend. His very determined book-loving teacher spends the entire school year trying to find a book that will captivate him. One by one she wins over his classmates but it is not until the year is almost over that she finds the key to unlocking a love of reading and books.

This picture book would be a good read-aloud at the start of a school year, especially for teachers and librarians who have an extensive classroom library and a very good knowledge of books that will appeal to hard-to-reach students.

We also suggest reading our series, Journey of a Reluctant Reader

Level of Reading Intervention – Classroom teacher
Reason for reading difficulty (if any identified) – Reluctant reader

Miss Malarkey Leaves No Reader Behind at Amazon.com

Miss Malarkey Leaves No Reader Behind at Amazon.ca


Thank You, Storytime Standouts looks at picture books about children having difficulty learning to read including Thank you, Mr. Falker by Patricia PolaccoThank you, Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco
Picture book about Having Trouble Learning to Read published by The Penguin Group

Thank you, Mr. Falker is an autobiographical picture book about Ms. Polacco’s difficulty learning to read and the help she finally received in grade five. A detailed, thoughtful story for older children, Thank you, Mr. Falker explains that Trisha grew up in a family that loved reading and treasured books. After the loss of her grandparents, she moved to California with her mother and her brother. Trisha hoped it would be a fresh start and that reading would be easier but her struggles persisted and before too long she was being teased by bullies.

it is not until Trisha is in fifth grade, with a teacher who is new to the school, that the bullying is called out and Trisha receives extra instruction.

We’re going to change all that, girl. You’re going to read – I promise you that.”

This picture book is best-suited older children and highlights the fact that some children can hide their difficulties with reading for quite some time.

Level of Reading Intervention – Classroom teacher and reading resource teacher
Reason for reading difficulty (if any identified) -N/A

Thank You, Mr. Falker at Amazon.com

Thank You, Mr. Falker at Amazon.ca

The Girl Who Hated Books

An animated short from the National Film Board of Canada introduces us to Meena, a young girl who hates books.

We also wrote about Storytime Standouts writes about I Hate BooksI Hate Books by Kate Walker



BONUS BOOKS ABOUT CHILDREN FACING CHALLENGES LEARNING TO READ

Miss Brooks Loves Books (and I don't) is a picture book about a girl who is reluctant to read.

Miss Brooks Loves Books! (and I don’t) written by Barbara Bottner and illustrated by Michael Emberley

Picture book about a reluctant reader published by Alfred A. Knopf

Booklovers will be enchanted by Miss Brooks and her enthusiasm for sharing picture books with her class. Missy doesn’t share the librarian’s enthusiasm for reading or for her book-related costumes.

” All year long, Miss Brooks reads us books. Books about dragons and Pilgrims and presidents. Books about love and leprechauns. Groundhogs, even! It’s vexing.”

It is not until Book Week that Missy decides that she wants to read a book that includes warts. Missy’s mom suggests Shrek and soon Missy and her mom have created an ogre costume and she is ready to present the story to her class.

Rich vocabulary and fun illustrations make this a great read aloud choice for kindergarten and early primary-age children.

Miss Brooks Loves Books (And I Don’t) at Amazon.com

Miss Brooks Loves Books (And I Don’t) at Amazon.ca


Storytime Standouts shares Hooray for Reading Day!

Hooray for Reading Day! written by Margery Cuyler and illustrated by Arthur Howard

Picture Book about a (grade 1) child’s anxiety about reading aloud published by Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers

Jessica has other worries that have been explored in Stop Drop and Roll (A Book about Fire Safety) and 100th Day Worries.

In Hooray for Reading Day! Jessica already feels self-conscious when reading aloud in front of her classmates, her fears worsen when Mr. Martin announces plans for a parent event at school that will require her to wear a costume and read aloud in front of parents.

Anyone who feels anxious about reading aloud or public speaking will understand Jessica’s worries. Meanwhile, her mom and dad are enthusiastic and reassuring about the performance and offer to help with a costume.

When Jessica can’t sleep, she decides to practice her reading with Wiggles, the family dog listening. She discovers, to her delight, that reading to Wiggles is easy and that it helps her to become more successful and confident with her reading.

Hooray for Reading Day! is skillfully illustrated by Arthur Howard (Mr. Putter & Tabby Pour the Tea, Hoodwinked) and, apart from sharing a positive message about learning to read, the book presents an opportunity to discuss emotions and teasing. It would be a good pick to share at the start of the school year or whenever children need encouragement with reading.

Hooray for Reading Day! (Jessica Worries) at Amazon.com

Hooray for Reading Day at Amazon.ca

7 Special Board Books for Babies and Toddlers

Posted on July 6th, 2019 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts recommends 7 Classic Board Books for Babies and Toddlers


Start baby’s first book collection with these special classic board books! Award-winners and bestsellers, these are stories that every child should hear, see, touch and enjoy. Board books make perfect gifts for baby showers and first birthdays. These are stories that mommies and daddies will read again and again.

We began reading to our first son when he was six months old and I always recommend establishing a daily read-aloud routine while children are very young and happy to cuddle before bedtime. Don’t be shy about using silly voices or being dramatic. Make the read-aloud experience relaxed, fun and memorable.



For tips on reading aloud to infants and children, be sure to read our answers to 10 Frequently Asked Questions About Reading Aloud to Children

Goodnight Moon written by Margartet Wise Brown and illustrated by Clement HurdGoodnight Moon written by Margaret Wise Brown and illustrated by Clement Hurd
Classic Board Book for Babies and Toddlers published by Harper Festival a Division of Harper Collins Publishers

Ranked number 1 in School Library Journal’s poll of Top 100 Board Books, Goodnight Moon has a gentle, pleasing cadence that is soothing and relaxing.

In the great green room
There was a telephone
And a red balloon
And a picture of –

Young readers will watch as a young bunny tries to settle for sleep, adjusting the pillow and bedcovers, as the room darkens and eventually sleep comes.

Our first glimpse of the ‘Great Green Room’ does not reveal everything, colour illustrations alternate with black and white. New details are revealed over the course of an hour. Youngsters can watch as the clocks’ hands move and search the room for each of the details described in the text. A companion to The Runaway Bunny, children will make connections between the two books especially when they look carefully at the illustrations.

Goodnight Moon at Amazon.com

Goodnight Moon at Amazon.ca

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric CarleThe Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
Classic Board Book for Babies and Toddlers published by Philomel Books

What more could you ask for? A beautiful die-cut concept book that includes rich vocabulary, counting from one to five, the days of the week, the transformation of a caterpillar to butterfly and beautiful, richly toned illustrations. This truly is a can’t miss story for babies and preschoolers.

Highly recommended as a gift for baby.

Click to visit our page about The Very Hungry Caterpillar

The Very Hungry Caterpillar at Amazon.com

The Very Hungry Caterpillar at Amazon.ca

Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do you See? by Bill Martin Jr and Eric CarleBrown Bear, Brown Bear What Do you See? by Bill Martin Jr and Eric Carle
Classic Board Book for Babies and Toddlers

Simple but beautiful collage illustrations and repetitious, rhythmic text introduce 9 animals and colours. Also notable, the book illustrations include a racially diverse group of children. The simplicity of the story makes it ideal for very young children but also opens the doors for young writers and illustrators to tell their own stories, perhaps using a different sense – Jacob, Jacob, what do you see/hear/smell/touch/taste?

Click to visit our page about Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See?

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? at Amazon.com

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? at Amazon.ca

Moo, Baa, La La La! by Sandra BoyntonMoo, Baa, La La La! by Sandra Boynton
Classic Board Book for Babies and Toddlers published by Little Simon

Twenty years after first reading Sandra Boynton’s Moo, Baa, La La La!, my guess is that you will still remember the gentle humor of the text and illustrations – even if you can’t quite recite the entire story from memory. There is something very special about Ms Boynton’s ability to write a book that children and adults enjoy equally. Her tales are neither sickly sweet nor predictable and that’s exactly what makes them fun to read aloud. Don’t be the least bit surprised if your child asks to hear her books again and again before ‘reading’ them himself or herself. Every animal oozes personality and Moo, Baa, La La La! is paced in such a way that encourages settling to sleep.

Moo Baa La La La! at Amazon.com

Moo, Baa, La La La! at Amazon.ca

Owl Babies by Martin Waddell and Patrick BensonOwl Babies written by Martin Waddell and illustrated by Patrick Benson
Classic Board Book for Babies and Toddlers published by Walker Books

Darker than the other stories described here, Owl Babies is set in a tree, at nighttime. When Mother Owl leaves the nest one night, her babies awaken alone and wonder where she has gone. Sarah and Percy are confident that mama has gone hunting for food. Bill is less confident and more frightened. Happily, Mother Owl does return and reassures all of her children that they needn’t have worried, “You knew I’d come back.”

A good story to share with a child who is experiencing separation anxiety and would benefit from the reassurance that sometimes parents have to go away but he or she will be safe and cared for.

Owl Babies at Amazon.com

Owl Babies at Amazon.ca

Everywhere Babies written by Susan Meyers and illustrated by Marla FrazeeEverywhere Babies written by Susan Meyers and illustrated by Marla Frazee
Classic Board Book for Babies and Toddlers Published by HMH Books for Young Readers

A wonderful celebration of babies and the amazing things they do. The gentle, repetitious and rhyming text introduces the seasons, body parts, clothing, sounds, modes of transportation, toys, games. There is just so much to notice and appreciate about the very detailed and inspiring illustrations including racial and family diversity, loving (but not always well-rested) parents, bottle feeding and breastfeeding and the special relationships that very young children often have with older adults and siblings.

Apart from being a great book to enjoy with very young children, Everywhere Babies has a positive message about babies that is great for preschoolers, especially those with a new brother or sister.

Horn Book Fanfare Book, 2001

Everywhere Babies at Amazon.com

Everywhere Babies at Amazon.ca

Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney and illustrated by Anita JeramGuess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney and illustrated by Anita Jeram

Visit the official Guess How Much I Love You website for printable activities and information about the book.

A beautiful, gentle exchange between Little Nutbrown Hare and Big Nutbrown Hare will reassure young readers that the love between someone small and someone big is impossible to quantify. The relationship between the two is not specified although we know that both characters are male. Perhaps it is a father and son or maybe an uncle and nephew, it does not matter at all.

“I love you as high as I can reach,” said Little Nutbrown Hare
“I love you as high as I can reach,” said Big Nutbrown Hare.
That is very high, thought Little Nutbrown Hart. I wish I had arms like that.”

Beautiful watercolor illustrations enhance the story and lovingly capture the personalities of the two hares.

Guess How Much I Love You at Amazon.com

Guess How Much I Love You at Amazon.ca


Do you have a favorite board book for baby?

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume, a SLJ Top 100 Novel

Posted on April 16th, 2019 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts writes about Judy Blume's Tales of a Fourth Grade NothingTales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume
Series for middle grades published by Puffin Books

I have decided to try and read (or reread) as many of the School Library Journal Top 100 Children’s Novels as possible. I have many of them in my home library and have read quite a few but this will give me a focussed reading list over the next while.

Yesterday, I read Judy Blume’s Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing. It ranks forty-fourth on the list. First published in 1972, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing is the first in a series that features brothers Peter and Farley. Nobody calls Farley by his legal name, he is known simply as Fudge. Fudge is 2 1/2 years old and is a constant source of annoyance for Peter. He goes into Peter’s bedroom and destroys a school project, he causes trouble at mealtime, he refuses to do what he is told. Peter is regularly asked to help adults “manage” Fudge and his antics.

Adults reading the book will be sympathetic to Fudge’s mom and dad who surely must be at their wits’ end, trying to parent Fudge with patience and love.

I have a lot of empathy for Peter. I am an older sibling and I can understand Peter’s frustration with his much younger brother. I well-remember times when my younger sister annoyed me by taking over a gift or wanting to join in something that I was doing with my friends. I even remember her scrawling yellow crayon on our dining room wall, much to the frustration of our folks.

Storytime Standouts shares a quote from Judy BlumeAn easy read, and well-suited to readers at about a grade 3 or 4 level, I recommend this story of coping with a younger sibling as a fun read-aloud or a good introduction to the Fudge series for an independent reader.

A couple of notable items – in Chapter 3, when the children are headed to the park, Peter remarks, “Both my mother and my father are always warning me never to talk to strangers in the park because a lot of dope-pusher hang around there. But taking dope is even dumber than smoking, so nobody’s going to hook me!” There are no further references to smoking or dope.

Also, some of the comments and characterizations seem sexist today, for example, “As far as I know my father can’t cook anything. He doesn’t even know where my mother keeps the peanut butter, the dishes. or the pots and pans.”

Both of these entries provide opportunities to talk with children. On the one hand, Blume gives adults an opportunity to talk with children about safety in a park and illicit drug use. Likewise, there is an opportunity to discuss gender stereotypes and the division of labour in a family.

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing at Amazon.com

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing at Amazon.ca

Read Jody’s post about Judy Blume’s Freckle Juice here.


Hit the Slopes with Bunny – an exceptional winter theme picture book

Posted on January 29th, 2019 by Carolyn Hart

If you are still dealing with cold temperatures, wintry days and shovelling snow, now is a good time to freshen up your home or classroom library. Also a great gift idea, I highly recommend Bunny Slopes. This is a special picture book that will have tremendous appeal for preschool-age children and their weary parents or caregivers.

Winter-theme picture book written and illustrated by Claudia RuedaBunny Slopes written and illustrated by Claudia Rueda
Winter theme picture book published by Chronicle Kids

An exceptionally good picture book that asks young readers to “shake,” “tap,” “tilt,” and “turn” as a playful rabbit goes for a fun day of skiing. Few stories for preschoolers are as engaging and interactive as this. Children will love to be part of the action as they “create” snow, hillsides and a way for our hero to escape from a tight spot. Oozing personality, Bunny is a delight. A great pick for boys and girls aged 3 years and up.

For older children, the extension opportunities could include devising their own instructions for readers to follow together with “before” and “after” artwork. The possibilities are endless and will be lots of fun for children!

Bunny Slopes at Amazon.com

Bunny Slopes at Amazon.ca


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