Tuesday, June 30, 2020

#BuildYourStack: Ten Must-Share Picture Books in 2020

Tonight the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) held their first virtual #BuildYourStack event. I was honored to be able to be a part of it because I've loved getting to share stack recommendations during the annual convention. 

Picture Books for PRIDE (& for #classroombookaday all year long)

As 2020 PRIDE month concludes, and because I have been asked a lot this month, I'm sharing some of the picture books I most often recommend for #classroombookaday around LGBTQIA+ characters & gender identity themes. Because ALL students and ALL types of families should be able to see themselves and their lived experiences celebrated in the books we share in our schools. 
Gatekeeping is a type of soft censorship. By choosing not to share books with these identities with your students, you are censoring their humanity and saying they have no place in your classroom.
In the TREVOR Projects' Facts About Suicide, they share statistics that should be startling to every educator: 
If knowing this, you continue to make a choice to reject these identities in your classroom by not sharing books with LGBTQIA+ characters whole class, you are willingly causing harm. 

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Honoring Black Lives: A Virtual Picture Book Library

I've been working on a thing! I was already planning on making a slideshow similar to this that would link to my own read aloud videos for my staff at my schools to utilize in further distance learning and teaching if needed. Then when I saw so many educators sharing a different resource that linked to videos that violated copyright, I decided to shift my focus a bit and make this public-facing version first. 

Because it is important that we, as educators, provide good models of digital citizenship for our students and other educators. Yes, even when we are sharing free resources! And especially in an effort to support authors and illustrators! 

Educators need to respect intellectual property rights and follow copyright laws. As a school librarian, it is part of my job to know copyright regulations and help teaching staff understand how to align with copyright laws, so I included parts of that in this resource. 

So, after a week of working on it, I can finally share
A Virtual Picture Book Library Honoring Black Lives

The slideshow includes links to 47 copyright-compliant read aloud videos + 70 more recommended picture book titles (with links to book trailers or author/illustrator video resources if I could find them) that I recommend. These are a mix of picture books that focus on Black Joy & Magic, Empowering Stories, Racial & Community Awareness, & Black People Impacting the World. And I made an effort to curate a collection that is primarily Black authors and/or illustrators.

Because #BlackLivesMatter on our bookshelves
& behind the pages also. 

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Recommended: You Matter by Christian Robinson + Giveaway

I am always searching for picture books for my school library and to read aloud for #classroombookday that will show students that they matter. The kinds of books that affirm their existence, validate their beings, and support their lived experiences. Books that remind kids that we believe in them and support them, and that even though they are little, the space they take up is theirs to make a difference with. And to know who they are, what they believe, how they want to be - it all matters.

Christian Robinson is a well-known Caldecott Awarded & Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honored Black illustrator in the children's literature world. And now, with this second book that he illustrated AND wrote (the first was ANOTHER), he has created a gem of a book that is what we all need right now. A book that reminds kids that they matter whether they are big or small, first or last, follow the crowd, fall down, are old or young. It's a book without much text – a quiet book that will help kids see that they matter no matter how others see them or they see themselves. The illustrations bring joy, empathy, and love to the pages. And right now, that is the message I hope all kids will get to see and hear.

So on this release day of his newest picture book, I celebrate that Christian Robinson shares his gift freely with us all so it can positively impact children. And I celebrate that this book, YOU MATTER, exists for us to share with kids.
You Matter
They All Saw a Cat meets The Important Book in this sensitive and impactful picture book about seeing the world from different points of view by Caldecott and Coretta Scott King Honoree Christian Robinson.

In this full, bright, and beautiful picture book, many different perspectives around the world are deftly and empathetically explored—from a pair of bird-watchers to the pigeons they’re feeding. Young readers will be drawn into the luminous illustrations inviting them to engage with the world in a new way and see how everyone is connected, and that everyone matters. 
I hope you will read it and share it with the children in your life!
Please support independent bookstores by buying YOU MATTER from Bookshop or your local indie.

Simon & Schuster are offering up a copy of YOU MATTER.
To enter, complete the form below & leave a comment on this post with your recommendation for another picture book from a Black author and/or illustrator.

Friday, May 29, 2020

100 Picture Books Including Black People and Communities & Why You Need Them

*Update 6/5/2020: After seeing tweets from several Black educators/ authors/ scholars about the need to promote Black voices first and foremost in any work right now, it made me reconsider this list. Upon reflecting on my initial process for adding titles I recognize that it was a mistake to put together a list like this at this time for this purpose without consideration of who created the book. Although I considered positive representation of the characters and families, I should also have considered the representation of the creators. I have removed the 21 books from the original list that were from non-Black authors/illustrators. I have replaced those titles with new selections from Black authors and/or illustrators with the same focus on joyful everyday experiences instead of oppression. I did leave books that have Black illustrators even if a non-Black author or a Black author with a non-Black illustrator. The additions begin after Hey, Black Child.

*Edited 6/4/2020 to include links to additional recommendation lists from Black librarians and other BIPOC created recommendation lists I saw after publishing mine. Though my original purpose in this list was to speak more directly to non-Black educators, I want to be sure to also amplify Black and BIPOC voices for you to follow. They appear before the start of my list.
Black Lives Matter - Home | Facebook
When the news comes out about things in this country that shatters hearts, & we see Black people bleeding their pain onto the screen in the hope that it will get through to white folx, it shows that we white folx have so much more work yet to do. It is work that doesn't ever stop, but if you haven't even started yet... what the hell are you waiting for? Lives are at stake. And it's going to take all of us to do this work.

Because Black Lives Matter. 

We have to stand next to our Black colleagues and those we learn from and bear witness to what they share. And then we have to act. We have to do the work, the internal work, to do and be better. Because standing by should not be an option. As Jason Reynolds & Ibram X. Kendi make clear in STAMPED: RACSIM, ANTI-RACISM, AND YOU, if you're not being anti-racist, by definition you are being racist. Read the book as your starting point and then share and discuss with the kids in your life.

Because Black Lives Matter. 

White women especially, we have work to do. When we know that calling the police on a Black man can lead to his death, and when we hear stories like those that come out over and over and over and over and over and over and over again about the fear Black people in this country live with, sometimes it's hard to feel like you know what to do. But there is one thing we can always do - and that is consider how, in our role as educators, we can impact belief systems that start when kids are young. 

Because Black Lives Matter. 

What can we do as white educators? What can we do as educators to lean in to anti-racist practices? It starts with doing the internal work necessary to acknowledge & break down biases and stereotypes & catch ourselves heading into the kind of thinking that leads to Black people being killed. And Black children being killed. Consider how your actions in the school building might be perpetuating racism. Consider what Christina Torres reminds us of: we need to check our own biases or we are perpetuating systems of oppression.

We look at the systemic racism and oppression that leads to white people walking up to steps carrying weapons and allowed to peacefully protest having to stay at home while Black communities get tear gas and riot gear. If you're more concerned about Colin Kaepernick's knee than that police officer's, you have serious work to do on gaining a deeper understanding of systemic oppression. We can grow in our anti-racist practices and understanding of these systems through books & resources that educate us. This link intended for white parents, that also applies to white educators (shared by Brittany Packnett Cunningham on twitter), could be a good starting point. And this site, Opportunities for White People in the Fight for Racial Justice supports a deeper understanding of how to move from actor through ally to accomplice.

Because Black Lives Matter. 

But what about in an elementary school? First, we have to understand that it starts young! And we need to reflect on how we act toward Black boys, in particular, as Dr. Kim Parker shared in this open letter, and the impact that has on developing beliefs about self and toward others. This is the time when kids are learning about others & growing opinions and developing their stances. We can't avoid it just because they are young - we have to start here

Because Black Lives Matter. 

And it starts with humanizing Black people. Edith Campbell shares scholarship around the history of depicting Black people as simians and what that does to perpetuate stereotypes. Something that embedded doesn't just stay in historical times. We have to read that research and listen to it and reflect on it and sharpen our own critical lenses and understand how it plays out in the books we share with kids at an impressionable age. We have to know it so we can see it and work to find stories that humanize Black people instead of perpetuating a view of them being less than human. 

Because Black Lives Matter. 

We have to know that if we only share stories about oppression & struggle, that is the singular story that kids begin to internalize about Black people (if you don't already know Chimamanda Adichie's TED Talk about the "Danger of a Single Story" you should). In 1990 Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop coined the theory of mirrors, windows, & sliding glass doors which you likely know. But have you really considered all of what she was saying?
"Books are sometimes windows, offering views of worlds that may be real or imagined, familiar or strange. These windows are also sliding glass doors, and readers have only to walk through in imagination to become part of whatever world has been created or recreated by the author. When lighting conditions are just right, however, a window can also be a mirror. Literature transforms human experience and reflects it back to us, and in that reflection we can see our own lives and experiences as part of the larger human experience. Reading, then, becomes a means of self- affirmation, and readers often seek their mirrors in books.” 
It matters desperately for Black kids to see mirrors of themselves in books in positive, joyful ways. Bishop further points out, "When children cannot find themselves reflected in the books they read, or when the images they see are distorted, negative, or laughable, they learn a powerful lesson about how they are devalued in the society of which they are a part." But do you also know and acknowledge this part of her piece? 
"Children from dominant social groups have always found their mirrors in books, but they, too, have suffered from the lack of availability of books about others. They need the books as windows onto reality, not just on imaginary worlds. They need books that will help them understand the multicultural nature of the world they live in... In this country, where racism is still one of the major unresolved social problems... If they see only reflections of themselves, they will grow up with an exaggerated sense of their own importance and value in the world"
Because it's equally vital that white kids see windows into the lives, communities, & humanity of Black people. 

Because Black Lives Matter. 

So we are obligated to do more. We have to show Black Girl Magic & Black Boy Joy. We have to celebrate Black people (and not just in February). We have to show everyday stories of Black people. We have to show pride in Black peoples' stories. We have to show the joyfulness and strength in Black communities. We have to honor Black people and communities. We have to do this in our curriculum and through the books we choose to share. 

Because Black Lives Matter. 

Over the past days, my mind kept returning to how educators have the ability to use books in response to current events. To pull picture books off the shelf right now to read with kids to show love for Black students & for other students to see that love. Because as children's book author/illustrator Christian Robinson points out, "When children see themselves and their experiences reflected in books, they are being sent a message that their story matters and that they matter." And they need to be seen in all of wholeness of all of their humanity. So we need to reach for those books that will remind Black kids in our classrooms the beauty within their skin. Those books that will remind other kids of the wholeness of their humanity. Those books that can impact hearts & minds. It's one thing I know I can do. It's one thing you can do, too. 

Because Black Lives Matter.
And they have to matter to all of us.

*Before getting to my list, I want to give a shoutout to two Black librarians who I greatly admire who have shared their own lists of books (for all levels, not just picture books)!

Edith Campbell - Books for Black Children - Edi "selected titles that Black parents, caregivers and teachers can use to help Black children to feel safe, to embrace their blackness and become better able to talk about and confront racism."

Alia Jones - Black Joy Booklist for Children and Young Adults - Alia " highlighted some books in our Library collection that affirm Black childhood and encourage Black youth to dream, speak up, and get started on the path towards liberation. "

*And also share more BIPOC-created recommendation lists:
Sujei Lugo Vázquez & Alia Jones partnered to create this incredible Black Lives Matter Reading List for Children

Brittany, a Black educator, shared a thread of Children's Books that Discuss Race & Racism

Karina Yan Glaser, Chinese-American author, shared a thread of 100 Must-Read Children's Books by African-American Creators.

100 Picture Books Including Black People & Communities
Shop this list at Bookshop to support independent bookstores!

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

#classroombookaday Summer 2020 Learning Opportunities

With no nErDcamps or conferences this summer, and likely into fall, I'll be missing several of my typical chances to share #classroombooakday with educators. So I've decided to offer some virtual options. The good thing is this gives everyone the opportunity to learn, not just those who are in the same physical space as me! 

There are two different sessions offered in June & repeated in July. 
#classroombookaday101 (June 23 OR July 22)
& a brand-new session I'm creating after school gets out that I'm eager to plan
Going Deeper with #classroombookaday: The Power of Critical Selection (June 24 OR July 23)
  • Sessions will be live via Zoom. Link will be sent the morning of the session and will be recorded for those unable to attend at the live time.
  • Recording link will be shared with those who registered after the session. Disclaimer: Link is provided for the sole use of the individual who registered & will only be available until the Sunday after the session.
  • Sessions will be 75-90 minutes depending upon length of Q&A at the end.

There is a registration fee (discounted if you register for both sessions) to help support my work and ability to offer other sessions for free. I'm hoping (assuming things go according to plan) to also offer a booktalk session with #cbadspotlight reveal as a free session later this summer & possibly a live Q&A virtual session at some point.
Sign up for one, or both, through the widget below. Or visit heisereads.ticketleap.com to register. 

Friday, May 1, 2020

#classroombookaday Recommendations: You Do You - Picture Books Supporting Identity

Each month of this school year I am getting a chance to share a themed list of 20 recommended picture book titles for #CLASSROOMBOOKADAY read alouds in partnership with Follett Classroom. Each booklist is accompanied by a blog post explaining more in depth my thoughts in creating the list and why I chose those specific titles.

One of the great parts of this partnership is that my recommendation lists are also being saved in Titlewave which allows them to be easily found and shared with librarians for purchasing for school libraries!

My May list is in the spirit of You Do You & Identity! 
[Please visit this link to read the accompanying blog post]
User-added image
You can also find all of my posts & lists I've done with Follett at my landing page bit.ly/heisefollett.

Monday, April 13, 2020

#classroombookaday Recommendations: Social Emotional Learning

Each month of this school year I am getting a chance to share a themed list of 20 recommended picture book titles for #CLASSROOMBOOKADAY read alouds in partnership with Follett Classroom. Each booklist is accompanied by a blog post explaining more in depth my thoughts in creating the list and why I chose those specific titles. 

*With everything going on in our country, and the world, right now as we all live through anxiety and trauma, it is even more important that we consider the social emotional learning of our students. Though this list was put together several months ago, many of these titles will be especially applicable to our, and our students', needs right now.*

One of the great parts of this partnership is that my recommendation lists are also being saved in Titlewave which allows them to be easily found and shared with librarians for purchasing for school libraries!

My April 2020 list is all about Social Emotional Learning! 
[Please visit this link to read the accompanying blog post]
User-added image
You can also find all of my posts & lists I've done with Follett at my landing page bit.ly/heisefollett.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Continuing #classroombookaday During School Closures

Part of the power of #classroombookaday is the way it can work to build community and bring comfort through predictable routines. So what do teachers do when they don't have a physical classroom for read alouds? During this unprecedented time, many are wanting to turn to online options to record a daily picture book read aloud to continuing sharing this time with their students. 

There are many options for creating a digital #classroombookaday grid also: a table in Google Docs or Slides, Google Sites, Padlet, or even Symbaloo with links to your read alouds. Whatever method you choose, make it easy for you to keep up with during this time!

...it's important to remember that there is an equity issue along with this. What will happen with students who don't have devices or wifi or data to watch these videos?
...we need to be respectful of copyright laws and honoring the work of the creators who bring these books to us. 

For the purposes of this post, I'm focusing on helping with the copyright concerns. The good news is most publishers have extended temporary open permissions during this closure time. It's important to note that the permissions are coming from publishers, so you need to check the publisher of the book you are considering reading. Please also read the particulars from the publisher as they are all slightly different. Some allow only on closed sites (Google Classroom, Seesaw, Flipgrid, etc. - places where it is password protected), some allow YouTube as long as it is unlisted, some require a permissions statement at the beginning of the video, & some require an email to them. Most require them to be removed by a certain date at the end of this school year. So, yes, you can read most of the books you may want to and share that read aloud via video with your students, but pay careful attention to the permissions statements to honor the copyrights and ensure that these authors can still be writing books when we get further along in this crisis and back in our classrooms. 

I was going to create my own table to track these, but this Piktochart that librarian Jessica Purvis shared is amazing, and since she has them all together in an easy to see format, I'm sharing the link to her infographic with some screenshots.
The specific publisher details are located further down on her infographic

In addition, School Library Journal has created a COVID-19 Publisher Information Directory in a Google Doc that has all of the individual publisher permissions during this time!

They should all be covered, but if not, just be sure to check the publisher website or reach out to their school & library teams on Twitter.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

22 Asian American #ownvoices Picture Books for #classroombookaday

With everything happening and changing quickly with the concerns around Covid-19 and most schools being closed, I wanted to do some posts recommending picture books that you could record to share as virtual read alouds for your students (sharing in password-protected/closed groups or unlisted on YouTube preferably) to keep your #classroombookaday community going...if you are in an area where all families have access and the school supported providing devices if necessary. If not, then these recommendations would be good for you to read and add to your list for when we are back in school again. 

Most publishers have provided temporary open permissions during this time, but please see their sites for the complete detailed requirements before you record. Kate Messner is keeping an updated list of them here.& SLJ has an updated list here.
*Starred titles are from publishers who I have not yet seen a permissions statement from for video read alouds.

As I was contemplating how to focus this recommendation list, I saw this tweet from Kate, which clarified it for me. *Edited 3/19 4:45pm: I was called in on the fact that using Asian instead of Asian American is not the best way to word this as it "others" and erases the American identity that Asian Americans have. I have corrected each of my uses of the term & share to make my learning transparent and to help others learn also.

One of the ways I use my #classroombookaday choices intentionally is to help combat racism, bias, and stereotypes. What better chance than now to make this impact by featuring books from Asian American creators? 

March #cbadspotlight - Spotlight on At the Mountain's Base with Author Traci Sorell & Illustrator Weshoyot Alvitre

Though we are dealing with a new normal at this point with the majority of schools closed across the country for social distancing purposes, I don't want to lose sight of putting the spotlight on some amazing picture books. *Penguin Random House has given a temporary open license during this time to record a read aloud for your students. Please read, and follow, the specific details found here.

Today I'm shining the spotlight on 
Traci Sorell & Weshoyot Alvitre,
author & illustrator of #cbadspotlight pick 
43416624. sx318
A family, separated by duty and distance, waits for a loved one to return home in this lyrical picture book celebrating the bonds of a Cherokee family and the bravery of history-making women pilots.

At the mountain's base sits a cabin under an old hickory tree. And in that cabin lives a family -- loving, weaving, cooking, and singing. The strength in their song sustains them through trials on the ground and in the sky, as they wait for their daughter/sister/granddaughter/niece, a pilot, to return from war.

With an author's note that pays homage to the true history of Native American U.S. service members like WWII pilot Ola Mildred "Millie" Rexroat, this is a story that reveals the roots that ground us, the dreams that help us soar, and the people and traditions that hold us up. 

Thank you, Traci & Weshoyot, for joining me for a #cbadspotlight conversation today!

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

#classroombookaday Recommendations: Global Perspectives

Each month of this school year I am getting a chance to share a themed list of 20 recommended picture book titles for #CLASSROOMBOOKADAY read alouds in partnership with Follett Classroom. Each booklist is accompanied by a blog post explaining more in depth my thoughts in creating the list and why I chose those specific titles.

One of the great parts of this partnership is that my recommendation lists are also being saved in Titlewave which allows them to be easily found and shared with librarians for purchasing for school libraries!

My March list is picture books with Global Perspectives! 
[Please visit the link to read the accompanying blog post]
User-added image
You can also find all of my posts & lists I've done with Follett at my landing page bit.ly/heisefollett.

Book Trailer Premiere: SHORT & SWEET (Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast book 4) & #classroombookaday Recommendation List from Josh Funk

Josh Funk has been a huge supporter of #classroombookaday since the early days, and the Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast books are popular with those participating. And now there is a 4th book coming in the series! I'm honored to host the premiere of the book trailer for SHORT & SWEET today!
50096579. sx318
Take a peek and then scroll down below as Josh shares a list of his picture book recommendations for #classroombookaday read alouds!

Here are three weeks worth of #ClassroomBookADay picks from Josh Funk: 

Monday, March 9, 2020

March #cbadspotlight - Spotlight on Festival of Colors with Co-Authors Kabir & Surishtha Sehgal

Today I'm shining the spotlight on #cbadspotlight pick 
Festival of Colors,
with co-authors 
Kabir & Surishtha Sehgal
and their other books A Bucket of Blessings, The Wheels on the Tuk Tuk, Thread of Love, & P Is for Poppadoms!: An Indian Alphabet Book 
35297602. sx318
Learn all about Holi, the Indian Festival of Colors, in this lush picture book from bestselling mother/son duo Surishtha Sehgal and Kabir Sehgal.

Spring is here, and it’s almost time for Holi, the Indian Festival of Colors. Siblings Mintoo and Chintoo are busy gathering flowers to make into colorful powders to toss during the festival. And when at last the big day comes, they gather with their friends, family, and neighbors for a vibrant celebration of fresh starts, friendship, forgiveness, and, of course, fun!

Thank you, Kabir, for joining me for a #cbadspotlight interview today!

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Reading Across America with 50 Inclusive Picture Books

You may not be aware yet, but as of last year NEA changed the focus of Read Across America away from Dr. Seuss and to "Celebrating a Nation of Diverse Readers" - moving away from a singular focus on, and raising up of, one white male author who has a history of racist imagery* and toward a year-long celebration of the diversity that makes our country what it is. Dr. Seuss can be both a beloved author AND ALSO problematic. So it's time to move away from a day celebrating Seuss and into a year-long focus on inclusive choices

Because we cannot let nostalgia guide our decisions. Because we cannot allow racist or stereotyped imagery to be part of what we promote through our read aloud choices. Because we cannot refuse to move on from the past and bypass our responsibility to represent the entirety of what America is about today. 
As we head into Read Across America Day, here is a list of some alternative titles that would all make valuable choices as a replacement for Dr. Seuss in your read alouds this week.

Friday, February 28, 2020

February #cbadspotlight - Spotlight on The Roots of Rap with Author Carole Boston Weatherford

Today I'm shining the spotlight on 
Carole Boston Weatherford,
author of #cbadspotlight pick 
THE ROOTS OF RAP: 16 Bars on the 4 Pillars of Hip Hop
and also many other wonderful nonfiction titles including By and By: Charles Tindley, the Father of Gospel Music, Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library, Be a King: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Dream and You, How Sweet the Sound: The Story of Amazing Grace, Gordon Parks: How the Photographer Captured Black and White America, Freedom on the Menu: The Greensboro Sit-Ins, Sibert Honor Book Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, and more.
40396142. sx318
Explore the roots of rap in this stunning, rhyming, triple-timing picture book!

A generation voicing 

stories, hopes, and fears

founds a hip-hop nation.

Say holler if you hear.

The roots of rap and the history of hip-hop have origins that precede DJ Kool Herc and Grandmaster Flash. Kids will learn about how it evolved from folktales, spirituals, and poetry, to the showmanship of James Brown, to the culture of graffiti art and break dancing that formed around the art form and gave birth to the musical artists we know today. Written in lyrical rhythm by award-winning author and poet Carole Boston Weatherford and complete with flowing, vibrant illustrations by Frank Morrison, this book beautifully illustrates how hip-hop is a language spoken the whole world 'round, it and features a foreward by Swizz Beatz, a Grammy Award winning American hip-hop rapper, DJ, and record producer.

Thank you, Carole, for joining me for a #cbadspotlight post today!

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

#classroombookaday Recommendations: People Who Made a Difference

Each month of this school year I am getting a chance to share a themed list of 20 recommended picture book titles for #CLASSROOMBOOKADAY read alouds in partnership with Follett Classroom. Each booklist is accompanied by a blog post explaining more in depth my thoughts in creating the list and why I chose those specific titles.

One of the great parts of this partnership is that my recommendation lists are also being saved in Titlewave which allows them to be easily found and shared with librarians for purchasing for school libraries!

My February 2020 list is People Who Made a Difference! 
[Please visit the link to read the accompanying blog post]
User-added image
You can also find all of my posts & lists I've done with Follett at my landing page bit.ly/heisefollett.

Monday, February 17, 2020

#classroombookaday & Responsibility in Book Selection

Due to some disheartening comments in the #classroombookaday Facebook group related to sharing picture books with trans characters & pushback on racism with anthropomorphic monkeys, I felt the need to clarify a few things about my stance on book selection related to this initiative. I shared screenshots on Twitter and was asked to make it a blog post also for ease of access. Stick with me - this is long, but important. 

I'd like to clarify some things about my goals and intentions for this group. As #classroombookaday has grown and evolved over the past five years, so have I as an educator and human. Some of you are very new to this group. Perhaps you were directed here as a place to get good picture book recommendations. And that's fair, but first and foremost this is a group for people choosing to read aloud a picture book every day of the school year. With that comes a responsibility to our students. I look back at my first year's display and see the problematic choices I made in the books I chose. Now that I know better than to have mostly white authors, I am trying to do better (shoutout to Maya Angelou!).
Identities are not "controversial topics" 
As creator of this group & #classroombookaday, I want to reply to a comment that "This FB page is supposed to be about using books in the classroom, not to argue about controversial topics.  That does not help anybody and nobody wins." I unequivocally stand by not debating the humanity of my students & the critical need to support their lived experiences & identities through the books we share for #classroombookaday read alouds. Identities are not "controversial topics" - they are lived experiences and, especially as educators, students who live them, live with them, know them, or don't know them deserve our love and respect. Even better if we can facilitate that through the books we choose to share in read alouds. 

As I work on myself and learn more perspectives about being an anti-racist, anti-bias teacher, I reflect on how my choices in books for #classroombookaday can support or work against that goal. I reflect on the overt & subtle harm that can be caused to the children in front of me each day with the choices I make. Because this is about the kids. If my goal is to build community, support student identity and lived experiences, and help kids develop empathy, then my choices need to reflect that purpose. I cannot ignore what BIPOC scholars share about problematic content and ideas in picture books. I understand that we can't be limited by a single story and that no one person represents the feelings of all, but if even one BIPOC person who has done work around kidlit points out harmful content, I need to consider it and learn to look at books through a more critical lens. I am constantly learning and still miss things all the time. I make mistakes when analyzing books, but I listen to the critiques, learn from them, and move on to the next book with a deeper understanding. 
I reflect on the overt & subtle harm that can be caused to the children in front of me each day with the choices I make. Because this is about the kids. 
If you have seen me present in the last few years, you know I don't do so without a section on critical analysis and inclusive book selection. Here's the thing: when we have 180 chances to impact children's understanding and empathy and self-image and global perspective, we need to take every chance we can to support them as accepting human beings who will add to our society. Choosing not to share certain identities is not supporting the goal of growing community. ALL of these conversations are important within the context of participating in #classroombookaday! And whether people speak up or not, I know that by watching these convos perspectives are changed and stances toward the need for diversity enhanced and clarified. So the educators in this group are helped, and our students are the ones who win by being treated as valued members of our society and classrooms who can understand that not everyone is like them and be more accepting of that.

To be clear: There is no place for bigoted or hateful speech or actions or statements within this group, and I will moderate accordingly. There is a place for thoughtful discussion and sharing of ideas around books that support anti-bias, anti-racist teaching and critical selection of inclusive books. What you choose to do with that information and those conversations in your own classroom and choices of books is up to you. But please don't discount a book because you feel a marginalized identity is not appropriate for elementary school children - it is and they are. 
There is no agree to disagree on bigoted statements or erasing marginalized groups or perpetuating negative stereotypes or causing harm to children. 
As Admin of this group, and as stated in the group guidelines, it is my right to choose not to approve a post that does not align with these purposes, to shut down commenting, or hide comments that cross into hate speech. If a book has been critiqued as problematic, that discussion needs to happen, but implicit support is inferred by an uncritical post with a picture. When I first started on this learning, I often got defensive about being pushed out of my comfort zone and having my privilege pointed out to me and held onto ideas and books that I shouldn't have, but that was then also actively choosing to harm kids. Something we all need to reflect on. This isn't about agreeing with everything I think, but about supporting inclusiveness, students as multi-faceted human beings, and doing right by kids living in this society. There is no agree to disagree on bigoted statements or erasing marginalized groups or perpetuating negative stereotypes or causing harm to children. And please remember that comments made toward identities can be hurtful and harmful, and you don't know the identities or lived experiences of those in this group either.

Thank you for being part of this, supporting #classroombookaday, and striving to do right by ALL kids. 💕

You might also find this post sharing a twitter thread helpful: 12 Steps to Edugrowth When Called In

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

February #cbadspotlight - Spotlight on My Papi Has a Motorcycle with Author Isabel Quintero & Illustrator Zeke Peña

Today I'm shining the spotlight on 
#cbadspotlight pick 
My Papi Has a Motorcycle,
with author Isabel Quintero & illustrator Zeke Peña 
41542761. sx318
A celebration of the love between a father and daughter, and of a vibrant immigrant neighborhood, by an award-winning author and illustrator duo.

When Daisy Ramona zooms around her neighborhood with her papi on his motorcycle, she sees the people and places she's always known. She also sees a community that is rapidly changing around her.

But as the sun sets purple-blue-gold behind Daisy Ramona and her papi, she knows that the love she feels will always be there.

With vivid illustrations and text bursting with heart, My Papi Has a Motorcycle is a young girl's love letter to her hardworking dad and to memories of home that we hold close in the midst of change.

Thank you, Isabel & Zeke, for joining me for a #cbadspotlight author & illustrator conversation today!

Monday, February 3, 2020

February #cbadspotlight - Spotlight on The Proudest Blue with Author S.K. Ali

Today I'm shining the spotlight on 
S.K. Ali,
author of #cbadspotlight pick 
43853210. sx318
A powerful, vibrantly illustrated story about the first day of school--and two sisters on one's first day of hijab--by Olympic medalist and social justice activist Ibtihaj Muhammad.

With her new backpack and light-up shoes, Faizah knows the first day of school is going to be special. It's the start of a brand new year and, best of all, it's her older sister Asiya's first day of hijab--a hijab of beautiful blue fabric, like the ocean waving to the sky. But not everyone sees hijab as beautiful, and in the face of hurtful, confusing words, Faizah will find new ways to be strong.

Paired with Hatem Aly's beautiful, whimsical art, Olympic medalist Ibtihaj Muhammad and Morris Award finalist S.K. Ali bring readers an uplifting, universal story of new experiences, the unbreakable bond between siblings, and of being proud of who you are.

Thank you, S.K., for joining me for a #cbadspotlight interview today!

Friday, January 31, 2020

January #cbadspotlight - Spotlight on A Big Bed for Little Snow with Author/Illustrator Grace Lin

Today I'm shining the spotlight on 
Grace Lin,
author-illustrator of #cbadspotlight pick 
and also The Ugly Vegetables, Dim Sum for Everyone!, Bringing in the New Year,
& Caldecott Honor book A Big Mooncake for Little Star

43885033. sx318
A companion to the Caldecott Honor book A Big Mooncake for Little Star!

A heartwarming and tender picture book introducing readers to their first snow, from award-winning, bestselling author-illustrator Grace Lin.

When it was quiet, Little Snow grinned and then jumped, jumped, jumped! 
Little Snow loves the new big, soft bed Mommy made him for the long, cold winter nights. But Mommy says this bed is for sleeping, not jumping! What happens when he can't resist jump, jump, jumping on his new fluffy, bouncy bed?
Bestselling and award-winning author Grace Lin artfully introduces young readers to their first snow through striking illustrations and heartwarming moments. 

Thank you, Grace, for joining me for a #cbadspotlight video today!

Thursday, January 23, 2020

January #cbadspotlight - Spotlight on I Will Be Fierce! with Author Bea Birdsong

Today I'm shining the spotlight on 
Bea Birdsong,
author of
a January #cbadspotlight pick to set the tone for a new year.
37829001. sx318
It’s a brand-new day, and a young girl decides to take on the world like a brave explorer heading off on an epic fairytale quest. From home to school and back again, our hero conquers the Mountain of Knowledge (the library), forges new bridges (friendships), and leads the victorious charge home on her steed (the school bus).

This story is a powerful declaration about courage, confidence, kindness, and finding the extraordinary in everyday moments.

Thank you, Bea, for joining me for a #cbadspotlight interview today!

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

January #cbadspotlight - Spotlight on When Aidan Became a Brother with Author Kyle Lukoff

Today I'm shining the spotlight on 
Kyle Lukoff,
author of #cbadspotlight pick 
When Aidan was born, everyone thought he was a girl. His parents gave him a pretty name, his room looked like a girl's room, and he wore clothes that other girls liked wearing. After he realized he was a trans boy, Aidan and his parents fixed the parts of life that didn't fit anymore, and he settled happily into his new life. Then Mom and Dad announce that they're going to have another baby, and Aidan wants to do everything he can to make things right for his new sibling from the beginning--from choosing the perfect name to creating a beautiful room to picking out the cutest onesie. But what does "making things right" actually mean? And what happens if he messes up? With a little help, Aidan comes to understand that mistakes can be fixed with honesty and communication, and that he already knows the most important thing about being a big brother: how to love with his whole self.

When Aidan Became a Brother is a heartwarming book that will resonate with transgender children, reassure any child concerned about becoming an older sibling, and celebrate the many transitions a family can experience.

Thank you, Kyle, for joining me for a #cbadspotlight interview today!

Monday, January 13, 2020

#classroombookaday Recommendations: Perseverance

Each month of this school year I am getting a chance to share a themed list of 20 recommended picture book titles for #classroombookaday read alouds in partnership with Follett Classroom. Each booklist is accompanied by a blog post explaining more in depth my thoughts in creating the list and why I chose those specific titles.

One of the great parts of this partnership is that my recommendation lists are also being saved in Titlewave which allows them to be easily found and shared with librarians for purchasing for school libraries!

My January 2020 list is picture books good for discussing perseverance as we head into a new year. Be sure to check out my complete blog post & booklist, and find my others at bit.ly/heisefollet.