Picture Books for Black History Month

Another installment of our picture book reading this month.

❤️ Harlem’s Little Blackbird: The Story of Florence Mills was so fantastic. I loved the story and the illustrations.❤️

❤️ The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage. I always like sharing these kinds of stories with Gage so I can see his complete shock that anyone would think it’s okay to tell people who they can and can’t marry. We ARE making progress. ❤️

❤️Sisters & Champions: The True Story of Venus and Serena Williams. We’ve read a few books about these powerhouse women and this one was really good. ❤️

❤️ Follow Chester!: A College Football Team Fights Racism and Makes History. Perfect for Gage’s Super Bowl reading 😁

❤️ Opal Lee and What It Means To Be Free: The True Story of the Grandmother of Juneteenth.

Sing a Song: How Lift Every Voice and Sing” Inspired Generations

This is the Rope: A Story From the Great Migration by Jaqueline Woodson

Sweet People Are Everywhere by Alice Walker. I like the idea, but needed more.

Visiting Langston by Willie Perdomo and Bryan Collier. There wasn’t much of a story but we loved the illustrations.

This Week – Immersive Valentines

On Valentine’s Day I took my two loves to the Immersive Van Gogh exhibit. I went with my mom in December and knew that they would love it. If you have a chance to see it make sure you do.

Other highlights of the week – Two Gage doctor appointments, both with very different opinions. I’m currently on the fence and have a ton more research to do. Instead of doing that, I have cleaned our laundry room top to bottom and I’m exhausted, lol.

The board of our Friends of Library group welcomed 4 new board members on Monday and I successfully balanced the books for the month. Only 11 more months as treasurer (not that I’m counting or anything. I hate being in charge of this much money).

ETR phone meeting complete. IEP coming up on Tuesday. Sending positive energy my way for that would be appreciated. Since he’s a homeschool kid I’m not stressing too much because if I send him back to public school we have to redo the whole process anyway. It feels like wasted time that’s only going to stress me out. Have you had to be part of an IEP meeting? It’s a group of educators taking turns telling you what your child’s deficits are. Can it be useful? Yes. As a parent do I usually end up crying in the car after? Yes.

Currently reading

Books read this year – 68

Posts this week

Two Good Books

Cybils Award Winners


Jason and I flew through season 2 of Discovery of Witches. Looking forward to the concluding third season.


We watched this with Gage since he liked the first one.

Puzzles Completed

Plans for the weekend

I’m not sure, but the weather will be nice tomorrow so we’ll do something outside. What about you?

I’m linking up with The Solon Salon at Readerbuzz.

Two Good Books

I’ve been reading so many picture books this month that I’ve been struggling to finish books over 40 pages, lol. Here are two that I read and liked… (The TBR book service I mentioned below is having a giveaway for one lucky person to try it for free here)

Last year Razorblade Tears was a standout for me so I decided to try his other book that also received a lot of buzz, Blacktop Wasteland. I listened, and as before, Adam Lazarre-White made it flow like fine wine.

Beauregard ‘Bug’ Montage is a reformed criminal with a wife and kids, but when money troubles threaten to consume him he finds an opportunity. No fast money is free and Bug must turn back into the man he said he would never be again. With his father’s ghost hanging over him and threats to his family turning ugly Bug has to choose who he is and who he wants to be.

Lots of violence, like the other one, and that didn’t bother me. I wasn’t quite as drawn into the storyline as I was with Razorblade, this one is heavy into cars, but I did love getting an inside look at Bug’s life. If you liked Razorblade Tears this will probably be your kind of read as well. A good Black History Month choice too.

The Inheritance of Orquidea Divina was in my first box of books from Book Riot’s TBR (Tailored Book Recommendations) and I’m thrilled with this selection. Rey chose this for me because it’s a family saga full of magical realism in the vein of Isabel Allende.

The Montoya family has been summoned back to Four Rivers to attend the death of the matriarch, Orquidea. I loved her transformation and the way the family reacted to it. She leaves them all a gift, some beautifully visible for the world to either admire or shy away from.

Three of the cousins are close and this becomes their story as well as a quest to learn more about the life of Orquidea and how it poses a danger to them now.

The story was full of whimsy, magic, and foreboding and I really enjoyed it. In the end, while I did get Allende vibes, I wish some of the characters had been more fleshed out. But that is a small wish about a book I really had fun with.

And this is why it’s great to have someone else choose books for you. I never would have picked this up and yet it was exactly what I was in the mood for 😁

Cybils Award Winners

Cybils Awards
The Cybils Awards announced their winners this week, so make sure to check out all of the category finalists and winners.

I had the honor of being a finals judge for the Cybils Awards again this year for both board books and picture books. The five of us exchanged a flurry of emails after we’d read these 7 finalist board books and chose a winner…

🎉Big Bear, Little Bear by Marine Schneider was universally loved and a perfect book to read and reread with your wee babes. Simple and sweet with touches of humor, it has a nostalgic feel that’s sure to please. 🎉

The other finalists were also fantastic and I can easily recommend all of them for the 0-3 crowd.
❤️ Comparrotives by Janik Coat (I was so charmed by this parrot!)
❤️ Circle Under Berry by Carter Higgins was Gage’s favorite.
❤️ Animals Go Vroom by Abi Cushman had a fun animal story with peekaboo pages.
❤️This is Still Not a Book by Jean Jullian was full of whimsy with funny pictures and pull up pages.
❤️Turn Seek Find Habitats by Ben Newman is a new take on hidden picture fun with the turn of a wheel changing what you seek every time through.
❤️ Caution! Road Signs Ahead by Toni Buzzeo and Chi Birmingham is an easy choice for your car loving toddlers with big road signs and what they mean.

For the Picture Books category we had 7 fabulous choices and between the 5 of us finalist judges we chose…

🎉 Watercress by Andrea Wang and Jason Chin 🎉 This has won many awards this past year for good reason. A quiet story with heart and an important message. Eat weeds for dinner that your family picked on the side of the road? That’s a tough sell for any kid. This was my and our favorite.

Other finalists
❤️ Someone Builds the Dream by Lisa Wheeler and Loren Long ❤️ I loved this one almost as much but for different reasons. Want to teach your kid to celebrate everyone who contributes to building bridges or rides or parks? This is your book!
❤️ Bodies Are Cool by Tyler Feder❤️. Every child needs to spend some time with this book. Seriously. This book celebrates every body type you can imagine. I can’t recommend this one enough for body diversity awareness. And it’s really fun too!
❤️ The Midnight Fair by Gideon Sterer and Mariachiara Di Giorgio❤️ This story of animals taking over the fair at night has no words and doesn’t need them. Loved it.
❤️ Change Sings: A Children’s Anthem by Amanda Gorman and Loren Long. Beautifully celebrates the difference one child can make in the world.
❤️Itty-Bitty Kitty Corn by Shannon Hale and Leiden Pham. Cat or unicorn lovers will want this one.
❤️ Arlo Draws An Octopus by Lori Mortensen and Rob Sayegh Jr, is perfect for any budding artists out there.

Have you read any of these?

This Week – Celebrate!

Fave Pic

Highlights of the Week We had a lovely get together with my parents celebrating their 53rd wedding anniversary and my Dad’s 75th birthday.  

I signed up for Book Riot’s TBR: Tailored Book Recommendations and these 3 beautiful hardcover books arrived on my doorstep with a letter from Rey telling me why she chose each one. I started the first already.

Gage went to the dentist and had no cavities.

Go Bengals! They might be out in-state rivals but they’re representing Ohio so I hope they can pull it off!

Could’ve been better The dentist said Gage needed braces by summer. I had to make yet another trip to the school that Gage doesn’t attend to fill out more paperwork for his ETR/IEP meeting next week. If you don’t know what those letters mean consider yourself blessed. Started the process of getting Gage officially diagnosed with ADHD. It’s a ridiculous process considering, but I’m finally ready to try medication and we’ve got to jump through a bunch of hoops yet. We put off of February trip and now I wish we’d just taken off for a few weeks.

Currently reading

The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina
The Duchess Countess: The Woman Who Sca…Can I Touch Your Hair? Poems of Race, M…A Child's Introduction to African Ameri…


Parable of the Sower (Earthseed, #1)
I tried, I really did, but it just wasn’t working for me 1/4 of the way through. I rarely give up on books but have resolved to do better. Too many great books to take up valuable reading time on something that isn’t speaking to you.

Books finished this year – 59.


We breezed right through this first season on Amazon Prime. It’s the Jack Reacher series done right.


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Through My Window film poster.png

Puzzles completed

Plans for the weekend Watch the Super Bowl and try to sneak in some reading! Are you planning to watch the Super Bowl?

Black History Month Kids Picture Books, pt.2

It’s been another great week for picture books! I’ll list them in the order I liked them best and give you a few thoughts. In the morning as we start our day I read a picture book (I sometimes make him read, but the morning goes a lot better for everyone if I don’t make him ‘work’ first thing, lol). Sometimes we just talk about the story or the time in history and sometimes we explore more with writing or videos. He always has to sum it up or include important points in his journal. All in all, most days it takes 10-25 minutes.

The Other Side
The Other Side by Jacqueline Woodson and E.B. Lewis, 32 pages, pub. 2003

I love this writing/illustrating duo. Their books are timeless even if they seem like a quaint story of a time gone by. Clover is told that she has to stay on her side of the fence because white people lived on the other side and blacks stayed on their side. But one summer she always saw a girl sitting ON the fence and in time made her way to the top of the fence too. I adored this book and the hope it gives for the children of today paving the way to a better future.

Trombone Shorty
Trombone Shorty by Troy “Trombone Shorty”Andrews and Bryan Collier, 40 pages, pub. 2015

It didn’t take us long to realize that this book overlapped with The 5 O’Clock Band that we read last year. This was more about a moment with Bo Diddley that Andrews had when he was just a young boy with a beat up trombone he found on the street. Gage loved this true moment in time and we had fun with the photos in the back. Loved it. As always, Collier sparkles as an illustrator.

Let's Talk about Race
Let’s Talk About Race by Julius Lester and Karen Barbour, 32 pages, pub. 2005

This eye-catching book is a great starting point for a discussion about race. It starts with the story everyone has and how it’s impossible to know the whole of anyone if we just look at the outside. He uses the example of shedding our skin as we move through life and how preferable that would be. Wouldn’t that be lovely? Unfortunately, that isn’t the world we live in so a real conversation must happen after the book is done. But it was visually appealing and a conversation starter.

Ellen's Broom
Ellen’s Broom by Kelly Starling Lyons and Daniel Minter, 32 pages, pub. 2012

Ellen’s parents and others celebrate when it becomes legal for them to be married in the eyes of the government. Until then, jumping the broom was the way slaves married. I loved the celebration of new beginnings and progress being made. It didn’t have as much detail about the tradition as I would have liked, but it was a good starting point and I loved the illustrations.

When Langston Dances
When Langston Dances by Kaija Langley and Keith Mallett, 40 pages, pub. 2021

This inspiring story of a boy finding the courage to do something unexpected is gorgeously illustrated. Langston was good at basketball, but he ADORED dancing. A sweet story sure to appeal to younger kids.

Lift Your Light a Little Higher: The Story of Stephen Bishop: Slave-Explorer
Lift Your Light a Little Higher: The Story of Stephen Bishop Slave-Explorer by Heather Henson and Bryan Collier, 32 pages, pub. 2016

I liked the idea of this book based on the few details about the man that we know. Stephen was of several slaves who gave tours of Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. The cave is the biggest in the world and he made a few discoveries during his 20 years. The story was a little to little for me to really love it, but the history at the back was interesting.

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Flying Free: How Bessie Coleman’s Dreams Took Flight by Karyn Parsons and R. Gregory Christie, 48 pages, pub. 2020

The first black woman to get her pilot’s license in 1921 had to go to France to learn to fly. I loved the additional pages with timelines and photos in the back It was also fun to read about this period because of how it relates to Jason’s great grandfather who learned to fly in this era.

This Week – Snow Globe

Fave pic We went for a walk at the park today. It was a short, cold one (20 degrees), but lovely to be out in the sun for a bit.

Highlights of the week The snow was beautiful? How much did you get where you are? We ended up with about a foot, but the drift in our yard has made it more like a few feet. Tomorrow will be about freezing and sunny so hopefully some of it will melt.

Could’ve been better We need a road trip!

Currently reading

The Duchess Countess: The Woman Who Sca…
Can I Touch Your Hair? Poems of Race, M…A Child's Introduction to African Ameri…Comfortable with Uncertainty: 108 Teach…

Posts this week

January Movies and Money for Charity

January Favorites and February Intentions

Black History Month Picture Books

Books read this year – 52


We finished up Ozark season 4, part 1. Looking forward to seeing how they wrap this series up. We watched the first episode of Reacher based on the Lee Child series and are happy with the new Reacher.

Puzzles finished

Do you have a favorite Jane Austen couple?

The World of Jane Austen 1,000 piece puzzle has 60 characters hidden in plain sight. It comes with a poster and instructions on who they all are and how to find them.

This was a fun treat.

Plans for the weekend Tomorrow we’re headed to a neighbor’s house for sledding. Jason and Gage went yesterday and the pictures looked like so much fun I invited us back so I could go 😉

Black History Month picture books

What does Black History Month look like for our homeschooling? I checked out 28 picture books. We are using two for month long lessons so they’ll show up later and we’re reading, watching, writing, talking about one book a day. Yes, this means even weekends we’ll have books to read. Our first three have been terrific.

My Name is James Madison Hemings is for older kids who you can have deeper conversations with. Thomas Jefferson had 4 children with his slave Sally Hemings and this is their story from the perspective of one of the sons. How would you feel if you lived in one room under the terraces built in the hillside with your three siblings and mother while your father had his other family in the palatial Monticello? What if your father listed you as property, next to the sheep and hogs in the farm book?

There was so much to unpack and it led to great discussions about how people who do great good can also do bad things. By focusing only on the good doesn’t that show an incomplete picture of history? I could go on, but you get the idea 😁. We also watched a video that I’ll try to link to below. Such an important story.

Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave was a real man who made approximately 40,000 pots with poetry sometimes carved in. Some of these pots are still around today, 200 years later. We paired this with videos of current potters and learned more about the process.

Freedom in Congo Square is about a real place in New Orleans where black people could meet once a week (it became the only place they could congregate on their one day off a week) and keep their African traditions alive. The pictures are colorful and the reading easy for younger kids.

We’re going chronologically through a history book, so not all the books will be about slavery.

I’ll keep our picture books to a once a week recap, but want to make sure I highlight the really good ones – like these!

January favorites and February intentions

I’ve managed to keep my book a day streak alive! 31 books!

13 picture books
3 fiction
3 young adult
3 chapter books
2 non-fiction
2 contemporary romance
1 historical romance
1 thriller
1 historical fiction
1 kids graphic novel

Technically, I’ve read 13 more for Cybils Award judging, but since I can’t talk about them until judging is done and winners are announced, I’ll count them next month 🙂

My favorites

The Comfort Book
The Comfort Book by Mark Haig. I talked about it here.
The Siren of Sussex (Belles of London, #1)
The Siren of Sussex by Mimi Matthews. I talked about it here.
Kelley Armstong’s Darkness Rising trilogy. I talked about it here.
Just Haven't Met You Yet
Just Haven’t Met You Yet by Sophie Cousens. I haven’t even done any kind of review and to preserve my sanity this will have to serve as a recommendation. It’s a quirky, modern British romcom. I listened to this one and thought the meet cute aspect of it really worked. It delved into serious parent issues without ever feeling weighed down or losing its spark.
Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters
Of Thee I Sing by Barack Obama. Since I read so many picture books I should share my favorite one! I talked about it here.

Last February I read a book by an African American author every day for Black History Month. I found new authors I fell in love with, Jesmyn Ward, August Wilson, Beverly Jenkins, Octavia Butler…the list goes on.

So, I chose books from last year discoveries, plus a Toni Morrison, that I’m going to try and get to this month. In January I read 6 of the 8 I selected at the beginning of the month so we’ll see how I do with this 9.

I started by reading Jesmyn Ward’s Tulane graduation speech turned into the book Navigate Your Stars. It’s an inspirational story of her growing up believing that college meant success. What she found was that hard work and persistence led to success and that a college degree was no golden ticket. There was also personal reflection on how we often judge people and the circumstances they find themselves in and how this view can change over time if we make the effort to continue to grow. The illustrations were gorgeous. A great gift for graduates at any level.