Diversity Reading Challenge Young Adult

Solo by Kwame Alexander Combines Everything I love: music AND books!

Solo by Kwame Alexander

There is SO much to love about Solo by Kwame Alexander!

…tells the story of seventeen-year-old Blade Morrison, whose life is bombarded with scathing tabloids and a father struggling with just about every addiction under the sun—including a desperate desire to make a comeback. Haunted by memories of his mother and his family’s ruin, Blade’s only hope is in the forbidden love of his girlfriend. But when he discovers a deeply protected family secret, Blade sets out on a journey across the globe that will change everything he thought to be true.

The first thing you must know about this book is that it’s told in verse. And now as more books are written in verse, young readers will become familiar with it. Prose written in verse is just another way of catching the reader’s interest and teaching them to track words. Tricky teaching, I love it!

The best thing about the book is that it is a story of a Black family so it qualifies for the Diversity Reading Challenge but it is also a story that any YA reader will respond to. To imagine life as the child of a famous person? That must be the best life, right? We’ll see.

The third best thing about this title is that it includes a playlist! At the top of every chapter is a song with the artist information; so in theory you could load up your playlist and listen to a song as it relates to the chapter. Geniusness!!

Add this to your collection ASAP!

Diversity Reading Challenge Young Adult

Flying Lessons and Other Stories, edited by Ellen Oh

Flying Lessons and Other Stories

I’m just now starting to get back into short stories. When I was younger I was a fan; but then I went through a phase where I needed 300+ pages of a novel to settle me down. Lately, thanks to Neil Gaiman, I’ve gotten back into short stories.

I’m so glad I did too, because when Ellen Oh, the co-founder of We Need Diverse Books published this compilation of shorts I knew it was something I needed to get behind. If you’re into diversity, you will LOVE LOVE LOVE these stories. There is a story for practically every ethnicity, race, disposition, or whatever. It’s the perfect collection!

Every single ding dang story is like a peek into perfection. This is what YA literature should be! Inclusive and representing everyone. Sure you’ll love Kwame Alexander and Jacqueline Woodson, but you’ll fall in love, like I did with Soman Chainani’s grandmother, Tim Tingle’s uncle, and the heartbreak of a family “servant” in Grace Lin’s The Difficult Path. Ps. you can hear it here thanks to Penguin Random House.

Flying Lessons is diversity at it’s finest. Flying Lessons will make a fun addition to your Diversity Reading Challenge.


Lists resources

Books for Kids Who Want to Write

Books for Kids Who Want to Write

If you know of a kid who is an aspiring writer or a kid who just likes to write, I’ve got a surprise for you. Inspired by all the fun I had during NaNoWriMo and Camp NaNoWriMo I thought it would be fun to speak directly to the kiddies to see what they’re excited about when it comes to getting their thoughts down on paper (or computer).

I decided to host a writing workshop just for kids. It’ll be fun and funky and I hope to inspire kids to find their inner voice and put it to good use. All kids have a story to tell and I feel like maybe they just need a vehicle to help bring it out.

Here are the links to my writing workshops. They have online components, so location is no problem!

Fun and Funky Kids Writing Workshop I 

Fun and Funky Kids Writing Workshop II 

Depending on your child’s interest, you can enroll in a one day session or a more indepth two week session. Students will have homework. Click the links or the images to register or for more information.

And now on to the books! Here’s a list of books that your budding writer might enjoy reading to help them hone their craft.

Out of Wonder by Kwame Alexander 

This is not a primer on how to write, but rather inspiration. Alexander and friends have written poetry celebrating famous poets. You might just find the inspiration you need!

My Weird Writing Tips by Dan Gutman

Dan’s the man when it comes to weird. Kids familiar with the so famously funny My Weird School series will love seeing their favorite characters help them with grammar and other writing tips. His explanations are funny and SO accurate.

Writing Magic by Gail Carson Levine

The (marvelous other princess type books) author provides homework assignments and tips for getting your story to shine. I liked this book so much I bought it in paperback and Kindle so i’m always near a copy when I need ideas. Her tips are good for grownups too.

The Best Story by Eileen Spinelli

I’m anxious to read this because I love LOVE Eileen Spinelli and i think she will be a great person to help kids find their writing voice. Everyone gives our heroine an opinion of what makes a good story, but she’ll have to figure it out for herself, right? Plus? There’s a pirate on the cover and you know how we feel about pirates.

So. You’re all set. If you want to work on your next magnum opus (thats fancy latin for BIG WORK) start with these books. If you’re ready to get started, think about signing up for my workshop. I guarantee we will have fun!

Books Diversity Reading Challenge

Discover Your Next Read, Discover Black History Month

Discover Your Next Read, Discover Black History Month

Discover Black History Month

February is Black History Month!  It’s a special time of the year to celebrate the many accomplishments that African Americans have contributed to the world. Why should you care about Black History Month?

  • You know someone who’s Black
  • You don’t know someone who’s Black (and you should)
  • You share similar experiences at Black people but don’t know it
  • You share different experiences than Black people and you can learn from those experiences
  • Black people are not just stereotypes
  • Their contribution to society is vast and varied
  • There are many cool books by, for, or about Black people
  • etc

I will highlight books for, by and about African Americans all this month. I’ll bring you my favorites, ones I want to read, and ones that we can learn from. Think of this month as a very long party. With cake, of course! You’ll never know what you’ll learn from reading a book; you might discover your next great, read.

Join me?


2015 Diversity Reading Challenge

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander

Stop whatever you’re doing and RUN to the nearest bookstore and grab a few copies of Kwame Alexander’s The Crossover.

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander

To be sure, often when books are highly rated and win many awards I am skeptical. Sometimes award winners don’t thrill me. Call me a cynic but sometimes award winners are like medicine: you know they are good for you but sometimes they are hard to take. The Crossover is an EXCEPTION.

Not since Jacqueline Woodson’s Brown Girl Dreaming (SWOON) have I been this moved by a book. I loved The Crossover from beginning to end. Every reader for every book right? Well this is the book for every reader. If you’re African American, you’ll love this book. If you love sports you’ll love this book. If you have a sibling, you’ll love this book. If you’re a middle grade tween reader and you’re struggling to find your place in the world, this book is for you. If you just love a gosh dang great story, this book is for you!

“With a bolt of lightning on my kicks . . .The court is SIZZLING. My sweat is DRIZZLING. Stop all that quivering. Cuz tonight I’m delivering,”

I cannot express how much I love this book! From the rhyming opening lines of the tale, to the relationship between the twin brothers and their father, I’m not sure exactly when I fell in love. Alexander’s story is equally funny, tender, relevant, and appealing to everyone. I don’t know much about basketball but Alexander makes you feel like you are on the court with these kids dribbling along with them.

The only thing I hated about the book was that it ended. I could have read this book forever. In fact this is a book that you will re-read again and again.

It’s just that good.

The Crossover is  a Diversity Reading Challenge book and would make the perfect holiday gift for anyone. EVERYONE!

Kwame Alexander, please keep writing books! Also? Call me. (fainting)