I am hoping that this post will become a weekly discussion of my favorite diverse books. Now, more than ever we need to support diverse voices and make sure that our children are hearing them too so that they can understand a variety of communities.
A Wish in the Dark by Christina Soontornvat Publisher: Candlewick Press Publishing Date: March 25, 2020 My Review: 5 Stars Age Group: MG – 4-8th grades Sensitive Content: classism, prison, children born out of wedlock, abuse of power Diversity: Christina Soontornvat is Thai and this book is influenced heavily on Thai culture Add on Goodreads Purchase on Amazon
Look Both Ways by Jason Reynolds Publisher: Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books Publishing Date: October 8, 2019 My Review: 3 Stars Age Group: MG – 4-8th grades Sensitive Content: bullying, death, homophobia Diversity: Jason Reynolds is a Black author and his characters in this novel span through different ethnicities, races, and across the LBGTQ spectrum Add on Goodreads Purchase on Amazon
They Called Us Enemy by George Takei Publisher: Top Shelf Productions Publishing Date: July 16, 2019 My Review: 5 Stars Age Group: YA Graphic Novel Sensitive Content: internment camps, homophobia, racism Diversity: George Takei is a Japanese American and gay Add on Goodreads Purchase on Amazon
Charlie Hernandez and the League of Shadows by Ryan Calejo Publisher: Top Shelf Productions Publishing Date: October 23, 2018 My Review: 5 Stars Age Group: MG – 3rd – 8th grade Sensitive Content: bullying, monster fighting, some allusion to curse words Diversity: Ryan Calejo is hispanic and Charlie Hernandez brings in a lot of Latin American myths and legends into his story Add on Goodreads Purchase on Amazon
The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani Publisher: Kokila Publishing Date: March 6, 2018 My Review: 5 Stars Age Group: MG – 4th- 8th grade Sensitive Content: death, violence, illness Diversity: Author is Jewish American/ Hindu Indian, characters in this book are in India and the MC is half-Muslim, half-Hindu Add on Goodreads Purchase on Amazon
So I am taking on the challenge to read through the 1001 Children’s Books in this massive anthology of children’s books, then I will rate and review them here and if I don’t think they belong on this list I will tell why.
Here is the Link to the Book if you are interested in purchasing your own copy if you are like me and love books about books: https://amzn.to/2RVa6mQ
I am going to be dividing this list up into sections of 10 – with the last post being 11 – so that it is not too overwhelming. As of right now I have no time table. I am hoping to find most of these from libraries so I don’t have to purchase too many of them.
So what credentials do I have to validate this list – or not ? I have a bachelor’s degree in education which requires children’s literature college credits and I have my master’s in library science in which I took many children’s literature courses as well. I taught daycare (toddlers through age 3 for 2 years, 3rd grade English Language Arts for 3 years, 5th and 6th grade language arts for a year, and I am in my 3rd year of being a PreK-12th grade librarian. I also serve on the Lectio Book Award committee (this is my 3rd year serving on this committee). I dedicate most of my free time to reading Middle Grade and Young Adult novels. I love reading and educating others about reading.
I am hoping to come up, along the way, a list of my own 1001 books every child should read by coming up with alternate titles to books that I didn’t think should be included in this anthology. I will be creating a spreadsheet and tracking all the books for my own anthology which will be shared with you all – complete with buy links.
My first impressions with this anthology is that a lot of the titles are older and therefore outdated. Part of this is because the anthology was published in 2009 so we have had over a decade of publishing since then, part of it is because it truly focuses on older books. There are not many diverse reads as this is full of the “classics” – or deemed classic by white men, and probably written by white men- but that doesn’t mean that newer and diverse reads shouldn’t be among the 1001 Children’s Books to Read in a Lifetime. So I have a feeling that I will be suggesting newer books to replace many of the titles listed throughout this brick of an anthology.
Maybe someday my own anthology will be published with more diverse reads, more literature written by women, and more interesting covers because the authors of the 21st century have been more inclusive than ever before and the technology we have to print illustrations has come a long way since the ages of the “classics”.
If you are up for this ride with me, make sure you are subscribed to my posts so you can get notifications when I post new things. Look for the first ten books coming soon!
*Hides Head behind Hands Because there are Too Many to Post* Let me just say I am real quick to add books to my TBR and then let them sit for MONTHS or YEARS on my shelves. I buy way more books each year than I read probably. Its okay though because I love them. Here are some of my most anticipated new releases.
4. Most Anticipated Release for the Second Half of the Year
This is the easiest of all the prompts for me because I spent WAY too much on a preorder for Wayward Son coming from the UK. Check it out. You can preorder it from Waterstones. The international shipping is what is making it expensive.
5. Biggest Disappointment
Also an easy one. If you watched my instagram stories for the last several weeks you would know how hard I struggled to finish Four Dead Queens. I just found it so flat and boring and I was really anticipating it because i had gotten it in 2 subscription boxes the month it was released.
6. Biggest Surprise
The Evil Queen by Gena Showalter! I LOVED this book so much and fairytale retellings are hit or miss for me. I either love or hate it. I wasn’t sure I would like this one since Snow White isn’t my favorite fairytale but the way this was told was phenomenal. read my entire review here.
7. Favorite Author (debut or new to you) Riley Sager writes fantastic thriller novels. I am so excited to read some more of his writing. He isn’t new on the writing scene but I hadn’t read anything of his until this year when I read Final Girls.
11. Book that Made You Happy There is just something about middle grade novels that just makes me so happy. They bring me back to my own childhood and the excitement of finding a good book to read in the school library or sitting in my bedroom reading all day because I wasn’t an adult and could. Here are some of my favorite middle grade reads of the year so far.
I really don’t know who to pick for this one because I have so many good supporters out there. I love everyone that supports me whether it be here, on Etsy or on Instagram.
So that’s it. The Mid Year Freak Out. And yes I am freaking out because as always there are too many books and not enough time!
My featured image for this post contains the pattern I made for my Spoonflower account which features the pattern on fabric, wallpaper, and wrapping paper. You can find it here. I also added it to my Redbubble so you can find this same pattern on mugs, pillows, home decor, and more. You can get the link to my Redbubble here.
Hello Followers! First off welcome to my new website erindeckerblog.com ! Please feel free to sign up for my newsletter on the tab at the top of my page to get updates and freebies sent straight to your inbox.
I am so excited that Heather and I have teamed up to do this Read-a-thon this summer. We had been chatting about our ridiculous TBR piles and how we would love to put some dents in them this summer. We figured other people may want to join us and how fun it would be to have a theme for the summer. Summer always makes me think of Road Trips and I said, “Hey what if we do a literary ROAD TRIP and travel through BOOKS” and thus RoadtripAThon was born!
Make sure you view my ReadaThon Calender here. If you know of a readathon, host a readathon, or love a readathon please let me know so I can add it to my calendar.
You Are Invited
What: RoadtripAThon 2019 Who:BibliophilePrints and CreativeChaotics on Instagram When: June 1st through August 31st 2019 Where: Sprints on Instagram stories, digital download here, physical shipped product here Why: Put a dent in your reading pile and potentially earn giftcards! How to Join: Follow the instructions below!!
If you would like a map you will have to purchase either the digital download or purchase a print out from Heather’s shop (links above) but you can pick from any of the following challenge groups to do for your entries as one “group”. Do one or all, it is your choice!
If you complete all 12 rounds you will have 12 entries. Remember if you complete 1–>4–>7 and want a second entry using 1, you need to read a different book for the second entry. Each entry should have 3 different books!
Heather and I also wanted to put ourselves on a bookban of some sort and then reward ourselves for each round, so we are only allowing ourselves to buy a new book at the conclusion of each round. If you decide to do the bonus entries and do a bookban you can reward yourself with a new ebook, regular book, or library book. Just snap a picture and post it with our handles and our hashtag for the challenge. So total if you do the bonus and all 12 rounds you can have up to 24 entries for the giveaway.
What do you get if you buy the Download/Roadtripathon Packet?
Questions? Just ask! Feel free to message either of us on instagram for more infomation.
I read 7 books this month, and with everything going on that feels like a HUGE feat. I was on several book tours this month and have been sent tons of books to review in May. I also attended TLA and brought home a ton of ARCs for this year and finished copies of books I am excited to read.
Here is what I read and some brief thoughts for each book
Arlo Finch and the Valley of Fire by John August – MG Fantasy Read for Lectio Committee, Selected for 2019-2020 school year
I loved this woodsy fantasy and had so much fun discovering the world that Arlo lives in with him. Would recommend to middle grade boy scouts, fans of camping books, and readers of MG fantasy. 5/5 Stars
The Secret of Nightingale Wood by Lucy Strange – MG Historical Fiction
This story is set in the early 1900s and a girl is trying to rescue her mother from mental illness and a doctor who is clearly taking advantage of the family. This book was dark and I thought it would have been better played out with an older protagonist and as a YA novel instead of MG. 3 out of 5 stars.
Panic Pointby Bill Briscoe – Adult Mystery Read for Lone Star Book Blog Tours
Read my review here
The Rainwater Secret by Monica Shaw – Adult Historical Fiction Read for Lone Star Book Blog Tours
Loved this historical fiction. The review will be up for the tour tomorrow so make sure you come back to find out why this was a 5 star read.
Dumplinby Julie Murphy – YA Contemporary
This adorable body loving book made me remember all over again what it felt like to be a teenager. Julie Murphy does an excellent job writing all her characters. I have known what it has felt like to be each of them at one point or another. 5 out of 5 stars – Bonus! I met Julie Murphy this month and she is wonderful!!
The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys – YA Historical Fiction
FAVORITE READ OF THE MONTH – This will more than likely be in my top 10 of 2019. This book sucked me in and told an amazing story. Read my 5 star review here.
Scytheby Neal Schusterman – YA Dystopian/ Science Fiction
Another amazing 5 star read. This book showcases what would happen if we actually achieved a Utopia type world and the consequences that it could bring. Absolutely recommend to fans of The Hunger Games and other dystopia fans.
What did you read this month? Have you read any of these books? What would you recommend to me since I enjoyed *almost* all of these!
Welcome to the Slumbering blog tour! Here we have another gorgeous book, this time the first installment in a wonderful YA series, called The Starlight Chroniclesby C.S. Johnson. Read on for exclusive content and a chance to win a print copy of the book!
Publication Date: December 2014
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy/ Satire
Sixteen-year-old Hamilton Dinger leads a charmed life. He’s got the grades for the top of the class, the abilities of a star athlete and Tetris player, and the charisma to get away with anything. Everything seems to be going along perfectly, including his plans to ask out Gwen Kessler, as he enters into tenth grade at Apollo Central High School. Everything, that is, until a meteor crashes into the city, releasing the Seven Deadly Sinisters and their leader, Orpheus, from their celestial prison, and awakening Hamilton’s longtime dormant supernatural abilities. Suddenly Hamilton finds reluctantly allied with his self-declared mentor, Elysian, a changeling dragon, and Starry Knight, a beautiful but dangerous warrior, as they seek to protect the souls of Apollo City from the Sinisters and their evil intentions. Can Hamilton overcome his ignorance and narrow-mindedness to see what is truly real? Can he give up his self-proclaimed entitlement to happiness in order to follow the call of a duty he doesn’t want? More importantly, will he willingly sacrifice all he has to find out the truth?
C. S. Johnson is the award-winning, genre-hopping author of several novels, including young adult sci-fi and fantasy adventures such as the Starlight Chronicles, the Once Upon a Princess saga, and the Divine Space Pirates trilogy. With a gift for sarcasm and an apologetic heart, she currently lives in Atlanta with her family. Find out more at http://www.csjohnson.me
I am so excited to announce I am hosting a 25 in 5 this month! I am going to the Texas Librarian’s conference the week before Easter and last year I came back with over $1000 worth of free books so I figure the long weekend I have afterwards will be the perfect opportunity for a huge readathon!
Save the Date: April 18 – 22
You can also buy and print the 25 in 5 trackers that I have in my Etsy store to help you during this readathon!
Title: Unravel Me Author: Tahereh Mafi Date Published: February 5, 2013 Publishing Company: HarperCollins Add It: Goodreads Buy It: Amazon
Unravel Me is book 2 in the Shatter Me series. I really liked the first book in this series and was so excited to read the second book. I hoped that it would include more world building into the dystopian future that Shatter Me had presented.
Unravel Me picks up where Shatter Me ended with Juliette and Adam in the underground community of government resistors. Juliette is finding out more about her powers and so is Adam. Juliette is having a hard time making friends with anyone else and is still thinking about her enemy… Warner.
I really hated this book. Like a lot. Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely loved Tahereh Mafi’s unique writing style and the world that she created but the only character I liked in this book is Kenji and he doesn’t get nearly enough page time or credit in this novel. The majority of this book is just 300+ pages of Juliette’s feelings about Adam and/or Warner. She treats other people like crap. Her relationship with Warner is just grossly emotionally controlling and abusive and yet romanticized. I would not want any teen or young adult reading this book and thinking that this type of relationship is normal or healthy. It’s not. I cringed the last 100 pages and really had to force myself to finish it.
I gave this book 2.5 stars and rounded to 3 instead of 2 because I loved the first book so much. The only people I would recommend this to is those who finished Shatter Me and are hopeful in reading book 3. I have heard book 2 is the worst in this series.
7:28 AM – Arrive at work. I start my mornings at our Upper Campus which is 6th through 12th grade. Most of the time I am the first to unlock the library which also houses the offices of our vice principal and school counselor.
7:35 AM – Computer is booted up. I spend this time checking my email and replying to what I need. This is also when I go over my planner for the day and add anything to it that I need to.
7:45 – Students start arriving in the library. Many of our dual credit juniors and seniors utilize the library on the mornings they are not on the junior college campus.
8:05 – Announcements End. This is when the break room clears out. If I need to print and copy anything I do this now. I also sometimes go for my second cup of coffee at this time, check in in the front office, and fill up my water.
8:15 – Start cataloguing. When I inherited this library my office was completely stacked floor to ceiling with books and old files. All the shelves in the library were crammed full. Since switching to an online automation from a card catalog last year (hello 21st century!) I have managed to clean a lot out. I am still cataloguing and weeding the shelves here and in my office. I catalog and prepare all new materials for both campuses here.
9:30 – Head to Elementary School (Pre-K through 5th grade)
9:35 – Check in at Elementary School
9:40 Teach Pre-K – Usually includes story time and some sort of activity in their journals. I also give them one sticker to put in their jounrals for each book we read.
10:20 – Teack Kindergarten – Same as preK but I vary the books and activities
11:00 Teach 2nd Grade – We are learning the dewey decimal system at this point and learning to navigate the library without my help. They are getting good at this.
11:30 – Front Office Duty
12:10 – Cataloguing at the Elementary School. I started cataloguing and weeding our 15,000 book collection last year when I got word I had to have the entire library in boxes for construction by the end of May. I ended up mostly weeding at this point. I am up to almost 4000 books in our online catalogue and I weeded about 5000 books last year.
12:45 Lunch time!
1:15 – Small break to read for the Lectio Committee I am part of. We pick 20 books each year for 4th through 8th graders to read. They get to vote on their favorite and the author gets a prize from us.
1:45 – Daily Duties – shelving, working with a volunteer, straightening shelves, checking in books, rearranging etc.
3:00 Last bell for the day
3:15 – Check all books in the book drop in
3:30 – Time to go home!
I hope you enjoyed this walk through of my typical Monday. What would you like to know about being a librarian?
When I started my Bookstagram I couldn’t help but envy all my friends who had beautiful crisp photos with white backgrounds. I tried everything to make really pretty photos, but I didn’t start seeing good results until I tried PicMonkey online photo editing. I cannot for the life of me remember who recommended this amazing tool but I use PicMonkey not only for photo editing but also to make graphics for advertising for my shop. This web tool has a website for the computer which is very powerful as well as an app version.
The great thing about PicMonkey is you can try all the features for free and then get one yearly fee to their basic subscription or pay a small monthly to get access to their program.
Click the link above to get a free trial and then do the walk through tutorial with me to see how I edit my photos!
This is a photo I took last week in my condo. I have a vinyl background that I bought from a company that is now out of business but there are lots of companies that sell backgrounds in vinyl and paper. I got vinyl which is pricey compared to paper but its very durable. Beginner Pro-Tip : get a white foam board or two from a craft store for an easy, clean background
So this picture was taken after 2 plus years of practicing. So if you are new, practice! You will get it. Getting lighting really makes a difference. I take pictures near an open window or with box lights (you can get them on Amazon for $50 to $80 which is worth the investment if you are trying to run a business or become a marketing rep for a company )
The first step is to click the button that says “edit a new image” and then open the file you want. This should look like this once the photo is open.
You will see on the left hand side all the photo editing tools as well as touch ups, text and image layering and texture adding. Along the top and you can use the share and export buttons. The first thing I use is the crop tool at the top with the pictures of the scissors.
I crop out the edges that don’t give much to the photo and center what I want the picture to focus on. For this photo that is the book, Fangirl, and the bookmark. Once you have the proportions that you think look best you hit the apply button and the rest of the photo you cropped out will disappear. This is also good if you want to crop to a perfect Instagram square.
Usually I don;t need to use any of the other canvas edit tools. Occasionally, I do have to use the image rotation but I don’t have to recolor my photos.
Next come the basic edits which can be the most useful of the tools in PicMonkey. Exposure is going to help you touch up your lighting. Colors can help you if you get those yellowy colored photos from indoor lighting and sharpen can help you focus up text in your photos if it is a little out of focus.
For the Exposure you have 4 basic sliding scale options set to 0% to play with. I always ignore that first one labeled Brightness even though if you are a newbie editor this would seem like the right choice to brighten your photo. The problem with this is that is washes out your colors. Use the other three. For my photos its always a little different but I usually increase highlights, decrease shadows, and very slightly increase contrast.
So as you can see for this photo, I increased the highlights by 98%, decreased the shadows by -15% and increased the contrast by 15%. Already, the bookmark and book are “popping” more off the background.
The next tool is colors. This one is a little more tricky to balance but it helps make your whites look white and your colors stay true in your picture.
You can usually use the auto-adjust for this and it does a good job. The white balance picker helps you balance your photo almost automatically or you can play with the temperature and tint. The most common photo problems I see on Bookstagram is the color being yellow from indoor lighting, That Temperature balance could help make the indoor lighting look a little more natural in photos.
For this photo I actually felt that the Temperature and Tint were a little cool and I wanted to make the pinks look more true to color so I turned up the Temperature and Tint a little bit. I also like my photos o be vibrant and fully saturated in color so I also turned up those two settings. This is a drastic difference now from the original photo.
For this last setting, Sharpen, you have to be careful not to over sharpen and make it look overdone. I turn up the strength and clarity just a little bit to make the lines and text a little sharper for this and then this is usually where my photo editing is done for Bookstagram photos.