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Looking for Books With Black Characters For Your Son? This Book Club Has You Covered

By on Oct 27, 2015 | 3 comments

Around these parts we’re always on the look out for more books with characters of color. While Le Kid and I visit our local Barnes & Noble often to see what’s new, sometimes it’s difficult to find books with Black characters amid the overflowing shelves. We’ve created our own list of 35 books for boys, but we always want more things to read. If you don’t have a lot of time to hang out at the bookstore or the library, there’s a new book club that wants to make it super easy for your kiddo to find something culturally relevant to read. Founded by Dr. Hamidah Sharif-Harris, the Little Buzz Book Club hand-selects African, Caribbean and African American themed children’s books and sends them to members each and every month. The Little Buzz Book Club offers subscriptions for preschoolers, young readers, and independent readers, and also offers goodies like a t-shits and reading pillows. I haven’t signed up for the Little Buzz Book Club, but a friend (actually two) told me to check it out, so it might be something I look into for next year. Head over to the Little Buzz Book Club site to learn more, or check out our list of 35 books for boys, here. Happy reading! Related Post You HAVE To See This Trailer For ‘Raising Dion,... OMG: Maya Angelou & Jean-Michel Basquiat Wrot... 3 Must-Read Children’s Books About Dr. Martin Lu... 7 Picture Books to Read With Little Brown...

You HAVE To See This Trailer For ‘Raising Dion,’ a Comic Book About a Single Mom Raising a Superhero

By on Sep 2, 2015 | 1 comment

Single moms often get a bad rap, but not in Raising Dion, a new comic book by writer Dennis Liu and artist Jason Piperberg. In the book, the spotlight is firmly on Dion’s mom, Nicole, who’s doing her best to give her seven-year-old son a normal childhood despite his super powers. So, how do you raise a superhero? Rule number one: “Never take your eyes off of him; his powers can be unpredictable,” Nicole explains in the tailer for the comic book. Unlike other superhero stories, Raising Dion centers on Nicole, the person without the powers. In the book, we learn that Nicole is a widow who will stop at nothing to protect her son. Nicole homeschools Dion and tries to teach him how to use his unexplainable powers for good. Here’s how Liu describes Raising Dion: “Nicole, raises her 7 year old son, Dion, who has superpowers. Life was hard enough keeping up with the bills, let alone trying to keep track of her son’s invisibility, plasma powers, and telekinesis. In order to study his progress, Nicole films her son 24/7 with the help of her friend, Pat, who is an aspiring filmmaker. But when Nicole starts to notice mysterious men tailing her, and with Dion’s developing abilities constantly changing and becoming more powerful and possibly evil, she must find the courage deep within herself that she can raise Dion on her own.” The trailer for Raising Dion is AH-MAY-ZING, and it not only made me want to run out and buy the book (note: they’re not really for young kids because, let’s just say, romance happens), but it also makes me wish it were an actual film. Please God…let this be a film!  For now, you can download the first issue of Raising Dion for free (here), or buy a physical copy (here). All proceeds from the book will will help Liu and Piperberg produce the entire series. In the meantime, watch the trailer and let me know how much you love it. Awesome, right? Related Post Looking for Books With Black Characters For Your S... 7 Picture Books to Read With Little Brown Boys 35 Books Boys Will LOVE! 3 Must-Read Children’s Books About Dr. Martin...

How Do You Encourage Your #BrownBoyGenius to Read?

By on Apr 20, 2015 | 2 comments

Let’s face it, some boys just don’t like to read. As a former English teacher and current writer, I dreamed of my son following my footsteps and falling in love with the written word, but when I told me he hated to read I felt like I failed as a parent. I mean, my child hates to read? As if! After getting over my initial shock, I listened to what my son was actually saying. He hated to read because it was hard for him (and so many other boys), but he still loved hearing stories. So I read, and read, and read and kept on buying books I thought might interest him until one day he uttered the words that made me super happy: I’m a reader!  Recently I saw a tweet about a program that encourages boys to fall in love with reading by putting in reading nooks in barbershops around New York City. It sounded pretty awesome, so I reached out to the founder of Barbershop Books for my TakePart column. Alvin Irby, a former elementary school teacher and current grad student, shared the inspiration for Barbershop Books and where he hopes to take the program in the future. Irby says the idea came to him after he watched one of his first grade students stare aimlessly out of a barbershop window while he waited for a trim. “I wished I had a book I could give him so he could practice his reading,” Irby remembers, explaining that the young man also needed to improve his literacy skills, a challenge that plagues far too many boys. Read the entire article on the TakePart site. Irby initially funded Barbershop Books out of his own pocket, but he recently won a $5000 grant for the program from the Fels Public Policy Challenge Competition. He also relies on donations. The reading stations are currently housed in six shops spread across Harlem and Brooklyn, but Irby hopes to expand to 25 by the end of the year. Encouraging reading and helping our boys develop competent literacy skills is integral to their success. The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading breaks down why making sure boys are proficient by the 3rd grade is so important. Mastering reading by the end of third grade is essential for school success since students begin to transition at that point from learning to read to reading to learn. Those who do not hit the proficiency mark by then are four times more likely to drop out of high school, research shows. Among those who do not read well, the dropout rates are twice as high for African-American and Hispanic students as they are for white students. White male students are three times more likely to be reading proficiently in the fourth grade than their African-American peers and more than twice as likely as Hispanic boys, according to a data analysis by the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s KIDS COUNT Data Center.  The statistics are even more startling for children of color from low-income families, with just 10 percent of the African-American boys and 14 percent of Hispanic boys reading proficiently, compared to 25 percent for their white peers. So how can we encourage boys of color to fall in love with reading? According to Irby, it’s all about access and finding books they’ll love. “If children have easy access to books, they’re much more likely to read for fun. If the books are interesting and engaging, they’re more likely to keep reading and read again. The more children read for fun, the better they become at reading,” he said. How do you encourage your BrownBoyGenius to love reading? Share your tips in the comments section!  Related Post It’s Time to Change the Story About Brown Boys From Jail to Interviewing the President, See Why T... Here Are 3 Books We’re Loving Right Now No, Shaming Kids In Public Won’t Make Them...

OMG: Maya Angelou & Jean-Michel Basquiat Wrote a Children’s Book!

By on Apr 18, 2015 | 0 comments

Le Kid and I were wandering through the children’s section in Barnes & Noble​ when I spotted something that looked a lot like painter Jean-Michel Basquiat’s work. As I got closer, I noticed it was his work. But that wasn’t the best part. As I picked up the book, I saw it not only included Basquiat’s paintings, but also Maya Angelou​’s words! Could it be? Two of the most important artists of the 20th Century together in one book? Yup! How wonderful! Maya Angelou & #Basquiat have a children’s book. How dope is this?! #BrownBoyGenius #books #awesome A video posted by Brown Boy Genius (@brownboygenius) on Apr 18, 2015 at 6:50pm PDT In Life Doesn’t Frighten Me, Maya Angelou’s poems speak to the courage within each child. While unknown things, darkness, and new experiences may make a kiddo nervous, Angelou writes about not being afraid. Here’s the synopsis: “Shadows on the wall/Noises down the hall/Life doesn’t frighten me at all.” Maya Angelou’s brave, defiant poem celebrates the courage within each of us, young and old. From the scary thought of panthers in the park to the unsettling scene of a new classroom, fearsome images are summoned and dispelled by the power of faith in ourselves.Angelou’s strong words are matched by the daring vision of artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, whose childlike style reveals the powerful emotions and fanciful imaginings of childhood. Together, Angelou’s words and Basquiat’s paintings create a place where every child, indeed every person, may experience his or her own fearlessness.In this brilliant introduction to poetry and contemporary art, brief biographies of Angelou and Basquiat accompany the text and artwork, focusing on the strengths they took from their lives and brought to their work. A selected bibliography of Angelou’s books and a selected museum listing of Basquiat’s works open the door to further inspiration through the fine arts. I couldn’t help flipping through the book while I waited for the kid, and it’s settled, I’m going to buy it. I’ve always been attracted to Basquiat’s work, and would LOVE to own a painting, but alas…they’re so expensive. This book–which is FULL of Basquiat’s artwork–will be the next best thing. Check out the book on Amazon, here. Related Post Looking for Books With Black Characters For Your S... You HAVE To See This Trailer For ‘Raising Dion,... Here Are 3 Books We’re Loving Right Now 3 Must-Read Children’s Books About Dr. Martin...

7 Picture Books to Read With Little Brown Boys

By on Mar 16, 2015 | 8 comments

Reading to your child is an extremely important part of their childhood. It not only serves of as a great bonding experience, but it also helps kids develop language and cognitive skills that will stay with them for the rest of their lives. While there are literally millions of children’s books on the market, books featuring boys of color are not as plentiful as others. And while you can read just about anything to your #BrownBoyGenius and he’d probably love it, it’s extremely affirming and empowering for young boys to read books with characters who look like them. Although we’ve shared a list of our favorite books for boys of all ages (here) before, we’re back with a list of 7 picture books that are perfect for cuddling up and reading with your little #BrownBoyGenius. Take a look. The New Small Person by Lauren Child Is your family getting a new member? If so, the New Small Person will help your little genius deal with becoming a big brother. In this cute book, Elmore’s life quickly changes when his parents welcome a new baby. At first, Elmore feels like the small person is taking over, and even taking his spot. But he soon starts to enjoy being a big brother. Check it on Amazon, here. Brothers of the Knight by Debbie Allen Brothers of the Knight re-imagines the fairy tale of the Twelve Dancing Princesses. In this version, which takes place in Harlem, Preacher Knight wonders why his sons’ shoes are always “worn to threads” and “torn up” every morning. Here’s a hint: they’re having a good ol’ time. Read a preview on Amazon, here. Full, Full, Full of Love by Trish Cooke In Full, Full, Full of Love little Jay Jay is dropped off at his grandma’s house and quickly finds all kinds of interesting things to get into while his grandmother is busy preparing Sunday dinner. No worries, grandma enlists his help and keeps him occupied until the guests arrive and the whole family sits down to a tasty meal. Full, Full, Full of Love is about family, traditions and, of course, food. Check it out on Amazon, here. Peekaboo Morning by Rachel Isadora In this too-cute board book a toddler is playing peekaboo with everyone in the family including mommy, daddy, grandma, grandpa, and even the puppy! Peekaboo Morning is perfect for baby geniuses who are learning how to play peekaboo themselves. Take a look on Amazon, here. The Bat Boy and His Violin by Gavin Curtis Reginald loves to play the violin, but his father, the manager of a Negro League baseball team, thinks he should stop playing and help out with the team as the bat boy. Even though he loves to play, Reginald goes to serve as bat boy for the team, who happen to be the worst in the league. When Reginald starts to play his violin in the dugout, the team’s luck turns around, and eventually his dad’s opinion does too. Check it out on Amazon, here. My Cold Plum Lemon Pie Bluesy Mood by Tameka Fryer Brown Jamie is feeling GOOD, and he knows exactly how to describe it. He’s feeling purple, like the first sweet bite from a plum. As the day progresses Jamie’s mood changes and he chooses colors to capture just how he’s feeling. Even when things aren’t so sweet (i.e. when his older brothers are pushing him around), Jamie uses his crayons to describe how he feels. Through this colorful book, boys will learn how to describe their feelings in a very personal and unique way. View it on Amazon, here. Ron’s Big Mission by Rose Blue Based on the life of astronaut Ronald McNair, Ron’s Big Mission tells the story of how the future scientist had to overcome discrimination just to be able to check out books from his local library. Although the book touches on racism, it may serve as a great teaching tool to discuss race and racism with your little genius. Oh, and it’s super inspiring too! Find it on Amazon, here. What picture books does your #BrownBoyGenius love? Share in the comments section below! *This post contains affiliate links.  Related Post Stand With Ahmed By Encouraging Your BrownBoyGeniu... Here’s Why Teaching Boys Not to Hit Girls Is Onl... Yes, Boys Struggle With Body Image Too Is Free-Range Parenting Dangerous for Brown...

Here Are 3 Books We’re Loving Right Now

By on Mar 2, 2015 | 1 comment

March 2nd is Read Across America Day and I thought it would be a good time to share a few more book picks for brown boys + let you in on what Le Kid and I are reading right now.   Despite our nation’s diversity, most of the children’s books that hit bookshelves don’t include characters of color (about 93% in 2013). And while BrownBoyGenius hopes to change things one day, we will continue to highlight books that feature boys that look like our sons. As the mother of a reluctant reader I know how difficult it is to encourage kids—especially boys—to read. So far I’ve found success with books my son can relate to, like the EllRay Jakes series, but finding books with main characters who are boys of color can feel like a full time job. That’s why we’re here. Last year I compiled a list of 35 books every boy will love, and every now and then I’ll pop in to share what my son and I are reading and loving up on at the moment. But first… Check out 3 books we’re reading (and loving!) right now. Last Stop on Market Street by Matt De La Peña & Christian Robinson I first heard about Last Stop on Market Street while listening to NPR. Author Matt De La Peña and illustrator Christian Robinson were explaining how the story came to be and it sounded like such an awesome story. Although I didn’t grow up taking the bus like the characters in the book, I did grow up spending a lot of time with both my maternal and paternal grandmothers, who were (and are) wonderful examples. Last Stop on Market Street is a beautiful picture book for young kids everywhere. Learn more here. Kid President’s Guide to Being Awesome by Robby Novak & Brad Montague His name says it all. If you haven’t heard of Kid President (Robby Novak) by now, where have you been?! Le Kid and I LOVE his infectious personality, witty words, and inspiring message, and his first book—written with his brother-in-law (Brad Montague)—has all three. Learn more here. X: A Novel by Ilyasah Shabazz & Kekla Magoon Malcolm X was assassinated fifty years ago. Since then, his popularity as a civil rights leader has grown and gained even more notoriety around the world. Still, Malcolm X is often misunderstood and seen as merely a “radical” who advocated violent uprisings, but his daughter, Ilyasah Shabazz, is here to set the record straight. Though X: A Novel, Shabazz tells the story of her father’s life to explain how he became one of the most influential men of the 20th century.  By the way, this book is perfect for teens. Learn more here. What are you and your BrownBoyGenius reading now? Share in the comments section below.    Related Post For Marshawn Lynch & Brown Boys Who Dare to C... Floyd Mayweather Can’t Read Well, But Neither Ca... This 12-year-old Turns Scraps Into Robotic Toys Here’s What Happens When You Take a...