Diversify your bookshelf

Separate is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez & Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation

By Duncan Tonatiuh

Published in 2014 by Abrams Books for Young Readers

For Grades 2-5


In 1947, seven years before Brown vs. The Board of Education, there was Mendez vs. Westminister, an early desegregation case whose ruling stated that all children in California were allowed to go to school together regardless of race, ethnicity, or language. Using illustrations influenced by ancient Aztec art, Tonatiuh tells the story of Sylvia Mendez and her family’s struggle against racist policy. Mendez being of Mexican and Puerto Rican descent in the 1940’s, only had the option of attending an inferior school designated solely for Hispanic children. Her parents did not accept this and made it their mission to change the injustice their children faced. Mendez went on to be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011 for her work in educating others about her family’s work towards ending school segregation.

Pair this with a short listen to an NPR story also focusing on Sylvia Mendez.

Squirrel vs. nut

Aw, Nuts!

By Rob McClurkan

Harper 2014


Come September, I’m always on the lookout for quality fall-themed picture books that work well as a read aloud. There is an abundance of books with leaves, pumpkins, squirrels, or scarecrows but not a lot that will keep the attention of a classroom of kindergartners who just had fruit loops & powdered doughnuts for breakfast.

Then I came across a copy of Aw, Nuts! and figure kids will basically get hooked solely on the exaggerated frustration the title implies. Of course the squirrel narrator utters “Aw, nuts!” no less than ten times throughout the slapstick story of a squirrel who doesn’t quite understand that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.


Check out the book trailer

If you like contrasting could things get any crazier/Whew! structuring of this story I would also recommend Remy Charlip’s adventurous book Fortunately (1964).


Sing a Song

This is my go-to song for when autumn approaches. I used a die cut machine to

make red, orange, yellow, & brown maple leaves to act out the verses at storytime.

Spread the love by making extras for families to sing all the way home with.


Best Thing I’ve Read All Week

The Farmer and the Clown 

by Marla Frazee

Beach Lane Books 2014


Tenderhearted book about the kindness of strangers. No words are needed to tell the story of a young clown who is separated from his circus train and the farmer who takes care of him. Readers follow both characters as they are transformed by their friendship.


Yellow + Blue Makes Green (and then some)

Mix it Up!

By Hervé  Tullet

Chronicle Books 2014

mix it up

Hervé Tullet, author of the widely lauded Press Here (2010) which resulted in a landslide of interactive picture books being published has applied that formula rather successfully to his latest offering Mix It Up.

Children now able to swipe before they walk get results similar to a handheld screen in the pages of a book. All you have to do is follow directions then simply turn the pages getting a little poof of picture book magic.

photo 1 photo 2

Tullet allows readers to vicariously experiment with paint as well as introduces color combining in this fantastic work that promises to be yet another bestseller.

For children continuing to learn more about working with color, I suggest pairing Mix it Up with Mouse Paint (1995) by Ellen Stoll Walsh and Little Yellow and Little Blue (1959) by Leo Lionni.

mouse-paint-int-4-001 little yellow

Pick 5

The Bear’s Sea Escape

By Benjamin Chaud

Chronicle Books 2014


We meet Papa Bear and Little Bear again in this follow up to Benjamin Chaud’s The Bear’s Song. This time instead of hunting for his cub throughout an opera house, Papa Bear tails him from a snowed-in city to a faraway tropical island. Saturated colors and mountains of details to wade through make for a delightful picture book not just to read but study.

Very Little Red Riding Hood

By Heapy & Heap

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2014


The Big Bad Wolf has his work cut out for him after encountering a pint-sized girl on her way to Grandmama’s house. Very Little Red Riding Hood insists on calling him “Foxie”, she refuses to share her delicious cakes, and throws more than one tantrum before they even reach their destination. Heapy & Heap rearrange a classic in the most adorable way possible.


By Lizi Boyd

Chronicle Books 2014


Explore the world outside at night in this brilliant and original wordless picture book by the author of Inside Outside. With the aid of a flashlight, we are shown contrasting color scenes that splice through the black and silver darkness.

Pig and Small

By Alex Latimer

Peachtree Publishers 2014


Friendship isn’t always easy, and pig & bug almost give up on theirs due to having incompatible sizes. They come to realize there are more things they can do together than can’t.

 Digger Dog

By William Bee

Nosy Crow Publishing 2014

Put on your hard hat and join Digger Dog in his hunt for a bone that turns out to be much bigger than expected. Rhyming text and fold out pages make for an engaging read with a surprise ending.