biography

The Faithful Spy

Part graphic novel, but also not really I wasn’t sure how this book would read when I picked it up. Wow, it was so inspiring I couldn’t put it down and closed it with tears in my eyes. I could not wait to recommend it to you.

Bonhoeffer’s story is amazing on its own. He stood up to Hitler when so many Germans did not. John Hendrix tells Bonhoeffer’s story in a fresh way. He uses illustrations and color to tell the story of Hitler’s rise to power in tandem with Bonhoeffer’s story. Sharing so much of the history of the Nazi party and Germany gives readers a wider perspective as they read. Obviously, Hendrix could not include everything, but the parts of the story he did tell were well-chosen and well-told. This book was amazing.

Books that Quietly Change Culture

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats is a classic in children’s literature. Written in 1962, it was well-received from the get-go and even won the Caldecott Medal that year. Who can’t relate to the wonder of a fresh blanket of snow? The Snowy Day was also one of the first picture books to feature an African American child as the main character. Written in the midst of the Civil Rights movement this book quietly made a very important statement.

I read an article that ran on NPR on January 28, 2012 (the 50th anniversary of The Snowy Day) that shared one of the ways this book made an impact:

Guest Post: Picture Books to Laugh at and Learn From

I regularly tell my elementary school students, “You are never too old to enjoy a good picture book!”  Picture books are such a treasure! I love to read them on my own, read them to my students and recommend them to everyone!  Here are some of my favorites.

The Lovely World of Picture Book Biographies

These days it is easy to find beautiful picture book biographies. I feel like I see new ones on the shelves of libraries and bookstores or featured in pictures in my Bookstagram feed all the time. They are plentiful and abundant. It is lovely.

A picture book that gives us a glimpse into the life of someone else and the challenges they overcame is a good thing. Add in illustrations and a story that is relatable for readers of all ages (and I do mean all ages) and you have a good, GOOD thing. Today I am going to highlight some of my favorite discoveries to date.

The best thing is I am constantly discovering more of these treasures through Bookstagram, the library and other sources. Rest assured, this will not be the last picture book biography session we share together.

In light of that, I am limiting this list to ten books that would make an excellent addition to any library, including yours.

6 Sporty Books that are a Must-Read for the Sports Star and the Athletcially Challenged

There is a stereotype that says kids who are athletic and involved in sports don’t like to read. As with all stereotypes this doesn’t always hold true, and when it does I wonder if the athletes who claim they don’t like to read either don’t have the time or simply haven’t found the right book. 

So, I figured if you are trying to interest an athlete in reading, maybe a book about athletes could be just the hook you are looking for. While today’s list is of the nonfiction variety, there are many options in the fiction world too. However, that list is for another day. 

And, for those of you who are not sport’s enthusiast, don’t stop reading!!

This list is for you too.  As I quickly found out, you don’t have to be an athlete to love these books. They are filled with amazing stories of people who overcame great odds. Their lives are an inspiration to anyone who chooses to read or listen along. 

Quick Picks AKA What My Kids Are Reading

As I have been blessed with a large passel of kids with a variety of ages, interests, and reading levels, I thought I’d do a “quick pick” list inspired by them. Below are the books my kids are currently reading. If you are looking for ideas for your young reader, maybe one these books will interest them.

10 Books to Celebrate and Learn from Black History

February is Black History month, and in my mind there is no better way to learn about and from history than through the power of story. From slavery to the civil rights movement, African Americans in our country have walked a road marked with hate and injustice. That said, I am reminded of a quote by Fred Rogers:  When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.

It's true. In the midst of tough and scary things, there are always helpers; and in the darkest times of African American history in our country, there were bold and brave, multi-colored helpers. 

Obviously, racial issues are still a struggle today. Reading stories of others who stood up to hate or were the target of it builds compassion in our kids. It opens the door to conversations that need to happen in our homes and in the larger world abroad. I hope this list of books is one that will help all of us seek to understand, help us to remember the past, and inspire us to continue to work towards healing and compassion in the future.  

Inspiring Biographies for Black History Month

Black History Month began this week. In an effort to celebrate the contributions and beautiful color so many African Americans have added to our country I thought I’d highlight a few inspiring biographies I’ve discovered over the years. I hope these are titles that will connect with your kids, engage their hearts, and inspire them to learn more about these amazing people who have impacted our country in big ways. 

The Hiding Place

The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom is an amazing little book. Set in one of the darkest times and places in recent history, it shines with hope, wisdom and love. I thought it might be a hard to read because parts of this story, parts of Corrie’s life, were unimaginably hard. Instead, I found that it was filled with reminder after reminder of God’s presence in the midst of the unimaginable. Reading it was not a dark and despairing experience, but a hope-filled one. Even the saddest parts were filled with hope because of God’s work in the lives of his servants.

Inspiring Biographies for Kids

There are people in this world who have lived amazing lives and done amazing things, literally changing the world for the better. Some accomplished this in big and famous ways; others made their impact flying under the radar of public awareness. Regardless of how they did it, a life well-lived is an inspiring thing. We all want our kids to grow up to be productive members of society and make an impact for good. What better way to inspire them, than sharing stories about real people who did just that? 

Below is a list of three biographies (including one series of biographies, so really a whole lot more) that have made an impact on our family.

12-year-old Boy Seeking Books with Adventure and Humor

Simon is a fun-loving 12-year old boy who loves Mario, joking around with his friends and bacon. He also loves graphic novels and comics which he would like to read more of, but of which his mom would like him to read less.

When he is not reading comics, books filled with mystery and adventure are his favorite. He doesn’t like fancy words in the books he reads and would prefer word choices that are plain and simple, but funny... kind of like Garfield (his example).

Simon doesn’t like reading unless it is a really good book that he is interested in. He is a slow reader and if he doesn’t like the book, he is a really slow reader. Oftentimes, he will read the first few pages of a book he finds around the house to see if he likes it, if he does, he will try to remember to read it later when he is looking for a new book to read. 

Simon asked me for a few personalized picks. To help me help him, I asked him to share three of his favorite books and one he was not so crazy about. Here are his favorites: