Learning History with American Girl (Civil Rights Movement)

There is a brand new American Girl movie coming out based on their “Melody” doll. Melody’s story is set in Detroit during the Civil Rights Movement and examines the joyful life and troubled times of an irrepressible 10-year-old African-American girl whose vivid imagination and creativity reinforce her optimism. When shocking national events threaten her sense of security, Melody must find inner strength to restore her hope for a better world.

Even though we’ve never purchased the actual American Girl dolls – we are big fans of their stories! Both of my kids (5 year old girl and 11 year old boy) enjoy reading about the lives of the girls and the times they lived in. I think it brings history “home” when kids see other kids their age living their lives in different historical times! We have a couple of the non-fiction books (“Welcome to Kit’s World, 1934: Growing Up During America’s Great Depression” and “Welcome to Molly’s World, 1944: Growing Up in World War Two America“) that teach kids about specific time periods (with lots of photos!) I’m hoping that they come out with one for Melody also!

Until then – here are some books for kids about the Civil Rights Movement and the 1960’s:

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Also, here are a couple lesson ideas for teaching about Civil Rights:

  1. Civil Rights Activity Book via Teaching Tolerance
  2. Civil Rights Movement for Kids (.pdf file)
  3. Civil Rights Lesson Ideas via BrainPOP

Don’t forget! An American Girl Story – Melody 1963: Love Has to Win premiers on Amazon on 10/21!

* This post contains affiliate links – affiliate links help pay the bills! However, the ideas, opinions and text are all mine.

Because I’m Your Dad

In Ahmet Zappa’s first picture book for children, Because I’m Your Dad, a dad like no other promises to give his kid a childhood like no other. Whimsical monster characters bring the silly and sweet scenes to life and keep the book universal. The book’s ending, a moving tribute to the author’s father, guarantees multi-generational appeal: “Because I’m your dad, I will do all of these things for you and more…because that’s what my dad did for me.”

Both a tribute to his happy childhood and a promise to his daughter, Halo, for a one-of-a-kind relationship, “I wrote this book for anyone who is a father, has a father, or hopes to someday be a father,” says Zappa.

A perfect book to read on Father’s Day, or any day!

Ahmet Zappa is the son of late rock musician/composer Frank Zappa and, as he puts it, “My awesome mother, Gail.” Ahmet grew up with a learning disability and now writes books to help children discover how wonderful reading can be. Through his production company, Monsterfoot Productions, Ahmet has developed several television shows and movies, including the recently-released Walt Disney Pictures feature film “The Odd Life of Timothy Green.” Ahmet, Shana, and their daughter Halo live in Los Angeles, CA under a rainbow with their three fur goblins: Sandwich, Luna, and Figgy. For more information, visit him online at www.ahmetzappa.com.

Dan Santat is the author and/or illustrator of many books, including Oh, No! and Oh, No! Not Again! by Mac Barnett andAlways Lots of Heinies at the Zoo by Ayun Halliday . He is also the creator of Disney’s animated hit, “The Replacements.” Dan lives in Southern California with his wife, two kids, a rabbit, a bird, a cat, and a dog. Visit him online at www.dantat.com.

Take a look at the exclusive book trailer to get a sense of this monster tale and hear Zappa rock out!

The Poppy Lady: Moina Belle Michael and Her Tribute to Veterans

Just caught wind of a new book for our Military kids! The Poppy Lady is a book about the power of inspiration of thought and the motivation to do something meaningful. The book is a great way to introduce children to the complex subject of war, and to the immense debt we owe to those who have fought and sacrificed for us. Also, challenges us to think what we, as individuals of limited means, can do to make a difference.

When American soldiers entered World War I, Moina Belle Michael, a schoolteacher from Georgia, knew she had to act. Some of the soldiers were her students and friends. Almost single-handedly, Moina worked to establish the red poppy as the symbol to honor and remember soldiers. And she devoted the rest of her life to making sure the symbol would last forever. Thanks to her hard work, that symbol remains strong today. Author Barbara Elizabeth Walsh and artist Layne Johnson worked with experts, primary documents, and Moina’s great-nieces to better understand Moina’s determination to honor the war veterans.

A portion of the book’s proceeds will support the National Military Family Association’s Operation Purple®, which benefits children of the U.S. military.

You can purchase The Poppy Lady: Moina Belle Michael and Her Tribute to Veterans at Amazon.com! It’s not yet on Kindle, so be sure to request it from the author!

Related Books:

What are some of your favorite books geared towards Military Kids? Please share!

Kid-Friendly, Earth Day Friendly Books

"The Lorax" by Dr. Seuss

The Lorax was published in 1971 following the environmental movement of the 1960s. In this classic Dr. Seuss story the greedy Once-ler discovers that he can make "much desired" Thneeds from the tufts of Truffula trees. He proceeds to cut down the Trufulla trees despite the warnings of the Lorax was lives there. The Once-ler becomes rich, but destroys the trees and the local environment in the process. But he is not stupid; he does save a seed from the tree. Being true to his uncaring attitude he doesn’t plant it himself, but gives it to a boy to plant and take care of. Even when there is nothing left but a broken down factory, the greedy Lorax manages to make money off the destruction by charging people for information he has on how the place became so desolate. This book has been a FAVORITE of mine for most of my life! I owned a copy when I was little and now, my children have a copy!

"Stuff!: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" by Steve Kroll

Pinch the Packrat learns the value of stuff. He has so much stuff in his house that it was spilling out into the street. His friends decide to have a tag sale in order to make money to buy a tree for the community park. They ask Pinch if he would donate some of his stuff, but Pinch loves his stuff and doesn’t want to donate any of it. At the tag sale, he sees how much money he could earn by selling his stuff, so he decides he will sell some of his stuff so he can buy even more stuff. Pinch soon learns that he gets more satisfaction from seeing the other animals playing and enjoying his stuff than he received from owning all that stuff. When he is asked to donate the money he made from the sale to buy a tree, he isn’t so sure he wants to do it. He goes home to think about it, and realizes how nice it is to live in a clean, tidy house without stuff everywhere. The next day he decides to sell even more stuff and gets his friends to sell their stuff so that they can buy even more trees.

"It’s Earth Day! (Little Critter)" by Mercer Mayer

Little Critter is on a mission! After watching a film about climate changes at school, Little Critter decides to do his part to slow down global warming. With the help of his family and friends, Little Critter begins to reduce, reuse, and recycle. Together they learn about the importance of not wasting water or energy. Join Little Critter as he plants a tree, makes a climate control machine, and helps the polar bears.


William the Garbage Truck & Crew: William is Going Green” by James Martin II

William, the garbage truck, is fired from his job because he is too loud and smoky. William is very upset and tries to get a job elsewhere but finds out he needs to have a new hybrid engine and he just does not have the money for it. What is he going to do? Things turn around for William when he does an act of kindness and is rewarded. William is once again doing his job, but this time he is ‘in the green.’ Find out how this happens and the difference it makes for William and everyone else. This is a great little book. The illustrations are very colorful and definitely bring the story to life. The storyline does two things. One, it teaches the children the importance of thinking about our environment and making changes to help protect it. Second, it shows them that a kindness shown to another often results in others being kind to us. We love this book! Even my son’s first grade teacher wants a copy!

More books about “going green” and Earth Day:

Please share your favorite Earth-friendly books!

Is Hunger Games the New Twilight

A few days ago I began to read a book called “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins. To be perfectly honest – as with the Twilight saga – I started reading these books because there was a movie coming out. The movie sounded interesting and being a bit nerdy I know that books are usually always better than the movie. So, I bought the trilogy on Amazon.

Fast forward about a week and I am about halfway finished with the third book in the trilogy – “Mockingjay.” I finished book one in two days and book two in a little over one day. This final one is taking me a bit longer because I just don’t have a whole lot of time right now to be reading it.

The books are absolutely captivating!

03-07-2012 edit: All finished! I cried at the damn end – just like Harry Potter! Jeeze!

Mitch Spinach Teaches Nutrition

Frustrated by the lack of a healthy, smart, cool role model for their five and six year-old children, Hillary Feerick and Jeff Hillenbrand (a husband and wife team) created the Mitch Spinach children’s book series. They decided to combine their expertise (Jeff holds a BS in Exercise Physiology, and Hillary holds a BA and MA in English) to teach kids about the importance of eating healthy foods and reduce the number of children struggling with weight, chronic colds, ear infections and other nutrition-related problems.

The Secret Life of Mitch Spinach was written in collaboration with renowned, board-certified family physician, Joel Fuhrman, M.D., who specializes in preventing and reversing disease through nutritional and natural methods.

Mitch Spinach seems to be an ordinary kid, but his classmates have begun to suspect something. The notes in his custom-made, temperature-controlled Nutripak lunchbox appear to have been written in code. While other kids eat their usual chicken fingers and pepperoni pizza, Mitch Spinach mixes up his meal in a battery-powered blender before their curious and envious eyes. Although he is the smartest, nicest, strongest kid in Ms. Radicchio’s class, he often misses recess when he is called to Principal Lycopene’s office. The truth is that his high-powered fruit and vegetable smoothies give him special powers, such as super-sonic hearing and amazing night vision, which help him tackle problems and solve mysteries at Sunchoke Elementary.

The Mitch Spinach books include an additional Teaching Points section, written in collaboration with best-selling author and leading expert on nutrition and natural healing, Joel Fuhrman, M.D. as well as bonus recipes. Dr. Fuhrman presides over the nutritional and medical aspects of the Mitch Spinach mission, ensuring that the information presented in the book and on the website are based on sound medical and nutritional evidence.

The website is really cool too! It contains more nutrition facts, recipes, and fun, educational games and is a great resource for parents, kids, and educators.

Grab the Kindle edition of The Secret Life Of Mitch Spinach!

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