Friday, February 24, 2017

Gordon Parks: A Photograph of Racism and Poverty

“I saw that the camera could be a weapon against poverty, against racism, against all sorts of social wrongs. I knew at that point I had to have a camera.” – Gordon Parks ~ Segregation history, Gordon Parks. 

Pictures have always captivated me.......I liked them and the stories they can tell.  A photo can cause many emotions and rekindle memories.  Gordon Parks was a man that created those type of photos, these photos are heart wrenching, controversial, and they start great discussion even today.  Gordon Roger Alexander Buchanan Parks was born in Fort Scott, Kansas.  He was the youngest of fifteen children.  When Parks arrived stillborn, his doctor dipped him in ice water, which shocked his tiny body back to life.  He was named after the doctor that saved his life.  After his mother's death, he moved to Minneapolis to live with a sister at the age of fourteen. He worked many odd jobs to make money.  At the age of 25, he was looking at a magazine article about migrant farm workers and was inspired to buy a camera.  Parks probably did not expect that this camera would change his life.  After taking pictures of fashion, portraits, and struggling families in Chicago, he landed a job in Washington D.C., at the Farm Security Administration. 

American Gothic, from 
Gordon Parks: How the Photographer Captured Black and White America 

The photo above is one of Parks most famous photos titled, American Gothic. The lady in the picture is Ella Watson, she was a black charwoman who mopped floors in the FSA building where Gordon worked. Watson was raising three grandchildren and an adopted daughter on a salary of 1,000 a year.  Gordon followed her for weeks and documented her life through pictures, from home to church. Parks documented the struggles and the life of Ms. Watson. The pictures of her family and their day to day life depicted a clear picture of racism and poverty.  Parks would go on to document more families that dealt with similar issues and also the Civil Rights Movement.

A Harlem Newsboy from 
Gordon Parks: How the Photographer Captured Black and White America 

The New Yorker Dance Class at Fredrick Douglass from 
Gordon Parks: How the Photographer Captured Black and White America 

Gordon Parks photos have been in Life and Vogue magazines.  He is the creator of The Learning Tree, the book was published in 1963 and made into a movie in 1969, it is actually one of my favorite movies.  The movie shows a teenager and his experiences in Kansas during the year 1920. He deals with poverty, racism, friendship, family, and enemies.  He also created the movie Shaft (1971).  The movie Shaft played a big part in the blaxopolitation movie era.  He was not only a photographer and a director, but he wrote novels, poetry, and composed music.  When you get a chance please go to and learn more about him and his work.

Gordon Parks: How the Photographer Captured Black and White America

Gordon Parks: A Harlem Family

A Choice of Weapons

Half Past Autumn: A Retrospective

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Coloring Books that Highlight Famous African-Americans

Everyone loves to color! Coloring can be a stress reliever and a great pastime. Since this is Black History Month, I decided to highlight some great coloring books that talk about great African-Americans that have made a positive impact in history. It is a great thing to be able to have fun coloring and learn about history at the same time. These coloring and activity books are not just for kids, adults can join in the fun also! Happy Coloring!!!!!

Friday, January 27, 2017

My Dragon Likes to Read!

I believe in everything until it is disapproved. So I believe in fairies, the myths, dragons. It all exists, even if it's in your mind. Who's to say that dreams and nightmares aren't as real the here and now?- John Lennon

Book: Dragons Are Real
Author: Valarie Budayr
Illustrator: Michael Welply

When I was little, I had an impeccable imagination. Yes, I said impeccable because it saved me from boredom and it taught me a lot about myself.  I would pretend to be anything and anyone at anytime or place.  Children need more time for imagination and creative thinking. Children enhance their creative abilities when they are encouraged to use their imagination.   A creative child is able to increase their positive thinking and their positive self-image. When I started reading Dragons Are Real, the memories of my unique childhood came back to my mind.

In Dragons Are Real Valarie Budayr does a great job of transferring the magical world into the hands of young readers. She shows that dragons love to read, ice cream, riddles, and dancing. The magical world becomes even better with the great illustrations by Michael Welply.  He takes readers on an adventure through his colorful images.  My favorite illustration is the reading dragon surrounded by all the books. I love the details of the books on the floor and in the bookshelves, there is even a little mouse sitting down on the floor reading.   Dragons Are Real did not only change the perception of dragons for children, they changed my perception of dragons. I realized that dragons do not have to be fiery, dangerous, and scary creatures. Dragons can be naturally amazing friends.

Activity: Journal Entry About Dragons
Topic: If I Had A Dragon For A Day........
 After reading Dragons Are Real, give children this topic and encourage them to think outside the box.  Do not exclude the younger children, some people think that only older kids can do entries in journals.  Younger children can do entries by drawing pictures of dragons and they also can have a chance to explain their drawings to the class or group.

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2017 (1/27/17) is its fourth year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom.

Our mission is to raise awareness on the ongoing need to include kid’s books that celebrate diversity in home and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents and educators.
Despite census data that shows 37% of the US population consists of people of color, only 10% of children’s books published have diversity content. Using the Multicultural Children’s Book Day holiday, the MCBD Team are on a mission to change all of that.
Current Sponsors: MCBD 2017 is honored to have some amazing Sponsors on board. Platinum Sponsors include Scholastic, Barefoot Books and Broccoli. Other Medallion Level Sponsors include heavy-hitters like Author Carole P. Roman, Audrey Press, Candlewick Press, Fathers Incorporated, KidLitTV, Capstone Young Readers, ChildsPlayUsa, Author Gayle Swift, Wisdom Tales Press, Lee& Low Books, The Pack-n-Go Girls, Live Oak Media, Author Charlotte Riggle, Chronicle Books and Pomelo Books

Author Sponsor include: Karen Leggett Abouraya, Veronica Appleton, Susan Bernardo, Kathleen Burkinshaw, Delores Connors, Maria Dismondy, D.G. Driver, Geoff Griffin, Savannah Hendricks, Stephen Hodges, Carmen Bernier-Grand,Vahid Imani, Gwen Jackson, Hena, Kahn, David Kelly, Mariana Llanos, Natasha Moulton-Levy, Teddy O'Malley, Stacy McAnulty, Cerece Murphy, Miranda Paul, Annette Pimentel, Greg Ransom, Sandra Richards, Elsa Takaoka, Graciela TiscareƱo-Sato, Sarah Stevenson, Monica Mathis-Stowe SmartChoiceNation, Andrea Y. Wang

We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also work tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE.
MCBD Links to remember:
MCBD site:
Free Multicultural Books for Teachers:
Free Kindness Classroom Kit for Homeschoolers, Organizations, Librarians and Educators:
Free Diversity Book Lists and Activities for Teachers and Parents:

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Words of Hope

"Out of a Mountain of Despair, a Stone of Hope.."-Martin Luther King Jr. 

One of my favorite children's book about the life of Martin Luther King Jr. is called Martin's BIG Words, The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., written by Doreen Rappaport and illustrated by Bryan Collier.  In the author's note, Rappaport discusses how King was determined to use "big words" as a young child. During this time, big words made Martin feel good.  He has always been known for his speeches, sermons, and articles. His speeches are and will always captivate people and give them hope during rough times.  Many people have dissected his historical speeches and published books about his dialogues and his discussions. I have heard song lyrics that have been written in honor of King's statements and his creativeness.

From Martin Luther King, Jr.
A Picture Story
During his speaking engagements, King would stand and deliver to many people, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C, he spoke to a crowd of 250,000.   People believed in his rhetoric and his purpose to provide everyone equal rights. Martin Luther King Jr. believed in big words and he believed in big actions, his words made him a smart man, but his actions made him a great man!

Last Summer, I visited Washington, D.C., I was able to stand before the MLK Memorial. I was in awe of King's sculpture, but I was more intrigued by the 450-foot-long wall inscribed with 14 quotations from the famous orator's speeches, sermons, and writings. Those words are not only inscribed on that wall they will forever be inscribed in our books, homes, and our hearts.  Down below I have listed some books about Martin Luther King Jr.'s life and his fight for Human Rights.
(This post may contain affiliated links)

Monday, November 7, 2016

A Leader of Peace

Eleanor Roosevelt said, "It isn't enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn't enough believe in it. One must work at it."
For the past couple of months, I have learned that leadership and peace go very well together. As we think about traits of a leader, many people do not think of the word peaceful.  John Lennon once said, "Peace is not something you wish for; it's something you do, something you are and something you give away." Outer peace begins with inner peace, it all starts from within yourself. Peace is a feeling that you want to have everyday. You want to teach others about peace and encourage them to be peaceful. In history, many leaders took a peaceful approach when they felt it was necessary. They refused to use disharmony and negative tactics. Those peaceful leaders spoke up against injustice and change harsh conditions. Leaders who believe unity, love, and peace are the leaders that will make a difference in this world.

 Down below I have listed some books to inspire adults and children to make a difference.  Embrace those peaceful leaders....
(This post contains affiliated links)

Archbishop Desmond Tutu discusses his belief of unity and forgiveness. God's Dream teaches children that we can disagree with each other and still work together to change the world.

A is for Activist is ABC board book about activism and civil rights.  We can start teaching children at an early age to stand up for what they believe in and fight for equality.

Cesar Chavez is known as a great civil rights leader. He lead a peaceful protest march in California.  Chavez took charge and spoke up against injustice.

Malala Yousafzai is a young Pakistani girl who took a stand and spoke out about a child's right for education. She was almost killed by a Taliban gunman, but that only made her fight even harder.  She has been on multiple TV shows and many books have been written about her fight for education.

The story helps young readers view the life of Nelson Mandela and his courageous fight for freedom. Mandela's story is one that isn't told enough in schools.

Martin Luther King Jr.'s words truly came alive in this book dedicated to his famous speech. My favorite illustrator, Kadir Nelson, did a excellent job bringing a historical event to life through drawings.