2020 continues to teach our family important lessons. Recently, I was asked to feature a book that will be launching on Friday, November 20 and of course just hearing the press blurb had me saying yes. What I didn’t expect was how powerful the message was to me as a mother and what we parents instill in our children. May this message bless you and your family today, too.
In “Little Bremar: I Am Somebody”, Pittsburgh Public School teacher, Tracy Johns shares an affirmation that resounded with me as a mother through the experience of first grader Bremar. This book will be the “first book in a series of “Little Bremar” books, and is inspired by the belief that each child has unlimited potential and deserves to see their beauty reflected in literature. The book series is dedicated to children of color all around the world, and their parents, as this group does not always get to see themselves represented in an accurate or affirming light.” (Source: Findlay House Media)
Through the story, Bremar expresses fears of speaking in front of his class and their families, but in the end remembers his confidence is deep down inside him, regardless of the fears that he may face in the world around him.
For families of color, this book hopes to allow for connection to characters often misrepresented in literacy. Tracy Johns gives a beautiful gift to children and families through the characters in this book and the message of hope and inspiration.
Hey, friends. Mama Burgher over here, big cup of coffee in hand. It is day three of summer break in Western Pennsylvania and I am already tired of telling the kids to get outside, put down the electronics. Thankfully I recently found out about a book authored by a 10-year-old who gets me. In “Legends From Mom’s Closet”, Sasha Olsen shares her summer adventure of learning about historical legends, using her imagination and not a screen.
Sasha’s book is coming out in a few days, but this busy ‘lil lady took the time to share a guest post with us as part of a virtual book tour she’s doing on blogs like ours. Details on ordering “Legends From Mom’s Closet” can be found below.
USE YOUR IMAGINATION INSTEAD OF YOUR SCREEN
By Sasha Olsen
My name is Sasha Olsen. I’ve lived on the beach in South Florida since I was a baby. I have many hobbies; some are ballroom dancing and playing piano! This past summer, I also started working on my first book Legends from Mom’s Closet. Back then, I was spending a lot of time inside because of the stormy weather. Most of us have also been stuck indoors recently because of the quarantine situation. A lot of kids my age started distance learning in March, so I think it’s a really great time to share my story with everyone!
Instead of getting onto the computer or using phones, I think we should use our creativity to start new projects with what surrounds us. I realize more and more every day that there is just so much we can do at home. When I read about some amazing women legends last summer, I wanted to feel a bit more of what it would have been like to live a day in their shoes. So, I did exactly that! I started dressing up as them by getting creative and putting outfits together that showed off their signature styles. Most importantly, I was able to do this by rummaging in my mom’s closet and asking my grandma for help.
By reading my book, I think kids all around the world could get inspired to use their imagination to try something new. Last summer I also started my movement to help save the oceans, Iwantmyoceanback. So, I’m also always thinking of ways we can help the environment and reusing clothes is definitely one of them! Fast fashion is one of the biggest problems our planet deals with. That’s why it’s even more awesome to use what we already have for new projects, especially ones that help us learn something too.
When I started Legends from Mom’s Closet, I realized that I would never end this project. Recreating looks from iconic legends and historic paintings is something I love to do. It helps me learn even more about that person or time period, and I see it as something everyone can do. Not just kids!
I actually started planning some new recreations with my little sister, so that we can read and learn more together. The whole family can even do it! It’s really fun and helps us think outside the box.
Nowadays when I’m not doing schoolwork, I look for new people to learn about and dress up as since we have more time on our hands. You can check out the legends I learn about and dress up as on my Instagram, legendsfrommomscloset. Maybe you’ll see someone you recognize or maybe you’ll meet someone new. Dress up as your role model or favorite legend and send it to us! I would love to see what you guys come up with and share it.
Sasha Olsen is a 10-year-old author, environmental activist, ballroom dancer, bookworm, pianist, and enjoys anything artistic. She always finds new hobbies and things to do, which usually ends up in her trying to juggle everything. She lives with her family in Bal Harbour, Florida, where she also spearheads the conservation movement “I Want My Ocean Back.” Legends From Mom’s Closet is her first book.
Enter disclaimer text We have been sent books below in exchange for our honest review. All opinions are our own.
What We’re Reading: February 13
A Couch for Llama by Leah Gilbert
What happens when a family loses their couch on their way home from a furniture store and a llama discovers it? Good thing it’s comfy…will the family get their couch back or will llama feel all the sads? You’ll have to read this one to find out!
(We love the adorable illustrations in this book by greeting card designer and author Leah Gilbert. That couch sure looks comfy!)
Nature’s Lullaby Fills the Night by Dee Leone, Illustrated by Bali Engel
The twins love a lullaby, so it is no surprise that they enjoyed reading a book about nature shushing us to sleep. With scenes of animal parents putting their children to sleep, they connect and find it easier to go to sleep themselves.
If you think the cover is soothing (we do!), just wait until you see the pictures on the inside!
Bagel in Love by Natasha Wing, Illustrated by Helen Dardik
With Valentine’s Day being tomorrow, will Bagel find a partner for the Cherry Jubilee dance? It’s not looking great, then an adorable cupcake crosses Bagel’s path.
We love this story, the illustrations and the glitter texture in the book! You might recognize author Wing from “The Night Before Kindergarten” and illustrator Helen Dardik from work with American Girl and Parents Magazine. Super sweet!
You’ll have to pick this one up! Bagel in Love is available on Amazon and at other book retailers with an MSRP of $16.95.
Enter disclaimer text Recently, the kids’ school had a book fair. We didn’t send in money for them to buy books, so I had to deal with the tears of the Bigs when they said they weren’t included in the shopping fun. But not to despair – the school had a pile of free books (well-loved) that they could pick from.
You guys. MOM GUILT. My kids likely are pegged the kids whose parents don’t care about them. Or the kids who don’t have money. Or the uncool kids. GAH. The guilt trip is heavy.
But the thing is, those things are far from true. They are so loved. We have money, it’s just tied up in our plan to get out of debt and to feed six mouths. And as for the cool factor? Our kids get to preview books before they even hit the shelves. C’mon, Mom Guilt. Go away!
In this edition of What We’re Reading, I’m sharing four books that are perfect for those early elementary years. I’m hoping by the end of the year they’re all easy readers for Evan (our first grader).
What We’re Reading: October 2
Ally-Saurus & the Very Bossy Monster by Richard Torrey
You might remember our friend Ally-saurus, who helped our kids get over fears of new experiences. Well, she’s back and there’s a new girl in school. This new girl wants to be the boss. As much as the ‘lil Burghers house loves the Boss Babe culture (women in business ROCK!), we know being bossy isn’t a good trait to have. This book is a nice lesson in playing nicely and accepting each other.
Ally-Saurus & the Very Bossy Monster is available on Amazon and at other book retailers with a MSRP of $16.95.
The Adventures of Camellia N. Under the Seaby Debra L. Wideroe
This book is more on Arianna’s reading level, but the message throughout the first book in a series about Camellia N. (like chameleon) was fun for Evan, too. In this second book of the nine book series, Camellia N. goes under the sea to learn about sealife around the globe. There are moments of bravery, science, and friendship throughout her journey through the seven continents.
You can also pick up Under the Sea on Amazon and at other book retailers with a MSRP of $16.95.
Rufus Blasts Off! by Kim T. Griswell
The third book in the Rufus the Pig series picks up where “Rufus at Sea” left off. Rufus is done sailing the seven seas and ready to explore space! Will pigs fly? Will Rufus complete his mission to read a book on Mars? You’ll have to grab your own copy to find out! (Available on Amazon and at other book retailers with a MSRP of $16.95.)
Maurice the Unbeastly by Amy Dixon
If your kids are struggling with staying true to themselves, this would be a great read. Maurice is a beast who is not like the other beasts – he likes kale among other differences. Does he need to be like the others or can he make it by being true to his you? What a great message about individuality!
This adorable book can also be found on Amazon and at other book retailers with a MSRP of $16.95.
For many kids, we are embarking on the end of the school year. It’s a time to say good-bye to friends and teachers. Our kids will be spending time at home and maybe catching some Vacation Bible School throughout the summer, but you might be sending your kid to summer camp or to a new sitter for the summer. With this in mind, I put together a few tips to help kids prepare for new experiences.
Three Ways to Prepare Kids for New Experiences
1. Give them the details. You’ll want to cater the amount of details you give to your child based on their age and understanding; however, if they know what is going to happen, it will make it a lot easier. When our kids go to VBS with my parents, I tell them what week of the summer it will be / show it to them on the calendar, tell them what church it will be at / do a drive-by of the location if they haven’t been there before, and remind them that Pappy will be doing the prayers and Grammie will be leading crafts. This lets them know a general idea of what is about to happen so that they aren’t just thrown into the mix of kids and can expect the number of days they’ll be away from us.
2. Set rules and expectations. Just like when you prepare a new meal, you expect that your child will give the new experience a try. Even if you ask them to just give it 30 minutes, let your child know that you want them to give it their best shot and that you’ll be proud of them while they try the new thing. Remind them that there are rules that they’ll need to follow, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t have fun.
3. Talk about the Familiar. Perhaps you’ll want to read a book like Ally-saurus & the First Day of School to give them an example of a new experience and how it can turn out differently than they hope yet not be so bad. Or maybe talking about another time they did something new and how proud of them you were / a new friend they made / a fun craft they did will help.
Sure, these tips won’t make it absolutely 100% without tears, but should alleviate some of the struggles as your child (and you!) embark on a new experience. Good luck, and come back and tell us what worked for you.
Have I ever mentioned that I was a PK (pastor’s kid) and moved a lot in my life? That means I went to a lot of new schools, attended a lot of church camps / Bible Schools and had to make new friends. While this doesn’t make me an expert at advice for new experiences, I hope my life lessons will help your child!
You can pick up a copy of “Ally-saurus & the First Day of School” at book retailers (suggested retail price is $14.95). It is written and illustrated by Richard Torrey and published by Sterling Children’s Books.
With colorful illustrations that expertly capture the diverse personalities of Ally and her classmates, Ally-saurus & the First Day of School encourages young readers to embrace their differences while also preparing them for new experiences, such as a big move, a new summer camp, or, as in the book, a new school. Add in a charming heroine, a delightful surprise ending, and Walter—a boy in love with his bright, yellow lunchbox—and you have a fun and hilarious read-aloud story that will leave children eager for more of Ally and her imaginative new friends.
When I was in high school, taking a second language was a requirement for only two years. At this point, I probably know as many words in French (my language of choice) as my kids know words in Spanish and Chinese (thanks to popular kids’ television shows). But I am never afraid to flex my language muscles when giving the kids reminders to say please and thank you by asking them to say it in French or Spanish. Recently, I took the big kids on a language adventure as we read two new books by Abigail Samoun.
The pair of books from the Little Traveler series by Samoun we were asked to read and review were “How Penguin Says Please!” and “How Tiger Says Thank You!”. Both take readers around the world teaching them how to say “please” and “thank you” in seven languages (plus English). There’s the more common French and Spanish, but also included are Russian, Arabic (another semi-familiar language in our home due to Greg’s faith), Hindi, Mandarin, and Japanese. Samoun is kind to parents in providing the pronunciation guide for each language, too. (I am so thankful for this because sometimes I guess and sound like a fool, dhanyavaad, Abigail!)
Not only do the books take children on a language adventure, but illustrator Sarah Watts has drawn scenes from the countries along the path of the animals’ travels and a map to put a geographical lesson spin on the read, too.
Part of our bedtime routine is to read books with all four kids. Sometimes it is a struggle to get the big kids to do the whole “PJs, potty, and brush teeth” deal in a quick fashion. They do enjoy a asking for all.the.things right at bedtime. So, it’s no surprise that they had schema for Sleepy Kitty and Sleepy Puppy, two new bedtime story books on our shelf.
These two photo books share the story of a kitten and puppy who are trying to stay awake. Like my kids, they want “one more” ‘lil bit of attention before they shut their eyes and catch some zzz’s. The big kids (ages 6 and 4) were able to read the books to the twins (who are too young to appreciate the adorable photos of cats and dogs). Both books quickly became a favorite and we read them over and over a few times (oh, the sneaky way to extend bedtime) the past few nights.
Sleepy Kitty tells the story of mischievous kittens sneaking in requests before bedtime while Sleepy Puppy tells the story story of rascal puppies begging for more time in their day. Both are brought to us by Sterling Publishing and are available for a suggested retail price of $6.95. The fact sheet I received suggests these board books are for kids up to 3 years old; however, because my big kids still like to grab a picture book (especially ones they can read the words in), it’s on our shared shelf and not just in the nursery. Pick up this pair for your next baby shower – and tell the mama it will come in handy when their firstborn refuses to just go to sleep. (Both books are available at book retailers and through Sterling Publishing.