Posts tagged kids books
Podcast: Justice Makes A Difference
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Thank you so much for tuning into our brand new podcast for #diversebooks4diversekids.

This week we have a special podcast for our Instagram Giveaway winner, Dr. Artika Tyner. Her incredible book, Justice Makes A Difference, is about a brave little girl named Justice who is inspired to change her community by advocating for equality. Justice was inspired by inspiring leaders she read about in books given to her by her grandmother. Justice feels the pressure of bearing a name that has such an important meaning and seeking ways to find how she can make a difference as a little girl. She bravely chooses to become her own superhero in a fight for justice so she can uplift her community through social change.

Follow children's book author Dr. Artika Tyner on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram

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Bravery

It takes a lot of courage to be a voice for your community. You can do your part by volunteering to help those less fortunate than you!

Say 'Ahoy' to William Hoy!
say ahoy
William never got much taller than five-foot-five. He couldn’t do anything about that. But maybe they’d give him another chance if he aimed better and ran faster.”
— The William Hoy Story, Nancy Churnin

As most of you know, one of my favorite fellow children's book authors is Nancy Churnin. She tells the tales of magnificent, gifted heroes whose names have been forgotten over time. One of her most notable books is The William Hoy Story which is a book about perseverance and courage.

Her books almost portray historical stories that is beautifully executed so children ages 3-9 can understand and enjoy. Nancy's books focus heavily on diversity and giving characters with marginalized backgrounds a place to shine. This book The William Hoy Story was illustrated by Jez Tuya who transported me back to the 1880's when William Hoy was becoming a Major League Star. The illustrations are a wonderful combination of hand drawn illustration and digital imagery. 

You can get your own copy of The William Hoy Story on Amazon and from the Albert Whitman & Company.

Book Summary

Hoy, was a deaf baseball player who aspired to play in the majors. He practiced his aim on his farm by making targets for himself and using rubber balls to hit them. His parents communicated to him with American Sign Language. His loving mother supported his aspirations while his father scolded him for being unrealistic. He had to practice hard because he was extremely short for a ball player. His skills caught the attention of people in the neighborhood who were not able to communicate with him because of his inability to speak.

When he was finally able to play, he proved he could not only throw well, he could hit well too! He finally earned an opportunity to play for a team and his lack of speech limited him from getting paid equal to what the other players made which did not sit well with him. On other teams, his teammates would gossip and speak badly about him. Pitchers would even play pranks on him in front of the audience. 

He had a brilliant idea to teach the umpire signs for commonly used baseball terms like 'strike' and 'out'. Soon, players used signs often to signal phrases discretely on the field. The happiest day of his life was the day the crowd signed a silent applause to him. It showed William that he had changed the game of baseball forever!

Follow children's book author Nancy Churnin on Facebook and Twitter

Charlie Takes His Shot is a HIT!
Charlie
Within a year, Jackie’s teammates and fans of every race cheered for him. Could Charlie do the same for golf?
— Nancy Churnin, Charlie Takes His Shot

Nancy Churnin is a fabulous children's book author who has taken the world of literary non-fiction by storm! Her dynamic children's books are filled with the greatest historical figures that have been lost in American history. These were not the heroes that wore capes, but the ones that broke down cultural and barriers for people of color and those who were considered different.

Nancy knew she had a HIT when she wrote Charlie Takes His Shot. Her historical research into the life of this character showed, and allowed this story to feel authentic and true. The text was perfectly arranged so that the font and the story was together on one page without clashing with one another. The storyline was well-paced so it was exciting, but read it fluidly, which is very important to keep the attention of new readers and young listeners. I would highly recommend this book to parents and educators who are looking for dynamic and diverse books. It is perfectly suited for ages 3-9 years old.

Charlie Takes His Shot absolutely blew me away! The illustrations by John Joven are wonderful, picturesque, and packed with deep color values. John Joven's strong depiction of the scenery highlighted the atmosphere that the character would have been surrounded by.

You can get your own copy of Charlie Takes His Shot on Amazon and from the Albert Whitman & Company.

Book Summary

Charlie Sifford was a young man with humungous dreams who grew up in a time and place where only whites were allowed to golf, much less be a part of a professional golf associations! Charlie learned from the sidelines by being a caddie for the golfers while he patiently waited for his turn to play. He dominated tournaments between other black players, but he still eagerly wanted to play professionally.

When Jackie Robinson became the first black player in the Major League of Baseball to become a star, he inspired all black athletes of that era. If Jackie could succeed and win support in his sport, why couldn't he? Charlie seized an opportunity to talk to his idol, Jackie Robinson in 1948. Jackie warned him about the trouble he would face, but Charlie didn't back down from the challenge. 

Charlie traveled the world as a professional golfer and was eventually compensated for his efforts. In 1957, he won the The National Negro Open. Times were changing and other black athletes were pounding down the barrier that barred blacks from professional organizations like the MLB and NBA. Years later, Charlie Sifford earned his right to play in the PGA as the first black player ever admitted.

He dealt with fierce discrimination from hotels, players, and even tournament attendees. Eventually, he won the PGA tour in front of all the people who both supported and hated him. He thrusted open the door for all of the famous black golfers who were able to join the PGA after him like Calvin Peete, Harold Varner III, and of course, Tiger Woods.

Follow children's book author Nancy Churnin on Facebook and Twitter

How To Get Into Barnes & Noble Retailers

Being a new author isn't easy and getting into a retailer won't happen overnight. My juiciest piece of advice for anyone starting on their marketing journey is BE PERSISTENT. Nothing will happen for you without that consistent and often "badger-y" persistency that you need to move your own project forward. 

These are the best steps to take to get your self-published project into a major retailer like Barnes & Noble so you can hold your own author signing and have your books consigned so you can get paid for the copies you sell.

1. Make sure you have a well-edited project. If editing is not your forte, don't cut corners and rush to publish. Find a great editor (like myself) or someone with an English Literature background before you publish anything.

2. Do your homework. Make sure you have your book available on Amazon or another national distribution outlet who can distribute your book online. This just shows that your project is marketable and you can acquire as many peer reviews as possible that will be visible on that channel. Peer reviews are KEY.

3. Get your book reviewed by a professional company. There are tons of review companies, some of them you have to shell out a pretty penny like Kirkus Reviews but the accolades that you get with reviews of that magnitude will do your project wonders. Other review companies I would recommend are Reader's Favorite Book Reviews. You can get your book reviewed for free for a wait or you can pay $50 to expedite that process to a 2-week turn around.

4. Write a killer pitch. Once you're ready to reach out to a retailer like B & N, you need to have a perfectly written pitch that outlines who your publisher is, Your IBSN, genre, what your book is about, where you have had success marketing your project and how you plan to expand. This is a great place to highlight where you have fabulous reviews from, too!

5. Google your nearest Barnes & Noble location. Ask for the contact of their book buyer. Metropolitan areas typically have one large office that will schedule your appearance. First, they'll look at your pitch and then they will offer you a sales request form if they feel your project is marketable. From there, the book buyer will assess the demographics of your area and choose a B & N location that will give you the best platform to sell the most copies. 

Last but not least, be persistent. This process is a slow one and can take months. You'll get as much out of your project as you put into it so always put your best foot forward.

You can purchase "When I Grow Up, I Want To Be Myself" on Barnesandnoble.com, Amazon, Target.com, and my shop.

#Diversebook4diversekids Podcast 10

This week I am serving up books all about identity! Being a kid is hard when you're still learning what it means to be yourself. These books talk about everything from gender in a way kids can understand, to embracing diverse families, overcoming personal anxieties, and discovering what makes us special. Sometimes being "special" means others may not understand us!

1. Who Are You? The Kid's Guide To Gender Identity By Brook Pessin-Whedbee

This is an amazing resource for parents and children so they can talk about the difference between gender and sexual assignments that we are born with. Pessin-Whedbee explains that gender is part of our identity which is unique to each of us. This is a important book to discuss when talking to kids about understanding their bodies better. To buy a copy of this "Who Are You", shop here.

2. Love Family By Norah Barrett Cooper

One of my favorite stories to date! Cooper has a book with illustrations as vibrant of the message. To this family, their time spent together represents how much they love each other. Love Family is a story about a family who invites their relatives over and they spend the day coloring, playing, and dancing while their food cooks. The wait is well worth it to enjoy delicious food and the company of loved ones. To buy a copy of "Love Family", shop here

3. The Tail of Max The Mindless Dog: A Children's Book on Mindfulness by Florenza Lee

This is a story about a dog named Max who thought up crazy ways for him to keep his tail safe from hurting it again and again. It bothered him so much, he wasn't able to play at recess with the other kids and dogs. One friend shows him that he can calm down by breathing to relieve his anxiety and his urge to tail chase. Max learns to enjoy playing again. He even gets picked to play baseball and hits a homer for his team. To buy a copy of "The Tail of Max The Mindless Dog", click here.

4. Sugar Foote and The Magic Crown by Anitra Ferguson

Sugar Foote and her family prepare for a garage sale when suddenly it starts to pour down rain! Their garage sale couldn't happen so her Papa called it off. Sugar Foote and her Nana go through old boxes in the attic to pass the time. In the attic, Sugar Foote finds a crown that helps her learn stories of queens from the past. Through the dialogue with past queens, Sugar Foote discovers that she herself if a queen too! To buy a copy of "Sugar Foote and the Magic Crown", click here.

5. Jazzy and The Bullies by Latriece M. Spires

Jazzy and the Bullies is about a girl who moved to Arkansas and starts a new school there. Although she's made some friends and has a favorite teacher, she has trouble adjusting to her new school because of a group of girls who laugh and mock her. On a trip to visit her grandmother, Jazzy seeks advice about how to deal with her "bully" problem. Grandma teaches her that Jazzy can have a better experience in school just by changing her attitude! To buy a copy of "Jazzy and the Bullies", click here.

Q & A With Award Winning Author Nancy Churnin

Some of us dream about writing award winning books that are acknowledged by other literary professionals. Can having an award-winning book open more doors for us authors? I'm picking the brain of award winning children's book author Nancy Churnin to talk about how her awards propelled her literary career forward!

At the end, I'm sharing a resource of national children's book awards that could help your career too.

A. Cole: Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions about your journey as a children’s book writer. Your books are lovely! How did you discover your love of writing literature?

Nancy Churnin: I have loved going to the library for as long as I can remember and I grew up in a house with books in every room, with one room – my favorite- that had books from floor to ceiling. Reading is like listening and writing is like talking – both are part of the larger literary dialogue. I always had a little notebook where I was writing poems, stories and ideas as a way of keeping up my part of the conversation.
 
A. Cole: I find a lot of authors try to rush the process of creating a well thought out story. How long does it typically take you to finish each of your books from the beginning of drafting ideas to receiving sample copies?

Nancy Churnin: The writing process varies greatly depending on how ambitious or complicated the idea. The shortest writing time has been months and the longest has been years and it always involves lots of revision. Then, on top of the writing time, you have to add on the year or years it takes for the editing and illustrations on the way to publication. With Manjhi, it took many months of writing, and then months of revising with my editor and publisher Marissa Moss.  
 

A. Cole: My least favorite part of writing is editing. How many people do you let edit and critique your manuscripts?

Nancy Churnin: The editing is key for me. Sometimes I can have a wonderful idea and see the book so clearly in my head, I don’t realize that it isn’t coming across the way I think it does. I am very grateful to my critique groups for being honest with me about what works and what doesn’t. I have multiple critique groups. I enjoy using Rate Your Story as a way of assessing my work. I also occasionally pay for a critique from editors. You don't have to agree with every critique or adopt every suggestion. But the critiques get you thinking what is and isn’t working for the reader and sometimes they can push you to a better place as you discover a solution to a problem you didn’t know you had. It’s also a good warmup for the revisions you will need to make with the editor who acquires your work.

A. Cole: They say the work begins when you publish your book. What is your biggest challenge in marketing your books?

Nancy Churnin: I may be a bit of an anomaly in that I enjoy marketing my books. I write picture book biographies and I consider myself an advocate for my heroes and heroines. I come up with a plan based on reaching out to my support groups and support groups for my subjects that are based on our hometowns, educational backgrounds and groups to which my subjects and I belong. The biggest challenge is coming up with the money and time to travel to all the places I want to go. I have to be creative in finding ways to connect with faraway groups. Once I sent an audio Q and A to a class in Singapore! I am so appreciative of your help in helping me get out the word about Manjhi to everyone who cares about diverse books.

 A. Cole: We’re in 2017, yet we’re still talking about how we need diverse books for kids. How old were you when you started seeing diverse children’s books?

Nancy Churnin: I don’t remember too many diverse children’s books growing up, which is really sad because diverse stories enlarge your world and your heart. John Steptoe’s books, particularly Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters, was a beautiful revelation when it came out and is still a favorite. I love Pat Mora’s Tomas and the Library Lady. We have so many more wonderful diverse books for this generation and I hope to do my part to provide more.

A. Cole: We are both passionate about promoting diversity in our books. What made you take interest in diversifying children’s books?

Nancy Churnin: I wrote my first book, The William Hoy Story, How a Deaf Baseball Player Changed the Game, because a deaf man, Steve Sandy, who is a friend and spokesman for the Hoy family, told me how sad he was that deaf and hearing children didn’t know the story of this great deaf hero. When I took on the mission of writing this book with Steve’s help, he didn’t just tell me about Hoy, he educated me about the prejudice deaf people faced and continue to face. Writing William Hoy was a life-changing experience. It left me wondering about the many other untold stories about diverse groups. There are so many! I began to search actively for stories that inspire me and I hope will inspire kids about people they don’t yet know, but will benefit from knowing because these people persisted and prevailed in making a positive difference in the world. I feel like a better person for knowing about Manjhi and I hope kids will feel that way, too.
 
A. Cole: Coming up with creative stories and characters can sometimes be challenging. Where do you draw your inspiration from?

Nancy Churnin: Inspiration comes from so many places. Sometimes someone will bring me a story, as Steve Sandy did with William Hoy. I found Manjhi searching for heroes from India. I discovered Charlie Sifford when I wondered who was the first African American player in the PGA. The key for me always is that I have to fall in love with the subject. If I love the person I’m writing about, as I did with Manjhi, I know I can help the kids fall in love with the person, too.

A. Cole: You’ve achieved some notable awards as an author. How many medals have you won for your books? What is your most memorable accolade?

Nancy Churnin: I was thrilled to have Manjhi selected for the 2017 Junior Library Guild list. With William Hoy, librarians have made all the difference by putting the book on the 2016 New York Public Library Best Book for Kids List, the 2017 Texas Library Association’s 2017 2X2 and Topaz lists and the 2018 Illinois School Library Media Awards Monarch Awards Master List. I’m also happy to share William Hoy is also a 2017 Storytelling World Resource Award Honor Book and a finalist in the 2017 North Texas Book Festival Best Children’s Book.
 
A. Cole: Not everyone appreciates diversity and ethnic characters in the literary world. Where do you look for opportunities to submit your books for awards?

Nancy Churnin: I leave that up to my publisher and to the kindness of librarians. For many awards, particularly for the state librarian associations, the librarians make the nominations. I enjoy meeting as many librarians I can at the American Library Association and Texas Library Association conventions.

A. Cole: Does having book awards open more doors for you or help increase your sales? Where are your books available for sale?

Nancy Churnin: I am grateful for each and every recognition because each one has helped me get my books in the hands of more kids!

Books are available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble.com, crestonbooks.com and more! For more about Nancy Churnin, visit her website here

Follow Nancy's Social Pages! 

Nancy Churnin Children’s Books Facebook

Nancy Churnin on Facebook

Nancy Churnin on Twitter

National Children's Book Awards