Have you noticed that children’s books aren’t just for children? As I add books to my pop-up bookshop, I am drawn to books that are about speaking up, making a difference, and following your dreams. Wouldn’t you know that as I reimagine my business, I have been taking courses, listening to podcasts, and reading books about these very things. We’re all just kids still figuring out how to make those dreams come true, aren’t we?
As a young girl I devoured books and wrote stories and poems. In college I became an English major (many books and much writing), and in grad school I pursued a graduate degree in Education (loved all subjects but especially all things literacy). As a classroom teacher for 12 years I became a coach and mentor working to make sure my quiet students were heard, that all students discovered their strengths and especially their voice during our writers’ workshop. Publishing my students’ stories and hosting an annual Authors’ Tea for families was my delight. It was always a magical night! After my first son was diagnosed with Cornelia deLange Syndrome, I pivoted from classroom teaching to leading writing workshops, camps, story times with my son tagging along, and selling children’s books…always celebrating the stories that connect us and the power of words to effect change.
It turns out that my son, Benjamin, has extremely limited speech due to apraxia. His brain is unable to make and deliver correct movement directions to his lips, jaw, and tongue. Thankfully he is able to say “mom” and “dad” along with “hi” and “bye”! He is able to communicate his wants and needs by using a speech app on an iPad, and that has made all the difference. And believe me, he has found his voice!
So with this importance of voice in my own life, how delighted I was to discover the amazing books, Say Something and Find Your Voice! Say Something was written and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds for young children. It opens with “The world needs your voice.” I just love that. And there are so many ways to say something. It doesn’t have to be with words! A diverse group of children show that you can say something with a paintbrush, with planting seeds in an empty lot, writing a poem, sharing your brilliant idea, and speaking out about injustice. Whether just one person listens or the whole world pays attention, keep sharing what is in your heart, says Reynolds. This book is perfect for children ages 3 to 8, but I know a few adults would benefit from hearing the words, as well!
Find Your Voice: A Guided Journal for Writing Your Truth was written by Angie Thomas, the author of the incredible YA novel The Hate U Give! She shares so many truths with aspiring young writers in just the first few pages: “Practice makes greatness.” “If you write, then you’re a writer with a capital W.” “The desire to tell the story has to outweigh the fear.” Solid gold for young and not-so-young aspiring writers! Thomas also gets practical and specific with sections on character, setting, dialogue, problems, story structure, subplots, and more. This journal is perfect for youth age 10 and above. There are exercises throughout with plenty of space for writing. Thomas shared a powerful story in The Hate U Give and is lighting the way for others to follow in her footsteps with this inspiring and practical guided journal. I highly recommend it!
Purchase Say Something from Bookshop Purchase Say Something from Amazon
Purchase Find Your Voice from Bookshop Purchase Find Your Voice from Amazon
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About the Author
I am a mom to two sweet and lively boys and live in Santa Barbara, California. My oldest has Cornelia deLange Syndrome. He fuels my passion for advocating for equity and inclusion wherever I go. I love the power of a good story to inspire, educate, and make change in our world.