Gift Ideas: Middle Grade Books for Kids Who Love Sports


It is not always rainbows and butterflies when it comes to getting young people to read. We live in a world where there are so many things that are competing for their attention that it can be very difficult sometimes to convince them that books not only feed their brains, but they also can take you on wonderful adventures and captivate you with great stories. To me, the best stories, especially for young readers, are the ones that are are relatable. Stories that you can completely picture yourself in or someone else that you know can be some of the best stories that you have ever read. To see things that you know about articulated into an entire book can sometimes be gratifying as we often don’t know the right words to use to describe our experiences.

Which brings me to this latest post…

I have a friend who has a child that absolutely loves sports, but she struggles to find books that keeps his attention so I have been tasked with finding some books that he may like. I have seen a few books YA books in passing but never gave them a 2nd glance because I figured that Rahni would never read them because she’s really not into sports. I didn’t consider that just because there was a guy on the cover with a helmet on, that there may be a great story behind the cover. As I started doing my research and reading excerpts,  I found quite a few books that I not only think my friends son would love, but I also want to read them myself!

Below are some of the great books by some great authors that I have picked out during my search. If you have read any of them I would love to hear your thoughts and if you have any suggestions, please feel free to drop them in the comments!

If you have a reader that reads middle grade level books and loves sports, maybe they will enjoy some of these selections too!

*Synopsis are taken straight from the author’s or retailer’s site.

The Crossover

Synopsis: Josh and Jordan must come to grips with growing up on and off the court to realize breaking the rules comes at a terrible price, as their story’s heart-stopping climax proves a game-changer for the entire family.

Suggested for ages: 10 and up

Why I chose this book: Many reasons, but mainly because it is poetic prose and the summary sounds very interesting. Kwame Alexander takes a story about basketball and makes poetry of it in the form of a chapter book and to me, that is absolutely brilliant! While reading the excerpt, I found myself reading the verses first as regular prose and then as poetry, and it made the experience so much more exciting. I really think this is a book that readers can come back and find new meaning as they progress in age and maturity.

Other books by Kwame Alexander  similar to Crossover


Synopsis:Nick Hall lives and breathes soccer. But when he’s sidelined by an injury, his word-loving father takes the opportunity to try to instill a love of reading into his reluctant son. Nick’s mother leaves for a job out of state, he and his best friend hit the skids, he’s dealing with a bully, and on top of all of that, he has to navigate the highs and lows of a first crush.

The Playbook

Synopsis: Illustrated with photographs by Thai Neave, The Playbook is intended to provide inspiration on the court of life. Each rule contains wisdom from inspiring athletes
and role models such as Nelson Mandela, Serena Williams, LeBron James, Carli Lloyd, Steph Curry and Michelle Obama. Kwame Alexander also provides his own poetic and uplifting words, as he shares stories of overcoming obstacles and winning games in this motivational and inspirational book just right for graduates of any age and anyone needing a little encouragement.

To read more about Kwame Alexander and his other books click here.



Heart of a Champion by Carl Deuker

Suggested for ages: 12 and up

Synopsis: Jimmy Winter is a born star on the baseball field, and Seth Barnam can only dream of being as talented. Still, the two baseball fanatics have the kind of friendship that should last forever. But when Seth experiences an unthinkable loss, he’s forced to find his own personal strength–on and off the field.

Why I chose this book: Again, I am a sucker for a great plot. After reading chapter 1 I found myself wanting to know more about Jimmy and Seth. I am not a huge fan of baseball nor do I understand it a great deal and the great part is that I don’t need to in order to enjoy this book. Friendship, growing up, loss, love, joy and pain- who cannot relate to those things on some level? Also, Carl Deuker’s storytelling is phenomenal! I think that like the books by Kwame Alexander, these are also great ways “sneak” in a little something extra besides just sports.

Other books by Carl Deuker similar to Heart of a Champion


Synopsis: When high school senior Jonas moves to Seattle, he is glad to meet Levi, a nice, soft-spoken guy and fellow basketball player. Suspense builds like a slow drumbeat as readers start to smell a rat in Ryan Hartwell, a charismatic basketball coach and sexual predator. When Levi reluctantly tells Jonas that Hartwell abused him, Jonas has to decide whether he should risk his future career to report the coach. Pitch-perfect basketball plays, well-developed characters, and fine storytelling make this psychological sports novel a slam dunk.

Painting the Black

Synopsis: In his senior year of high school, late bloomer Ryan Ward has just begun to feel the magic of baseball—the thrill of catching a wicked slider, of throwing a runner out, of training hard and playing hard. His friend Josh, the star of the team, has helped Ryan push his limits. But when Josh clearly pushes the limits too far, Ryan is faced with a heartbreaking dilemma: he must choose between his love for the game and his sense of integrity.

To read more about Carl Deuker and his books click here.



The Walk On by John Feinstein


Suggested for ages: 10 and up

Synopsis: Alex has the better arm, but Matt has more experience—and the coach’s loyalty. Alex finally gets a chance to show what he can do when Matt is injured, and he helps win a key game to keep the Lions’ bid for the state championship alive. But just when his star is rising, Alex gets blindsided—the state has started drug testing, and Alex’s test comes back positive for steroids. Alex knows that’s not right. But he doesn’t know if it’s a mistake—or if someone wants to make sure he can’t play. . . .

Why I chose this book:  As you all know from a previous post, I love good books that are in a series. Sometimes a story can be over sooner than we are ready to say good bye to our new fictional friends. Luckily for us, with this series called Triple Threat, we don’t have to. In this series Alex, the protagonist is a triple threat in high school sports. He is a new kid in a new town trying to prove himself and navigate through his new life. The story line is pretty solid and at times it deals with some heavier issues for a middle grade series, however, they are real life topics that a lot of kids deal with or go through. I think John Feinstein has done a great job of really creating great stories around the sports, not just about them. I can see some really great lessons and discussions coming from this series.

Other books by John Feinstein similar to The Walk On

The Sixth Man

Synopsis: It’s basketball season. And for once, triple threat Alex Myers is not the one in the spotlight. There’s a new new guy in town, Max Bellotti—and he promises to turn the Lions’ losing streak around and lead the team to a conference title.
Alex is psyched, but some of the older guys on the team resent being benched in favor of an upstart freshman. And when Max comes out as gay, not everyone takes the news in stride. Snide comments and cold shoulders escalate into heated protests and an out-and-out war with the school board. While controversy swirls around them, the Lions have to decide: Will personal issues sink their season, or can they find a way to stand together as a team?

The DH

Synopsis: Alex Myers’s football and basketball seasons were mired in controversy, and his dad’s been MIA since his parents split up. All Alex wants this spring is to work on his fastball and hang out with his maybe-girlfriend, Christine. But he runs into unexpected competition. Matt Gordon was suspended from sports after he admitted taking PEDs during football season, but the athletic board has decided to give him another chance. So he’s on the team—and he’s got something to prove. He’s also got his eye on Christine.
The question this season—is all fair in love and baseball? Or are some things truly unforgivable?

To learn more about John Feinstein and his books click here.



Gift Ideas: Boxed Book Sets

books3It is almost that time again and if you are anything like me, you are somewhat (read totally) lost as to what to get your kiddo or other kids on your list for Christmas. I used to try to rely on wish lists and dropped hints but my kid sometimes changes what she really, really wants from day-to-day, so I find the lists and clues to be somewhat unreliable. Also, I am attempting the 4 Gift Rule this year which is:

1. Something they want

2. Something they need

3. Something to wear

4. Something to read.

I am pretty sure that I can  stick to this rule, I just need to find Gift 1. Something she wants. Luckily, numbers 2 and 3 are my specialties, and also so is number 4…something to read.

Hence this post.

It is not that I cannot find her anything to read, the exact opposite is true. My biggest challenge is going to be only getting 1 book for her to read. I have said it before and I will say it again, this is such a great time to be a person, specifically a kid, who loves to read! There are so many great books out there by so many great authors with so many different stories to tell, it seems almost magical! I know for me, after reading a really good book, I have this urgent need to read something else. I immediately log into Good Reads or Amazon looking for another book by the same author or a similar story so that I can stay on that reading high that my last book took me on. There’s nothing like it! The best thing to me is reading a really good book only to find out that it is part of a series, and I may be wrong, but I assume that winning the lottery has the same kind of feeling as this discovery. 🙂

This Christmas, give your reader or other readers on your list the same feeling of excitement with some of these great box sets.

Mercy Watson Boxed Set: Adventures of a Porcine Wonder

This set includes: Mercy Watson to the Rescue, Mercy Watson Goes for a Ride, Mercy Watson Fights Crime, Mercy Watson: Princee in Disguise, Mercy Watson Thinks Like a Pig, and Mercy Watson: Something Wonky This Way Comes

Suggested for ages: 5-8

Amelia Bedelia Chapter Book 10-Book Box Set

Image result for amelia bedelia 10 book box set

This set includes: Amelia Bedelia Means Business, Amelia Bedelia Unleashed, Amelia Bedelia Road Trip!, Amelia Bedelia Goes Wild!, Amelia Bedelia Shapes Up, Amelia Bedelia Cleans Up, Amelia Bedelia Sets Sail, Amelia Bedelia Dances Off, Amelia Bedelia on the Job, and Amelia Bedelia Ties the Knot. Also includes a collectible full-color bookmark!

Suggested for ages: 6-10

This alt value should not be empty if you assign primary imageThe Judy Moody Uber Awesome Collection: Books 1-9

This set includes: Judy Moody, Judy Moody Gets Famous, Judy Moody Saves the World!, Judy Moody Predicts the Future, Judy Moody, MD.:The Doctor is In!, Judy Moody Declares Independence, Judy Moody Around the World in 8 and 189 Days, Judy Moody Goes to College, and Judy Moody, Girl Detective.

Suggested for ages: 6-9

The Spiderwick Chronicles

The Spiderwick Chronicles (the Complete Series)

This set includes: The Field Guide , The Seeing Stone, Lucinda’s Secret, The Ironwood Tree, and The Wrath of Mulgrath

Suggested for: ages 6-10

A Series of Unfortunate Events Boxed Set: The Complete Wreck (1-13)

Image result for A Series of Unfortunate Events Boxed Set: The Complete Wreck (1-13)

This set includes:  The Bad Beginning, The Reptile Room, The Wide Window, The Miserable Mill, The Austere Academy, The Ersatz Elevator, The Vile Village, The Hostile Hospital, The Carnivorous Carnival, The Slippery Slope, The Crim Crotto, and The Penul Timate Peril

Suggested for ages: 8 and up

The Complete Ramona Collection

The Complete Ramona Collection

This set includes: Beezus and Ramona, Ramona and Her Father, Ramona and Her Mother, Ramona Quimby, Age 8, Ramona Forever, Ramona the Brave, Ramona the Pest, Ramona’s World

Suggested for ages: 8-12

Judy Blume’s Fudge Box Set

Judy Blume: The Complete Set of Fudge

This set includes: Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great, Superfudge, Fudge-a-Mania, and Double Fudge

Suggested for ages: 8-12

Judy Blume Essentials

This set includes: Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret; Blubber; Deenie; Iggie’s House; It’s Not the End of the World; Then Again, Maybe I Won’t; Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself

Suggested for ages: 8-12

Wayside School Boxed Set

Wayside School Boxed Set

This set includes: Sideways Stories from Wayside School, Wayside School is Falling Down, and Wayside School Gets A Little Stranger

Suggested for ages: 8-12

The Essential Kate DiCamillo Collection

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The set includes: Because of Winn-Dixie, The Tiger Rising, The Tale of Despereaux, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, and The Magician’s Elephant

Suggested for ages: 8-12

Special Edition Harry Potter Paperback Box Set

Special Edition Harry Potter Paperback Box Set (1-7)

This set includes: Harry Potter books 1-7

Suggested for ages 8 and up

The Baby-Sittercs Club Graphix 1-4

This set includes: The Baby-Sitters Club Graphic Novels 1-4

Suggested for ages 8-12

Dork Diaries Squee-tastic Collection Books 1-10 (Hardcover Boxed Set)

This set includes:Dork Diaries #1: Tales from a Not-So-Fabulous Life, Dork Diaries #2: Tales from a Not-So-Popular Party Girl, Dork Diaries #3: Tales from a Not-So-Talented Pop Star, Dork Diaries #3 1/2: How to Dork Your Diary, Dork Diaries #4: Tales From a Not-So-Graceful Ice Princess, Dork Diaries #5: Tales from a Not-So-Smart Miss Know-It-All
Dork Diaries #6: Tales from a Not-So-Happy Heartbreaker, Dork Diaries #7: Tales from a Not-So-Glam TV Star, Dork Diaries #8: Tales from a Not-So-Happily Ever After, Dork Diaries #9: Tales from a Not-So-Dorky Drama Queen, and Dork Diaries #10: Tales from a Not-So-Perfect Pet Sitter

Suggested for ages: 9 and up

Percy Jackson and the Olympians Boxed Set (Books 1-5)

Percy Jackson and the Olympians Boxed Set (Books 1-5)

This set includes: Book 1: The Lightning Thief, Book 2: The Sea of Monsters, Book 3: The Titan’s Curse, Book 4: The Battle of the Labyrinth, and Book 5: The Last Olympian

Suggested for ages: 9 and up

Smile and Sisters: The Box Set

Image result for sisters box set

This set includes: Smile, Sisters

Suggested for ages 9-12

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

This set includes: The Magician’s Nephew, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, The Horse and His Boy, Prince Caspian, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, The Silver Chair, and The Last Battle

Suggested for ages 9 and up

Charlie Boxed Set

Charlie Boxed Set: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator

This set includes: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator

Suggested for ages: 13 and up

Summer Reading Book Haul

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Some of My Favorite Books Right Now

Sew Fab Sewing and Style for Young Fashionistas:
Author: Lesley Ware

ISBN-10: 178067404X
ISBN-13: 978-1780674049

Sew Fab is a great book about sewing, style, and designing. There are guides to help you pick your own style tribe, accessorize, and also how to choose your color palette. I love this book because I am really into fashion and clothes. One day I want to be able to use a sewing machine like my mom does to create pretty dresses and skirts to wear. There are also some really cool projects in the book, my favorite one is the After School Tote.

Another thing I love about the book is the illustrations. The pictures look like they are painted with watercolors and all of the girls in the book have on really cute outfits!  The colors are bright and pretty The girl on the cover has on Chuck’s and those are my favorite shoes. I sometimes use the book when my mom lets me pick my own outfits.

I would recommend this book to anyone who likes fashion or wants to learn more about sewing. It has helped me out a lot!

Jem and the Holograms comics :
Author: Kelly Thompson and Sophia Campbell



I love comic books!

I just  started reading the Jem and the Holograms comics a few weeks ago. I read all 4 comics in one day and have read My favorite part of comics are the illustrations because I want to be an author/illustrator one day. I have seen the Jem cartoon that my mom used to watch when she was a kid and I loved it!

In the comics the main character is Jerrica Benton but her secret identity is Jem. Jem has a girl band called Jem and the Holograms and they give concerts and help out kids with the Starlight Foundation. Jem has a computer named Synergy that helps her and her band transform and it is super cool! I like the Jem cartoons and comics because all of the stories have a lesson and a moral that I can learn.

I would recommend these comic books to anyone who likes music, brightly colored graphics, and comics. There are 11 books in the series plus a holiday special.

The Witches:
Author: Roald Dahl

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ISBN-10: 0590032496
ISBN-13: 978-0142410110

My teacher read this book to our class and I loved it so much, I had to read it myself. I want to read all of Roald Dahl’s books because the stories I have seen in movies were great, and I am sure the books are too!
The story is about 2 boys, the narrator and a boy named Bruno Jenkins, who meet some witches and get turned into mice. With the help of the narrators grandmother, they try to find away to turn back into boys and get back at the witches.
I like this book because it is very funny and creative. The funniest part of the book to me, was when the witches were at their meeting and The Grand High Witch told them all that they could remove their wigs, gloves, and shoes.
I would recommend this book to anyone who likes funny stories.

The Jigsaw Jones Mystery Books :
Author: James Preller

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I like these stories because they are funny and there are real mysteries to be solved. I like to watch NCIS, Sherlock,  and other mystery stories with my mom, but I don’t always understand what is going on. The Jigsaw Jones books are very kid friendly and easy to understand. Another thing I like, is that I can read the books easily in one day and still remember details.

The main character is Jigsaw Jones. He loves drinking grape juice and he has a dog named Rags. The story is written like Jigsaw is an actual detective and I like that a lot. It’s not just a kid trying to solve mysteries, he actually is really good at it. The book reminds me of Nancy Drew or Encyclopedia Brown.

I would recommend this book to anyone who likes mystery stories.

Rahni’s Book Club


I have been saying for months that I was going to start a children’s book club, and today, I finally did. I called the library and reserved a meeting room for our first official meeting. It will be in a month and now I have to invite people and find a book.
There is no particular age range for the club, but the books will be appropriate for kids aged 7 to about 10 just because I don’t want the books that we select to be too difficult or too easy. Since Rahni is 8 and most of the kids that I am going to invite are around her age give or take a couple years, this should hopefully work out. Of course we can always make adjustments as necessary.
Upon looking for our first book selection, I came across some very interesting books that I have never seen before. It seems like these days there is no shortage of books or authors for children to choose from. While representation of ethnic diversity is lacking in characters, today I have found, despite my initial thought, that there are a good amount of books that have both female and male main characters. Admittedly, I usually do not browse for books that boys specifically would be interested in because I don’t have a son. However, when we do go to book stores and libraries, I notice a lot more books with a lot more female protagonists.
When I asked two of my trusted mommy friends about books that both boys and girls would like, they both gave me 2 really good options; one being Sweet Farts series book #1 by Raymond Bean and the other was the Rotten School series book #1 by R.L. Stine.
I never knew the R.L .made any series outside of Goosebumps, so this came as a pleasant surprise to me. The series is not scary, but is funny, and has a good amount of the gross humor that kids tend to like. The first book is titled The Big Blueberry Barf-Off, if that tells you anything. I read excerpts from the book and it seems to be about a very annoying and bratty kid that challenges another kid that is just as bratty to a pie eating contest. It seems legitimately funny and there are short chapters and great illustrations.
Before today, I ashamed to say that I have never heard of author Raymond Bean. He writes children’s humor book series Sweet Farts and School is a Nightmare. He also has a series titles Benji Franklin that I absolutely fell in love with after reading an excerpt from book #1 Benji Franklin Kid Zillionaire. Benji is a child genius and inventor. He wins an award for one of his inventions and becomes the world’s first and only zillionaire. It is a book about creativity, imagination, and also good will. This is definitely a book that goes on our “to read” list.

These are some of the books that I think would be great options, some are newer and some are classics, either way  I think they all appeal to boys and girls.

Click the links after the photos for more info!

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10 11 12

The Magic Shop (series) by Kate Egan
Elray Jakes (series) by Sally Warner 
Club House Mysteries (series) by Sharon Draper   
Diary of a 6th Grade Ninja (series) by Marcus Emerson
Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing (series) by Judy Blume
The Mouse and the Motorcycle (series) by Beverly Cleary
Freckle Juice by Judy Blume
How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell
Friendle by Andrew Clements
The Chocolate Touch by Patrick Skene Catling
Stuart Little by E.B. White
George Brown Class Clown (series) by Nancy Krulik

Books that Rahni is adding to her list

Even though Santa gave her quite a few new books for Christmas, my little bookworm somehow can still manage to want more new books to read. Totally believable. We are talking about a little person who starts at least 5 books at a time. She was reading so many books recently that she ran out of bookmarks so she had to get creative. I had no idea until I found erasers, toilet paper, and receipts as books marks. One time she even used a stick of gum.

Well, seeing as how Santa also alleviated her deficiency of bookmarks issue with some totally cool personalized bookmarks from, she has decided to add more books to her already long ‘To Read’ list.


Not that I am complaining that she wants to read more, I would just LOVE for her to finish some of the books she has started.

1. This is actually not just one book, it is a series of books by author Hillary McKay with a main character named Lulu.

Lulu is a 7 year old girl that loves animals, so Rahni immediately felt she was a kindred spirit.

lulu c lulu d lulu h lulu r lulu w

2. The Year of Billy Miller by Kevin Henkes. Henkes is one of her favorite authors, so it’s no wonder she loved the excerpt from this one. It’s about a 2nd grader named Billy who seems a little uncertain about how his year will be.

3. Doll Bones by Holly Black. This appears to be a bit advanced for her reading level but she is adamant about taking a stab at it. A novel about 2 friend who go on a journey at the request of ghost that inhabits the dolls body. I’m not really sure that she will get around to reading this one, but I am pretty sure that I will:)

doll bones

4. Dory Fantasmagory by Abby Hanlon. A book about a brave little girl who has an over active imagination and is the youngest of 3.


5. I just LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this book! Firebird by Misty Copeland. It’s a book about confidence. courage, and motivation; things that any girl of any age or race can identify with. This is a picture book, so it will not be difficult for her to read. I have a feeling that this book will be one that she will keep on her shelf and maybe one day pass it down to her daughter.


Value Book Packs From Scholastic Book Club

I may not have mentioned this before, but we absolutely LOVE Scholastic Reader! I always looked forward to the day that my teacher would distribute order forms when I was in school. I would rush home and circle all of my favorite books and then my mom and I would narrow the 100 books I selected down to my favorite few. It was always such a hard thing  to do. Now, 30 years later, my daughter is coming home just as excited..if not more so, than I was but with just as many books selected. Since I happen to be a sucker for literature, I always end up buying more than the set limit that I gave her. It’s really hard to restrain because the kid picks out some really good books and I find my self getting just as excited as she is about reading them. 🙂

Well, last night during our “quiet time” (I silently read and she reads aloud quietly) we decided to go through her latest Scholastic flyer but we ended up just going to the website instead. The layout of the site is phenomenal and the prices are more than reasonable. They have so many different kinds of books that one can waste quite a bit of time there and your shopping cart can get really full really fast, The best thing I found though, is the awesomely priced book packs! You get a pack of books from a series that are value priced and they are some really great series books. Since Rahni likes to read series/chapter books, I found the book packs to be extremely attractive for the price points! Here are some of our favorites

Bad Kitty Pack



Pete The Cat Pack



Whatever After Pack



Black Lagoon Series



My Weird School and My Weirder School Pack



These are just a few of our favorites, but there are so many more to choose from! Click here to see all the value book packs available.

Happy reading!


From Mom: Chapter Books for African American Girls

While I was online recently looking for books to add to Rahni’s reading list for 2014, I remembered that I had come across a book series  about a little girl named Dyamonde Daniel by Nikki Grimes. I heard of this last year on and added book 1, Make Way for Dyamonde Daniel to Rahni’s ‘To Read’ list but like 100 or so of the other books listed, I forgot to go back and research it. I am now kicking myself. I did some research on Nikki Grimes books and discovered that she has a vast array of books ranging from picture books for very young readers to chapter books for older or more advanced readers. Where have I been? While I have been on the hunt, tirelessly searching for books to keep my daughter’s interest, and searching all kinds of book lists from graphic novels for kids  to books about strong girls, and graphic novels for girls, never once did I think to look for books that would have characters that LOOK like her. An aha moment!

So today I actually Googled “Chapter books for African American girls” and an entire new world of books appeared before my very eyes! I felt like a kid in a candy store! Whoopi Goldberg even has a series of books about a group of young girls who are dancers called The Sugar Plum Ballerinas! How awesome is that considering Rahni is a dancer!?  I even found a series called Liberty Porter, about a young African American girl that is the daughter of the President! I know I may seem way too excited right now…because I seriously am, but I feel like reading just got THAT MUCH MORE FUN if that is at all possible! Also, I didn’t mention that not all of these books are by African American authors…how cool is that??

Below I have listed some of the books that we have earmarked as ‘to read’ this year. They seem like really fun books, and although they are based on African American characters, I am more than certain that they will be relatable  and entertaining for any ethnicity.


Visit these talented authors pages for more info!

Nikki Grimes

Kim Wayans

Julia DeVillers

Melissa Thomson

Karen English

Derrick Barnes

Sharon M. Draper