Martin Luther King Jr. Day Activity: Close Reading Activity for Distance Learning and Home School

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With the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday fast approaching, I thought I’d let all my readers know about the FREE close reading lesson available to download. I’ve had it on my teacher store on Teacherspayteachers for a couple years now, but would like to make it available for families and people teaching at home for this weekend. I know people like to do activities on MLKjr. Day, and it may be hard to go out and do community service this year due to the pandemic. But you can still participate by doing an activity at home to help your child understand why this holiday is important.

I developed this lesson in my classroom to specifically be taught around this time. I had noticed children were coming up from the grade before, 2nd or 3rd grade, without clearly understanding what his dream was. When asked about Martin Luther King Jr, they would respond that “He had a dream.” It was mostly due to the fact they were concrete thinkers and didn’t understand the abstract notion of what MLKjr’s Dream symbolized. I also would have a week of reading material on the civil rights movement using my district’s available reading books. So, this is a great lead into civil rights studies.

I would read the speech as a guided reading/read-aloud in my classroom. I’ve included a link to one book that is available like this. There are others, or you may already have one in your class or home library. Reading it before this downloadable lesson is recommended. It’s to show where the context is for the “I Have a Dream” references. Plus, focus on why he repeats the phrase, “I Have A Dream”, and discuss why he may have done that.

“I Have A Dream (Book & CD)” Link to purchase. There are other books like this available, but this is one that can be used with the downloadable lesson or another similar book with the speech text illustrated.

So, that is how I used this lesson in my classroom. I offer it now for use for other classrooms, online studies and of course, at home for families to discuss what Martin Luther King’s Dream actually was. And of course, talking or reading material about the civil right movements will help with this. I’ve included some links below.

All this will help children understand what is currently going on in our own country right now, with the current protests and BLM protests. Please let me know if you found this useful or general feedback in the comments below.

Download FREE Martin Luther King Jr. Dream Speech PDF Below!

Other Reading Material links for Children on the Civil Rights Movement:

“If You Were A Kid During the Civil Rights Movement”

“The Civil Rights Movement for Kids”

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend! Stay safe out there, and please, wear a mask!

-Tiffany Turner

Tiffany Turner is a children’s fantasy writer of the Crystal Keeper Chronicle series. She is the head writer and editor of the Indie Children’s Authors Connection blog.

Interview with Valerie Anne Hudson

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One of my favorite books I read in 5th grade was called “Half Magic” by Edward Eager. I think it’s one of the books that drew me into fantasy as a kid. So, I’ve always been intrigued by wishing magic stories. I think I’ve found a great one to read aloud to your class or have your youngster dive into during this pandemic. Reading is such a great escape and distraction, as well as building literary skills. I think I’ve been doing more reading since the lockdowns started back in March 2020. So, this is the perfect new release to treat your class or child at the start of 2021.

Valerie Anne Hudson is the author of the new children’s fantasy book, “Watch What You Wish For”.

I’d like to introduce you to the author, Valerie Anne Hudson. She’s written the book involving wish magic called “Watch What You Wish For”. I had the chance to ask her about her reading inspirations as a child, writing routines and helpful methods, and all sorts of interesting facts on her process for writing her book.

1) What is your favorite memory from reading as a child?

Valerie Anne Hudson: The sudden realization that I could read ‘grown up’ books.  I vividly remember having absolutely nothing to read one day. Out of desperation, I took one of my parents’ books off the bookshelf – it was a Readers’ Digest containing a variety of condensed novels.  I devoured the contents, and was so proud of myself!

2) Who was your favorite author and how did they influence you?

Valerie Anne Hudson: As a child my favorite author was Louisa May Alcott.  I still have my original dog-eared copy of “Little Women.” I must have read that book dozens of times over the years. What a superb achievement, to write a book that’s still enjoyable and relatable 150 years later.

3) Do you have a writing routine? Share what works for you.

Valerie Anne Hudson: I write for 4 or 5 hours a day, which is easy for me now that I’m retired. I’m truly fortunate to be able to do that!

4) What subjects would you like to write about in future projects?

Valerie Anne Hudson: At the moment I’m focused on fantasy:  the paranormal and the supernatural, and I write for children. I hope that my writing evolves, though, and would like to attempt something for adults in the future.

5) How has your day job/career prepared you to be a writer?

Valerie Anne Hudson: I taught school for 25 years, so there’s lots of writing involved there. I taught grades 4 to 6 for many of those years, and always loved teaching English and creative writing.


6) Why are you drawn to writing fantasy and about the paranormal?

Valerie Anne Hudson: An overactive imagination! I’m a huge Stephen King and Dean Koontz fan, along with JK Rowling, of course.  Such great escapism!


7) What activities do you do to help with the creative writing process?

Valerie Anne Hudson: I’m always on the alert for potential plots or scenes for upcoming stories. It’s amazing how many ideas you can get from real life news stories – truth is always stranger than fiction, as they say. Also, I try and read other people’s books as much as I can. All types and genres.


8) How did you get the idea for the “Wishing Tree” in your book, “Watch What You Wish For”?

Valerie Anne Hudson: I was thinking, what if you made a wish that actually came true? And what if you regretted making that wish and wanted to take it back? Then I started researching wishing wells and the stories associated with them, and discovered that there are actually wishing trees in some parts of the world. A tree seemed like it could be more dramatic than a well, so that’s how the idea blossomed.


9) Is the town of Mariposa a real town? If yes, why did you choose it? If no, was it inspired by a real town and which one?

Valerie Anne Hudson: Mariposa is a fictional Canadian town originally created by renowned author Stephen Leacock. Although he denied it, it was actually based on the town of Orillia, Ontario, which is where I live. I’ve changed the layout of the town and its surroundings around a fair bit in my story, so it wouldn’t have been fair to call it Orillia. Mariposa seemed like a good alternative choice.

10) What is writing to you in one sentence?

Valerie Anne Hudson: The desire to entertain my readers with sheer, delightful escapism!

Released on Jan. 8, 2021

“Watch What You Wish For” isn’t your normal fairy tale. 12-year-old Sophie isn’t happy about moving to the small town of Mariposa. She misses the big city, but luckily finds some friends also in the 7th grade. Their adventures lead to the discovery of an ancient Wishing Tree. They find the secret to unleash an evil power connected to the towns shadowy past. People start to go missing as lives turn upside down. Faced with the need to try to get things back to the way they were, our heroes embark on a journey that leads to self-discovery and friendship.

“Watch What You Wish For” is available at Amazon.com as a Kindle Unlimited title.

For more information on Valerie Anne Hudson, visit her website here.

Interview with Wolf Cub Chlo

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With the first interview and book recommendation of this New Year, I thought all of us could use a good laugh. Not only have I found a book likely to make you smile, but also it will guide you into reading and how to tell jokes to brighten up your family’s day.

Wolf Cub Chlo is the author of the children’s joke book, “Once ‘a pun’ a Time: A Guide to reading and telling jokes”.

Wolf Cub Chlo is a child author that loves to tell a good joke. So much, she’s written a book about it. There’s nothing like a child giving insight to something that can make us all feel much better. What a great gift this little cub has given us all in her book, “Once ‘a pun’ a Time: A Guide to reading and telling jokes”. I had a chance to talk with Wolf Cub Chlo about why she writes, what she loves about reading and writing, and what future projects she is planning.

  1. Can you introduce yourself and tell us why you wanted to write your book, “Once ‘a pun’ a Time”?

Wolf Cub Chlo: Hi! My name is Chloé, but I write all my books under the name Wolf Cub Chlo, and I’m 6 years old. I like to think of silly words and create stories around a simple word. But, for my book, I turned those silly words into jokes.

  • What subjects would you like to write about in future projects?

Wolf Cub Chlo: For my next project, I would like to write silly stories using sight words to help other kids learn to read while having fun. I want it to be a series like Bob books. I really love those books too.

  • What is writing to you in one sentence?

Wolf Cub Chlo: To me, writing is a way to relax and bring a smile to my face. Just like coloring.

“Once ‘a pun’ a Time” is a book that is medicine to help you heal others through laughter. Laughter is something people need in their daily lives. Jokes are one way people can support each other during these difficult times during COVID lockdowns. Learn tips and tricks on how to tell and write your own jokes. Share laughter with friends and family through video conferencing and help others heal. Remember, we’ll all get through this together.

“Once ‘a pun’ at Time” is available from Amazon.com as a Kindle edition.

For more information on Wolf Cub Chlo, visit her website here.

Interview with Leslie Dangerfield

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I love dog and cat books. They are so uplifting during these trying times. I think I’ve found a memorable one to share with your family or classroom. Leslie Dangerfield grew up in the Bronx, and uses her real life experiences to develop her story ideas. Her debut children’s book, “Fernando the Bodega Cat”, highlights diversity and inclusion through daily encounters with a NYC bodega cat. I had the chance to ask Leslie about her childhood reading memories, writing routine, and what future projects she has in store for us.

1) What is your favorite memory from reading as a child?

Leslie Dangerfield: My favorite memory from reading as a child would probably be reading books with my grandmother. She would share her favorite books with me, and we would read it together. She would even read a few pages aloud to me every night. Sometimes if the books were really good, I would read ahead. I didn’t want to hurt her feelings, so I would still act surprised when we read it together.

2) Do you have a writing routine? Share what works for you.

Leslie Dangerfield: I’ve come to accept that my writing routine is no routine. My life is very demanding, and as much as I’ve tried to adhere to a routine, it never happens. However, I’ve learned to get creative in order to stay consistent. I use platforms like social media to share short stories from my phone, and in turn I build on that later for a new project. I’ve also even gone as far as recording myself telling a story and having it transcribed, and then going back and revising it until I’m satisfied. The times of dedicating hours at a computer to write are a luxury many people don’t have anymore. Fortunately, due to all the amazing technology we have access to, you can write from anywhere at any time.

3) What subjects would you like to write about in future projects?
Leslie Dangerfield:
I have a few different children’s projects lined up that all include aspects of city life, a diverse range of protagonists tackling real issues that children deal with on a daily basis. Kids today are dealing with so much more than my generation did, and so much of it is unsung. I also have plans for a few YA and adult projects. Hopefully, this is just the beginning.

“Fernando the Bodega Cat” is a story that brings you into the heart of many New York City neighborhoods, a bodega store. Found throughout NYC, bodega stores are often the heart of the neighborhood, and can be the meeting of languages, cultures, and highlight the diversity of every neighborhood. Seen through the eyes of a cat, you will get to know all his neighbors and the neighborhood. With Fernando as your guide, learn how differences and diversity is prized and respected, and how everyone can share common interests with their fellow neighbors.

Recommended for children 3-8.

“Fernando the Bodega Cat” is available at Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.com.

For more information about Leslie Dangerfield, please visit her website here.

Interview with Justin Ogden

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With the season changing from fall to winter, we can recognize the huge amount of changes our families, schools and communities have gone through this year. As well, a great way to settle into the change of seasons and welcome the Holiday season is with a good book. I’ve found another jewel to share with your family or your classroom for this December and through the winter.

“Happy Birthday Winter” is a beautifully illustrated picture book that welcomes the changes of the seasons with descriptive language and thoughtful phrases. The author is Justin Ogden. He is a high school special educator and lives in Colorado. He used his love of the outdoors and writing to create a tale that amplifies beauty and change in the environment around us. I had a chance to talk to Justin about his childhood reading memories, his writing routine, and what writing means to him

  1. What is your favorite reading memory as a child?

Justin Ogden: My favorite reading related memory when I was a child was the first time reading “Where the Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak. I remember being captivated as my elementary school librarian read this book to my class. It was truly a wonderful and imaginative piece that I still value today.

2. Do you have a writing routine? Share what works for you.

Justin Ogden: My typical writing routine usually stems from good conversation with friends where I can soundboard ideas. I have a few friends in-particular who are authors themselves. I can, and do, text them with ideas. Once I have had the chance to soundboard ideas, I usually think on one for a week or so before I flesh it out in type. Then, I will wait another week before I go back and edit it. This can happen a few times before I bring the idea to David, my friend and illustrator for Happy Birthday Winter. He is a marvelous friend and wealth of knowledge. If he likes the idea, he will usually tell me, or tell me to think on it a while longer. If he likes it, we proceed to talking about the illustrations, and the piece is well on its way.

3. What is writing to you in one sentence?

Justin Ogden: Writing is story telling for people who will never hear your voice.

“Happy Birthday Winter” is a beautifully illustrated picture book that will bring joy and wonder to the changing of the seasons. The characters journey together in a welcome to winter story as they appreciate the changing of the seasons and the nature that surrounds them. This book is a great gift for children that appreciate nature and families to share in the magic of outdoor sports such as hiking. This is a wonderful way to connect and share a love for nature and the great outdoors.

“Happy Birthday Winter” is available to buy through the author’s website.

Interview with Mac Hernandez

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I’m excited to present my first Christmas book of the season. I found a darling picture book called “The Christmas Elf-e-phant” by Mac Hernandez. Mac is a Texas filmmaker, graphic artist, and storyteller that has had a passion for storytelling since he was a child. His new book helps bring children into the magical world of the Christmas Elf-e-phant. It’s a story of not fitting in with a positive message to its ending, and it’s a modern Dumbo story with Christmas at its heart. I had the chance to talk with Mac Hernandez about his childhood reading memories, future writing projects, and what writing means to him.

  1. What is your favorite memory from reading as a child?

Mac Hernandez: I loved learning about adventurers in history. From people fighting off pirates and looking for treasure to knights exploring far off lands.


2) What subjects would you like to write about in future projects?

Mac Hernandez: I’ll probably explore more fantasy and magical elements in my future projects.

3) What is writing to you in one sentence?

Mac Hernandez: The process of imagining and telling stories is a thread that pulls at my heart and soul.

“The Christmas Elf-e-phant” is a humorous rhyming story illustrated to bring alive the joy of a Christmas inspired world in which Elf-e-phant resides. Centering on a lovable elf character that doesn’t fit in, children are transported to Santa’s workshop and what it’s like to be within. But being different from the other elves can be hard. Comparable to a modern Dumbo, this Christmas themed story will bring delight and joy to any child and their family. It will make a great read-aloud to get into the Christmas spirit and take minds on a journey of humor and positive self-discovery.

“The Christmas Elf-e-phant” is available at Amazon.com. This is a Kindle Unlimited title.

For more information on books by Mac Hernandez, visit his author page here.

Interview with Solonge L. Robinson

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I’ve found another great book to help with math concepts at home and during online learning. Solonge L. Robinson has written a book called “Shaping Families” combines math shapes with introducing diverse families. Solonge has been inspired by her travel journaling. In 2018, a horrific fire destroyed many of her family’s belongings, including their precious books. The tragedy inspired her to replace her children’s books with some written by her. Dive into what Solonge had to share about her childhood reading memories, future projects, and what writing means to her.


1) What is your favorite memory from reading as a child?

Solonge L. Robinson: Childhood memories of reading bring me directly back to The Babysitters Club series. Going to the Scholastic Book Fairs in the fall and spring at school was always a much-anticipated event. I’d often beg my mother, weeks in advance, for enough money to buy the next few chapters of my most beloved Babysitters Club books. I was hooked after the first six books, which I probably read about a dozen times each.

Even now, several decades later, when I see the titles and book covers for the first six books, Kristy’s Great Idea, Claudia and the Phantom Phone Calls, The Truth About Stacey, Mary Anne Saves the Day, Dawn and the Impossible Three, and Kristy’s Big Day, I am immediately transported to the 3rd-floor bedroom in my parents’ house in Brooklyn, NY. It’s a Saturday afternoon and I am curled up under a cover, next to my window, deeply engrossed in one of these amazing adolescent stories. The only thing to break my attention is the church bells ringing every hour, on the hour, until dusk. By then, I would have been part of Kristy, Claudia, Stacey, and Dawn’s world, so sad to have to leave.


2) What subjects would you like to write about in future projects?

Solonge L. Robinson: Oh, there are so many. Right now, my future projects include subjects on self-love and financial literacy for children. I also have collaborative works in motion on topics dealing with health and wellness; one a children’s book series inspired by my daughter and the other an adult fiction book about Physical Therapy.


3) What is writing to you in one sentence?

Solonge L. Robinson: Writing is freedom in its purest form.

“Shaping Families” is a unique, mathematical tale of diverse families. Join Poly-Anna, the polygon kid, as she learns about all the shapes that make up her unique family. From Triangles to Decagons, her journey will guide the reader to discover that families come in different sizes and form together a circle of love.

“Shaping Families” is available at Amazon.com. This is a Kindle Unlimited title.

For more information on Solonge L. Robinson, visit her author page HERE!

Interview with Tawanda Marbury

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Tawanda Marbury is the author of the children’s picture book, “Amusing Animals from A – Z”.

The Holidays are just around the corner. If you’re spending some of your Thanksgiving break looking for the perfect gift, might I suggest a fantastic picture book that introduces letters while educating about our world’s diverse animals.

Tawanda Marbury has written a book called “Amusing Animals from A – Z”. Tawanda has a background in child development, and a Master in Education. She used her expertise to craft a wonderful, engaging picture book to promote literacy and letter recognition for young children. I had the chance to talk to Tawanda about her reading memories as a child, her writing routine, and what subjects she wishes to tackle in the future.

1) What is your favorite memory from reading as a child?

Tawanda Marbury: During my early childhood, reading became a hobby of mine and has remained a hobby throughout my adult years.


2) Do you have a writing routine? Share what works for you.

Tawanda Marbury: I don’t have a writing routine. I write as ideas come to mind.


3) What subjects would you like to write about in future projects?

Tawanda Marbury: There are several topics that I will be writing about in the near future. A few topics that I would be interested in writing about include bullying and diversity.


Book Blurb:

“Amusing Animals From A to Z” was written to promote literacy, language, and cognitive development. Children will have the opportunity to become equipped with learning both alphabets and alphabet sounds in dual languages. So please join me in this new and exciting endeavor to provide children with this wonderful and amusing experience to learn the alphabet while bringing the alphabet sounds to life!

Animales divertidos de la A a la Z se escribió para promover la alfabetización, el lenguaje y el desarrollo cognitivo. Los niños tendrán la oportunidad de equiparse con el aprendizaje de los alfabetos y los sonidos del alfabeto en dos idiomas. ¡Por favor, únase a mí en este nuevo y emocionante esfuerzo para proporcionar a los niños esta maravillosa y divertida experiencia de aprender el alfabeto mientras dan vida a los sonidos del alfabeto!

“Amusing Animals From A to Z” is available at Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com and other selected online retailers.

For more information on Tawanda Marbury, visit her website here. Links for her book, including for Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IngramSpark, Lulu and Bam! Books-A-Million, are listed on her website.

Interview with Carmel Noel

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For those needing guidance and hope during these hard times, I’ve found a book that may give your little one comfort. Carmel Noel has written a book in which Jesus guides a young boy and his pup. She lives with her family in a small town in Pennsylvania, but has traveled extensively even studying abroad at Ulster University. “Minnie & The Better Den” weaves the story from a path of darkness to light while giving hope to others. I had a chance to talk to Carmel about her early childhood reading memories, what authors influenced her, and what projects she has planned in the future.

1) Who was your favorite author and how did they influence you?

Carmel Noel: As a child I always had a book in my hand. I loved reading books written by Beatrix Potter, Kenneth Grahame, and many others, but I would definitely say that I was most influenced by Joan Elste, author of “True Blue”, who lived just up the road from my family and me. She always welcomed my sisters and I into her home, and would show us what she was working on at the time. She was a massive influence to me because she was so open about where she was and her intentions- love and transparency are two essential things when it comes to writing for children, and I strive to always demonstrate both of those things with my writing just as she did.

2) What subjects would you like to write about in future projects?

Carmel Noel: The tough subjects are really what I feel called to write about. Abuse, loss, heartache are things that people try to talk children through, but without an aide, it can be hard for parents to know where to start. I spend a lot of time reading the Bible, and highlighting verses that I know people will find comfort in when they are facing these difficult situations. My future writing projects will likely be like “Minnie & The Better Den” in that they will hold many biblical truths that can help parents lead children through hardship.

3) What is writing to you in one sentence?

Carmel Noel: When I write I want it to help someone, somewhere, somehow- to show them even an ounce of the love God has for them; writing is a mission that is sitting on my heart, demanding my attention.

“Minnie & The Better Den” is a charming, heart-felt book of a puppy finding Jesus through the guidance of his young owner. His new owner, Rain, adopts Minnie the Puppy. Minnie starts to learn about Jesus through Rain, but Rain’s aggressive father, Thump, tries to oppose the relationship between dog, boy and Jesus. Told in a way that highlights the humanity of Jesus, this story of hope will help guide any young reader from a place of darkness to the light.

“Minnie & The Better Den” is available at Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.com.

Interview with C. Lovelady

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With the weather changing with the leaves, it’s a great time to cuddle up with a book, some hot cocoa and share a great story with your little ones. I’ve found a great read-aloud book to share on those cold, rainy days. C. Lovelady has written the book, “Mouse’s Splashy Tuesday” with a flare for the creative connection with animals and children.  I had the chance to talk to Ms. Lovelady about her childhood reading memories, future projects, and what writing means to her.

1) What is your favorite memory from reading as a child?

C. Lovelady: I loved when my mom would read “Stone Soup” by Ann McGovern just before bed. It was the type of book that beautifully combined weird and wholesome.

2) What subjects would you like to write about in future projects?

C. Lovelady: I’m currently developing a nonfiction book and two adult dramatic fiction novellas. For the future, I’d love to work on cybersecurity and technology-focused stories for children.

3) What is writing to you in one sentence?

C. Lovelady: For me, writing is how I find joy, love, and silly adventures in everyday life at home. 

“Mouse’s Splashy Tuesday” is a creative take on a girl and her dog’s adventure. Journey with Chewie and Mouse as they take on a rainy day and the ensuing flood to save their neighborhood. Will they come up with a solution in time? This book is recommended for ages 3 through 10.

“Mouse’s Splashy Tuesday” is available on Amazon.com.

For more information on C. Lovelady and her books, visit her author page here.