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Four Books that Include & Engage Learners 

Melody McAllister

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This past month, I sat down with four amazing authors who have written books that will inspire teachers, everywhere!

DEI and SEL Curricula with Jo Mach 

Kicking off the month, I sat down with occupational therapist, author, and publisher, Jo Mach, of Finding My Way Books. Their mission is to celebrate and give a voice to those living with disabilities and living out their dreams. Each book is based on a true story!  In our chat, she read I Wanna Be Like Poppin’ Joe. Her Social Emotional Learning and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Curricula feature vocabulary and activities for teachers to use with their students to help them understand our friends with disabilities. There is an emphasis on the many ways students are like their peers who have disabilities. 

Ever wonder how to talk about this with your kids? For teachers and parents alike, Jo Mach and her team have provided so many resources! 

Big Engineering Experiments for Little Kids By Dr. Jacie Maslyk

Then came along Dr. Jacie Maslyk’s book, Big Engineering Experiments for Little Kids! My family had so much fun with these projects and my daughter couldn’t stop playing with stacking cups, even during our bookchat! It was designed for littles, but I have both bigs and littles and we were all having fun with the activities! Dr. Maslyk’s Big Engineering Experiments for Little Kids includes many activities kids can do with very little help from parents or teachers. The items needed are all easy-to-find in your household. I could see this book being used as a way to introduce scientific units and helping to create foundational understanding before going deeper (think ENGAGE in the 5-E model), when used in the classroom. This could also be used as a center for older students as explanations are included with each experiment! 

Be Awesome On Purpose By Bonnie Nieves 

Completely blowing me away with true awesomeness, was Bonnie Nieves’ Book: Be Awesome On Purpose. It’s a weekend read (or three hour read for me because I couldn’t put it down) that begins with her own reflections about school. Her reflections, which she very scientifically documented (because she is the Biology Goddess;) helped her to craft lessons that are relevant and engaging for her students. She explains her grading process and how it truly supports student achievement. She explains how she is able to form relationships with each of her students as a high school teacher, and how she uses what she learns to truly tailor lessons that fully engage those she serves. BUT, this takes time! We talk about the trial and error that has to happen when learning how to disrupt the status quo. Be Awesome On Purpose is filled with FREE Resources for teachers!

My Name Is An Address by Ekuwah Mends Moses

Did we save the best for last? Well, you decide! When I read My Name Is An Address with my children, they were enthralled with how author Ekuwah Mends Moses intertwined the alphabet with deep conversation starters. We talked about the artifacts from Ghana in her beautiful illustrations. We marveled at the beautiful drawings her mother made and the familial legacy that continues to flow through her family as Ghananian-Americans. Unforgettably, we read and reflected on how Ekuwah Mends Moses grew up with a rich name that represents her culture, but how she also faced peers who used it to make fun of her. Even though she just released My Name is An Address a few months ago, it’s already made it on incredible list of 25 Books to Teach Kids About the Importance of Names.

Ekuwah Mends Moses has an offering of so many resources for parents and teachers alike! While this is a children’s book, it really is meaningful for people of all ages. If you are like my family, you will be longing to visit this country on the West Coast of Africa! 

Check out all of these wonderful authors and their books to help engage students! Each of them are highly engaging, encouraging, and will help you be more inclusive as a teacher!  

About the Author

Melody McAllister is a wife, mother of five, educator, and author.

Melody McAllister is a wife, mother of five, educator, and author. She and her family relocated to Alaska from the Dallas area in 2019.  McAllister is 2017 Garland NAACP Educator of the Year and author of the I’m Sorry Story.  She is also the Logistics Manager for EduMatch Publishing and Alice Keeler, LLC.  McAllister has spoken at ISTE and ASTE about equity issues in education, and writes about her journey in her blog, HeGaveMeAMelody.com.  If you would like to schedule an author read with your class, please contact her on Twitter or email her at melody@mjmcalliwrites.com.

Join Melody’s BookChat every Wednesday at 8pm EST at YouTube.com/melodymcallister

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