Mona Voelkel

Archived News

BookJoy: Making a Difference


IMG_4137I had such a hard decision to make recently!  Teacher’s College Reading and Writing Project Reunion and Bank Street Book Fest were on the same day!  Both offer such amazing professional development opportunities for teachers!  I decided to attend the TC Reunion but only after I realized that I could get a list of the featured “Book Discussion” books for the Bank Street Bookfest here.

So excited to peruse this wonderful list last week and find most of the books at my local library.  Here are my five favorites:

We Rise We Resist We Raise Our Voices

Edited by Wade Hudson & Cheryl Willis Hudson

Have you been wondering how to address the very tumultuous and frequently unkind and insensitive rhetoric that has overtaken the political and news realms? Have you wondered how to address your child’s or your student’ fears about the threats to civility or to to our environment or the many other concerns that are seeping  have into their consciousness from the gestalt of life in 2018?

If so, both you and your children or students will find comfort in this book.  It is a beautiful collection of over 50 letters, poems, stories and gorgeous artworks that will help us all address our present day challenges by pondering the advice offered by those who have lived through their own challenges.

This book is almost too beautiful to describe in its power and its many homages to resilience and perseverance.  It does remind us all about the dark days that people in our world have seen and survived, bearing the scars but also the story about how they found their way.

So many gems here including Pat Cummings, “We’ve Got You,” and Marilyn Nelson’s “It Helps to Look at Old Front Page Headlines.”  This is a book you will savor and reach for again and again because it is so true and so inspiring.  Browse the initial pages here.


Her Right Foot

By Dave Eggers.  Art by Shawn Harris.

If you thought you knew everything about the Statue of Liberty, I bet you didn’t know about Lady Liberty’s right foot!  This is a book for every classroom, especially as we, as a country grapple with immigration.  A light-hearted yet profound book.


Grandad Mandela 

By Zazi, Zibeline & Zindzi Mandela.  Illustrated by Sean Qualls

This biography of the great Nelson Mandela is told in a question and answer format between Zazi, the daughter of Nelson Mandela, and Ziwelene and Zindzi, his grandchildren.  A perfect mentor text for any leadership or biography study.

Yours Sincerely, Giraffe

By Megumi Iwasha.  Illustrations by Jun Takabatake

This charming beginning chapter book begs to be read aloud and shared.  It could kick off a letter-writing unit with great excitement or lead to discussions about how we deal with our own misperceptions and those of others about ourselves.  The title of the first chapter is “A Bored Giraffe Writes His First Letter.”  Need I say more?

Little Leaders

Bold Women in Black History

Written and Illustrated by Vashti Harrison

Vashti Harrison has written a book highlighting the lives of forty black women that made a profound difference in America and the world.  Each two page spread includes a biography of women such as Shirley Chisolm, Rosa Parks or Dominique Dawes, etc. and a charming illustration of each women as a girl.  What a great way to make history accessible!  Each biography includes interesting anecdotes from childhood and beyond and details the challenges each women faced and how they were overcome.  The concise and well-written biographies would be a perfect text for Guided Reading for some students in Grades 2-4.

Hope you find much pleasure, happiness and/or wisdom in these wonderful books!



Leave a Reply