How Color Code Behavior Charts Almost Ruined My Son’s Love of School and Much More


I’ve been wanting to write this post for a long time, but it is hard to talk about. I still get very emotional about it. But after 4 years, I am ready to share, and I am purposefully posting it right at the start of the school year.

This story takes place when Trent entered Kindergarten.

Trent has been in daycare then preschool and then public school since he was 5 months old. He had always loved school. It was never a fight to get him there. His love of learning, of socializing, of playing, of books–it was all so wonderful to witness. Throughout his first 5 years in school, there had been incidences here and there, as with any kid, but overall I was told he was a pleasure to have in class, he excelled at his work, and he was truly loved by so many teachers.

Then we entered kindergarten. He was so excited. I still have pictures that pop up yearly of him with his huge backpack, our family photo on day one, and the photo with his teacher. Just so filled with joy.

But over just a few weeks, I watched that wash away.

I had learned at his meet the teacher that his new teacher used a color coding behavior chart. We’d never had one in one of Trent’s classes before, and I knew about some negative opinions about them, but I was optimistic because I had to be. Also, as an educator, I understood to some extent needing to give visuals to students about their behavior and to keep track of warnings.

As the school year began, though, my optimism fell away. At first, it was just yellow or red dots coming home in his planner with small notes from his teacher. I emailed her to get more info, and we emailed back and forth about how to help Trent.

But then Trent’s demeanor changed. He tried to hide his planner from me, he stopped wanting to go to school, and he started to call himself a bad kid. It happened so quickly. My sweet boy who loved school now was wanting to avoid it as much as he could. There were so many tears.

Through communication with the teacher, I learned that students could earn their way back up; however, with the focus on negative behavior, Trent, I believe, was giving up. He told me he was bad so he was red. When I asked him what he thought he could do to move up, he said that he tried but that he was a bad kid.

Through talking with Trent, I learned that the kids very much paid attention to who was where. When he wasn’t red, he’d make sure to tell me who was the bad kid that day. That is always how my little 5-year-old put it: the bad kid. No wonder he viewed himself that way, that is how they all viewed students who were on red.

Eventually, I realized that this system was public shaming. It was not helping the situation at all; it was embarrassing and setting kids up for failure. I mean, would we want our boss to let everyone know how we were doing every day?! No!

I cannot put into words what this transformation of Trent, in just a few weeks, did to our household. The whole climate of the house changed, Trent’s whole demeanor changed, and we were helpless because this emotional beat down was happening at school where we weren’t.

I emailed his teacher a lot. I asked a lot of questions. I advocated for my son. But she wouldn’t budge. I think she, too, after only 3 weeks, only saw my son as a bad kid, all because of silliness, some impulse control issues, and his tendency to question.

Thankfully, without any warning, Trent was moved to another class where the culture was completely different. The teacher never talked to me about the why, which was a whole other problem, but I am so thankful the move happened. After moving, it took another few weeks for the toxicity to wash away, but Trent returned to himself and blew kindergarten out of the water and is still rocking school to this day!

But what about the kids who were in that room all year who found themselves on red? Did they enter 1st grade already knowing they were a “bad kid,” so they knew they needn’t not even try?? How does this affect the mental health and longevity of schooling????

This is one way educators can ruin kids. Can we PLEASE realize this practice is more hurtful than anything and move away from it? Because how many kids out there are being hurt the way Trent was but for an entire year????

So, what can be done instead? Get to know your students, don’t ever publicly shame them, use your team of support at your school (the guidance counselor, school psychologist, etc.), and focus on positivity in the classroom. These little change could change everything.


Author Guest Post: “Parent – Educator Partnership” by Punam V. Saxena, Author of Parent Power: Navigating School and Beyond


“Parent – Educator Partnership”

Parent Power: Navigate School and Beyond strives to normalize parenting. Every day is different presenting its own unique rewards and challenges. We often feel like we are on a merry-go-round and cannot seem to change the mundaneness of our routines.

I felt the same way while raising my four children, I often wondered whether I was doing a good job. Often, it felt like I was “winging it” and was hoping for the best. As a former educator and then stay-in-the-car-mom (I was never at home!) for more than 20 years, it was intuitive for me to build relationships with those who interacted with my children: teachers, administrators, and coaches. I assumed that’s what we, as parents, were supposed to do. We each learned from each other, and I soon became a trusted partner at the school and district levels where we made systemic changes for our children county-wide.

Educators are at a tipping point. They have the monumental task of ensuring our students receive the education they deserve while juggling the ever-changing pandemic world of schools opening, virtual learning, or even going hybrid. It has become almost comical at what is expected and what is reasonable.

Wouldn’t it be nice for educators to have a resource that has insight and expertise in the student’s physical and mental well-being? Someone who we can partner with to help the student where they currently are academically and then help them reach their full potential?

Parents! They are our ticket to helping our students achieve the success they deserve. We need their input, their perspective of how the child learns, or if any happenings at home are affecting the student’s school performance. Their knowledge is critical to helping educators navigate learning in the manner that is most beneficial and impactful for the student.

In this uncertain time, teachers need, more than ever, parent input and guidance.  We are counting on them to help us. But we also must realize the burden parents carry right now. It is imperative to create a symbiotic relationship between schools and parents for students to feel supported and achieve success.

In my debut book, Parent Power: Navigate School and Beyond, I share my insights on how an educator turned Parent Impact Coach built a relationship, became an advocate for schools and students, and helped create systemic changes at the school and district level that affected students and staff county-wide. My education background along with compassion and empathy catapulted me to the forefront of issues that impacted students long-term.

Published May 4, 2021

About the Book: Parent Power: Navigate School and Beyond strives to normalize parenting. Every day is different presenting its own unique rewards and challenges. We often feel like we are on a merry-go-round and cannot seem to change the mundaneness of our routines.

Parent Power offers insight, ideas, and methods to navigate this exhilarating, exhausting task – raising productive, compassionate, future generations. Tackling relevant topics that parents face, with a head-on approach to:

  • Social media
  • Sports
  • Discrimination
  • And many more

Each chapter ends with Punam’s Perspective, a personal anecdote that prompted the need to write the chapter. Those experiences shaped Punam as a parent and an advocate, and, eventually, on this journey to build a formidable team of parent, teacher, and school.

Mom’s Choice Awards, Gold Seal

Amazon #1 Release

Reader’s Favorite, 5-Stars:

Parent and author Punam V. Saxena shares her experiences on becoming a partner in the educational process in Parent Power: Navigate School and Beyond. This invaluable work tells the tale of a stay-at-home mom who became passionate about enhancing students’ educational experience by getting involved in the academic community and forging a trusting relationship with faculty members. She addresses parenting issues related to self-care, community participation, social media control, bullying, discrimination, and quarantined parenting. The book aims to guide parents in raising emotionally intelligent kids by engaging them in dialogues that help them understand the value of diversity and justice as a concept of fairness. As parenting is a lifetime vocation, this work becomes a supportive teammate.

If you’re like most parents, you feel you’re doing a fine job in raising and dealing with your kids based on your child-rearing philosophy. You exhaust all the means to be a good provider. But at some point, it will drain you. One particular aspect that I enjoyed in Parent Power is Saxena’s take on self-care. Children can prove to be a handful, and as a parent, you too deserve tender loving care. Saxena writes with no promises but assures that it is feasible, at the very least, to decrease the frequency of your most challenging parenting days. I strongly recommend Parent Power to all parents for its inspirational and realistic approach to developing strategies to help parents become more centered and productive.

-Vincent Dublado

About the Author: Punam V. Saxena is a mother of four, holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, and a Master’s in Education. Throughout her 30 years of experience between teaching and volunteering in her children’s schools, she implemented several procedures that benefited students and administrators within the school district.

She is a Parent Impact Coach, TEDx speaker, author of Parent Power: Navigate School and Beyond, and podcaster. Her work focuses on bridging the gap and fostering and stronger relationship between parents and schools by empowering parents to become partners in their child’s education.

Punam has been recognized as Volunteer of the Year at Harrison School for the Arts and has received a Key to the City in Lakeland, Florida. She has been featured in the magazines Podcast MovementShoutout Atlanta, Global Fluency, and Women Who Podcast. She has also spoken at several mainstage events including She Podcasts Live, Passionistas Project’s “I’m Speaking and Podcast Movement’s Virtual Summit. Additionally, Punam has been featured on NBC’s Atlanta & Company, CBS, ABC, and FOX.

In her spare time, she enjoys running, cooking, reading, and spending time with her family.

Link to website:
Link to TEDx Ocala Talk:

Follow on social media here:

Thank you, Punam, for this post! We agree that parents need to support educators and the amazing work they are doing, more importantly now than ever. It is the partnership that is important; parents should not be telling educators what to do or micromanaging instruction or instructional materials, but instead working as a parent with their own children and with their schools to ensure success of students. 

Stop Asian Hate: Anti-Racist Strategies


Asian Americans: We hear you, we see you, and we condemn the violent hate crimes against you that are happening, and have happened, in the United States.

Anti-Asian violence has been on the rise over the last year here in the United States, but the recent murders are not isolated incidents, and are instead part of a legacy of racism again AAPIs.

As we shared in our Black Lives Matter post: Racism is a long-standing virus in our country. This virus is not new—it is engrained in our history. And what is happening in our country now (and throughout our time as a nation) is motivated by the White systemic racism that permeates structures and motivations of this country.

There is no in-between safe space of  being not racist, and thus we must be anti-racist. As a reminder, here are some key resources to working towards an anti-racist society for all BIPOCs:

First, educate yourself on the racism faced by AAPIs today and the history of this racism: 

Educators: Also, educate your students: 

Then, it’s time to start doing. Remember: educating ourselves is critical, but it is only the first step. Action must follow:

Share posts from AAPI activists or organizations that inform about, fight against anti-Asian racism and support—through volunteering and financially, if you can—the organizations however you can: 

Support works produced by AAPI artists and creatives, support AAPI businesses, and participate in Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month: 

Highlight the history and contributions of the AAPI community. One way this can be done is by reading and sharing books by AAPI authors and about AAPI characters with our students, kids, family, etc. 

Continue to listen to AAPI voices and do not stop educating yourself. Only through ongoing work will we work our way towards an anti-racist society. 


**Please note: Many of these links have been widely shared on social media, and we curated them here and added many others, particularly connected to reading, to give them a concrete place. This is shared work.**

Black Lives Matter: Anti-Racist Strategies


Black Americans: We see you, we hear you, we support you, and we condemn the violent acts against Black Americans that happen too frequently in the United States including the murders most recently of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, David McAtee, Tony McDade, and Breonna Taylor. Black. Lives. Matter.

Racism is a long-standing virus in our country. Because of racism, Black people are brutalized, murdered, and unjustly treated. This virus is not new—it is engrained in our history. And what is happening in our country now (and throughout our time as a nation) is motivated by the White systemic racism that permeates structures and motivations of this country.

As Dr. Ibram X. Kendi states in How to Be an Antiracist, “The opposite of racist isn’t ‘not racist.’ It is ‘anti-racist.’ What’s the difference? One endorses either the idea of a racial hierarchy as a racist, or racial equality as an anti-racist. One either believes problems are rooted in groups of people, as a racist, or locates the roots of problems in power and policies, as an anti-racist. One either allows racial inequities to persevere, as a racist, or confronts racial inequities, as an anti-racist. There is no in-between safe space of ‘not racist.'”

So to combat racism, we must be actively anti-racist.

Educate ourselves about the history of racism, race relations, and the act of anti-racism. 

  • Anti-Racism Booklist from @idealbookshelf
  • Anti-Racism Book List from Candace Greene McManus including gateway books and books to dig deeper.
  • Educators: Educate on race in education and in literature.
    • Books to share from The Brown Book Shelf and KidLit Community Rally for Black Lives:
      • We Got This: Equity, Access, and the Quest to Be Who Our Students Need Us to Be by Cornelius Minor
      • Being the Change: Lessons and Strategies to Teach Social Comprehension by Sara K. Ahmed
      • Teacher for Black Lives by Dyan Watson, Jesse Hagopian, and Wayne Au
      • Libraries, Literacy, and African American Youth edited by Dr. Paulette Brown Bracy, Sandra Hughes-Hassell, and Casey H. Rawson
      • The Dark Fantastic: Race and the Imagination from Harry Potter to the Hunger Games by Ebony Elizabeth Thomas

Educate ourselves about what IS racist. 

  • Learn about passive/covert racism as well as active/overt racism and take action on what.
  • Educators: Learn about how schools are racist and how they have the potential to get even worse (from The Progressive). (The links in this article provide further background, as well.)
    • Then, apply what you have learned to your own context. What can you do to make a change? How can you stop being complicit and start being anti-racist?

Make sure we understand our own implicit biases and White privilege. 

It’s time to start doing. Remember: educating ourselves is critical, but it is only the first step. Action must follow.

Share posts from Black activists or organizations that inform about, fight against, and educate on police brutality.

Support works produced by Black artists and creatives. 

Donate, join, support, and participate in organizations (a few are noted below).

Support Black businesses.

Highlight the history and contributions of the Black community. Below, we offer a list of contributions to education and books. 

Call your local and state reps and demand change.

Discuss race, race relations, and anti-racism with students, kids, family, etc. 

Read and share books by BIPOC authors and about BIPOC characters with our students, kids, family, etc. 

  • Book recommendations by Black authors (This is a list of books we have especially loved and recommend. This list is limited. Please be sure to click the links throughout the post for more book recommendations, and keep your finger on the pulse of new releases to constantly learn and grow.)
    • Picture Books
      • Mae Among the Stars by Roda Ahmed, illustrated by Stasia Burrington
      • Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets by Kwame Alexander
      • The 5 O’Clock Band by Troy Andrews, illustrated by Bryan Collier
      • Trombone Shorty by Troy Andrews, illustrated by Bryan Collier
      • Preaching to the Chickens: The Story of Young John Lewis by Jabari Asim, illustrated by E.B. Lewis
      • Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut by Derrick Barnes, illustrated by Gordon C. James
      • The King of Kindergarten by Derrick Barnes, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton
      • Knock Knock: My Dad’s Dream for Me by Daniel Beaty, illustrated by Bryan Collier
      • The Patchwork Bike by Maxine Beneba, illustrated by Van Thanh Rudd
      • Rocket Says Look Up! by Nathan Bryon, illustrated by Dapo Adeloa
      • Firebird by Misty Copeland, illustrated by Christopher Myers
      • Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall
      • Shortcut by Donald Crews
      • Freight Train by Donald Crews
      • Just Like a Mama by Alice Faye Duncan, illustrated by Charnelle Pinkney Barlow
      • Memphis, Martin, and the Mountaintop: The Sanitation Strike of 1968 by Alice Faye Duncan, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie
      • Bedtime for Sweet Creatures by Nikki Grimes, illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon
      • Going Down Home with Daddy by Kelly Starling Lyons, illustrated by Daniel Minter
      • Hands Up! by Breanna J. McDaniel, illustrated by Shane W. Evans
      • Fresh Princess by Denene Millner, illustrated by Gladys Jose
      • Thank You, Omu! by Oge Mora
      • H.O.R.S.E.: A Game of Basketball and Imagination by Christopher Myers
      • Harlem by Walter Dean Myers, illustrated by Christopher Myers
      • Muhammad Ali: The People’s Champion by Walter Dean Myers, illustrated by Alix Delinois
      • Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans by Kadir Nelson
      • Nelson Mandela by Kadir Nelson
      • My Brother Charlie by Holly Robinson Peete & Ryan Elizabeth Peete, illustrated by Shane W. Evans
      • Boycott Blues: How Rosa Parks Inspired a Nation by Andrea Davis Pinkney, illustrated by Brian Pinkney
      • Duke Ellington: The Piano Prince and his Orchestra by Andrea Davis Pinkey, illustrated by Brian Pinkney
      • Ella Fitzgerald: The Tale of a Vocal Virtuosa by Andrea Davis Pinkney, illustrated by Brian Pinkney
      • Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down by Andrea Davis Pinkney, illustrated by Brian Pinkney
      • Sojourner Truth’s Step-Stomping Stride by Andrea Davis Pinkney, illustrated by Brian Pinkney
      • A Day at the Museum by Christina Platt, illustrated by Sharon Sordo (chapter book)
      • Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold
      • Another by Christian Robinson
      • You Matter by Christian Robinson
      • Little Melba and her Big Trombone by Katheryn Russell-Brown, illustrated by Frank Morrison
      • Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly, illustrated by Laura Freeman
      • Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat by Javaka Steptoe
      • Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton by Don Tate
      • Be A King: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Dream and You by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by James E. Ransom
      • Freedom in Congo Square by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie
      • The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by Rafael López
      • Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by E.B. Lewis
      • This is the Rope: A Story from the Great Migration by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by James E. Ransom
    • Middle Grade
      • Crossover by Kwame Alexander
      • Booked by Kwame Alexander
      • The Usual Suspect by Maurice Broaddus
      • New Kid by Jerry Craft
      • Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis
      • Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis
      • The Watsons Go to Burmingham – 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis
      • Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper
      • Stella By Starlight by Sharon Draper
      • The Last-Last-Day of Summer by Lamar Giles
      • Great Greene Heist series by Varian Johnson
      • Robyn Hoodlum series by Kekla Magoon
      • Somewhere in the Darkness by Walter Dean Myers
      • Ghetto Cowboy by G. Neri
      • Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty by G. Neri
      • Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
      • Look Both Ways by Jason Reynolds
      • Miles Morales: Spider-Man by Jason Reynolds
      • Track series by Jason Reynolds
      • Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes
      • Louisiana Girls Trilogy by Jewell Parker Rhodes
      • Two Naomis by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich and Audrewy Vernick
      • Clean Getaway by Nic Stone
      • Logan series by Mildred D. Taylor
      • Gaither Sisters series by Rita Williams-Garcia
      • Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
      • Locomotion series by Jacqueline Woodson
      • Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson
    • Young Adult
      • Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo
      • The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
      • With Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo
      • Swing by Kwame Alexander
      • Solo by Kwame Alexander
      • Kendra by Coe Booth
      • Tyrell series by Coe Booth
      • Fist Stick Knife Gun: A Personal History of Violence, A True Story of Black and White by Geoffrey Canada, illustrated by Jamar Nicholas
      • The Belles series by Dhonielle Clayton
      • Tyler Johnson was Here by Jay Coles
      • Say Her Name by Zetta Elliott
      • Fresh Ink: An Anthology edited by Lamar Giles
      • Bronx Masquerade by Nikki Grimes
      • Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson
      • Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson
      • A Certain October by Angela Johnson
      • First Part Last by Angela Johnson
      • I’m Not Dying With You Tonight by Kimberly Jones and Gilly Segal
      • March series by John Lewis
      • How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon
      • Tyrell by Coe Booth
      • Dope Sick by Walter Dean Myers
      • It Ain’t All for Nonthin’ by Walter Dean Myers
      • Monster by Walter Dean Myers
      • Knockout Games by G. Neri
      • It’s Trevor Noah: Born a Crime by Trevor Noah
      • All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely
      • When I Was the Greatest by Jason Reynolds
      • Dear Martin by Nic Stone
      • Odd One Out by Nic Stone
      • The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas
      • On the Come Up by Angie Thomas
      • Jumped by Rita Williams-Garcia
      • Beneath a Meth Moon by Jacqueline Woodson
      • The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
      • American Street by Ibi Zoboi

Educate ourselves about the system we are part of.

Talk about anti-racism. Speak up when others are being racist. Educators, teach about being anti-racist. This is your job–in order to support young people. Just so we are clear, this includes teachers in predominantly White classrooms.

Continue to listen to Black voices, do not stop educating yourself, and focus your learning on anti-racist ACTIONS. White Americans, if you feel exhausted, keep in mind that Black Americans don’t have opportunity to shut off the effects of racism. This is a privilege.

Educators, we must frame everything we do to be anti-racist.

What anti-racist work are you doing?


**Please note: These links have been widely shared on social media, and we curated them here and added many others to give them a concrete place. This is shared work.**

Lessons Learned from Teaching My Kindergartener Stop Animation (Ricki)


At 11pm, I had the idea to teach my 6-year-old stop animation. I watched countless YouTube videos and tried to tailor them to his skill level. The next day went fairly well, but I learned some things along the way that I thought I’d share with other caregivers or educators embarking on this adventure.

  1. Create a Model, Show Examples/How-To Videos.

It is exceptionally hard to explain stop animation to a kindergartener. Thus, I showed many, many examples and then showed him my own example. I recommend pre-watching your examples because I found many inappropriate models that I was glad I ruled out in advance. I also found how-to videos that were way too intense for my kid. They would overwhelm him.

The first video I showed him was a LEGO animation (which I learned is called a brickfilm). The video I post below is very easy to follow and shows how it works:

Next, I showed a claymation, which is the clay form of stop animation. I watched many and found this one to be pretty clear:

And finally, I created my own (quick) model using clay. I left the clay model out, so I could explain how I did it. This was the quick model I made:

2. Use the “Stop Motion” App.

I learned (after watching many tutorials) that this app was not only very user-friendly but also very capable of advanced work (which we were not doing. The key to using the app is to avoid having to push the photo button. Every time you take a picture and touch the tablet/phone, it jiggles the camera a tiny bit. For the model above, I stacked five textbooks and hung the camera part of the tablet over the edge of the top book. This allowed me to set the automatic timer on the app and avoid touching the screen. I did everything flat on my table, as you will notice in the model.

Essentially, you set a timer for a certain length of time (I did five seconds for my model, but I set it to 15 seconds for my son.) In that time, you move your design slightly. If you miss the timer and don’t make the move, it is extremely easy to delete any of the frames in between.

My son chose to do a brick film with his legos, so I set up the tablet to lean against a chair leg. I had to remind him not to touch the chair, and I set the automatic timer. After that, he pretty much worked independently for an hour on his film.

3. Other Lessons Learned

There’s something that Stop Animators call “light flicker.” If you are close to a window, the changes in the sun (e.g. it goes behind a cloud) will make the light of your video flicker in each shot. Pros (my son and I not included), recommend doing your stop animation in a room with no sunlight or windows. You use two headlamps—one to put in front of your creation and one to put behind it for shadows. To remove the shine on the lego pieces, I learned that pros cover the front headlamp with parchment paper. This was way above our skill level. The pros also use professional cameras and not tablets/phones.

Stop animation takes time, but it takes far less time with this app. It is instantly rewarding to kids (at least, relatively to taking a lot of solo framed photos). It occupied my son for a good hour, and he got to play with his lego, so it was a fun time for him.

Don’t forget to add music. I got a bit lazy with mine, and I clicked the audio record option (which allows people to record their voices), and I just played a song through my cell phone to get it in the background. You can upload a song if you want better quality than mine.

Those are the basics. Kindergarteners are very capable of beginning stop animation films. My son’s ended up being a tray of his favorite minifigures. They appeared one-by-one, and then they disappeared one-by-one. It was a great first start for him!

Virtual Book Clubs with our Kids During Quarantine


When quarantining became a reality for many of us in March, we were both looking for activities that would help keep our kids busy but also interacting with other kids. Ricki then came up with the idea of doing virtual book clubs, and Kellee was all in!

Trent & Henry’s Two Book Clubs

  • Trent and Henry, Ricki’s oldest, both were really interested in reading the Bad Guys books, so we started a chat with just the two of them. This is the first virtual book club that both kids had been in and was a great way to help them understand how to discuss books with a peer. So far they have read four of the Bad Guy books and have had a blast discussing everything from illustrations, to motive, and predictions.
  • As of this week, we are going to pause on the Bad Guys books and are moving ahead with some partner reading with some of the boys’ favorite picture books!

  • Ricki put out a call on Facebook for anyone interested in doing a Kindergarten-ish book club, and many jumped in! The kids range from age 4 to 9, and we find the mixed age group is really working! The club voted on the first book to read, and we started with Sideways Story from Wayside School by Louis Sachar and then we moved to Unicorn Rescue Society: The Creature of the Pines by Adam Gidwitz.


Trent’s Other Book Club


  • Trent also is part of a book club with one of Kellee’s colleague’s daughters. With this book club, Trent and Gabby started with picture books (The Hat Trilogy by Jon Klassen, The Questioneers by Andrea Beaty & David Roberts, and Lights! Camera! Alice! by Mara Rockliff). Next up are the Questioneers chapter books.

Ben’s Book Club

  • Ricki’s three-year-old Ben is also in a book club using Juana Medina’s Juana & Lucas. Admittedly, this book club has been trickier because the kids are ages 3 to 4. They have had great questions like, “Do you like to chew gum, too?” and are connecting with the book, but their attention span usually lasts between 5 to 10 minutes. They are also incredibly shy and have difficulty volunteering questions. Either way, it is still great to see the kids connect with each other.

The Clubs

For the larger club, Ricki sets up a Zoom meeting and leads the meeting. She ensures everyone gets to ask their questions and that everyone’s voice is heard.

The questions that kids come up with, even at age 6, are intuitive and deep!

  • Examples:
    • Bad Guys #1: Why do you think the kitty doesn’t talk but the other animals do?
    • Bad Guys #1: Why do you think those words on page 7 look like that?
    • Bad Guys #2: Do you think they would have made it without Legs helpiing them?
    • Bad Guys #3: Why did they think the ninja was a boy (she is a girl!)?
    • Wayside: Do you think it’s fair that Todd always gets in trouble?
    • Wayside: Joy’s name sounds like she should be good, but she keeps calling people dumb and stupid which isn’t good. Do you like her?
    • Unicorn: Why do you think Professor Fauna is hunting the unicorns?
    • Unicorn: Do you think the animal got tangled in the ribbon because it was a trap, or do you think it was something else?
    • Unicorn: Do you think Professor knows about the animal Elliot and Uchenna found? Do you think they will see it again?

With Trent’s book club with Kellee’s colleague, she used the teaching guides to drive the conversation (Hat Trilogy, Questioneers, Lights! Camera! Alice!), and she found that teaching guides are perfect for this as well. And their insight was wonderful!

With the smaller clubs, we use FaceTime. We’re still there while they are chatting, but it is easier for the two to chat back and forth.

Usually the club meeting lasts 20-30 minutes which is about how long they can stay on topic and discuss a book, but we think that is pretty great for kindergarten-ish kids.

We always end with “friend questions.” Kids are invited to ask their (new) friends questions about their lives. They tend to ask each other about their favorites (foods, colors, movies, books, sports teams, universities).

The book clubs have been such a highlight for our kids. They look forward to it each week! They love sharing the reading experience with others, specifically now when interaction with other kids is so limited.

An unexpected highlight: they’ve made some good friends. Henry and Trent have never chatted for more than a minute or two and last saw each other when they were babies, so it has been wonderful to see them bond these last few weeks!

We highly recommend virtual book clubs! Let us know if your kids have taken part in any virtual clubs!


In My Heart by Mackenzie Porter, Illustrated by Jenny Løvlie


In My Heart
Author: Mackenzie Porter
Illustrator: Jenny Løvlie
Published March 10, 2020 by Little Simon

Goodreads Summary: A working mother reassures her child that even when they’re apart, they’re always in each other’s hearts. This lovely board book is perfect for moms to share with their little ones.

Though we’re not together
we’re never truly apart,
because you’re always on my mind
and you’re always in my heart.

This is what a mother tells her child as she leaves for work each day. This lovely board book perfectly captures the sentiment that many women feel about being a working mom. The lyrical text takes us through a mother’s day away, showing us that although she’s working hard, her child is always on her mind and always in her heart.

Ricki’s Review: This book really hit me in the gut. I couldn’t read it without crying. I have a lot of mom guilt related to my status as a working mom. I genuinely believe that it is best for my kids, yet I struggle with the emotions that come with this decision. This book was as much for my kids as it was for me. There are many books that address concepts like going to school or learning to meet new people, but this is the first book that I’ve read that addresses the concept of working moms (particularly at this age level). I will cherish this book and read it to my children again and again.

Kellee’s Review: As a working mom, mom guilt is real. It is hard when I cannot come and be a reader in Trent’s class every time or be part of all celebrations in his classroom, but I also love working; however, there are very few books that reinforce the normality of this situation. As Simon & Schuster shares, 70% of moms are working moms, so there are so many of us that need this book to read to our children to explain that work is part of our life but that they get the opportunity to be in an awesome school situation while we are doing a job we love and need. And no matter what we love them! The author and illustrator do a great job of showing that balance. Thank you to them both for bringing this book to life!

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Ricki is purchasing an extra copy of this book for her kids’ daycare/preschool. It is a great book for early childhood educators to use. Children might draw pictures of the emotions that they experience before, during, and after reading this book.

Discussion Questions: How do you feel when your parent goes to work? Why? What might you do to cope with these feelings?

We Flagged: 

Read This If You Loved: The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn; Llama Llama Misses Mama by Anna Dewdney; Stella Luna by Janell Cannon

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RickiSigand Kellee Signature