Saturday, December 17, 2011

Best of 2011 Nora Chipamaurie Tells Her Story

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This has been a year of wins and lost but this week we focus on the Best of 2011.  Here we feature the best efforts and intentions that inspired us to bring forth our A game.

Artists gift us with wonderful stories through their music, dance and writing. Here Nora Chipamaurie tells the story of her youth in dance; from the young to the old she enlists dancers of all ages to tell her compelling story in this short featured in the third season of AfroPoP: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange. Her story will inspire you to move your dancing feet.

Best of 2011 - "The Medium is the Message?"


This has been a year of wins and lost but this week we focus on the Best of 2011.  Here we feature the best efforts and intentions that inspired us to bring forth our A game.


“Anything can be beautiful when you look at it with love”  What a wonderful message for the new year.  Thanks to the Gibbs sisters of Adopted by Aliens who discovered this gem of a mural created by German graffiti artists, Herakut and Case on the corner of 42nd and Vermont, in the heart of South Central Los Angeles.  “The beauty and message of the mural beckoned us to round the corner and lavish it with photographs.” 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Best of 2011- SULE AND THE CASE OF THE TINY SPARKS (U.S.)



This has been a year of wins and lost but this week we focus on the Best of 2011.  Here we feature the best efforts and intentions that inspired us to bring forth our A game.

Congratulations to the Gibbs sisters, Shawnee and Shawnelle for winning the Best Animated Short Film in 2011 at the Montreal International Black Film Festival for SULE AND THE CASE OF THE TINY SPARKS (U.S.).  Sule is based on a proverb with a humanitarian message inspired by Nelson Mandela.  In the opinion of the jury: “The story of this film is as magnificent as it is inspiring. Proof that a small short can depict huge and beautiful moments.” Earlier the sisters created a mini series called Adopted by Aliens, see their blog.  Now they are working on a graphic novel for young girls. So planning on seeing more of them in 2112.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Ashley Smith Tackles the Stigma of Mental Illness in Black Families



For many African American families discussing mental illness is a hush hush subject, which can compound the problem of people suffering with of mental illness.  If you can't talk about it, research it,  or understand the effects that illness has on the family, there is no way to solve the problem.   Young people like Ashley Smith who was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia at the age of 20 are trying to dispel this stigma.

Ashley was unaware of her illness until she stole a military truck and went on a high-speed chase with the police. She was jailed and later hospitalized for that crime. Later she learned about the mental illness that ran in her family.  Now she is in recovery with the support of family, treatment teams, peers and her faith.  To help other families and young people, she started Embracing My Mind, Inc.   "I want to help reduce stigma, change perceptions, and encourage an open conversation about mental illness."  Her story is being featured on CNN.  Learn more about her work at https://embracingmymind.org/Home.html.

For more stories of success and support visit http://blacksnob.com/ or read Black Pain by Terrie M. Williams. For referrals and help try www.lifenet.org

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Glamour Magazine's Top 10 College Women: The Social Entrepreneur


Amber Koonce has been named one of Glamour Magazine's Top 10 College Women and dubbed The Social Entrepreneur.

Two years ago, Koonce, a public policy and African and Afro-American studies double major, volunteered in Ghana. “I’d been excited to go to a place where my natural hair and features would be embraced,” she says. But there she found women who were unhappy with their looks: “One told me that she aspired to marry a white man so her kids wouldn’t look like her.” Koonce had a theory why. “Ghanaian girls had blond-haired, blue-eyed dolls that didn’t resemble them at all,” she says. So when she returned to the States, Koonce founded BeautyGap, which ships black dolls to Ghana and Kenya to show children a new beauty ideal.   By providing dolls of color for these young girls to adore, Beauty Gap seeks to promote self - love among girls of color in a world dominated by the Western standard of beauty.

She’s also supporting young people in another way—by working in juvenile detention centers as far away as Ghana and Scotland and as close to home as Durham, North Carolina, where she spends Saturday afternoons helping young offenders envision a future without crime.



Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween at the White House



Trick and Treating at the White House will be a special memory for these children. 

Last night, President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama welcome area students and the children of military families to the White House for trick-or-treating. 
The President and First Lady handed out cookies, White House M&M's and dried fruit mix to trick-or-treaters with the presidential seal at the North Portico of the White House.
The White House and the surrounding grounds are decorated in celebration of Halloween. As the trick-or-treaters made their way across the North Lawn to the North Portico they were entertained by the Marine Band playing Halloween music and spooked by in-costume actors from Washington-area theatres, brought together by theatreWashington.
The White House provided the following Halloween recipes.
The White House Sweet Dough Butter Cookie Recipe
1 lb Sugar                           1 tsp Vanilla

2 lbs Butter                         1 tsp Salt

3 Eggs                                 3 lbs All Purpose Flour   
                                                                       

Mix the butter and sugar till soft and well beaten. Then add eggs, vanilla, salt and half the flour. Beat on slow speed till mixed, then add the rest of the flour and mix until incorporated.
Push flat onto a cookie sheet and refrigerate overnight. Roll out to one quarter inch thick and cut out cookie shapes with cookie cutter.
Bake at 350F for 14 minutes and then allow to cool. 
Make Your Own Dried Fruit Mix
Dried Apples                                           Dried Pineapple

Dried Apricots                                        Dried Papayas

Dried Pears                                             Dried Cherries

Dried Blueberries                                    Banana Chips
Combine ingredients and serve.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Global Mamas Celebrates Fair Trade Month in October







                  Shakina wearing Global Mamas at the Langston Hughes Library

My nieces, Shakina and Yonina and I love the color and designs of African print clothing for children.  I am always looking for unique colors and patterns for them to wear. This weekend Global Mamas is celebrating Fair Trade Month with a 20% discount at their retail site www.tradeforchange.com  Check out their clothing line designed  and crafted by mothers in Ghana. And also read their story.
In order to take advantage of the discount use the code “FairTrade” and follow these directions.
1) Log-in to your account before shopping and make sure that applying the 
    coupon code is the last thing you do before you check-out.
2) If you have logged-in after you started shopping you will need to return to your
    shopping cart, reapply the "Fair Trade" coupon code and start the check-out
    process again.
They love their dresses from Global Mamas and I know you will enjoy their wonderful clothing line.



Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A Moment of Quiet in the McGhee household...


I love this picture of Mia and Rozonno McGhee plus six. The Ohio couple has a house full of babies after delivering sextuplets. Mia and Rozonno McGhee had their four boys and two girls named Isaac, Josiah, Elijah, Rozonno, Madison and Olivia on June 9th at the Osu Medical Center. Thankfully, their church family members are pitching in to help them. Gives meaning to the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child.”

Monday, August 15, 2011

Get Inspired to Enjoy Nature with "Outdoor Afro"



Recently, I discovered a site for African American families called Outdoor Afro. As we head into the middle of August, websites like Outdoor Afro are a reminder for us to enjoy the great outdoors and nature while the weather permit. 
Outdoor Afro is a community that reconnects African-Americans with natural spaces and one another through recreational activities such as camping, hiking, biking, fishing, gardening, skiing — and more! Outdoor Afro uses social media to create interest communities, events, and to partner with regional and national organizations that support diverse participation in the Great Outdoors. 
During her childhood, founder Rue Mapp split her time between urban Oakland, California and her families’ working ranch in the Northern woodlands, where she cultivated a passion for natural spaces, farming, and learned how to hunt and fish. As a youth, her participation in the Girl Scouts and Outward Bound broadened her outdoor experiences, such as camping,  mountaineering, rock climbing, and road bicycling. But Rue was troubled by the consistently low numbers of African Americans participating in these activities. So for two decades, Rue has used digital media as an important and practical tool to connect with people of color who share her outdoor interests. Outdoor Afro emerged naturally from these experiences. 
Do you have great memories of exploring the outdoors.  Do you believe children today are missing this opportunity?  To learn more visit the site at  http://www.outdoorafro.com.  




Friday, August 12, 2011

Summer Science Camps, Fighting Sterotypes and Media Consumption



The ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp

 Here is some excerpts from the weeks  of August 4, 2011 of  The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education. Sign up for their bulletin, they have lots more information at http://www.jbhe.com.

Building our children's math and science skills is very important. This info came a little late for this summer but for anyone interested I would still check if there are any openings and, definitely, bookmark it for next year. 

The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education - The Granddaddy of Summer Science Camps

This summer more than 1,500 middle school students will attend one of 25 sections of the ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp. The camps are open to students from underrepresented minority groups and preference is given to students from low-income families. Students must have a B average in school, score high on standardized tests, and write a 250-word essay on why they want to attend the camp.

About 50 students attend each two-week camp. The camps are free for students. Students study science, mathematics, and other disciplines and participate in a wide range of social activities, field trips, and counseling sessions.

Bernard Harris Jr. is a former astronaut who is now president of the Bernard Harris Foundation. Harris was the first African-American to walk in space.

After growing up in San Antonio, Harris earned a bachelor’s degree at Baylor University. He earned a master’s degree at the University of Texas at Galveston, an MBA from the University of Houston, and a medical doctorate from Texas Tech University. He is currently an associate professor of internal medicine at the University of Texas and an assistant professor at the Baylor College of Medicine. Visit their site http://www.theharrisfoundation.org


 The dynamics of learning under the pressure of racism undermines young people's ability to succeed in their studies. I think more research needs to be done on how racism and stress effects young children's ability to study and learn.  We know there is a problem but what can be done?

 The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education - Expanding the Research on Stereotype Threat


Research conducted many years ago by Claude Steele at Stanford University, and later confirmed by Professor Steele and other researchers, has shown that black students perform poorly on standardized tests because they fear mistakes will confirm negative stereotypes about their group. When efforts to alleviate these concerns are made, black students’ scores improve.

A new study at Stanford has shown that this “stereotype threat” can also hinder black students in learning new material. In an experiment, groups of black and white students were asked to study the meanings of 24 obscure words. One group was placed in a threatening environment by being told that they were participating in an experiment to see “how well people from different backgrounds learn.” Another group was simply told the researchers were examining different learning styles and there was no hint of any racial undertones.

One to two weeks later, the students were quizzed informally about the words they had studied. The results showed that black students who were initially in the group that was told racial differences were being examined, scored 50 percent lower than black students who had studied in the nonthreatening environment. But when an actual test was administered, the stereotype threat kicked in and both groups of black students performed poorly.

The lead author of the study is Valerie Jones Taylor who was a graduate student at Stanford and now is conducting postdoctoral research at Princeton. The paper was published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

I think the problem here is not only quantity but quality.   Passive consumption of media material can be unhealthy.  What are minority children learning or not learning from their experience? How is it effecting their character, values and self esteem?  Electronic gadgets can not provide for the social interaction and physical needs of young people.

The Journal of Blacks  in  Higher Education - Black Youth’s Large Media Appetite

A recent study by researchers at Northwestern University found that blacks and other minority students ages 8 to 18 spend 13 hours a day consuming media content through electronic devices including television, computers, cellphones, and other electronic gadgets. This is 4.5 hours more than young whites.

The study found that black and Latino youths spend one to two hours more watching television than whites and up to 90 minutes more on computers and cellphones. Some 84 percent of black youths reported that they had a television in their bedroom compared to 64 percent of white youths.

While television and online media can be used for education and learning, some educators believe that the heavy media consumption of black youth hinders their academic achievement. Also, there are concerns that spending so much time with television, computers, and cellphones contributes to higher rates of obesity.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Audition for The Ailey School

 Young dancers here is an opportunity to nurture your talent! The Ailey School will hold auditions for its 2011-2012 Junior Division pre-professional training program on the following dates:

August 26
Ages 14-17* at 3:30pm

August 27
Ages 7-9 at 10:30am
Ages 10-13* at 1:30pm

*Previous ballet training required.

Parents of very young dancers can also register for First Steps ( ages 3-6) and Bounding Boys ( ages 4-6).  Auditions are not required for these introductory courses.  Classes are held on Saturdays or Sundays from September - May.

Alvin Ailey is located in New York City's Theater District,  on the northwest corner of 55th Street and 9th Avenue.  For more information on their programs visit their website at Alvin Ailey.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Ruby Bridges visits with the President and her portrait



  
Ruby Bridges visited the White House to see how a painting commemorating her personal and historic milestone looks hanging on the wall outside of the Oval Office. American Artist Norman Rockwell was criticized by some when this painting first appeared on the cover of Look magazine on January 14,1964; now the iconic portrait will be on display throughout the summer of 2011 in one of the most exalted locations in the country.

Sometimes we forget the important role children played in the Civil Rights Movement. Young children had to stand up to crowds of hateful people, march under frightening circumstances, get hosed with water and much more. Today young people need to hear their story. Ruby Bridges' story personifies the courage and resolve that carried these children through those historic times. Here Ruby talks about her early years while visiting the White House. There are also several picture books that tell the story of young Ruby's year of being the only child in class when the schools in Louisiana were integrated.





In Through My Eyes, Ruby Bridges recounts her experience as a young girl in her own words. 

 


While The Story of Ruby Bridges is a wonderful retelling of her story by Robert Coles and illustrated by George Ford.  Both books are a great introduction to an important period in American history for young people.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Raising a Prodigy


Five year old, Mabou Loiseau lives with her family in Queens, NY but spends a large part of her day studying with tutors. In fact her parents spend about $1,500 a week for her lessons in French, Russian, music, dance and more. The proud parents who homeschool Mabou recently found out that she scored in the 99th percentile on the city test for gifted and talented schools. Mabou's dad works 16 hours a day as a parking attendant in Manhattan to pay for everything, and the Loiseaus have also started hosting other students for classes at their house.  Although her regimen may seem extreme, little Mabou seems to be thriving, and enjoys learning new languages.  Her mother, Esther Loiseau explains it this way, "I make sure I leave enough time for her to play," she said. "All she knows is learning. What becomes fun for someone is what they know." This young prodigy is learning seven languages. six musical instruments, two types of dance and two sports. Hopefully, little Mabou will not over whelmed by this regimen and will still be able to enjoy her childhood. Social interaction with her peers is also an important part of her development. Balance is always important in parenting but her parents should be acknowledged for instilling a love of learning in their young daughter. Read more about Mabou.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Marcus Samuelsson


Marcus Samuelsson has been a mover and shaker in the culinary world. Now he shares his expertise with young people at his new restaurant in Harlem, "Red Rooster."

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Chental-Song Bembry, author of The Honey Brunch Kids



Chental-Song Bembry is the 14 year old author and illustrator of her first children's book "The Honey Bunch Kids". Through the promotion of her book, she hopes to inspire children to love reading. Her dream is to develop "The Honey Bunch Kids" into a dominant brand. Learn more by visiting: www.thehoneybunchkids.net.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

New Learners of the 21st Century An Interview with Dr. Nicole Parker


Hip Hop Becomes Green "Change is Needed..."



The young people in this video have a message for the community. 

" The youth featured in Change is Needed are part of a program in the Kitty Andersen Youth Science Center, a youth development organization based out of the Science Museum of Minnesota with the mission to "empower youth to change our world through science." The 24 students in the Climate Change Crew and Earth Buzz Crew have been working in the Twin Cities over the last year to understand, experience, and inspire a movement toward a just and sustainable economy.
 
From educating themselves and their peers, to learning from and serving their communities- knocking on doors in cold Minnesota winters to raise awareness of an emerging green economy through events they hold, these kids are an example of the power in the creativity of young people, even in the midst of difficult times."
To learn more about them and their program visit http://www.greenforall.org/blog/video-change-is-needed


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Little Sistahs in the Know, Inc.™




"Little Sistahs in the Know, Inc.™ is a non-profit organization that strives to build up African-American girls by providing a venue for them to learn about their culture and heritage; to openly express themselves and develop sisterly bonds; and to foster a positive self-image and promote high self-esteem. Groups of girls meet for monthly book discussions and come together to participate in a variety of cultural and social events." 
Little Sistahs in the Know, Inc was founded by Dawn Florence.  When she and her husband and three children moved to Chula Vista, CA., she realized that her daughter Ayanna who was the only African-American student in her class was missing out on certain cultural connections. So Little Sistas in the Know was created with the help of five other girls and their parents.  Today the organization has expanded to become a nationwide organization with chapters in California, Texas and New Jersey. To find a chapter near you or  start your own chapter visit http://littlesistahsintheknow.org/chapters.html, contact the nationaloffice@littlesistahsintheknow.org or call (619) 591-8821.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Ten Ways to Love the Maple Sugar Child No. 2

 
 This month I will be celebrating the movers and shakers in our community. We have a wonderful creative spirit but who knew we have so many enterprising and entrepreneurial parents and children throughout the country.   This is encouraging news so check out these dream makers and support their efforts. Nurturing the talents and skills of young people, and building businesses to support their needs is definitely the way to love the Maple Sugar Child.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Juneteenth Celebration!

http://haysfreepress.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/juneteenth-flag.jpg

 Along with Father's Day, June 19 also marks a special African American holiday. This Sunday is Juneteenth, considered the oldest known holiday that celebrates the end of slavery. Juneteenth celebrates the anniversary of the abolition of slavery in Texas on June 19, 1865.  As the story goes it took two years for the news of the Emancipation Proclamation to reach Texas.  When the Union soldiers arrived with the news, the newly freed slaves of Galvestion, Texas rejoiced with large public celebrations thus starting a new tradition, Juneteenth. The idea of remembering this anniversary with public programs and family reunions soon spread throughout the south and migrated to the north. Today Juneteenth celebrations are also held in other countries around the world, including Ghana, Honduras, Japan, Taiwan and Trinidad and Tobago.  The exuberance and joy of the first Juneteenth can only be imagined but coming together with family and community to retell the story to our children is always special.  

 

For party and food ideas, check out B. Smith's book, Rituals and Celebrations in which, she creates her own version of a party and menu to celebrate this holiday and Coming Together: Celebrations for African American Families Harriette Cole (Author), John Pinderhughes (Author).

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Parent Show interviews Neil deGrasse Tyson


Watch the full episode. See more The Parent Show.

PBS is now producing The Parent Show  online to provide families with information. Check out the 
interview with Neil deGrasse Tyson on raising future scientist.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Coretta Scott King Award

Coretta Scott King Awards are presented by the American Library Association to the African American authors with the best children and young adult books for the year. Congratulations to the 2011 winners. Great reading! Take the opportunity to encourage young people to read and support these gifted authors. For more info visit http://books.aalbc.com/2011_csk_winners.htm




 Coretta Scott King Author Honor Award

 

 Coretta Scott King Author Honor Award

  Coretta Scott King Author Honor Award




Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award


Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Award


 The John Steptoe Award for New Talent

 
John Steptoe Award for New Talent

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Pinkster - An Early African American Celebration


 As a young child, I loved to celebrate all the holidays but always wondered why we didn't have a special holiday of our own. Then we started celebrating Black History Month and Kwanzaa, and later I found out about Juneteenth and Pinkster.  So today we have a few holidays that we can call our own. Pinkster was originally a Dutch celebration of Pentecost but the slaves re-invented it.  I was reminded that Pinkster is being celebrated at Philipsburg Manor this year,  thanks to an email from my friend Celesti Colds Fechter explaining the holiday.

Don't miss the Pinkster Festival at Philipsburg Manor in Sleepy Hollow on  Sunday, May 15.

If you think the "peculiar institution" of slavery was purely a southern thing,or that all American Blacks  came from the south, think again.  Come and   celebrate Pinkster, a spring holiday unique to Blacks in northern communities first settled by the Dutch well before the American Revolution created the United States.     

Pinkster was brought to the New World by Dutch settlers in the 1620s and flourished in the areas of heaviest Dutch settlement: the Hudson Valley,northern New Jersey, and western Long Island. These same areas also had significant populations of enslaved Africans from the 1600s until emancipation
in New York in 1827. For enslaved people in New Netherland, the year offered few holidays or breaks from tedious and often grueling work. For rural slaves in particular, who were often isolated from larger African communities, Pinkster became the most important break in the year.  Filled with music, dance, food, and revelry, this cross-cultural festival re-creates the spring holiday with a rousing colonial-style celebration. Festivities include lively presentations of drumming and traditional dance, African folktales, and demonstrations of traditional African instruments and utilitarian wares.

For enslaved Blacks, gathering in rural areas or at urban markets, the holiday provided a day of temporary independence, in which they could make money and purchased goods. More importantly, Pinkster meant the opportunity to reunite with family and loved ones and the chance to preserve, reshape, and express African traditions despite the restrictions of enslavement. Pinkster also gave
enslaved Africans an opportunity to mock their white captors through caricatures of European fashions and behavior, and to voice their own anguish through speeches, storytelling, and improvised call and response singing.

The crowning of the Pinkster King, like the election of generals or governors during other holidays celebrated by African people elsewhere in the northeast, invested respected members of the African community with symbolic power over the whole community and with distinction within their own community. Celebrations featuring this sort of inversion of rank can be traced both to West African and European antecedents. Pinkster is related in this way to more famous New World festivals such as Mardi Gras.

Come to Philipsburg Manor to celebrate Pinkster and to learn about life on a restored manor (the northern version of a plantation).  There will be fun and games for the whole family. 

Buy tickets online in advance and SAVE $2 per ticket. Use the promo code KING.
Purchase tickets online at: http://www.hudsonvalley.org/pinkster/index.html



Monday, April 18, 2011

The Adventures of the Earth Saver Girl

On April 22, we celebrate Earth Day.  In honor of  Earth Day,  meet Layla, the heroine of The Adventures of the Earth Saver Girl. She has special super powers which she uses to protect the earth.  Layla is the creation of Brooklyn, a young honor student from Atlanta.  She decided to write The Adventures of the Earth Saver Girl because she “thought it would be a good way for kids her age to learn about the importance of protecting our Earth." To learn more about Layla, Brooklyn, and becoming an environmentalist visit http://www.earthsavergirl.com/


 

Move Your Body!



Time to start moving!  "Move Your Body" can be a great work out video for children and families as well as schools.  Beyonce has lent her star power to Michelle Obama’s  Let’s Move! campaign, and created "Move Your Body," a dance workout video set to the tune of her hit song "Get Me Bodied." Beyonce's official "Move Your Body" video airs May 3 and will be played at a "dance-in" at middle schools across the country.  Let's Move! has been the main project of Michelle Obama to encourage and inspire families to fight childhood obesity.  The statistics show that African American families are suffering from increasingly high levels of stress related diseases including diabetes, high blood pressure and heart  problems.  Encouraging our children to exercise and eat a healthy diet is the best way to help alleviate illness and say I love you.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Kids Comic Con 5

Young people can meet some of the creators of new superheroes and comic book characters, and get the opportunity to practice the art of comic book design this weekend visit www.Kidscomic.com.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

PBS - African American Genealogy Tips


Watch the full episode. See more History Detectives.
http://pbskids.org/aaworld/

Tracing your family history and sharing the stories of your family is a powerful gift of empowerment for your children.  PBS is offering information to help families get started.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Celebrate the Power of Words and Stories -Take Action for Global Literacy

http://www.litworld.org/storage/getinvolved.jpg?__SQUARESPACE_CACHEVERSION=1294693276461



We will be joining Lit World for their celebration of World Read Aloud Day on March 9, 2011
Here is their  info...
  
Celebrate the Power of Words and Stories and Take Action for Global Literacy

Nearly 1 billion people entered the 21st century unable to read a book or sign their name. What would you miss most if you could not read or write? Imagine your world without words.

World Read Aloud Day is about taking action to show the world that the right to read and write belongs to all people. World Read Aloud Day motivates children, teens, and adults worldwide to celebrate the power of words, especially those words that are shared from one person to another, and creates a community of readers advocating for every child’s right to a safe education and access to books and technology. By raising our voices together on this day we show the world’s children that we support their future: that they have the right to read, to write, and to share their words to change the world.


Across the globe nearly 171 million children could be lifted out of poverty if they left school with basic reading and writing skills. Quality literacy education is the difference between life and death, prosperity and despair. This is literacy for survival.


You can participate by spreading the word, reading with loved ones, organizing a community event, or if you're in the New York City area, join their  24-hour Read Aloud Marathon in Times Square...
Register to join the movement now!  Visit http://www.litworld.org/worldreadaloudday/


 If you need ideas for books to read aloud or just to enjoy with your child, visit http://thebrownbookshelf.com/28-days-later/.  They celebrate children's book authors and illustrators of color for Black History Month highlighting a new artist for each of the twenty eight days of Black History Month.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Three Young Sisters Send An “Open Letter” Video to Lil Wayne


  “Watoto from the Nile,” consisting of sisters, Nia (10), Nya (9), and Kamaria (5) say they are representing for their sisters in their latest video, An Open Letter to Lil Wayne. Why? because he talks about drugs, is disrespectful and calls women out of their name. So they are representing for a new generation of Queens.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Meet Tristin and Tyler



Tristin and Tyler's Tales from the City" is a short-form series featuring twin brothers Tristin and Tyler who go on adventures in New York City, learn about interesting people, and do interesting things!  Watch an epsiode and then play along as Tristin and Tyler quiz YOU on key parts of the episode!
Visit http://www.tristinandtyler.com/

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Black Comic Book Day

Last weekend we missed  Black Comic Book Day celebrated in Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia Los Angeles and New York.  Fortunately, some good things have come out of this event.   The organizers of the event are now working to make their work more accessible to readers at venues across the country.  Comic books will be displayed at bookstores, museums  and black comic conventions this year. 

Jerry Craft, the creator of Mamas Boyz,  explains the positive role comic books have on young people,  “The only reason I, and most of my friends, read regularly was because of comic books, I still remember the excitement of running to the corner store and seeing the new issue of Spider-Man waiting for me. Reading comics helped build our vocabularies. Playing games pretending to be the Silver Surfer or the Incredible Hulk stimulated our imaginations,”  Who knew there are so many writers and artists creating super heroes and characters for African American youth.  Check out his website for more information  http://www.mamasboyz.com/blackcomicday/.

Here are a few special events:
Reggie Hudlin, writer for Marvel Comics will  be appearing today at the Golden Apple Comic February 23 from 6-9 pm. in Los Angeles to promote his Black Panther series, now on DVD
http://www.hudlinentertainment.com.

Kids Comic Con will be celebrated in New York city on April 16 so make a note and check out http://kidscomiccon.com/ for details.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Using Words that Empower Our Children



Maya Angelou in her interview on Oprah's Master Class explains how her mother's words empowered her.  After feeling rejection as a small child from her parents, she realized her mother was much better at relating to her as a young adult.  She said her mother's words gave her permission to be great.  Her mother would tell her she was wonderful and going to do something great.  Those words resounded with her throughout her life.

Give the children you know the gift of words.  Words that empower...

forthright      reasonable    loving     insightful    energetic  
uplifting     forthright     reasonable     loving     insightful                  
energetic        uplifting     honest        trusting         friendly                         
right on       deferential        positive         useful           observant   
sympathetic     aware     neat       cool         delightful        empathetic             
inspiring     zealous    clever         reliable       open        astute
funny        optimistic     free       organized  careful    honest           

Saturday, February 19, 2011

North Paran Sharing Books with Young People



Looking for something special to do for Black History Month?  Give a gift of books to young people and also add to your child's book collection at North Paran.  This website is offering to donate a new book to a child in need for every book sold on site. This is an opportunity to put the principles of Kwanzaa to work by supporting Black businesses and helping the community. Check out their website at http://www.northparan.com.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Low-Income Parents Can Get Free Life Insurance for Their Kids' College Expenses

Just saw this article about Mass Mutual offering free life insurance to low income families. Check out Lynette Khalfani-Cox's column ...  

Low-Income Parents Can Get Free Life Insurance for Their Kids' College Expense   By Lynnette Khalfani-Cox on Jan 28th 2011 2:41PM  

Parents must meet a certain criteria to qualify for this insurance visit Mass Mutual's website for more information.   Here is a description of the program:

"LifeBridgeSM - Free Life Insurance Program
Our unique LifeBridge Free Life Insurance Program provides $50,000 term life insurance policies free-of-charge to eligible parents or guardians. We pay the premiums, and our agents drive the program in their communities. If an insured parent or guardian dies during the 10-year term, a $50,000 benefit funds a trust1 serviced by our trust company to pay eligible dependent children's educational expenses. Our goal is to give away $1 billion in coverage. As of May 31, 2009, we are halfway to our goal and have provided over a half billion dollars in free life insurance coverage across the country."

To learn more about the LifeBridge Free Life Insurance Program or to apply for this coverage, call (800) 272-2216 or visit www.massmutual.com/lifebridge. 

Sesame Street: Patti Labelle Sings The Alphabet

Friday, February 11, 2011

Ten Ways to Love the Maple Sugar Child No. 1

Yonina with her uncle.

1. Use Words that Empower Our Children

Words are powerful and magical. The older I get the more I realize this. This is why I am on a word diet, trying to watch the things I say to the children. Too many things are said out of frustration, angst and ignorance.  So I try not to label our children but find words of empowerment and encouragement.

The other day we rolled into the Emergency Room with my two year old niece, Yonina who had a bad stomach bug.  The assistant nurse who greeted us was  pleasant enough while she escorted us to the room to wait for the doctor. When she returned, however, Nina was in the hospital gown sitting on my lap as I tried to comfort her and  hold a pan under her as she threw up.  She looked at the little child in my arms and quipped, "I see this one is a spoiled." I hate when strangers who don't know you try to slap labels on you.  She doesn't know me, and she doesn't  know Nina.  Nina is very independent and hardly stays in anyone's arms because she likes to go about her business. But I was not about to explain that to this sister, instead I told her, "She is two years old with a high fever and is throwing up every fifteen minutes and doesn't understand what is going on. I don't call that spoiled, I call that sick." She gave me a look and disappeared.  Thank God, I didn't see her any more.  When the doctor came, she realized right away it was serious.  Nina was extremely dehydrated and a few minutes away from being admitted into the hospital.

These days I make it a point to not accept other people's labels and negative descriptions of our children.  Also I make it a point to watch what I say about young people.  They need words to empower them and let them know they are loved and cherished. They need words that touch the essence of who they are.  If we don't tell them who will?

Years ago, at a parenting seminar I was given a list of positive adjective to describe your child. Here are a few adjectives. I will be listing more all month.  Do you have some positive adjectives to add?



supportive        kind     attentive    cooperative   stimulating             

perceptive         wise   warm      reassuring       encouraging        dependable

loyal     thoughtful     considerate    influential     affectionate       vital    

tactful     zestful      helpful      accepting   refreshing         inclusive     

valuable      sensitive   consistent   creative     curious      intuitive     gifted        

resourceful    leader          directive      tender        responsible   alive    steadfast            

Ten Ways to Love the Maple Sugar Child


 This month is not only Black History Month but the month we celebrate Valentine's Day, and both celebrations go together.  Black History Month should be about loving our selves, our children and our community.  I thought I would do a segment called "A Hundred Ways to Love a Maple Sugar Child" until my son dropped a dose of reality on my project. He said one hundred was too ambitious, why don't I just start with ten ways and see where it goes. Good idea! So here we go!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Digital Diaspora Family Reunion


Check those old family pictures that have been stacked away for ages, now it is time to take them out and tell our stories. Digital Diaspora Family Reunion is a touring Roadshow that travels across the African Diaspora to uncover the hidden treasures in family photographic archive. Individuals are invited to explore the rich and revealing historical narratives found within their own family photograph albums and share their stories with the world.   The show is now in New York.

Members of the community are invited to bring images, photo albums and other scannable mementos  to Harlem Stage from February 23 to 25. The project will culminate on February 27 with a special live event and multimedia presentation celebrating Harlem's hidden family history. Make a reservation to bring in your images by calling 212-281-6002 or visiting ddfr.tv.

Harlem Stage is at 150 Convent Ave.at West 135th St. Tickets on February 27 to this screening are $10 for adults, and $5 for teens. Call 212.281-9240 or visit  Harlem Stage

Friday, February 4, 2011

19th Annual African American Children's Book Fair


 Come see some of the best and brightest from the Literary Community. Creators of books that teach a child the love of READING.  Over 20 Participating Authors & Illustrators!
 On Saturday, February 5, 2011, 1:00-3:00 p.m. at Gymnasium of the Community College of Philadelphia, 17th & Spring Garden Street, Philadelphia, PA.
The Book Fair started out on a cold frosty day at John Wanamaker Department Store and is now one of the oldest and largest single day events for African American Children's Books in the country. The success of the program is due to the fact that they offer the best and the brightest from the African American Children's literary community. Parents, caregivers, and educators from the tri-state area are very supportive of the event. They all understand that children who read make more responsible decisions about their lifestyles.
Author and illustrators will make presentations from their books; also games, prizes, promotional give-aways and reading resources will be available. A wide selection of African American books to purchase will be featured at the event. Authors include
Javaka Steptoe - Jimi Sounds Like a Rainbow: A Story of the Young Jimi Hendrix,   Shadra Strickland, Eric Velasquez - Grandma's Gift,   Renee Watson - A Place Where Hurricanes Happen and What Momma Left Me, Derrick Barnes - Ruby Series and We Could Be Brothers, Sabrina Carter - Please Don't Yell at We!, Bryan Collier - Dave The Potter,  Kerri Conner, Floyd Cooper - Ruth and The Green Book,  R. Gregory Christie,  Jerry Craft - Mama's Boyz, L. Divine,  Kristina Evans,   Cheryl Hudson,  Dinah Johnson - Black Magic,  Sean Qualls and  Earl Sewell.
The event is free and opened to the public.
For more information about the book fair Email : vlloydsgam@aol.com or call (215) 878-BOOK.