Family Stories As Multicultural Kid’s Books!

My mom was an avid genealogist. As a child I found the dry dates and names boring (and I certainly didn’t want to look for them on ancient microfilm reader machines!).

But in 2007, a publisher asked me to write a children’s picture book about an immigrant child. I remembered that my great-great aunt had immigrated as a ten year old from Sweden and had a remarkable experience when she arrived. Her story was found in her short autobiography and in my great grandmother’s journal. The hybrid book, Anna’s Prayer, was the result (beautifully illustrated by Shari Griffiths).

I became hooked on family stories and digged up/cobbled together biographies on about seven generations of my ancestors. I’m Swedish, South African, English, Irish, Scottish, Swiss, and French. (We hope to learn soon whether there’s American Indian in the mix.)

It has taken ten years, but I finally have published my great grandmother’s part of Anna’s story as an illustrated book/ebook. It’s called Ida’s Witness. I grew up hearing Ida’s account as read on occasion by her son, Vernard Beckstrand, my grandfather. Ida was the first of her siblings to join The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Sweden, quite vocal about Christ’s gospel, and fearless in the face of religious persecution.

Because of chronic illness, Ida was often confined to her bed (or hospital beds) and had time to study the Bible as a girl. When Ida’s mother tried a poultice from a local plant on Ida’s arm as a remedy, Ida’s arm suddenly became swollen and useless.

Fearing Ida would lose her arm, her mother took her to the city to find a doctor, but it was apparently Sunday afternoon when they got to the city and a doctor wasn’t likely to be found until Monday. The ladies ended up in a conference of the Church of Jesus Christ, where Ida received an overwhelming conviction that this was Christ’s church restored to the earth.

She was baptized that evening and given a priesthood blessing. The next day, her arm was completely back to normal. From that time Ida told everyone she could about living prophets, continuing revelation, and priesthood authority. Such declarations brought fierce opposition from peers and authority figures. But Ida would not be silent.

When Ida and Anna had the opportunity to come to America, they left their mother and brother—hopeful that they could be reunited again in the United States one day. Because Ida had been contracted to work in Idaho and Anna had to stay with an aunt in Salt Lake City, the sisters had to separate. They each had harrowing experiences as strangers unable to communicate in English.

But my great grandmother was a determined woman. She worked to be able to communicate her testimony in this new country. I’m so grateful for her courage and grit. She concluded her autobiography with this message:

“Even though I have had a lot of pain during my life, I have had a wonderful, happy, pleasant life. … I made a resolution many years ago that I would bear my testimony every time I had a chance. … I want to [tell] my children, grandchildren … and all of my descendants—and to the whole world—that I know I am a member of the *true Church of Jesus Christ. I know that Joseph Smith was a true prophet, that Our Heavenly Father and his Son, Jesus Christ, visited him. … I [am] very thankful to my Father in Heaven for protecting me; that through the inspiration of his Spirit I was able to bear testimony of the true Gospel, restored to the earth through the Prophet. … May God bless you all that we may all be together in the hereafter.”

It’s a thrill for me to be able to make her witness available “to the whole world.”

[Note: *Because of the phrase “true church,” some people have erroneously concluded that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is exclusive. In reality, Church doctrine states that all people (except a handful of enlightened, but rebellious, Latter-day Saints) will be saved in glory. Contact me for information on why we search for our ancestors and “seal” them as eternal family units.]

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Funny Mysteries *One Free* & Halloween Costume Ideas

It seems I’m not alone in having trouble sleeping. As a child I experienced frightening bumps in the night—and an active imagination. Some of my experiences were comical (or, at least, became comical with the passage of time) like being too exhausted to sleep, mosquitoes that buzz the ear before dining, creaking pipes, and bizarre or bad dreams.

Lately I’m kept awake more from restless legs or an overactive brain. The worst thing for sleep is forgetting to silence or turn off my phone. Regardless of age, people can identify with pesky things that keep a person awake at night.

Many of my experiences found their way into a Mini-mysteries for Minors picture book series. My very first book was Sounds in the House: A Mystery about a scaredy-cat dog comically freaking out over nothing (people do this too). After it was made into a Spanish-English app, Kirkus Reviews said it was “suspenseful without ever getting too intense for younger readers.”

Other mysteries followed: Crumbs on the Stairs – Migas en las escaleras: A Mystery (English-Spanish—8,000 in circulation); She Doesn’t Want the Worms – Ella no quiere los gusanos, named in the top 10 “Best Books” of 2011 by ForeWord Reviews and featured in School Library Journal; and Why Juan Can’t Sleep—free now on Kindle. Only mildly spooky, these tales are family friendly. I can’t guarantee they’ll help anyone sleep; laughs don’t usually promote that.

My latest children’s book, Great Cape o’ Colors – Capa de colores, isn’t a mystery; but it gives lots of great Halloween costume ideas for all ages: a judge, a professor, a wizard, a space ranger, superheroes, acrobats, a musketeer, a monk, a magician, a wrestler—among others. It’s child safe, multicultural, and free for Kindle Unlimited users.

Most of these are bilingual books with pronunciation guide. I try to always include characters of color, tame twists, and fun activities in my kid’s books. I hope your family gets a kick out of them—and perhaps some fun costume ideas.

A final warning: If, like me, you still struggle to sleep, don’t listen to Coast to Coast radio or the Mystery Theater before hitting the pillow!

How I Made 10 Books out of My 20th Title

Great Cape o’ Colors – Capa de colores (my 20th multicultural book) was going to be a simple bilingual picture book about careers, cultures, and costumes. Because some parents/educators prefer single language books to teach children a foreign language, I also created Spanish-only and English-only versions, as I’ve done with my other bilingual books (each version has a pronunciation guide for either/both languages).

For the first time, I made each available in hard cover (usually, I’d just make the bilingual and/or Spanish versions hardback and the English-only version in soft cover). Librarians prefer something durable. So I have the three language versions available in hard and soft cover—and also ebook versions—which makes a total of nine formats!

Since the book is about colors too, John Collado, the illustrator, and I thought it would be fun to make a coloring book version of Cape using John’s original line art and a couple extra graphics I added (of course, there’s no hardback or ebook version of the coloring book). So now, from one story, I have 10 versions of the book! I suppose if I did an audio version, that could be 11 (I’ll probably do that with my novel).

Great Cape o’ Colors also happens to be the fourth book in my Careers for Kids series. The other job/money titles are: Ma MacDonald Flees the Farm (about a woman-owned business), Bright Star Night Star (for aspiring astronomers), and The Bridge of the Golden Wood: A Parable on How to Earn a Living. What’s even more gratifying is The Bridge of the Golden Wood was selected by the State of Vermont for primary school financial literacy curriculum—and Utah’s Granite School District has ordered a large quantity of Great Cape o’ Colors. All link to a site with job and business ideas plus money management tips: ChildrenEarn.com.

It’s “A magic cape” book. I hope readers find it to be a favorite.  I also hope these version ideas will  inspire authors to maximize their products (I didn’t even touch on T.V., film, and the action figure market:).

Great Cape o’ Colors – Capa de colores: English-Spanish with Pronunciation Guide is free for Kindle Unlimited readers and is available through PremioBooks.com, Amazon, Baker & Taylor, Barnes & Noble/Nook, Brodart, Ingram, Follett, iBooks, and Walmart.com. YOUR comments on Amazon, Goodreads, or Smashwords.com make a big difference in the book’s reach. I certainly welcome followers there and on Bookbub, Youtube, FB, Pinterest, Google, Instagram, or Twitter (search Multicultural Children’s Books by Premio Publishing). ISBN: 978-1732069619. WATCH the book trailer here.

A Magic Cape of Careers, Colors, Cultures & Costumes

When I wrote Great Cape o’ Colors, I didn’t plan on it being about careers—I just wanted a Spanish-English picture book to teach colors to language learners. I came up with different costumes that include capes (costumes kids might try at home). I knew the book would have a pronunciation guide and diverse characters (something I try to have in all of my books). But after getting the artwork back from the illustrator, I realized this was also a book about jobs for kids—and it fit nicely with three other books I’d written on careers.

Suddenly, I have a career book series (along with series for STEM, bilingual, food, mystery, wordless, and immigrant books). The Careers for Kids series also includes Ma MacDonald Flees the Farm (about a woman-owned business. FREE now), Bright Star Night Star (for aspiring astronomers), and The Bridge of the Golden Wood: A Parable on How to Earn a Living—which was selected by the State of Vermont for primary school curriculum on financial literacy. These books link to a site with job and business ideas plus money management tips: ChildrenEarn.com.

As a former Silicon Valley recruiter, I’ve noticed that many high school (even college) graduates aren’t prepared to work their way up to a desired position (or run their own business or manage money). I wanted to share ideas that spark imaginations to discover gratifying activities that can become marketable skills. I especially wanted kids to learn that our best ideas and skills are born while solving problems and helping others.

I learned Spanish while serving the people of Chile for two years as a volunteer. Being bilingual has enriched my work. Over the past couple of decades I’ve taught English as a second language; I believe that serving immigrant ESL students helped me qualify to teach college, which I’ve done for nearly four years. I regularly speak on writing and marketing in schools as well as to private and government organizations. That networking has opened all kinds of doors for me to other professionals and clients.

“This is a magic cape!” begins Great Cape o’ Colors. It certainly has been for me. I feel like one of the superheroes inside (even without a cape). John Collado’s illustrations are wonderful. I’m especially grateful to my native language editors (who make me look good), Gema Ortiz de Gurrola and Diana Sanzana.

Great Cape o’ Colors – Capa de colores: English-Spanish with Pronunciation Guide is my 20th book–free now on Netgalley.com and soon on Kindle. It’s available in hard cover, paper, or ebook (single language or bilingual) through PremioBooks.com, Amazon/Kindle, Baker & Taylor, Barnes & Noble/Nook, Brodart, Ingram, EBSCO, Follett, iBooks, and Walmart.com. YOUR comments on Amazon, Goodreads, Netgalley, or Smashwords.com can make a big difference in the book’s reach–I certainly welcome followers there and on Bookbub, Youtube, FB, Pinterest, Instagram, Google, or Twitter (search Multicultural Children’s Books by Premio Publishing). Hard ISBN: 978-1732069619, soft ISBN: 978-0692220986. WATCH the book trailer here.

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2018

Tomorrow is Multicultural Children’s Book Day. I encourage you to check out the links here and get/give books that reflect our diverse world.

MCBD site: http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/

Free Multicultural Books for Teachers: http://bit.ly/1kGZrta

MCBD2018 Book Reviewer Sign-up: http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/our-programs/reviewer-tools-works/

MCBD2018 Offline Classroom Celebration sign-up: http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/category/offline-classroomlibrary-event-project/

MCBD2018 Book Donator details and sign-up: http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/sponsorship/sponsorship-info/authors-donate-a-book/

MCBD2018- Ways to celebrate January 22-27 http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/how-to-get-involved-in-multicultural-childrens-book-day-2018-for-a-week/

Free Classroom Empathy Kit for Homeschoolers, Organizations, Librarians and Educators: http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/mcbd2018s-free-classroom-empathy-kit-is-here-empathy-immigration/

Free Kindness Classroom Kit for Homeschoolers, Organizations, Librarians and Educators: http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/teachers-classroom-kindness-kit/

Free Diversity Book Lists and Activities for Teachers and Parents: http://bit.ly/1sZ5s8i

Diverse Books in Your Home Library: Parenting Global Kids: https://theeducatorsspinonit.com/20…

Multicultural Book blogs:

http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/how-to-get-involved-in-multicultural-childrens-book-day-2018-for-a-week/

Jump Into A Book

https://www.imyourneighborbooks.org

https://diversebookfinder.org

https://readingcultr.wordpress.com

https://PragmaticMom.com

GozoBooks.com

Children’s Book Council, Junior Library Guild

Russian Books for Children https://theeducatorsspinonit.com/20…

Social Media and Hashtag: Don’t forget to connect with is on social media and be sure and look for/use their official hashtag #ReadYourWorld.

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/MulticulturalChildrensBookDay

Twitter https://twitter.com/MCChildsBookDay

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/readyourworldmcbd/

SPONSORS – PLATINUM: Scholastic Book Clubs

GOLD: Audrey Press, Candlewick Press, Loving Lion Books, Second Story Press, Star Bright Books, Worldwide Buddies

SILVER: Capstone Publishing, Author Charlotte Riggle, Child’s Play USA, KidLit TV, Pack-n-Go Girls, Plum Street Press

BRONZE: Barefoot Books, Carole P. Roman, Charlesbridge Publishing, Dr. Crystal BoweGokul! World, Green Kids Club, Gwen Jackson, Jacqueline Woodson, Juan J. Guerra, Language Lizard, Lee & Low Books, RhymeTime Storybooks, Sanya Whittaker Gragg, TimTimTom Books, WaterBrook & Multnomah, Wisdom Tales Press