5 Ways to Celebrate Black History Month

5 Ways to Celebrate Black History Month

5 Ways to Celebrate Black History Month

Whether you celebrate Black History during February or during the entire year, below are 5 different ways to recognize the history of African American and Black individuals.

If you are looking for Black History Project Ideas, click here for some.

1. Visit a site

If you live or can drive, there are historical sites in the U.S. that have previously owned plantation sites. Some sites are preserved, and you can view them.

There are hundreds if not thousands of former sites that housed enslaved individuals in the United States. Take some time to visit, and you can see the pros and cons of how the owners lived compared to the 1,000s who were forced to build the wealth of the ones who owned them.

Visiting the site can make the experience more real, and recognize that humans were trafficked.

Some sites here

2. Talk to an elder

Our African American grandmothers, grandfathers, aunts, uncles, and cousins are living history books. In the 1930s, Black Americans were sharecropping and picking cotton.

Sharecropping explained here

Even though slavery was abolished, the actions of enslavement remained with laws such as Jim Crow. Elders can give you a 1st person perspective on life and what it meant to have limited freedoms.

3. Museum Visit

The National Museum of African American History & Culture celebrates Black History each day. You can find stories and https://nmaahc.si.edu/

4. Read

There are beautifully written texts written about Black History Month.

Here are a few suggestions for children ages 0-12.

1. Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre    Ages 8-12
2. Evicted! The Struggle for the Right to Vote Ages 9-12
3.Opal Lee and What It Means to Be Free:
The True Story of the Grandmother of Juneteenth       
Ages 4-8
4. The Me I Choose to Be    Ages 6-8
5. The ABCs of Black HistoryAges 5-8
6. The Hair Book Ages 0-5

5. Visit a Black or Caribbean Restaurant

The Black experience flows from not only Africa but from the Caribbean to the Americas. Eat at a restaurant to not only support this establishment economically but experience the culture. If you want to learn about Black History, you can learn it through the vibrant food experiences.

Have fun celebrating!

Start to Read, 60 Easy Tips & Lessons

Start to Read, 60 Easy Tips & Lessons

Photo by Mikhail Nilov from Pexels


  • Help my child read fluently

  • Help my child read

  • Help my child read and write

Looking for ways to teach your child to read, below are 60 different tips. A list of suggestions to help your child read fluently, to encourage them to read at home. We have tips for children ages 0-16. A list of 20 tips for different ages.


 AGE 0-6

  1. Letters-Uppercase & lowercase

Write letters each day. Have a notebook so your child can scribble or write at anytime.

Take it a step further, make an ABC book to demonstrate the use of uppercase & lowercase letters here

2. Conversation

When your child begins to speak, it is important to have fun and meaningful conversations. For example, if you are doing the dishes, count the number of forks. If you are eating dinner, ask you child to tell you about their food. Even if their words are inaudible, this engages your child with the beginning frameworks of dialogue.

3.Read Aloud Daily

You have to be intentional to read aloud. Reading aloud might seem hard, but if you have the consistent reminder: reading is for 30 minutes before bedtime, reading is 30 minutes during breakfast. This, of course will vary with your home life, but you can make this happen. Also don’t forget to ask questions from: what color is that, tell me what you see, or what happened?

4. Flashcards

There are hundreds of flashcard publishers. But use flashcards that can have the quick way of checking memory, and providing information.

5. Routines

Establishing routines with your little one for eating, potty, outside play, nap time can provide you with opportunities of reading. You can find more here.

6. Listening

If your child hears, they are building an understanding about what is heard from that spoken language. Listening guides them on learning how to talk and tell stories. 

7. Magnetic letters or physical letters

Allow your baby to touch, see, and feel the letters. Even though you do not know what letters are, it can help them to feel them and provide the early development of letter and word recognition.

Pegboard Letters Here

8. Repetition

When reading, it is important to repeat important words. Repetition helps your child remember what was said, and helps them practice the sound and speech pattern. More Here

9. Make it a game

Children love having fun, and anytime that you can make reading/literacy a game you have made their day.

10. Real World

It is critical for our littles to know what the real world is. So if you are outside, at the store, point things out so they know what is around them. Describe and explain what they see, because this world could be confusing and overwhelming for some. So the more that you can take them into the real world and explain, describe what is around them will not only build their senses but vocabulary.

11. Music

You know if the right music is played, your child lights up. In this article, “Making music helps the body and mind work together, stimulates thinking and expressive skills, and enhances creativity. So with music, you are helping your child to connect their thinking and neural development. Article here

12. Rhyming

Rhyming can help a child understand phonemes and phonological awareness or word sounds. For example with rhyming a child does not realize they are saying consonant sounds, short vowel sounds, blended vowels, and more. With the repetition and flair of rhyme gives the child a foundational ability to “play” with the words.

13. Colors

Encouraging the learning of colors and art can reinforce the vocabulary. For example, when you read a book encourage a child to tell you the color or you can tell him/her the color. When you ask them to point out the animal or person on the page.

14. Sight Words

Sight words are words that we hear all of the time. Words such as a, and, must, and more.

  • The lists are here
  • You can find an activity here
  • Resource here

15. ABCs

No matter what language you speak, learning the ABCs and their sounds is a step.

  • You can find an activity here

 16. Alphabet Sentences

When your reader is ready, they can read sentences that are in alphabetical order.

17. Matching/Sorting

Matching and sorting is a known skill to improve your child’s thinking skills. When you read, you can find words, images, and new ideas from the readings. More information here

18. Learn Names

A way to get a child ready for writing is to learn how to write their name.

  • Dot Sticker-First Name Activity here

19. Learn Home Address

Teaching your child their own address or even phone number is an easy way to teach them about capitals, commas, and numbers. 

20. Encourage Creativity

Anytime during readings, encourage your child to draw or illustrate their thinking. You can encourage singing, rhyming, or acting out!


AGE 7-12

At this age, your reader is learning how to read. They will also have numerous opportunities to measure their understanding as well.

  1. Learn storytelling or spoken word 
    The spoken word is a creative activity. Through the spoken form, one can learn the story structure (beginning, middle, and end). The different ways of personification, and shifting the tone in one’s voice. No matter how sophisticated you get, speaking the story aloud builds comprehension and vocabulary. Click Here to read more. 

2. Spelling
Spelling acknowledges if your reader can write a word ini the correct order. A good speller indicates their ability to breakdown the word and knows the different sounds. There are different ways for spelling: (a) different lists given each week/month. (b) words pulled from the books they read. (c) lists of words that interest them. 

3. Spelling Games
There are hundreds of free and purchasable spelling games. Here is a sample product. Here

For writing you can have a variety of skills such as: responding to the reading, persuasive writing, creative writing, poetry, and many more. With writing, you are providing the specifics on the different methods to write.

Journaling can be a free flowing of writing or a usage of prompts. The difference of journaling is allowing the reader to get their thoughts out without judgement. Example here from a homeschooling mom.

5. Encourage art
At this stage, readers need content that is visual so they can have deeper concepts of the vocabulary and readings. I always encourage readers to have a pencil, notepad, and colored pencils. This could help them on remembering to sketch what they see. 

6. Prefixes, Suffixes, Affixes
Prefixes and suffixes are highly useful to learn.

  • For example the word help is a verb.
  • Help +er(suffix) now is helper.
  • Helper is now a noun meaning a person who helps.

Learning a prefix/suffix each week can give your reader the tools to understand the different words.

7. Listening Comprehension
Listening is a challenge, but asking a reader to listen and understand is even more difficult. Ultimately, practicing listening comprehension in your conversations or if listening to a program you can ask questions. Learn More Here

8. Act out
As your reader advances, allowing movement addresses their different learning styles. You can go as big as creating a play, or as low as asking them to express the character’s emotions in their face. However, these unique moments will be memorable for your reader.

9. Reading Comprehension
Reading to build understanding will be a continuous skill they will need in their lives. With the rise of social media, they will need to learn those skills to find information and make clear decisions.

  • One way to start is by asking your reader to describe what happened.
  • For fiction one would describe-the characters, setting, actions of the character, main events/plot, if there was a twist, and conclusion.
  • For non fiction-one would explain the categories, main idea and details, what would happen next, and many others..
  • Describing: Activity Here

10. Read Science & math

Practical application, vocabulary

11. Phonics

Do not be afraid to reteach/introduce phonics. Reading is developmental and ensure they have the foundation of knowing their phonemes, vowel sounds, consonant sounds, word blends, graphemes, and each of them.

 12. Vocabulary

With vocabulary, one should focus on learning the word meaning.

13. Games

At this age, you can use digital games or the good old-fashioned board games. When you are using a game, then you can integrate the usage of words or comprehension about readings. 

14. Academic/Leisure Reading

As a parent, you have so much hope for your child. You also realize that your child has their own personality, likes, and dislikes. So at this age, encourage reading for fun and reading for academics. Click Here to learn more.

15. Book Club

Encouraging the aspect of book club can encourage your reader to keep up with the readings that is assigned for the book club. 

16. Library
The library is always a useful place with resources and information. If you do not check out books often, then talk to your librarian about resources and databases that can be helpful.

17. Read as a family
Reading as a family has huge benefits of being able to engage and discuss what you all are reading. You can read at different times during the week that best suits you, and even create a group book text chat. 

18. Stay Positive
Readers will not have the best days, because they are still learning how to read. Find the bright spots in their success and keep encouraging them if they lose confidence at anytime.

19. Syllabication  
Syllabication is summarized here and the importance.
“When students are faced with reading multisyllable words, it is extremely helpful that they are familiar with the different syllable types or patterns. They will then have strategies to divide such a word into its syllables, and from there to blend the syllables so they can pronounce the whole word. Being able to spot the common spelling patterns or syllable types will aid them in the division. Instead of guessing, they will be able to attack long words and read them accurately and fluently. Entire article here

20. Have a book budget
If you have the means, consider having a budget to purchase books for your home library. At home libraries give readers immediate access to stories.


Age 12-16

Helping an Older Child with Reading Problems

You can find the full article here

1. Focus on a Reading Skill

In the 21st century, learning has taken a new approach. Learning is less about the retention of large amounts of facts and datasets. Learning is about manipulating and utilizing those data sets. As you encourage your child to read they can focus on skills such as vocabulary skills, comprehension skills, fluency skills, phonics skills, and writing skills. Each skill has a unique pathway and keeping this in place. Learning is also about collaboration, and communication to solve future problems in the world they will live in.

2. Recognize their developmental stage

Children go through a variety of developmental stages.

An example about an eleven to fourteen-year-old,

What I’m Like: I’m more independent than I used to be, but I’m quite self-conscious. I think more like an adult, but there’s no simple answer. I like to talk about issues in the adult world. I like to think for myself, and though I often feel confused, my opinions are important to me, and I want others to respect them. I seem to be moving away from my family. Friends are more important than ever. To have them like me, I sometimes act in ways that adults disapprove of. But I still need reasonable rules set by adults. However, I’m more understanding and cooperative. I want nothing to do with babysitters—in fact, if I’m mature enough I can often be by myself or watch others.” You can find more about their Stages Description Here.

When your child hits the preteen stage, then their ideas of realism are stronger than before. The best way to make their experiences, “REAL.” Is by identifying the core reasons why your reader does not read.

3. Magazines

Read teen or child magazines-talk about key points

4. Book series/Booklists

Read a series of books that is their interests.

If the booklist is realistic with topics on space, history, technology, and etc. Extend that experience to take them to the place, write to the author or an expert, or a virtual visit.

Kwame Membalia has a book series about Tristan Strong
Christine Taylor-Butler has a book series called The Lost Tribes
Renee Watson has books for Middle Grade readers

  1. Learn a Real World Skill

Find books where your reader can learn a new skill. Ask them something they would like to do in a set of months. If determined these could be books on sewing, coding, sign language, and this way you could see how they are implementing this vocation and reading.

6. Create digital content about readings

Make a blog, podcast, or private channel in TikTok or YouTube

7. Make it social

If you start a reading club with the adolescent’s friends, then ask them to decide: what they will read, how often they will read, and etc. Allowing readers to “own” the responsibility.

 8. Encourage What they like

1:1 if your reader “HATES” reading, I always encourage parents for every 1 book that YOU like, you will read an ACADEMIC text that is required by your school. Starting off will be painful, but it can work.

9. Let them choose

As a teen/preteen they want to make decisions. So think about giving reading what they want and reading what they should.

 10. Design something

Have the child to read aloud complex directions such as what an architect, building developer, and etc read. Have them illustrate those items over the course of weeks.

11. Meet with their Teacher

Beyond the conferences, gain a general understanding about their strengths and weaknesses.

12. Syllabication

Reinforcing syllables can assist your reader on decoding, and spelling.

  • More information Here

 13. Prefixes, Suffixes, Affixes

Prefixes, suffixes, and affixes change the meaning and spelling of a word. For example READ is the root word, READER has the prefix -er. Which now makes the word read a noun instead of a verb. So learning the prefixes, suffixes, and affixes can 

14. Vocabulary

As your reader advances into reading to learn, encourage your reader to keep learning vocabulary for their own work.

15. Encourage writing

Make this real for them. Ask your reader, how they want to produce the topic. For example your reader can write to their legislators, can develop a pen pal, write a series of stories and make into a video or a web series. Writing should be a decided effort so your reader will feel that they owned the piece.

16. Grammar check

Gives rules of the language, and syntax. Consider having the reader teach you a short 5-minute lesson on the grammar.

17. Reading responses

After reading, encourage their verbal or written thoughts about the readings.  

18. Build Fluency

Encourage daily read aloud. The more your reader reads aloud daily, the more he or she can build their fluency.

  1. Comprehension

Continue the building of comprehension. At this stage, they are reading to learn information and less on learning how to read. If your reader is still learning how to read then have patience and continue

  1. Problem-Based Learning Encourage your reader to read about a topic that affects their community. Then, when ready you can have your reader to an activity or project that is real or authentic.


Booklist-Fiction & Nonfiction Books with LGBTQIA characters and authors

Booklist-Fiction & Nonfiction Books with LGBTQIA characters and authors

Photo by Michael Burrows from Pexels

  •  YA books with LGBTQ authors.
  • Fiction and nonfiction booklist

A booklist with modern-day stories that discuss gender and sexuality for teens and young adults. 



1. The Gender Wheel by Maya Christina Gonzalez

2. You Be You! He Kid’s Guide to Gender, Sexuality, and Family by  Jonathan Branfman

3. Be Amazing, A History of Pride by Desmond Is Amazing

4. Rainbow Revolutionaries by Sarah Prager

5. Out! How to Be Your Authentic Self by Miles McKenna


1. Ciel in all Directions by Sophie Labelle about a trans Teen

2. Cheer Up! By Crystal Frasier YA Graphic Novel

3. Sports by Emilie Dufresne

4. Heartstopper by Alice Oseman

5. My Brother’s Husband by Gengoroh Tagame

6. Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me by Mariko Tamaki



1. The ABC’s of LGBT by Ash Hardell

2. Queer, There, and Everywhere, 23 People Who Changed the World by Sarah Prager

3. Out! How to Be your Authentic Self by Miles McKenna

4. Rainbow Revolutions, Power, Pride, and Protest in the Fit for Queer Rights by Jamie Lawson

5. A Quick & Easy Guide to Queer & Trans Identities by Mady G and Jules Zuckerberg

6. The New Queer Conscience by Adam Eli

7. All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson


1. The Lost Coast by A.r. Capetta       

2. Our Dining Table by Mita Ori a Graphic Novel

3. When You get the Chance by Tom Ryan

4. You Brought Me the Ocean by Alex Sanchez

5. Our Dining Table by Mita Ori

6. When you Get the Chance by Tom Ryan

7. The Lost Coast by A.R. Capetta


8. Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender

9. What Makes You Beautiful by Bridget Liang

10. Quiver by Julia Watts



Booklist-Fiction & Nonfiction Books with Asian youth

Booklist-Fiction & Nonfiction Books with Asian youth

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels

YA & Children’s books with Asian characters

Books with Asian main characters

Asian writers books

Below is a list to recognize the stories about Asian lives and Asian characters. Stories range from children to young adult readers. You can discover picture books with Asian characters and novels for teens.


My Love for You is Always by Gillian Sze

Bee-Bim Bop! Linda Sue Park

Binny’s Diwali by Thirty Umrigar

Laxmi’s Mooch by Shelly Anand

Tomatoes for Neela by Padma Lakshmi

The Colors of Tết / Màu của Tết Bilingual Vietnamese English Book by Tiny Wrist

Green and Preen: A Broken Crayon Cosmic Adventure by Linda Sue Park

One Hug by Katrina Moore


Words to Make a Friend: A Story in Japanese and English by Donna Jo Napoli

Two girls become friends despite not speaking the same language.

The Legend of Auntie Po by Shing Yin Khor

The Fearless Flights of Hazel Ying Lee by Julie Leung

What I See: Anti-Asian Racism From The Eyes Of A Child by Christine T Leung

Friends in the Mail by Fran Manushkin

Katie Woo’s Neighborhood Series

How to Cath a Dragon by Adam Wallace
Spring Festival or Chinese New Year Celebration


Be Water, My Friend: The Early Years of Bruce Lee by Ken Mochizuki

Honda: The Boy Who Dreamed of Cars by Weston



The Many Meanings of Meilan by Andrea Wang her identity about being Chinese-American

How to Win a Slime War by Mae Respicio https://www.maerespicio.com/

Stargazing by Jen Wang

Generation Misfits by Akemi Dawn Bowman

We Belong by Cookie Hiponia
The main characters are from the Philippines. Story of fitting into a new culture and other experiences.

Room to Dream by Kelly Yang

Amal Abound by Aisha Saeed

Unsettled by Reem Faruqi

Dragon Hoops by Gene Luen Yang
Graphic Novel about a basketball allstar


Soul Lanterns by Shaw Kuzki

A Song for Cambodia by Lord


Not Here to Be Liked by Michelle Quach

The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling by Wai Chim

A Taste for Love by Jennifer Yen

Finding Junie Kim by Ellen Oh

They Called Us Enemy by George Takei, graphic memoir

Everything Sad Is Untrue: (a true story) by Daniel Nayeri
An autobiographical novel about an Iranian Refugee; National Indie Bestseller

Reading Books for Academics and Pleasure

Reading Books for Academics and Pleasure

  • Critical reading English for academic purposes
  • Encouraging reading at home
  • Pleasure of reading books

Ensuring that your child reads for fun or reads for school or academics requires stamina and balance. Particularly, these experiences include different books, skills, and ideas. Reading academically and for pleasure has unique differences. For example, reading for pleasure is when one is intrinsically motivated to read a book and they are not solely focused on reading for learning. Academic reading is meant to advance one’s knowledge or studies.

What does reading for pleasure look like?

15-20 Minutes each day, depending on age group.
During times when there is center or guided reading work.
Right after or before lunch.
A set time at the end of the day before it is time to go home.
In the morning before breakfast or in the evening before bed.
Before you turn on the TV for late-night cartoons.
Driving in the car.

What does academic reading look like?

Critically reading to understand the purpose of the text, build connections of the text, and to show the skill that the teacher or curriculum desires. 

Ensuring the reader picks up vocabulary, syntax, and building of their comprehension. 

Ultimately, finding books that are engaging and motivating takes time. There are online book finders and of course your local librarian who can help you find the books that are just right for your child. 

Reading for Pleasure and Reading for Academics has stark differences. Ultimately if integrated on a daily basis, the reward can be great. Your child will be a reader and he or she will have the skills, stamina, and internal motivation to read.

Here at Pennez, we are looking to support you and your child in your online reading experiences. We have tutoring services, and a product called Read2Think. At Pennez we cater our tutoring services to ensure the books are inclusive and the lessons are on pace for your child. We also encourage parents to listen in on the first few times to exchange knowledge. 

Booklist-Fiction & Nonfiction Books with Black Youth

Booklist-Fiction & Nonfiction Books with Black Youth

  • Children’s books featuring Black authors or Black characters.

  • Black authors nonfiction

  • Young Adult books by Black authors

To celebrate African American and Black authors or characters, a list has been compiled for young readers-middle grade-high school grade readers. The majority of these books were published in 2020 & 2021. There are a few older stories as well.


1. Brown Sugar Babies by Charles R. Smith Jr.

2. Hey Black Child by Useni Eugene Perkins

A poetry book on what it means to be a strong, unique, and know where you are going.

3. Change Sings by Amanda Gorman

4. Time for Kenny by Brian Pinkney

5. Ruby’s Reunion Day Dinner by Angela Dalton

6. Jayden’s Impossible Garden by Mélina Mangal

7. Ty’s Travels: Beach Day by Kelly Starling Lyons

8. Lola at the Library by Anna McQuinn

9. Just Us Books, Marimba Books, an African American publisher




1. What Is Light? By Markette Sheppard

2. ana & andrew book series by Christine Platt

3. Southwest Sunrise by Nikki Grimes

4. Beautiful Blackbird by Ashley Bryan

A group of birds rejoice how beautiful the black bird is because the black bird contains all of their colors.

You can discover more about the author here: https://ashleybryancenter.org/contact.html

5. Mia Mayhem Superhero Series by Kara West

6. The Dramatic Life of Azaleah Lane by Nikki Shannon Smith

7. When My Cousins Come to Town by Angela Shanté


1. Early Sunday Morning by Denene Millner

2. The Old Truck by Jerome Pumphrey and Jarrett Pumphrey

3. Bedtime Bonnet by Nancy Amanda Redd, Nneka Myers

A storybook about nighttime traditions.

4. Saturday by Oge Mora
A little girl and her mother have fun routines every Saturday because it is the only time they can spend a whole day together each week. But this Saturday something went wrong, and they discover the true meaning of Saturday.

5. Ways to Make Sunshine by Renée Watson


Praline Lady by Kirstie Myvett

The King and Me by Isaiah Bealer




1. The Last Mirror on the Left by Lamar Giles

2. Maya and the Rising Dark by Rena Barron


1. Ashton’s Dancing Dreams by Kaitly Pitts

2. Some Place More Than Others by Renée Watson

3. What Lane? by Torrey Maldonado

A story about what it means to be biracial.

4. Fast Pitch by Nic Stone

5. Take Back the Block by Chrystal D. Giles





1. Before the Ever After by Jacqueline Woodson

2. Not So Pure and Simple by Lamar Giles

3. Muted by Tami Charles



1. Daughters of Jubilation by Kara Lee Corthron

2. Leaving Lymon by Lesa Cline-Ransome

3. Pictures at the Protest by Steven K Smith

4. Inventing Victoria by Tonya Bolden

5. The Invincible Summer of Juniper Jones by Daven McQueen



1. Black girl unlimited: The Remarkable Story of a teenage wizard by Echo Brown

2. My life as an Ice Cream Sandwich by Ibi Aanu Zobi

3. Tristan Strong Destroys the World by Kwame Mbalia

Understanding Assessing and Teaching Reading

Understanding Assessing and Teaching Reading

  • Developing Diagnostic Assessments to Improve Data-Driven Instruction

  • Linguistic, Prior Knowledge, Cognition, and Observations involved in assessment creation.

Hearing the words: assessment, evaluation, and data can give you a variety of emotions, ideas, and memories. For a child, assessment is something that can be rudimentary or boring. However, as we know assessments, if delivered accurately can provide insight and knowledge for your child.


Moreover, evaluation tools with the appropriate metrics and information can help you make better-informed decisions. Your evaluations include seeing how a child learns from observations, and formal measures outlined by your district or standards.


Below are a few things to remember when designing assessments or even using a company’s assessment to improve instruction.



Linguistics is a child’s language experience. Their language comes from home experiences as well as the school where the word structure that is picked up in both environments may differ. In Assessing Readers the author poses the questions on what experiences do their families have when it comes to language. Do they sing at home? Are there different native languages?




Prior Knowledge

A child’s existing knowledge or prior knowledge varies. We all come from different experiences and different backgrounds. A learner’s personal experience can determine how they make decisions and even react to certain topics.

For example, if a teacher asked an open-ended question saying, what is a pet. Neither list is wrong but shows that their schema, or body of knowledge, differs because of their experiences and prior knowledge. 





-Guinea pig




Our cognition can be categorized as schema. “Fulbrook shares schema here


“Schemas are categories of information stored in long-term memory. A schema contains groups of linked memories, concepts, or words. This grouping of things acts as a cognitive shortcut, making storing new things in your long-term memory and retrieval of them much quicker and more efficient.-Fulbrook


  • Schemata have variables
  • Schemata can embed one with another
  • Schemata represents generic to abstract concepts
  • Schemata represents knowledge from experiences rather than definitions.

    Schema is an educational and brain theory that explains how knowledge is constructed and organized in someone’s mind.

Thinking about affective is being empathetic about the child’s emotions/attitudes, interests, feelings, and needs. If designing an assessment to understand the learner, a basic interest inventory is always useful.


  1. What do you like about (topic)?
  2. What do you dislike about (topic)?
  3. Do you read for fun?
  4. What is your favorite thing to do, tell me why?
  5. How do you feel when?

Hopefully from these conversations, you can gather a deeper picture of the learner than before.

Cultural and Sociocultural Influences 


While experiences make a difference in a child’s learning, they are at home culture cannot be forgotten. “each is also strongly influenced by an individuals’ cultural and sociocultural background.

When you think about a home where a child speaks Black Language (use examples from Professor) they are accustomed to a language that differs from their academic English skills.

Also, if a child is Deaf or Hard of Hearing and learns American Sign Language. They have to learn the English language syntax, and their deaf culture influences their classroom experience.


“Teachers need to plan assessment and instruction to fairly evaluate a child in their classrooms so that each child is given maximum opportunities and encouragement to succeed.” -Flippo Assessing Readers




Observing a child gives authentic viewpoints about how he or she acts, thinks, and speaks. These observations can give you different performance metrics. With observations, it is critical to ask open-ended questions and take

 Informal Reading Interventions (IRI)

 Involve learners reading word lists, and answering questions about their readings.


 When grading, you can make an educated guess where the learner is on the Independent Level-Can read a passage on their own with ease and without any support:

Independent Level-can read without support and can comprehend the reading.

Instruction Level-Can read but might need prompting or support to read.

 Frustration Level-Struggles to read where multiple mistakes are made, rereading, skipping, or being unable to read the passage at all.


A Running Records are commercially prepared and can also be prepared by educators or professionals. Running records are historically manually given where an educator or professional evaluates one child at a time.

 1. Child and teacher sit across from each other.


2. Child reads a short passage out loud.


3. While the child reads, the teacher marks any miscues, repetitions, and more on their sheet. This sheet has the same passage that the child reads but is formatted for markings.


4. Once complete, the teacher will provide another story that is easier or more difficult and continue the same process.

5. Preferably in one session and child reads 1-3 passages, and the teacher also asks a series of questions.

There are so many different assessments especially with commercial assessments: Survey, diagnostic, standardized, norm-referenced, criterion-referenced, grade-level equivalent, and age-level equivalent.


As always do not forget these assessments that are being created could have errors. Over the years, educators have discovered problems with test questions, limitations in context, validity, authenticity, and even relevance. Historically standardized tests and commercially driven assessments have widened the gap making this now an Opportunity Gap.

 More here about Standardized Tests


With the data gathered from an assessment, you can use the information to create your lesson plans, small group instruction, and units of studies. The assessments should have the insights so you can teach the appropriate skills to move your students forward. 

 At Pennez, we want to speak with our readers and learn about their educational needs. What is exciting we launched an online tool called Read2Think which delivers running records online using Artificial Intelligence. If you would like to pilot our program, click here.














Author Spotlight C.L. Fails-LaunchCrate Publishing

Author Spotlight C.L. Fails-LaunchCrate Publishing

  1. Founder of LaunchCrate shares her story.

2. C.L Fails writes children’s, teen, and adult books.

3. C.L. Fails writes to honor her mother and family.

In a small university classroom, Cynthia and her mother sat through hours and hours of lectures together. She quietly pretended to take notes while her mother participated in the classroom discussions. Once class ended, she and her mom walked to the humming copy machine. Her mother made copies for class, and Cynthia made copies too. Following her mother’s shadow, off to the university’s library, they checked out books. At a young age, Cynthia witnessed her mother being an adult learner who later earned her Master’s Degree and then a Ph.D. “Superpowers” is what Cynthia described her mother as having.

Later she witnessed her mother as an educator and worked professionally. “It struck a chord, I watched how she rephrased things. Put the power back in her court and made people appropriate or inappropriate in how they said things. I was fortunate for this experience.”-C.L. Fails


C.L Fails and Mother

Today, Fails writes stories inspired from her mother’s aptitude, strength, and superpowers. Her mother’s superpowers are honored in her book series with a main character named Ella. Fails was an educator herself and is currently an author, editor, copywriter, publisher, business owner, podcaster, and illustrator. In most of the stories that she writes, she places parts of her own experiences or individuals that she knows in her books. For example, one can find elements of her niece in her Ella books as well.

Fails self-published her first book in 2012. She had a 5-month gap in between jobs to create her first story. She wrote, The Christmas Story, because it was a story that she needed at the time. “Having faith in something you cannot see yet; A Christmas cookie waiting for Santa on Christmas Eve,” Fails explained. This book is a stocking stuffer.

Self-publishing was the option because the service that she was using profited from her work but she was not compensated for the work that she did herself. She learned through this hurdle that self-publishing had more opportunities for her. Later on, she began to write more and started her full-time job again. Juggling 40 hours of full-time work and 40 hours of writing books for herself, and others, did not make sense in her mind. This is why she developed LaunchCrate.

“The goal with LaunchCrate is to create ripples of change throughout the publishing industry. Trying to flip the publishing where it favors creatives author or the illustrator. We want to make sure they are receiving fair compensation for their work.”-C.L. Fails

LaunchCrate publishes books for children and adult audiences. Fails publishes her work under her company and has released not one but two series. Ella is her first, and Raine the Brain is her second series for teen audiences. Raine the Brain is also based loosely on her brother for preteen audiences. Fails expressed that her books and LaunchCrate had community support from the beginning, “When people believe in you then they believe in your work,” Fails shared.

Ella was the first series of books that LaunchCrate published. “Superpowers-the stuff you have in you that you are starting to develop are powerful tools that can help you be whoever you become. I saw how she navigated the world as a black woman. They are superpowers we all have within us. But I got to observe the way she navigated life in general. I wanted to make sure I highlighted those areas.”

“My hope is that people can see us as agents of hope for the publishing industry.” C.L. Fails

Fails juggles so much but is creating change within the publishing industry. She wants creatives to know there are different paths to success, and they have other options now that we have different multimedia tools in her hands.

“You know this title will be a ripple in the seed that creates change.” C.L Fails

Fails shared that everything that she has done has led to where she is today. “The good stuff and not so good stuff. Me choosing to self-publish that first book. Had I not chosen the path that I chose, I would not have learned what I learned today. Everything that I have experienced has propelled me.”

Fails exhibits those same Superpowers her mother exhibited-strength, high aptitude, creativity, and more. “I want people to know there are other options that exist. You don’t have to follow the same models as the big 5. Just because things have been done one way for decades doesn’t mean that they have to stay that way. Growth is the way things continue to evolve for communities and nations.” Her company LaunchCrate is publishing creative’s work that plants the seeds of knowledge in different communities.

Click Here if you would like to connect with LaunchCrate.

Author Spotlight-María García Esperón

Author Spotlight-María García Esperón

 María García Esperón is a researcher, historian, and writer of ancient Greek mythology. Her inspiration for history also comes from her research and visits to the ancient city of Teotihuacan. As a young woman, she discovered stories about her ancestors by her nanita, grandmother. Her nanita orally told her about the way that her people lived and is a writer because of the stories that her grandmother told. Esperón shared that many people in Mexico tell their history through oral traditions.

Esperón described that she is, “an expert in Aztec art and also in the ancient culture of Teotihuacan. Teotihuacan is like the Egyptian Pyramid-a complete city. The name means where men are formed into gods.” For Mexico, Teotihuacan is important because it has preserved landforms of how the people lived before the Spanish arrival.

In her newest book, Esperón wrote stories about the experiences of native people from the Americas. Each story was orally told and is found in, The Sea-Ring World, Sacred Stories of the Americas are oral mythological stories told from ancient people and tribes. It is a mythological book for children. It was first published and written in Spanish, in 2017 but published in English in 2020.

My books are raising the mystery. It is the story of our road, pilgrimage.

Esperón is a steward of literature and knows that through stories you can discover stories of humanity, “Travel back in time through literature.”-María Esperón

Her work started when she met a Spanish poet-Aurelio Gonzalez Ovies -Latin professor in Asturias. They became close friends because they both share a love for Greek and Roman literature. María explained that, “We were in Spain presenting one of my books, Dido for Aeneas (Female character). Once we said our goodbyes, he said, “Why don’t we write a book of Greek & Roman myths books for children?”

The book that she wrote with Ovies was a success called Dictionary of Classical Myths.

Years later, on a beautiful day in September 2017, Esperón was writing a poem. Her friend, Aurelio Gonzalez Ovies, emailed her proposing to write another book with her. She pressed “SEND” agreeing to the message, minutes later her floor shook, and she was thrown back into her chair. “Ahh,” she screamed. This was the 2017 Mexico City earthquake. This was not the first earthquake that  Esperón lived through. “I lived the earthquake of 1985 as well. For the first time, I realized the earth was alive. I thought it was concrete. I heard the earth, and I changed.”

She connected her life-altering experience to the myths of the Aztecs. Her studies of the Aztecs who inhabited Tenochtitlan and the people that lived in Teotihuacan shared prophecies of the world. She knew that these earthquakes and myths were predicted on the Aztec calendar.

“Coming here in 2017, when I felt the earthquake I felt that I must write a book of myths that define our America.”-Esperón

3 months later, after the 2017 earthquake, Esperón started writing the book. Her colleague designed the poems, and Esperón added additional flair to the text. In Spanish, this book is called “Dictionary of Myths in America.”

“This is the book of ethnicities, different people, and different cultures. The English title is due to the translator. He is a man who speaks nahuatl, the original Aztec language.”-Esperón

We have the power of our roots to speak aloud and become one. We are the same. The great spirit is mentioned in the book.

María’s work with the collaboration of Amanda Mijangos (illustrator) and David Bowles (translator) created a body of work that shares stories about the ways of life and beliefs of people who lived in the Americas. There are many ways to read. Esperón shared that, “Use the book and retell it in your own way, your own tradition, your own way of being.”

It is a book to play with. It was originally organized alphabetically in Spanish. You can learn about people from Andes, Guarani, Nahua, K’iche, Maya, Mexica and so much more.

In the English version, she suggests that you can read other myths in a different order, find connections. One can use this book to retell, perform, and to build on other stories. María García Esperón has lived through many experiences and has a joy for taking her readers into the past. María’s desire to write about ancient people comes from her lived experiences and from reading and hearing their stories. Discover stories about our ancestor’s belief, thoughts, and way of life in her book, The Sea-Ring World, Sacred Stories of the Americas.





How to Read Different Nonfiction Books

How to Read Different Nonfiction Books

  • Reading Nonfiction Picture Books

  • Reading Nonfiction Using Text Features

  • Reading Nonfiction with 0-10 year olds

Reading Nonfiction stories introduces new vocabulary words, truthful ideas, and new information about our world. Nonfiction can be defined as, informational text that expresses researched content from science, art, mathematics, history, engineering, and many other areas. As your child progresses into different stages of reading features will be important to know such as the text, the vocabulary, and topics. Many of these features will become more complex, and eventually, when they are in secondary or high school your reader will have more informational text to advance their studies.

In this article, you can find additional information about nonfiction reading here. 

At any stage that your child is in, you can read nonfiction text from infant, toddler, child, teen, and up. The best way to select nonfiction stories is to think about what your reader likes to do, and what you as a parent/guardian like to do. For example, if your child loves trucks, food, and planes then you can read about those topics. Alternatively, if you work in the arts or software then it would be good to read books about your areas of interest as well. 

Below you will find suggestions on How to Read Nonfiction Texts using examples from these nonfiction books.

My First 100 Technology Words



Baby Loves Aerospace Engineering


Little Legends


Ocean (Magnetology)

Nonfiction Feature: Photographs, Illustrations, Icons & Captions

Pre-K book Examples

Imagery can help your reader understand the language throughout the book. The image gives a reference to what the word means. To read nonfiction books such as, My First 100 Technology Words  or Baby Loves Aerospace Engineering series, the books use illustrations to expand on complex topics.

My 100 Technology Words is a visual text using images and captions. This book can support learning vocabulary. In addition, you can describe the word or icon as an example, stating in a sentence, or looking for other examples that you might see.

Example Questions

  • Hammer “A hammer is a tool used to… What can you use a hammer with?
  • Cloud “You can see clouds outside, but a cloud lives in the computer which keeps information.”
  • Lever “A lever can be found on your belt, the handle on a car door, even if place it right your arm.

Furthermore, using the word in different ways can build a deeper connection to the text and allow for you and your reader to have conversations. To make an iconic book even more real you can encourage them to draw/scribble, or even use their toys if it is similar to an image in the book.

A series of narrative nonfiction books are written in Baby Loves Series. These are a series of STEM and history books for children ages 0-3. The author takes complex topics and breaks them down with a character who demonstrates or plays with the topic. For example in the Gravity book the baby practices dropping things. In Aerospace Engineering, the baby sees a bird fly and then sees an airplane fly. The author explains how flying is a form of aerospace engineering. In this example of a narrated nonfiction book, the characters are experiencing the topic and having a lot of fun as well. To expand on the vocabulary and illustrations, you can ask questions about the book.

Example Questions

  • What do you see?
  • I saw you do this too, let’s try____.”
  • What happened when__?” “I like ___”

 These are examples and you can ask many more.


Nonfiction Feature: Headings, Index, Bibliography
Elementary-Aged Books

Little Legends Exceptional Men in Black History, by Vashti Harrison

Little Legends Bold Women in Black History, by Vashti Harrison

Little Legends shares different historical stories about prominent Black men and another book about prominent Black women. This book is for readers ages 6-10 due to the word complexity and information. Each character is shaped the same, but she uses the different text features, colors, and wardrobe illustrations to differentiate the characters. In this nonfiction book, you can learn important details about each character.

Additionally, as you read use the text features to guide your questions.

Example Questions

  • Look at the Heading, “What is his name and where was he born?”
  • “Let’s find___ in the index.”
  • “Look at the backgrounds how is this page illustrated?”

Nonfiction Feature: Captions, Images, Types of Print

Ocean by Ines Adam
Books for children ages 4-8 years old

Twirl books have a different mechanism so the reader can manipulate objects. In Ocean, Magnetology you can place objects on different pages. The book has backgrounds so these magnet pieces support the text. Also, different types of print are used to show the difference of text to read, captions, and headings of each page. You can discuss how the object moves on the page and what it does in the real world.

Click here for a full list of nonfiction text features. If you are lucky enough to have a library or books at home, take many chances to read nonfiction and fiction text with your reader.