Reading with: Charnaie

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Good Morning Friends! We are excited to introduce you to the delightful Charnaie from Here Wee Read for today's edition of Reading With.

Charnaie is a Computer Programmer by day, an aspiring author by night and a wife and mom 24/7 and did we mention she's also a Distinguished Toastmaster?! In her spare time she enjoys reading, writing, crafting, watching classic movies, volunteering (when time permits) and spending time with her husband, children, family and friends.

She is also currently working as a Reading Ambassador for an upcoming kid's festival sponsored by Fresh Kids. Which means she gets to curate a selection of books for their Reading Orchard. How dreamy is that?

Click through for all the wonderful thoughts we gathered as we got to pick Charnaie's brain on all things reading.

Name: Charnaie

How many kids do you have and what are their ages? 
I have two children- a girl and a boy. My daughter is currently 3.5 and my son is 2.5. They were born 15 months apart.

What did you study in college? 
I have both a Bachelor's and Master's degree in Computer Science/Information Technology.

Where do you live? How did you end up there? 
Our family currently resides in the state of Connecticut. I've lived here all my life, but every year when winter rolls around my husband and I always say we're going to move because we dislike cold weather. It hasn't happened yet, but we both have dreams of migrating to a warmer climate -- some day!

What are 3 ways you foster reading in your home?
I try to make reading as fun as possible for my kids so I incorporate a variety of different things to help teach early-reading concepts. Our favorite thing to do is play different sight word games that I get off of Pinterest. We also enjoy listening to Playaway audio books or books on CD if we're driving long distances in the car. In addition, we go to one of our local libraries or bookstores weekly. I think these trips definitely help encourage reading.

We also read aloud books for about 15-30 minutes each day. Now that the kids are getting older, after story time we discuss the stories together. We talk about the characters, setting and storyline. Talking about the story strengthens reading comprehension and vocabulary.

What do you hope your children gain from reading?
The most important thing I hope my children gain from reading is an understanding that reading is fun and not a boring chore. It's been proven that kids who are constantly exposed to reading are much more likely to choose books over video games, television or other forms of entertainment as they grow older.

Through reading, I also hope it exposes the kids to new cultures/experiences, teaches them the basics of how to read a book, reading comprehension and helps to enhance their concentration and self-discipline.

Can you please share your thoughts on the importance of diversity in picture books?
When I started my read aloud journey with my kids I had two rules:

1. I vowed to read to my children daily.

2. I promised to read them stories that had characters that looked like them, that they could relate to.

When I think back to my own experiences growing up, particularly my early childhood literary memories I don't ever recall reading a children's book where a Black child (or a child of another multicultural race) was the main character. Luckily, there were several television shows in the 90's that featured positive Black role models that I admired.

So, I decided to try and make it different for my children. I read a wide array of books that includes everything from classics to non-fiction books. In addition, my goal is to fill their experiences with a full spectrum of Brown and Black characters in a variety of books. I want their experiences of story and representations of the world to include people of color, particularly people whom they can imagine being like Oprah Winfrey, Barack Obama, Misty Copeland, Michelle Obama or some of the fictional characters we read in books like Lola (from Anna McQuinn's series).

Of course, I believe all children should be exposed to a wide range of people, experiences, and cultures.  Wouldn't it be nice if all parents and educators felt that way? The bottom line is we still need greater diversity in children's books so that not only Black and Brown children can see themselves represented positively in books, but so children of other colors and backgrounds can see that positive representation too. That's why diversity matters to me.

What are 10 picture books you think every home library should have?

It was so hard to pick just 10, so I picked 11.

Last Stop on Market Street by Matt De La Peña

What Do You Do with a Problem by Kobi Yamada

What Do You Do With an Idea by Kobi Yamada

One by Kathryn Otoshi

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown

First 100 Words by Priddy Books

Prayer for a Child by Rachel Field

Green Eggs and Ham (or at least 1 book written by Dr. Suess)

Let's Talk About Race by Julius Lester

When Green Becomes Tomatoes by Julie Fogliano

Waiting by Kevin Henkes

If you had to pick your top 5 illustrators who would they be?
My top 5 illustrators are:

Christian Robinson
Kadir Nelson
Vanessa Brantley Newton,
Sharee Miller
Sean Qualls.

I love how all of these illustrators use color and how well their detailed, expressive and beautiful illustrations complement any given story.

What did your parents do to promote reading in your childhood home?
Growing up, my parents didn't promote reading in my childhood home. I think that's one of the reasons why I'm so adamant about reading aloud with my own children. I want them to have the experiences I never had as a child.

Although reading wasn't promoted in my childhood home, that didn't stop me from checking out books from the local library or borrowing books from the school library.

What are you reading with your children right now?
We average reading about 20-30 different picture books during any given week. A current picture book favorite for the kids has been Ada Twist Scientist by Andrea Beaty. We received an advanced copy a few weeks ago and it's been on repeat ever since. Other recent favorites include: Iggy Peck Architect, Rosie Revere Engineer, Alpha, Bravo, Charlie: The Complete Book of Nautical Codes, A Unicorn Named Sparkle, When Penny Met Potus, and Hip Hop Speaks to Children. Also, since the start of summer, we started working our way through a chapter book series called The Clubhouse Mysteries written by Sharon M. Draper.

What are you reading right now for yourself?
I'm currently reading The Perfect Find by Tia Williams and a YA novel entitled Nine, Ten: A September 11 Story by Nora Raleigh Baskin.

What are your favorite places to shop for books?
I love supporting my local independent book stores for purchasing the majority of my books. However, when they don't have the books I want in stock or if I'm too impatient to wait, I shop online at Amazon or Book Depository.

Do you have a favorite children's Christmas book? If so, what is it?
Gosh, there are so many books to choose from. If I had to choose a favorite though it would be Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree by Robert Barry. I love the never-ending Christmas tree and the overall lesson that we can give when we have a lot and when we only have a little.

Can we see a "shelfie" of your home library?

Sure! Here is a recent "shelfie" from the kids' bedroom. I used to have my own personal bookshelf, but since getting our new living room set a few years ago, we remodeled and I had to get rid of my beloved bookshelves in exchange for an entertainment center. It's beautiful and just what I wanted so I can't complain too much. Right now I have all of my books lined up in my bedroom closet on the top shelf.

For more of Charnaie's reading picks and reviews be sure to follow along on her instagram!

If you are interested in participating in our Reading With series please let us know!



  1. Same little boy who has ideas & chances, sometimes has problems too! I hope this book helps him avoid or work thru any problems he might encounter!



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