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How you start does not determine how you finish: Guest Post by Jesse Iwuji

A note from Olaolu: Happy Saturday! As the parent-child-connect brand continues to grow, I have been blessed to meet and work with some phenomenal people! With that in mind, today’s guest blogger needs no introduction. Jesse Iwuji is an American professional NASCAR driver and officer in the United States Navy Reserve. He is a motivational speaker with many inspiring stories. Today, he has graciously offered to share one of those stories with us about desire and ambition. Enjoy!


How you start does not determine how you finish: by guest blogger Jesse Iwuji

Opportunity still exists!

My mom used to fetch water from rivers at age 11 to help provide water for her family in Nigeria. Later on, my dad brought her to America from Nigeria with 0 dollars to her name, and she was a hotel maid at age 23. My dad came to America with barely any money in his pocket, and a crooked cab driver robbed him immediately when he arrived. But just because you start with nothing, doesn’t mean the rest of life will be nothing.

But just because you start with nothing, doesn’t mean the rest of life will be nothing.

Jesse Iwuji

Since then they’ve had four kids, excelled in their career fields, and owned small businesses on the side. After coming to America years ago with nothing, my parents just closed on this house. If you tell me there’s no opportunity in America I’m going to tell you my parents story.

My parents’ home -Jesse

There is hope for you too!

Just because you are doing a lot more doesn’t mean you are getting a lot done. Don’t confuse movement with progress!

Denzel Washington

Some of you will say, “nice story, but hard work is not always rewarded.” I challenge you with this: Understand that desire is different from Ambition. We all desire success, but do we all have the ambition to achieve it? Denzel Washington once said we often confuse movement with progress, and that just because you’re doing a lot doesn’t mean you’re getting a lot done…toward your dream.

Don’t confuse movement with progress!

Let’s put it all together: Use your ambition to work towards your dream!

Life is a card game, and every deck of cards has a finite amount of cards that are all different. When the card game(life/career/relationship/etc.) begins, God unbiasedly deals us a certain hand. That hand is our beginning point, NOT our designated end. Some people start with an amazing hand which makes their odds of winning less complicated, while others start with really crappy hands. Just because you began with a crappy hand, DOES NOT mean that you can’t fight your way to a win. There is no law in life’s card game that states you automatically lose if your initial hand is crappy!

Where people start to lose is by bad decision making in the card game, greed, blaming the card dealer(God) for your bad hand, analysis paralysis, and mentally giving up. Play your hand to the best of your ability with faith and action, and I promise good things will come. If you started with a crappy hand in life, your career, your family, your marriage, or whatever it is, never let that initial hand determine the outcome of the game. Even if you do lose, sit back down, and just play again👊🏾.

The Guest Blogger: Jesse Iwuji

Jesse Iwuji | Official Website

In all things Jesse Iwuji does, there are two constant elements: his devotion to service and his inspirational nature to many. Jesse went from competing at the top level of Division-1A college football to rising the ranks of the military as a Lieutenant Commander, and is now the only current driver in all of NASCAR at the national levels that actively serves his country as a US Military member.

It has been key for Iwuji, who is currently serving in our country’s reserve fighting force, to honor his country while pursuing excellence in the business world as a business owner and on the track as a driver. It should come as no surprise that he has championed companies and charities that give back to our men and women in uniform.

Jesse is also a big supporter of NASCAR diversity, equity, and inclusion. Today he is one of two African Americans competing at NASCARs national level of racing. He was honored by NASCAR for two years in a row – the Diverse Driver of the Year Award. He is well versed both on and off the track!

It is fair to say in many ways Jesse is a first in NASCAR. While clawing toward the top tiers of NASCAR, Jesse Iwuji continues to take us all along for a memorable ride showing those who dare to dream that life truly rewards those who stay strong enough, long enough.

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Chasing purpose is better than chasing success (Part 2): The “Da Nang Hill” experience

On the go? Learn about your purpose on the go with the below audio version!

So there you are; you just implemented an amazing idea! You finally conquered that initial mountain of “what ifs” and persevered through the shadowy valley of self-doubt and second guessing. Even so, you find yourself thinking, “where do I go from here?” You climbed to a new height only to be met by a second wave of doubt. You begin to question yourself, your purpose, and sometimes, your God. Haven’t we all been there? I know I have. I finally pushed past the nervousness of “what will people think” to be met head on by what seems to be another mountain! If that’s you, let me first start off with a quick encouraging word:

So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessings if we don’t give up.

Galatians 6:9 NLT

My story!

This topic reminds me of a slightly younger Olaolu in 2010-2011. Although several of my mentors were U.S. Army veterans, I decided to join the United States Marine Corps! I literally had no clue what that meant. In fact, I often tell people that the only two Marines I knew before I joined were Major Payne and Gunny Ermey! After I met my recruiter, I watched a couple more movies like “Jarhead” so I can learn and understand the jargon. Clearly, I had no idea what I was actually signing up for or why I was signing up, but I felt the urge to serve specifically in the Marine Corps.

Although I was already an adult (at least legally) and in college, I knew my first obstacle would be to convince my parents and siblings that this was a great idea for me. The military was considered a “last resort” for many in my hometown. That is probably because it really was the “last resort” for several veterans in my area as a judge was willing to place them in prison as an alternative. This was going to be a tough sale.

Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.

Proverbs 19:21 ESV

The Sales Pitch

“Alright Olaolu, just go to them and tell them, ‘I’m joining the Marine Corps. I’m not asking for your opinion or approval. It’s happening.” I was psyching myself up knowing I wouldn’t take that tone with my parents in a million years. “Just tell them you’re grown and this is what’s best for your life,” I continued.

Of course when the day arrived, my tone was completely unaggressive. I explained to both of my parents that I felt called to serve in this way and reassured them that I would finish college. I was already a Sophomore preparing to head into my Junior year of college, so I felt I could easily afford to take a semester off to attend boot camp and still graduate within four years. Surprisingly, this was pretty uneventful. My parents listened to my idea and calmly asked a few questions to which I responded with very generic answers I previously found on the internet. I later found out they were just putting on a front, but that’s a story for another day. I overcame obstacle number one: convincing my parents this was actually a good idea.

My plan failed, but God’s plan prevailed.

Fast forward a few months, my secretive and ridiculous plan to become an infantryman, serve in combat, train recruits as a drill instructor, graduate college, and commission as an officer within 4 years all came to a screeching halt; something was wrong with my package which prevented me from going to boot camp week after week. Soon, I received a call from an Officer Selection Officer who eventually convinced me to go directly to Officer Candidates School (OCS) through the Platoon Leaders Course-combined program.

After constant preparation like training in some old Army boots one of my mentors let me borrow, cleaning up my diet, and waking up before 5 A.M., I felt I was ready!

The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.

Proverbs 16:9 ESV

Ready for anything!

When I arrived at OCS, I knew I was not the strongest or the fastest, but boy was I confident. I ran a fairly average initial physical fitness test but came in well under the maximum twenty-four minute three mile time. As a person who absolutely abhorred any running beyond the 400 meter dash, I felt like I could conquer the world. There as even a cameraman snapping a picture as I sprinted towards the finish line. I later found out they posted that picture on the OCS website. I found out in a letter from my dad who was congratulating me on finishing ahead of my peers. Little did he know, I was actually “leading” the back third. Regardless, nobody could tell me I wasn’t the greatest runner of all time.

I took this same confidence to one of the first physical training events. The platoon commander led us on a familiarization run where he would show us the trails we’d be training on–a perfect opportunity to show off my impeccable, newly found running skills.

The run started off at a brisk pace, but not too fast or unbearable. After about ten minutes, I started to think, “man you are really prepared! This can’t be what all those people were whining about on YouTube.” Soon after, we started to encounter a few hills–nothing extreme but enough to fire up the quadriceps, calf muscles, and glutes. Then we approached what appeared to be a mountain. Uh oh, I didn’t see that coming. The platoon commander paused at the bottom and said, “this is Da Nang Hill. Let’s go.”

Da Nang Hill

We started a slower pace up this “hill.” I put my head down to watch only the feet of the person in front of me. If they slowed down, I would run around them. Pretty soon I found myself looking at my platoon commander’s heels. I kept pushing; although, I was winded and my legs were on fire. “Don’t look weak in front of these folks. This is what you trained for,” I thought. After running for what felt like forever, I felt it was time to look up to check progress. I immediately got excited after a quick glance. “We’re almost there! Keep pushing yourself!” I whispered to myself. At least I think it was a whisper.

“A few more steps, and we are at the t…” My thoughts were interrupted. I learned my first lesson about running mountainous trails–or “hilly trails” as these new psychos called it–false peaks are real! The trail turned and continued to elevate at what I thought was the summit! I felt like someone hopped out of the brush and smacked me in the chest with a fifty pound sandbag. Then I noticed the platoon commander’s heels were getting further and further away from me. A few seconds later, a couple more heels pass by. Then a couple more. That’s when it hit me, “you’re walking!”

My embarrassment engulfed me. I couldn’t believe that I broke my one rule: don’t walk. I wanted to start running again, but my legs were sending a clear message back to my brain that sounded like, “pssh. Yeah right!” When we made it to the top, I was once again leading the back third. This time, I learned the name of the motley crew I was leading–the stragglers. I was embarrassed, physically tired, and deflated. Although I had made it to the top of Da Nang Hill, I was in an emotional valley.

The lesson

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Jeremiah 29:11 ESV

As I reflect on that story, I realize there are so many parallels to life. We prepare, affirm ourselves, set boundaries, and chase after our eternal purpose only to be met by what appears to be a repetitive cycle of rolling hills and false peaks. Regardless of what we have accomplished and our acceptance that God has great plans for our future, we find ourselves discouraged and doubtful of our worth and purpose.

First of all, it’s ok to feel doubt. There are numerous examples of great leaders in the Bible who felt doubt–from Moses to Ruth to the Son of God himself. Each of those moments were profound, and you can easily find countless sermons about their most prolific moments of doubt. However, each of those biblical leaders had one thing in common; they realized that God exists in the past, present, and future outside of our natural timeline…and so should we.

The Eternal Perspective

He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 ESV

I admit, this sounds a bit Star Trek-ish or like something you’d hear from the infamous villain Thanos. This is where our natural understanding falls short and our faith begins. This is why we accept many scientific discoveries as theories instead of fact. Even one of the most notorious scientists ever–Albert Einstein–believed the universe is infinite and that there is an indefinitely superior God. Where we differ is in our belief that the infinite (past, present, and future) God created each of us and placed an eternal purpose in our hearts.

I believe the more we grow our relationship with God, the more we grow beyond our natural limitations so we can see the world from His point of view. I was able to overcome my Da Nang Hill experience–and several other emotional valleys–by realizing that though the setbacks hurt in the moment, they had very little to do with my immediate purpose which was to graduate OCS and they gave credence to my eternal purpose which is to inspire others to overcome their own emotional valleys and pursue their purpose.

Real-time application

As I was writing this, I received a call from a young lady who was distraught. She was conflicted about receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, and after her religious exemption request and subsequent appeal were both denied, she was faced with being separated from the military. She was having her own proverbial Da Nang Hill experience–she felt she was being punished for standing up for what she believed to be right. What’s worse is she would have to face her colleagues who watched her “lose” her fight.

For privacy, I will not discuss any more of her details, but I will share the advice I gave her. I started by reaffirming that I believe we follow orders unless they are unethical, immoral, or illegal, something she already knew. But then, I shared my personal belief and explained how I make decisions:

  1. I pray to ensure my decision is in line with my personal relationship with and belief in God.
  2. I examine how this decision–no matter how small–aligns with my eternal purpose and reason for being on this earth.
  3. I replay numbers 1 and 2 in my mind when facing people who mock or disagree with my decision. I realize that a vast majority of the people we encounter are an extremely small part of our lives. We will never see some people again. So I choose to remain focused on the things that matter and the people who help push me towards my purpose.

In the end, I love to leave people like this young lady with one of my favorite scriptures:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.

Hebrews 12:1 NLT

Stay focused my friends! You will make it through your “Da Nang Hill” experience and come out more refined than before as you live out your God-given purpose.

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Quick Parent Tip: Father’s Day Edition (Reblog)

Happy Father’s Day to all my Dads out there! We celebrate your accomplishments, sacrifices, and love today!

Let’s dive straight into today’s encouraging Quick Parent Tip for this Father’s Day weekend:

Fight for your family.

You are your family’s physical, mental, and spiritual protector. Embrace it. Fight for peace in your home and for your family’s unity and mental stability. Never stop fighting! You got this because you are not alone. I believe in you!

Accept responsibility.

You are responsible for everything that happens and fails to happen in your home. Let me be the first to tell you that this is both an honor and a burden. Regardless, keep pressing! Accept your responsibility willingly and take pride in being the leader of your home. Keep making decisions with your family’s best interest in mind.

Teach your family.

You are a great teacher and mentor for your family. You have the wisdom, knowledge, and experience to do it; just believe in yourself! Remember, more is caught than taught, so continue to set the example with your words and actions.

Hearing vs listening.

We all do it. We look up, see someone’s lips moving, and realize they have been talking to us the entire time. It’s ok. Next time, engage in active communication. Hearing is passive (i.e. your ears recognize a sound); however, listening is active. So be actively engaged in conversations today. Ask questions, nod along, mirror body language, and share the moment!

Elevate your perception of your contributions.

I know you are working your butt off, and oftentimes, it feels like it goes unnoticed. I want to encourage you to keep doing it. Your hard work, decisions, love, protection, and care are definitely making a difference. Even if no one else celebrates you this weekend, I am celebrating you right now! Great job brother! You are doing exactly what you need to be doing!

Relax and recover.

Take some time to focus on the positives–the great things you have done for your family! You have done (and continue to do) what many have turned away from. Rest well knowing that your impact is felt by more than those in your household. Society is indebted to you.

Thank you for your hard work, commitment, and sacrifices! Happy Father’s Day!

For those reading this who are not fathers, please take some time to thank a father this weekend. I promise you it means a lot!

Olaolu Ogunyemi: U.S. Marine Officer | Mentor | Best-selling Author
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Mission accomplished: A retrospective look at my time at Marine Corps Expeditionary Warfare School

In December 2020, I was working out with my oldest brother when the congratulatory messages came rolling in; I had been selected to attend resident United States Marine Corps Expeditionary Warfare School.  Normally, junior officers celebrate this news because it means you were board-selected to continue your education at Marine Corps University which is accredited to award Master’s Degrees. Instead, I was annoyed (to say the least) because I could only think of all the late nights/early mornings I spent to complete the distant education variant of the school I was selected to attend. I was even more annoyed by the fact that I was leaving behind a great team of people just as we were starting to work together and make significant progress.

After I finished what I can only describe as a private adult tantrum, I remembered one of my favorite verses that I learned as a child:

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

Romans 8:28 NLT
Romans 8:28 (Courtesy: YouVersion Bible App)

That is when I decided to take my own advice and shift my perspective on the opportunity I was about to pursue.

*Author’s note on spiritual fitness*

It is easy to talk about physical fitness because anyone can track and observe tangible results. Mental fitness is fun to talk about because I am enamored by the brain, so I nerd out on things like the cognitive process and neuroplasticity. However, though it is equally as important, I admittedly do not discuss spiritual fitness enough. Too often we associate spirituality with a religious affiliation. I teach that our spirituality is customized to each individual person. Our spirituality guides our moral compass and gives us a reason to live and “do” that exceeds personal gain. Many people call the latter our “purpose” or “higher calling.”

Our spirituality allows us to realize that our situations are all temporary; however, we remain hopeful because we firmly believe each of those situations–whether bleak or lush–are interconnected and will work together to create a favorable outcome. This gives us the courage to search for the growth opportunities in each circumstance. Therefore, when approaching any circumstance, I challenge you to ask two questions: 1. “How can I accomplish my purpose while here? (Extrospection)” 2. “What can I personally and professionally learn from this? (Introspection)”*

I shifted my perspective

Once I shifted my perspective, I was able to develop personal and professional goals. I will share a few of them with you in hopes that I can help you establish and pursue your own goals. Use these as an example vice a threshold, because quite honestly, I did much better in some categories than others.

Just a few of the personal and professional goals I set last summer

  1. Improve cardiovascular endurance
    • How did I do? I decreased my run time by forty-nine seconds.
  2. Make better dietary choices to improve physical appearance
    • How did I do? I cut several food items to include dairy milk. As a result, I lost nine pounds and reduced my body fat percentage by approximately 2-3%
  3. Help train others to prepare them for their upcoming promotion board.
    • How did I do? I offered to train anyone who was willing to train first thing in the morning. One person accepted the challenge, and we began training in September 2021. She was able to achieve a 300/300 Combat Fitness Test score and a 295/300 Physical Fitness Test score. Additionally, she had noticeable changes in her physique and established a workout regimen that she plans to continue.
  4. Become more studious and a more avid reader
    • How did I do? In conjunction with my school studies, I read and studied several additional books on diverse topics and a plethora of scholarly articles. These books ranged from The Mentor Leader by Tony Dungy to We Were One: Shoulder to Shoulder with the Marines Who Took Fallujah by Patrick K. O’Donnell to The Brain’s Way of Healing: Remarkable Discoveries and Recoveries from the Frontiers of Neuroplasticity by Norman Doidge
  5. Become a more clear and succinct writer and write a scholarly article to publish
    • How did I do? I am sure my Faculty Advisor (he reviewed all of my papers) may argue that the “succinct” portion of that goal is subjective, but I believe I did well :D. More importantly, I was awarded the Marine Corps University Foundation Academic Year 2021-2022 “Mutter Marines Command and Control Writing Award” for my argumentative research paper entitled, “Adapt or Perish: A call to revise the Marine Corps Command, Control, Communications, and Computer (C4) Architecture.” At the time of this post, none of my articles have been published, but I am still working with a few editors for future publication.
  6. Collaborate with organizations and media outlets to inspire our future generation to pursue their dreams
    • How did I do? I was featured in several articles, podcasts, and elementary school visits. Check out this link to see a couple of the articles!
  7. Dedicate time to spend with family
    • How did I do? I made it a point to attend every extracurricular activity and practice that I could attend for my children. My children’s extracurricular activities included music lessons, football (in season), basketball (in season), and baseball (in season). Additionally, I did my best to always study and build my personal brand when my family was sleep (either early in the morning or late at night). I knew that I had to take advantage of this opportunity while in school, because work requirements sometimes hamper my ability to give my wife and children the time they deserve.

My hope for you

I hope you are able to use my experience and examples to prepare for your next challenge! All the obstacles you have encountered (to include what you are working to overcome right now) will work together for your benefit. Be encouraged and inspired to keep progressing, keep setting and pursuing your goals, and go win. I believe in you!

Thanks for your support! Please like, share, comment, and check out https://parent-child-connect.com/blog for more!

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In case you missed it: Mental Health Monday Discussion with Ashlee B. the Hypnotherapist and Black Connections!

I love joining different platforms to discuss mental health! That’s why I am excited to share my latest conversation with a hypnotherapist, Ashlee, and Sandra at Black Connections! In the first hour, Ashlee and I covered various topics from our unique perspectives to include mental health challenges in the military, proven strategies in hypnotherapy, masculinity and trapped emotions, and more!

Check out the session on the Black Connections Instagram page!

We thought we were done!

As Ashlee and I were wrapping up the first hour (planned), Sandra began to provide new perspectives including the struggles returning citizens face adjusting to life after prison, childhood molestation, children in the foster care system, and more! The unplanned second hour became an hour of release, hope, and encouragement! Check it our for yourself.

Do you prefer reading about mental health?

I have great news for you if you prefer reading about mental health: I offer two FREE downloadable journals at https://parent-child-connect.com/free-resources! Also, I have discussed this topic several times on my blog. Here are a couple of examples for you to get you started: Command your thoughts: Three actionable steps to remove toxic thoughts! and How to shift your perspective and live a better life TODAY!

Olaolu Ogunyemi: U.S. Marine Officer | Mentor | Best-selling author

Thanks for you continued support and encouragement! Please like, comment, and share this post.

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Olaolu Ogunyemi and Jesse Iwuji join Chip Baker on The Success Chronicles!

Happy hump day! I am humbled and excited to join Jesse Iwuji on Chip Baker’s The Success Chronicles! Click here for the full discussion on Spotify.

During this short session, we discussed mindset, vision, collaboration, faith, and more! Get out your note-taking gear and be prepared to jot down some helpful nuggets!

Olaolu Ogunyemi & Jesse Iwuji on Chip Baker’s The Success Chronicles (YouTube version)

Who is Jesse Iwuji?

Jesse needs no introduction, but in case you don’t know, in all things Jesse Iwuji does, there are two constant elements: his devotion to service and his inspirational nature to many. Jesse went from competing at the top level of Division-1A college football to rising the ranks of the military as a Lieutenant Commander, and is now the only current driver in all of NASCAR at the national levels that actively serves his country as a US Military member.

It has been key for Iwuji, who is currently serving in our country’s reserve fighting force, to honor his country while pursuing excellence in the business world as a business owner and on the track as a driver. It should come as no surprise that he has championed companies and charities that give back to our men and women in uniform.

Jesse is also a big supporter of NASCAR diversity, equity, and inclusion. Today he is one of two African Americans competing at NASCARs national level of racing. He was honored by NASCAR for two years in a row – the Diverse Driver of the Year Award. He is well versed both on and off the track!

It is fair to say in many ways Jesse is a first in NASCAR. While clawing toward the top tiers of NASCAR, Jesse Iwuji continues to take us all along for a memorable ride showing those who dare to dream that life truly rewards those who stay strong enough, long enough. Find this bio and more information about Jesse on his website: https://www.jesseiwuji.com/

Who is Olaolu Ogunyemi

A loving husband, father, teen mentor, and U.S. Marine Officer, Olaolu Ogunyemi has a deep passion for working with children fueled by an unending supply of energy and imagination! Since he was young, Olaolu has been nicknamed the “life of the party” because he pours his exuberant personality into everything he does. As the fifth of six children, he became intimately familiar with the bond forged during quality story time; thus, Olaolu was inspired to start writing children’s stories to help create loving and memorable family moments. He is the author of the Amazon best-selling children’s book, “Crow From the Shadow,” “Horace the Horsefly,” and “Billy Dipper’s Time to Shine.”

Olaolu writes and speaks in a simple, easily understandable language, and an entertaining style that keeps listeners and readers hooked while learning vital lessons about virtues and sparking a continuing conversation.

Olaolu is a frequent traveler and in his free time, he enjoys playing music, exercising, and spending time with his family. Connect with him on his website: https://parent-child-connect.com

Find out more about Chip Baker and The Success Chronicles?

Chip Baker is a best-selling author, motivational speaker, and forth-generation educator. He established The Success Chronicles to feature interviews from people of all walks of life for positive inspiration and motivation. Find out more about Chip and the great things he is doing here: https://linktr.ee/ChipBakerTSC

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Olaolu Ogunyemi’s debut books receive a warm literary welcome.

Olaolu Ogunyemi pictured with his published works.

For immediate release:

Readers’ Favorite announces the review of the Children – Concept book “Crow From the Shadow” by Olaolu Ogunyemi, currently available at http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0921V785J and Children – Animals book “Horace the Horsefly” by Olaolu Ogunyemi, currently available at http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1737492733. Both are also available at http://www.parent-child-connect.com/store

Readers’ Favorite is one of the largest book review and award contest sites on the Internet. They have earned the respect of renowned publishers like Random House, Simon & Schuster, and Harper Collins, and have received the “Best Websites for Authors” and “Honoring Excellence” awards from the Association of Independent Authors. They are also fully accredited by the BBB (A+ rating), which is a rarity among Book Review and Book Award Contest companies.

“Reviewed By Asher Syed for Readers’ Favorite Crow From the Shadow, written by Olaolu Ogunyemi and illustrated by Joshua Ogunyemi, is the first book in the Parent-Child-Connect (P2C) picture book series. The book begins by introducing the reader to Crow, a young narrator who says he’s from The Shadow, following this by stating that The Shadow could be anything. It controls every aspect of Crow’s life and sets restrictive parameters of what he can and cannot do. Crow tells us what his own preference is with what he wears, how he performs at school, and the places he likes to visit. Each is pushed aside by The Shadow’s instruction that Crow feels obliged to follow. As the story progresses, Crow describes isolation and the destruction of motivation, dreams, and all other positives in his life. It is only when Crow comes out from under The Shadow that we see what life is like in the sunlight.

Woah! Crow From the Shadow is nothing at all like the other children’s books I’ve been reading for a while, and completely realigned my barometer on what a fantastic piece of kid-lit truly is. And what is it? It’s this and whatever else Olaolu Ogunyemi creates like this. The first thing that leaps out from the start is that this book is cool. Really cool. Not a word that can be associated with most children’s picture books but decidedly appropriate here. The way Crow talks and the way he describes what is going down in his world is profoundly honest, and Crow looks like the kind of bird you want to be friends with. He’s in a hoodie. He speaks like he’s straight out of an indie film and sort of resembles Spy from the 80s comic strip, if Spy was cool. Joshua Ogunyemi is the artist who breathes life into Olaolu’s words, sticking to a dark palette initially but slowly moving toward color as Crow starts making decisions for himself. I love this book and would give it a whole bucket of stars if I could.”

“Reviewed By Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers’ Favorite

Horace is a horsefly and he’s not feeling very well. But he still wants to greet his friends: the horse, the cow, the bird, the duck, and so many others. He likes to listen to the sounds each animal makes, like the ‘moo’ of the cow and the ‘neigh’ of the horse. Feeling weak, Horace asks the young reader to take him to visit with his friends. And, when he returns, Horace finds Mama Bug making something to help him feel better, as all mothers love to do.

Olaolu Ogunyemi’s picture book story, Horace the Horsefly, is a sweet story with an unusual protagonist: a horsefly named Horace. Horseflies are not usually everyone’s favorite living creature, but Horace definitely puts the charm on as he leads us around the farm to greet all his friends. Told in lyrical rhyming verse and accompanied by bright, colorful illustrations, this story teaches young readers about animals and the sounds they make. Using simple language, the author is also encouraging youngsters to recognize more words, especially the many uses of onomatopoeia, like ‘moo’ and ‘neigh.’ By repeating many of the words, the young reader will start to recognize the repeated words easily. This builds a reading vocabulary and confidence in reading on their own. As well as teaching them about animals and their sounds, the author is teaching young readers the importance of friendship and love, especially the love shared between a parent and a child. And what’s best? Even though Horace isn’t feeling well, he still has a warm smile for all his friends.”

You can learn more about Olaolu Ogunyemi and “Crow From the Shadow” at https://readersfavorite.com/book-review/crow-from-the-shadow and “Horace the Horsefly” at https://readersfavorite.com/book-review/horace-the-horsefly where you can read reviews and the author’s biography, as well as connect with the author directly or through their website and social media pages.

Readers’ Favorite LLC
Media Relations
Louisville, KY 40202
800-RF-REVIEW
support@readersfavorite.com
https://readersfavorite.com

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Special announcement and BONUS Quick Parent Tip About Giving!

I love November, so we are celebrating with a sale + a bonus quick parent tip about giving!

☑️ Marine Corps Birthday- Nov 10th
☑️ Veterans Day- Nov 11th
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Now for the bonus Quick Parent Tip: How to teach children to give.

Throughout the year, my wife and I do our best to teach our children the importance of giving. However, we really emphasize giving this time of year simply because a lot of people are in “receive” mode. In other words, our children are expecting to get, get, get. So we figured we should challenge the norm and emphasize giving; embracing the old phrase, “’tis the season of giving!” Here’s a few things we learned along the way (acronym- G.I.F.T.):

Give. This one seems pretty obvious, but it is a challenge nonetheless. Why? Because we all have great intentions on teaching our children how to give, but sometimes we forget to be transparent with our giving… Or we forget to give at all. I encourage you to be transparent when you generously give your time, talent, and money. Of course we are not doing this to brag but to show our children what generosity looks like.

Invite. Invite your children to join you when you give. For example this year my family and I are working with our church (Mount Ararat Church in Stafford, Virginia) to pack shoeboxes of gifts in support of Operation Christmas Child! My children are packing gifts they would enjoy and writing a letter to a child they do not know in hopes that they will bring joy to that child’s life.

Quick Parent Tip About Giving. Supporting Operation Christmas
My children are sending Crow From the Shadow along with other gifts in support of “Operation Christmas Child.”
Quick Parent Tip About Giving. Supporting Operation Christmas
My children are sending Horace the Horsefly along with other gifts in support of “Operation Christmas Child.”

Forgive. This is an odd one to mention when discussing generous giving. Yet, here I am mentioning it. By openly forgiving others, our children can see that we have a heart for people. At its core, forgiveness is the ultimate act of giving someone something whether we believe they deserve it or not. So let your children see your kindness as you forgive others.

Teach. This is arguably the most important step. Teach your children why giving is important. Make the topic relatable so it becomes less of just an annual tradition and more of a character trait. Ultimately, we want our children to be considered givers; thus, we must encourage them to give often, willingly, and without prompt.

I will leave you with this quote by Kathy Calvin:

Giving is not just about making a donation. It is about making a difference.

Let’s make a difference in someone’s life today!

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