Friday, September 06, 2019

This Happened

Oh, the joys of a book award committee.

The stacks on the left are August books that still need to be read/reviewed, and the tower of 4 boxes and a package came yesterday.

No Poetry Friday for me this week! Probably not next week either -- I'll be teaching fly fishing at Ohio's Casting for Recovery retreat.

Happy reading to me! Happy Poetry to you!

(Updated to add today's shipments: 4 more boxes and 2 more packages! Eek!)

Monday, September 02, 2019

Grandparents' Day is September 8

Grandparents' Day is September 8 this year. Here are some picture books, many of which are #ownvoicees, that explore the relationship of children and their grandparents.

Our Favorite Day 
by Joowon Oh
Candlewick Press, 2019
review copy provided by the publisher

An #ownvoices book with gorgeous paper collage illustrations. Thursdays are Papa's favorite day because he gets to spend time with his granddaughter.

Ojiichan's Gift 
by Chieri Uegaki
illustrated by Genevieve Simms
KidsCan Press, 2019
review copy provided by the publisher

Every summer when she visits Japan, Mayumi and her grandfather care for the rock garden he built for her when she was born. What will become of the rock garden and their time together when Ojiichan has to go into the nursing home? Another #ownvoices story of the connection between a grandfather and granddaughter.

My Grandma and Me
by Mina Javaherbin
illustrated by Lindsey Yankey
Candlewick Press, 2019
review copy provided by the publisher

This is an autobiographical story of growing up in Iran and all the things a little girl does with her grandmother who lives with her family.

Grandpa's Top Threes
by Wendy Meddour
illustrated by Daniel Egnéus
Candlewick Press, September 3, 2019
review copy provided by the publisher

When Grandpa stops talking to him, Henry persists and finds a way to keep their bond -- by asking Grandpa for his Top Threes. At the end of the book, perceptive readers will learn why Grandpa had turned inward and have an even greater appreciation for Henry.

Stolen Words
by Melanie Florence
illustrated by Gabrielle Grimard
Second Story Press, 2017
review copy from the library

Like Henry, in GRANDPA'S TOP THREES, the granddaughter in this #ownvoices story helps her grandfather heal by giving him back the Cree language (in a book from her school) that was stolen from him when he was taken from his family to live in a residential school.

Grandpa Cacao
by Elizabeth Zunon
Bloomsbury Children's Books, 2019

Based on her childhood in the Ivory Coast, West Africa, this book is the author's love letter to a grandfather she never knew (and a fabulous connection to our 5th grade social studies if you trace the story of chocolate back even further to the Maya and Inca people in Latin America).

Around the Table That Grandad Built
by Melanie Heuiser Hill
illustrated by Jaime Kim
Candlewick Press, September 10, 2019
review copy provided by the publisher

A fun, cumulative story the celebrates the gifts that remain when our loved ones are gone.

I Miss My Grandpa
by Jin Xiaojing
Little, Brown and Company, September 3, 2019
review copy provided by the publisher

The little girl's grandfather died before she was born, but she still misses him. Her grandmother helps her to see her grandfather's facial features and character traits in her living relatives, and the girl realizes that her and her family. The text is translated into Mandarin Chinese on the final endpapers.

The Immortal Jellyfish
by Sang Miao
Flying Eye Books, 2019
review copy provided by the publisher

A boy's grandfather begins a conversation about immortality, but then dies before he and the boy can explore the idea further. In a dream, the boy's grandfather takes him on a grand adventure in which they explore reincarnation.

Friday, August 30, 2019

Poetry Friday -- Play

©Amy LV, 2011

Today many (all?) of the classrooms at my school are participating in a Global School Play Day. It's very simple, but most every simple thing turns out to be incredibly powerful. Here are the rules:
  • No Screens: Students are encouraged to bring toys, but electronic toys or any devices with screens should be avoided.
  • No Structure: Adults should not attempt to organize or structure student play in any way.
  • Stay Out of the Way: Adults should let students manage their own play and should not interfere except in situations where someone could get hurt or fired.
Because we're doing this so early in the year, I will be explicit about this being a time when the class, who named themselves Ohahna (the Hawaiian word for family is ohana), can become even more of a family by making sure every member of our family is included and welcomed. We will learn so much about each other, about ourselves, and about our community. I can't wait!

Kathryn Apel has the Poetry Friday roundup this week. Looking ahead, please note that Cheriee and Carol V. have switched roundup weeks (September 27 and October 4).  Our sidebar is updated, as is the schedule at KidLitosphere Central.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Spencer's New Pet

Spencer's New Pet
by Jessie Sima
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, August 27, 2019
review copy compliments of the publisher

You will love this book.

Start with the dust jacket (front, back, and brilliantly written blurb on the front flap), then check out the covers. They are the best kind, with a simple drawing that connects across the spine.

Notice the old-time cinematic look with the countdown to the title page. The story is told in three parts, and the tension and drama build until...SURPRISE!

After you recover from the surprise, you will want to go back and reread the whole book, looking for clues and foreshadowing all the way through. Now look back at the covers. Who IS Spencer?

Have fun watching readers' faces when you share this book. I wish I could see yours. You'll love it!

Friday, August 23, 2019

Poetry Friday -- Inspiration

Because #DearOneLBH was such an inspiration to so many:

From the blog Incidental Comics by Grant Snider.

Amy LV has this week's Poetry Friday Roundup at The Poem Farm.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

The Moon

The 50th anniversary of the first moon landing has come and gone, but these books need a belated spotlight.

Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11
by Brian Floca
Review copy compliments of Richard Jackson Books, 2019

The Kirkus review for this revised 2019 edition:
“A fresh, expanded edition of Floca’s top-drawer tribute to the first moon landing, which won a Sibert honor in 2010. New here is an early nod to the “thousands of people” who worked behind the scenes to make the mission a success... and a much-enlarged account of Apollo 11’s return flight to Earth. Both include new art: For the first, a set of vignettes clearly depicts women and people of color playing prominent roles (including a recognizable Katherine Johnson), and for the second, the 2009 original’s two pages grow to eight, climaxed by a close-up of the command module Columbia’s furious, fiery re-entry. The narrative... remains as stately and dramatic as ever.... Minor changes in other illustrations and added or clarified details in the text add further life and luster to a soaring commemoration of our space program’s most spectacular achievement. This is the rare revised edition that adds enough new material to demand purchase. Still essential reading, more so than ever for being broader in scope and more balanced of presentation than the original.”
I can't wait to share the story of how Brian Floca revised this book to be more inclusive!

Countdown: 2979 Days to the Moon
by Suzanne Slade
illustrated by Thomas Gonzalez
Peachtree Publishing Company, 2018

This gorgeously illustrated nonfiction long-form picture-book-in-verse begins with the dream of space travel and the loss of President John F. Kennedy. Then comes Apollo 1 and the loss of the first three Apollo astronauts. Apollo 2 is grounded and plans for Apollo 3 cancelled. Apollos 4-6 are unmanned and have mixed successes. Apollo 7 takes men into space successfully. Apollo 8 flies around to the far side of the moon and back. Apollo 9 astronauts are the first to walk in space. Apollo 10 scouts a landing spot on the moon. Finally, Apollo 11 achieves the dream of men on the moon.

At the end of each chapter is more information about each of the astronauts and photographs from the mission.

This would make a fabulous read aloud (text in verse AND nonfiction) and pairs nicely with Moonshot.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Dog Man

Dog Man: For Whom the Ball Rolls
by Dav Pilkey

(My review from GoodReads)

Yes, yes I did. I made my students wait for this book until I had a chance to read it. Because I know after we start passing it from reader to reader I might not see it again until November. And I'm just going to say to the graphic novel haters and those who can't stand the fact that their kids/students read Dog Man books over and over one. Better yet, read the whole series. These books are so good that they are WORTH reading again and again!

Dav Pilkey is a superhero. Who else is writing books for reluctant readers that quote Ernest Hemingway (page 50, panels 2 and 3...see the notes in the back of the book). Who else is creating chapter titles with allusions to great literature? (A Farewell to Arms and The Very Hangry Caterpillar were two of my favorites.) Who else is stretching readers with sentences like this tucked in the midst of sight gags, bad puns, and a superhero whose superpower is eating cupcakes: "As the soft, pink dusk of twilight blankets the vigilant soul heeds the sounds of despair...and bravely responds. Masked in the deep shadows of the surrounding sun...and armed only with an unquenchable appetite...for cupcakes." And who else is making important themes so clear: "It's not enough to just BE GOOD. We gotta DO GOOD." "Love is something you DO! Sometimes you gotta DO it first...THEN you feel it!" "And (to paraphrase one of the plot lines), you can look at the world and see mud and weeds and pollution (and all the other problems) and believe that's all there is, or you can look at the world and find all the love and beauty. "This world has a lot of problems...but it could never be a horrible place...because you're in it."

I tagged this book 

Yup. Check out all those tags. The "adhd" tag is kind of a joke. Haven't you noticed the name of the robot? 80-HD? Also, Dog Man undergoes behavior modification therapy in chapter 2 to help him focus. It backfires.

Read this book. Read this series. That is all.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Poetry Friday -- Trees



The hawks are whistling.
Every morning I listen,
wonder, imagine.

The nest, constructed
in a pignut hickory,
is hidden and safe.


Hawks in the city
remind us we are not far
from the wild. Ever.

Are they as aware
of me as I am of them?
I capture moments:

Whistling and screeing,
piercing dives through tree branches,
perching on our fence.


Every hope broken --
hickory falls in the storm.
Hawk home is destroyed.

Morning after. Sun.
Mournful hawks call tree to tree,
"Our babies...lost...gone."

I hear, on day two...
three hawks! Three means one survived!
Next day I see four!


Listen -- can you hear
hawks in your neighborhood trees?
Listen with your heart.

Wonder -- they survive:
paramount in the food chain,
tree top predators.

Imagine -- next year
another nest, another success...
perhaps in your oak.

© Mary Lee Hahn, 2012

This "hawku" poem is about hawks. But it couldn't be about hawks if there weren't big trees in our part of the city, as well as plentiful chipmunks, squirrels, rabbits, and possums. So much depends on the natural order of food chains and food webs, plants and animals, birds and insects, clean air and clean water. Let's care for and speak for our tiny corners of the planet. In this way, like a quilt, maybe we can keep the whole thing stitched together. Maybe.

Christie has this week's #fortheloveoftrees - themed Poetry Friday roundup at Wondering and Wandering.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Environmental Activism

Here are four picture books that are just right for comparing and contrasting. Pair these with the Global Climate Strike September 20-27 so that your students can write their own version of this story.

The Promise
by Nicola Davies
illustrated by Laura Carlin
Candlewick Press, 2017

The speaker, who lives in "a city that was mean and hard and ugly," snatches an old lady's bag one dark night. Before the old lady lets go of the bag, she makes the speaker promise they will "plant them."

The promise is kept and the city is transformed. Many transformed cities later, the speaker is mugged, another bag of seeds is stolen, and another promise is extracted.

Don't miss the endpapers on this one!

The Last Tree
by Ingrid Chabbert
illustrated by Guridi
English translation by Kids Can Press, 2017

A boy has heard stories from his father about grass and trees, but he lives in a city where neither exist. He and a friend discover the last tree...and then they find out that condominiums will be built where it is growing. They dig the tree up and replant it where it will be safe.

Another book with great endpapers.

The Digger and the Flower
by Joseph Kuefler
Balzer + Bray, 2018

Little Digger watches the big machines doing their big construction work. But when they threaten to destroy the last flower in the city, Little Digger takes action and saves the flower, which thrives and spreads.

The Green Giant
by Katie Cottle
review copy compliments of Pavilion Children's, 2019

A little girl is staying with her grandpa in the country. In the greenhouse next door, she meets the green giant, who has escaped from the grey city. When she has to leave, the giant gives the girl a handful of seeds, which she plants when she returns. The city is transformed. Perhaps the giant will return some day.

Thursday, August 08, 2019

Poetry Friday -- In Mourning

photo via Unsplash

From In Blackwater Woods
by Mary Oliver

To live in this world

you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it
to let it go.

We have had to let go of two more luminaries of poetry this week. I imagine the Poetry Friday roundup will be a somber place as we remember Toni Morrison and Lee Bennett Hopkins. Molly Hogan has the roundup this week at Nix the Comfort Zone. Ironically perfect.

Wednesday, August 07, 2019

Room on our Rock

Room on our Rock
by Kate and Jol Temple
illustrated by Terri Rose Baynton
Kane Miller Books, 2019

This picture book is a reverso, but a story, not a poem. Read it front to back and feel your heart sink. Then read it back to front and feel your heart soar.

Read from the front, one group of seals refuses to let another group onto their rock. Read the other direction, the first group of seals would never turn another group away.

You can see the implications for classroom discussions about current events/immigration policies and about point of view -- the book's subtitle is "There are two sides to every story."

This is an amazing book. I watched a friend read it today. The look on her face when the magic was revealed was priceless. I can't wait for you to read it, too.

A note from the publisher about purchasing this (or any other Kane Miller or Usborne books):

In 2012. our CEO/Company President made the decision that, in order to support independent booksellers and local communities, we would cease the sale of either Kane Miller or Usborne titles to Amazon. Now any of our titles sold on the site are through third-party vendors, charging whatever they wish. 
Our books are available to order from independent bookstores, including Barnes & Nobles and Indiebound. In addition, consumers/educators/schools/libraries may order through any of the 35,000+ nationwide independent sales consultants of our direct sales decision, Usborne Books & More or online at I’m happy to say that sales of our titles have increased dramatically in the years since this decision was made.

Friday, August 02, 2019

Poetry Friday -- Definitos

Unsplash photo by Torsten Dederichs

You Just Don't Get It

Befuddled and muddled
your noggin's confused

puzzled and troubled
you're coming unglued

mixed up and perplexed
you've been aggravated

your head is unscrewed, you're

©Mary Lee Hahn

This poem is a Definito, "a free verse poem of 8-12 lines (aimed at readers 8-12 years old) that highlights wordplay as it demonstrates the meaning of a less common word, which always ends the poem." (Hmm...I seem to have missed the bit about "free verse." Oh, well. We'll write off my rhymes as meeting the "wordplay" requirement. What good is a rule if it's not bent now and then?) I chose "addlepated" because it was the word of the day for July 29 on my Merriam Webster dictionary app. And it's fun to say, even if it's NOT fun to feel that way!

Heidi, at my juicy little universe, is the inventor of this form and our Poetry Friday Roundup hostess this week. She and her Sunday Poetry Peeps, the Poetry Swaggers, are playing with this form and Heidi invited me to join in since I tried her 2009 challenge with "Phlebotomist."

Thursday, August 01, 2019

Classroom Resource: Wordless News (and metaphors found in art)

Wordless News. If you don't subscribe and use this resource in your classroom, now's the time to start. Creator Maria Fabrizio has been away for a few months, busy with a newborn and a toddler, but she's back with an image at least once a week.

The images she creates are perfect for "notice and wonder." I noticed that the shadow was actually hands, and I wondered about the lines, but I didn't notice one key thing about the lines until I read the related article. I hadn't heard about this interactive art installation, so when I read the article, I had a huge WOW! moment. I'm saving this one to share with my students even though it will be old news in a couple of weeks. I want to open their eyes/minds to art as a response to current and historical events.

Earlier this week, at the Columbus Museum of Art, I saw this installation and had another WOW! moment:

What looked like a huge barrel balanced on a rope took on layers of deep meaning when I read the explanation outside the room:

We study the indigenous people of the Americas, including the effects of colonialism. So this image will be a great starting point for those studies, and another example of the way art can help us to think about our world.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Poetry Friday -- What We Save

This is a repost from 2008.

My brother and I just spent three days going through the last of the boxes of Mom and Family back home in Colorado. Among other treasures, we found a stack of clippings Mom had pinned on the bulletin board in the kitchen -- pithy quotes, comics, phone numbers...and this poem, printed from the blog eleven years ago.

*        *        *        *        *

This is a chant for the landscape of my growing up years -- the wide, flat, empty, semi-arid short grass prairie of eastern Colorado. The chant is comprised of images, authors, and, in italics, book titles.

The Solace of Open Places

It's Not the End of the Earth, But You Can See it From Here

High, Wide and Lonesome
unbroken sod,
O Pioneers! and
my Uncle Bob.

Great Plains: jackrabbits
antelope and Deere,
wagon ruts, meadowlarks
and tumbleweeds found here.

Kent Haruf, Hal Borland, Ian Frazier,
Gretel Ehrlich, Willa Cather, Wallace Stegner.

A Sense of Place,
Wolf WillowMy Antonia
Nothing To Do But Stay.

Lark buntings, windmills
towering thunderheads,
grasshoppers, feedlots
the family homestead.

Pioneer Women,
amber waves of grain.
Close my eyes, open a book,
can go home again.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2008

Margaret has the Poetry Friday Roundup this week at Reflections on the Teche.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Poetry Friday -- Playing With Poetry

I picked up a few poetry toys at nErDCampMI last week.

With Instant Poetry, poetry forms meet multiple choice. You might want to try a nursery rhyme, a poem in the style of William Carlos Williams or Emily Dickinson, an ode, free verse, or more.

click image to enlarge

I've been wanting to try writing a sonnet, so I chose the Shakespearean Sonnet (bottom left in the collage above).

Before the Fates (b) cut in this checkout line
Let all who (a) brought some queso dip please stay
And find our (c) kids out back making green slime.
Neither king nor fool (a) returns their lunch tray.
Though time (b) cares not when chickens come to roost,
We hear the (a) band at least will take the stage.

Ok. I'm going to stop there. There are others that have options that string together with more sense. Let's try the Nursery Rhyme (top right).

Mary, Mary, quite contrary
(a) loved sarcastic commentary.

scribble-out poetry (aka blackout poetry) has a lot more poet-ential. This spiral-bound book has 45 bits of text ready for you to modify by scribbling-out the words you don't want with your permanent marker and leaving behind your poem. The text comes in different shapes (see top of collage) and amounts (see bottom of collage). Sources for the text bits include Frankenstein, The Count of Monte Cristo, War and Peace, and Pride and Prejudice, just to name a few. Each page is perforated and includes "to" and "from" lines and the attribution for the original text on the back so that you can gift your poetic creations!

click image to enlarge
I scribbled-out a bit from Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin (top right in the collage). This poem goes out to all the teachers who are enjoying their last weeks of living-and-learning-at-a-relaxing-pace.

if you teach.
You contribute to the happiness of
consume the
pleasure of being
a good

Scribbled-out by Mary Lee Hahn, 2019

Carol, at Carol's Corner, is just one of those teachers for whom this poem was written! She's got the Poetry Friday roundup this week.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Poetry Friday -- 3, 6, 9, 12

Journal Sparks helped me with my poems for this week. I used bits and pieces of ideas from the book. First, I made some watercolor boxes and cut them out when they had dried. Then I randomly chose the numbers 3, 6, 9 and 12. From a list of prompts in the book, I chose four words -- tree, lines, buildings, and cake. I wrote the numbers and the words on little scraps of paper and shuffled them up, then paired each number scrap with a word scrap. The number told me how many words I could use in each poem, and the word became the topic of the poem.

Click on the image to enlarge it.

Tabatha gave Jone a creative way to compose poems -- a poetry fortune teller! Check out Tabatha's triolet and all of the other Poetry Friday offerings at Jone's Deowriter.

Friday, July 05, 2019

Poetry Friday -- The Choice is Yours






The Choice is Yours

There will always be fences
there will always be walls
keeping out, keeping in

And there will always be beauty
there will always be art
reaching out, seeking within

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2019

The photos tell the story of our neighbor's fence built the wrong way out, and my artistic response. Those are polished rocks, slices of rock, geodes, and fossils that our rockhound friends gave me. Murals might be next, who knows?

Tricia has the Poetry Friday roundup today at a blog named after a book that would pair nicely with my post -- The Miss Rumphius Effect.

Wednesday, July 03, 2019

The Joy of ARCs


by Liz Lunney
Andrews McMeel Publishing, June 2019

I can't tell you how badly my ten year-old self wants to get out the scissors and start building this theme park! Hopefully, I'll have some detail-oriented students who want to work on this during Genius Hour this year! I'll pair it with This is My Dollhouse by Giselle Potter.


by Kat Zhang
illustrated by Charlene Chua
Aladdin (October 1, 2019)

Even though Amy Wu can do lots of things, making the perfect bao eludes her. Amy and her parents and grandmother are making bao together. Amy's dad preps the dough, while Amy's mom makes the filling. As they work making the bao, the adults always create perfect bao and give Amy advice that doesn't work. Just when all seems lost, Amy realizes that she has been using an adult-sized ball of dough in her kid-sized hands. Once she has a smaller amount of dough to work with, she, too, creates perfect bao -- enough to share with her classmates. There's a recipe included so you can make them, too!


Beverly, Right Here
by Kate DiCamillo
Candlewick, September 24, 2019

Now I need to go back and read Raymie Nightingale and Louisiana's Way Home. But I'm pretty sure Beverly will still be my favorite. She and Iola and Elmer and Doris and Charles (and Nod, and the seagull at the back door of the restaurant) have found their way into my heart. Oh, Beverly. How much do I love that you saw into Elmer's heart and cared about what was there and not what you could see on the outside?

This book is so full of all the hard parts about life -- age, loss, death, the amount of crap in convenience stores -- but it is also full of all that makes life meaningful -- art, music, poetry, friendship, believing in and finding the goodness in others.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Poetry Friday -- The Lost Words

by Robert Macfarlane
illustrated by Jackie Morris

I saw this book in Maria Popova's Brain Pickings newsletter last weekend and immediately reserved a copy from the library. Take a minute to follow the newsletter link. Gorgeous, right? I just picked it up yesterday, and I wasn't at all prepared for the size and heft of the book. It's 15" x 11" and weighs about 3 lbs. Every poem I've read so far is amazing -- I will learn lots from Robert Macfarlane about the art of the acrostic poem. Every illustration is amazing -- begging to be pored over. Yup. I'll probably need to buy my own copy of this book!

The introduction to The Lost Words is what inspired my poem for Karen Boss' challenge at Today's Little Ditty to "write a poem in second person, speaking directly to a kid or kids about something that you think is important for them to know."
"Once upon a time, words began to vanish from the language of children. they disappeared so quietly that at first almost no one noticed -- fading away like water on stone. The words were those that children used to name the natural world around them: acorn, adder, bluebell, bramble, conker -- gone! Fern, heather, kingfisher, otter, raven, willow, wren...all of them gone! The words were becoming lost: no longer vivid in children's voices, no longer alive in their stories."
How can we expect these words to remain in children's language if children spend no time outdoors, or if all the wild places are tamed or removed?

Learn their names:
rocks, trees, flowers, birds, clouds, stars.
Know your home.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2019

Buffy Silverman has the Poetry Friday roundup this week, and she, too, has written a nature-themed poem for the June TLD challenge!

Good Talk by Mira Jacob

Over the years, we've written about/reviewed lots of graphic novels here at A Year of Reading. When the Cybils were brand new, I chose to judge graphic novels so that I could learn more about the format. Perhaps my love of graphic novels was fueled by a childhood reading diet of comic books.  Stacks and stacks of comic books. (There were also shelves and shelves of books, the Weekly Reader Book Club books, mandatory purchases at the shopping mall bookstores when we drove the 3 hours to Denver, and the regular trips to the local library. But there were also always stacks and stacks of comic books.)

I've tagged 148 books "adult" in Goodreads, and three of them are graphic novels. But get this...all three of them are also memoir. I have no idea what that means. It just made me go, "Hmm..."

This is the most recent adult memoir in graphic novel format that I've read, and I think you should read it, too:

by Mira Jacob
One World, March 2019

Mira Jacobs is East Indian and her husband is Jewish. With a combination of drawings and photographs, the book is built around Jacob's conversations with her six year-old biracial son about Michael Jackson, brown and white skin, Trump's election, and police violence. Jacobs also allows readers to "listen in" on her conversations with her own parents, brother, and grandmother about how her family discriminates against her because her skin is a (tragically) dark brown, and with her mother in-law about how people at a party she throws assume Mira's the help because she's not white. There are conversations between Jacobs and her white friend about parenting, and conversations between Jacobs and her husband about dealing with white men who hold all the power without even being aware that they do.

This book, for me, was a window.* Perhaps for you it will be a mirror.* If we're going to repair the race issues that continue to divide our nation, we're going to have to use books like this as sliding glass doors* so that we can have conversations like these not just in our imaginations as we read, but in real life with the people around us -- other adults, our students and children, co-workers, politicians, family members, publishers, etc., etc., etc.

*Dr. Rudine Simms Bishop coined these terms in 1990. "Books are sometimes windows, offering views of worlds that may be real or imagined, familiar or strange. These windows are also sliding glass doors, and readers have only to walk through in imagination to become part of whatever world has been created and recreated by the author. When lighting conditions are just right, however, a window can also be a mirror. Literature transforms human experience and reflects it back to us, and in that reflection we can see our own lives and experiences as part of the larger human experience. Reading, then, becomes a means of self-affirmation, and readers often seek their mirrors in books." (1990, p. ix)

Monday, June 24, 2019

Highlights Symposium, White Fragility and Some Other Things

Last week, Mary Lee and I attended the Highlights Foundation Building Cultural Competency Symposium. It was an incredible 3 days and I can't thank the presenters and the Highlights staff enough. Such an amazing group of people to learn and think with. Thank you Edi Campbell (@crazyquilts), Debbie Reese (@debreese), Laura Jiminez (@booktoss ), Paula Yoo (@PaulaYoo), Renee Watson (@reneewauthor), and Marilisa Jiminez Garcia (@MarilisaJimenez). If you aren't already following each of these women, you should do that now--so much to learn from this amazing group.

The required reading for the book was White Fragility. I had read the book but was glad to have the opportunity to reread it and have conversations with others who had read it. Laura Jiminez did a brilliant job at leading this discussion and talking to others with a facilitator like Laura made the reading experience transformational. If you have not read White Fragility, I'd highly recommend it.

I've been working to read and study issues of equity over the past year. I created this Padlet of resources as I read, adding posts and articles that I knew I'd want to return to--that were important to my learning. I've shared this a few times on Twitter as there are great resources if you are thinking about this and are just not sure where to start.  I love Debby Irving's idea for a 21-Day Racial Equity Habit Building Challenge--"For 21 days, do one action to further your understanding of power, privilege, oppression and equity."  I would say from my own experience, 21 days is not enough--it is a great starting point but then keep going--I try to read or listen to something each day that builds my understanding in some way. Hopefully this Padlet helps others who are also trying to learn.

Link to Padlet

I bought a Highlights mug while at the Symposium.  I find that if I use a mug from an event, it reminds me of the thinking and work I did while there so the mug is a nice reminder of the thinking that happened at the symposium.  I also ordered this shirt from Laura Jiminez because this work is not so easy and the shirt will remind me of that when I wear it:-) (I ordered a purple v-neck and can't wait until it arrives! Proceeds from this shirt go to Grace Lin's #KidlitWomen and We Need Diverse Books.