The gentrification and apartheid of children’s literature are concepts I mull over often. My third graders are currently working on Compare and Contrast Essays, using Christopher Myer’s Wings, and Lesa Cline-Ransome’s Before There Was Mozart. So this article is close to my heart as well as my profession. The link above takes you to his article, featured in today’s New York Times.
To demystify the meaning of love, the art and practice of loving, we need to use sound definitions of love when talking with children, and we also need to ensure that loving action is never tainted with abuse.”
– bell hooks.
From All About Love by bell hooks.
School week of: October 14 – October 18.
I introduce the concept of ‘Confrontation’ to Kindergarteners, lovingly and mindfully, with intention to: embrace truth, construct discourse, and build resiliency – in that order. The overall goal is to educate and empower my students.
(This is a late post. It’s been sitting in ‘Drafts’, due to minor edits being needed that I did not edit until now.)
Nationally recognized holiday. No school. Ironically public libraries are closed this day also. No schools. No libraries. What does this American custom say about our values exactly?
I was going to read Encounter by Jane Yolen. Illustrated by David Shannon.
Well-established children’s author, Jane Yolen, wrote outside her usual genres with the making of Encounter. It is meant to be historical fiction. It is meant to be told from the view point of a young Taino boy who is from the Taino tribe who were the first to suffer an encounter with spaniard, Christopher Columbus. When I first read this story, a couple years back, I fell in love with it. I actually recommended it in an earlier blog post, from a year ago.
However, as I’ve matured as an educator and picture book connoisseur, I’ve been inclined to doubt the book’s authenticity. My own inclinations turned out to be true – the book is not as authentic as it portrays to be.
I was puzzled that the author seemed to have absolutely no connection to the people whom she wrote about in Encounter. So I did what I do with all children’s books that are written about native peoples by non-native people – I researched their research. Usually, in the first few pages of a book, an author will include their resources, and tribal affiliated validators. I affirmed my suspicions thrice. Once, via this online article. Second, from author Jane Yolen’s actual bio regarding her reasons for writing Encounter; her reasons didn’t impress me. Then, there is this quite controversial youtube clip of it, in which the maker of the Youtube book trailer, states that the Taino people are extinct. Which is not true. All the comments are filled with people asking her to not ad-lib Jane Yolen’s words by stating that the Taino people are extinct. However, she keeps it up for the advertising benefit, which she states in one of the comments. I’m not adding the link here. That same video is actually recommended on author Jane Yolen’s website. Yeah, so no. I’m not reading it to my students. I’ll figure out another way to educate my students from a native perspective. I discovered a great blog, American Indians in Children’s Literature, by University of Illinois professor of American Indian Studies, Debbie Reese. She even wrote a post that discredits Yolen’s Encounter, as an inaccurate account of the Taino.
Instead, I read Dr. Seuss’ Fox in Socks. This classic is chalk full of teachable moments relating to conflict resolution.
Wednesday and Thursday
Abiyoyo by Pete Seeger. Illustrated by Michael Hays.
Vocabulary: ‘ostracized’. Class discussion: ‘How to believe in yourself and your community even when they don’t believe in you.’
Abiyoyo was also available in the Listening Center for students to enjoy on CD.
Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman. Illustrated by Caroline Binch.
I do have to ad lib here and there, in Amazing Grace, in order for it to be as loving and mindful a book as my students need it to be. Yet, there are many many children’s books that I ad lib, so this book is not unlike most in it’s need for adliberature. Usually, my ad libbing is centered around adjectives. There’s just never enough adjectives, or the right adjectives, in a story.
Thank you for reading The Picture Book Pusher.
The students so enjoyed having our principal come in and read Is Your Mama a Llama? by Deborah Guarino. Illustrated by Steven Kellogg
Tuesday and Wednesday
So many teaching moments in John Kilaka’s The Amazing Tree. The children were highly engaged in this story, and had so much to say about it that we read it the following day too. I will be definitely using this book again with the students.
The art teacher chose Thursday’s read aloud, Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crocket Johnson, to introduce the day’s art lesson. I wish I had some of their drawings to show you here, because the students did incredibly well with following the art teacher’s lead, and incorporating the ‘coloring-in’ technique that I had taught them the previous Tuesday.
One by Kathryn Otoshi. This treasure of a book will also be used throughout the year. Mindful anti-bullying allegory at its finest. We are already saying to each other, “What would One do?” and “Let’s be number One. Okay?”
In the Listening Center
Dr. Seuss’ books from last week stayed in the center, and I added some other great reads that included an audio CD of the story with the book. Other authors, take note, of how beneficial and appreciated an included book-on-cd is for teachers buying a picture book. Shout out to the following authors, who’s stories were able to join the ranks in the Listening Center:
Thanks for reading The Picture Book Pusher
So this year, I will be teaching Kindergarten in an Inclusion setting, rather than first grade. I’ve taught K2 before so I’m cool with it. I will miss guiding students in the persuasive essay process though. That’s right, persuasive essays in first grade.
Anyhow, the following picture books will surely be permanent fixtures in our K2 space. They are ideal and hard to come by.
These are some of my faves. Find them where you can.
Thanks for reading The Picture Book Pusher
The Race, Education and Democracy Lecture and Book Series is an annual event held at Simmons College, organized by Professor Theresa Perry for Beacon Press Books. The lecture series, held in the spring, brings distinguished movers and shakers in the field of education, to discuss their latest book, published through Beacon Press. I first attended the series back in ’07 while an undergraduate at Simmons College. Patricia Hill Collins and Imani Perry were the speakers. The event was life changing.
The Series proceeds on the assumption that public education is at the center of American public life and that discussions about critical educational issues need to occur in the public domain and engage Americans from many different backgrounds in thoughtful and complicated conversations.
– http://www.raceandeducation.com Home page, paragraph 4
This year’s event brought us Dr. Freeman A. Hrabowski, discussing the themes: Standing Up For Justice/Creating Opportunity: From the Birmingham Children’s Crusade to Creating Excellence in Math, Science and Technology.
Every year the event is sure to have prominent scholars, passionate educators, and Beacon Press Books for sale, specifically if not solely, books written by the speaker. However, this year’s lecture series had something extra special: PICTURE BOOKS! We have Prof. Perry to thank for that. Most of the picture books sold out. I was able to snag two.
Remember: The Journey to School Integration by Toni Morrison
Remember: The Journey to School Integration by Toni Morrison, uses photographs and text to tell its story. Morrison elicits mindfulness in the young reader, by writing through the voice of children and adolescents from the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s. So important, and time saving is this book. As a teacher of young children, it takes much time to craft the right words to speak to children, regarding painful truths in our history. If I am not mindful in my word choice, then my truths may oppress, rather than empower, their young spirits. I want to convey not only what happened, but also a perspective that can empower them and promote resilience. Morrison takes the guess-work out of choosing the right discourse.
John Lewis in the Lead: A Story of the Civil Rights Movement by Jim Haskins and Kathleen Benson. Illustrated by Benny Andrews
This book is so important. Its a nonfiction tale with a message that, ‘young people can be game changers too’. At least that’s the message that I took from the book. John Lewis began his life as an organizer at a young age. The reader follows the life of John from his elementary years through adult hood. The illustrations portray the simplicity of John Lewis’ home and school. In contrast the authors’ words portray the protagonist as a child with layers of cognitive substance. This mesh of simplicity and substance provides young readers the opportunity to conclude that great ideas and great people can come from limited means.
Aunt Seneva started to cry, and the children began to sob too. Then Aunt Seneva gathered her courage. “Everybody hold hands!” she called, and the frightened children did as they were told…The storm didn’t last long, but John never forgot that day. – Haskins and Benson pg. 3
John realized that segregation was keeping his family from having a better life. This made him angry…One day when he was fifteen, John heard Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the radio…It was time to turn things upside down in order to set them right side up. – Haskins and Benson pg. 7
Inspired by Dr. King, John took his first steps to protest segregation. He asked for a library card at his county public library, knowing that black people were not allowed to have cards. John was not surprised that the librarian said the library was for whites only. then he went home and wrote the library a letter of protest. – Haskin and Benson pg. 10
A time line, of John Lewis’ significant life events, is provided at the end of the book, along with photographs. Every elementary classroom should have this book. You can order it through Lee & Low, here.
While I have your attention, I’d like to share something Dr. Hrabowski and Dean of Students at Brookline Public Schools, Dr. Adrian Mims spoke on, at the lecture: Doing math in numbers. What’s that mean you ask? It means that if you are a teacher of students from diverse backgrounds, then be mindful of how you group your students. If students of color are the minority, then don’t just deploy them evenly into the rest of the groups, by default. Just because they are the minority within a peer group of students, doesn’t mean that their ideas have to be the minority within their work groups as well. Let them think together. Thinking together provides affirmation, respect, and a sustainable voice. Thus, when making math groups for students, make sure that students can work in numbers, not just as the sole minority within the group. Dr. Mims actually wrote on the benefits of grouping students together in his dissertation, “Improving African American Achievement in Geometry Honors”.
Overall this year’s lecture gave me lots to think about. Lots to live for.
Thanks for reading The Picture Book Pusher.
p.s. during the question and answer period, someone asked Dr. Hrabowski what his favorite picture book was (it wasn’t me, really!). His answer: The Velveteen Rabbit. He said that the book’s message is deep and profound.
I had a meeting today with Dr. Carroll Blake, Executive Director for the Achievement Gap in Boston Public Schools. We spoke for over an hour. It was a mutual consultation to discuss the achievement of our black boys in Boston. I was so incredibly grateful that he made time in his schedule to meet with me.
And guess what? He gave me a brand new picture book. I told him about my blog. He gave me the book,
One by Kathryn Otoshi
Published by: Ko Kids Books 2008.
I plan to read it after I cook dinner. I am looking forward to it. It is a book that brings a new approach to dealing with bullies.
Two things are cool:
1. ) We actually exchanged picture books, Dr. Blake and I. He gave me the book, One, to promote what should be being read in the classroom. I gave him a secondhand copy of Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes to expose what SHOULDN’T be read in the classroom.
2.) I found this picture on the web of my governor, Deval Patrick, reading One, to some school children.
That’s all for now. Thank you for reading The Picture Book Pusher