Zora in the Kindergarten Classroom

A page from Speak, So You Can Speak Again: The Life of Zora Neale Hurston

A page from Speak, So You Can Speak Again: The Life of Zora Neale Hurston

(I first wrote this post over a week ago, but just publishing it now.)

I bought Speak, So You Can Speak Again: The Life of Zora Neale Hurston online for an amazing $4, a little over 6 months ago. It is a reproduction of her personal scrapbook and photos curated by her niece, Lucy Anne Hurston, presented almost in picture book form. I first saw it at some rare bookshop, selling for $80 or something like that, and my pockets weren’t having that even though my heart needed to be having it. So, alas, I found it for a whopping $4 plus $3.95 shipping. I’ve become quite skilled in the art of pinching rare books right before they skyrocket in price, so I suggest you purchase this book as soon as you’re done reading this fantastic post.

Speak, So You Can Speak Again: The Life of Zora Neale HurstonBy Lucy Anne Hurston and the Estate of Zora Neale HurstonPublished by DOUBLEDAY. 2004

Speak, So You Can Speak Again: The Life of Zora Neale Hurston
By Lucy Anne Hurston and the Estate of Zora Neale Hurston
Published by DOUBLEDAY. 2004

I’m so attached to this renditioned scrapbook book of Zora’s life. It connects me to my great grandmother, whom I know only through her scrapbooks, in my possession. I’ve been wanting to make a remake of my grandmother’s scrap books, letters, and photographs for archival purposes. So when I came across Speak, So You Can Speak Again: The Life of Zora Neale Hurston I knew I had to have it. Not only does Zora give me crafted memories of my great grandmother, but she also is a biographical figure I wanted to share with my Kindergarten students. I steep heavy in history in the K2 classroom. It’s the genre I’ve observed to be the most engaging to the students. They gravitate towards truth, perhaps from the deprivation of it in our mainstream cultures that engulf their precious lives.

Used with permission.

Used with permission.

I kept this book on a high shelf in the classroom, far enough away to keep safe from sticky crayon-holding hands, yet close enough to be in eye’s view as to contribute to the visual ambience of our classroom.

However, I have left the classroom this past week, for reasons that I won’t get into on a public blog post; but I will tell you this: I’ve quoted Zora at least three times over the past two weeks, when rationalizing my radical reasons for departing from my oppressive work environment. Even the title of her remade scrapbook, Speak, So You Can Speak Again, embodies all my reasons for demonstrating a moratorium from the classroom. And earlier this evening, while I was finishing cleaning out my belongings from the learning space, I saw this precious book. My heart sunk for a breve sec knowing that I never got to share it with my students. So, to suffice my softened heart, I blog about it now.

Here, I will share with you, in photos, why I associate Zora Neale Hurston with Gladys Golden Weaver.

Zora Neale Hurston.  From Lucy Ann Hurston's Speak, So you Can Speak Again. Page. 15

Zora Neale Hurston.
From Lucy Ann Hurston’s Speak, So you Can Speak Again. Page. 15

Open up the flap, and there is an excerpt from Hurston's work in The Crisis magazine, 1925.

Open up the flap, and there is an excerpt from Hurston’s work in The Crisis magazine, 1925.

"The journals published by African-American organizations were among the most important vehicles for communicating black thought, news, and culture...the NAACP published the most prestigious publication of the lot, The Crisis, Zora's work would appear." - Lucy Anne Hurston. Pg. 15

“The journals published by African-American organizations were among the most important vehicles for communicating black thought, news, and culture…the NAACP published the most prestigious publication of the lot, The Crisis, Zora’s work would appear.” – Lucy Anne Hurston. Pg. 15

My great grandmother, Gladys Golden Weaver, photographed in The Crisis, 1928.

My great grandmother, Gladys Golden Weaver, photographed in The Crisis, 1928.

 

Gladys Golden , top right. Taken from her photo scrap book. Not permitted for replication by any third parties.

Gladys Golden , top right and bottom right, with friends while traveling through D.C., to Baltimore. Taken from her photo scrap book. Not permitted for replication by any third parties.

Zora with friends from Howard University in Washington, D.C.  Taken from Pg. 12 of Speak, So You Can Speak Again by Lucy Anne Hurston

Zora with friends from Howard University in Washington, D.C.
Taken from Pg. 12 of Speak, So You Can Speak Again by Lucy Anne Hurston

Both Zora Neale Hurston and Gladys Golden Weaver were born in the 1890’s and raised in the south (Hurston Florida, Weaver Virginia), and both moved to New York for the Harlem Renaissance, but both not before spending time in D.C. and Maryland. Both also spent time living with other relatives during the first decade of the 20th century. “Zora spent the following years in the homes of first one sibling, then another…She was hungry for books to read, ideas to explore, and creative expression. She was young, female, and dependent, but failed to display the humility necessary to make those who provided for her feel that she was sufficiently grateful.” – Lucy Anne Hurston, Speak, So You Can Speak Again. Pg. 12. The above quote conveys the same character of Gladys’ letter to her mother, whom she wrote while residing with some relatives in Richmond, Virginia, 1907.

A letter, from Gladys Golden to her mother Mary Golden, written in 1907. (Not permitted to be duplicated by third parties or used in anyway without written consent from the owner.)

A letter, from Gladys Golden to her mother Mary Golden, written in 1907. (Not permitted to be duplicated by third parties or used in anyway without written consent from the owner.)

Zora's journal. Pg. 29 in Speak, So You Can Speak Again.

Zora’s journal.
Pg. 29 in Speak, So You Can Speak Again.

A page from Glady's journal, that she sealed in an envelope, and reopened 29 years later. (Not to be reproduced without permission.)

A page from Glady’s journal, that she sealed in an envelope, and reopened 29 years later. “Life in These United States./ I was a visitor in a friend’s home in Virginia. There are nine children of various complections, the father being “light” and the mother “brown”. Sitting on the porch one day I heard the following between an older sister giving a younger one an airing + a lady walking by. ‘My, what a pretty little girl. May I have her?’ asked lady. ‘Oh, no’, replied big sister, ‘She’s the only white child mama’s got.’. G.G.W/ The above is true. / (Mrs.) Gladys G. Weaver 534 W. 147 St. N.Y.C. “
(Not to be reproduced without permission.)

Envelope from the above journal entry.

Envelope from the above journal entry.

(Not to be reproduced without explicit permission from owner.)

Both the famous Zora and the personal Gladys taught me about American culture, politics, and history;  neither less of a historic-informative than the other. If you have the honor of teaching children, this year, guide them heavily in their learning of  history. Not just the published histories, but their familial histories as well.

Thanks for reading The Picture Book Pusher.

 

 

 

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K2 Read Alouds: Week 9

School week of Nov. 4 – 8, 2013.

Monday

Everett Anderson’s 1•2•3 by Lucille Clifton, illustrated by Ann Grifalconi. Protagonist Everett analyzes his changing family dynamics, in this 3rd-person narrative, when Mommy has a new man in her life.

Everett Anderson's 123 By Lucille Clifton Illustrated by Ann Grifalconi Published by Henry Holt & Co. 1992

Everett Anderson’s 123
By Lucille Clifton
Illustrated by Ann Grifalconi
Published by Henry Holt & Co. 1992. OUT OF PRINT

Tuesday and Wednesday

A Weed is a Flower by ALIKI

A Weed is a Flower  by ALIKI  Published by Aladdin. 1988

A Weed is a Flower
by ALIKI
Published by Aladdin. 1988

Our “Scientist of the Month” is George Washington Carver – American inventor. A Weed is a Flower is a bit advanced for a K2 class in November, but we did quite a bit of scaffolding. Published in 1988, and yet it was not a part of my childhood education, and I went to a reputable public school system. I didn’t learn about George Washington Carver until I myself became a teacher. I’m surprised, but grateful, it’s stayed in  print, being that so much fine children’s literature is no longer in print.

Thursday

How a Seed Grows by Helene J. Jordan. Illustrated by Loretta Krupinski

How a Seed Grows By Helene J. Jordan. Illustrated by Loretta Krupinski

How a Seed Grows
By Helene J. Jordan.
Illustrated by Loretta Krupinski

Friday

Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss

Green Eggs and Ham By Dr. Seuss

Green Eggs and Ham
By Dr. Seuss

Thanks for reading The Picture Book Pusher

What’s in a Coloring Page Anyways?

“The benefits of giving children a blank piece of paper versus a coloring book can be the same as when reversed. Each option has benefits… Coloring books that have just pictures in them provide an opportunity for a child to learn to stay within a set of rules. This is important to a point. One must learn to function within a parameter of rules in society as a whole. Learning to color inside the lines also helps with hand to eye coordination…Coloring inside the lines involves different perceptual and physical skills than is used in free form drawing on a blank piece of paper.  Coloring books offer opportunities to develop the left side of the brain via attention to detail. ” – C.M. Tucker for Helium, 2012.

We’ve all heard of a time when a kid was in school and was given some crayons and paper, and drew some scary scene of their reality. A monster in the bed, mommy getting hurt, someone holding a knife. You know the drawings. The ones that end up in the guidance counselor’s drawer.  Much of the time, children still draw what I drew in childhood. A green line of grass at the bottom of the page, a blue line on top, a sun, a family. Kids draw what they see, what they experience. Coloring is an effective method of communication.

Coloring is a lost art. No pun intended. Our school’s art teacher often complains that first-graders enter her classroom with no coloring skills. Thanks a lot, Tablet.  I try to fill this deficit with engaging, purposeful coloring time if the weather permits. Crappy weather equals no outdoor recess. No outdoor recess  translates into more time to sit and eat your lunch in the cafeteria. Some board games will be taken out, if they’re lucky (Not my system). On days when I cannot bring them back into the classroom for freeze dance or hide-and-seek, I send them to the cafeteria with coloring pages. The art of coloring is quite meditative. It provides time for the child to contemplate reality, and paint it how they see it.

By offering children specific coloring pages, we are feeding them a social standard, an assumption, a norm. The norm predominantly exists as Barbie, and Disney. You can print out both themes in excess on the  misleading and inaccurately titled website, http://www.educationalcoloringpages.com. On this popular website you can navigate through the coloring pages by clicking on one of the categories: Top Ten Coloring Pages, Girls Coloring Pages, and Boys Coloring pages, are the top links. Over 60% of the pages offered for girls are Barbie and Disney. The rest are other feminine popular characters branded for girls.   They do nothing to educate.  And if you google the phrase ‘coloring books’, Disney character themed printables are offered in the top three generic coloring page websites.

Let’s try some alternatives.

Scan Cole like to nurture

From Girls Will Be Boys Will Be Girls Will Be…Coloring Book by Jacinta Bunnell and Irit Reinheimer. Published by Soft Skull Press for Counterpoint LLC, Berkley, CA. 2004. Distributed by Publishers Group West. Printed in the United States.

Scan 1

From Girls Will Be Boys Will Be Girls Will Be…Coloring Book by Jacinta Bunnell and Irit Reinheimer. Published by Soft Skull Press for Counterpoint LLC, Berkley, CA. 2004. Distributed by Publishers Group West. Printed in the United States.

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From Sometimes the Spoon Runs Away with Another Spoon Coloring Book by Jacinta Bunnel & Nathaniel Kusinitz. Published by PM Press, and Reach And Teach. Printed in the USA.

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Kudos for the author using the under-represented word ‘children’.
From Scribbles: A Really Giant Drawing and Coloring Book by Taro Gomi for Chronicle Books, San Francisco, CA.
Manufactured in Singapore for Tien Wah Press.

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From Sometimes the Spoon Runs Away with Another Spoon Coloring Book by Jacinta Bunnel & Nathaniel Kusinitz. Published by PM Press, and Reach And Teach. Printed in the USA.

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From Zolocolor! Doodling Between Black and White by Byron Glaser & Sandra Higashi for Little Simon, A Division of Simon & Schuster, New York.
Manufactured in China

Thank you for reading The Picture Book Pusher. Now go color.

Take Any Picture Book…

Take any picture book, and upon opening it, ask yourself, “What social concepts is this book imprinting on the mind?”

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Four out of seven of the above titles, I consider too oppressive to use in my elementary classroom.  The other three, I love. I won’t specify which titles, because…to each its own. I’ll give you a clue though. Two of the titles contain very potentially harmful allegories. Those two titles are: The Beeman, published by Barefoot Books, and The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes, published by Sandpiper, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Co.

Remember; do not judge a book by its cover.

This hits home. Especially around the holidays, a school’s position on the “Tolerance vs. Acceptance” scale may be more visible. – The Picture Book Pusher

karensandler

The other day, I got into a discussion with someone about how students are taught tolerance in school rather than acceptance. That hit home with me and got me thinking about the difference between tolerance and acceptance.

Of course we should be tolerant of others, right? If someone practices a different religion, has different political beliefs, is from a different country, is of a different race or ethnicity or a different sexual orientation, we should have tolerance for those differences. We have museums of tolerance which remember events such as the Holocaust, and students are taught in school to tolerate others different from them.

Curious about the actual definition of tolerance, I dipped into my old paper version of Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (Tenth Edition). Here are two definitions of tolerance that I think apply:

2a: sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one’s own

2b:…

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A Picture Book A Day: Day 12 Pink and Say by Patricia Polacco

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Pink and Say Written and Illustrated by Patricia Polacco

Published: Philomel Books, Penguin Young Readers Group, NY. for Babushka, Inc. 1994

I borrowed this book from the South End branch of Boston Public Library. The librarian recommended it to me. She said it was a must read. She was correct.

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This is a necessary piece of non-fiction for any age classroom. Although I have to be wise on how I present it to my young audience. It has a couple of gruesome deaths in it. I look forward to using it to raise consciousness in my young students on the concepts of  ‘privilege’ and ‘social blindness’, and ‘oppression’. I shall blog in depth at a later date. I look forward to adding main character Pinkus to my American History curriculum, so my students “will always remember Pinkus Aylee.”

Thank you for reading The Picture Book Pusher