Rodney’s Bookstore: Books are just the beginning

I visited Rodney’s Bookstore, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, last week. Went with a good friend of mine, Aja Jackson, founder of MindUTeach. Whenever I venture to Rodney’s, I never leave empty-handed. They specialize in used books, and their prices are very reasonable. Here’s what I picked up:

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Bed Crumbs: Sweet Dreams and Nightmares by John Kruth. Jackalope Press. 1986.

So Bed Crumbs: Sweet Dreams and Nightmares, by John Kruth, is chalk full of witty and wonderful poems. I saw this book sitting by the register. I opened it up and turned to this poem, that sold me on the purchase:

Lucifer’s Puberty

I’m not sure why

I’m beginning to sprout horns

and unknown alphabets

appear from my pen

~~~

Mama used to call me

her “little angel”

now I put tabasco

on everything”

– Kruth pg. 9

Bed Crumbs by John Kruth

Published by Jackalope Press 1986

I recommend this book for: 7th grade and up.

Retail Paperback: $6.00 Rodney’s: $2.82

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Juneteenth Jamboree by Carole Boston Weatherford. Illustrated by Yvonne Buchanan. Lee & Low Books, Inc. 1995

Personally, I’ve never seen a picture book about the United States’ holiday, Juneteenth. The fact that the book is published by one of my most favorite and trusted publishers, Lee & Low, made it an immediate purchase even more so. Out of all the captivating illustrations that artist, Yvonne Buchanan gives us, the illustration below stood out to me the most. Look how fun the kitchen can be! This book should be a staple in all elementary classrooms, in the United States.

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“Cassandra raced into the kitchen, then stopped in her tracks. Dishes lined the countertop. From the looks of the place, her parents had big plans.” – Weatherford. ~ Illustration by Yvonne Buchanan in Juneteenth Jamboree

Juneteenth Jamboree by Carole Boston Weatherford. Illustrated by Yvonne Buchanan.

Lee & Low Books, Inc. 1995.

I recommend this for: All ages.

Retail Paperback: $7.95. Rodney’s: $2.82

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Brown Angels: An Album of Pictures and Verse by Walter Dean Myers. Harper Collins 1993.

Brown Angels: An Album of Pictures and Verse, by Walter Dean Myers, stole my heart. This collection, of pictures and verse, is a celebration of youth, in times past, in African-American communities. It highlights the joys and beauties, reminding us that not everything was a hardship, in the black communities of the United States. This book scaffolds a sense of thriving and fulfillment; and can contribute to young children’s sense of resiliency. If I still had a Kindergarten classroom, I would keep this book in the Dramatic Play/Housekeeping center. I keep books in all my centers. Here are some excerpts from the book:

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Excerpt from Brown Angels by Walter Dean Myers

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Excerpt from Brown Angels by Walter Dean Myers

Brown Angels: An Album of Pictures and Verse by Walter Dean Myers

HarperCollins. 1993.

I recommend this book for: All ages.

Retail Hardcover: ? Rodney’s: $6.00 

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Ashley Bryan: Words to my Life’s Song – an autobiography. Photographs by Bill McGuinness. Illustrations by Ashley Bryan. Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing 2009.

This book can be used in any age classroom. It is dynamic. I picture high school art classes critiquing Bryan’s many medium’s used in his art. I picture elementary school classrooms engaged in it’s storyline and vibrant images, learning to appreciate art & history. Ashley Bryan is a celebrated artist and picture book illustrator, a three-time Coretta Scott King award winner. He was raised in the Bronx, New York. His parents were from Antigua, British West Indies.

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Excerpt from Ashley Bryan: Words to my Life’s Song

Excerpt from Ashley Bryan: Words to my Life's Song. Illustration of Langston Hughes by Ashley Bryan

Excerpt from Ashley Bryan: Words to my Life’s Song. Illustration of Langston Hughes by Ashley Bryan

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“I set the sea-glass pieces on tinfoil and connected the pieces with pulp. When the maché dried, I peeled the tinfoil away and the maché held the pieces together. When held to the light, the pieces glowed like stained glass.” – Ashley Bryan.

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“During the Depression, children often made their own toys. They made soap-box wagons with old carriage wheels, scooters with boards and skates. And so did I.”

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“The Ashanti tribe have a saying they use to end their AFrican tales, which is just right for me to close mine with: This is my story. Whether it be bitter or whether it be sweet, take some of it elsewhere and let the rest come back to me.”- Ashley Bryan

Ashley Bryan: Words to my Life’s Song. An autobiography.

Photographs by Bill McGuinness. Illustrations by Ashley Bryan.

Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing. 2009.

I recommend this for: All ages.

Retail Hardcover: $18.99. Rodney’s: $6.00

If you use any of the above mentioned books in your classroom, or with your children, please comment below.

Thanks for reading,

The Picture Book Pusher.

BHM Children’s Read Alouds: Day 2: Pink and Say

February 2 – Pink and Say by Patricia Polacco

Genre: Non-Fiction. Oral History

Biography: Pinkus Aylee – Hero, enslaved man and soldier in Georgia, US. About 1840 – 1861

Historical Time Period: Civil War.

Geographical Relevance: Georgia.

Authenticity: The author and illustrator, Patricia Polacco, is the great great granddaughter of ‘Say’. Say is the man that Pinkus Aylee rescues from the hands of Confederate soldiers. The true story of Pinkus’ bravery has been orally passed down through Polacco’s family.

Pink and Say by Patricia Polacco Originally published by Philomel 1994

Pink and Say by Patricia Polacco
Originally published by Philomel 1994

Author Patricia Polacco

Author Patricia Polacco

The book is potentially quite powerful in teaching children about white privilege. I haven’t had the opportunity to use it in the classroom  yet. Up until recently, I’ve taught Kindergarten and first grade, and I don’t find it appropriate for the early childhood classroom, as it is quite sad and gruesome in parts. I aim to incorporate it into the curriculum of my new third grade class, that I begin teaching tomorrow.

The Picture Book Pusher

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.

 

 

 

1st Graders deciphering Langston’s Train Ride

Image

Langston’s Train Ride
by Robert Burleigh.
Illustrated by Leonard Jenkins

I look forward to more conversations like these, but closer to June…when my Kindergarten crew is developed and ready. Happy school ya’ll.

Thanks for watching The Picture Book Pusher.

Black History Taught in September & The 50th Anniversary of ‘I Have a Dream’

Illustration by Kadir Nelson 2012

Illustration by Kadir Nelson 2012

As we embark on the 50th anniversary of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s  delivery of his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech, and march again to Washington, on August 24th, 2013, I like to think my young students will be having discussions about these events in their homes, with their families, during these last weeks of summer before the school year.  Goodness knows they’ll be having them with me in the classroom, come September.

I Have A Dream by Martin Luther King. Illustrations by Kadir Nelson.  Schwartz & Wade 2012

I Have A Dream by Martin Luther King. Illustrations by Kadir Nelson.
Schwartz & Wade 2012

We Are One: The Story of Bayard Rustin by Larry Dane Brimner

We Are One: The Story of Bayard Rustin
by Larry Dane Brimner

Pink and Say by Patricia Polacco Published by Philomel 1994

Pink and Say by Patricia Polacco
Published by Philomel 1994

Remember: The Journey to School Integration by Toni Morrison

Remember: The Journey to School Integration by Toni Morrison

I, Too, Am America By Langston Hughes Illustrated by Bryan Collier Simon & Schuster 2012

I, Too, Am America
By Langston Hughes
Illustrated by Bryan Collier
Simon & Schuster 2012

Ellington Was Not A Street By Ntozake Shange Illustrated by Kadir Nelson Simon & Schuster 2004

Ellington Was Not A Street
By Ntozake Shange
Illustrated by Kadir Nelson
Simon & Schuster 2004

The 50th anniversary of ‘I Have A Dream’ provides me with a perfect “excuse” to begin our American history lessons in September (through June), rather than the too-easily-embraced-custom of teaching it only from February 1st – 28th. Who can object to my lessons beginning in September? After all, I am a Dreamkeeper, and tomorrow’s march on Washington makes The Civil Rights Movement a current event.  The Civil Rights Movement is now.

Thanks for reading The Picture Book Pusher

1st Graders & The Civil Rights Movement 2.0

This video clip is from February, 2012.
One of my first graders asked me why there were no laws to protect black people back in the day, and thus our conversation on civil rights began. It’s a rough, unscripted clip, and you’ll notice that I affirm almost everything they say. When I reference “The past” before speaking about an ill truth in our society, it’s not because I am feeding my students the falsehood that ‘oppression’ and ‘hate’ are not still prevalent today. Those direct truths come towards the end of the school year, once I’ve built up their hearts and minds to be resilient. Truth can either free or oppress, depending on the development of the child. Mindful timing and scaffolding is vital. Also, the art of teaching is surely a process. I’ve only had one school year of practice in engaging students in this kind of dialogue, so please excuse the amateur discussion-guiding that I display. Their insightful responses trump my lack of flow anyways.

Thanks for watching The Picture Book Pusher

COLORLINES: A NEW RACIAL JUSTICE MOVEMENT?

I choose picture books, for my classroom, that support this kind of mentality. Thanks for reading The Picture Book Pusher.

BEAUTIFUL, ALSO, ARE THE SOULS OF MY BLACK SISTERS

The Return of Direct Action

It’s not just Trayvon. From immigrant rights to voter ID, young, Obama-era organizers have turned up. Dani McClain reports.

Building a New Racial Justice Movement

Rinku Sen writes that harnessing the new activist energy that will be witnessed at this weekend’s March on Washington takes more than putting the word “new” in front of “civil rights movement.

Stop and Frisk, South Asians and Kal Penn’s Tweets

When the actor tweeted support for NYPD’s policy, South Asian leaders responded with a clear rebuttal–and Penn agreed.

A Tale of Two (or Three) Marches in Washington, D.C. Brentin Mock hashes out the who, what and when of the March on Washington anniversary events.

Still Marching for Jobs The economic justice demands of the 1963 March on Washington remain unmet, writes Imara Jones.

‘Lee Daniels’ The Butler’ and the History of Black Work at the White House A look…

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