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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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

My March Trip to Frugal Book Store in Roxbury. 2013

I’m usually in this store every other month. Many of the picture books that I blog about, I purchased from Frugal Book Store.

“Changing minds one book at a time.” – Frugal Book Store

What I bought – Listed by Publisher:

Jump at the Sun/Disney. New York.

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Be Boy Buzz
Written by bell hooks.
Illustrated by Chris Raschka.
2002
Published for Jump at the Sun
New York

All boy. Big open heart. Sweet mind.

– hooks 2002.

That’s right. I am the last person in the country to buy, from an actual bookstore, a new, hard cover, first-edtion copy of bell hook’s Be Boy Buzz. That may be an exaggeration, but, as I mentioned in my previous blog post, bell hook’s children’s books are no longer in print. The owner of Frugal Book Store went down into the basement to find this for me. They didn’t even have it on the shelves.  Now I don’t have to fret over students eagerly borrowing my paperback edition. Frugal still has multiple copies of the paperback edition for sale, though! No other bookstore does. It’s a miracle to still see hook’s picture books on the shelf for sale still. It’s the way it should be.

The Skin i'm in  by Sharon G. Flake 1998 Published for Jump at the Sun New York

The Skin i’m in
by Sharon G. Flake
1998
Published for Jump at the Sun
New York

Winner of the Coretta Scott King/ John Steptoe New Voices Award. I bought this book for a few reasons: 1. I will buy any book that is an original publication of Jump at the Sun publishers. 2. I’ve been meaning to read Sharon G. Flake’s work. 3. I’m attracted to the plot: biracial teacher, identity issues.

You Don't Even Know Me by Sharon G. Flake 2010 Published for Jump at the Sun New York

You Don’t Even Know Me
by Sharon G. Flake
2010
Published for Jump at the Sun
New York

Now matter what I think I may understand,  I must constantly remind myself that: I know nothing! You Don’t Even Know Me is an obvious need-to-buy. This is the same book, I just learned about a few days ago for the first time, while I was trying to find out why Jump at the Sun publishing imprint no longer exists. This book was on the silhouette website page for Jump at the Sun, that I describe in my previous blog post. And here, Frugal Book Store has it! They are the only book store that I know of to still carry Jump at the Sun books.

Atheneum Books For Young Children: An imprint of Simon &  Schuster. New York

Jenny Reen and the Jack Muh Lantern 1996 Published for Atheneum Books for Young Readers New York

Jenny Reen and the Jack Muh Lantern
1996
Published for Atheneum Books for Young Readers
New York

Once upon a time,…there was a time of great tears…In this hardest of hard times there was still joy because there were children, children with round cheeks and round curls. Such a child was Jenny Reen.

– Smalls 1996

I bought this book because it is written by beloved children’s author Irene Smalls. Smalls, like other cherished children’s book authors, is experiencing THE HAND! Yup. The hand. Publishers who own the rights of many of her books, are no longer publishing them. I’ll write more about this method of oppression in a future blog post. Jenny Reen and the Jack Muh Lantern is one of Smalls’ books that she owns the rights to, and therefore it is alive and printing well! Irene, if you are reading this post, then I’d like to ask you: Can we do lunch? We live in the same city! Wadda yuh say?

Abrams Books for Young Readers. New York

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Maritcha: A Nineteenth Century American Girl
By Tonya Bolden
2005
Published for Abrams
New York

This is the true account of Maritcha Rémond Lyons; based off her autobiographical memoirs and scrap books. She was an assistant principal at Public School No. 83 in Brooklyn, New York. She passed away in 1929.  This book has been out for eight years, and I am just learning about it now. And I call myself a progressive teacher. Hmmph!  There’s just so much newly-exposed history. I am eager to uncover it. I owe it to my students. It is their history to know. It is a gem of a book.  The publishers did a fine job of including ample photos of Maritcha’s original journal and scrap book. Looking through it, I am flooded with the same feelings I get when looking through my great grandmother’s scrap book. She too, a New Yorker, Harlem bred.

Random House. New York

Harlem's Little Blackbird Written by Renée Watson Illustrated by Christian Robinson 2012 Published by Random House New York

Harlem’s Little Blackbird
Written by Renée Watson
Illustrated by Christian Robinson
2012
Published by Random House
New York

If my voice can take me around the world, what else can it do?

– Watson 2012.

This story is about Florence Mills. Harlem, bred.

Houghton Mifflin. Boston. New York.

These Hands By Margaret H. Mason Illustrated by Floyd Cooper 2010 Published by Houghton Mifflin Books For Children. Boston. New York

These Hands
By Margaret H. Mason
Illustrated by Floyd Cooper
2010
Published by
Houghton Mifflin Books For Children.
Boston. New York

These Hands is the biographical account of Joseph Barnett’s experiences while working in the 1950’s and 60’s, at the Wonder Bread factory. The Wonder Bread Corporation maintained great racial discrimination practices throughout the Civil Rights Movement and beyond.

A & B Publishing Group. Brooklyn, NY.

Nandi's Magic Garden Written by Ron Matthews Illustrated by David Jones (Year ?) A&B Publishers Group Brooklyn

Nandi’s Magic Garden
Written by Ron Matthews
Illustrated by David Jones
(Year ?)
A&B Publishers Group
Brooklyn

Just Us Books. Orange, NJ.

Land of the Four Winds Written by Veronica Freeman Ellis Illustrated by Sylvia Walker 1993 Just Us Books Orange, NJ.

Land of the Four Winds
Written by Veronica Freeman Ellis
Illustrated by Sylvia Walker
1993
Just Us Books
Orange, NJ.

African American Images. Chicago, IL.

Markita Written by Alissa Nash Illustrated by Doby London 1994 Published by African American Images Chicago

Markita
Written by Alissa Nash
Illustrated by Doby London
1994
Published by African American Images
Chicago

The Best Face of All Written by Wilesse A.F. Commissiong Illustrated by Buck Brown 1991 Published by African American Images Chicago

The Best Face of All
Written by Wilesse A.F. Commissiong
Illustrated by Buck Brown
1991
Published by African American Images
Chicago

The trip was well worth it. From their generous teacher discount, to their ever-expanding children’s section, complete with numerous academic and educational toys & activities. Knowledgable and friendly staff.

Also, children get a free book on their birthday!

Frugal Book Store is located:

Inside the Washington Park Mall
306 Martin Luther King Blvd.
Boston, MA 02119

617-541-1722

@FrugalBookstore 

facebook.com/Frugal.Books

Thanks for reading The Picture Book Pusher.