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 6: Confrontation & Conflict Resolution

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.)

Monday:

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?

Tuesday

I was going to read Encounter by Jane Yolen. Illustrated by David Shannon.

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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.

Fox in Socks By Dr. Seuss

Fox in Socks
By Dr. Seuss

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From Dr. Seuss’ Fox in Socks

From Dr. Seuss' Fox in Socks

From Dr. Seuss’ Fox in Socks

Wednesday and Thursday

Abiyoyo by Pete Seeger. Illustrated by Michael Hays.

Abiyoyo  By Pete Seeger Illustrated by Michael Hays. Currently published by Aladdin.

Abiyoyo
By Pete Seeger
Illustrated by Michael Hays. Currently published by Aladdin.

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.

Friday

Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman. Illustrated by Caroline Binch.

Amazing Grace By Mary Hoffman Illustrated by Caroline Binch

Amazing Grace
By Mary Hoffman
Illustrated by Caroline Binch.
Published by Dial. 1991

"You can't be Peter - that's a boys name." But Grace kept her hand up. "You can't be Peter Pan,"  whispered Natalie. "He isn't black." But Grace kept her hand up.

“You can’t be Peter – that’s a boys name.” But Grace kept her hand up. “You can’t be Peter Pan,” whispered Natalie.
“He isn’t black.” But Grace kept her hand up.

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.

K2 Thought: September SchoolDay Blues

K2 Thought: September SchoolDay Blues

Everett Anderson’s Year by Lucille Clifton

“I already know where Africa is
and I already know how to
count to ten and
I went to school every day last year,
why do I have to go again?”

From beloved author, Lucille Clifton’s children’s book Everett Anderson’s Year. Illustrated by Ann Grifalconi.   I just discovered this poem, yesterday, when this book arrived in the mail. Buying Lucille Clifton’s children’s literature on a budget is an art in itself. Since most of her vital work for young people is out of print, prices can be staggering, and then at times. …not staggering at all. I snagged this one off of the big A online for about $3 just in time for the school year to begin. This was published in the 1970’s, yet it completely bypassed my childhood library life. I only first heard of it about a year ago, when I discovered “who” Lucille Clifton was. All this literature that existed when we were children in the 80’s…if we actually got a taste of it, how much further in security and identity would our generation be? Danny and the Dinosaur taught me nil about how to navigate life, yet it is still a top seller in the child lit world. Syd Hoff – Hmph. Lucille Clifton – holla! Her poems in  Everett Anderson’s Year are so on-point and K2-ready that my heart swells up a bit with each page I turn. My ever-evolving classroom library stays engaging my students. Poems like this remind us to never assume that the little people we teach don’t have waves of complex emotions and perspectives. Our job is not to teach them. Our job is to let them teach us.

Thanks for reading The Picture Book Pusher…..and Lucille Clifton in your classroom.