February 6 – When the Beat Was Born: DJ Kool Herc & The Creation of Hip Hop by Laban Carrick Hill. Illustrated by Theodore Taylor III. Genre: Non-fiction. Biography. Biography: – Clive Campbell a.k.a. DJ Kool Herc. Historical Time Period: 1970’s – Present Day. Geographical Relevance: 1. Bronx, NYC. 2. Jamaica Authenticity: Author, Laban Hill, includes historical data, timeline, and an extensive Author’s Note, in the back of the book, that include’s stories of his younger years exploring the Bronx and other boroughs of NYC. Hill has a reputation of doing extensive research on his subjects before he writes about them. This book is no exception to that.
I’ll admit that I hadn’t heard of either Patricia or Fredrick McKissack by name, until I came across several newspaper obituaries, earlier today. Realizing only after that I own and use many of their books in my classroom. Many. Fredrick McKissack was the coauthor, and researcher of over a dozen non-fiction children’s books focused on the history of African-Americans. The above link will take you to the NY Times obituary of Frederick McKissack.
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’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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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 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.
Just Us Books. Orange, NJ.
African American Images. Chicago, IL.
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
Thanks for reading The Picture Book Pusher.
I met author and illustrator Kadir Nelson. He spoke on a panel entitled, Why Picture Books Matter, with authors Anna Dewdney, and Harry Bliss; moderated by Leonard Marcus. During the panel, he spoke about his uncle being one of his earliest mentors, and about being honest in your work. I took notes.
Let me transcribe the most relevant words, from my notes, for you below:
“Be present in your work because kids live in the moment, so as soon as you’re not in the present, you’re not being authentic.” – Kadir Nelson, BBF, October 27th, 2012.
“My purpose is to create a mirror for the reader to see themselves, to create a light for people to see themselves in the characters, pictures, and stories. So they resonate.” – Kadir Nelson, BBF, October 27th, 2012.
“Be honest in yourself and in your books. Tell the truth, tell the truth, tell the truth.” – Anna Dewdney , BBF, October 27th, 2012.
On Developing Empathy in Children via picture books: “Children should see themselves, feel better about themselves, and the world they live in, feel humanized.” – Anna Dewdney , BBF, October 27th, 2012.
Panel information can be found here: http://bostonbookfest.org/bookfest/schedule_detail/schedule_why_picture_books_matter/
Although I have many of Kadir’s titles in my classroom, I didn’t bring any of them with me to the BBF. So of course, I had to buy two additional copies of Heart and Soul, for him to sign. I bought one for a colleague, and another for…The Picture Book Pusher.
This book is so appropriately titled. When I hold it to my chest, my heart thumps. My soul is affirmed when I read his words, because he uses the same language that I do in the classroom with my students.
“When my granddaddy took his freedom, he was a young man.“ – Kadir Nelson, Heart and Soul. Chapter 6. Page 47.
Although, I admit, I don’t know why the author uses the word Indian to refer to Native Americans so prevalently in this book. Perhaps I will send him a direct message on Twitter, and ask.
“About one hundred thousand Indians were either swindled out of their lands by treaties the government didn’t honor or made to leave at gunpoint and marched hundreds of miles to live out in the middle of Oklahoma. ” – Kadir Nelson, Heart and Soul. Chapter 6. Page 48.
Ending just last week, Kadir’s oil painted illustrations from Heart and Soul were on exhibit in the gallery at The Society of Illustrators in New York, NY. You can read more about the exhibit, and view paintings here: http://societyillustrators.org/The-Museum/2012/Kadir-Nelson/Heart-and-Soul—The-Story-of-America-and-African-Americans.aspx
If you are not familiar with Kadir Nelson’s breath taking, soul-stimulating paintings, then you can check out his web page: http://www.kadirnelson.com/
Hmmm. Well, let me say that I was not expecting the kinds of pains that I encountered this past Saturday at the Boston Book Festival, in Copley Square. I have four pains actually. They are below; compliments of Barefoot Books, Inc.
The Terrible Chenoo, The Beeman, The Boy Who Grew Flowers, and Ruby’s Sleepover are four, recently published, picture books that I will not be using in my classroom; even though I purchased them with the expectation that they were works of accurate and relevant literature. I will blog in greater detail, regarding their lack of authenticity and mindfulness, in a separate post. I’ll give you a hint, however, as to why they don’t meet my standard – because they completely contradict the intentions of the authors mentioned above, from the Why Picture Books Matter panel.
“Be honest in yourself and in your books. Tell the truth, tell the truth, tell the truth.” – Anna Dewdney , BBF, October 27th, 2012.
Thank you for reading The Picture Book Pusher
Yesterday, afternoon, I was driving through Dedham, with quite the appetite. Determined to find some good food, I stumbled into the mega complex off of Route 1, in Dedham, MA. A megaplex of all your favorite high-end retail. Favorites, that you didn’t even know were your favorites yet.
*Blank stare, and silent moment to allow the cricket chirps to emphasize my facetiousness*
Since, I really can’t resist going into a bookstore that I’ve never been in yet, I decided to take a quick look in the toy store, Stellabella Toys, to see if they sold any quality books in their toy store. I was surprised at how much time I spent looking at their front shelf, full of new picture books. Titles, like always, I have never heard of. I am still young in the world of picture books, so I really only learn about them, as I am exposed to them. I loved that the first thing you see when you walk into the store, is a beautiful case of books to your right. I browsed over a shelf or two. Once I had already picked out three books for purchase, I thought it best, to check and see if the store passed my ethical standards. So I asked the friendly staff, Kyle, my first of two questions: Do you carry Country Bunny and the Little Golden Shoes? No; neither in the store nor in their database. Correct response! Check! Second question: Do you give teacher discounts? Yes. Check! 10% discount. Semi-check. An hour and a half later, I come out with 11 books. All new. Which is not a habit that I embrace easily. Pockets aren’t that deep, but I have no regrets of my purchases. I look forward to using every one of them in the classroom, minus the one on Forensic Science, that I bought for my 11-year-old cousin. She just completed a Saturday class on Forensic Science, at Emmanuel College, in Boston.
5 of the 11 purchased books are picture books.
1. Giant Steps to Change the World by Spike Lee and Tonya Lewis Lee. Illustrated by Sean Qualls. Madston, Inc. 2011. Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers.
“If you stare at a painting and do not see yourself there, paint your own portrait.”
2. The Loud Book by Deborah Underwood. Illustrated by Renata Liwska. Houghton Mifflin Books for Children 2011.
3. Busing Brewster by Richard Michelson. Illustrated by R.G. Roth. Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of Random House. 2010
“What’s that sign say?” I ask Bryan. There’s white people lined up on both sides of the street.”Welcome to Central,” Bryan answers
4. One Tree by Leslie Bockol. Illustrated by Jillian Philips. InnovativeKids® 2009
“One sapling grows tall. Over many seasons, it becomes a new tree. In springtime, it will grow many new buds.”
5. In the Garden by Leslie Bockol. Illustrated by Jillian Philips. InnovativeKids® 2009
“Our garden is growing, and we are growing too!”
What I like about the InnovativeKids Green Start books, is their attention to the environment. The books are made from 98% post consumer product. The book also has activities, and websites, in the back, with tips on how to prevent deforestation. The language is excellent for my second language learners. Writing in repeated grammatical patterns. “The grapes grow on the vine. I pick them and eat them.” “The tomato grows on the vine. I pick it, and eat it.”The pictures are appropriate, relevant, and beautiful; the essential components to any acceptable classroom picture book. Any book pertaining to gardening in general, and the growing of produce, is welcomed in my classroom.
1 of the 11 books, is a book of poems.
Not just any poems, though. Haikus. The Picturebook Pusher’s personal favorite genre of poetry. Although, I do believe some of the haiku’s cheat the rules of writing a haiku. With sentences beginning in the middle of a stanza, and finishing in the middle of the next. Hmm. But not all are written like that. Many are perfect. Like the haiku below.
“The wind and I play/Tug-o-war with my new kite/The wind is winning.”
Guyku: A Year of Haiku for Boys by Bob Raczka. Illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds. Houghton Mifflin Books for Children. 2010
I’ll be honest, though. I will be concealing the title of the book. I will be covering the word, ‘boys’. From the cover. It is a book of Haiku for children, not just boys. In fact, I don’t see one delightful haiku in the book, that pays reference to ‘boys’. With the mild exception of the word, ‘man’, in a haiku about a snowman.
“Last week’s snowman looks/under the weather. Must be/a spring allergy.”
1 of the 11, an encyclopedia.
The Usborne Encyclopedia of World Religions. By Susan Meredith and Clare Hickman. Edited by Kirsteen Rogers
“Historians are uncertain of some exact dates in early religious history, so these dates begin with the abbreviation ‘c’. This stands for ‘circa‘, which is Latin for ‘about’.”
Religion comes up almost daily, in my classroom. The conversations are not initiated by me. I just try to help guide them, and keep them from telling each other what to do. “Don’t eat pork, or you’ll go to he$$.” “Don’t say ‘oh my g-d’.” “You can’t go trick-or-treating; g-d doesn’t like that.” Those are the kinds of statements I hear my students saying, and trying to process. They present a lot of anxiety over religion. I try to help them ease that anxiety. Of course, they don’t mean any harm to each other, but it must be awfully confusing for them to understand that they are each different, and practice being good people in different ways. This book uses language, and pictures to help students understand that religion stems from culture, and that they can be friends with each other, and learn what each other can teach the other.
1 of the 11 is an art book.
“There are lots of ways to apply paint. The dotty picture on the left was painted with brushes, but you can get a similar effect with fingers too.”
This book is just great all around, and creating art is an everyday affair in my first-grade classroom. This book includes several different kid-friendly techniques for painting, drawing, collaging, etc. Its not a craft how-to book. It is a technique how-to book.
1 of the 11 is an activity/reference book
A Kid’s Guide to African American History by Nancy L. Sanders. Independent Publishers Groups. 2007
“Youths came to study law, math, and medicine at the University of Sankore in Timbuktu. Scholars came to Timbuktu to study its large collections of manuscripts, which included famous selections from Greek and Arabic literature. Scholars came to write their own books, too. The trading of books brought in more money than almost any other kind of business…People enjoyed dancing, fencing, gymnastics, and chess. Great respect was paid to learned people in this intellectual center of West Africa.”
I bought this book initially so I could compare my current practice ,and individual curriculum, to it. The organization of history by time and era, is very beneficial. This book will also benefit me when planning our unit on the ancient kingdoms of Africa.
The last book I bought is a reproducible workbook focusing on parts of speech, and other methods of classifying words by meaning.
It is designed for second graders, but it is all concepts that I am teaching my first-graders about. What is key, is the organization of concepts and activities, on the worksheets.
Overall, a very successful trip.
Stellabella Toys . Dedham Legacy Place Unit A-244. Dedham, MA 781-329-6290. www.stellabellatoys.com
Thank you for your time.