Reading Roundup: 10 Afro-Caribbean Children’s and Young Adult Books

Feb 2016 Afro-Caribbean Narrative

¡Buenos días!

I hope everyone is having a great week! I’m glad to be back with our Reading Roundup. This month’s list goes with our theme of Afro-Caribbean narratives. In the spirit of Black History Month, we are highlighting the importance of inclusive conversations in the classroom focused on race and diverse narratives, with a focus on civil rights. As Keira emphasized in her Sobre Febrero post, it’s important for these conversations to continue beyond the “heritage month” period, and so I hope that you’ll use this Reading Roundup list as year-round inspiration in your classroom.

While compiling these titles, I took extra care to include books that simultaneously celebrate the cultural diversity and richness of Afro-Caribbean peoples and acknowledge their difficult histories, including narratives related to slavery, repression, and what it means to be a part of a diaspora community in exile.  Together or individually, I’m hopeful that these titles will prompt meaningful conversations with and among your students.  Below are a few resources that may be helpful as you undertake that effort (thanks to Charla for her earlier posts highlighting some of these materials!) Continue reading

¡Mira Look!: Children of Yayoute

children of yayouteSaludos, todos! We are concluding this month’s theme of books on Haiti with a historical treat from the late Haitian artist and writer, François Turenne des Près (1907-1990), who is considered one of Haiti’s greatest painters. After his death in 1990, his son, Josquin des Près, uncovered his father’s collection of Haitian folktales and decided to compile the materials into a collection of stories for children. He complemented the stories with paintings of everyday Haitian life which his father had produced throughout his lifetime. According to a review by Publisher’s Weekly, “The legacy of the late Haitian artist and writer Turenne Des Près (1907-1990) is vibrantly preserved in this beautifully produced collection of 12 folktales. The stories, originally published in Haiti in 1949 without illustrations, are paired here with paintings culled from the more than 300 works executed by Turenne Des Pres.”

des Pres 6

Although this book is meant for children, adults will also enjoy its amazing historical import. As stated by Publisher’s Weekly, “The book has the sophisticated feel of a museum catalogue, yet it is zesty enough to maintain a child’s attention.” For younger readers, it would be best as a read-aloud; older children may want to read it independently. Continue reading

WWW: Teaching about Haiti with Love

¡Feliz viernes a todos!

I am so happy you are reading today because I am showcasing a great resource from Teaching for Change, which is another blogging site full of great teaching guides and supporting resources for the classroom. This week, to honor our themes of Afro-Caribbean cultures, Black History Month, Haiti, love and community, I am highlighting their resource for Teaching about Haiti. Because of all the supporting documents available through the page, this resource makes including Haiti in classroom discussion even easier! According to Teaching for Change, “It is important for students to gain a deeper understanding of the history and the roots of…Haiti. The U.S has been involved with Haiti for centuries, yet it has received little attention in textbooks or the curriculum. Part of our commitment to the people of Haiti can be to not only increase our support but also our awareness. As informed citizens, we can advocate for respectful and constructive relations with Haiti in the months and years ahead.” Continue reading

WWW: Stand up, Stand together

¡Feliz viernes a todos!

Thanks for joining me again this week! While this month has not been focused directly on activism, I have still been showcasing some resources on activism and Haiti, tying our themes from this month and the last together. My first two posts this year showed activism in forms that were different than the protesting we might immediately associate with the word. However, since we at Vamos a Leer are focusing on loving one another, community, and self-love, this week’s post will be focused on the Haitians and Haitian-American activists who are standing (quite literally) in protest with Dominicans of Haitian descent in the recent Dominican Republic-Haiti Deportation crisis. For those of you who have not heard about this, you can learn more from Michele Wucker’s article or from this NPR broadcast. This crisis, which involves the mass deportations of thousands of “Dominican-born Haitians,” or second/third generation Dominicans of Haitian lineage, is sparking upset globally. After spending this past summer learning Haitian Creole and visiting the country for myself, I am particularly invested in this topic. But more than anyone, Haitian and Haitian-American activists are upset and are taking a stand on the behalf of Dominican-born Haitians. Continue reading

¡Mira Look!: Running the Road to A B C

Children's Book Review: Running the Road to A B C by Denizé Lauture | Vamos a LeerSaludos, todos! This week’s featured book is Running the Road to ABC, written by Haitian author Denizé Lauture and illustrated by Reynold Ruffins. With stunning illustrations and compelling lyrical prose, this wonderful picture book tells the story of six Haitian children and the miles they travel to get to school. In doing so, Lauture’s tale takes readers on a visual and poetic journey of Haiti’s various landscapes, both geographical and social. While exposing some of the present-day hardships in Haiti, such as running barefoot over rough terrain to get to school, Lauture proudly depicts values such as strength, determination, and a love of learning.

abc 2Lauture introduces his book by dedicating it “To all children who, smiling and laughing,/ laughing and singing,/ singing and smiling,/ stand tall at the golden thresholds of their lives/ and welcome learning and teaching,/ and teaching and learning,/ as the two most endearing experiences in life.” A love and dedication to learning is certainly at the crux of this tale. As Lauture openly embraces the beauty in teaching and learning, his lovely, undulating prose is in itself didactic. Throughout the tale Lauture makes ample use of repetition and symmetrical sentence structures (such as “learning and teaching,/ and teaching and learning”), which can help young readers remember new vocabulary, keep up with the story, and witness the flexibility and playfulness of words. In addition, his long, flowing sentences tend to continue on and on without punctuation, reflecting the long and persistent, yet melodically joyful journey of the schoolchildren. Moreover, the lack of punctuation may reflect the cadence of Haitian Creole, which is generally not a written language. As a result, Lauture’s prose suggests a melody that would make the story perfect for reading out loud—a treat for listeners, and a celebration of Haiti’s rich oral tradition. Continue reading

WWW: Reparations and Confronting the Legacy of Slavery in the Island Nation Known as the First Black Republic

¡Feliz viernes a todos!

Another week has gone by already! And just like that, we are into February. Thanks for reading again. Hopefully 2016 has gone smoothly for everyone reading! I know we are feeling the pace increase a bit here.

As February takes hold, and many classrooms turn to studies of Black History and the Civil Rights Movement, we at Vamos a Leer are turning our focus to the history of Afro-Latinos and Afro-Caribbean people. In this post in particular, I am addressing (very briefly) the widespread history of slavery and its implications particularly within Haiti and other Caribbean countries.

Besides open immigration flows, there are people of African descent in every country in the Western Hemisphere in large measure because Africans were taken forcibly as slaves and transported from Africa to the Americas from the 15th to the 19th century, used as human barter in exchange for goods, spices, and outright income. As slaves, Africans were treated as goods; they were bought, sold, traded, beaten and killed for disobeying unjust rules and regulations set by their owners. Side bar: we acknowledge that this is a difficult topic to teach, but also want to emphasize how necessary it is to have these conversations in our classrooms. For a brief overview of what to keep in mind when teaching about slavery writ large, see the article “Tongue-Tied” by Teaching Tolerance. Continue reading

¡Mira, Look! Book Fiesta!: Celebrate Children’s Day/Book Day; Celebremos El día de los niños/El día de los libros

Book FiestaGreetings, readers! I am honored to have had the chance to present such great books this month pertaining to themes such as poetry and Earth Day. This week I have another wonderful one. At the end of April, there falls a special holiday that is perfectly addressed in this week’s book: Book Fiesta!: Celebrate Children’s Day/Book Day; Celebremos El día de los niños/El día de los libros written by Pat Mora and illustrated by Rafael López.

Here is a description from Goodreads:

Take a ride in a long submarine or fly away in a hot air balloon. Whatever you do, just be sure to bring your favorite book! Rafael López’s colorful illustrations perfectly complement Pat Mora’s lilting text in this delightful celebration of El día de los niños/El día de los libros; Children’s Day/Book Day. Toon! Toon!

Continue reading