March 16, 2018 | Week in Review

2018-03-15-WWW

Saludos a todxs,

As the week draws to a close, we are pleased to share our findings from happenings related to Latinx narratives, children’s literature, and multicultural education, but first we acknowledge the humbling power and strength of the many students and teachers who marched, stood, or took a knee this week to protest shootings within schools. To be inspired by the students’ actions and to fit them within a larger history of social protest by youth, visit the Zinn Education Project on Twitter.

~ Keira

  • We start with a piece from the NYTimes: “Black Kids Don’t Want to Read About Harriet Tubman All the Time.” It’s an article that resonates with a lot of our internal conversations here at Vamos a Leer. The author, Denen Millner, acknowledges the advances in making children’s literature more inclusive, but critiques the industry’s ongoing tendency to focus on the mirror images of “degradation and endurance” of her people. She writes, “You can fill nearly half the bookshelves in the Schomburg with children’s books about the civil rights movement, slavery, basketball players and musicians, and various “firsts.” These stories consistently paint African-Americans as the aggrieved and the conquerors, the agitators and the superheroes who fought for their right to be recognized as full human beings…Meanwhile, stories about the everyday beauty of being a little human being of color are scarce.”
  • Following up on last week’s article we shared on  What Do the Allegations Against Sherman Alexie Mean for Native Literature?,  now we draw your attention to Booktoss’ analysis of “The Single Story of ‘Part-Time Indian'” and related resources for expanding your bookshelf’s collection of indigenous writers for young readers. p.s. if you haven’t already, definitely take a moment to watch the TED talk with Chimamanda Adichie!
  • Lee & Low’s blog, The Open Book, is offering an ongoing series exploring what culturally responsive teaching looks like at different grade levels, and offering concrete examples and resources to go along with that. This week, they focused on Grade 4: Studying Informational Text .
  • Also from The Open Book, an interview featuring Maya Christina Gonzalez on Honoring Francisco X. Alarcón and Family. “Released last fall from the Children’s Book Press imprint of LEE & LOW BOOKS, Family Poems for Every Day of the Week/Poemas familiares para cada día de la semana is a celebratory collection of poems that highlights the daily life of children every day of the week while also honoring the experiences of Latino poet Francisco X. Alarcón, who passed away in January 2016. We interviewed illustrator Maya Christina Gonzalez about the important role that family and friends play in Family Poems for Every Day of the Week and what the creative process was like.”
  • From the amazing Jacqueline Woodson’s Twitter feed, we were tuned into this feature of Slam Poet Elizabeth Acevedo Debuts Novel, ‘The Poet X’.When asked what gave her the idea to write the novel, Acevedo responds with ” I was teaching eighth grade English Language Arts at a school with a high population of students of Latin American descent. One day, one of my students asked me why we never read books with students that looked like her and her classmates. I decided to write a book for her, and her classmates, and my younger self, and my best friend, for anyone who wants to read a story from a place that feels familiar.” Definitely a new #TBR for us here at Vamos a Leer!
  • Dwelling for a moment on Acevedo, here’s another review of the book and its impact for reclaiming heritage for young adult readers. “While struggles with faith, family, and self-acceptance are not unique teenage experiences, it is their presentation through the lens of Xiomara’s Afro-Latina heritage that makes her story a startling standout. “
  • Edi Rodríguez at CrazyQuiltEdit tackled the issues of #kidlitwomen in two recent posts titled Black Girls Economics in Young Adult Fiction and Black Girls Economics in Young Adult Fiction part 2 or This is What Marley Dias Was Talking About, a sobering reminder of how little representation and opportunities exist for authors of color. This series is part of her March effort to celebrate “Women’s History month with 31 days of posts focused on improving the climate for osical and gender equality in the children’s and teens’ industry.” She invites everyone to join the conversation on her blog or follow on Twitter via #kidlitwomen. She opens her post on Black Girls Economics with this poignant quote from Jacqueline Woodson, “What am I going to do about a time of my life in which the brilliance of Black girls had no mirror?”
  • Continuing with the theme of #KidLitWomen, Debbie Reese of American Indians in Children’s Literature is running a “campaign to lift Indigenous women who have written books for children and teens.” Visit her blog to be inspired, open your mind to new writers, and benefit from her hard work in compiling amazing titles from which you can choose. As she notes in the conclusion to her March 10th post on the topic: “I made an Indigenous #KidLitWomen pdf for you that has book titles on it, plus some gorgeous covers! Right after the book title is the name of the Native woman. In parenthesis is that woman’s nation, followed by the publisher and year the book was published. Here’s what it looks like (and beneath the image of it, you’ll see the book list), but hit that pdf link and print it out as many times as you want! Take it with you to the book store, to the library… to your next book club meeting!”
  • We’re a bit late catching wind of this resource, but still couldn’t resist sharing: 21 Books for an Inclusive Read Across America Day. It starts with Yo Soy Muslim, which we recently reviewed here, as well as many of our other favorite titles, such as Drum Dream Girl, Separate is Never Equal, Mama’s Nightingale, and more!
  • Similarly, we wish we’d found this sooner, but it maintains its power today, because every month should be Black History Month! From The Conscious Kid, Black Books Matter: Children’s Books Celebrating Black Boys. This is a “curated list of children’s books celebrating Black boys, in partnership with Moms of Black Boys United. These books center, reflect, and affirm Black boys, and were written and illustrated by Black authors and artists.
  • Finally, if you’re in the New York area in April, you might consider registering for The Color of Children’s Literature Conference organized by Kweli, an online magazine whose “mission is to nurture emerging writers of color and create opportunities for their voices to be recognized and valued….[their] vision is for a world where the narratives being told reflect the truth of our histories and the possibilities for our future.”

February 23, 2018 | Week in Review

2018-02-23-WWW

Hello, all,

I’m with you for one more week while Alin is away. It’s a treat for me to contribute here at Vamos a Leer. I hope you enjoy reading the resources as much as I enjoyed gathering them. Be well and have a good weekend!

  • Have you heard about the Children’s Africana Book Award, or CABA? It’s much like the Américas Award, but with a focus on Africa. In February, CABA is inviting readers everywhere to choose any week during the month as a “Read Africa Week.”  They “invite teachers, librarians, parents, and concerned adults to kick off Black History Month with great books about Africa and continue reading about Africa all year.”  Learn more at the CABA website, where they offer recommendations and reviews to get you started.
  • An NPR segment on February 19th focused on teaching about slavery using the Zinn Education Project.  As the Zinn Education Project reports, “the segment addressed the question of ‘How Do You Teach Slavery?’ with Adam Sanchez, Zinn Education Project curriculum writer/teacher organizer. Sanchez, who has written extensively about teaching people’s history, is a high school U.S. history teacher and Rethinking Schools editor. Also on the show were Hasan Kwame Jeffries, chair of the Teaching Tolerance ‘Teaching Hard History’ Advisory Board and associate professor of history at Ohio State University, and Maureen Costello, director of Teaching Tolerance, Southern Poverty Law Center. The 1A show focused on a new report from the Southern Poverty Law Center called ‘Teaching Hard History: American Slavery.’ The one-hour show is streaming online.”
  • With Black Panther sweeping the nation, some educators are curious about how to bring it into the classroom. One teacher did just that, designing a curriculum for “students who are seeing Black Panther, as a means to having them engage more critically and thoughtfully with the film. The curriculum assumes that students…have previous experience studying the African continent, its diversity, and colonialism.” To read Tess Raser’s curriculum for 5th-8th grades (and adaptable to high school), check out her Black Panther Film Movie Companion for Middle Grades.
  • Author Lyn Miller-Lachmann recently wrote a blog piece on “Seven Asian American Authors Speak Out,” recounting an afternoon when “more than 100 people, mostly teens and young adults” packed together in a room to hear Asian American authors discussing the writing experience and what it meant to find, read, and then write books with characters whose stories matched their own lives. As Miller-Lachmann observed, “The panelists offered fascinating insights from their experiences as well as valuable advice for all writers, whether they write own voices stories or develop characters from outside their personal experiences.”
  • Bustle recently highlighted the cultural invisibility of Afro-Latinx cultures by publishing a piece on How Afro-Latinx People Made Huge Contributions to Black History – Then Got Erased. “As scholars Juan Flores and Miriam Jimenez Roman write in the journal Latin American and Caribbean Ethnic Studies, ‘the groups are presented as adversarial and mutually exclusive: either you are Latino [sic] or you are Black.’ Often times, celebrations of Black History Month follow this paradigm, without recognizing Afro-Latinx people as foundational to Black history.”
  • NPR shared a piece on “Afro-Latino Musical Traditions,” which you can listen to anytime. “You can hear it there. African culture is embedded in the beats and rhythms of Latin America. And this is Black History Month.”
  • Last week we shared that Houghton Mifflin Harcourt launch Versify, a new diversity imprint. This week we learned that Penguin Young Readers is treading the same path, launching a new imprint “called Kokila, that will focus on diverse books for children and young adults….authors and illustrators already set to be published under the Kokila imprint include Pablo Cartaya, Sherine Hamdy, Myra El-Mir, Isabel Quintero, Zeke Peña, John Corey Whaley, Calista Brill, and Nilah Magruder.” Some of our favorites and TBR authors are on this list, so we’re excited to see what new books come to our shelves!

 

Cheers,
Keira


Image: Beadwork from KwaZulu-Natal, a province in South Africa. Reprinted from Flickr user Karen Lotter under CC©.

February 16, 2018 | Week in Review

Hello, all,

I’m stepping in this Friday while Alin is out of the office. As always, more happened in the past week than we can begin to tap into here. Forefront in our minds are the students whose lives were taken. We take a moment of silence to acknowledge and honor them, and grieve with their loved ones. [long pause and deep breath]

  • For more than 10 years, the writers at The Brown Bookshelf have used Black History Month as inspiration for their flagship initiative, 28 Days Later, a month-long showcase of the best in Picture Books, Middle Grade, and Young Adult novels written and illustrated by Black creators. Their 2018 collection, currently at #16, is inspiring and we highly encourage you to check it out.
  • Ever heard of a sensitivity reader? They’re the folks who read books prior to publication to help authors sensitively and accurately portray characters if they’re of a different culture. Recently, Dhonielle Clayton, a sensitivity reader, author, and one of the chief executives of We Need Diverse Books, shared some insight into her work and its importance. You can learn more by reading the articles “What the Job of a Sensitivity Reader is Really Like” and “Sensitivity Reading Reinforces and Encourages a More Diverse and Aware Publishing Process.” She writes that, while “Many claim that sensitivity readers are diversity police officers telling (white) writers that they cannot write cross-culturally…one thing that gets left out of the conversation is that, when an author fails to write well-rounded, fleshed-out characters outside their own realm of experience, it’s, at its core, a craft failure. In simple terms: it’s bad writing.”
  • We heard that Houghton Mifflin Harcourt will launch a new imprint, Versify, in Spring 2019, and that it will be curated by author Kwame Alexander! “‘I get asked what will make Versify different from other imprints,’ says Kwame Alexander. ‘The truth is we are not reinventing publishing. It’s the same ingredients in our kitchen as everyone else’s: we want to publish books for children that are smart and fun, that inform and inspire, that help children imagine a better world. My goal is just to make sure there are more chefs in the kitchen, more voice sin the room, that create unique and intelligent entertainment that electrifies and edifies young people.”
  • Mind overloaded at the end of the week? How about taking in a few short sound bytes about why we need diverse books?
  • And, ending on an uplifting note, we offer congratulations and felicidades to the authors and illustrators who received recognition at the recent American Library Association’s Youth Media Awards! Congrats to Ruth Behar for Lucky Broken Girl, Pablo Cartaya for The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora, Celia E. Pérez for The First Rule of Punk, Susan Middleton Elya and Juan Martinez-Neal for La Princesa and the Pea, Monica Brown and John Parra for Frida Kahlo and Her Animalitos, and Xelena Gonzalez and Adriana M. Garcia for All Around Us! Visit Latinx in Kid Lit for links to reviews and more info about these authors, illustrators, and their respective works.

Best,
Keira

February 17th | Week in Review

2017-02-17-WWW-Image-01.png¡Hola a todos! I hope everyone had a wonderful Valentine’s Day. Below are numerous resources that touch on identity, family, and testimony. I know I’ve shared a lot, but there were just so many to choose from this week! I hope these are of use to everyone. Have a wonderful weekend.

Rethinking Schools shared Tackling the Headlines: Teaching Humanity and History. One of the main takeaways: “The best antidote to Trump’s xenophobia, racism, misogyny, and fossil-fuel soaked future is critical thinking.”

– Our Lee & Low Books friends shared Valentine’s Day Children’s Books that Celebrate Familial Love. Even if it is no longer Valentine’s Day, it is important to stress the value of familial love. It’s a theme we’re talking about all month long.

Continue reading

Honoring Black History Month: Read Africa Week

Hello all –

I hope that this day finds you each doing well.

This week I’m offering something a bit different than our typical Reading RoundUp. In honor of Black History Month, we’d like to share with you information about Read Africa Week, a literacy initiative that takes place from February 1 – 7 and highlights the wonderful resources of the Children’s Africana Book Award (CABA).

Much like we refer to the Américas Award when looking for juvenile literature focused on our main region, Latin America, CABA highlights juvenile literature by African authors and about African culture. The award was created by Africa Access and the Outreach Council cabaof the African Studies Association (ASA) to encourage the publication and use of accurate, balanced children’s materials about Africa.

Organized by CABA colleagues at Howard University (including the Center for African Studies and the School of Education), Read Africa Week “invites teachers, librarians, parents, and concerned adults to introduce young people to kick off Black History Month with great books about Africa and continue reading about Africa all year.” Check out the recommended books here!  Similar to other organizations promoting diversity in literature, the books recommended are vetted by African Studies scholars to provide “accurate, balanced, books [that] can change and expand what we know, think and feel about Africa.”

Continue reading

Sobre Febrero: Latinx Children’s Literature and Resources for Teaching Love of Self, Community, and World

Vamos a Leer | Sobre Febrero 2017

Hello, all!

In February we’ve turned to upcoming holidays and other celebrations as a means of shaping our emphases. Perhaps you’re thinking about these holidays and other celebrations right now and are pondering how to fit them into your classroom.  For Valentine’s Day, for instance, we were inspired to think about a more nuanced way to approach the holiday — one that moves us beyond candy hearts and red-tinted art projects. Our focus is going to be on love as a broader concept — love of self, of community, and of world. It’s a theme that seems more appropriate than ever given all of the negative sentiments and outright hatred circulating among at the moment.

Continue reading

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