Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Jacob Lawrence and The Great Migration


Jacob Lawrence created a fabulous series of sixty paintings to share the story of The Great Migration. This was the movement of millions of African American people from the south to urban areas in other parts of the United States (see this map). In our school library, we have the book The Great Migration: An American Story. It includes the art series by Lawrence, notes about the content of the paintings, and a poem by Walter Dean Myers.

I read this book with fourth graders last year during our African American Read-In inspired by NCTE. This year I thought I would do a little more with the text. While prepping for my lesson, I looked online and found out that The Phillips Collection hosts a very helpful online resource about Lawrence and the series. It includes an intro, a bio of Lawrence, the entire series, clips from a videotaped interview with the artist, and more.

In one of the interview clips, Lawrence explained how he had done research for the pictures at the Schomburg Center in Harlem. For that reason, the picture book biography Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library by Carole Boston Weatherford illustrated by Eric Velasquez would also be an interesting additional resource.

There is a picture book biography of Lawrence Jake Makes a World: Jacob Lawrence, an Artist in Harlem by Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts illustrated by Christopher Myers.


Another related picture book is John Brown: One Man Against Slavery by Gwen Everett with illustrations by Jacob Lawrence. The story was created to go with paintings Lawrence had previously finished. I haven't read it yet, but noticed it was in our library and provides another view of his artwork.

Two other picture books tell more about The Great Migration. This is the Rope by Jacqueline Woodson illustrated by James Ransome is inspired by the historical migration of African Americans and the migration of Woodson's mother. Her mother moved from South Carolina to Brooklyn, New York and Woodson describes it as a fictive memoir. The second book is a collection of poems, The Great Migration: Journey to the North by Eloise Greenfield illustrated by Jan Spivey Gilchrist. The families of both the author and illustrator were part of the migration. They share from both history and experience.

One other picture book may be helpful when teaching about this topic. Ruth and the Green Book by Calvin Alexander Ramsey illustrated by Floyd Cooper, shares the story of an African American family traveling by car from Chicago to visit family in Alabama. While this isn't about the actual migration, it shows an effect of the migration on family members separated by geography. It also highlights some of the differences Ruth sees between her life in Chicago and the places she is traveling through and visiting. Readers learn about the discrimination and danger faced when traveling as an African American, but they also learn about the resourcefulness and kindness of fellow African Americans.


Finally, Kadir Nelson's book Heart and Soul would also serve as a helpful resource when discussing this time period. There's a chapter called "Turn of the Century and the Great Migration" and other related history is found in surrounding chapters. The information is helpful, but it would also be interesting to compare the content of the artwork of Nelson and Lawrence



These resources are a great place to start when teaching about The Great Migration. If you know of others, please include them in a comment below.

To find more nonfiction suggestions, stop by Alyson's blog - Kid Lit Frenzy and visit some of the other participating bloggers.

Monday, December 11, 2017

It's Monday! What are you reading?

 

It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. It's a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It's also a great chance to see what others are reading right now...you just might discover your next “must-read” book!

Kellee Moye, of Unleashing Readers, and Jen Vincent, of Teach Mentor Texts decided to give It's Monday! What Are You Reading? a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children's literature - picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, anything in the world of kidlit - join us! We love this meme and think you will, too. We encourage everyone who participates to visit at least three of the other kidlit book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them.

If you want to know more about what I've been reading, visit my Goodreads shelf.

Last Week on the Blog:

Last Week in Books:

Sam and Eva is a cute book about creativity and collaboration. Debbie Ridpath Ohi has an artwork collaboration offer going right now for teachers too.

The Poet X is a YA novel in verse exploring family, religion, identity, and the fabulousness of poetry. I loved it and will be recommending it a lot before and after it comes out in March. I got the digital ARC from Edelweiss and will post a longer review at some point in the near future.

Time Now to Dream is a sweet picture book that would be a good bedtime book.

Frederick Douglass: The Lion Who Wrote History is a picture book biography by Walter Dean Myers. The book is well done and I learned more about Douglass. He is definitely someone who influenced the world in a big way.

Books in the Classroom: 
I enjoy Hour of Code activities, but we still manage to read along with our coding.


The Coming Week: 
I'm reading two books right now - the third Magnus Chase book and Akata Warrior. Other than that, I will read a few picture books and will be starting The War I Finally Won.

Reading Challenge Updates:
Goodreads Challenge 2017 - 805/550
(when I made my goal, I didn't know I'd be on a picture book award committee - eek!)
Diversity on the Shelf 2017 - 248/225 (goal = 50% of my books by and/or about POC)
#OwnVoices Challenge - 149/125
#MustReadin2017 - 22/24

Sunday, December 3, 2017

It's Monday! What are you reading?

 

It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. It's a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It's also a great chance to see what others are reading right now...you just might discover your next “must-read” book!

Kellee Moye, of Unleashing Readers, and Jen Vincent, of Teach Mentor Texts decided to give It's Monday! What Are You Reading? a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children's literature - picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, anything in the world of kidlit - join us! We love this meme and think you will, too. We encourage everyone who participates to visit at least three of the other kidlit book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them.

If you want to know more about what I've been reading, visit my Goodreads shelf.

Last Week on the Blog:

Last Week in Books:
I read a bunch of picture books this week (more than 35), so I'll just share the best of the best. My favorites this week were:

 

Nonfiction this week was excellent. Allen Say did a fabulous job with Silent Days, Silent Dreams. It's an incredible picture book biography of a self-taught artist who had physical challenges and very little encouragement from his family, but persisted in creating. Sergeant Reckless is another biography, but this time about a horse that performed heroically during war. The Survivor Tree is not a slick book (it doesn't look like a book from a big publisher), but it's one about a subject that I don't think I've seen in a picture book before. It's written about a tree in front of the Murrah building in Oklahoma. It was damaged, but survived the bomb that went off there. The book shares this painful piece of history in a respectful manner. Margaret and the Moon is a great biography of a female computer programmer that worked for NASA. I especially love this one because the illustrations are done by Lucy Knisley. I'm a fan of her graphic novels.  My Journey to the Stars is a nice autobiography.

Books in the Classroom:


These are the books I shared with classes this week. We were finishing up our Native American project with third grade and read Dragonfly Kites after watching the video we had created since it ended with Julie Flett and her illustrations.


This project came about after I saw this tweet from Debbie Reese:

With the other grades we were preparing for Hour of Code by learning about female coders (4th & 5th grade) and robots (1st & 2nd grade).

Middle Grade and Above:
 

Shine was a middle grade novel on my MustReadin2017 list. It's by Candy Gourlay and I wanted to make sure I'd read all of her books. I had to buy it because it wasn't available at any libraries in WI. It's a mysterious story about a family with secrets.

Things I'm Seeing Without You was an ARC (YA) I got at ALA in June. I finally picked it up this weekend and it was quite compelling. It involved suicide so obviously dealt with death, but it was also a romance in an unorthodox way. I read it straight through so that says something. It was certainly thought-provoking. In the Pond was for my neighborhood book group (adult). It was actually super funny. It's set during the time after the cultural revolution in China. It was great for discussion.

The Coming Week: I still haven't gotten to all of the ARCs I meant to before the year's end so I will attempt to do that.

Reading Challenge Updates:
Goodreads Challenge 2017 - 797/550
(when I made my goal, I didn't know I'd be on a picture book award committee - eek!)
Diversity on the Shelf 2017 - 245/225 (goal = 50% of my books by and/or about POC)
#OwnVoices Challenge - 147/125
#MustReadin2017 - 22/24

Monday, November 27, 2017

It's Monday! What are you reading?

 

It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. It's a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It's also a great chance to see what others are reading right now...you just might discover your next “must-read” book!

Kellee Moye, of Unleashing Readers, and Jen Vincent, of Teach Mentor Texts decided to give It's Monday! What Are You Reading? a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children's literature - picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, anything in the world of kidlit - join us! We love this meme and think you will, too. We encourage everyone who participates to visit at least three of the other kidlit book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them.

If you want to know more about what I've been reading, visit my Goodreads shelf.

Last Week on the Blog:

Last Week in Books:
I read a bunch of picture books this week (more than 35), so I'll just share the best of the best. My favorites this week were:


All of these are worth tracking down and reading. I especially enjoyed Her Right Foot. It's a very unique way to deliver information and made some points about our country that many should here in this day and age of anti-immigrant/refugee sentiment. Quite a few of these are biographical and I liked learning more about these people. Stolen Words was a bittersweet story told in an attempt to show the effect of residential schooling on Native people and also offer hope of healing. **edited - I had some qualms about the book (the dream catcher and that it was based on what she wished she had talked to her grandfather about), but ignored them when I saw that the author was of Native descent. Since then, Debbie Reese has posted an excellent review of the book. At this point, it is not one I would recommend since there are much better books about that time in history. I wish I had paid more attention to those feelings of unease and questioned what I was reading more. This is definitely  a learning process.

 A Different Pond has local connections as the author grew up in the Twin Cities. I appreciate this book for it's look into an immigrant family. It also has one character mentioned who is Hmong. That's a plus since we have a large Hmong community and they do not see themselves in traditionally published work very often.

These five books are the ones I shared in class this past week. All were great and I'd recommend them. The Baby Chicks goes with the song Los pollitos dicen. We read that and sang the song before going to the reading room to learn about magazines. One of the magazines had a story about a hungry chick. It's such a fun song to sing.


I also read some middle grade and young adult titles. 


Love, Hate, & Other Filters (an ARC from the publisher) was really good. It was realistic fiction dealing with parental expectations, friendship, romance, and living in the US as a Muslim. A Line in the Dark was a thriller and dealt with friendship, romance, and jealousy. It kept me guessing. Spirit Hunters was fabulously creepy at the middle grade level. I loved it.

In addition, I read one adult title:

Crazy Rich Asians is basically a romantic comedy starring some seriously rich Asians. I saw a Twitter post recently about a handbag that goes for more than $200,000. I wondered who would buy such a thing. This book is full of people who could. They pay more for one dress than we paid for our home and car together. It was a light and quick read and just what I was craving.

The Coming Week: I started reading Shine by Candy Gourlay. It's on my #MustReadin2017 list. It wasn't available at the library or through ILL so I finally purchased it. I may get to some ARCs this week, but I'm not sure. I keep getting distracted by other books.

Reading Challenge Updates:
Goodreads Challenge 2017 - 740/550
Diversity on the Shelf 2017 - 241/225 (goal = 50% of my books by and/or about POC)
#OwnVoices Challenge - 144/125
#MustReadin2017 - 21/24

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Celebrate!


Ruth Ayres has a link-up on weekends where people link to posts that are celebrations about their week. I love this reminder to celebrate every week though this month I have been remiss. I haven't put my celebrations online this month yet so here are quite a few of them.

I am often celebrating bookish things and this month is no exception. First though, I am thankful I had both of my adult children home for a few days and we were able to spend some time together. One of my children is a fan of BTS (a Korean music group) so we spent time watching their videos. When we did, we found this fun moment:
Watching their videos is truly a treat as they are cute, have fun dance moves, and their songs are very catchy. It's even better because I get to enjoy something with my child & it connected to a book!

Another fun lit moment was finding the book A Different Pond by Bao Phi illustrated by Thi Bui:
We have many Hmong students in our school and there are very few books where a Hmong character just randomly shows up. Plus, this is a wonderful immigrant family story.

My first grade students and I read You Hold Me Up by Monique Gray Smith illustrated by Danielle Daniel and made a display. It was super exciting to hear back from the author:

I also had bookish fun at the adult storytime. I shared the essay Bad Feminist #2 by Roxane Gay and many other people shared from books and essays. Next time I want to bring picture books.
One other lovely moment from this month was when I finally listened to the audio of Aristotle and Dante:
Finally, I was also able to go see Jason Reynolds speak in Madison. I am always inspired and moved when he shares from his heart. Not only did I see him, but I was able to spend several hours in the car with two other librarians and that was awesome bookish talking time.

I'm glad I get to spend so much time doing the things I love with fun people and excellent books.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

It's Monday! What are you reading?

 

It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. It's a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It's also a great chance to see what others are reading right now...you just might discover your next “must-read” book!

Kellee Moye, of Unleashing Readers, and Jen Vincent, of Teach Mentor Texts decided to give It's Monday! What Are You Reading? a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children's literature - picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, anything in the world of kidlit - join us! We love this meme and think you will, too. We encourage everyone who participates to visit at least three of the other kidlit book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them.

If you want to know more about what I've been reading, visit my Goodreads shelf.

Last Week on the Blog:





Last Week in Books:
I'm reading a bunch of picture books right now, so I'll just share the best of the best. My favorites this week were:

John Herrington's Mission to Space is a great look at the world of an astronaut. It's a great nonfiction book and I love that it highlights his Chickasaw heritage. 

Apex Predators is another fantastic nonfiction book. It would be great paired with Jess Keating's What Makes a Monster. The predators of the past were particularly frightening - the stuff of nightmares.

I love a good puzzle so Look! What Do You See? pulled me in immediately. It didn't take long before my eyes started to catch the patterns and it's immensely satisfying to break the "secret code" the author has created. It looks very much like Chinese characters, but it is something else entirely. It was fascinating. I had to run out and find a teacher to show it to right away. We puzzled through them together. It was also fun because we got to sing our way through.

"Fall in Line, Holden!" is a really engaging story of Holden, a young Navajo boy, who sees things in a unique & imaginative way. I like that it has connections to the residential school era so you can talk about that history. It's also great that in the bio of the author, Daniel W. Vandever (Navajo), readers learn that his grandfather was a code talker. That also provided the opportunity to discuss who the code talkers were & book talk Bruchac's novel Code Talker. Here's a great interview with the author of Holden.

I also read Turtles All the Way Down for book club. I read it pretty much in one sitting so it was definitely interesting and compelling. It was hard to witness the struggles of the main character though. It wasn't an easy book to read.

The Coming Week: I just started Love, Hate and Other Filters. I'm also being tempted by some ARCs on Netgalley and Edelweiss so that might be my holiday reading. Here are the ARCs I may dive into: Dread Nation, Voices in the Air, The Poet X, Shadow Girl, Black Panther: The Young Prince, and The Belles.

Reading Challenge Updates:
Goodreads Challenge 2017 - 674/550
Diversity on the Shelf 2017 - 229/225 (goal = 50% of my books by and/or about POC)
#OwnVoices Challenge - 137/125
#MustReadin2017 - 21/24

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Review: The Hate U Give

Title: The Hate U Give
Author: Angie Thomas
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Pages: 444
Availability: On shelves
Review copy: Digital ARC via Edelweiss & library copy post pub

Summary: Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil's name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.


Review: Starr has some seriously heavy things to deal with after she witnesses the shooting of her friend. She isn't named in the press and she has to decide if she wants to go public. She can keep quiet and try to go about her life. That's the safe path. She's scared though and doesn't want to have any of this affect her or her family. The problem is that even if she stays quiet, their lives have already been affected. 

I loved this book for so many reasons. First, Starr is a fully human character with all her quirks and strengths. She makes me laugh, cry, cringe, and shake my head sometimes. I also adore her family. This book is about so much more than a shooting. It's about what a family can and does do for each other. There are parents here that are trying hard and still fail, but they keep trying. That was something shown over and over again. You also see that there are often layers of things happening. It may look like someone doesn't care, but it's not necessarily the case. Their way of showing love just might not look the way you would expect.

Starr is a student at a predominantly White prep school. As a White reader, I found it helpful to see the way Starr felt she had to be a different person in school than she was in her neighborhood. The way she moves through the world is different in each space because of the expectations of people around her. I've heard people talk about code switching, but this story really paints a thorough picture of how that looks day to day. I think this is something that many people don't fully understand unless they've been there themselves.

Recommendation: This book has a lot going on and is one I would highly recommend to anyone interested in understanding some of the current discussions around justice and policing. I'll also be recommending it to anyone who wants to read a well crafted story with compelling characters. I didn't want to leave them. In fact, I've read the book three times already and will likely read it again to visit Starr and her family once more.

Extras:
The Hate U Give discussion at Rich in Color
Politics and Prose Video Interview with Angie Thomas