I usually try to make time to participate in DIR with the creative writing class that meets in the library to encourage a culture of reading in our building. I find it hard and unfair to ask students to read if they don’t see me reading. Here is today’s journal prompt.
I’ve spent the past week reading Margot Lee Shetterly’s Hidden Figures. After seeing the movie twice, I couldn’t help but pick up the printed story on its book birthday (release day for you non-book nerds 🤓). I’m reading the young readers’ edition, which is probably right up my alley, since I’m not a big nonfiction fan. Although the writing is simple, I’d recommend it for middle grade and high school. The simplicity of the text lends itself to middle grades, but the occupation topic and inclusion of family dynamics appeal to high school readers. What I love about the book is that you learn about a fourth hidden figure not mentioned in the movie (for those who watch before or rather than reading). At the moment, Hidden Figures has my brain spinning for a few reasons:
- Who knew married women during that time couldn’t be teachers?
- I love movies, but it’s so interesting to see how filmmakers use their creativity and embellishment from print to screen.
- While this story tackles Deep South racism (in the workplace and education) and sexism, what I love that it does most is breaks down limits and encourages the female of the species to pursue whatever they choose.
- I strongly believe we were all created to live in a certain age. There are things women and African-Americans had to deal with that I’m certain I would not have handled as well as many did during segregation. I have too much sass and way too many opinions to not “sit down and be quiet.”
- Who gives the final say on metadata? Why in the world is this book cataloged in 500s? Yes, its science and math, but it’s wholly these women’s stories.
At one point in my reading, I began to think about the strength and bada**ness of these women, I started a playlist that I felt embodied their character. It also includes some songs I thought might represent Captain Johnson’s feelings for Katherine as exhibited in the movie. Take a listen if you please.
My new Erin Condren planner has a small square each week that encourages me to think of what I’m thankful for. It’s simply labeled “Thankful Thought.” While most educators might be frustrated with lack of space in a building that houses more students than it can accommodate, I’ve recently experienced a renewed joy with the relocation of a creative writing class to our library space. Each day, they begin class with DIR. On days when I can afford to spare ten minutes, I join these students in their reading. Truth be told, they are treasured moments for which I am thankful.
The past few days during DIR, I’ve been reading Patricia Hruby Powell’s recently released Loving vs. Virginia: A Documentary Novel of the Landmark Civil Rights Case. It is the story of Richard & Mildred Loving and their fight for the legality of interracial marriage. I first became aware of their story a few years ago when I came across the picturebook A Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage. The more times I encounter this couple, the more emotion I feel.
Loving vs. Virginia is written in verse and includes illustrations by Shadra Strickland. The book is interesting in that it also includes artifacts and timelines pertinent to the time period. The author’s decision to take creative license to tell the story is evident. Combining fact and sentiment, Powell weaves together a documentary novel that makes the reader appreciate the Loving’s love for each other.
Today after reading, students had to respond to the following journal prompt post-DIR: Select what you consider the most important episode (moment) in the work. Explain what happens, why you think it is important to the section, your reaction to the episode and why you react this way.
I feel the most important episode is Mildred’s phone calls and letters to her lawyers at the ACLU. Quite some time has passed since the Lovings expected to hear whether or not there has been progress with their case. Mildred’s actions are important because they signify her quiet strength and persistence in pursuing her civil rights. My reaction to this is one of gratitude. I have never had to walk in the Lovings’s shoes. I cannot exactly feel how they felt to endure this experience. But I am thankful for their courage and commitment to fight to legalize interracial marriage. My heart is thankful because of someone’s desire to stand up for not only themselves, but others as well.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Loving vs. Virginia. I encourage you to take a look back at the Lovings’s story. Loving vs. Virginia is an easy read, yet with pertinent facts helping to shape the time period in readers’ minds. The Case for Loving is absolutely stunning and would certainly pair well if looking for a different telling of this landmark case. Last but certainly not least, SEE. THE. MOVIE. Loving—released at the end of last year—is such a poignant film and does not disappoint.