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We’re ALL Wonders

The magnificent R.J. Palacio recently released We’re All Wonders and my heart couldn’t be happier. Auggie is back in picturebook format spreading the importance of acceptance. While the audience of Palacio’s text and illustrations are obviously K-3, readers of all ages are sure to fall in love with Auggie and his message. 

“The Earth is big enough for all kinds of people.”

In We’re All Wonders, Palacio introduces us to Auggie, a kid who knows he’s not ordinary, but does ordinary things like anyone else. Auggie accepts he doesn’t look like other kids, but he wishes people didn’t focus on how different his appearance is. What he wants the most is for others to see him as the unique wonder his mom thinks of him as.

I loved Palacio’s original novel Wonder, and share the same sentiment about We’re All Wonders. What better time to begin teaching differences and acceptance than with young readers? The icing on the cake: Palacio’s vibrant illustrations. They’re the perfect complement to a story where the protagonist is hopeful despite how dark life can sometimes seem. Palacio’s incorporation of Wonder cover art-inspired look for Auggie will resonate with lovers of the chapter book. You’ll love this book and so will the little ones in your life. 💙❤️💛

If you’ve read enough of my posts, you know I’m an advocate of acceptance, diversity, and inclusivity, so I’ll leave you with one of my favorite pages from the book. This! This is diversity! And a beautiful illustration of how we may not look the same, but we’re all wonders. 💜

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rad women

If you’ve been hiding under a rock, newsflash: March is Women’s History Month and today is International Women’s Day. I happen to know some pretty badass women and I hope you do, too. What better time to blog about some children’s and YA titles that highlight amazing women! Check out one or a few of them at your school or public library. I hope you enjoy curling up with them to read with the young rad girls in your life.

Elementary

Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty. illus. by David Roberts. Abrams. 32 pp.

Curious about what surrounds her, young Ada is the scientist of her class. A classmate to Rosie Revere and Iggy Peck, Ada does research to find the answers to her questions. Perfect addition to a STEM or makerspace collection. (Inspired by Ada Lovelace and Marie Curie.)

Rosie Revere, Engineer by Beaty, Andrea. illus. by David Roberts. Abrams. 32 pp.

Rosie is an innovator and can build just about anything. When one of her contraptions turns out different than expected, she learns failure isn’t such bad thing. Spark a child’s imagination by adding this one to the collection. (Inspired by the life of Rosie the Riveter.)

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DIR: The Hate U Give

It’s connection day again, post DIR; seems like I always choose text-to-world. I’m reading The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas—a highly acclaimed “Black Lives Matter” novel. It recently received its eighth star review in the literary world.

At today’s point in the novel, Starr (the protagonist) is wondering why her best friend at school seems so distant now and thinks back to when Hailey started to drift away.

Quote:

“Plus she unfollowed my Tumblr.

She has no clue that I know. I once posted a picture of Emmett Till, a fourteen-year-old black boy who was murdered for whistling at a white woman in 1955…Hailey texted me immediately after, freaking out.”

The irony in Thomas’ inclusion of this event is that the woman who accused Emmett Till of whistling at her recently acknowledged she lied about the incident, ALL THESE YEARS LATER. I wonder, if this information had been revealed before or during Thomas’ writing process, would she have still used this particular example to drive the point that Hailey was so disturbed and angered by Starr’s choice to use Till’s photo on her blog? What would have been the alternate image?

I can’t help but also relate this to the news that departments at my alma mater, including the one from which I received my information sciences degree, recently pulled their sponsorship of a lecture by an assistant professor at Morgan State University solely based on the title—”How Killing Black Children is an American Tradition.”

What message are we sending when we try to censor a journalism professor based on title alone because (the) words have too much “power?” What message are we sending when we criticize our “friend” (as Hailey does in THUG) for exposing history because it looks “awful?”

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Make a connection

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.

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Not So Hidden Anymore

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.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/playlist/hidden-figures-blog/idpl.74d0e067a42e42cb99ae5d3e11fc646d

 

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Thankful Thought

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.

lovingThe 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.

lovingThis 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.

loving-poster

 

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This. Is. Required. Reading.

march-trilogy

Publisher photo

Do I have your attention? Great. Now go find the March Trilogy. Then read it. And hopefully it doesn’t take you as long as it did me to finish. Let me clarify; these are not difficult reads. Actually, I finished Book One and Book Two rather quickly. While Book Three is considerably longer than its predecessors, you should still manage to complete it fairly quickly. (I’ll be honest and admit that I could only get through a few pages at a time and had to walk away. My undiagnosed ADD aside, the current political climate caused great distraction for me with this read; I wish it hadn’t.😞)

In the past three years, I’ve become especially fond of graphic format books. John Lewis and Andrew Aydin’s March Trilogy (illustrated by Nate Powell) happen to be among my favorites. The trio compose Congressman John Lewis’ graphic memoir, recollecting the 1960s, culminating with the March on Selma. I love that not only do readers have access to Lewis’ history, we get a glimpse of his experience as, decades later, he witnesses history—the inauguration of the first African-American President. I have tried unsuccessfully for quite some time to put the emotions these books evoked into words. And even though I’ve begun typing this blog post, I still don’t quite have the words to do these texts justice. So, I won’t. What I will do is encourage you to read them for yourself.

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