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Nonfiction Wednesday

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday is hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy and was started to help promote the reading of nonfiction texts. Most Wednesdays, we will be participating and will review a nonfiction text (though it may not always be a picture book).
Be sure to visit Kid Lit Frenzy and see what other nonfiction books are shared this week!

The March Against Fear: The Last Great Walk of the Civil Rights Movement and the Emergence of Black Power
Author: Ann Bausum
Published January 3rd, 2017 by National Geographic Society

Summary: James Meredith’s 1966 march in Mississippi began as one man’s peaceful protest for voter registration and became one of the South’s most important demonstrations of the civil rights movement. It brought together leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. and Stokely Carmichael, who formed an unlikely alliance that resulted in the Black Power movement, which ushered in a new era in the fight for equality.

The retelling of Meredith’s story opens on the day of his assassination attempt and goes back in time to recount the moments leading up to that event and its aftermath. Readers learn about the powerful figures and emerging leaders who joined the over 200-mile walk that became known as the “March Against Fear.”

Thoughtfully presented by award-winning author Ann Bausum, this book helps readers understand the complex issues of fear, injustice, and the challenges of change. It is a history lesson that’s as important and relevant today as it was 50 years ago.

About the Author: Ann Bausum writes about U.S. history for young people, and she has published eight titles with National Geographic Children’s Books including, most recently, Marching to the Mountaintop (2012) and Unraveling Freedom (2010). Ann’s books consistently earn prominent national recognition. Denied, Detained, Deported (2009) was named the 2010 Carter G. Woodson Book Award winner at the secondary school level from the National Council for the Social Studies. Muckrakers (2007) earned the Golden Kite Award as best nonfiction book of the year from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Freedom Riders (2006) gained Sibert Honor designation from the American Library Association and With Courage and Cloth (2004) received the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award as the year’s best book on social justice issues for older readers. In addition, Ann has written about the nation’s chief executives and their spouses—Our Country’s Presidents (2013, 4th edition) and Our Country’s First Ladies (2007)—as well as the intrepid explorer Roy Chapman Andrews (Dragon Bones and Dinosaur Eggs, 2000).

Review: Ann Bausum’s text is a suspenseful story of the last Civil Rights march from Memphis, TN to Jackson, MS told in chronological order with captioned photographs that help the reader feel like they are present at the time of this march and the social, racial tension that filled America. I am having a very hard time reviewing this book, not because I don’t have nice things to say, but because this timely story is tough because although it is history, it seems like we haven’t come far from where the story takes place (which is terrifying).

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: I believe that now is the most important time to teach resilience to our children as rights of many people are being threatened. Much of this education can come from conversation and amazing fictional stories, but I think it is vital to teach the history of diverse people within our nation that fought for rights. Children need to learn about women’s history, Black American history, Native American/American Indian history, Asian American history, LBGTQIA history, Irish American history, Jewish history, and so many more–all diverse populations that were prejudiced against and fought. Ann Bausum’s text (and her bibliography!) is a must-read in this education of our future.

Discussion Questions: Why was this march the last of the Civil Rights Movement?; This book is being called “timely” by many reviewers. Why do you think that timely is being used to describe the book?; Why would Bausum choose this march as the topic of her book?; How do the photographs and quotes throughout the book change the experience of reading the text?

Flagged Passages: “A cornerstone of this social justice movement became the willingness of people to put their lives on the line in the fight for change, much as Meredith had done during the integration of Ole Miss. Volunteers in the movement countered the violence of segregationists with tremendous acts of courage. They stood their ground peacefully in the midst of racist attacks, confident that love was a more powerful emotion than hate. Year after year, they persevered, whether it meant walking to work instead of riding segregated buses during the Montgomery bus boycott of 1955 and 1956, or braving violent mobs during the freedom rides of 1961, or enduring police attacks with high-pressure fire hoses during the Birmingham campaign of 196.

Such efforts drew on what movement leaders called the power of nonviolence. Some viewed nonviolence as a strategy, a series of tactics that forced reluctant foes to submit to change; others saw it was a way of life. For nonviolence to work, people had to be willing to remain peaceful, but determined, in the face of any level of violence. They had to outmaneuver their violent oppressors and step in and complete a protest whether their comrades had been arrested, injured, or even killed.” (p. 12-13)

Read This If You Love: To learn about the history of Civil Rights Movement

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**Thank you to Karen at Media Masters Publicity for providing a copy for review!**

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Ghost
Author: Jason Reynolds
Published: August 30, 2016 byAtheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books

GoodReads Summary: Running. That’s all that Ghost (real name Castle Cranshaw) has ever known. But never for a track team. Nope, his game has always been ball. But when Ghost impulsively challenges an elite sprinter to a race — and wins — the Olympic medalist track coach sees he has something: crazy natural talent. Thing is, Ghost has something else: a lot of anger, and a past that he is trying to outrun. Can Ghost harness his raw talent for speed and meld with the team, or will his past finally catch up to him?

Ricki’s Review: I will read anything by Jason Reynolds. He captures the adolescent voice perfectly. Ghost reminds me of so many kids that I taught, and if I was still teaching, I would be thrilled to bring this book to school to recommend it to dozens of my students. Luckily, I can now share it with preservice teachers! I am very excited that this book will be one installment of a series of companion texts. It doesn’t end with a hook, which I am grateful for, and I believe the next book will feature a different character. There are so many great lessons that emerge from this story. Teachers would have much to discuss in their classrooms. I highly, highly recommend this text. It belongs in schools and in the hands of kids.

Kellee’s Review: This book is one of those books that I don’t like to tell people what it is about because any summary just doesn’t capture the brilliance of the characterization and story. However, through the word-of-mouth compliments of middle schoolers, it has become a favorite book for many of our school’s students and even won our HCMS Mock Newbery Award! I think it is Jason Reynolds’s way of connecting with adolescent readers through a true voice and circumstances that so many of them will connect to.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: We recommend using this book to teach characterization. Ghost reflects the qualities of a human—he has good and bad qualities and makes some mistakes. Students might list all of the lessons that Ghost learns through the story. They could even try to map the lessons he learns in a visual diagram of their choice.

Discussion Questions: How does Ghost’s past haunt him? Does it shape who he is?; What poor choices does Ghost make? Why does he make the choices, and are they justified?; How does the track team act as an unconventional family for Ghost?

Flagged Passage: “You can’t run away from who you are, but what you can do is run toward who you want to be.”

Read This If You Loved:  The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds; The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen; Boy21 by Matthew Quick; Ball Don’t Lie by Matt de la Peña

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In order to understand something, I read, read, read. For I believe that in order to understand the dignity, the passions, the humanity of others, we have to imagine ourselves in their skin. It is my hope that sharing these books will encourage others to deepen their understandings of other people and cultures. I breathe books, so this is my method for deepening my own understanding, but please share other approaches that have worked for you.

1. Iran

If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan

This stunning text tells the story of two teenaged girls who are in love in Iran. I was mesmerized by its beauty and couldn’t wait to share it with others.

2. Iraq

Sunrise Over Fallujah by Walter Dean Myers

This is an incredibly powerful book about a young man from Harlem who goes to war in Iraq. Initially, when I created this list, I intended to feature characters and authors who are from each of the countries on the #MuslimBan list, but this particular book vividly features the country and is a wonderful read.

3. Libya

In the Country of Men by Hisham Matar

This is a difficult text to read because it features complicated issues. It is told from the perspective of Suleiman, a 9-year-old boy who lives in 1979 Libya.

4. Somalia

Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali

I have not read this book, but it is coming my way through the Interlibrary Loan! An excerpt: “Infidel shows the coming of age of this distinguished political superstar and champion of free speech as well as the development of her beliefs, iron will, and extraordinary determination to fight injustice.” I can’t wait to read it!

5. Syria

In Praise of Hatred by Khaled Khalifa

This is a second book that I have on Interlibrary Loan, and it looks fantastic. The reviews note that it is dark, gritty, and eye-opening. I will report back after I’ve read it!

6. Sudan

A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park

Many of the readers of this blog know this book quite well. It is This book is based on the true story of Salva Dut, a Lost Boy of Sudan. I know several teachers who do Water for South Sudan challenge with their students. This sort of advocacy is incredibly empowering.

7. Yemen

I am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced by Nujood Ali

A friend told me about this book. She said it changed her. I have asked her to borrow her copy. In the meantime, I will share an excerpt: “I’m a simple village girl who has always obeyed the orders of my father and brothers. Since forever, I have learned to say yes to everything. Today I have decided to say no.”

I have read four out of seven of these books, and I am looking forward to diving into them all. I will never claim to be an expert, and I don’t believe that reading books that feature other countries will make me an expert. It will, however, help me better understand humanity. If you’ve read any of the books above, please comment, as I hope this can be a place for us to share books with each other. I would love any suggestions of other texts featuring these countries!

With the exception of Walter Dean Myers (who writes about an American who goes to Iraq), I intentionally chose texts that are written by authors who are from the countries they write about. This list is in no way exhaustive—reading one book set in one country most obviously will not help us understand the experiences of all (or even most) of the people who live there. It will, however, give us one snapshot of one life.

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nfpb2017

Nonfiction Wednesday

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday is hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy and was started to help promote the reading of nonfiction texts. Most Wednesdays, we will be participating and will review a nonfiction text (though it may not always be a picture book).
Be sure to visit Kid Lit Frenzy and see what other nonfiction books are shared this week!

book-of-heroines

The Book of Heroines: Tales of History’s Gutsiest Gals
Author: Stephanie Warren Drimmer
Published November 8th, 2016 by National Geographic Children’s Books

book-of-heroes

The Book of Heroes: Tales of History’s Most Daring Guys
Author: Cristpin Boyer
Published November 8th, 2016 by National Geographic Children’s Books

The Book of Heroines Summary: Everybody needs a role model! Discover true stories of superstars, war heroes, world leaders, gusty gals, and everyday girls who changed the world.

From Sacagawea to Mother Teresa, Annie Oakley to Malala Yousafzai, these famous females hiked up their pants and petticoats or charged full-speed ahead to prove that girls are just as tough as boys…maybe even tougher. Complete with amazing images and a fun design, this is the book that every kid with a goal, hope, or dream will want to own.

The Book of Heroes Summary: Everybody needs a role model! Discover the true stories of superheroes, rebels, world leaders, action heroes, sports legends, and many more daring dudes, all of whom played their part to make their mark, make a contribution, and make the world a better place.

From Abraham Lincoln to Sitting Bull, Stephen Hawking to Galileo, these cool guys had the boldness, bravery, and brains to meet the challenges of their day. With a fun design, engaging text, and high-quality photographs, this is ultimate hero guide and keepsake for 21st century kids .

Review: As I’ve stated over and over, I am so impressed with all the new National Geographic Kids books that I have encountered over the last couple of years. With this text, I specifically found the way that the publisher/authors structure the texts makes them so thematic-based thus accessible and informative. The books also have something for everyone as so many different types of heroines/heroes are featured from scientists, historical heroes, political heroes, and more! I cannot wait to put these in my classroom and find out how to use them with students!

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Teachers will find this book irreplaceable! It has so much information to fit into so many different units, connect with so many different texts, and relates to so many parts of history. These texts could also be used as the basis of a inquiry project where students use these texts as previews and they choose a theme or a hero/heroine and complete a research/inquiry project around it or maybe even create a text set around the theme or the person.

Discussion Questions: Which heroine/hero do you think changed history the most?; If you were to take part in an inquiry project about one hero/heroine, who would you like to learn more about?; Why did the author/publisher choose to structure the text in the way they did? What other structures could they have chosen? Which do you feel would have had a bigger impact?

Flagged Passages: 

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Read This If You Love: Biographies, History, Women’s Rights, Science, Animals, Mythology

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**Thank you to Karen at Media Masters Publicity for providing copies for review!**

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Enter Title Here
Author: Rahul Kanakia
Published: August 2, 2016 by Disney-Hyperion

Summary: I’m your protagonist—Reshma Kapoor—and if you have the free time to read this book, then you’re probably nothing like me.

Reshma is a college counselor’s dream. She’s the top-ranked senior at her ultra-competitive Silicon Valley high school, with a spotless academic record and a long roster of extracurriculars. But there are plenty of perfect students in the country, and if Reshma wants to get into Stanford, and into med school after that, she needs the hook to beat them all.

What’s a habitual over-achiever to do? Land herself a literary agent, of course. Which is exactly what Reshma does after agent Linda Montrose spots an article she wrote for Huffington Post. Linda wants to represent Reshma, and, with her new agent’s help scoring a book deal, Reshma knows she’ll finally have the key to Stanford.

But she’s convinced no one would want to read a novel about a study machine like her. To make herself a more relatable protagonist, she must start doing all the regular American girl stuff she normally ignores. For starters, she has to make a friend, then get a boyfriend. And she’s already planned the perfect ending: after struggling for three hundred pages with her own perfectionism, Reshma will learn that meaningful relationships can be more important than success—a character arc librarians and critics alike will enjoy.

Of course, even with a mastermind like Reshma in charge, things can’t always go as planned. And when the valedictorian spot begins to slip from her grasp, she’ll have to decide just how far she’ll go for that satisfying ending. (Note: It’s pretty far.)

My Review: Whew! I really enjoyed this book! Rahul Kanakia really nails the pressure that overachievers experience. I was reminded of myself a bit. Reshma is willing to do anything to maintain her valedictorian status, and she takes things a bit too far. She is such an unlikeable character that I found her to be quite likable. I notice the GoodReads ratings of this book are high (a 3.58 average) but not incredibly high, and I laughed. Books with unlikable characters are always unfairly low in their ratings. When I put this book down, I felt like I’d learned a lot. Reshma feels like a real person because she makes some major mistakes. She is an anti-hero. I had difficulty putting the book down because I wanted to see how far she would go, and it made me cringe a bit. This book evoked a visceral reaction out of me!

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: I would love to teach this book because it would evoke some excellent classroom discussions. Reshma represents the ugly side of many people, and I think that readers will have strong reactions to her selfishness. I’d particularly like to dive into her relationship with her mother. Readers could discuss family histories and how these may influence our decisions and our concepts of self.

This book is a great way to introduce metafiction. It would be very interesting to tease apart how the plot relates to the narrator’s book.

Discussion Questions: How do Reshma’s parents differ? How do they influence her decisions? What impact do they have on her as a person?; Does Reshma go too far? What are the consequences? Would you have gone as far as she did?; Why might the author have chosen to write the book as if Reshma was writing it? How does this impact your reading of the text?

Flagged Passage: “The thing no one understands about me is that sometimes, once in a while, I get this feeling like I can do anything, and that feeling is so rare and so beautiful that it’s really hard not to simply surrender to it.”

Read This Book If You Loved: The Secret Side of Empty by Maria E. Andreu; I Crawl Through It by A.S. King

 

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zack-delacruz-2

Zack Delacruz: Just My Luck
Author: Jeff Anderson
Published October 11th, 2016 by Sterling Children’s Books

Summary: Zack Delacruz is back—and eager to meet Abhi, the new girl at school. But things get off to a rough start when he accidentally knocks her to the ground during a game of dodgeball. And whenever he tries to make amends, she just ignores him. Nothing works—not his friends’ advice or his “lucky” cologne. In fact, he just seems more and more cursed! Then, at the Fall Fiesta-val, Zack finally learns the real reason behind Abhi’s cold shoulder . . . but not before total chaos erupts. With a runaway train, exploding confetti-filled eggs, and Abhi’s terrifying older brother, will Zack ever get a chance to talk to his crush? In the end, Zack learns what it means to believe, to listen, and to be a good friend.

This dynamite sequel captures the middle-school experience—and will keep readers laughing from beginning to end.

Review: I always worry about sophmore books because there is always a chance that the story will just not hold up to the premiere; however, Zack is back and better than ever! The first Zack Delacruz adventure really introduced us to the diverse cast of characters at Zack’s school and just how rough of a time Zack has on a day-to-day basis. Book two begins with one of the funniest days I’ve ever read about in a book! Not only does he knock down the new girl who he wants to get to know during a game of dodgeball, but it definitely gets worse than that (but I am not going to tell you!). Next to the humor, the thing I love most about Anderson’s choice of character is that he makes sure that Zack’s school reflects a real school and the teachers and kids that go there. 

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Just like the first book, I think the key to Zack’s potential is making sure he is in libraries and read aloud.

Discussion Questions: What is the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to you at school?; What should Zack learn from what happened with Abhi?

Flagged Passages: “And all the frustration and embarrassment from the day made my skin burn. Why did every terrible thing seem to always happen to me? My eyes were getting wet. I wasn’t going to add crying to my fool portfolio. All my rage went into the red ball. I gripped it, not sure what to do. After all, I really didn’t want to hit her. But if I threw the ball too softly, people would say I had a crush on Abhi.  Then they would start heckling me from the sidelines. Just like this stupid game of dodgeball, there was no way to win middle school. So, I chuck the ball low and away, so I would just miss her leg. But at that moment, Abhi jumped.

The ball smashed into her angle, and her legs flew back from the force of the ball. She slammed facedown on the hard wooden floor with a boom like thunder.

The gym went silent.” (p. 34)

Read This If You Loved: Zack Delacruz: Me and My Big Mouth by Jeff AndersonFrank Einstein by Jon SciezskaPickle by Kim BakerBetter Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle, Big Nate by Lincoln Peirce, Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney

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**Thank you to Lauren at Sterling for providing a copy for review!!**

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the sun is also a star

The Sun Is Also a Star
Author: Nicola Yoon
Published: November 1, 2016 by Delacorte

Summary: Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?

My Review: This book shines brightly. It is more than a love story. The description of the text doesn’t quite do it justice. While reading Nicola Yoon’s words, I thought of politics, I thought of the universe, I thought of science, and I thought of culture. Natasha and Daniel have a lot of baggage, and their family histories have formed who they are. Both are strong characters who want to be better than some of the mistakes their family members have made. I appreciated the depth of this text.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: I love talking about immigration in the classroom because it is a great opportunity for powerful discussions. I would love to talk about Natasha’s situation and students’ opinions about it. This might allow students an opportunity to look at immigration laws and how they impact others.

Throughout the text, Yoon provides snippets of other characters’ lives. These snippets impact the narrators, and it would be interesting to discuss how each snipped changes the way we read the story.

Discussion Questions: Is Natasha’s father entirely wrong in his approach to life? Can you find some redemption in his poor decisions?; Do you believe in fate? How can we tie this story to science?; Does Natasha’s family deserve to go home? Do you think they should be allowed to stay in the United States of America?; What role does Daniel’s father play in the development of the story?

Flagged Passage: “There’s a Japanese phrase that I like: koi no yokan. It doesn’t mean love at first sight. It’s closer to love at second sight. It’s the feeling when you meet someone that you’re going to fall in love with them. Maybe you don’t love them right away, but it’s inevitable that you will.”

Read This Book If You Loved: Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon; Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell; The Secret Side of Empty by Maria E. Andreu

 

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