Guest Post: Classroom Uses for All Thirteen by Christina Soontornvat, Astronaut-Aquanaut by Jennifer Swanson, Call and Response by Veronica Chambers, She Persisted: Claudette Colvin by Lesa Cline-Ransome, and History Smashers: Women’s Rights to Vote by Kate Messner

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One of the assignments during my Spring Children’s Literature course at UCF was creating a mini-teaching guide for the books we read for book clubs. We started with picture books for practice then students created them in their book clubs each week.

Today, I am happy to share the classroom uses and discussion questions found by my UCF Elementary Education students about some of the nonfiction books they read.

All Thirteen: The Incredible Cave Rescue of the Thai Boys’ Soccer Team
Author: Christina Soontornvat
Published October 13th, 2020 by Candlewick Press

Summary: An account of the amazing Thai cave rescue told in a you-are-there style that blends suspense, science, and cultural insight. Twelve young players of the Wild Boar soccer team and their coach enter a cave in northern Thailand seeking an afternoon adventure. But when they turn to leave, rising floodwaters block their path out. The boys are trapped! Before long, news of the missing team spreads, launching a seventeen day rescue operation involving thousands of rescuers from around the globe.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This book would be great for a full class discussion and read aloud. This book has a lot of important themes that would be great for class discussion such as teamwork and will to survive. Additionally, incorporating STEM activities through engineering would be perfect since this book was full of it.  And you can teach chronological order writing from the style of the book.

Discussion Questions: 

  • Have you ever been cave diving or experienced jumping into really cold water? Do you think you would be able to stay in the same wet/cold conditions for multiple days? What would help you get through the experience?
  • The Wild Boars were used to working as a team on the field, do you think it was easy for them to keep each other’s hopes up or more difficult? Why?
  • Different experts were called in to help get the team out of the water? Who do you think would be the most helpful in a similar situation? Do you think there are any people who weren’t called in that should’ve been called? Why?
  • The British divers refused to dive into the cave because of safety hazards on June 29th, and 30th. In your opinion do you think they were right, or do you think the Thai military were right in telling them to go in? Why?
  • If you were a family member of one of the thirteen trapped inside, what would you do? Would you call whoever you can think to help or keep yourself busy with aimless tasks or help pump water? Do you think you would remain calm? Why?
  • Draw a scene from the book, why did you choose this scene and how does it make you feel?
  •  Why did the team continue to follow their coach further into the cave although at times it was unsafe?  Who is someone you would follow feeling safe? Why?
  •  How did the maps and diagrams make it easier to understand the operation?
  •  There are many heroes in this book, who is someone in the book you consider a hero? and in your own life?

Recommended For: 

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Astronaut – Aquanaut: How Space Science and Sea Science Interact
Author: Jennifer Swanson
Published January 9th, 2018 by National Geographic Kids

Summary: Astronaut-Aquanaut explores the world of space and sea science, its differences and its similarities. The book is filled with interesting facts of the preparation and journey of surviving in a remote and hostile environment. The book also includes vivid photographs, as well as detailed accounts of real astronauts and aquanauts.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation:This book could be useful in the classroom as a read-aloud book. In addition, this book is great at incorporating science and can be used within a STEM class, if possible. In addition, students are exposed to many after-reading activities that can help them comprehend the information that they had just read from this book in class.

Discussion Questions: 

  • If you were to pick to be an Astronaut or Aquanaut what would you choose? And why?
  • What types of places do you think would be useful for aquanauts to discover? Where and why?
  • If you were an Astronaut how would you describe the similarities of your job to an Aquanaut?
  • Why do you think that these extreme exploration trips put a strain on the human body? And why do you think the body responds that way?
  • If you were an Astronaut what type of experiment would you conduct? And how can that also relate to being an Aquanaut?
  • Why is it important for astronauts to train underwater?
  • Imagine being called for an emergency involving an asteroid that needs to be identified. In what ways do you think this might affect your life as an astronaut, and how you would feel?
  • In what ways do you think that astronauts and aquanauts explore their surroundings?
  • How does understanding pressure, heat, and temperature help us understand space and sea exploration?

Recommended For: 

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Call and Response: The Story of Black Lives Matter
Author: Veronica Chambers
Published August 17th, 2021 by Versify

Summary: Call and Response: The Story of Black Lives Matter written by Veronica Chambers is a powerful outlook on the events of the civil rights movement of 2020. The Black Lives Matter movement captured global attention and spurred thousands of people of all ages, races, genders, and backgrounds to stand up for progressive social reform. This book tells the story of how social media networks like Instagram, Snapchat, Tik Tok, as well as every news broadcasting site had come together to educate and inform the world on the systematic racism that has been growing in this country for centuries.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This book could be used to help students understand a civil rights movements that is still going on today. The book shares information on the past and present situations that have led to this movement and includes pictures.

After reading this text, we would encourage my students to have a group discussion on there feelings towards the book, if the book made them feel a certain way, if they had an eye-opening facts that they would like to share, etc.

Discussion Questions: 

  • Do you remember another time in history when something was as big and powerful as the Black Lives Matter movement?
  • What emotions did you feel while looking at some of the pictures provided in the novel?
  • What are some ways that you can be a leader, like discussed in Chapter 6?
  • What quote in the novel stood out to you?  Why?
  • In what ways do you perceive this movement
  • How does it make you feel?
  • Do you feel you are in a safe and comfortable environment?
  • Do you or do you know of someone who may have been negatively affected by the BLM?
  •  Chapter 10 discusses young leaders. How did these young leaders lead, and why was it effective?

Recommended For: 

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She Persisted: Claudette Colvin
Author: Lesa Cline-Ransome
Illustrator: Alexandra Boiger
Published February 2nd, 2021 by Philomel Books

Summary: Inspired by the #1 New York Times bestseller She Persisted by Chelsea Clinton and Alexandra Boiger comes a chapter book series about women who stood up, spoke up and rose up against the odds!

In this chapter book biography by award-winning author Lesa Cline-Ransome, readers learn about the amazing life of Claudette Colvin–and how she persisted.

Before Rosa Parks famously refused to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama, fifteen-year-old Claudette Colvin made the same choice. She insisted on standing up–or in her case, sitting down–for what was right, and in doing so, fought for equality, fairness, and justice.

Complete with an introduction from Chelsea Clinton, black-and-white illustrations throughout, and a list of ways that readers can follow in Claudette Colvin’s footsteps and make a difference!

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This book can be used in the classroom to teach students about the civil rights movement as well as the life of Claudette Colvin. By teaching students about influential people of the civil rights movement. This introduction to figures helps students understand the effect that they had on the movement and also the importance of why the fight was important.

Interdisciplinary uses:

Social Studies: This book can be used to help teach students the importance of behavior between different people. Understanding the importance of treating everyone as equals is essential to promoting peace in society. This book talks about the errors of the past and focuses on how even though we have different genders, races, and looks it is important to remember that we are all the same.

History: This does a great job of going over the history of the civil rights movement. This book touches upon why the movement started, what those who lived through the movement went through in everyday life, as well as talking about important events within the movement.

Political Literacy- This book teaches the students on the importance of persisting. This book goes over the importance of having a voice especially in politics. By knowing your rights and expressing them in society it is possible to make a change.

Discussion Questions: 

  • The author cited one inspiration of the novel was the quote “You can’t be what you can’t see.” Why is it important to read books that feature many different main characters?
  • What effect did the death of Delphine have on Claudette Colvin?
  • While Claudette Colvin and Rosa Parks protested in very similar ways the story of Rosa Parks is more commonly known. Had you heard of Claudette Colvin before reading this book? Why do you think the story of Rosa Parks is more widely known.
  • When Claudette Colvin was escorted off the bus she repeated that sitting was her constitutional right. Why is knowing your rights important? How does her knowledge of her rights affect the decisions she made in life?
  • In the back of the book there is a list of ways to persist. One the top of the list is to conduct research on how others have brought about change. Why is understanding change in the commonuite important to making a difference in the world?
  • When learning in school Claudette spoke about the attention that was spent on learning about injustice and civil rights. Claudette spoke about how she thought that this was more important and influential than the lessons they had covered in the past. Why is this so?
  • Why do you think Claudette decided to take a stand on the bus?
  • How did Claudette inspire others to take a stand?
  • How did the testimonies of the students on the bus differ from the police officer and other citizens on the bus. Why would they lie?
  • Claudette Colvin was charged with three charges of violating segregation laws, disturbing the peace, and assaulting a police officer. Why do you think one action resulted in multiple charges in court?

Recommended For: 

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History Smashers: Women’s Right to Vote
Author: Kate Messner
Illustrator: Dylan Meconis
Published July 7th, 2020 by Random House Books for Children

Summary: Myths! Lies! Secrets! Smash the stories behind famous moments in history and expose the hidden truth. Perfect for fans of I Survived and Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales.

In 1920, Susan B. Anthony passed a law that gave voting rights to women in the United States. Right?

Wrong! Susan B. Anthony wasn’t even alive when the Nineteenth Amendment was ratified. Plus, it takes a lot more than one person to amend the constitution.

The truth is, it took millions of women to get that amendment into law. They marched! They picketed! They even went to jail. But in the end, it all came down to a letter from a state representative’s mom. No joke.

Through illustrations, graphic panels, photographs, sidebars, and more, acclaimed author Kate Messner smashes history by exploring the little-known details behind the fight for women’s suffrage.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This book could be useful in a classroom during a Social Studies lesson where women rights is being talked about and the history behind that time. This book would also be useful to help students relate to the same efforts of current movements like,Black Lives Matter and other current social injustices. It teaches history in clear facts on how women sacrificed and fought on amending the constitution to help them have a right to vote and a voice. It also goes over discrimination and how it still was affected.

Discussion Questions: 

  • How did this book help you better understand the movement for women to vote in our country?
  • Why did Susan Anthony and Elizabeth Cady want the right for every American woman to vote? HH
  • Why was Susan B. Anthony portrayed as the face of the women’s right to vote movement?
  • How did the pictures and sidebars in the book help you understand what you were reading?
  • How did women’s suffrage affect black women?
  • Why do you think Susan B Anthony was used as the poster child for the book?
  • What myths were found during the book and who was supposedly the first woman who spoke about women’s rights?
  • What was the reason for women’s suffrage and the struggle for right for African Americans?
  • How did women exercise political power throughout the book?
  • In the book, how were black women involved in the fight for women’s suffrage?
  • What did Frances Ellen Watkins Harper argue about?
  • In 1792, Mary Wollstonecraft wrote an official document outlining what?
  • On page 24, a document called, The Declaration of Sentiments, women listed their demands and read it aloud to a convention at the time. If you had an opportunity to write your demands for this convention, what would they be?
  • From all the women leaders named in the book, who do you think was the most influential? Why?
  • Of the strategies that women used to earn the right to vote in the United States, which do you think was the most successful? Why?
  • After reading the book, what has been the impact of women’s suffrage in the 20th century?
  • Give examples of some of the outcomes that happened when women’s rights activists would protest and picket?
  • What was President’s Wilson’s response to the women’s protests?

Recommended For: 

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This is My America by Kim Johnson

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This is My America
Author: Kim Johnson
Published: February 28, 2017 by Balzer + Bray

GoodReads Summary: Dear Martin meets Just Mercy in this unflinching yet uplifting YA novel that explores the racist injustices in the American justice system.

Every week, seventeen-year-old Tracy Beaumont writes letters to Innocence X, asking the organization to help her father, an innocent Black man on death row. After seven years, Tracy is running out of time—her dad has only 267 days left. Then the unthinkable happens. The police arrive in the night, and Tracy’s older brother, Jamal, goes from being a bright, promising track star to a “thug” on the run, accused of killing a white girl. Determined to save her brother, Tracy investigates what really happened between Jamal and Angela down at the Pike. But will Tracy and her family survive the uncovering of the skeletons of their Texas town’s racist history that still haunt the present?

Fans of Nic Stone and Jason Reynolds won’t want to miss this provocative and gripping debut.

Review: This is a book that will stick with me forever. The characters are powerfully written, and the plot unfolds itself beautifully. It tackles complex themes that offer excellent fodder for classroom discussion. Some of these include implicit and explicit racism, the ripple effects of White supremacy and racism, White privilege, and injustices in the judicial system. I could go on. This book is truly exceptional, and I envision it winning some big awards this year. There is so much to unpack and so much to admire in Johnson’s writing. It’s absolutely brilliant. If you buy no other book this summer, buy this one. It will make you think deeply about equity and justice.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: I highlighted so many passages of this book while I was reading it. There are so many sections that would make phenomenal close readings in the classroom. I highly recommend pairing this text with portions or all of Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.

Discussion Questions: What are some of the injustices in this text?; How can we, as a society, work to change these injustices?; How do the injustices have a ripple effect on other characters?; How does Johnson layer the plot to elevate the reading and message of the text?

Flagged Passage: “Corinne never held that memory [of Daddy getting arrested], but I know she feels it in everything we breathe. It’s in the polite nods across the street we have to make, the way our family turns down our music when there are others around. Say yes ma’am and no sir. Leave our jackets and backpacks in the car when we go shopping.

It’s in the way I carry myself that tells our story now. I can’t risk being accused of anything. Because if something goes wrong or missing, I know it’s in the back of someone’s mind that maybe I had something to do with it. And it’s in the way that the voice of the strongest woman I know stumbles when saying, ‘Hello, Officer’ as she walks through the visitation gates to see Daddy.”

Read This If You Loved: Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson; The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas; All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely; by Ilyassah Shabazz and Kekla Magoon; The Rock and the River by Kekla Magoon; How it Went Down by Kekla Magoon; Freedom Summer by Deborah Wiles;

Recommended For:

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RickiSig

Author Guest Post: “Understanding Race in a Country Divided” by Barbara Diggs, Author of Race Relations: The Struggle for Equality in America

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“Understanding Race in a Country Divided”

Race and racism can be tricky topics to discuss in the classroom. With so many diverse experiences, perspectives, and opinions on these emotionally-charged issues, it can be tempting to avoid conversations about race to skirt potential conflict.

But if there’s any hope of creating greater harmony and understanding among people of all colors in our society, we have to face these issues head-on. Our kids must learn to discuss racial issues openly, with honesty, empathy–and historical perspective.

To my mind, no fruitful discussion of the United States’ racial issues can occur without having a comprehensive grasp of America’s history of race relations. This long and painful story is key to understanding today’s divisive racial climate and recognizing how America’s past continues to haunt and impact race relations today.

My book, Race Relations: The Struggle for Equality in America, helps put the complexity of contemporary U.S. race relations into historical context. It offers kids the chance to explore race and racism in ways that promote critical thinking about difficult societal problems.

The book begins, not with slavery, but with the creation of racial categories in the fifteenth century. Readers learn, in a fact-based way, how European colonizers embraced and honed these categories to create a racial hierarchy to justify the enslavement and persecution of races they believed to be inferior. Even as some people fought against it, this hierarchy would become codified in U.S. laws and woven into American social codes for the next 400 years, substantially affecting how people of different colors view and treat each other.

Race Relations guides tweens and teens through these four centuries of American race relations. It touches every major era, from colonization and slavery to Reconstruction, Jim Crow, and Civil Rights to the presidencies of Barack Obama and Donald Trump. Links to online primary sources such as narratives, laws, articles, poems, songs, statistics, and even YouTube videos help them explore the nature of American race relations during each era and allow them to consider how relations have changed–or haven’t–over the years.

The book also fosters discussions of contemporary racial issues, such as voting rights, imprisonment rate disparities, and affirmative action, and asks students to reflect on concepts such as racial bias, prejudice, and privilege and how these impact their lives. It further highlights current social justice movements, including Black Lives Matters, and encourages students to consider actions they can take to help improve race relations.

I wrote Race Relations to provide young teens with the tools for recognizing racism and the historical context for talking about it.  Only by addressing these problems can we begin to bridge our differences, understand each other’s realities, and build a more peaceful and unified society.

Here are some activities to get healthy conversations started!

Check Yourself

History isn’t the only factor that can influence our perception of races different from our own. Naturally, having a personal relationship with people of a different race plays a huge role in your perceptions, as does the nature of that relationship with them. But we also receive input from a variety of other sources—our family, friends, neighborhood, community, images on television, magazines, newspapers, books, videos, and music. How do all these factors influence our perception of race?

Write down the different factors that influence your perceptions of these races as listed on the U.S. Census: White, Latino, African American, Native American, Asian American. You do not have to share this list with anyone—it is for you to gain insights into your perceptions of other races and where they come from.

  • Do you know anyone of each race?
  • How many people?
  • Have you ever participated in any social events with someone of each race?
  • What do you frequently hear about people of each race?
  • What three adjectives would you use to describe people of each race?
  • Where do your strongest impressions of each race come from?
  • Can you find any patterns in your thinking? Are your impressions about groups that include people you know personally more positive than those groups that don’t contain anyone you know? What other patterns can you spot?

To investigate more, give yourself an assignment of reading, watching, or listening to books, movies, and music produced by people from each of the different races. Does this change your perception? If so, how?

Mass Depopulation of Native Americans

Before Europeans arrived in 1492, an estimated 54 million Native Americans were living in what is now the United States. Within decades, millions died due to European diseases, war, and displacement. By 1890, the Native American population had dropped to 228,000. Although historians debate whether the devastation of the Native American population was an intentional genocide, they do not dispute that Europeans caused the dramatic depopulation, whether by acting purposefully, accidentally, or with reckless indifference.

Trace the history of one of the Native American tribes. Choose between the Cherokee, Iroquois, Mohawk, Seminole, Sioux, Comanche, Algonquin, or Cheyenne.

Make a timeline of significant events in the tribe’s history. These should include important relationships with colonists or Americans, treaties made with the U.S. government, wars, peacetimes, displacements, and current status.

Research the culture of your chosen tribe. How did the historical events affect that culture?

To investigate more, write a short play or scene about an event in your chosen tribe’s history that affected its lifestyle or population. Incorporate differing views tribe members may have had and how they may have felt looking to the future.

More classroom resources can be found at https://nomadpress.net/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/Race-Relations-Classroom-Guide.pdf.

Race Relations: The Struggle for Equality in America
Author: Barbara Diggs
Illustrator: Richard Chapman
Published April 9th, 2019 by Nomad Press

About the Book: How could a country founded on the honorable ideals of freedom and equality have so willingly embraced the evils of enslavement and oppression?

America’s history of race relations is a difficult one, full of uncomfortable inconsistencies and unpleasant truths. Although the topic is sensitive, it is important to face this painful past unflinchingly—knowing this history is key to understanding today’s racial climate and working towards a more harmonious society.

In Race Relations: The Struggle for Equality in America, kids ages 12 to 15 follow the evolution of race relations in America from the country’s earliest beginnings until present day. The book examines how the concept of race was constructed in the seventeenth century and how American colonists used racial differences to justify slavery, discrimination and the persecution of people of color. Through links to online primary sources such as newspaper articles, letters, poems, and songs, young readers will explore how race relations changed—and didn’t—through the eras of Reconstruction, Jim Crow, and Civil Rights, and under the presidencies of Barack Obama and Donald Trump.

About the Author: Barbara Diggs is a non-fiction writer who has written a range of historical articles for children. Her work has been featured in Learning Through History MagazineHistory Magazine, and Renaissance, among others. A graduate of Stanford Law School, Barbara practiced law in New York for several years before becoming a professional writer. She and her family currently split their time between Paris, France, and Washington DC. Website: barbaradiggs.com

Thank you so much for this guest post looking at the history, present, and future of race relations in the United States!

On the Come Up by Angie Thomas

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On the Come Up
Authors: Angie Thomas
Published: February 5, 2019 by Balzer + Bray

GoodReads Summary: Sixteen-year-old Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. Or at least make it out of her neighborhood one day. As the daughter of an underground rap legend who died before he hit big, Bri’s got big shoes to fill. But now that her mom has unexpectedly lost her job, food banks and shutoff notices are as much a part of Bri’s life as beats and rhymes. With bills piling up and homelessness staring her family down, Bri no longer just wants to make it—she has to make it.

On the Come Up is Angie Thomas’s homage to hip-hop, the art that sparked her passion for storytelling and continues to inspire her to this day. It is the story of fighting for your dreams, even as the odds are stacked against you; of the struggle to become who you are and not who everyone expects you to be; and of the desperate realities of poor and working-class black families.

My Review: After reading this book, I promptly went into my course syllabus for next semester and swapped out another book to include this one. There are so many things that I love about this book. In particular, I really liked how this book tackled the issues of violence against and the assumptions stereotypically made of black females. There are only a few other recent books that tackle these issues, and they are critically important. I get incredibly frustrated by assumptions like “aggressive black female.” Angie Thomas deftly addresses these assumptions and provides a variety of angles for readers. Bri, the narrator, is incredibly strong, and I admire her greatly. I will never have a daughter, but if I did, I would be so proud if my daughter turned out to be like her. This book just feels different from any book that I’ve read. It offers something different that is going to make for great classroom conversations.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: I am going to be using this book in a Social Movements and Collective Action course. I will be using it with other texts to talk about the history and currency of the #blacklivesmatter movement. I am very excited that this book exists in the world, and I know that my students will love it.

Discussion Questions: How does the author craft dialogue? What might other writers learn from her work?; What messages does the text reveal? Which messages are less obvious but implicit in a reading of the text?; What connections does this text have with the world today?

Flagged Passage: “There’s only so much you can take being described as somebody you’re not.”

Read This If You Loved: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas; All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely; by Ilyassah Shabazz and Kekla Magoon; The Rock and the River by Kekla Magoon; How it Went Down by Kekla Magoon; Freedom Summer by Deborah Wiles; Audacity by Melanie Crowder; The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds

Recommended For:

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RickiSig

That Inevitable Victorian Thing by E. K. Johnston

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That Inevitable Victorian Thing
Author: E. K. Johnston
Published: October 3, 2017 by Dutton

Guest Review by Kaari von Bernuth

Goodreads Summary: Set in a near-future world where the British Empire was preserved, not by the cost of blood and theft but by effort of repatriation and promises kept, That Inevitable Victorian Thing is a novel of love, duty, and the small moments that can change people and the world.

Victoria-Margaret is the crown princess of the empire, a direct descendent of Victoria I, the queen who changed the course of history two centuries earlier. The imperial practice of genetically arranged matchmaking will soon guide Margaret into a politically advantageous marriage like her mother before her, but before she does her duty, she’ll have one summer incognito in a far corner of empire. In Toronto, she meets Helena Marcus, daughter of one of the empire’s greatest placement geneticists, and August Callaghan, the heir apparent to a powerful shipping firm currently besieged by American pirates. In a summer of high-society debutante balls, politically charged tea parties, and romantic country dances, Margaret, Helena, and August discover they share an unusual bond and maybe a one in a million chance to have what they want and to change the world in the process —just like the first Queen Victoria.

My Review: The futuristic setting of this novel that wasn’t a dystopia was very intriguing to me. Most of the futuristic novels that I’ve read have featured dystopian societies, so it was refreshing to have something that worked. I really enjoyed the multiple perspectives from the different characters, and became personally invested in their lives and experiences. I’d find myself hurting for Helena as she struggled to reconcile her identity, and rooting for August to do the right thing. In some way, all of the characters have to struggle to come of age and develop their identity based on who they want to be. 

However, I wish that this novel had placed a little more effort on the ending. While the rest of the novel had dealt with realistic challenges that an adolescent might face, the ending seemed rather contrived, and less realistic like the rest of the novel. The solution proposed at the end of the novel is not a solution that an adolescent in current society could replicate and learn from, which was disappointing.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This book poses great questions about racism (or rather the eradication of racism), as well as questions of morality. It also would be great for discussions about the influence that society can have on your life verses the influence that you decide for your life. I think that this book would be a great addition to a classroom library for kids to enjoy, or a book to be used in a reading circle. It’s engaging and could lead to interesting discussions, especially about the futuristic government and setting of the novel, and the aforementioned topics of racism, morality, and societal influence vs self. However, I do think that other novels cover these topics in a better way, which is why I wouldn’t recommend it for large classroom discussions.  

Discussion Questions: Is this novel a utopia? Dystopia? Does it fit either criteria?; How is race approached in this novel? Is there racism in the society?; What is the role of colonialism in this novel?; What is the role of the Computer? Do you think this is a good advancement?; What does the computer lack?; What morality questions does this novel pose?

We Flagged: “The Computer is sufficient if you want to know your future without taking into account your soul. I don’t mean in the eternal sense, but in the worldly. The Computer can tell you if your genes are prone to carcinoma or if you might be six feet tall, but it cannot tell you if you will enjoy dancing or if you will prefer cake to pie. I would argue that the latter is more important in terms of a long and healthy relationship” (p. 254).

Read This If You Loved: Matched by Allie Condie; Delirium by Lauren Oliver; The Luxe by Anna Godbersen; The Selection by Kiera Cass

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  RickiSig

**Thank you to Kaari for reviewing this book!**

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

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The Hate U Give
Authors: Angie Thomas
Published: February 28, 2017 by Balzer + Bray

GoodReads 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.

Ricki’s Review: I don’t know where to begin with this very special book. To give proof of my love for it, I will share that this book is on my Adolescents’ Literature course syllabus for next year. It is the book that I am most excited to teach. My research concerns multicultural young adult literature, and I have read a lot of books that interrogate issues of race. When this book was hyped, I knew I had to read it, but I was nervous that it wouldn’t be as good as I wanted it to be. It was everything and more. The characters feel real, and the pacing is fantastic. The author beautifully captures dialogue and life in ways that will grab readers’ attention. It has a strong message without feeling didactic. Teachers will find much to talk about with this text.

You might notice that this book has a 4.66 average rating on GoodReads. I don’t know of any book with that high of an average rating. I am not one to buy into ratings, but I think this extremely high rating shows that this is a book that really resonates with people. If you plan to read one book this year, pick this one. 

Kellee’s Review: When I first heard about The Hate U Give at ALAN in November 2016, Jason Reynolds said it was going to be one of the most important books of our time. Then I started hearing about it being bid on by all of the major publishing houses. Reynolds’s recommendation mixed with the hype made me want to pick it up, but then I also was so worried that it wouldn’t live up to this hype. But it does. It lives up to it all. I have nothing negative to say about the book. It is poignant. It is thought-provoking. It pushes boundaries. It makes white people have to look at race a way that they may not have considered before. It is REAL. It is rough. It is truth. I think Thomas did a phenomenal job writing a narrative of truth that just lays out there the problems with race in our society in a way that no one can deny or argue; it just is. I think their story makes everyone more aware and more empathetic. I finished a month ago, and I still am thinking about Star and Khalil and Natasha and Kenya and Star’s family–I just didn’t want to stop being in their lives. I cannot say any more how phenomenal this book is. Pick it up if you haven’t. (And the audiobook is so brilliant if you want to listen to it.)

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Teachers might ask students to analyze the varied themes of this text and dive deeply into discussions of each (power, economics, race, etc.). Then, they might create a civic video essay—one that considers a social issue and provides steps for social action to raise awareness for the viewing audience.

Discussion Questions: How does the author craft dialogue? What might other writers learn from her work?; What messages does the text reveal? Which messages are less obvious but implicit in a reading of the text?; What connections does this text have with the world today?

Flagged Passage: “Sometimes you can do everything right and things will still go wrong. The key is to never stop doing right.”

Read This If You Loved: All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely; by Ilyassah Shabazz and Kekla Magoon; The Rock and the River by Kekla Magoon; How it Went Down by Kekla Magoon; Freedom Summer by Deborah Wiles; Audacity by Melanie Crowder; The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds

Recommended For:

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All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely

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All American Boys

All American Boys
Authors: Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely
Published: September 29, 2015 byAtheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books

GoodReads Summary: Rashad is absent again today.

That’s the sidewalk graffiti that started it all…

Well, no, actually, a lady tripping over Rashad at the store, making him drop a bag of chips, was what started it all. Because it didn’t matter what Rashad said next—that it was an accident, that he wasn’t stealing—the cop just kept pounding him. Over and over, pummeling him into the pavement. So then Rashad, an ROTC kid with mad art skills, was absent again…and again…stuck in a hospital room. Why? Because it looked like he was stealing. And he was a black kid in baggy clothes. So he must have been stealing.

And that’s how it started.

And that’s what Quinn, a white kid, saw. He saw his best friend’s older brother beating the daylights out of a classmate. At first Quinn doesn’t tell a soul…He’s not even sure he understands it. And does it matter? The whole thing was caught on camera, anyway. But when the school—and nation—start to divide on what happens, blame spreads like wildfire fed by ugly words like “racism” and “police brutality.” Quinn realizes he’sgot to understand it, because, bystander or not, he’s a part of history. He just has to figure out what side of history that will be.

Rashad and Quinn—one black, one white, both American—face the unspeakable truth that racism and prejudice didn’t die after the civil rights movement. There’s a future at stake, a future where no one else will have to be absent because of police brutality. They just have to risk everything to change the world.

Cuz that’s how it can end.

Ricki’s Review: I read this book a few months ago, and frankly, I can’t stop thinking about how important this story is. We read so many books in our lifetimes, and some just take our breath away. This is one of those books. I can’t recommend this book highly enough. I believe it belongs in every classroom. The strength of the two voices in this book is remarkable, and it makes for an excellent teaching tool—about heroism; about doing what is right and true; and about being a good, decent human being. The acts within this book are all-to-common, and I believe this book promotes genuine change. The book is literary at the same time that it is engaging. It will pull (and has pulled) readers of all ages and backgrounds. I typically don’t review books long after they have been published, but this book feels too important to leave out. If you haven’t read it already, I recommend it move to the top of your TBR list. It’s and incredible story.

Kellee’s Review: I too read this book a few months ago. It was a choice for our Faculty Book Club, and it was a perfect book to discuss with a bunch of educators. All American Boys is a book that is going to be a classic because it highlights modern history in a thoughtful and truthful way. This is a book that I would recommend to everyone to read. It is a perfect jumping off point to discuss race relations, Black Lives Matter, and We Need Diverse Books. The way the book is set up, with two voices, will help readers have permission to talk about what is happening in our country, the Civil Rights movement and its tie into modern times, and the racial tension currently happening in our country.

Jason & Brendan

I’d like to also add that I recently was lucky enough to see Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely accept their Coretta Scott King Author Honor Award at the ALA Annual Conference here in Orlando, and they both moved me to tears. Jason actually gave two speeches since he won an honor for All American Boys and Boy in the Black Suit. His second speech was a brilliant advocacy poem titled Machetes which can be viewed here or read here. His first speech and Brendan’s speech are not available yet. Brendan says School Library Journal will be publishing his, and I am not sure about Jason’s; however, I did tweet some quotes as I sat and listened:

  • I hope The Boy in the Black Suit gives young men permission to feel and be human and sometimes need a hug. – Jason Reynolds
  • Memory in of itself is life. -Jason Reynolds
  • If you are doing this work, this award is yours too. -Jason Reynolds
  • Jason Reynolds talking about his mama made me cry. I hope my son’s love can be as true as his is.
  • There are bodies missing, and I cannot bring them back. It is time for action. -Brendan Kiely
  • Revolution begins in the heart. -Brendan Kiely
  • Love is art. Love is education. Love is accountability. And it needs repeating love is love is love is love. -Brendan Kiely
  • I want to reckon w whiteness…speak truth to myself. -Brendan Kiely

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This book begs to be taught in classrooms. If I was still teaching it would be the first book that I would request to be added to curriculum. I think it would be particularly fascinating to use this book as a read-aloud while simultaneously doing literature circles with by Ilyassah Shabazz and Kekla Magoon, The Rock and the River by Kekla Magoon, and How it Went Down by Kekla Magoon. These books all deal with civil rights issues, as well, and it would be interesting to look at civil rights across time and history and also within other relevant contexts.

The Simon & Schuster Reading Group Guide gives some discussion questions, journal responses, and research ideas.

Discussion Questions: How do Rashad’s and Quinn’s voices shine differently in the text?; Did Quinn do the right thing? Would you have done the same?; What would you have done if you had been in Rashad’s circumstance? Would you have done anything differently?; How is racism present both in obvious and nuanced ways in the plot events of this text?

Flagged Passage: “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”

Read This If You Loved: by Ilyassah Shabazz and Kekla Magoon; The Rock and the River by Kekla Magoon; How it Went Down by Kekla Magoon; Freedom Summer by Deborah Wiles; Audacity by Melanie Crowder; The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds

Recommended For:

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