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Linda Sue Park: Empathize and Make Your World A Better Place
Social Justice Learning / April 30, 2020

INTERMEDIATE & MIDDLE SCHOOL ACTIVITY WHAT CAN YOU LEARN? WHAT CAN YOU DO?  Social justice learning and actions that can be taken close at hand during these uncertain times Meet Linda Sue Park, author two Jane Addams Children’s Book Award titles for Older Children, ‘My Name is Keko’ a 2003 honor title and ‘A Long Walk to Water’ the 2011 winning title….   Read summary of ‘A Long Walk to Water’… A Long Walk to Water: This compelling story is told from two perspectives. One is the voice of Salva Dut, a former ‘lost boy’ who was orphaned and forced to flee because of the 1985-2005 Sudanese Civil War. The other voice is Nya, a character the author created to represent the children in a remote Sudanese village today. Nya’s daily life consists of traveling back and forth, eight miles a day, to haul potable water for her family – a task that makes school an impossibility. Park’s dual narrative exposes the danger, despair and death suffered by Salva and the other lost boys as well as the constant struggle of the Sudanese people, especially children, to obtain water. Ultimately, Salva’s story and Nya’s story intersect, and the ending is one of…

Andrea Davis Pinkney & Brian Pinkney: No Matter How Old You Are, You Can Make a Change In the World
Social Justice Learning / April 28, 2020

INTERMEDIATE & MIDDLE SCHOOL ACTIVITY WHAT CAN YOU LEARN? WHAT CAN YOU DO?  Social justice learning and actions that can be taken close at hand during these uncertain times Meet Andrea Davis Pinkney and  Brian Pinkney, husband-and-wife team and author and illustrator of ‘Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down’, 2011 Jane Addams Children’s Book Award Honor Title for Younger Children….   Read a summary of Sit-In: Sit-in energetically combines sweeping, fluid artwork and poetic prose, full of engaging, inventive food metaphors and punctuated with short potent quotes from Martin Luther King, to tell the story of the 1960 Greensboro, North Carolina lunch counter sit-ins. The story lays out the injustice of segregation represented by the refusal of a simple request for food at a Whites Only counter and shows the solid determination of the students who sat and waited to be served. The students’ quiet patience, despite taunts and threats, demonstrates to children the challenge and the power of non-violent civil disobedience. And watch the book trailer:     Click below to see page spreads from Sit-In… ‘We don’t need menus…’ pages6-7 (1) ‘Be loving enough to absorb evil…’ pages10-11 ‘Soon the sit-ins grew bigger and wider…”pages26-27    …

Rafael Lopez: Dare To Engage!
Social Justice Learning / April 26, 2020

INTERMEDIATE & MIDDLE SCHOOL ACTIVITY WHAT CAN YOU LEARN? WHAT CAN YOU DO?  Social justice learning and actions that can be taken close at hand during these uncertain times Meet Rafael Lopez, contributor to We Rise, We Resist, & We Raise our Voices and illustrator of the 2019 Jane Addams Children’s Book Award winning title for Youger Children, The Day You Begin, authored by Jacqueline Woodson.  View his lively, joyful art… Check out Rafael’s online portfolio!  Click on each piece for a closer and even more color-filled look. Which illustration most speaks to you? Below you will be invited to choose one of his pieces as a jumping-off spot for your own creativity! Rafael’s Online Portfolio Read a summary with quotes from The Day You Begin… “There will be times when the world feels like a place that you’re standing all the way outside of.” Maybe no one understands “the way words curl from your mouth” in the language of home. Maybe the experiences you’ve had feel like nothing compared to others’, or the food you love is seen as strange, or “the game isn’t one you can ever really play.” The vivid sense of difference, and isolation, experienced by four children in…

Vanessa Brantley-Newton: Celebrate Our Differences & Similarities
Social Justice Learning / April 23, 2020

INTERMEDIATE & MIDDLE SCHOOL ACTIVITY WHAT CAN YOU LEARN? WHAT CAN YOU DO?  Social justice learning and actions that can be taken close at hand during these uncertain times Meet Vanessa Brantley-Newton contributor to ‘We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices’ and Jane Addams award recipient as illustrator of ‘We Shall Overcome’… Watch and listen to Vanessa share her story of growing up in a wonderfully caring and diverse home, but in a world where she did not see herself in picture books. Look for connections between Vanessa’s experience and your own and/or the experience of family members, classmates, neighbors near and far. Catch Vanessa’s enthusiasm for spreading ‘unexpected happiness’ and depicting us all with joy…   Then, explore Vanessa’s website. Be sure to look through the galleries! vanessabrantleynewton.com   Next, check out her blog! Don’t miss her craft offerings and messages for us during this stay-at-home time! Ooh, La, La Studio    Here’s our 2014  Jane Addams Children’s Book Award Honor Title illustrated by Vanessa… Read a summary: We Shall Overcome. “When people sing out, they can change the world” Widely known as a Civil Rights anthem, the song has along history starting in “slavery times” when enslaved people sang…

Be a Seedfolk for Earth Day
Social Justice Learning / April 21, 2020

INTERMEDIATE & MIDDLE SCHOOL ACTIVITY WHAT CAN YOU LEARN? WHAT CAN YOU DO?  Social justice learning and actions that can be taken close at hand during these uncertain times Seedfolks was the 1998 Jane Addams Children’s Book Award Honor Title for Older Children by Paul Fleischman. Read a summary: A young Vietnamese girl plants six lima bean seedlings in an overgrown, garbage-strewn, inner-city lot in Cleveland. An elderly longtime resident of the neighborhood watches the child from a third-story apartment window, unsure of what the girl is doing all alone in that abandoned lot, but suspicious. Life in the neighborhood has taught the woman to be distrustful of people, even of children. But when the woman discovers the girl has planted beans, she is startled and moved by the tender act, and when she realizes it is far too early in the spring for such young plantings to survive, she calls upon a friend to help her secretly tend them so the child’s small garden will grow. From these small acts, a neighborhood begins to change. Where once there was an old, abandoned lot, a garden emerges. Where once there were disconnected lives, a fragile sense of community begins to grow. Seedfolks…

Javaka Steptoe: Inspiration for Your Words & Art
Newsletter , Social Justice Learning / April 19, 2020

INTERMEDIATE & MIDDLE SCHOOL ACTIVITY WHAT CAN YOU LEARN? WHAT CAN YOU DO?  Social justice learning and actions that can be taken close at hand during these uncertain times Javaka Steptoe, contributer to We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices and Jane Addams award recipient, as a child was a model for his late father the award winning author/illustrator John Steptoe. Today, Javaka is an award wining artist, designer, author, and illustrator himself! Look closely at his work via the covers of his books. What do you notice? Get inspired for a some writing and artwork of your own!         In Daddy’s Arms I Am Tall: African Americans Celebrating Fathers  Do You Know What I’ll Do? authored by Charlotte Zolotow  A Pocketful of Poems authored by Nikki Grimes Hot Day on Abbott Avenue, authored by Karen English (2005 Jane Addams Children’s Book Award Honor Title for Younger Children) The Jones Family Express  Rain Play authored by Cynthia Cotten Amiri and Odette: A Love Story by author Walter Dean Myers   Jimi Sounds Like a Rainbow: A Story of Young Jimi Hendrix  authored by Gary Golio Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat Then, while you contemplate a story or poem you’d…

Rise, Resist and Raise Your Voice Today!
Social Justice Learning / April 16, 2020

INTERMEDIATE & MIDDLE SCHOOL ACTIVITY WHAT CAN YOU LEARN? WHAT CAN YOU DO?  Social justice learning and actions that can be taken close at hand during these uncertain times We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices (2019 Jane Addams Children’s Book Award Honor Title for Older Chidren) is an empowering anthology that encourages resilience when “the world feels upside down.” Budding social activists looking for inspiration and ways to rise up, resist the status quo, and raise their voices in harmony as they seek to change the world will find plenty of inspiration in the thirty different pieces featured here. Written by diverse authors, the poems, essays, stories and letters, many portraying personal struggles, reflect a universal portrait of humanity. Intensified by the unique artwork of twenty-two artists, each page celebrates diversity and shines a light on life’s daily complexities. Watch and listen as editors Wade Hudson and Cheryl Willis Hudson explain the orignins of this book…   Then, view Wade & Cheryl accepting the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award and hear Wade read his poem, ‘What Shall I Tell You?’ from the book… Next, listen to Alison read a poem by Marilyn Nelson, ‘It Helps to Look at Old Front…

Thanhha Lai: Language Changes Who You Are
Social Justice Learning / April 14, 2020

INTERMEDIATE & MIDDLE SCHOOL ACTIVITY WHAT CAN YOU LEARN? WHAT CAN YOU DO?  Social justice learning and actions that can be taken close at hand during these uncertain times Inside Out and Back Again, by Thanhha Lai 2012 Jane Addams Children’s Book Award Honor Title for Older Children, is a sem- autobiographical story. For all the ten years of her life, Ha has only known Saigon – the thrills of its markets, the joy of its traditions, the warmth of her friends close by and the beauty of her very own papaya tree. But now the Vietnam War has reached her home and her father is gone, somewhere in the army. Ha, her brave mother and brothers, are forced to flee as Saigon falls, and they board a ship headed toward the U.S. In America, Ha discovers the foreign world of Alabama: the coldness of its strangers, the dullness of its food, the strange shape of its landscape . . . and the strength of her very own family. This is the moving story of one girl’s year of change, dreams, grief, and healing as she journeys from one country to another, one life to the next.  Listen to excerpts of this story…

Lois Lowry: Grapples with 1918 Pandemic Shutdown
Newsletter / April 12, 2020

INTERMEDIATE & MIDDLE SCHOOL ACTIVITY WHAT CAN YOU LEARN? WHAT CAN YOU DO?  Social justice learning and actions that can be taken close at hand during these uncertain times Lois Lowry has written more than 40 books for young people, some quite serious like Jane Addams Children’s Book Award 1990 Honor Title for Older Readers, Number the Stars, and the dystopian classic novel, The Giver. Others, like the Anastaia series and The Willoughbys, are beloved and lighthearted.  Lois knows her young readers and respects their love of story as well as their ablity and need to grapple with dark topics. Read this recent interview with Lois and learn more about her book Like the Willow Tree and it’s connection with our uncertain times. TEN YEARS AGO, LOIS LOWRY WROTE A BOOK DEPICTING PORTLAND IN A PANDEMIC. NOW, SHE’S REWRITING THE INTRO.   ‘Like the Willow Tree’ tells the story of a girl whose family died during the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918. LINK TO LIKE THE WILLOW TREE STUDY GUIDE     What would you like to ask Lois Lowry? This 10-year-old got a chance. Read her interview… LOIS LOWRY IN CONVERSATION WITH A 10-YEAR-OLD REPORTER ABOUT HER NEW BOOK   Also, you might want to check out this dramatic moment…

Christopher Paul Curtis: Close reading of characters fictional and real
Social Justice Learning / April 9, 2020

INTERMEDIATE & MIDDLE SCHOOL ACTIVITY WHAT CAN YOU LEARN? WHAT CAN YOU DO?  Social justice learning and actions that can be taken close at hand during these uncertain times Read about Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis, 2008 Jane Addams Children’s Book Award Honor Title for Older Readers… Just over the Canadian border from Detroit, Buxton is a small town established by runaway slaves. Eleven-year-old Elijah was the first free child born in Buxton and feels certain he’ll never live down the moment in infancy when he threw up on famous abolitionist Frederick Douglass. It’s hard for Elijah to fully comprehend the horrors his parents and other adults escaped; they are spare with their stories, clearly wanting to protect their children. Elijah is such a sensitive child that his parents are more determined than most to shelter him from harsh truths. But when a man known as Preacher steals the money a neighbor was saving to purchase his wife and children’s freedom, Elijah is determined to make things right. He follows Preacher over the border, not wholly innocent of the danger, but clearly far from comprehending its depth. Elijah’s openhearted, first-person voice is often funny and always forthright as he describes…