Stop Using the Label ‘Struggling Reader,’ Author Jacqueline Woodson Advises
Woodson: Any kind of qualifier can be harmful because who we are is not static. Our abilities are constantly changing. What does it mean to be a struggling reader? I know if I was raised in this day and age, I would have been labeled a struggling reader. But what I know now is I was actually reading like a writer. I was reading slowly and deliberately and deconstructing language, not in the sense of looking up words in the dictionary, but understanding from context. I was constantly being compared to my sister who excelled, and it made me feel insecure. What gets translated is ‘you are not as good,’ and that gets translated into our whole bodies. That’s where the danger lies.
ALA Awards: Jacqueline Woodson wins 2018 Wilder Award
Jacqueline Woodson is the winner of the 2018 Laura Ingalls Wilder Award honoring an author or illustrator, published in the United States, whose books have made a substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children. Her numerous works include “Brown Girl Dreaming” and “After Tupac & D Foster.”
“From picture books through novels for young teens to her exquisite memoir in poetry, Jacqueline Woodson has established herself as an eloquent voice in contemporary children’s literature,” said Wilder Award Committee Chair Rita Auerbach.
If children’s literature today addresses themes of racism, sexuality, and class; if previously invisible characters have come to the fore; if different voices are now heard; if more children see themselves and others in books, look to Jacqueline Woodson as a prime-mover. For over 25 years, in elegant poetry and prose, she has courageously explored issues once ignored and nurtured her readers’ self-esteem and empathy.
ALA Awards: Larry Dane Brimner wins 2018 Sibert Medal
Larry Dane Brimner, author of “Twelve Days in May: Freedom Ride 1961,” was named the winner of the 2018 Robert F. Sibert Medal for the most distinguished informational book for children published in 2017.
“Twelve Days in May: Freedom Ride 1961” is published by Calkins Creek, an imprint of Highlights. In 1961 on the seventh anniversary of the Brown vs. Board of Education ruling, 13 freedom riders boarded two buses in Washington D.C. bound for New Orleans. The riders were willing to risk their lives to challenge illegal Jim Crow practices on interstate buses and in bus terminals.
“Spare text, bold graphics and arresting photos combine to take young readers on a 12-day journey through the Jim Crow American south of 1961,” said Sibert Medal Committee Chair Tali Balas.
ALA Awards: Eloise Greenfield is the 2018 recipient of the Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement
“Eloise Greenfield is a trailblazer whose extraordinary books of poetry and prose have influenced many and continue to resonate with children today. Her rich body of work inspires and enriches readers,” said Award Committee Chair Deborah D. Taylor.
Early in life, [Greenfield] discovered a love of reading and writing and realized there were few books that showed the fullness of African American life. She published her first book in 1972 and went on to write and publish more than 40 books. From “Honey, I Love” to “The Great Migration,” this multiple award-winning author has captivated audiences through the years.
Pierre TechnoKids to compete in World Championships
The Pierre Techno Kids, who compete in the FIRST LEGO League, will see competition at the FIRST Tech Challenge World Championships in Detroit on April 25-28. The teams create LEGO Mindstorms robots to help them complete these tasks. Teams compete in four areas, including a robot game that sees the robot complete a series of tasks in two and a half minutes without outside assistance. The other three area include core values robot design, and project.
The real world problem that teams were given this year was hydrodynamics, or in other words, the finding, transporting and use of water. According to Techno Kids coach Carolyn Ryckman, the team was inspired by the book “The Long Walk to Water” by Linda Sue Park, in which a girl in Sudan spends eight hours a day carrying water for her family. The solution that the Techno Kids developed was using drones to carry water to people in need.
Newbery Medal-winner Linda Sue Park to speak at Bridgewater College
Children’s and young adult literature author Linda Sue Park, winner of the 2002 Newbery Medal for her book, A Single Shard, will present a public lecture at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 21, in the Carter Center for Worship and Music at Bridgewater College.
She has written numerous picture books and novels for children and young adults, including the Publishers Weekly Best Books of the Year, When My Name Was Keoko, and Project Mulberry, which won the Chicago Tribune Young Adult Fiction Prize. Her most-recent titles are A Long Walk to Water (a novel from Clarion Books) that received the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award; and more.
LI exhibitions shine light on black experience, artistry
Hofstra University is showcasing the work of artist Romare Bearden in a series titled ‘Odysseus Suite.’ Patchogue Arts Council is exhibiting the works of more than a dozen African-American artists.
The works are varied and include a detailed quilt by artist Faith Ringgold titled, “Tar Beach,” which depicts a black family on the roof of their Brooklyn apartment on a summer night.
Civil rights icon Ruby Bridges inspires thousands with speech on values
Ruby Bridges, the “youngest foot soldier” of the Civil Rights movement, delivered the Presidential Colloquium to a crowd of over 2,000 people at Smith College on Friday, Feb. 2.
Dana Warren, a fourth grader from Westhampton Elementary School, was responsible for Bridges speaking at the college. After reading Bridges’ autobiography “Through My Eyes,” in the second grade, Warren was immediately inspired by Bridges’ story and what it represented.
Hoping that others would be able to hear Bridges’ message, Warren wrote to Smith College President Kathleen McCartney asking her to “help achieve her dream.”
After listening to the speech she helped organize, Warren said “it was “amazing” to meet Ruby Bridges, and hear her story “literally through her eyes.”
Start the year of the dog off with young adult social justice books
Lion Island by Margarita Engle
Through a series of poems, Engle tells the story of Antonio Chuffat, an Afro-Cuban whose youth was shaped by the struggle for independence and freedom of expression, and specifically against forced labor.
Margarita’s verse novel elegantly sketches the young protagonists’ personalities, fears and dreams. Antonio is entrusted to carry dangerous messages; indeed, his father hides runaways among his cuadrillas (work gangs). Yet his friend, Wing, runs away to take up guns with the Resistance. Fan had to run away from home to take her singing role and her father takes a local woman as a wife. The young people ponder their cultural identities, especially when lacking opportunities to further their Chinese or other language studies.
Margarita’s compelling story inspires further research, and she ends by including sources for young people and adults. To place the experiences of nineteenth century Chinese diaspora in this broader context complicates yet also makes Asian American identity more whole.
‘Love’ and other best children’s and YA books to read this month
Go ahead and judge Between the Lines (Simon & Schuster, ages 4 to 8) by its wonderful cover. Rightfully front and center is the picture book’s subject – football player turned artist Ernie Barnes – handsomely wrought by illustrator Bryan Collier. Barnes is flanked by a football scene on one side and by Collier’s version of “Sugar Shack,” Barnes’s most famous painting, on the other.
Dear Match Book: Poems for Young Readers
Stretch the Rules: Once you’ve played with some words you’ll want to master some forms.
And, for a more immediate though no less complex wordplay, turn to Paul Fleischman’s exquisite book of read-aloud verse, “Joyful Noise.” The insect-themed compositions unfold in rich counterpoint meant for two readers. After exchanging lines of verse while you are apart, I imagine that it will be poetic to hear your voices together.
A$AP Rocky, Kelvin Harrison Jr., and Director Anthony Mandler on Their Sundance Drama ‘Monster’
One of the many films to world premiere at this year’s Sundance Film Festival was Anthony Mandler’s feature film debut, Monster. Adapted from the best-selling novel of the same name by Walter Dean Myers, the film is about a 17 year old honors student and aspiring filmmaker Steve Harmon (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) who ends up being charged with a crime he says he didn’t commit. As we jump back and forth between the trial and the time that led him to jail, the audience is asked to decide what kind of man he is – a young black criminal, assumed guilty and labeled a monster, or an innocent?
Unit 4 schools celebrating National African American Parent Involvement Day
Students in Ms. P’s class will be studying the work of author/illustrator R. Gregory Christie and creating their own illustrations inspired by his unique style.
Activism Anthologies and Guides for Young Readers
While activism isn’t new, the methods and means available to today’s citizens certainly are, as well as the platforms afforded to historically underrepresented people. Here we round up a list of recent and forthcoming titles that bring to the forefront progressive issues, individuals who are fighting for equal rights, and strategy guides for politically motivated young readers.
We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices: Words and Images of Hope
Ed. by Cheryl Willis Hudson and Wade Hudson
Fifty influential children’s book creators, including Jason Reynolds, Jacqueline Woodson, and Kwame Alexander, offer their own responses to the following prompt: “In this divisive world, what shall we tell our children?” via poems, letters, essays, and art.
Shaking Things Up: 14 Women Who Changed the World
Ed. by Susan Hood (Jan. 3, HarperCollins).
This picture book tells the stories of influential women through history, from Malala Yousafzai to Pura Belpré, and features stories and illustrations by all-female contributors, including Selina Alko, Sophie Blackall, LeUyen Pham, Melissa Sweet, and many more.
Black History Month: Acclaimed picture book author to talk about segregation, social justice, writing
To mark Black History Month, acclaimed picture book author Carole Boston Weatherford will participate in a couple of free and family-friendly events in the Triangle.
Weatherford, an English professor at Fayetteville State University, has won numerous awards for her picture books, including “Freedom in Congo Square,” which was a Caldecott Honor Book last year, and is a New York Times best-selling author. Other books include “Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement,” “Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library,” “In Your Hands” and “The Legendary Miss Lena Horne.”
“Segregation, Social Justice and Civil Rights:” how our history and cultural evolution is shaped by slavery, segregation and social justice.
“Poetry and All That Jazz:” Celebrate the poetry of music and musicians, from North Carolina-born jazz saxophonist John Coltrane to legendary entertainer and activist Lena Horne.
How you can celebrate Black History Month…
Every year, the Association for the Study of African American Life and History selects a theme for Black History Month. This year, the theme, African Americans in Times of War, is meant to commemorate the end of World War I.
GIVE A CHILD A GIFT OF A BLACK HISTORY BOOK. One of my favorites, Preaching to the Chickens: The Story of Young John Lewis, by Jabari Asim, celebrates a contemporary hero, Congressman John Lewis.
Another, Minty: The Story of a Young Harriet Tubman by Alan Schroeder, tells the story of the Maryland icon who helped dozens of enslaved people escape through the Underground Railroad (legend says it is hundreds, but at Harriet Tubman Museum (operated by the National Park Service in Church Creek, Maryland) researchers say some of the estimates are too high.
The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, a Young Civil Rights Activist by Cynthia Levinson will motivate young people to activism.
Sit In: How Four Friends Stood Up By Sitting Down by Andrea Davis Pinkney and Brian Pinkney will also motivate young people to take on activist roles.
Abilene children’s center making history with ‘Our Voice’ exhibition
An exhibit three years in the making opens Thursday at the National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature, 102 Cedar St.
“Our Voice: Celebrating the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Awards” will run through at least May 19, according to Sujata Shahane, director of education and exhibitions programming at the NCCIL.
The Coretta Scott King Book Awards have been given annually since 1969 to African-American authors and illustrators of books for children and young adults for demonstrating African-American culture and values.
Of the 108 illustrated books that have been honored for their illustrations, the exhibit has art, either original or official reproductions, from 100 of them. Of the 38 illustrators who have been honored with the award, the exhibit has work from 33 of them.
“I Too Am American,” by Bryan Collier, is part of the “Our Voice” exhibition
The art runs the gamut of oil-based and water-based painted works, computer-generated works, art that is on ceramic tiles and even an illustrated quilt from Faith Ringgold. One of the exhibit’s prized pieces is work from South African photographer Peter Magubane, Nelson Mandela’s personal photographer.
Many of the exhibits are interactive. Patrons can scan a barcode on works and hear the artists talk about their works.
In addition to the exhibit, there will be presentations by artists Javanka Steptoe and Jerry Pinkney on March 20 and April 5, respectively. Claudette McLinn, chairman of the Coretta Scott King Book Awards Committee for 2017-2019, will be speaking at the NCCIL on March 5.
Why Christopher Paul Curtis writes best from a place of fear
Curtis: I find the writing goes best for me if I try to replicate as much as possible all of the circumstances of my first book, The Watsons Go to Birmingham – 1963. I was writing from a point of fear back in 1994 and that seems to be the place I find my best work. I was afraid I’d taken a year off work to write a book and wasn’t going to be able to do it, I feared the loss of income for a year, I feared how it would feel to be unsuccessful at having the chance to try to “follow my dream” and finding out a nightmare was at the end of the journey.
Children’s production ‘Roll of Thunder’ doesn’t shy away from America’s history of racism
Mildred D. Taylor’s Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry was published in 1976, a novel for young adults during an era when educators were embracing the idea that children’s books could and should tackle life’s serious realities. Books like Roll of Thunder – and The Outsiders, and Bridge to Terabithia – could help kids understand, and grow.
It’s a complex story of people who are striving to do right in an impossible situation, and a new SteppingStone Theatre production directed by Kory LaQuess Pullam ensures that every member of the audience appreciates the stakes. As the play opens, opposing crowds of black and white actors stalk forward to confront each other, chanting, “This is my world! My world! My world!”
McNay showcases African American art
The exhibits include “Something to Say: The McNay Presents 100 years of African American Art” and “30 Americans: Rubell Family Collection” and will continue until May 6. “Something to Say” is the first major survey of modern and contemporary African American art to be presented at the McNay. The exhibition juxtaposes works from the pioneering collection of Harmon and Harriet Kelley with loans from the collections of Guillermo Nicolas and Jim Foster, John and Freda Facey and the McNay.
The concept is to provide visitors with the opportunity to reflect on a range of African American experiences and examine how artists have expressed personal, political and racial identity over 100 years.
Also included in the exhibit is Benny Andrews’ “Sexism,” the seventh in the McNay’s series of AT&T Lobby instillations. Between 1970 and 1975, Benny Andrews created six monumental paintings as part of his Bicentennial series, in response to the United States Bicentennial plans in 1976.
McNay hosts the fourth work in the series, “Sexism,” 1973, explores oppression of women. The works are classified as provocative and complex in its contemplation of power among genders.
Read all about it: Black History Month books for kids
“Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice” by Phillip Hoose (Farrar, Strauss and Giroux 2009) is an excellent choice for teens. Hoose tells the story of Colvin, who as a teenager refused to give up her seat for a white passenger on a city bus in Montgomery, Alabama, and was arrested. This was nine months before Rosa Parks did the same thing.
While Parks was celebrated for her disobedience, Colvin was not. Colvin chose to challenge the segregation law in court, but was found guilty, leaving her with a criminal record. She became one of the plaintiffs in the Browder vs. Gayle lawsuit that eventually desegregated Montgomery’s buses.
The message of this book isn’t to detract from Rosa Parks’ legacy, but to recognize another brave woman who fought for justice and equality. Hoose’s writing is based on several personal interviews with Colvin, and included within the book are black-and-white photos from the time period and copies of documents and newspaper articles. “Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice” was the winner of the 2009 National Book Award.
The Jane Addams Children’s Book Award annually recognizes children’s books of literary and aesthetic excellence that effectively engage children in thinking about peace, social justice, global community, and equity for all people.