Let’s think about how, why, and when we invite books into our classrooms #JACBA Newsletter 27Oct2017

October 28, 2017

Why Are We Still Teaching ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ in Schools?

Take, for instance, “Monster,” a 1999 novel by award-winning African-American novelist Walter Dean Myers that also takes place in a courtroom. Here, however, the focus is on the young black defendant and narrator, Steve Harmon; the white lawyer, on the other hand, plays a lesser, but still complex, part. Monster is a complex and powerful modern classic that does much of the same work – providing a portrait of a young artist budding ethical integrity while confronting racism – as “Mockingbird” but does it with arguably more complexity.

We are often in practice censoring books like “Monster” from the curriculum to maintain a space for “Mockingbird.” Often, we maintain that the book’s inclusion is in fact necessary to prevent censorship. But what if keeping it in the curriculum maintains the status quo of the past as much as it illuminates it?

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Now Is Your Time! The African-American Struggle for Freedom by Walter Dean Myers 1992 Awardee

Patrol: An American Soldier in Vietnam by Walter Dean Myers 2003 Awardee


What Most Humans Don’t Know About Animal Intelligence: An Interview With Sy Montgomery

We are now learning that there are, even within our own species, different types as well as degrees of intelligence -and this is the case for other species and among individuals of other species as well. As with evaluating the intelligence of fellow humans, we should not underestimate the intelligence of other species. If we do so, we overlook something wondrous and transformative, and we underestimate the glory of the world.

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Temple Grandin: How the Girl Who Loved Cows Embraced Autism and Changed the World by Sy Montgomery 2013 Awardee


School welcomes author for visit

Some novels break through, however, with messages and characters with which pre-teens and young adolescents can identify. That’s the case with “Wolf Hollow,” a recent Newberry Medal winner by novelist and artist Lauren Wolk. The Maryland native recently visited Frederica Academy, and addressed middle grades students first in an assembly, and subsequently in small group sessions throughout the day.

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Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk 2017 Awardee


Javaka Steptoe Conducts Youth EDUCATION Workshop for Students

Author and illustrator Javaka Steptoe recently conducted an art workshop at the Harold Washington Library Center (HWLC). The event was hosted by the Chicago Public Library (CPL) and included 300 second and third grade students Steptoe is the 2017 recipient of the American Library Association’s Randolph Caldecott Medal and Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award for his book Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist John Michel Basquiat, according to a CPL press release.

“Art is an important vehicle for self-expression during childhood and it’s also important in developing creativity, which is a critical 21st century learning skill,” McChesney said. “We have kids solving problems, collaborating and communicating together and hitting all of the important 21st century skills.”

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Hot Day on Abbott Avenue by Karen English, with collage art of Javaka Steptoe 2005 Awardee


Vermont Reads: ‘Brown Girl Dreaming’

Woodson: “So much of the feedback I’ve gotten on Brown Girl Dreaming has been from white kids especially young white boys, which has surprised me,” she said. “I think in terms of childhood, the essence of childhood is universal. We know what it’s like to not belong someplace. We know what it’s like to miss someone. We know what it’s like to search for a home. I mean you look at Vermont and its poverty rate, a lot of people know what it’s like to be poor. A lot of people know what it’s like to have a single mom. So if the writer is responsible and if the book is well written is going to touch a lot of people across lines of economic class, across lines of race and gender and sexuality and all the ways that books can touch people. ”

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Each Kindness written by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by E.B. Lewis 2013 Awardee

From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun by Jacqueline Woodson 1996 Awardee

I Hadn’t Meant to Tell You This by Jacqueline Woodson 1995 Awardee


Four Questions for Katherine Paterson

Paterson: “As I read, and watched [Maestra by Catherine Murphy], I learned that in fall 1960, shortly after Fidel Castro came to power in Cuba, he announced to the U.N. General Assembly that within a year’s time, Cuba was going to become a literate nation. More than 250,000 Cubans volunteered for his literacy effort, becoming known as brigadistas, or members of the volunteer teaching brigade. More than half of those brigadistas were female, and about 108,000 of them were between the ages of 12 and 18. These volunteers went into rural areas to teach the campesinos to read and write. As I was about to head to Cuba to address people concerned about literacy, I knew that I wanted to make this campaign the heart of what I was going to say in my speech”

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The Same Stuff as Stars by Katherine Paterson 2003 Awardee

The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson 1979 Awardee


The Snowy Day Forever

The United States Postal Service has issued new Forever stamps featuring images from Ezra Jack Keats’s The Snowy Day (Viking, 1962). The Central Library at the Brooklyn Public Library held a dedication ceremony on October 4. Among those who spoke at the event was Andrea Davis Pinkney, v-p and editor-at-large at Scholastic. She is also the author of A Poem for Peter: The Story of Ezra Jack Keats and the Creation of the Snowy Day (Viking, 2016).

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Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down by Andrea Davis Pinkney, illustrated by Brian Pinkney 2011 Awardee

Sojourner Truth’s Step-Stomp Stride, by Andrea Davis Pinkney & Brian Pinkney 2010 Awardee


Award-Winning Author Naomi Shihab Nye to Speak at Houghton

Award-winning Palestinian-American poet, writer, anthologist, and educator Naomi Shihab Nye will speak at Houghton College on October 27, 2017. Events include a luncheon from 12:00 – 12:45 p.m. in the Houghton College Lennox Dining Room, followed by a Q&A session from 1:00 – 2:00 p.m. in the Center for the Arts Recital Hall.

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Habibi by Naomi Shihab Nye 1998 Awardee

Sitti’s Secrets by Naomi Shihab Nye, illustrated by Nancy Carpenter 1995 Awardee


Lois Lowry, Author Of THE GIVER, To Visit Florida Rep This Fall

Florida Repertory Theatre is proud to announce that award-winning author, Lois Lowry, and Broadway playwright, Eric Coble, will be in residence on November 6 for a performance and post-show discussion of Coble’s adaptation of Lowry’s acclaimed book, “The Giver.”

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Number the Stars by Lois Lowry 1990 Awardee


Children take a seat then take charge

Deborah Ellis’s new book, Sit (Groundwood, 144 pages, $15, hardcover), contains 11 separate stories, each with a common theme: they all start with a young person sitting down who begins to take control of their own life.

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The Heaven Shop by Deborah Ellis 2005 Awardee

The Breadwinner Trilogy, three books by Deborah Ellis 2004 Awardee

Parvana’s Journey by Deborah Ellis 2003 Awardee


National Book Award nominee ‘Far From the Tree’ and more reviewed in this week’s Y.A. roundup

The title of Mitali Perkins’ welcoming multigenerational saga, recently long-listed for a 2017 National Book Award, comes from a line by Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore: “Thou hast brought the distant near and made a brother of the stranger.” Perkins tells a nuanced, quintessentially American story. She affectionately traces four young women’s interrelated yet distinct paths to determining their identities.

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Rickshaw Girl by Mitali Perkins, illustrations by Jamie Hogan 2008 Awardee


‘The Breadwinner’ Wins Grand Prize and Audience Award at Animation Festival

The Breadwinner, the story of a young girl growing up under the Taliban regime, received the Grand Prize, selected by the festival jury, and the Audience Award, selected by audience members, at the inaugural Animation Is Film festival that took place over the weekend in Hollywood.

Speaking on behalf of the jury, its chair, Variety critic Peter Debruge, said, “The Breadwinner is not just an incredibly important film, but one that reminds us of the power of animation to communicate serious issues in the world. Transforming hardship into a warm and moving story, the movie represents a triumph by its director, Nora Twomey, in terms of script, voice acting, design, music and editing. The films in competition this year illustrated the many techniques and possibilities of animation, but The Breadwinner was a clear favorite among our jury.

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The Heaven Shop by Deborah Ellis 2005 Awardee

The Breadwinner Trilogy, three books by Deborah Ellis 2004 Awardee

Parvana’s Journey by Deborah Ellis 2003 Awardee


Love of books inspires miniature library

Books relate history, Schmitt said, and can also explain important and controversial subjects with simplicity. "That’s the miracle of children’s books,” she said. For example, author E.B. Lewis tackles concepts of race in his books, others write about the environment, or bullying.

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First Step: How One Girl Put Segregation on Trial, written by Susan E. Goodman, illustrated by E. B. Lewis, 2017 Awardee

Each Kindness written by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by E.B. Lewis 2013 Awardee

Night Boat to Freedom, written by Margot Theis Raven with pictures by E. B. Lewis 2007 Awardee

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.

Read more about the 2017 Awards.

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