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

Children’s Immigration Story Project and Edwidge Danticat: Young Americans’ Dreams Deferred #JACBA Newsletter 22Sept2017
Newsletter / September 23, 2017

Save the Date! October 20, 2017 2:30PM Jane Addams Children’s Book Award Ceremony PDF | JPG   Children’s Immigration Story Project aims to ease anxieties Even before Drumpf’s repeal of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) added to the anxiety, Lerner and fellow RISE members Larry Bayer, Jaime Pullen and more, decided to take action to both comfort kids while also inspiring compassion in others. Through the RISE Children’s Immigration Story Project, the group has been donating a bundle of specially chosen children’s books on the topic to several neighborhood locations. “With DACA being repealed … it’s a time that’s so anxiety-laden and scary for kids that they do need a way to soothe themselves,” said Bayer. He also hopes that through reading the books, others will “Have some empathy for what people are going through now.” Welcoming immigrants and our country’s immigrant history are “a fundamental value that we need to preserve,” said Pullen. Lerner picked the six books and so far RISE has donated them to the library, Sumner school, ABCD Head Start, Casserly House and more. The books include:“Mama’s Nightingale,” by Edwidge Danticat; “We Came to America,” by Faith Ringold; and more. “Mama’s Nightingale” addresses the question:…

If You Think Racism is Too Political (for Classroom Conversation), Think About What Your Silence Says #JACBA Newsletter 8Sept2017
Newsletter / September 11, 2017

If You Think Racism is Too Political For Your Classroom, Think About What Your Silence Says By: Sonja Cherry-Paul Sonja is a committee member for The Jane Addams Children’s Book Award, which acknowledges the work of authors and illustrators who promote peace and equality. Hundreds of White supremacists marched in Charlottesville no longer hidden behind the hoods and robes of the past. In response, for the benefit of our students, our schools and our nation educators must answer the call to end racism and to begin in their classrooms starting on the very first day of school, and White educators should work, listen, plan and act. Our student deserve more than good intentions. Read More US literary figures renew call for freedom for Palestinian poet Dareen Tatour Prominent U.S. poets, writers, playwrights and publishers issued statements today in support of imprisoned Palestinian poet Dareen Tatour ahead of her upcoming trial verdict on October 17. The 12 literary figures whose statements are being issued today are among 300 writers, including 11 Pulitzer Prize-winners, who signed a 2016 letter calling for freedom for Tatour after she was first arrested. These statements of solidarity with Dareen Tatour come from: Susan Abulhawa, Ben Ehrenreich,…

Get a haircut and get a book for back to school #JACBA Newsletter 18Aug2017
Newsletter / August 21, 2017

Get a haircut and a book; a sample of novel openings; saving the rainforest Used to be that the only thing that might come with a haircut would be a shave. Right now and through the first day of school in September any child, aged 4 through 12, who gets his or her hair cut, braided, or styled at one of seven participating hair shops in Egleston Square will get to choose a book to take home for free. And all the books, which were chosen in consultation with local librarians, “either feature a young child of color or are written or illustrated by artists of color,” says Luis Edgardo Cotto, executive director of Egleston Square Main Street, the neighborhood-based nonprofit sponsoring the Books in the Barbershop Summer Reading Initiative. The works selected for the program, now in its second summer, include: “Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music” by Margarita Engle, illustrated by Rafael López; “Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat” by Javaka Steptoe; “Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood” by F. Isabel Campoy and Theresa Howell and illustrated by Rafael López; “When We Fight, We Win: Twenty-First Century Social Movements and…

Needed: multi-layered texts about about Muslim women, girls, and children #JACBA Newsletter 11Aug2017
Newsletter / August 13, 2017

Q&A: Kidlit scholar Heba Elsherief on the problematic representation of Muslim girls in children’s literature Q: When it comes to The Breadwinner, which is often found in North American classrooms and will soon to be an animated film, executive produced by Angelina Jolie, what would you say to teachers using the text? A: “My research on The Breadwinner is cursory, but I do know that if you’re a teacher who wants inclusivity [then] you get The Breadwinner [about an 11-year-old girl living in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan]. Others have done research on how it reinforces the care ethic and the plight narrative of Muslim girls in children’s literature. I’m not saying it shouldn’t be on the syllabus, but if you’re going to critique these books, you have to ask yourself how the book is working on you as a teacher and how you can demonstrate to your students a form of critical reading, questioning and problematizing the text – especially when it’s a narrative that is so popular and so taken up in non-interdisciplinary ways. You don’t have black women, poor women, intersectional feminism endorsing a book like that.” Read More Irish Movie To Get World Premiere At Prestigious Film Festival The…

Featuring Jane Addams Artist and 2017 Caldecott Winner Javaka Steptoe #JACBA Newsletter 15Jul2017
Newsletter / July 15, 2017

Profile of 2017 Caldecott Medal and CSK Illustrator Award winner Javaka Steptoe by Azure Thompson Javaka’s commitment to this truth is evident in his more-than-two-decade career of illustrating black faces and bodies in various settings and situations. His first book, In Daddy’s Arms I Am Tall: African Americans Celebrating Fathers, shows the diversity of relationships among black grandfathers, fathers, and children. The night after Javaka won the Caldecott Medal, he told a roomful of librarians in Seattle, Washington, that the award means his voice will be amplified. It will help ensure that he continues to tell stories about the black experience, as he is committed to expanding the boundaries of how we see people of color. And it ensures that we will listen to him more than ever before. Read More Caldecott Medal winner for best picture book visits Skokie It took illustrator and writer Javaka Steptoe five to six years to complete his multi-award winning picture book on the early life of artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. It took an eager group of children less than an hour to recreate some of the book’s story of Basquiat in a playful version Monday at the Skokie Public Library. “Art is the street…