Intermediate & Middle School Activity
Meet Renee Watson Author of ‘Piecing Me Together,’ A Jane Addams Children’s Book Award 2018 Honor Title for Older Children.
Read a summary of the book
Jade misses going to school with neighborhood friends but the private school she attends on scholarship offers an international volunteer opportunity. This year she hopes to be chosen. In the meantime, Jade’s school counselor encourages her to participate in a community-based mentoring program for African American girls. Jade is paired with Maxine, an African American alum of her school. Meanwhile Jade’s classmate Sam—whom she gets to know because they both ride the bus, a rarity—has never stepped foot in Jade’s neighborhood. It all has Jade thinking about how people perceive her, and her community. Then she isn’t chosen for the volunteer trip to Costa Rica, despite tutoring fellow students in Spanish. The reason? Jade already participates in the mentoring program and her teacher feels other students deserve opportunities, too. Jade’s frustration is further fueled by the assault of a young Black woman by police in a nearby community. For Jade, the beating is too close, too personal, intensifying her sense of disquiet and disconnect with her school community, including Sam. Why, she finally challenges her teacher, her counselor, her mentor, does everyone assume because she is poor and Black that she needs help and “opportunities” but has nothing to offer, something to give? This vivid, poignant novel features singular characters; complex, authentic relationships; and a young woman voicing a critical truth. © Cooperative Children’s Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin – Madison, 2018
NEXT READ THE FIRST TWO CHAPTERS OF ‘PIECING ME TOGETHER.’ READ THROUGH TO HEAR JADE’S VOICE AND IMAGINE HER LIFE AS SHE REVEALS IT. THEN READ A SECOND TIME PAYING CLOSE ATTENTION TO ANY AND ALL CONNECTIONS YOU HAVE WITH JADE AND HER EXPERIENCE…
RENEE HAS A NEWLY RELEASED BOOK FOR YOUNGER READERS ENTITLED ‘WAYS TO MAKE SUNSHINE.’ WATCH A TV INTERVIEW OF RENEE TALKING ABOUT ‘WAYS TO MAKE SUNSHINE’ AND ITS RELEVANCE TO OUR CORNONOVIRUS TIMES…
THEN READ A BOOK REVIEW OF ‘MAKING SUNSHINE.’ READ TO SEE HOW THIS REVIEWER ALSO SEES RELEVANCE IN RYAN HART’S STORY FOR THESE UNCERTAIN TIMES…
Now Let’s Get to Next Steps!
Guiding questions for your reading, writing, thinking and acting:
- There are so many ways one can connect with a character in a story, often deeply, and at the same time, as you read you also recognize ways in which the characters experience is different than our own. Think about these questions and answer them in a paragraph or two. In what ways do you connect with Jade in Chapters 1 and 2 of Piecing Me Together? In what ways do you see Jade’s experience as different than your own? What surprises you about these connections or differences? What do you find yourself wondering after thinking these things through? You are welcome to share your writing and/or thoughts in our comment section (comments will be approved & posted within 24 yours) or on social media #socialjusticelearnanddo
- In her TV interview Renee said it is important to have conversations about how to still find joy and to make joy, even in the midst of sadness, grief, loss, change, and fear. How are you finding and making joy during this time of pandemic, school shutdowns, and social distancing? Yes, uncertainty and change are all around us, but enjoying oneself and helping others enjoy themselves is within our reach. Make a list of at least three or four things you are already doing that bring you and others joy. Have a conversation with a family member or someone else you are living with. Ask them what they are doing to find and make joy. Share your list with them. Together come up with one or two new ways. It’s okay if they are small and simple, but be sure to try them out! Bet you’ll make some sunshine! You are welcome to share your experience and thoughts about this activity in our comment section below (comments will be approved & posted within 24 yours) or on social media #socialjusticelearnanddo