Friday, April 29, 2016

Because of a Boy Named Peter

You can walk into any classroom today and find a variety of books.  The story-lines range from the environment, kids, funny animals, feelings, multicultural characters, and more. In the past, characters of diverse backgrounds were non-existent, even in schools that were mostly African-American.  African-Americans could not connect with the characters of the story.  Then, one man decided to change that.

In 1962, Ezra Jack Keats wrote the first children's book with a character with a diverse background, The Snowy Day. The story is about a small boy, Peter, who is experiencing a snow day outside of his home.  In the following year, The Snowy Day won the Caldecott Medal, which during that time was a very high honor for illustrated books for children.  Keats has illustrated almost 85 children books (written and illustrated 22). 

The story of Peter did not end with The Snowy Day.  Keats wrote six other books that included the life of Peter all the way to his adolescence.  Keats believed that every child should be able to see themselves in books. He took a chance to make a difference by something so small and making others see the 
bigger picture.

Ezra Jack Keats wrote, "If we could see each other exactly as the other is, this would be a
different world.” 

Hmmmmm makes you wonder.........

Books about Peter! 



When a Woman Dares To Dream....

Women, if the soul of the nation is to be saved, I believe that you must become its soul. ~Coretta Scott King
Did you know that the month of March is Women History Month and March 8th is considered International Women's Day.  International Women's Day celebrates the social, economic, cultural, and political achievement of women.  Even though the progress of women achievements has slowed down in some parts of the world, strides are being made to exalt awareness.

Women's History started off as a week in 1987.  Congress expanded the celebration to a month.  The month of March honors women of different cultures, abilities, and contributions.  As a woman, we are not always shown in the greatest light, especially when it comes to entertainment or social media. A positive light is something that we owe our young women.  They should understand that they can be more than a pretty face.

With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.~Eleanor Roosevelt

The learning does not stop with young women, we should teach young men the same.  Young men should learn early that women have created pathways for society.  Some male students believe that girls can only have certain professions. My goal is teach them that professions are not attached to specific genders.  In society, women are described as bossy, loud, and emotional.  Let us not call a young girl bossy, but say she has leadership qualities.  Leadership qualities that can help her make a difference or just make history.

I have compiled a list of great books that can help teach children about great accomplishments that women have made in history.  Truly, the list could be longer, but I tried to pick my favorites.  These books are good for grades Prek to 8th grade.   

Who Says Women Can't Be Doctors?: The Story of Elizabeth Blackwell (Christy Ottaviano Books)

Coretta Scott

When Marian Sang: The True Recital of Marian Anderson

  She Loved Baseball: The Effa Manley Story

  Here Come the Girl Scouts!: The Amazing All-True Story of Juliette 'Daisy' 
Gordon Low and Her Great Adventure

Sonia Sotomayor: A Judge Grows in the Bronx / La juez que crecio en el Bronx (Spanish and English 

  Eleanor, Quiet No More

  Susan B. Anthony

Different Like Coco

  Let Me Play: The Story of Title IX: The Law That Changed the Future of Girls in America

Rosie the Riveter: Women Working on the Home Front in World War II

  Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Drea

Young Poets

A couple of weeks ago, I was discussing that the month of April was National Poetry Month with a friend.  She said, "It makes sense that it would be in April though, because it is the time of Spring."  It never crossed my mind, April is the time of new things.  Take a moment to think about it..... rain comes and cleanses the Earth and gives things a new start. The birds chirp, the flowers bloom...................

At an early age, I started writing poetry.  I kept a small book and usually wrote poetry and short stories.  Poetry was a mental getaway for me, as I looked back I saw so many poems in that small notebook. I started to reminisce about how helpful they were during my childhood. Children can associate the greatness of poetry by seeing that it is the ability to inspire emotions and special pleasure through rhythms.  

The first National Poetry Month was held in 1996. The month helps honor publishers, booksellers, educators and literary organizations.  During this month, publishers often release and publicize their poetry works in April.  Also during this month, teachers and librarians like to focus on poetry units and famous poets. 

Through recent observation, I realized that we do not allow students enough time to express themselves. Teaching children about poetry at an early age awakens many types of interest and feelings. You can learn a lot from your students from just listening to their thoughts and ideas and how they understand the world. Recently, I discovered many literary works from poets that are design for young readers.  These books below deal with poetry and have diverse characters.  I hope you enjoy learning about them and consider them for your child or your own book collection. I also hope you encourage your children and/or your students to be young poets. 

  My People (Coretta Scott King Award - Illustrator Winner Title(s))
Charles R. Smith Jr. helps Langston Hughes and his beautiful words come alive.  Smith uses great photographs to show the beauty of being an African-American in today's society.

Shades of Black: A Celebration of Our Children
Poetic words help celebrate this amazing literary work.  Just like my people, photographs are used to show the beauty of being black in American.

  Where the Sidewalk Ends: Poems and Drawings
This profound literary work has been around for many years and is also know as a classic.  Where the Sidewalk Ends, is one book that should be on every bookshelf.

  Follow Follow: A Book of Reverso Poems
This clever book can be read from top to bottom to tell a story one way. Then, you can reverse the lines and read from bottom to top and the story takes a different turn.  This book is so much fun for kids, it takes poetry to a whole new level.

  Poetry for Young People: Maya Angelou
Dr. Maya Angelou is a true icon when it comes to literature.  So just imagine how excited I was when I discovered this book for young readers.  This book contains twenty-five of her finest poems.

  Hip Hop Speaks to Children: A Celebration of Poetry with a Beat (A Poetry Speaks Experience)
Hip-Hop is poetry with a beat.  This book helps children to understand that poems have rhythm and rhyme.  Read poems and hear songs by A Tribe Called Quest, Gwendolyn Brooks, and many more.

Won Ton: A Cat Tale Told in Haiku
This is a cute poetry story about a young boy who finds a cat and takes him home.  This story is told in Haiku.  Haiku is a Japanese poem of seventeen syllables, in three lines of five, seven, and five, traditionally evoking images of the natural world.

More Great Poetry Books With Diverse Characters