Friday, February 28, 2020

February #cbadspotlight - Spotlight on The Roots of Rap with Author Carole Boston Weatherford

Today I'm shining the spotlight on 
Carole Boston Weatherford,
author of #cbadspotlight pick 
THE ROOTS OF RAP: 16 Bars on the 4 Pillars of Hip Hop
and also many other wonderful nonfiction titles including By and By: Charles Tindley, the Father of Gospel Music, Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library, Be a King: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Dream and You, How Sweet the Sound: The Story of Amazing Grace, Gordon Parks: How the Photographer Captured Black and White America, Freedom on the Menu: The Greensboro Sit-Ins, Sibert Honor Book Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, and more.
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Explore the roots of rap in this stunning, rhyming, triple-timing picture book!

A generation voicing 

stories, hopes, and fears

founds a hip-hop nation.

Say holler if you hear.

The roots of rap and the history of hip-hop have origins that precede DJ Kool Herc and Grandmaster Flash. Kids will learn about how it evolved from folktales, spirituals, and poetry, to the showmanship of James Brown, to the culture of graffiti art and break dancing that formed around the art form and gave birth to the musical artists we know today. Written in lyrical rhythm by award-winning author and poet Carole Boston Weatherford and complete with flowing, vibrant illustrations by Frank Morrison, this book beautifully illustrates how hip-hop is a language spoken the whole world 'round, it and features a foreward by Swizz Beatz, a Grammy Award winning American hip-hop rapper, DJ, and record producer.

Thank you, Carole, for joining me for a #cbadspotlight post today!

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

#classroombookaday Recommendations: People Who Made a Difference

Each month of this school year I am getting a chance to share a themed list of 20 recommended picture book titles for #CLASSROOMBOOKADAY read alouds in partnership with Follett Classroom. Each booklist is accompanied by a blog post explaining more in depth my thoughts in creating the list and why I chose those specific titles.

One of the great parts of this partnership is that my recommendation lists are also being saved in Titlewave which allows them to be easily found and shared with librarians for purchasing for school libraries!

My February 2020 list is People Who Made a Difference! 
[Please visit the link to read the accompanying blog post]
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You can also find all of my posts & lists I've done with Follett at my landing page

Monday, February 17, 2020

#classroombookaday & Responsibility in Book Selection

Due to some disheartening comments in the #classroombookaday Facebook group related to sharing picture books with trans characters & pushback on racism with anthropomorphic monkeys, I felt the need to clarify a few things about my stance on book selection related to this initiative. I shared screenshots on Twitter and was asked to make it a blog post also for ease of access. Stick with me - this is long, but important. 

I'd like to clarify some things about my goals and intentions for this group. As #classroombookaday has grown and evolved over the past five years, so have I as an educator and human. Some of you are very new to this group. Perhaps you were directed here as a place to get good picture book recommendations. And that's fair, but first and foremost this is a group for people choosing to read aloud a picture book every day of the school year. With that comes a responsibility to our students. I look back at my first year's display and see the problematic choices I made in the books I chose. Now that I know better than to have mostly white authors, I am trying to do better (shoutout to Maya Angelou!).
Identities are not "controversial topics" 
As creator of this group & #classroombookaday, I want to reply to a comment that "This FB page is supposed to be about using books in the classroom, not to argue about controversial topics.  That does not help anybody and nobody wins." I unequivocally stand by not debating the humanity of my students & the critical need to support their lived experiences & identities through the books we share for #classroombookaday read alouds. Identities are not "controversial topics" - they are lived experiences and, especially as educators, students who live them, live with them, know them, or don't know them deserve our love and respect. Even better if we can facilitate that through the books we choose to share in read alouds. 

As I work on myself and learn more perspectives about being an anti-racist, anti-bias teacher, I reflect on how my choices in books for #classroombookaday can support or work against that goal. I reflect on the overt & subtle harm that can be caused to the children in front of me each day with the choices I make. Because this is about the kids. If my goal is to build community, support student identity and lived experiences, and help kids develop empathy, then my choices need to reflect that purpose. I cannot ignore what BIPOC scholars share about problematic content and ideas in picture books. I understand that we can't be limited by a single story and that no one person represents the feelings of all, but if even one BIPOC person who has done work around kidlit points out harmful content, I need to consider it and learn to look at books through a more critical lens. I am constantly learning and still miss things all the time. I make mistakes when analyzing books, but I listen to the critiques, learn from them, and move on to the next book with a deeper understanding. 
I reflect on the overt & subtle harm that can be caused to the children in front of me each day with the choices I make. Because this is about the kids. 
If you have seen me present in the last few years, you know I don't do so without a section on critical analysis and inclusive book selection. Here's the thing: when we have 180 chances to impact children's understanding and empathy and self-image and global perspective, we need to take every chance we can to support them as accepting human beings who will add to our society. Choosing not to share certain identities is not supporting the goal of growing community. ALL of these conversations are important within the context of participating in #classroombookaday! And whether people speak up or not, I know that by watching these convos perspectives are changed and stances toward the need for diversity enhanced and clarified. So the educators in this group are helped, and our students are the ones who win by being treated as valued members of our society and classrooms who can understand that not everyone is like them and be more accepting of that.

To be clear: There is no place for bigoted or hateful speech or actions or statements within this group, and I will moderate accordingly. There is a place for thoughtful discussion and sharing of ideas around books that support anti-bias, anti-racist teaching and critical selection of inclusive books. What you choose to do with that information and those conversations in your own classroom and choices of books is up to you. But please don't discount a book because you feel a marginalized identity is not appropriate for elementary school children - it is and they are. 
There is no agree to disagree on bigoted statements or erasing marginalized groups or perpetuating negative stereotypes or causing harm to children. 
As Admin of this group, and as stated in the group guidelines, it is my right to choose not to approve a post that does not align with these purposes, to shut down commenting, or hide comments that cross into hate speech. If a book has been critiqued as problematic, that discussion needs to happen, but implicit support is inferred by an uncritical post with a picture. When I first started on this learning, I often got defensive about being pushed out of my comfort zone and having my privilege pointed out to me and held onto ideas and books that I shouldn't have, but that was then also actively choosing to harm kids. Something we all need to reflect on. This isn't about agreeing with everything I think, but about supporting inclusiveness, students as multi-faceted human beings, and doing right by kids living in this society. There is no agree to disagree on bigoted statements or erasing marginalized groups or perpetuating negative stereotypes or causing harm to children. And please remember that comments made toward identities can be hurtful and harmful, and you don't know the identities or lived experiences of those in this group either.

Thank you for being part of this, supporting #classroombookaday, and striving to do right by ALL kids. 💕

You might also find this post sharing a twitter thread helpful: 12 Steps to Edugrowth When Called In

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

February #cbadspotlight - Spotlight on My Papi Has a Motorcycle with Author Isabel Quintero & Illustrator Zeke Peña

Today I'm shining the spotlight on 
#cbadspotlight pick 
My Papi Has a Motorcycle,
with author Isabel Quintero & illustrator Zeke Peña 
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A celebration of the love between a father and daughter, and of a vibrant immigrant neighborhood, by an award-winning author and illustrator duo.

When Daisy Ramona zooms around her neighborhood with her papi on his motorcycle, she sees the people and places she's always known. She also sees a community that is rapidly changing around her.

But as the sun sets purple-blue-gold behind Daisy Ramona and her papi, she knows that the love she feels will always be there.

With vivid illustrations and text bursting with heart, My Papi Has a Motorcycle is a young girl's love letter to her hardworking dad and to memories of home that we hold close in the midst of change.

Thank you, Isabel & Zeke, for joining me for a #cbadspotlight author & illustrator conversation today!

Monday, February 3, 2020

February #cbadspotlight - Spotlight on The Proudest Blue with Author S.K. Ali

Today I'm shining the spotlight on 
S.K. Ali,
author of #cbadspotlight pick 
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A powerful, vibrantly illustrated story about the first day of school--and two sisters on one's first day of hijab--by Olympic medalist and social justice activist Ibtihaj Muhammad.

With her new backpack and light-up shoes, Faizah knows the first day of school is going to be special. It's the start of a brand new year and, best of all, it's her older sister Asiya's first day of hijab--a hijab of beautiful blue fabric, like the ocean waving to the sky. But not everyone sees hijab as beautiful, and in the face of hurtful, confusing words, Faizah will find new ways to be strong.

Paired with Hatem Aly's beautiful, whimsical art, Olympic medalist Ibtihaj Muhammad and Morris Award finalist S.K. Ali bring readers an uplifting, universal story of new experiences, the unbreakable bond between siblings, and of being proud of who you are.

Thank you, S.K., for joining me for a #cbadspotlight interview today!