Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

So, I was going on a trip and would be away for about four days, and I took Brown Girl Dreaming with me, because I knew that a book as thick as Brown Girl Dreaming would definitely be enough to keep me entertained during my down time while out of town. However, I started reading this book that is written in verse, and by the time my three to four hour flight landed, I was finished and madly in love with Brown Girl Dreaming

Woodson tells her story of growing up during the 60s and 70s, and she beautifully mingles the importance of the Civil Rights Movement into the telling of her story. However, what I found most intriguing is that Jacqueline, according to her teachers, “was not as smart as her sister.” But, she discovered that she loved to write, and a teacher confirmed that she could write, and now we have the 2015 Newbery Medal earning Brown Girl Dreaming.

I could not stop thinking about the teaching possibilities of this novel with children of all ages. In this book, Jacqueline mentions many of our African American heroes, and I am imagining a teacher reading this book aloud to her students and teaching mini lessons on the African American heroes that are mentioned in this book. Also, Jacqueline learned differently, and I can also imagine a teacher engaging students in talking about their learning styles.

This book was uplifting, beautifully crafted, relatable.... and I know that any person who gets his hands on this book will appreciate the story and the beauty of the writing. But, our little brown children will really appreciate this wonderful book that tells many of our stories in the most beautiful manner.

Jacqueline Woodson.... I appreciate you for telling this brown girl story!

Brown Folks, we got to continue to tell our stories.......

Monday, July 4, 2016

Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff

A while back, President Obama read Freedom by Jonathan Franzen, and he loved the book so much, it inspired him to invite Franzen to The White House. Well, I can go on and on about Freedom. I love that book so much. It is completely character driven, and the reader gets to know the most intimate parts of each character; we learn why each character does what he/she does. (I just love those stories where the author shows the complexity of being human.)

So, President Obama picked Fates and Furies as one of his favorite books of 2015. Being that I loved his selection of Freedom a while back, I had to give Fates and Furies a try, and it did not disappoint.


The fates part is all about this guy named Lotto whose life takes an unexpected turn, and we learn all about him and his life and what makes him who he is. He marries this girl named Mathilda after college, and in the furies part we learn all about Mathilda.

Through character development, we are able to fully understand each character and have full empathy for both of them. While I was reading this novel, I was wondering if we would have more fulfilling relationships with everyone in our lives if we knew why he/she did the things that he/she did. For instance, what makes a person shy away from the tough stuff, or what causes a person to blow up, or what causes a person to be completely driven.... If we knew these things, wouldn’t this solve a whole bunch of misunderstandings that are caused by many of us assuming why someone does what he does and acting on our assumptions. (However, life typically does not afford us to know many of the things that we would love to know.)

For instance, it appeared that Mathilda just happened to see Lotto and fall in love with him. However, we learn that there is much more to that meeting, and Lotto was never privy to those details. If he had known, would that had made a difference to him and maybe even impacted their relationship?

Based on President Obama’s love for Fates and Furies and Freedom, I would wager that he is a man who is concerned with human nature and what makes people tick. I am betting that in dealing with people, he is a person who seeks to understand before he jumps to a conclusion.... (I believe that the kind of books that we love can reveal a lot about us.)

My people, if you love human stories as much as I do and President Obama, then this is the book for you...


It is good to have a President who reads.....


Sunday, July 3, 2016

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

My people, life has been happening... Happening in a way where there are so many good and exciting yet scary things going on with my life until I have not had the time to get the books that are running around in my brain out on paper! However, I am not complaining, but I am actually trying to enjoy the ride!

So, here is the first book that has been dying to get out!

About a month or so before school ended, I did my choice novel unit with my students, and being that they all have their own computers, they were able to do a great, group project that I will share with you soon.

Anyway, many of the teachers in my school are giving students choice in what they read, and many of the students are reading and loving Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. Even in my classroom, many students had read or wanted to read this book. After all of the hype about Thirteen Reasons Why, I decided to give it a try so that I could it discuss it with the students who were reading it.

One of the protagonist, Hannah Baker, has actually committed suicide, and she leaves behind a series of tapes explaining why she committed suicide. It took me a minute to get into this story, because the plot sort of moves slowly with the mixing of Hannah’s story with Clay Jenson’s story, the guy who is in possession of the tapes. However, Jay builds the suspense and makes this book one that makes the reader want to read to find out why Hannah killed herself.

My first thoughts were “Do we really want to expose students to a book that seems to be glorifying suicide?”

At first Hannah came across as a hero to me; the girl who is making her friends and foes feel bad about causing her to commit suicide. However, my students thought that this book was not about Hannah at all but was about the people who caused Hannah to commit suicide. They saw this as an anti-bullying book that can cause a person to think about how his action may effect another person. (I love discussing books with my students.) This was one of those ‘aha conversations’ that caused a shift in my thoughts, and because of that shift, I am highly recommending this book to middle and high school students; it is easy to read, deals with teenager issues, and just may cause a young adult to think about how his actions may impact the life of another person.

Adults, I am also encouraging you to read this book, because Hannah did reach out to a few adults, but the adults seemed to miss or just did not quite understand how to help her.

Heavy, easy read that students seem to love, and any book that gets students to read is a good book!

Happy Summer, My People!!

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