We had a great morning reading at Twinfield. The school was enthusiastic about having Reading to End Racism, and the wonderful guidance counselor (who was our contact at the school), Anthony Popoli, arranged a great display of some of our books right across from the entrance to the school. It looks like he had some student help making the festive sign!
We realized it was the 62nd anniversary of the arrest of Rosa Parks! We had eleven great volunteer readers in grades K-6. Here are some of the books and readers we haven't profiled before:
Rachel Rudi read Let's Talk About Race, by Julius Lester, illustrated by Karen Barbour, in a first grade class.
This is the first time we've had a former student read at a school -- Rachel graduated from Twinfield!
She said she chose this book because she couldn't remember there ever being a conversation about race when she was a student, and she felt it was really important to talk about. Unless we bring it out and examine it and let people talk about their experiences and thoughts and feelings, it will all still be there in some hidden place, festering under the surface.
Janet Van Fleet Read Sitti's Secrets by Naomi Shihab Nye, illustrated by Nancy Carpenter, in a 3-4 grade class.
Mona lives in the United States, but her grandmother, her Sitti, lives in a small Palestinian village on the other side of the earth, Mona says, "When our sky grows dark, the sun is peeking through her [grandmother's] window and brushing the bright lemons on her lemon tree." Once Mona went to visit her. They couldn't speak each other's language (Sitti only speaks Arabic and Mona only speaks English), so sometimes Mona's father translates for them. But mostly they make up their own language of gestures.
Janet told the class that everybody in our country has a family that came from somewhere else in the world if you go back through the generations. Many people wanted to come to the United States because of the opportunities here. Other people were forced to come here, like the slaves who were brought to our country from Africa. But in Janet's family, her sister left the United States and moved to Australia many years ago, moving out rather than in. People have been moving around the planet since there have been people, and it's good to be able to move to a new place and be welcomed.
She also shared her own book Trailblazer : The Story of Ballerina Raven Wilkinson, illustrated by Theodore Taylor -- coming out in January! It is the story of
Raven Wilkinson, the first African American woman to dance for a major classical ballet company and an inspiration to Misty Copeland. From the time she was a little girl, all Raven Wilkinson wanted to do was dance. On her ninth birthday, her uncle gifted her with ballet lessons, and she completely fell in love with dance. While she was a student at Columbia University, Raven auditioned for the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo and was finally accepted on her third try, even after being told she couldn't dance with them because of her skin color.
Ruth was so excited to take a trip in her family's new car! In the early 1950s, few African Americans could afford to buy cars, so this would be an adventure. But she soon found out that black travelers weren't treated very well in some towns. Many hotels and gas stations refused service to black people. Daddy was upset about something called Jim Crow laws...Finally, a friendly attendant at a gas station showed Ruth's family The Green Book. It listed all of the places that would welcome black travelers. With this guidebook--and the kindness of strangers--Ruth could finally make a safe journey from Chicago to her grandma's house in Alabama. Ruth's story is fiction, but The Green Book and its role in helping a generation of African American travelers avoid some of the indignities of Jim Crow are historical fact.
Charlottte Faulstick read parts of CHILDREN Just Like Me: A new celebration of children around the world, to a 5-6 grade class. The book profiles 44 children and their daily lives, showing the many ways children are different and the many ways they are the same, no matter where they live.
She also read Trail of Tears by Joseph Bruchac. In 1838, settlers moving west forced the great Cherokee Nation, and their chief John Ross, to leave their home land and travel 1,200 miles to a new settlement in Oklahoma, a terrible journey known as the Trail of Tears.