Saturday, December 2, 2017

Reading at Twinfield Elementary School on December 1, 2017

This was our last reading in 2017. We are taking a break during the winter, and will start reading again in April, 2018. There will be another training for people who would like to join us as readers in the spring session, so let us know (email one of the organizers at the right) if you'd like to be notified about the next training! We love having new readers join us.

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.

Leda Schubert read Boycott Blues: How Rosa Parks Inspired a Nation, by Andrea Davis Pinkney, illustrated by Brian Pinkney, to a 3-4 grade class, in honor of the anniversary of Rosa Parks' arrest. She brought her guitar and taught the class some songs from the civil rights movement -- "Ain't Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Round," "We Shall Not Be Moved," and the chorus of "We Shall Overcome" with the principal, whose father worked polls in the south for decades.

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.

Rachel Cogbill read Ruth and the Green Book, by Calvin Alexander Ramsey with Gwen Strauss, illustrated by Floyd Cooper, to a 3-4 grade class.

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.

 Susan Wilson read The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage, by Selina Alko, illustrated by Sean Qualls and Selina Alko, in a 5-6 grade class.

For most children these days it would come as a great shock to know that before 1967, they could not marry a person of a race different from their own. That was the year that the Supreme Court issued its decision in Loving v. Virginia.
This is the story of one brave family: Mildred Loving, Richard Perry Loving, and their three children. It is the story of how Mildred and Richard fell in love, and got married in Washington, D.C. But when they moved back to their hometown in Virginia, they were arrested (in dramatic fashion) for violating that state's laws against interracial marriage. The Lovings refused to allow their children to get the message that their parents' love was wrong and so they fought the unfair law, taking their case all the way to the Supreme Court - and won!

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Reading at Barre City Elementary School on November 14, 2017

Debby Gale did a stellar job organizing 28 readers to read for the K-4 classes at Barre Town Elementary School! Their wonderful principal, James Taffel, welcomed us and took this photograph of the group before people headed out to their classrooms.

Because so much was going on in a short period of time, we're unable to describe the activities readers did in their various classrooms, but we can tell you that it was a very busy morning! Here are a few images from the classrooms:

Above: Ellen Halperin and Barbara Bendix in a combined third grade classroom.

Above: Kevin Chu reads in a first grade classroom.

Some of our photographs of individual readers and their books didn't turn out, but this is a good sampling of the wonderful people who read, and their books:

Sally Hobart, The Other Side

Manny Tejeda, All the Colors of the Earth
Marilyn May, Testing the Ice
Liz Hamlin-Volz, Teammates
Rachel Cogbill, Jackie's Bat
Janet Westervelt, Black is Brown
Debby Gale, Skin Again
Kevin Chu, Teammates
Abigail Stockman, Aunt Flossie's Hats (and Crab Cakes Later)
Beth Ann Maier, Sneetches
Charlotte Faulstick, Navajo Long Walk
Barbara Bendix and Ellen Halperin, Henry Aaron's Dream
Cynthia Ross, My Name is Sangoel
Ellen Bresler, Lucia the Luchadora and Cherries and Cherry Pits
Georgia Landau, Across the Alley
Irina Markova, My Name is Yoon
Jean Jersey, This is the Dream
Shana Margolin, Walking to the Bus-Rider Blues
Nate Ball, Say Something
Becky Bowen, Let's Talk About Ruby Bridges

Saturday, November 11, 2017

The Book Table at Rumney, October 26, 2017

Students always enjoy browsing through our books before the readings begin!

Paul Erlbaum Reads "Sneetches"

Paul Erlbaum read Dr. Seuss's The Sneetches to a kindergarten class at Rumney. You can see a similar reading he did, and the way he engaged the class here.

Ellen Halperin Reads "The Bracelet"

You can see another post about Ellen's reading of The Bracelet here.

Joseph Gainza Reads "Jackie's Bat"

Narrated by the Brooklyn Dodgers' white batboy, Joey, Lorbiecki's (Sister Anne's Hands ) heartwarming tale set in 1947 tells two parallel stories. The first is Jackie Robinson's difficult but ultimately triumphant first season in the major leagues, and the other is Joey's challenging, but also triumphant, battle against his own racism. With understated simplicity, Joey recounts the numerous indignities Robinson endures: taunts from opposing teams, pitchers aiming at him, hate mail, separate hotels and some insults inflicted by the batboy himself (e.g., Joey cleans the shoes of every player except Robinson because, the boy thinks to himself, "Pops says it ain't right,/ a white boy serving a black man"). Robinson confronts Joey: "There's people out there who don't/ treat me as a man 'cause my skin is black/.... They don't know what a man is." Joey chronicles Robinson's gradual progression from outsider to "one of the guys" as his teammates start defending and working with him. The final scenes depict Robinson offering Joey his hand to shake, "one Dodger to another," and Pops wearing an "I'm for Jackie" button, saying, "That man's earned his place in history." These moments give added emotional weight to this straightforward but often moving re-imagining of how an American hero's struggle and achievement helped transform a nation.

In introducing the book, Joseph tells that he grew up in Brooklyn and loved the Dodgers. But a more important story was about Joseph's own father, who worked on the docks. In his first job, unloading ballast from a big ship, he was part of a long line of men who handed the rough ballast stones hand over hand from the ship's hold, up the stairs, and onto the dock. Joseph's father worked next to an older African-American man, who had a worn and torn pair of gloves on his hands, while Joseph's father's hands were getting all ripped up. At a pause in the movement of stones, the man drew out a pair of new gloves from his back pocket and said to Joseph's father, "Here, son, wear these." Joseph's father said he couldn't take the man's new gloves, but he insisted. Joseph said his father never forgot that, and he never heard his father say anything derogatory about black people, and their home was one in which all people were respected. What Joseph drew from this experience is that a small act of kindness can have huge consequences.

Georgia Landau Reads "My Name is Bilal"

A young boy wrestles with his Muslim identity in this picture book for children written by Dr. Asma Mobin-Uddin, with illustrations by Barbara Kiwak.

When Bilal and his sister Ayesha move with their family, they have to attend a new school. They soon find out that they may be the only Muslim students there. When Bilal sees his sister bullied on their first day, he worries about being teased himself, and thinks it might be best if his classmates didn’t know that he is Muslim. Maybe if he tells kids his name is Bill, rather than Bilal, then they would leave him alone. Mr. Ali, one of Bilal's teachers and also Muslim, sees how Bilal is struggling. He gives Bilal a book about the first person to give the call to prayer during the time of the Prophet Muhammad. That person was another Bilal: Bilal Ibn Rabah. What Bilal learns from the book forms the compelling story of a young boy grappling with his identity. (Summary from goodreads)

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Rachel Cogbill Reads "Amazing Grace"

Rachel read Amazing Grace to the kindergarten. (See here for a description of the book). Rachel's summary:

Grace wants to be Peter Pan in the class play, but one classmate says she can't be because Peter Pan is a boy, and another says she can't be Peter Pan because she is black. Her Nana says Grace can be anything she puts her mind to, and in the end her classmates agree! The play is a great success!

We believe it is essential to provide children with diverse role models, in terms of skin color, cultural heritage, ability, national origin, etc. This book is a lovely example of this perspective.

Activity: Rachel created a booklet with an image of the book's cover on the front, the name of the class, and a line stating "Read aloud during the Reading to End Racism Day."  Inside the booklet, it said "Grace can be anything she wants to be, and so can I!" There was a page for each student to draw a picture and write what he or she wanted to be. This boy wanted to be a baker! This activity provides a great little brochure that students can take home to talk with their families about.

Bob Fisher Reads "Teammates"

Bob Fisher read Teammates to a 5-6  class. In an introduction to his reading, Bob told two personal stories about why he cares about racism and its effects. He said that when he was in high school, his girlfriend was African-American. Her father was a postal worker and a diabetic. One day he had a diabetic crisis, and went to the hospital for treatment, but collapsed inside. The hospital staff left him on the floor, assuming that he was drunk. He didn't receive treatment, and he died.

He also told that someone in his neighborhood had a bottle of wine stolen, and Bob was accused of the theft because of his inter-racial relationship, which was regarded as suspect and anti-social. These are the effects of prejudice and stereotyping.

Susan Wilson Reads Two Books About Shoes to Grades 1-2

Susan Wilson read Those Shoes and New Shoes (see previous post here for similar reading) .

Here a student traces around her foot before writing her list of Wants and Needs.

Amazingly, as we left the room, there was a photograph on the door of a group of African youngsters sitting in a circle with NO shoes on, creating a wonderful design with their feet!

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Reading at Doty Memorial School in Worcester, Vermont

We started our Reading to End Racism session in the gym, where we had set up a selection of the fabulous books we read. Shown are Lynn Woodard -- Doty's librarian and the organizer of our activities there, and Janet Van Fleet, from Reading to End Racism. (photo by Janet's grandson, Manny)

It's always nice to start with a whole-school assembly, so the students know this is a special activity happening all over the school. Lynne gave a nice introduction, stressing how important these ideas are for what the school is dedicated to.

Joseph Gainza Reads "La Mariposa"

 Joseph Gainza read La Mariposa by Francisco Jimenez, illustrated by Simon Silva to Doth Memorial School's K-1 class.

The book depicts an immigrant boy's first-grade experiences at school. Isolated because of his inability to understand English, Francisco turns inward to his imagination and later to drawing to escape his situation. He takes comfort in watching and caring for a caterpillar his teacher has placed in a jar near his seat. We follow his struggles to fit in, but we celebrate his triumph, as he discovers his artwork wins a prize.The caterpillar's metamorphosis into a butterfly mirrors Francisco's own transformation, as he begins to speak more English and fit in with his classmates as the school year winds down. There is a subplot with a bully, and Francisco winds up giving his prize drawing to the boy who had bullied him.

Wonderfully, the class had raised a monarch butterfly from a caterpillar, so the class could relate to the jar and its contents. Joseph spoke to the class about how an act of kindness has tremendous power to inspire others to kindness, and thus help to change the world for the better.

Melora Kennedy Reads "Say Something"

Melora Kennedy "read"  Say Something by showing the 3-4 class at Doty School a feltboard presentation of the story.

The Book: Say Something, by Peggy Moss, illustrated by Lea Lyon. There are some children who push and tease and bully at the local school. Sometimes they hurt other kids by just ignoring them. The girl in this story sees it happening, but she would never do these mean things herself. Then one day something happens that shows her that being a silent bystander isn’t enough. Will she take some steps on her own to help another kid? Bright, fluid, realistic watercolors illustrate the story, set in a school with lots of diversity.  (text from Tilbury House)

Melora brainstormed with students ways in which they could respond to a situation in which another child is being teased or bullied, creating a role-playing script in which each child had the opportunity to play each of the roles.

Bob Fisher Reads "Teammates"

The book: Teammates, by Peter Golenbock, illustrations by Paul Bacon

Set in 1947, Teammates concerns a little-known episode about Brooklyn Dodgers' second baseman Jackie Robinson and the integration of baseball. When Dodgers shortstop Pee Wee Reese, incensed by the abuse coming from a Cincinnati crowd, determined to "take a stand,'' he put an arm around his teammate's shoulder; this simple gesture symbolized the end of the "color line'' in major league baseball--and the beginning of a great friendship. The book's appropriately ironic beginning talks of a time "when automobiles were black and looked like tanks and laundry was white and hung on clotheslines to dry.'' Golenbock then introduces the Negro Leagues, enumerates the many differences between them and the Major Leagues, and credits Dodger general manager Branch Rickey with finding "one special man'' who would exemplify great ballplaying and thereby eradicate the prejudices of the fans. Golenbock's bold and lucid style distills this difficult issue, and brings a dramatic tale vividly to life. Bacon's spare, nostalgic watercolors, in addition to providing fond glimpses of baseball lore, present a haunting portrait of one man's isolation. (review by Publishers Weekly)

Bob Read Teammates to a 5-6 grade class at Doty Memorial School in Worcester.

Susan Wilson Reads "Those Shoes" and "New Shoes"

The Books: Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts, illustrated by Noah Z. Jones and New Shoes by Susan Lynn Meyer, illustrated by Eric Velasquez

Those Shoes: All Jeremy wants is a pair of those shoes, the ones everyone at school seems to be wearing. Though Jeremy’s grandma says they don’t have room for "want," just "need," when his old shoes fall apart at school, he is more determined than ever to have those shoes, even a thrift-shop pair that are much too small. But sore feet aren’t much fun, and Jeremy soon sees that the things he has — warm boots, a loving grandma, and the chance to help a friend — are worth more than the things he wants.

 New Shoes: When her brother's hand-me-down shoes don't fit, it is time for Ella Mae to get new ones. She is ecstatic, but when she and her mother arrive at Mr. Johnson's shoe store, her happiness quickly turns to dejection. Ella Mae is forced to wait when a customer arrives after her and is served first. Ella Mae is unable even to try on the shoes because of her skin color. Determined to fight back, Ella Mae and her friend Charlotte work tirelessly to collect and restore old shoes, wiping, washing, and polishing them to perfection. The girls then have their very own shoe sale, giving the other African American members of their community a place to buy shoes where they can betreated fairly and "try on all the shoes they want." 

Set in the South during the time of segregation, this stunning picture book brings the civil rights era to life for contemporary readers. (both previews from Barnes and Noble) 

Activity:  Susan brainstormed with the students in this second grade class at Doty Memorial School in Worcester, VT the things they might want and the things they need.  Then she had them trace around their feet (as the girls were obliged to do in the white-owned shoe store in New Shoes), and write their own lists of things they want and things they need.