I could say all kinds of things about the US election results. I feel all kinds of things. Fear. Shock. Worry. Pressure. Responsibility. While Trump truly is #notmypresident, a border does not separate us from humanity. I am devastated and afraid about what is happening in America for all of us. For those experiencing all of the horrible discrimination, hatred and fear in the U.S. right now and for the influence America has on the world. I worry for the American children who are worried. For the children and their families who have experienced discrimination and see it getting worse. I worry for our Canadian children who feel their own fear. What about here? Can that hate come here? Is it here already? How safe are we?
Safety feels turned on its head. Hatred feels like it got a green light. It’s early days. He’s not even the President. People are talking about feeling afraid to walk outside.
To quote Aaron Sorkin: “Hate was given hope.”
Everything is wrong with that.
I am a mother. I am a teacher. I am a person who has spent her life advocating for children.
I am horrified.
Fear can freeze us. We need to release ourselves. Begin doing something to make a change.
Sometimes, this means something completely new. Yes, do those things. Speak up when before you didn’t. Don’t ignore what you might have in the past. Engage in the hard conversations. Be uncomfortable.
Sometimes, it is to repeat what we know. Don’t stop what you already do to make a difference. Continue. It is now even more important.
This is what I celebrate today. That despite my fear, I am not turning in circles helplessly. I know where to start.
It is in my classroom full of books.
I can walk back into my classroom Monday morning and talk about books. I can book talk. Read aloud. Provide hours every week for independent reading time.
Words reassure. They challenge our thinking. They shake things up. They soothe us and make us question the world that we know.
I celebrate that I am a reader. I know my books. I think in lists. I can reach out literally and find that book for that child. “Here is a book for you,” “There are books here for all of us.” “Read this. It’s a story you should know.”
I can offer this gift endlessly.
Stories do their magic thing. They touch us where we are most human. They remind us to think deeply. To feel in mighty ways.
Our children need this. Time and space to grapple with their questions and their worries. Stories to let them see the most in themselves and in others.
A room full of books.
This I can do.
Thank you to Ruth Ayres and the #celebratelu community!
Being part of a community that regularly shares gratitude and celebrations truly transforms my weeks.
So often I focus on picture books as the place to begin. My students are always immersed in picture books. Please immerse yours!
Today my recommendations focus on chapter books for our intermediate students. Middle Grade novels. These are the titles I want to see in the hands of my Grade 4 and 5 readers and are actually on my shelves (or soon will be). I have read every one and recommend each of them. All of these books remind us, we have no time for judgement. We must make room for kind. We are all so very different and that’s what makes our world.
Read. Share. Talk. Over and over and over again.
Listed in no organized order. I just started typing.
George by Alex Gino
Ghost by Jason Reynolds
As Brave as You by Jason Reynolds
Save Me a Seat by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan
Making Friends with Billy Wong by Augusta Scattergood
The Land of Forgotten Girls by Erin Entrada Kelly
Blackbird Fly by Erin Entrada Kelly
Nine, Ten: A September 11th Story by Nora Raleigh Baskin
Lily and Dunkin by Donna Gephart
Full Cicada Moon by Marilyn Hilton
The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher by Dana Alison Levy
Listen, Slowly by Thanhhà Lai
Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhhà Lai
Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate
Stella by Starlight by Sharon Draper
Gracefully Grayson by Ami Polonsky
The War that Saved my Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle
Revolution by Deborah Wiles
El Deafo by CeCe Bell
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin
The Red Pencil by Andrea Davis Pinkney
Glory Be by Augusta Scattergood
Crow by Barbara Wright
Anything but Typical by Nora Raleigh Baskin
Beholding Bee by Kimberly Newton Fusco
The Misfits by James Howe
The Thing about Luck by Cynthia Kadohata
Wonder by R.J.Palacio
Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine
Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan
The Real Boy written by Anne Ursu
Shooting Kabul written by N.H. Senzai
For many more titles, visit the We Need Diverse Books site. They are many resources and book lists featured there.
The definition of diverse books on the We Need Diverse Books site is one that I always refer to:
We recognize all diverse experiences, including (but not limited to) LGBTQIA, people of color, gender diversity, people with disabilities*, and ethnic, cultural, and religious minorities.
From the Mission Statement on the We Need Diverse Books site.
Issue yourself or your students The Reading Without Walls Challenge from Gene Luen Yang who is America’s National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature
Number 1 seems particularly meaningful now: Read about a character who doesn’t look like you or live like you.