Reading Challenge (BIPOC Authors) Update 3

Hello Book Blog World!

With all of the craziness surrounding back-to-school…and our remote/hybrid learning planning, I have found myself reading less and writing about books less. This is an unusual time, so I am gaining some unusual habits; habits that I hope to break.

Over the last few weeks, I have added: Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds and Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? by Beverly Daniel Tatum.

A multiple award winner and I understood why. The story was powerfully told in verse, in an elevator. I couldn’t put this one down.

I have been doing a lot of reading on racism, antiracism, and reading BIPOC fiction authors and this one made also consider my role as a white teacher with BIPOC students. Tatum gives important information on how racial identity develops in people (especially adolescents) and where some of the most common stereotypes come from.

I wish I could have taken her course in education school, but I got a lot out of the book for my students now.

Any other suggestions to add to my TBR?

Reading Challenge (BIPOC Authors) Update 2

Challenge aside, I would read anything that Anna-Marie McLemore writes. To complete the category “Latinx Author or Book in Spanish” I chose their Wild Beauty.

Once again, I wanted to live in the world that they created. This time, the book followed the youngest of three generations of cursed women. Each women in the family blames themself for killing or making the person they love disappear. So, what happens when a mysterious boy appears in their magical garden? You will have to read to find out.

I will say it again…I adore Anna-Marie McLemore and want to live in the worlds that they create. The scenery and the book itself was lush, beautiful, and heartbreaking. I loved coming across the references to the” weight of feathers” and the cursed red shoes; both parts of her later books.

A spot of magical realism and strong women always make for a great read.

On Reading American History

When I was in AP US History (not bragging,) my mind was blown.

Over the summer, our teacher required that we read Lies My Teacher Told Me by James Loewen. I was appalled by all of the “lies” that I had been told. Why was I only learning now, at age 16, that Columbus was maybe not the hero I thought he was?

This idea could be a much longer post about the prevalence of classism, racism, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, elitism, the patriarchy etc. in our history books. And maybe I will make that post someday, but this post is about how I learned about important people and important facts that do not often make it into history textbooks. I read about women, BIPOC, queer people, and every one in between, often left out or rewritten in standardized texts. I read about struggles and triumphs. I read about the people who fought, voted, and spoke out. I read about events that became more real to me as I read about a historical figure with thoughts and feelings. Reading history beyond textbooks and beyond school humanized events for me. These “alternative history” books give readers, like me, the emotional connection that a textbook is often lacking.

Ever since my AP US reading days, I have tried to pick up history books that told me more about real people that came before me who I know little about. This summer, I read two: A Queer History of the United States and An Indigenous People’s History of the United States.

Both were engaging and often moving reads. Both of these groups have been (and often still are persecuted) for who they are, but are such important parts of our country and our country’s history. I learned a lot from these texts.

Highly recommend picking up both books or either and expanding your historical knowledge base!

Review: Save Me a Seat

This one was on my to-read list for a full year. A student raved about it during a book talk in June of 2019, but I was too deep into Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series to remember that I wanted to read this one.

I’m glad I did.

This middle grade novel is heartbreaking and eye opening. It follows the POVs of two boys: one boy is white and receiving special education services and the other, an immigrant from India. Outsiders in their class, they are forced together, much to their chagrin.

Lessons are learned. Friendships are assumed, made, and broken. My students enjoyed this book and you may too.

I appreciated that the authors wrote in their own voices to lend authenticity to the boy’s experiences.

The thing that especially broke my heart in the story was how prejudiced and useless the adults at school were. It seemed like they had no empathy training and their students took cues from their behavior. Worst!

Reading Challenge (BIPOC Authors) Update 1

Today, I added another book to my total for the BIPOC authors challenge, bringing it to three. To complete the square “Coretta Scott King Award Winner,” I read Walter Dean Myer’s Monster.

This book has been around the “Own Voices” circuit for awhile, but I had not gotten around to reading it. I was instantly drawn into the story by the main character (Steven’s) choice to tell his story as though it was a movie. Withdrawing himself from his own incarceration and trial, he made a powerful statement about the current plight of some teens of color. It also made the story a quick and engaging read.

The only thing I wanted was a little less of the actual court procedure. I wanted more of all the very human characters in the the times outside of the court room and less of the constant objecting by the opposing councils. I understand the Steven observed this and that real lawyers do this, but these moments were never my favorite parts of the story.

Doing a BIPOC authors challenge or trying to diversify your TBR list? This book, while a little on the older side now in 2020, is worth a look and a read .

2020 Reading Challenge Part 2: Reading BIPOC Authors

I love a reading challenge.

I read so much, that it is always great to add new award winners, authors, and subjects to my “Read” list. Currently, along with three of my teacher friends, I am working on a reading BIPOC authors challenge. Part of our work is our own cultural, racial, and global education. Part of our work is finding new texts to recommend and teach. Part of our work is finding new authors and choosing them purposefully. Part of our work is finding less known authors. And, part of our work is just finding great books.

These are the categories (Note: I have already done two books so far.)

I plan to post updates on the challenge and recommend some of the great new reads that I have found.

Do you have any must-reads for any of these categories? I love recommendations!