The month of February is a time when many communities pause and celebrate the great contributions made by African Americans in history. At Lee & Low we like to not only highlight African Americans who have made a difference, but also explore the diverse experiences of black culture throughout history, from the struggle for freedom in the South and the fight for civil rights to the lively rhythms of New Orleans jazz and the cultural explosion of the Harlem Renaissance.
February is Black History Month. The origins of Black History Month began with historian Carter G. Woodson launching Negro History Week in 1926. Woodson felt that teaching African American history was essential for the survival of the African American race.
In 1969, students at Kent State University proposed expanding Black History Week to Black History Month. The first Black History Month was celebrated a year later. In 1976, Black History Month was recognized by the federal government and has been celebrated ever since.
Today, heritage months can be a double-edged sword. On one hand, relegating culturally diverse books to specific months of the year can mean these books are overlooked the rest of the year. It can also separate Black history from American history, when in fact black history is American history. Continue reading
Book title mashups are when you take two book titles, put them together and create a synopsis based on the title. We took some of our favorite Lee & Low and Tu Books titles to come up with some new and fun stories!
Your last day with this class is here. You have one last time to share the moment when you gather for a read aloud. How will you honor the moment?
Today is Mix It Up At Lunch Day, an annual day started by Teaching Tolerance over a decade ago to encourage kindness and reduce prejudice in schools by encouraging students to sit and have lunch with someone new, one day out of the year. Teaching Tolerance offers some great resources to help schools celebrate Mix It Up At Lunch Day, and we thought we’d add our own list of recommended books that encourage kindness, giving, bravery and open-mindedness!
- Lend a Hand: Poems About Giving written by John Frank and illustrated by London Ladd- A collection of poems showing the many ways individuals can make differences.
- Antonio’s Card written by Rigoberto González and illustrated by Cecilia Álvarez – Antonio’s classmates make fun of Leslie, Antonio’s mother’s partner because of her paint-spattered overalls. Antonio decides to make a card for his mother and her partner.
- First Come the Zebra by Lynne Barasch – Abaani, a Maasai boy, sees a Kikuyu boy, Haki, tending a new fruit and vegetable stall alongside the road and they take an immediate dislike to each other. A short while later, a dangerous situation arises near Haki’s stall and Abaani and Haki must overcome their differences and work together.
- King for a Day written by Rukhsana Khan and illustrated by Christiane Krömer – Malik wants to become the king of the kite festival, Basant. Using his kite Falcon, Malik becomes the king of Basant! When he sees a bully take a kite from a girl, Malik uses Falcon to give her a nice surprise.
Halloween is right around the corner. There’s no better way to celebrate than by reading books that will scare you to pieces! Here’s a lucky thirteen list of our favorites (all featuring diverse characters or by diverse authors):
- Half World by Hiromi Goto – Melanie Tamaki lives with her mother in abject poverty. Then, her mother disappears. Melanie must journey to the mysterious Half World to save her.
- Vodnik by Bryce Moore – Sixteen-year-old Tomas moves back to Slovakia with his family and discovers the folktales of his childhood were more than just stories.
Banned Book Week started yesterday.
For those of you who don’t know,
“Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Typically held during the last week of September, it highlights the value of free and open access to information. Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community –- librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types –- in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.” –American Library Association
Here at Lee & Low Books, we’ve compiled a list of some of our favorite banned/challenged titles (in no particular order).
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee – banned for use of racial slurs and profanity.
- Harry Potter (series) by J.K. Rowling – banned for depictions of witchcraft and wizardry/the occult.
- The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie – banned for racism, sexually explicit language, and profanity.
What happens when there is a lack of or break down in communication between stakeholders about the tools used to assess
children’s reading? One bookseller shared her experience when parents, booksellers, and students attempt to find the right book within a leveling framework.
In our previous post, “7 Strategies to Help Booksellers and Librarians Navigate Lexile,” we presented strategies for the book experts out in the field on strengthening the communication lines, sharing resources and context, and building a community invested in each child’s education. In doing so, we show our students, children, and customers that they have a whole team cheering for them and invested in their growth, joy, and success.
Now for educators! Want a child to achieve a year and a half of reading progress and develop a lifelong passion for learning? The more adults you have involved in your students’ success, the better chances you have for meaningful growth and creating a love of reading.
For teachers and school staff who want to invest more stakeholders:
1. Don’t wait for summer break to provide reading lists. After each assessment cycle or parent-teacher conference period, provide parents with book ideas to help students get to the next level. Research or create booklists to hand parents at a parent-teacher conference. Except for the outliers, you can generally get away with making 3 lists (above-, on-, and below-grade level) of where students are reading.
- For pre-made lists: Literacy organizations, such as Reading Rockets and Reading is Fundamental, have created top-notch reading lists. Libraries, such as Phoenix Public Library who built its own reader’s service to search titles by Lexile, often have ready-made booklists by grade and theme and may subscribe to NoveList K–8 Plus.
Jill Eisenberg, our Resident Literacy Expert, began her career teaching English as a Foreign Language to second through sixth graders in Yilan, Taiwan as a Fulbright Fellow. She went on to become a literacy teacher for third grade in San Jose, CA as a Teach for America corps member. She is certified in Project Glad instruction to promote English language acquisition and academic achievement. In her column she offers teaching and literacy tips for educators.
We’re in the process of updating our lists of recommended books for special holidays! Our diverse books cover a wide range of holidays, celebrations, and important moments in history. Whether you are looking to rejuvenate your holiday read alouds in the classroom or purchase a gift to remember a special moment, you’ll find the perfect title on our list. Here’s what we’re celebrating – and reading – in January:
Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Birthday
The Bus Ride
We hope you all had a peaceful holiday season filled with delicious food, friends & family, and some quiet time with a good book. We’ll be back to our regularly scheduled blogging next week, but meanwhile, they’re forecasting 5-8 inches of snow here in the New York area tonight. Obviously, that means one thing:
In preparation, I thought I’d put together a list of my five favorite books to cuddle up with during snow days: