The Week in Reading #imwayr 6/29/20

On the blog:

In reading:

I was listening to Stamped on audio when Covid hit and my commute time/audiobook time decreased to zero. I just managed to finish the last 60 minutes this week. Jason Reynolds’s “remix” is really an amazing achievement, and the whole time I was listening, I kept thinking why can’t this be a model for how textbooks could be written? Full of voice and perspective and connections. I was originally listening to this book and reading Dr. Kendi’s Stamped from the Beginning simultaneously–listening to a section of Jason’s book and then catching up on that section of content from Dr. Kendi’s book. But then I got ahead of myself in my listening and never caught up with the book. So I need to go back and finish because I’m finding that I still have so many questions and need the slower pace and depth and detail of Dr Kendi’s book to really take all of this history in. (Also the audiobook is narrated by Jason Reynolds, and it’s brilliant.)

I loved Nnedi Okorafor’s graphic novel, Laguardia. Pregnant Dr. Future Nwafor Chukwuebuka has fled Nigeria for her grandmother’s apartment building in New York City with an alien Floral who needs her protection, leaving behind one very confused boyfriend, college professor Citizen. The cast of characters–Nigerian, American, Nigerian-American, and alien–is so endearing, the fast-paced plot keeps things moving, the colorful art is dazzling, and Okorafor also has much bigger things on her mind that get woven into this narrative–the Nigerian Civil War and 45’s travel ban. It’s all pretty glorious and left me smiling and happy as a reader.

Also, if you don’t follow Okorafor’s cat, Periwinkle Chukwu, on Twitter, you probably should. Isn’t he gorgeous?

Periwinkle Chukwu

No More Teaching Without Positive Relationships is an important book for teachers to read–even experienced teachers who would consider building positive relationships one of their strengths. Co-authors Jaleel Howard, Tanya Milner-McCall, and Tyrone Howard bring a culturally responsive framework to the work of relationship building in the classroom. It’s really challenging to write a teaching book that has plenty to offer both new and veteran teachers, but this slim book (just 77 pages!) packs enough research, theory, and practical ideas to appeal to that wide audience. Heinemann featured an excerpt of the book on their blog, where you can also download a sample chapter.

Ralph Fletcher’s Focus Lessons: How Photography Enhances the Teaching of Writing reads more like the outline for a book with topics and teaching points sketched out but not fully developed. The most compelling part, for me, was Fletcher’s writing about what it feels like to be a learner in a new field and to fail–repeatedly. I did enjoy his personal stories and photographs and felt that I did learn some skills for looking more carefully and thoughtfully at and analyzing photographs. But few of the connections he’s trying to make between photographs and writing really landed for me.

I got a lot out of Liz Prather’s Project-Based Writing. My head was spinning a bit from all the planning and scheduling–this is SO not how I work, though I see how much more productive I would be if I did. I think these organization, time, collaboration and project management skills are vital to teach, so I can imagine myself putting a lot of this into practice this fall. There are so many good ideas here, too, for building community and helping students discover their “writing territories.”

6 thoughts on “The Week in Reading #imwayr 6/29/20

  1. I’ve been debating over whether to read Kendi’s or Reynold’s Stamped. It totally wouldn’t hurt to read both, of course. LOL I’m glad to hear that the YA audiobook is narrated by Jason Reynolds. I’m always so pleased when the author reads since it adds the best inflection. And yes, Periwinkle Chukwu is gorgeous! I’m in love with my neighbor’s cats (although our little chihuahua things she will tear them to shreds whenever she sees them set foot anywhere near our property line) and have to get my fix by visiting them any time I can.

  2. I have reserves on three different formats for Stamped: ebook, audiobook, and book. I hope one of them becomes available soon, although right now I am reading The Skin We’re In by Desmond Cole, a Black Canadian author and I don’t think I could emotionally manage more than one of these at a time.
    Alas, my local library system does not have Laguardia. I agree that Periwinkle Chukwu is gorgeous.

  3. These books sound great! I appreciate your thoughts about Stamped, and LaGuardia sounds like an excellent graphic novel! It’s a shame that Focus Lessons didn’t have much useful info to impart, though. Thank you for the great post!

  4. I need to add Kendi’s book to my list, too, but there are so many others I’d like to read. Hoping to find the time to read & extend my knowledge from Stamped. I’ve never heard of LaGuardia, sounds like a truly interesting new world! Thanks, Elisabeth!

  5. I have read Stamped but not Kendi’s original text. I found it really interesting and full of important details. I was really drawn to the idea of Ralph Fletcher’s book, mostly because my wife teaches, does a lot of photography and photography related writing. Too bad the connections are not as concrete as we would hope. Thanks for the post!

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