Monday, June 15, 2020

Monday Reading - Reading Books Help Us Learn

              Visit Kellee and Ricki at UnleashingReaders and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts to see what they've been reading, along with others who post their favorites.  Your TBR lists will grow! Happy Reading!
          Share with the hashtag #IMWAYR

           I hope all of you are doing well and doing the best you can during this time. I'm glad that I've had some books that help me learn and grow during this heartbreaking time of unrest. Because I've always read books by diverse authors, it has been helpful to know those books and authors. Now, I'm reading some of those same authors and books, and learning about others, too.

       From "The Story of the World's First Racist" in Chapter One to "A Miracle and Still a Maybe" in Chapter Twenty-Eight, I re-learned some policies and laws I thought were good, and some of them were good, but they were turned around and interpreted in ways that harmed black people anyway. I learned that the presidents I thought did well, didn't help black people at all, but made their lives worse. I learned that there are many things I need to un-learn and other things I'll need to research further. I learned that it is all of our work to make changes for the better for people of color. The book did not go as far as President Obama's and now President Trump's administrations, but the explanations of laws and policies through our history in this book will help me to see more clearly what has happened (or sadly not happened) has led to the recent protests. Thanks to Ibram X. Kendi for the base and then to Jason Reynolds for the re-mix. I don't teach anymore, but I have friends and family, grandchildren, to share my learning with and I will! 

        As I read Nikki Grimes' memoir, Ordinary Hazards, I kept imagining I had read it before. I knew I hadn't, yet it seemed so familiar. Then I realized that I had read its essence, in Nikki's past books, when I read Meet Danitra Brown, Words With Wings, Bronx Masquerade and so many others. Her story is in them, too. In this memoir, Nikki traces her life beginning with a fraught childhood, a mother with schizophrenia that causes a move to a foster home, then back to her mother with a new husband that makes life even more frightening. Throughout the years, Nikki discovers that writing helps her forget the tough days and because at a later time her mother throws all her notebooks away, in this book she recreates what she remembers in new writing, sometimes titled "Notebook". The work to remember as she admits that trauma has often denied the memories is a powerful tribute to her honest search for how she grew up into the person she is now, a survivor and magician with words, telling a real story of her, reflecting all those books we've read and loved from her before. We all know there are "ordinary hazards" to face in life, but when you discover Nikki's meaning, she is to be admired for the telling of a life of danger and heartbreak and her determination to find goodness in the arts that she loves and the beauty brought to all of us readers.  

         What a delightful story about Ryan (yes, a boy's name which sometimes is a worry, but mostly it's good), at the end of her fourth-grade year. She has stayed at her same school, but because of her father's job loss, they've had to move to a smaller house. But, Ryan now has her own room, a good thing! Her father has found a new job, though it doesn't pay as much and he has to sleep during the day. Of two very best friends, one has moved, too, and to a bigger house, with a pool. Ryan still has Kiki nearby but misses Amanda very much and Amanda's birthday party means meeting her "new" friends, one of which is not so nice. Renee Watson gives sweet Ryan the typical worries of a growing-up girl. She gets annoyed with her older brother, Ray, and plays a mean trick on him, but then realizes it was too much and she is sorry. She's scared of getting up in front of an audience, freezes in her speech at church on Easter Sunday, but finally, finally, understands that all she can be is her best and realizes that often makes sunshine. There are also a few illustrations throughout this early chapter book which makes the story even sweeter.

         One really nice thing that happened to me in the past weeks was that I won my pick of four books from a giveaway by Sarah Grace Tuttle. Choosing wasn't easy, but I knew I wanted to read this one and get it for my granddaughters, both rock climbers. Sadly, they were going to join a rock-climbing club, canceled for now because of the virus shutdowns. But they love the book and understood more than I did when we read it.    Ashima Shiraishi tells her own story which is beautifully illustrated by Yao Xiao.  Ashima is one of the world's youngest and most skilled climbers. This shows perseverance for a goal, this time solving the boulder's "problem" (the climbing term) by gaining the top! The challenges are described here to be imaginary ones. She writes that one is "arched like a question mark" and another "shaped like the bolts of fabric stacked in my mother's sewing room." In a vertical double-page spread, she misses her mark and writes, "I was climbing on nothing but air." Soon, after a snack, she's up again, looking at the "problem" with new information from that fall.
           There's a lesson about problem-solving from this, to be applied in any of life's problems. How great to share and discuss with a group! There is a timeline at the end of Ashima's accomplishments, starting at age six! She won the Youth World Championships for her third year at age 15. 

Now Reading: A Good Kind of Trouble, a debut middle school book by Lisa Moore Ramee. I have some wonderful "next" books to choose from, fortunately, from those I won and from a recent Indie order. Our libraries show no signs of opening yet. I'm sure the librarians are anxious to get back but worried about how it will be managed. 

Happy Reading!


  1. I learned so much from Stamped. I just loved Ways to Make Sunshine. Have a great week.

  2. I listened to Stamped on audio, read by Reynolds, just the perfect narration. A really important book, and I'm so glad the remix makes Dr. Kendi's ideas accessible to teen readers. I am very eager to read Renee Watson's new novel--must get my hands on that one! I started Ordinary hazard and then it was due back at my campus library and I needed to return it. So will have to try again! Thanks, too, for the rock climbing book. I hadn't seen this one yet and it looks interesting.

  3. These books all sound great! Stamped sounds like a book that everyone needs to read. I've seen a ton of praise for Ways to Make Sunshine, and it sounds great! Ordinary Hazards sounds excellent as well. Thanks for the great post!

  4. Thanks everyone. I've been working at my used bookstore all day, so will try to catch up with your posts this evening.

  5. Stamped is my current read. Just starting it.
    Loved Ways to Make Sunshine. I believe it will be a series and more are coming. Hope that is true!

  6. I've read all of these and would say this was a good week of reading. Ways to Make Sunshine was lovely. How to Solve a Problem was fun especially after I went on line and watched video interviews and her TEd Talk too. I loved Ordinary Hazards even though that and Stamped were both difficult to read.

  7. I've been debating over which edition of Stamped I want to read, but it sounds like they're both fantastic. I truly enjoyed How to Be an Antiracist, last week, so I hope to start Stamped very soon. And delightful is the perfect way to describe Ways to Make Sunshine. I really enjoyed that sweet little story!! Thank you for all these shares, Linda! (and forgive my super late catch-up comment -- it's been a rough month of packing at the Miller home...)


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