Books Through Bars

What started as a simple letter to a publisher requesting books, has manifested into an organization that delivers non-fiction and fiction book packages to incarcerated individuals. Books Through Bars will be turning 25 in 2015, but we are honoring them today for their inspiring work. The process of delivering the books to people engages the community, and appeals to an under-recognized desire to read (learn). Although the focus of this organization is not Black people particularly – it appeals to a diverse population – we understand that fiction (To Kill a Mocking Bird, A Lesson Before Dying, Monster) and non-fiction (The New Jim Crow) all show how the criminal justice system has disadvantaged many people of color. This organization does not remedy any political injustices, but it draws attention to the human needs of the persons who have been sentenced time in jail and prison. 

Read more about their work at this link: http://booksthroughbars.org/about/history/

 

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The Brown Bookshelf

The Brown Bookshelf is an amazing blog with awesome educators, artists, and illustrators as contributors. I featured them yesterday on the Facebook page because of their year-long dedication to multicultural content. Sometimes when I research information about authors or book fairs, a post from one of their contributors appears. They have the inspiring “28 Days Later” campaign in order to highlight authors and illustrators at different points in the spectrum of their career. You should definitely view their blog for some great content, and introduction to up-and-coming youth publications. 

A Change Has Come

A little over 5 years later, I have found an opportunity to revive the life that Obama breathed into the English language when he gave his acceptance speech. I am returning another great Kadir Nelson work to it’s rightful place in the forefront of the book list. We have seen the President’s face many times in the past five years, addressing audiences in laughter and despair, so it has not come as a surprise that he will be in such a high-esteemed position. The same allure that led up to his speaking engagements several years ago as people compared his speaking style to the greatest orators, has been replaced with news-feeds abuzz with debate over which social issues are the MOST pressing to discuss. Although I too, contributed my 140 characters many-a-time to this cyber conversation, I feel as though it is my responsibility to remind the community of the significance of his Black body in a historically white dominated space. My words alone can’t do enough justice to preface the upcoming State of The Union address with the necessary historical, and social facts that made such an event seem almost impossible to my people as little as 30 years ago. I instead, am recommending another Kadir Nelson book in the hope that his evocative illustrations will capture the significance of every time our Barack Obama has, and will address the United States of America as our President. 

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(Photo Source: KadirNelson.com)

Below is the video preview for the above book, Change Has Come

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v8gsJ–bGkA

Multicultural Book Day

I had the pleasure of opening a copy of Black Children’s Literature Got the De Blues on this joyous Multicultural Book Day. While we can not control that the celebrations for under-represented minorities are relegated to literal days, and shortest months of the year, we can rejoice in the written and illustrated works which transcend the invisible barriers of time. 

In honor of this day, I suggest a book recommendation, and a notable quote that was pulled by the author Nancy D. Tolson. Jacqueline Woodson, my recently-added facebook friend, and narrator to my childhood. Woodson made profound statements about the significance of Black children’s book authors that I am obligated to share. On page 7, she provides an excerpt from Jacqueline Woodson’s “Fictions”:

I do not believe someone who is not a person of color can know the roads I and my people have traveled, the depths and heights we reach in our trek from children to young adults. 

 

This quote is situated within a greater post to advocate for the lyrical, and open authors who have wrote about our experience, to be disseminated to the masses. In today’s celebration we are honoring the importance of having a diversity of writers in the field, telling THEIR stories, and asking readers to humble themselves to engage in the childhood different from their own. 

With that, I give you my recommendation, within the last hours of the Multicultural Book Day. Show Way is based on the Woodson and other’s experiences with Show Ways, or quilts that mapped out the passage to freedom from slavery. The book shows literal growth, as a family reproduces across generations, and symbolic growth as, over time, it represents a quest for freedom that many African-Americans can chart within their own lineage. The story spans geographic space, and travels far in time, to the streets of Brooklyn where Woodson now lives. Join the inter-generational journey through a variety of childhoods which comprised the Black Experience. Join me, and a network of authors and illustrators in this celebration of multicultural voices and drawings that are beginning to decorate bookshelves all over the world. 

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Picture Source: Jacqueline Woodson’s website

Programming

My past semester, I got an introduction to what I’d like to call the 1’s and 0’s, or programming. Computer Science is learning a new language, and though it may be an unconventional language to learn, it yields many benefits in our world.

Yesterday an article was published in Education Week about the lack of diversity in the pool or students who took the AP Science exam. Considering the way I benefited from my meager introduction to it, I was troubled that high school students were not taking advantage of the course.

This recommendation will not increase diversity within the next few years, but I hope that it can make an impact on the students several years from now. A book, Python for Kids is a fun, interactive way to learn computer programming. Consider purchasing it for yourself and he children in your life!

Information about it is here.

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Photo is from nostarch.com