Part of my job includes processing books, and that is what I was doing today. Putting labels and security tags on books is pretty easy but it takes a bit longer than it should and you can’t rush it so that you don’t make a mess. I often drool (figuratively) over books I’d like to read while I’m doing this, but rarely do I open a book to read it. I made the mistake of doing that today and had a very hard time putting the book down.
This is the book that grabbed me: There’s No Traffic in the Extra Mile by Rickey Minor. I’m not an American Idol fan, never have been, but I found myself reading this book by the show’s music director. It started with the lessons he learned in math class, then I flipped to a short reading on his beginnings in Louisiana, the ways he learned to invest in his first bands and I was really enjoying how he related straight forward advice from his life. Then, I began thinking about the ‘how to be a man’ books that are filling shelves by Black male authors. I don’t know if other ethnicities are producing these books that probably began with Hill Harpers Letters to a Black boy and include other books by Kirk Franklin, Antoine Fisher, Kevin Powell and on and on.
One of my student helpers came into the media center shortly after I set the book aside, and I mentioned There’s no traffic to him, thinking he might be interested. He had been a fan of “American Idol’ but was not familiar with Minor. In fact, my student stated that he would rather read a motivational book by someone like Donald Trump who has been a success. DUDE!! Do you not see the car on the cover?? Do you think just anyone gets to be the music producer on American Idol??
Which takes me to the point I’m trying to get to: can reading a book guide a young boy to manhood?
What book has deeply touched, inspired or changed you?
Congratulations to Tara and Evelyn, winners of copies of Jazz in Love by Neesha Meminger!!
I’m going to combine Male Monday and UndercoverMonday today by featuring the work of a young man of Indian descent who currently lives in Canada.
I recently became aware of Vivek Shraya when I posted the 2010 Rainbow Project book list. Seeing that Shrya’s God Loves Hair was self published and managed to achieve such recognition, I had to get a copy of the book. I’m glad I did! He’s a very small sample from this thin but moving book.
I love when colours join forces. The smell of wax and invincible possibilities when opening a new box of crayons. Or rainbows. Like my Smurfs rainbow belt and neon rainbow suspenders. But if I had to choose just one, ok two, then I would say yellow is my favorite colour and purple is my favorite colour to wear. My mom tells me I am “a winter” which apparently means, I look good in dark “winter” colours like black (not white), navy blue and purple. To me purple is more spring like lilacs or the flavour of grapes.
I plead with my parents for a Starter baseball hat in the same way I pleaded for a New Kids On The Block sweatshirt – until they relent. I am clueless about baseball and don’t really understand the point of sports. A ball being hit or thrown or kicked around doesn’t captivate me the way Nancy Drew books do. But all the other boys in my class have these hats. This cluelessness proves to be critical as my parents and I are standing in front of rows and rows of hats at the store. I am dizzy from the options and the thought of buying a hat of an unpopular team. After what feels like an hour of torturous indecision, I lean on my aesthetic sensibility, and reach for the purple Los Angeles Lakers hat. I have no idea who the LA Lakers are or if they are any good, but at least the hat looks nice. I place it on my head. It feels too big even though my mom adjusted the strap in the back. The three of us look at my reflection in the store mirror.
I am one of the boys now.
God loves hair is a collection of stories that combines coming of age and sexual awareness in the context of Hindi faith and tradition. Illustrated by Juliana Neufeld.
UPDATE: Visit this page on Shraya’s website to order your copy of the book.
MaleMonday is a meme started by Ari @ Reading in Color
And what a Monday it is, One Crazy Monday! I’ve already posted several of the day’s winners of the ALA Youth Medal Awards. You can find them all here. I’ve got a post already started for today and I’m going to stay with that. I’ll digest the winners and have a bigger post on Sunday. Books and words are so powerful! I’m so glad we have the Coretta Scott King, Pura Bulpre and John Steptoe books to share with children today.
Right now, I have a rather old, classic guy book to talk about. Huckleberry Finn is certainly a guy book! It’s an all American tale of adventure, life on the Mississippi river and of race. If you haven’t heard, they’ve tweeked Twain. They’ve gone pc and taken out the ‘n’ word. I was reading a blog post about this mutilation and I suddenly remembered the first time I read the book.
I was in the 4th grade. Isn’t this book is a bit much for 4th graders? I went to an all white, Catholic grade school. I have to call it all white even though there were my siblings and myself, and the Martinez and Ybarra families and two other families with Black children. We were each isolated in our own classrooms and our culture never, ever entered into any decisions the school or parish made, well except for what they would not allow us to do, but that’s a different issue.
I had this teacher in the fourth grade, Mrs. Steger who was really a high school teacher and in my innocence, I didn’t realize until years later was quite racist. She didn’t like how I spoke so she had me memorize ‘The Swing’ by Robert Louis Stevenson and recite it in front of my class. I read it with so much expression and enthusiasm that all she could do was to thank me and ask me to sit down. There were comments made to my parents along the lines “I don’t believe she can be that smart.” My parents never backed down, never moved me and never expected less of me or my siblings.
So, this teacher decides to to read a few trade books with this gifted class of 4th graders with whom she’s been entrusted, this class with the one Black child who just doesn’t belong. And she chooses to read Huckleberry Finn. Had she read the book before? Did she read it now expecting to make a point about ‘n-words’? Did she not know the book really said something about who is and isn’t civilized and Jim came out looking pretty good?!I remember after she took the liberty of reading the ‘n-word’ as written the first time she encountered it, she announced to the class that we wouldn’t use that word, we would say ‘Negro’ instead. I remember the look on a substitute’s face reading the book to us and coming across that word. And looking at me. I also remember that Mrs. Steger did not return the next year.
Do you remember the first time you read Huck Finn? What were the circumstances and what were your reactions?
Male Monday is a meme that began with Ari @ Reading in Color
Take a listen to Walter Mosley over at the Big Think talking about what makes great literature, what makes something classic. It’s not about the maleness or Blackness but it is about telling a good story that can transcend boundaries because it’s so easy to relate. It meets us where we are.
“The idea is… and a lot of people who think about writers actually think about reading. They’ll say, you know, they’ll think about the great novels, this oh, you must have read you know, Albert Camus and Virginia Wolff and Shakespeare, when really you know, the books that made you become a writer was “Tom Swift” and the “Hardy Boys” and “Nancy Drew.” That the love of writing comes at a very early age, you know, like for me for instance, comic books so affected me. And you know, a lot of people who come up to me and start talking about writing, when I start talking to them about the “Fantastic Four,” they look at me aghast. They say, “’The Fantastic Four?’ That’s not literature.” I say, “Yeah, but it was when I was 11 years old.” This was literature. This was telling me what life was about. This was how I kind of entered life, through fiction.” source: http://bigthink.com/ideas/25183
Mosley’s books for teens:
This year you write your novel
Last days of Ptolemy Gray (adult with teen appeal)