Another teacher saves Urban kids

Haven’t seen this one, haven’t read the book, but I bet we all know what will happen in Freedom Writers when it opens 12 January starring Hillary Swank. One teacher who doesn’t know what she is doing will ride to school on her white horse and save all the poor minority kiddies from themselves.  Everyone will live happily ever after. The movie is based on the 1999 book of pretty much the same title!

Student Writing Contest


From the Indiana State Library’s blog:

Letters About Literature is a national reading-writing contest for readers in grades 4 through 12 sponsored by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress in partnership with Target Stores. The contest, which focuses on reader response and reflective writing, has three competition levels: Level 1 for students in grades 4-6; Level 2 for students in grades 7 and 8; and Level 3 for students in grades 9-12.

National Program Director, Catherine Gourley, explains the value of this contest: “Students who read, write better; students who write, read more. Research supports this reading-writing link. Letters About Literature fosters this link as well as personal reader response.”

To enter, readers write a personal letter to an author, explaining how his or her work changed their view of the world or themselves. Deadline for entries is December 8, 2006.

The Indiana Center for the Book, a program of the Indiana State Library and an affiliate of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, manages the Indiana portion of the contest and provides cash awards to state winners. The writer of the first place letter for each level also receives a Target GiftCard and advances to the national competition.

For additional information or to obtain official contest guidelines with entry coupon, teacher’s guide, or chart correlating the contest to national language arts and reading standards, contact the Indiana Center for the Book or by phone at (317) 232-3699.

Target sponsors Letters About Literature as part of its national reading initiative, “Ready. Sit. Read!,” which is aimed at fostering a love of reading among children at an early age.  Since opening its first store in 1962, Target has partnered with nonprofit organizations, guests and team members to help meet community needs.

The Center for the Book was established in 1977 as a public-private partnership to use the resources of the Library of Congress to stimulate public interest in books and reading.  For information about its activities and national reading promotion networks, visit

African Americans in Information Technology

An important way to keep students motivated is by giving them role models.  In today’s technology rich society, students of color need to know that people of color are innovators and leaders in technology.  Over on the PRWeb, I found a list of the 50 most important African Americans in Information Technology.  Their stories still speak of racially based obstacles, but they also speak of tremendous successes.

Blog Power!

A new class of education-specific weblogs is providing teachers and students new opportunities to share ideas with each other and with audiences that may be oceans or continents apart. Says one third grade teacher in the Seattle Times article, “Never in 25 years of teaching have I seen a more powerful motivator for writing than blogs. . . . And that’s because of the audience. Writing is not just taped on the refrigerator and then put in the recycle bin. It’s out there for the world to see. Kids realize other people are reading what they write.”

One of these days, school districts will understand the power of blogs and stop blindly censoring them.

Another Source for Info About Books

Random House Publishing publishes it African American authors through Black Ink. The people they publish includes E. Lynn Harris and Tavis Smiley. By visiting their website, you can be linked to information about their fiction and nonfiction whether it be new or classic. Discussion guides are available as well as links to author’s websites and exerpts of their books . You can sign up to receive their online newsletter or request multiple copies of the print version for your library. The site is worth visiting to read from Doreen Baingana’s Tropical Fish: Tales from Entebbe if for no other reason!

I’ve found that by visiting the various publisher’s websites, you can find out about contests, author visits, how to get advanced reading copies and other useful information.