Monday Meanderings

I didn’t post my usual rambling post yesterday, so here it goes today!

I’m working from home this week, working to get an article completed and ready for submission. I’ve got to clear my mind and my ‘to do’ list so I can concentrate on what I need to get done.

I’ve been stalling.

My mind was struck by wanderlust forever ago and I think of writing in small European city where I can visit markets for fresh meats and cheeses and sip hot beverages at a bistro while working late. Or take a long afternoon walk in a tropical hillside to refresh my thoughts after hours of working. These four walls aren’t working for me right now!

I’ve found other, short projects that might get me started.

It doesn’t help that I’m writing about places in YA lit! Or, does it?!

Around this time of year, I work with Zetta Elliott to complete a list of YA fiction books written and published by African American authors. So, far I’ve identified all of 22 books. We do typically identify books that were missed throughout the year, however, that’s a frightfully small number.

Dr Jonda C. McNair release the current edition of Mirrors and Windows newsletter which features informational texts and a profile of author/illustrator Steve Jenkins.  I’ve placed the pdf in Google Drive to make it available, however if it is not accessible, email me at crazyquilts at hotmail dot com and I’ll be glad to forward a copy.

A completely separate publication that came out this week is Windows and Mirrors: Reading Diverse Children’s Literature by Dr. Sarah Park Dahlen in the online publication Gazillion Voices.

Despite the statistics, today’s diverse children have more options to see their experiences reflected in children’s literature. White children, too, have many more opportunities to learn about experiences other than their own. In this essay, I primarily (but not exclusively) discuss Asian American children’s literature to highlight principles for meaningful multicultural content, as well as point out some of the persisting problems, with the ultimate goal of encouraging you to pick good books for young people, especially during this coming holiday season. Given that 3,000-5,000 children’s books in many different genres for a range of reading levels are published each year, I hope to provide you with some principles and guidelines for critically evaluating children’s literature and thinking about our role in supporting and promoting diverse, high-quality stories for all young people.

I recently wrote about the impracticability of expecting students to express their desire for books with characters of their own ethnicity. This is anecdotal statement is something I hope to research further. Why are some young children able to indicate an interest in a book based upon the race of the character while others are not? How and when do children develop racial awareness? My interest deepened when I read an article shared by @WritersofColour on Twitter. The article written by @hiphopteacher posed a much more reflective analysis into why children of colour are less likely to write about their own ethnicity.

In her essayPlaying in the Dark’, Toni Morrison argues that “the readers of virtually all of American fiction have been positioned as white.” (Morrison 1992:xiv) We might ask if the same is true of children’s literature and how that might affect children’s relationship to story-writing.

All in all, giving the young people in your life a book (or books!) written by authors of color this holiday season sounds like a gift worth giving. It would be a great time to donate books by authors of color to your local school or public library, too. Young adult books perfect for giving can be found on my annual booklists and books for all ages of children can be found on the BirthdayPartyPledge.

Teachers and students will equally appreciate learning apps for those tablets Santa places under the tree this year. Consider these 10 (mostly free) apps for documenting learning.

 #NPRBlacksinTech continues on the Tell Me More blog through 20 December. The series is well worth following because there are continuous ‘day in the life’ posts giving readers insights into real life experiences of Blacks in technology. This is so valuable to young people who need to see real life role models! This linkwill take you to the postings on Twitter and you do not have to have an account to read them.

I have another recent post which lists young adult literature from South Africa. In looking at the list you may wonder why J. L. Powers was included as the only non African on the list. Reading her recent post will help you understand why.

… my classmates and friends were the children of recent immigrants or immigrants themselves–some documented and some undocumented. Migrant workers followed the power lines next to our house to go work in the chile fields of southern New Mexico. I witnessed firsthand the injustices of our economic system that encouraged migrant labor, did not pay migrants sufficient wages to support their families, and made it necessary for those who did bring their families to live in our country in poverty and without the protection of legal rights despite working back-breaking jobs every day. These were people I knew. These were people I went to school with, young men I had crushes on, girlfriends I shared secrets with.

I’ve been getting a lot of blogging done in the past week, however that trend isn’t going to continue. BFYA makes its final selections at ALA Midwinter in January and I have more books to read than I have days to read them. No, I will not be blogging much at all! I will take a break on 21 January for Cookies and Cocktails with my sister. Hopefully, the weather will be mild enough for me to drive over to spend the day cooking, eating, drinking and making merry!

You may remember that my word this year is ‘courage’.  I have a better understanding of this virtue and I’ve become more aware of times when my courage fails me. I’m more unwilling to let myself be a coward. I’m a bit more likely to speak up, lean in and move forward. Yet, I still struggle with picking up that phone. I don’t know what it is about the phone, but using it takes a special kind of courage for me!

I’ve found several people including writers and publishers who are going to write about courage in a series that will appear here beginning 21 December. It’s definitely something you won’t want to miss!

For now, I have some researching to do!

“From caring comes courage.”Lao Tzu

SundayMorningReads

I knew earlier this week that I’d be blogging today so, when I work up, my mind was in composition mode. I was so busy thinking about what I would write that the empty plastic water bottle went into the sink rather than the trash and a fork went into the oatmeal. NPR did straighten out my attention for a while when they discussed new information that is being found regarding Emmett Till’s murder. In the grand scheme of things, his brutal murder didn’t occur that long ago. It was during our modern times when information could be easily recorded and distributed. Records from the trial disappeared ages ago and those who witnessed the courtroom scenes are still being sought after to find out what happened in that room. I remember my time down there in the Delta, visiting those historic sites and meeting people who were there then. I’d love to take students down there. One real difference in being an academic library rather than a school librarian is a diminished access to students.

I have to wonder that if things from that time could disappear so easily, now secure is our information today when we’re encouraged to place our images, music and writings in cloud space that it owned by someone else. We argue debate whether to plan new purchases for print books or ebooks as if personal comfort is the key factor. Who owns those ebooks and journal articles (even after we think we’ve purchased them) and how accessible ebooks will be as platforms change over time are things we really need to question. Granted, ebooks do provide greater accessibility to information for those with reading difficulties.

GoogleReader is gone. Other RSS aggregators disappeared as folk turned to GoogleReader and now, it’s disappearing. Soon, iGoogle, a Google homepage that also serves as an aggregator will be gone, too. iGoogle is very similar to MyYahoo, which still functions. I’ve decided to use Feedly to gather my RSS feeds and I’m finding it a bit clunky and it seems I’ve lost some of my favorite blogs. I need to spend some time finding them again, tweaking the site and creating a display that makes sense to me. At the same time, I’m still wondering about WordPress and blogging. Is there future limited? Well, in this day and age, it certainly is, but just how limited and, what next?

Maybe I’d feel better about the lifespan of WordPress if they sold out to Facebook or Amazon. By the way, today is the last day to get a free LibraryThing account if you’re disappointed in the GoodReads takeover. My LibraryThing account is so old that I don’t remember either the username or password! Something else to add to the ‘to do’ list!

The space between ebooks, Google and Amazon has me wondering about the data, both my personal data and that which becomes available to me,  these giants access. As Marc Aronson states  “There are obviously privacy concerns here, concerns about how we are seeing reading (though reading has been collective at other times in its history, indeed one debate among historians of reading is exactly when reading shifted from being primarily oral to primarily silent), and concerns about overvaluing the now.”

Yet and still, basic Internet access remains a critical issue. To the rescue is Connect2Create, a campaign to get major Internet companies to provide discount service, equipment and training to low income families in need. Mindshift writes “The program offers low-cost devices and Internet service, as well as access to digital literacy training programs around the country, hoping to give access to the estimated 100 million Americans who have no broadband connection at home and another 62 million who don’t use the Internet at all.”

Tarie recently share information on the Bangkok Book Awards: ” Each shortlist includes at least one book by a Thai author and one book by an international author, books set in different parts of Thailand, and at least one book in translation from Thai. You can check out the picture book shortlist here.

From Debbie Reese  “Minnesota Public Radio has a story up today that showcases how Heid Erdrich is using video format for her poetry. The video they have up is STUNNING!”

I visit Anali’s First Amendment for things like this single serving cheesecake (I gain weight just from her yummy photos!) but I end up finding this opportunity to teach writing in Ghana. I would so love to do that, even more than the cheesecake!

I’ll be posting April’s new releases by authors of color this week! One book I’ve previously missed is Justin Scott Parr’s Sage Carrington, 8th Grade Science Slueth. Such a cute book!

I hear we’re expecting a snow and rain mix tomorrow. I really hope this slow to warm spring means fewer and milder spring storms.

I hope you enjoy your week ahead!

I LOVE SPRING BREAK!!

My spring break is winding down, but I’m really relishing these two weeks! Perhaps you’ve noticed that my posts have been a little more interesting lately?  I’ve actually cleared out my GoogleReader and I’ve been finding so much good stuff to pass on!

Did you know that All Things Asian is being celebrated 2-16 April? Asian books, authors and bloggers will be celebrated with the end goal of getting more Asian YA books published. YES!! The schedule for the event can be found on iLive, iLaugh, iLove Books. Some of the other blogs participating include That Hapa Chick and My Words Ate Me.

I found out about this wonderful event on the blogsite of author E. C. Myers whose first book, Fair Coin just came out 27 March.

Pyr; 2012

“Sixteen-year-old Ephraim Scott is horrified when he comes home from school and finds his mother unconscious at the kitchen table, clutching a bottle of pills. The reason for her suicide attempt is even more dis­turbing: she thought she’d identified Ephraim’s body at the hospital that day.
Among his dead double’s belongings, Ephraim finds a strange coin–a coin that grants wishes when he flips it. With a flick of his thumb, he can turn his alcoholic mother into a model parent and catch the eye of the girl he’s liked since second grade. But the coin doesn’t always change things for the better. And a bad flip can destroy other people’s lives as easily as it rebuilds his own. The coin could give Ephraim everything he’s ever wanted–if he learns to control its power before his luck runs out.” (from Amazon)

My followers may remember a recent post in which I wondered whether YAs of color are engaging with ereaders. I think this becomes important not only because it addresses reading literacy, but also digital literacy which the OITP Digital Literacy task force has just defined as the ability to use information and communication technologies to find, evaluate, create, and communicate information requiring both cognitive and technical skills. I first found this definition, as well as a link to the recently released PewInterest study on ereaders on LibrarianByDay.

Here’s a glimpse of what the report found.

  • 16-17 year olds read more than older age groups.
  • 48% of book readers had purchased the book. Whites (49%) were more likely than minorities to have purchased their most recent book.
  • 24% had borrowed the book from a friend or family member.Some 30% of African Americans had gotten their most recent book this way, compared with 23% of whites.
  • 28% of the responders said they get recommendations from online bookstores or other websites, and most of these were women.
  • People who own ereaders read more than people who don’t.
  • While the number of people reading on ereaders in the past year has increased 21%, that compares to 22% who said they read no book in the past year.

And who’s reading those ebooks? PewInterest’s provides data for both ereaders and tablets, but for the sake of clarity, I’m only related ereader data, which is quite similar to the tablet data. source

  • 18-29 year olds own 20% of ebooks
  • Of that 20%, 67% are White, 12% are Black, 13% are Hispanic and 8% are ‘other’.

While not all the questions I posed were answered, this study does reveal interesting trends.

Are you a library user, or a librarian? Or do you own an e-reader or tablet computer? PewInterest wants to hear from you! Sign up to participate in future online surveys about libraries and e-books.

SundayMorningReads

It’s getting  late! I wasn’t going to do this today, but I keep up with what I start!

I’ve been in the books today. I just finished Kiss Me Kill Me by Lauren Henderson. The book had a nice multicultural supporting cast as well as action packed suspense.

I wondered over to an online books store (sorry Kids Ink!) and ordered copies of The girls guide to getting kidnapped; Descent into Paradise and a Place to live; Guardian of the spirit and Draper’s Out of my mind. I’m about to start my read on Eighth Grade SuperZero while The gangsta we are all looking for is my current purse book. I’d call it a ‘pocket book’ but that’s what my mom always called her purse.

I’ve noticed quite often now that used books on Amazon cost more than new book. Can anyone enlighten me on this?

That’s it for the books! I’ve visited way too many ed tech sites to even begin to tell you what I’ve found! I’ll need to put my Delicious widget back so that I can share the sites I’m finding. I can say that if you’re missing Wordle, you should try WordItOut.

I’m looking into a new cell phone.  While the iPhone is o, so, cool, I think there are others out there that are just as useful with out the heavy monthly fees of an iPhone (and while I’m thinking about it I have to mention how little sense it makes to pay a company for Internet service in my home and then pay that same company so that my phone can have Internet service as well!).  I’ve seen numerous articles listing all the great educational apps for the iPhone but heck, my district still bans cell phones. I like this useful device for the Blackberry, but what’s really getting my attention is the Droid. How many apps do you really need?!

I hope to post later this week with a Haiti update. I’m sure the need for supplies is emerging as infrastructure slowly rebuilds. I’ll also have information on Chile.

I’m working on an interactive learning area for the media center and decided to discuss plans with my colleague, Jackie. Isn’t it amazing what happens when colleagues talk? One thing leads to another, to another and to another! Of course we discussed what’s popular in our media centers and from there it went to keeping track of series and then I think it went to authors, or was it technology again?  Recently her students watched a video of author Sharon Draper, one of their favorites and the were enraptured! We talked about the availability of  authors on Skype and the possibility of visits from local authors and we discussed the migration from distance learning to online conferencing and Skype. I’ve learned from blogging that YA authors, the really good ones, don’t just write books but they’re committed to education, to promoting literacy and to making a difference in student’s lives and they know the difference they can make just by showing up.

Walter Dean Myers has teamed up with Adlit.org to create the Second Chance Initiative. On their webpage, you’ll find

  • a reading guide for Dopestick
  • ,three free chapters of the book
  • author podcasts

I was really impressed with the podcasts and would have uploaded ‘Myers on Race’ but I’d have to pay to increase my blog services with WordPress in order to do that and given that I’m considering moving my blog, I can’t justify doing that. But, do go to the site and listen, I think you’ll want to use these resources with students. Obviously, Myers is one author who cares about students!

I have to quickly mention that Miss Domino’s blog made me aware of the fact that titles from Kimani Tru, Ni Ni Simone and Baby Daniels have been included on the ALA’s Recommended List for Reluctant Readers.  Also there is L Divine’s Drama High Series, Perfect Chemistry, I love yous are for white people by Lac Su (and I still want to read this!!), and Dopestick.  I think that’s it. I think that’s all of the PoC titles among the 101. I guess PoC students aren’t reluctant readers and then, it’s only African Americans who are.

I gotta thank my Colts for a great season and give a might CONGRATULATIONS to the Saints!

Technicality

I wasn’t going to blog today. I was going to spend the evening reading Saenz’s He forgot to say goodbye (Thanks, Susan!!) so that I could finish one more book this week for a whopping grand total of two books in one week. But, something has been brewing and I need to blog it not because I’ve reached resolution, but, well I’d love to have some discussion, but well… we’ll see what happens.

Health teachers are requiring current events again and I know because students are asking for newspapers. The assignment has to do with finding a recent newspaper article and clipping it from the paper.  Another teacher let me know students would be stopping by for magazines so that they could clip articles for a file. Neither of these teachers allows students to print articles from online sources. In finding these articles, he felt they would run across other articles they would also stop and read. Accessibility will be an issue because I don’t subscribe to many magazines and they may not get them at home.

I want to react in some way to these assignments that ignore the vast resources on the Internet that would not only include a plethera of articles, but would allow students to collect,share, discuss and research these articles in a much more contemporary fashion. RSS feeds could be collected on Newser, PageFlakes or Google Reader. Reader’ comments would expand the original story.  There are so many ways students could be engaged in technologies which are so much more meaningful to them and to the 21st century work space!! And they may end up suffering from information overload!

I keep telling myself baby steps. Like students can afford us to take babysteps!!  Marginalized students need to be over-prepared for the workforce!

I keep telling myself it’s not about the technology, it’s about the skills that are necessary for success beyond high school. I look back at my own education, that which my brother sister and I all received. We weren’t taught with, by or about computers except the abacus because that’s all that existed. What we were taught was how to adapt. Somehow, our ‘old’ selves have been able to incorporate technology tools into our lives. We’re able to intuit new softwares and even my sister figured our her iPhone (my sister is an amazing woman, she just avoids technology). If we’re teaching students to hang on to print resources are we teaching them to adapt? Are we teaching them that the world is about change and that educated people respect and embrace change? I’m thinking that the students are going to have to teach us to adapt. They’re going to have to teach us how to use the technologies in meaningful ways, let us know it’s OK to change and they’re going to have to attack and destroy the old teacher-student barriers that used to exist and lead the collaborative efforts that are part of 21st century learning.  Otherwise, they’re going to have to find ways to dig up copies of newspapers.