Top positive review
Lots of potential for powerful classroom conversations
Reviewed in the United States on October 21, 2018
How can we use this book in the classroom? Other reviewers have eloquently described the beauty of the writing from a diverse group of voices represented in this book. (I was inspired by the book and the book reviews!) If you have a smartboard, I’d purchase the Kindle version of this and project a piece for reading, relishing and discussing—in 3rd through 9th grades. There are so many pieces that lend themselves to teacher or student-led discussions—that can be used with students at different ages.
With middle grade students, post the poem ‘Drumbeat for Change’ by Kelly Starling Lyons. Read it aloud and then ask students to read on their own and enjoy reading with a partner. The intro to this poem is stunningly beautiful – “This world feels upside down sometimes, like a twisted house of mirrors where people in charge are bullies…” Closely read and discuss particular lines like, “Together, we are a mountain no one can destroy” and “When you feel angry or afraid, remember what you hold inside.” Ask the students to consider questions like, “Why might this be important to someone?” or “Who is the author’s audience?” and “How does the author reach out to her audience?”
Post the illustration by Rafael Lopez (for Margarita Engle’s poem ‘All Nations are Neighbors and I Wonder’) and provide quiet time for the students to look carefully and notice. You might ask “What do you notice?” and “What is the illustrator’s message?” And then read the poem. Use the poem and illustration as two texts to compare and contrast. “How do these two ‘texts’ support each other?”
With middle school and early high school students, post the poem Next by Lesa Cline-Ransome for students to read and then read again. Ask the students to consider this question, “What resonates with you?” and “How does the word ‘next’ represent a big idea in this piece?” and “How does the author use history as a lens for how we can ‘keep growing tall and strong’?” (BTW – this poem could easily be integrated into conversations in history/social studies classrooms.)
If you are a writing workshop teacher, there are endless possibilities as far as using pieces in this text as mentors for writers - grades 3-12. A variety of formats, of voices, of uses of literary devices. Seriously. I could go on and on.
For yourself, as an educator, take this book home and read a piece each night. Teaching can be a tough job—we frequently carry the worries of our students home with us, huh? The words in this book are inspiring and soothing.
Share this book with ALL students—not just those who may feel that they are on the margins of society or are bullied or are experiencing racism. We do not know all of our students’ concerns. There are words of care for them in this book—that we may not even realize. AND there is room for discussion if the content does NOT resonate with them, discussions about the world beyond our classroom walls, beyond their small part of the world. If you are shy about talking politics in the classroom, there is still a place for this book in your work with students. This book is relevant (in so many ways) beyond the politics of today.