It’s Monday! and here’s what I’m reading…July, 2012

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading is hosted by Sheila at BookJourney
Nonfiction Monday is hosted by Anastasia Suen at Booktalking

I read Lions of Little Rock over the course of two days – it was really hard to put this book down! Kristin Levine’s story about inter-racial friendship at the height of the Civil Rights movement in the city where so many important Civil Rights issues were confronted and fought bitterly over, is an amazing experience.  I think every middle school library should have this book, and I have already put my order in for five copies so that this can be a historical fiction selection during that genre study next year.   The characters, even the secondary ones, are so finely drawn and compelling.  And never once does the author get carried away with the “lessons” of the story – she lets the power and realism of the story carry the reader through the narrative.  I can’t wait to share this with my kids in the next school year.

Lions of Little Rock 
In the picture book/nonfiction realm, I read Dolores Huerta: A Hero To Migrant Workers, written by Sarah Warren and illustrated by Robert Casilla:
Cover art for DOLORES HUERTA

Huerta is the kind of  real life hero our kids need to read about.  As a “teacher, a mother, and a friend” she sees the plight of migrant workers and their families and “wants to know why her students are hungry, and why they don’t have shoes to wear to school.”  As a “warrior, an organizer, and a peacemaker,” she decides to stand up for their rights and raise awareness about this injustice.    The focus of this picture book is not just on Huerta’s determination to create positive change, but also on the way in which she brings people together so that they can be empowered to affect change.
Here Dolores speaks about what motivated her to begin her work:

For her work, Huerta was awarded the 2011 Medal of Freedom, and she speaks eloquently about her life’s work here:

Finally, I’ve begun all the professional reading I’d set aside for the summer.  First, I’m participating in a Google Group discussion of Penny Kittle’s Write Beside Them – a teacher-written guide to high school writing workshop.  We’re taking this a few chapters at a time, and I find that this is a wonderful forum for meaningful professional development – it’s great to be able to share ideas and raise questions together.
I’m also reading Pathways to the Common Core by Lucy Calkins, Mary Ehrenworth and Christopher Lehman.  This guide to the CCSS is refreshingly clearly laid out, sensible and optimistic.  Before I begin looking at my curricular map for next year, I want to really educate myself about the CCSS, and I love the way this book goes about allowing me to do so.  I wish I had thought to start a Google Discussion group or something about this title as well….this is a book that needs to be digested slowly and talked over, too! Oh well….

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12 thoughts on “It’s Monday! and here’s what I’m reading…July, 2012

  1. I've read The Lions of LIttle Rock, agree that every library should have it, Tara. Thanks also for the info about Dolores Huerta. I'll try to find it at the library. And, good to hear about Calkins' book. We don't need to know all about the common core at our school, but I do need to know about it for those 3 interns I'll be advising next year. I love Lucy Calkins so guess this is as good a book as any to read. I'm glad you're giving it a good response! Thanks for all!

  2. Hi Tara, Great choices of books! The Dolores Huerta book is on my stack of books to review, too. I particularly liked the video of her — so eloquent and articulate. That will be a terrific addition to share with students.

  3. Your students are so lucky that you take time to read over the summer so that you can introduce great new books to them. I think many teachers fall back on older books that they know and love. Our mock Newbery group will be discussing The Lions of Little Rock over the next few weeks and months. I hope you join us! We're Newbery Blueberry Mockery Pie. I haven't read it yet, but I think it will be next on my list.

  4. I would like to see (or be) a teacher put together a unit on activists. Dolores Huerta would fit right in with other activists like Wangari Maathai. I should check out Pathways as well. Thanks for sharing!

  5. I LOVED The Lions of Little Rock, and think it will be such a compelling way for kids to learn about the complexities of that era. So glad it will have a prominent place and promotion in your library! The Dolores Huerta story is very interesting; thanks for sharing!

  6. I loved Lions of Little Rock, too! Had so much fun talking about it with Colby for our monthly book club chat. I know there was a group planning to talk about Pathways on Twitter. I think I am going to start reading it, too…and like you said, slowly. Slowly for me because I have so many other things to read that I think I'll spread out Pathways. Enjoy!

  7. Now there's a great idea! This would also make a great book club cycle with presentations as an end project to share information about these activists and raise awareness about their causes. That would be so worthwhile and interesting.

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