Friday, March 27, 2015

{#sol15} American Indian Nations in WI 27/31


hosted by Two Writing Teachers

I love social media. A post yesterday alerted me to the creation of a new Facebook group providing  some fantastic resources. The group is called Wisconsin Librarians and Teachers Supporting Act 31. They posted a great list of books and online resources that help with teaching about the American Indian Nations in Wisconsin. For librarians or teachers wanting to add to their library collection, this is an excellent place to start.

We already own most of the titles listed for elementary, but it was nice to see a few titles that were new to me. They also had some great titles for teachers - like this one I picked up from our public library:


Debbie Reese had mentioned Everything You Wanted to Know About Indians But Were Afraid to Ask on Twitter a while back, but I hadn't gotten to it yet. It's in my house now so maybe soon.... 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

{#sol15} Ethiopia 26/31


hosted by Two Writing Teachers

This afternoon, UW La Crosse hosted an event focusing children's literature, culture and life in Ethiopia. A panel presented about their experiences in Ethiopia. Some had gone on a medical mission there, some were members of the press that had worked on a documentary during that trip and two had lived in Ethiopia when they were growing up. 

After reading Black Dove, White Raven by Elizabeth Wein, I was especially eager to hear more about Ethiopia and the people who live there. We saw pictures of the work being done through Project Mercy and heard about those experiences. We also saw some of the documentary. 


One of the women who had grown up in Ethiopia was Jane Kurtz. We heard her talk about her books, literacy and Ethiopia Reads . From the website, "Ethiopia Reads collaborates with Ethiopian communities to build schools, plant libraries, teach teachers, boost literacy and provide youth and families with the tools to improve their lives." I read her book Trouble this afternoon and now will be on the lookout for more of her works. We have several in our school library that I will be reading soon.

Ethiopia looks like a beautiful place that I need to add to my travel list.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

{#sol15} Beading 25/31


hosted by Two Writing Teachers

Beads, beads, and more beads. Tonight I spent several hours making a bracelet at a craft night. It took me near forever to measure and count and figure out my design, but eventually I was finally working on the loom. There were snacks, a movie was playing and we were chatting sometimes too. It was a relaxing evening and people moved at a nice calm speed. Not everyone was there with a daughter, but a few were. It got me thinking about how we learn so many of our arts and crafts from family members. 

My mother showed me how to do needlepoint and helped me use a sewing machine - though that thing always scared the daylights out of me. No matter how gently I pressed, I always felt like the machine was a runaway train. Mom also taught me how to make stamps with potatoes when I was really young and later how to paint with brushes. I remember getting an art set for Christmas one year and clutching it like it was a treasure box. 

I'm thankful that family members and even near strangers (as was the case tonight) pass on their knowledge and love for crafts.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

{#sol15} A New Book Trailer Makes Me Smile 24/31


hosted by Two Writing Teachers

Book trailers are so fun! Meg Medina is an awesome author and I'm excited to see this trailer for her newest picture book coming this August in both Spanish, Mango, Abuela Y Yo and in English Mango, Abuela and Me.


Abuela, Mia's grandmother, moves in, but she doesn't speak English and Mia doesn't speak Spanish. I can't wait to see how Mango helps out.

I have this situation when I visit my in-laws though I don't have a bird to help. Most of the younger relatives speak English, but some of the older relatives speak German and very little English. I know some German, but am far from fluent. This makes for a great learning experience though it can be quite challenging.

I've run across a few other books that deal with a language disconnect between children and their grandparents. In Playing Loteria/El juego de la loteria by René Colato Laínez, a young boy goes to Mexico to visit his abuelita, but he's worried since she only speaks Spanish. In Sitti's Secrets by Naomi Shihab Nye, a young American girl goes to Palestine to stay with her grandmother. Again, there is a verbal language barrier, but they manage to communicate. I think it's great to have more books sharing this type of experience.

Mango, Abuela, and Me looks like it will be a great addition to our library and I look forward to reading it this summer. Book trailers are awesome ways to get us excited about books.

Monday, March 23, 2015

{#sol15} A rather serious post 23/31


hosted by Two Writing Teachers

I'm re-reading Louise Erdrich's book The Plague of Doves and I hope it's not giving too much away to say that it involves racism and there is a lynching. Earlier this year, I read The novel X by Ilyasah Shabazz and Kekla Magoon. It had a reference to lynching and contained a scene with Billie Holliday singing "Strange Fruit." It's a song I had never heard before. This is the magic of YouTube because I was able to listen to the song immediately after reading the passage. If you're familiar with it, you know the song is unsettling, and it is powerful.


Lynching isn't just hanging, but hanging someone outside of the legal system often to punish, but also to terrify people. While re-reading The Plague of Doves, I can't get a phrase out of my head, "Man's inhumanity to man." Our country has way too much history that involves hatred and oppression of a whole group of people. Doves shares a Native American perspective and X an African American perspective, but many groups of people have been seen as less than human and then treated that way.

Our society has not yet managed to heal the many wounds made over the years. We're still stuck in patterns that are damaging and sometimes even deadly. I want to be someone who interrupts these patterns. I'm becoming bolder, but it's slow growth. I keep hoping that the more I verbalize this, the more I'll speak up.

It's Monday! What are you reading?

It's Monday! What are you reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journeys. Jen Vincent over at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee Moye from Unleashing Readers decided to put a children's and YA spin on it and they invite anyone with an interest to join in. You can participate by creating your post then visit one of their sites to add your site. Finally, visit at least three participant blogs and comment to spread the love.

If you want to know more about what I am reading, visit me at my Goodreads shelf. Images via Goodreads unless otherwise noted.

The Past Week: 
Picture Books


Migrant by Jose Manuel Mateo and illustrated by Javier Martinez Pedro made my jaw drop. The unusual format - a codex that folds out accordion style with intricate illustration really captured my attention. I got lost in the details of the illustration. Beyond that, the story of a migrant family facing the dangers of leaving their small village to cross into the U.S. gripped me even with so few words. I am not sure that libraries are going to buy it given the unusual format, but it will be on the shelf at my school. I found a wonderful review of it at Hyperallergic if you want to see the full illustration and know more about the book.


Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin by Chieri Uegaki and illustrated by Qin Leng made me smile so much. Hana has started taking violin lessons after spending time with her grandfather in Japan who plays. Now she feels she is ready to be in a talent show. Her brothers are not so sure since she has only had three lessons. She has a surprise for them though. This is a wonderful book to use with primary children particularly in a music class.


Haiti: My Country is a gorgeous book. The illustrations are portraits of Haitian school children and are beautifully done. The poetry is written by Haitian teens. The poems revolve around home, nature and Haiti. They are full of hope and life.


Growing Up Pedro: How the Martinez Brothers Made it from the Dominican Republic All the Way to the Major Leagues by Matt Taveres - wow that's a long title. I don't watch baseball, so to me, Pedro was just a name. Through this picture book biography, I learned more about Pedro and really appreciated learning about his relationship with his older brother. It's a wonderful story of family and persistence.


Attack! Boss! Cheat Code! A Gamer's Alphabet by Chris Barton was super fun. I think that gaming readers will love reading this one. The illustrations are fun. I loved the definition of joystick even though it made me feel old, "A crude device used by ancient civilizations-by your dad, your mom, even your grandparents...."


Picture This by Lynda Barry was a great inspiration for creativity this week. I wrote about that here and here. For elementary level teachers/librarians this is not a children's book really. I don't think there is anything in here that is adult in nature except the prevalence of cigarettes, but it wasn't written for children. One of the lines resonated with me, "You have to be willing to spend time making things for no known reason." That's what I did the past few days. I made a few fun collages, and a drawing too. I also liked these two questions, "What if drawing was a way to get to a certain state of mind that was very good for us? And what if this certain state of mind was more important that the drawing itself?" There are still a few more activities that are suggested in the book that I want to try. Here are some of the things I made for no known reason:




Chapter Book


All the Answers by Kate Messner was an ARC that I picked up from the publisher at ALA Midwinter. It was a story that drew me in and made me care about the characters. I loved that there was the addition of magical realism threaded through this family story. I read the story straight through and enjoyed every minute of it. Who wouldn't want a pencil that had all of the answers? In some ways it reminded me of Bigger Than a Breadbox and I think readers who enjoyed that will love this one too.

The Coming Week:

I found the first Octavian Nothing book to be quite a struggle and this one is turning out to be the same. I think the storyline is interesting, I think I just find so much telling and so little action and dialogue to be boring. I feel shallow and like a lazy reader to admit it, but that's the way it is. I am listening to this second one on CD while doing other things so that I can hopefully stick with it since it's one of my "must read" books for this year having gotten a Printz award. I'm just at the very beginning of all of the other books. I'm also about to start a re-read of Gabi for a review. I am not sure if I will finish all of these, but will give it a good shot. Have a great week filled with reading.

Reading Challenge Update
Goodreads - 106/520
#MustRead2015 - 10/53

Sunday, March 22, 2015

{#sol15} Positives and Negatives 22/31


hosted by Two Writing Teachers

Back on the 16th, I wrote about wanting to take a look back at where I've been. I've been doing that, but I haven't been sharing much of that exploration here. I wasn't sure if I was comfortable sharing the details online. Domestic violence is part of what shaped me. It wasn't everyday, but there was a constant feeling of walking on eggshells in our home. That kept me quiet, fearful and unlikely to bring friends home. 

I'm thankful for the many friends who invited me to their homes. Reading books and visiting others showed me that not all families lived like we did. Seeing other ways of living in the pages of books and in my friend's houses gave me hope for the future. During middle school, I finally started to realize that homes could be places that felt safe.

Over the years, I've tried to look for the silver lining in my childhood. Here are a few of the positives:

* In trying to get a new start and try to make a better life, we moved many times. This brought a wonderful diversity to our experience. We went from very white small-town Ohio to Dallas, Texas. What a change. Then we lived in various areas of southern California before returning to Ohio and  finally moving to San Antonio, Texas. Along the way, we met some amazing friends.

* While living in Southern California, during the calm times we took long drives, explored beaches, visited mountains and had fun together. It wasn't always doom and gloom.

* We became resilient.

There are other positives, but for a long time in my life, it was hard to see past the negatives. I'm thankful that I'm able to see positives in my past while acknowledging that some of it really sucked.