Most of the country looks poised for a hot weekend, so here are some pieces to read while you lurk in the air-conditioned splendor of indoors.
Hampton Stevens, guest blogging for Ta-Nahisi Coates, shares a story of a child trying to puzzle our increasingly globalized world, courtesy of the FIFA World Cup, and points to the communication issues inherent in terms like “African American.”
Children become aware of gender, race, ethnicity, and disabilities before entering kindergarten. They form views at a young age, absorbing any bias or judgments from the adults in their life. It is important for parents to teach their children how to respect and appreciate others, creating a positive habit to take throughout their life.
Creating an environment for children to interact with kids from other backgrounds and cultures is important to their healthy development. It allows them to see the differences among each other and value them, instead of judging or turning away.
Amazing Faces, one of our new spring books, is a collection of poems celebrating the amazing people and faces that surround us every day. We asked the poets to share the stories behind their poems. Here are some of their responses:
Jane Yolen, “Karate Kid”
A number of years ago, Lee Bennett Hopkins asked me to write a poem for a sports anthology. “How about karate?” I said. There is a dojo near my house. I had some friends who had kids in karate and a granddaughter who was just starting into the martial arts. Also, I find some of the Chinese martial arts movies fascinating in a balletic sort of way.
And so I wrote “Karate Kid.” It has taken on a life of its own. Sometimes (if a writer is very lucky) that happens.
Rebecca Kai Dotlich, “Amazing Face”
I am, and will always be, fascinated by children. Especially very young children. I look at them and a million dreams and possibilities run through my mind: the person they will become, the journeys they’ll take, the hobbies they’ll choose, the crafts they’ll learn, the billowed joys they will experience, the heartache and heartbreak they will ultimately and unfortunately experience too. I want each child on this Earth to know they are loved by someone, that they are valued, and that they are truly and downright amazing. I hope my poem sends this message, whoever is listening.
Mary Cronin, “Firefighter Face”
Anyone who loves books loves libraries, and even though they’re worth celebrating year-round, it’s especially important now. Why? Well, for one it’s National Library Week. Ironically, we’re also in the midst of a huge round of budget cuts for libraries all over the country. Time’s growing short, but it’s not too late to let your public officials know how important libraries are to all of us! The ALA has a quick and easy way to show your support:
1. Please go to http://capwiz.com/ala/ and click on “call your senators now to support library funding.”
2. Scroll down and customize the sample email message as you see fit — remember, a brief but personal story on how your library helps your community matters the most! Change the subject heading to “please sign the Dear Appropriator letter for libraries.”
3. Enter your contact information.
Starting off with some despiriting news: in the wake of the Health Care Reform debate, several black congressmen, including John Lewis, have been called racial slurs and one was even spat on by protesters.
At Love Isn’t Enough, there’s a great piece on DNA and identity. It adds another layer to the discussions on being biracial and multiracial we’ve been having, because it looks at how little we know about our own personal genetic and racial makeup, but how much we know about our own personal cultural makeup.
This week we’re starting close to home: from the New York Times, an article on the lack of diversity at top New York City Schools—and a reminder that a lack of diversity doesn’t mean that everyone is white.
A long but very interesting paper looks at the role parents’ English ability plays in the juvenile justice system.