Monday, February 15, 2016

Four Winter Reads: All American Boys, Inside Out & Back Again, Teaching with Heart & Pax.

These books!! Some old, some new, all of them so important! 

All American Boys
Required reading for 21st century America. A brilliant, timely read for not just young adults, but all adults grasping with police brutality, race, action, anger and frustration. One of those books that reminds you of the power of fictional stories to get to the heart of, and help grapple with, real-life tragedy. Among the best I've seen. Braided narrrative between Rashad and Quinn, one who is the victim of police brutality, and the other who sees, and says nothing, and has to grapple with that choice. Cannot wait to be out in paperback, definite addition to the syllabus for 2016-17 school year. I read aloud pieces with my students this year, and it's quick to be passed around! Highly recommend for Middle & High School!

Inside Out & Back Again
So glad I finally got to this one! Charmingly sweet story of a young girl who escapes the Vietnam War and resettles in Alabama. What most inspired me was the author's quote at the end, as she explains her similar background: "Aside from remembering facts, I worked hard to capture Ha's emotional life. What was it like to live where bombs explored every night yet where sweet snacks popped up at every corner? What was it like to sit on a ship heading toward hope? What was it like to go from knowing you're smart to feeling dumb all the time" (261). The wisdom of this feisty young girl who "touches the floor first" will speak to many hearts and minds, and truly reach out to young readers. As the mother says, "Oh, my daughter, at times you have to fight, but preferably not with your fists" (216).

Teaching with Heart

An absolutely stunning collection of poetry by and for educators. Each poem in the collection is paired with what the poem means to the educator who submitted the poem. I'm honestly not quite sure what I enjoyed more, all the voices of educators from around the world, or the poems themselves! This collection offers an incredible look at the life of teaching from another perspective. I so enjoyed seeing some favorite poems and getting introduced to new favorites in this anthology. On a more personal note, as a Middlebury alumna, it was very exciting to see a fellow Middlebury alum among the submissions, hoping I get to cross paths with her in the future!

This sweet piece tells the story of a young boy Peter and his pet fox, Pax. They've been seperated because Peter's dad, before he left to fight in the war (leaving Peter to live with his grandfather), made Peter set Pax free into the wild. Unable to live without Pax, Peter runs away to find him. As they learn to survive without each other, he and Pax (story in both voices), both learn much about themsleves and their friendship as they grow closer together, and farther apart. I was originally skeptical of the plot line and how invested I'd be in these characters, but Pennypacker makes it so genuine, any age could truly love it. I'd recommend for Upper ES/MS.

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