#Blackboylit: Martellus Bennett’s Washington Post Perspective is a Must Read: Let Black Boys Dream

I ordered Martellus Bennett’s forthcoming Dear Black Boy. His essay in the Washington Post is simply beautiful and is a powerful reminder for why we need a range of texts and representation for Black boys.

Martellus Bennett (Photo Credit: The Nation)

“We can begin to change that — not just by integrating those mostly white realms but also by allowing black boys the space to dream differently. Accept them for who they show you that they really are. When you look at black boys, see them as the future writers, composers, chefs, tech moguls, presidents, film directors, architects, illustrators or fashion designers that they are. The world is more beautiful when we let black boys dream big.”

Enjoy!

Oh, and be sure to #supportBlackwriters and buy the book!!!

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#blackboylit: New & Notable

I’ve been loving some new titles (or new to me) that I’ll either be book talking in upcoming presentations or suggesting when folks ask. Here are a few. All make worthy additions to the on-going list of resources distributed at workshops and available here.

Dream Country by Shannon Gibney

The Season of Styx Malone, Kekla Magoon (MG): funny, buddy novel that includes a realistic Black family living in rural Indiana

Where’s Rodney? Carmen Bogan (PB): fantastic way of thinking about why Black boys (and ALL kids) need to be able to experience nature and what happens when they are outside and able to LIVE

The Roots of Rap: 16 Bars on the 4 Pillars of Hip Hop, Carole Boston Weatherford & Frank Morrison (PB): this just arrived in my library. I’ve heard great things about this book and can’t wait to read it.

Finding Langston, Lisa Cline-Ransome (MG): a gentle, slim, beautifully written novel about a boy who moves to Chicago with his father during the Great Migration and struggles to find his way. Literacy saves him, and so, too, does love. Oh how I love this book.

The Parker Inheritance, Varian Johnson (MG): another on my TBR list. It’s picked up a bunch of awards and I’m thinking this is a good model for boy-girl friendships and could spark some healthy discussion about being a good friend, especially for tweens.

Dream Country, Shannon Gibney (YA): I do think this is the first example of a YA novel that covers the relationship between African immigrants and African Americans. Reminded me a lot of Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi, in that it’s intergenerational and takes place in Liberia and in Minnesota. Be sure to read Gibney’s acknowledgements, particularly about why she wrote her book and about Black boys. Image credit 

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Materials from AISNE #blackboylit Presentation

 

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Photo from Terricks Noah, Unsplash

I joined Jack Hill from the Cambridge Friends School to talk about Black boy masculinities and literature for the AISNE Diversity conference on October 24. Materials are available here (AISNE_ #blackboylit Presentation 10.24.18) and the draft of the text evaluation tool I’m piloting (#blackboylit_ Black Boys Doing What Text Evaluation).

If you use any of these or find anything helpful, I’d love to know more, as I’m constantly tweaking the work.

 

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October Update: Where You Can Find Me This Fall

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I’m returning to this blog after too long away. In case you’ve been wondering what I’m up to, I’ve created a Publications & Podcasts page where I’ve put up some recent and relevant stuff.

This fall, I’ll be at the Association of Independent Schools in New England Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Conference on October 24 and at the People of Color in Independent Schools Conference November 28-Dec. 1 in Nashville. I’ll be co-presenting with the Cambridge Friends Schools’ Jack Hill about #blackboylit. I’m so excited! Come see us!!

I’ve been having lots of fun with my #DisruptTexts cofounders, too. Be sure you’re following us on social media, stop by NCTE for an in-person session, and, in general, be in touch.

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African American Literature for Black Boys Bibliography for Scholastic #ReadingSummit

Thank you for attending, reaching out, or sharing this resource that is a starter for creating a library of #blackboylit. If you use the attached list, please assure you are attributing my work: Dr. Kim Parker. Thank you. African American literature for black boys Bibliography_Scholastic_July ’18.
African American literature for black boys Bibliography_Scholastic (1)

I’m presenting at the Scholastic Reading Summits over the next two weeks. On Thursday, July 12, I’ll be in Raleigh, NC (OMG, sold out!!!) and the following week on July 19, in Greenwich, CT . 

My workshop is officially titled: Creating an Independent Reading Canon for Black Boys, and we’ll spend some time talking books that resonate with Black boys, the wonderful world of #blackboylit and how to make sure we’re making informed, critical decisions about what texts we include in our libraries and our instructional practices, and, of course, how independent reading is gonna save us all. Because, it just IS.

If you’re looking for the bibliography from this session to use as a start for building your library, you can find it here: African American literature for black boys Bibliography_Scholastic

I hope to see you either here or in the social media universe. I’ll post my fall workshops as they are booked (which reminds me, I still have some availability for PD if you’re looking for someone whose work is useful, relevant, and effective).

Have a great summer!

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Stevie’s Legacy: Horn Book Presentation

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Stevie (image from Amazon)

I presented at the Horn Book Colloquium in Boston on October 7. While there were so many highlights (probably the best being meeting Angie Thomas, author of The Hate U Give and experiencing living legend Ashley Bryan lead us all in a poetry rendition), I was able to lead a discussion with attendees about books for Black boys. I used John Steptoe’s Stevie as a foundational text, then we worked our way through books that are entry points and extensions for this group.

Lots of books on my bibliography were unfamiliar to the audience, and that desire to learn more about what is really a historical legacy of excellent books for Black children sparked a substantial part of the discussion and what we can do to make these books accessible to all children and those of us committed to their care.

If you’re looking for a place to start, click here for Stevie_s Legacy- Black Boys in Children_s and YA Literature- Selected Bibliography and get to reading. Please note there are many, many more books that could be included here. If you have ones to recommend, please leave them in the comments. This is collaborate work we’re doing here.

I remain forever indebted to the work of Drs. Violet J. Harris, Rudine Sims Bishop, and Jonda McNair, whose expertise and brilliance I build upon in my own work.

P.S. Here’s the video of Gordon reading Stevie from Sesame Street.

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Leaving Teaching: Who Gets the Books?

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So MANY Books…going to a good home!

After nearly 16 years of teaching and learning with young people, I’m leaving the classroom at the end of the school year.

I am not leaving entirely; rather, I’ll be working in a program that prepares pre-service teachers, a pursuit I’ve wanted to dedicate much more time to doing.

Now, though, is the hard part of leaving. My first thought after accepting my new position was: what is going to happen to my books?  I knew I wanted them to go to someone who knows why a robust, diverse classroom library matters–for all kids, but, in the case of my work, particularly for underserved kids. I also wanted to be able to give the library to someone who might not have the resources to acquire this treasure for him/her/themself.

And while I’ve worked to create a school-wide culture of independent reading at my current school, I’m not so sure it will continue in ways that I’m comfortable.

So, this was a wonderful opportunity to look backwards–something I’m not that fond of doing because, well, when that happens we can see the good and the bad.

Hindsight, certainly.

I have a beloved colleague that used to teach down the hall from me about 10 or 12 years ago. We have continued to be critical, thoughtful friends for each other over the years. He’s wanted to gain a foothold with independent reading with his kids. He knows it matters. He has made smaller achievements with them. He could make leaps and bounds, I think, if he had more resources. His school’s budget has been trimmed even more.

Supplies, particularly books, are usually the first line item to be cut.

He is taking all of the books. All nearly 900 of them that kids WANT to read. He and a colleague are driving across town and will load them all and take them back to their school. 

This colleague sent me an email asking for money for the library.

Is he kidding? But that’s how Chris is. I told him that the fact that I know the books are going to be read and re-read and that that library is going to be used is all the peace of mind I could ever want, and a small step towards giving kids access to all the books they want and need.

But yes, he could take me to dinner and we can catch up as thanks, for sure. Always. I’m also reminded of how ideas leave us connected and believing in the power of literacy and kids’ rights to have literate lives, reminding us to work like heck to realize those ideas.

 

 

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