Wednesday, May 29, 2019

when it comes to my dream

dear, dreamer
A portrait of Jason Reynolds from Kristian Melon is a beautiful look at the author and the art of reading and writing.

Dear, Dreamer from Kristian Melom on Vimeo.

When it comes to
my dream,
the way I like to describe it
is that
it's a rabid beast
that found me when I
was young.

From Directors Notes and Short Of The Week 

For Everyone (the book referenced in dear, dreamer) was a poem originally performed at the Kennedy Center for the unveiling of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial by author Jason  Reynolds. It is addressed to young people and is about the importance of dreams... especially those that have yet to be fulfilled.

It is a wonderful book to give to all the graduates you know!

From AudioFile Magazine

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

be bold, be brave

A friend just told me about Raise Your Hand by Alice Paul Tapper and illustrated by Marta Kissi. This is a fantastic story about empowerment - written by a Girl Scout.

Alice realized that she and many other girls didn't speak up in class for fear of getting an answer wrong and being embarrassed. As a solution, Alice decided to launch a campaign to encourage girls to have confidence, take risks, and be leaders - and support other girls in doing the same. With the help of her Girl Scout troop, she created a new Raise Your Hand pledge and patch program, and soon girls around the country were taking a pledge to raise their hands in class. Now, the 11-year-old is bringing her message directly to girls with this new book, Raise Your Hand. She is telling her story and encouraging girls to "be bold, be brave, and raise your hand!"

You can  learn more and take the pledge at the Girl Scouts website.

Sunday, March 31, 2019

a brilliant adaptation

I read the newly illustrated version of The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank, also known as The Diary of Anne Frank. The new graphic adaptation is called Anne Frank's Diary adapted by Ari Folman with illustrations by David Polonsky.

This is a gorgeous, brilliant adaptation of Anne's story. 

From GoodReads:

The only graphic novelization of Anne Frank's diary that has been authorized by the Anne Frank Foundation and that uses text from the diary--it will introduce a new generation of young readers to this classic of Holocaust literature. 
This adaptation of Anne Frank's Diary of a Young Girl into a graphic version for a young readership, maintains the integrity and power of the original work. With stunning, expressive illustrations and ample direct quotation from the diary, this edition will expand the readership for this important and lasting work of history and literature.

This graphic novel format will appeal to new readers and those who have already read Anne’s Diary of a Young Girl. Hopefully her story will never be forgotten.

Get this book for all the young readers in you life.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

complicit silence

Last night I finished the book INTERNMENT by Samira Ahmed. This book is brave, extremely frightening, immensely profound, and a must read for everyone you know.

From GoodReads:
Rebellions are built on hope. 
Set in a horrifying near-future United States, seventeen-year-old Layla Amin and her parents are forced into an internment camp for Muslim American citizens. 
With the help of newly made friends also trapped within the internment camp, her boyfriend on the outside, and an unexpected alliance, Layla begins a journey to fight for freedom, leading a revolution against the internment camp's Director and his guards. 
Heart-racing and emotional, Internment challenges readers to fight complicit silence that exists in our society today. 

Internment has already been optioned by The Gotham Group and Chariot Entertainment to become a movie.

The most frightening part of this story is that it felt like it could become real. It's a tale of division and fear, Islamophobia and racism, power and compliance... It is at once a stark warning and a call to action. Young adult readers will love how gripping this story feels.

This book shines a light on what has happened in the past and what could, very easily, happen again given our political climate.

Some of my favorite parts:
There are a million shards in my heart, but the one that really stabs is having my damn phone taken away. Maybe it's dumb to think of it this way, but it's not only my phone. It's all my pictures, every memory of school and tennis team and David. I stifle my sobs. Dread clutches me, but so does anger. They didn't merely take my phone; they took my voice, my choice.

There are seats on these trains; they're not cattle cars - like the kind I've seen in history text books - carrying people to their deaths. But we are being forced onto them with no real idea of where we're going or what to expect at the end of the line. I feel pressed. Like when we read The Crucible last year. I couldn't wrap my mind around Giles Corey being pressed to death - stones being laid upon his chest, one after another, to make him admit to witchcraft, and he refused to speak except to say "More weight" when they urged him to confess. That's what the air feels like in this car, why it feels hard to breathe. We're being pressed by fear and hatred and the law.

I wonder if others felt this way - the Japanese Americans who were imprisoned during World War II. Did they also feel this surreal separation from the experience, like they were detached from their bodies, watching themselves enter this camp, like ghosts, shades of who they were? Did they wonder how long they would be here? Could they have imagined it would be years? Did some try to block it all out, compartmentalize, imagine that it was only one more day? Because we aren't even through this giant electronic gate yet and I feel like my real life is already a million miles away.

"Look what we've done?" I respond. "Look what you've done. Nothing. You stood by during the election, thinking that none of this would come to pass, that the racism and xenophobia running rampant during the campaign was hot air. And then you stayed silent while your rights were stripped away, and you quietly packed your things and let yourselves be taken prisoner. All of you. All of us. We've offered ourselves up in some kind of twisted Abrahamic sacrifice. But no lamb will be offered instead of us. It's our necks waiting for the ax to fall. We have to be our own miracle -" My mom clamps her hand over my mouth, silencing my speech.

In American Lit class once, we discussed America as a metaphor tying it into how the country is represented in books, movies, songs. You know, America is a melting pot. America is a mixed salad. America is a shining city on a hill. America is the country where a skinny kid with a funny name can defeat the odds and become president. But America doesn't seem like any of those things anymore. Maybe it never was.

Maybe if I keep my eyes closed, this version of the world will vanish, and Mobius and the Exclusion Laws will fade into the smoky blur of my nightmares. I think of all the people throughout history who found themselves in a place like this, stepping out from the shadows, raising their voices. Finding their courage, facing their fears so that they could be free. There were so many we lost, the ones who were taken, cut down, for the color of their skin, or the religion they practiced, or the person they loved.

The Author's Note at the end of the book should be required reading.

No moment in American history exists in a vacuum. Nationalism and fascism are not new; indeed, they are a part of American soil. This fact gave birth to this novel. The events in Internment - though they take place "fifteen minutes" into America's future - are deeply rooted in our history. You are bearing witness to them now, in our present.

America is a nation, yes, but it is also an idea, based on a creed. I hold these truths to be self-evident. That the concept of our nation is neither musty nor static. That it is malleable. That every day we can shape it and stretch it to form a more perfect, inclusive union. America is us. America is ours. It is worth fighting for.

Get this book for every young adult you know.

For a better understanding of power... how to acquire it and how to keep it... watch What Machiavellian Really Means on TEDEd

Friday, March 15, 2019

a price that is higher

I joined the Life's Library Book Club hosted by John Green and Rosianna Halse Rojas. 

The most recent book to be sent out is We Crossed A Bridge And It Trembled: Voices from Syria by Wendy Pearlman.  

Pearlman interviewed over 300 Syrian refugees over four years and compiled their stories in this book. If you want to better understand the conflict in Syria, this book is excellent. 

The story follows Syria's trajectory from authoritarianism to revolution to war to exile.

From Wendy Pearlman's introduction:
I made this trajectory the arc of the book, and culled excerpts from testimonials that I believed could best walk readers through its steps. I chose to reserve the text completely for Syrians' own words; I was convinced that they provided not only personal anecdotes, but also analytical insight that could explain developments in their country without need for my additional narration. This does not mean, however, that the book is without narrative. The narrative lies in the sequencing of entries such that each builds on that which precedes it, connects to those that follow, and divulges a new layer of this multi-layered history. 

This book beautifully humanizes the devastation taking place in Syria. The collection of testimonials produces empathy better than any history book could possibly do.

This book should be recommended reading. 
Get it for all the young adults you know. 

“We know that freedom has a price. Democracy has a price. But maybe we paid a price that is higher than freedom and higher than democracy. There is always a price for freedom. But not this much.” 
― Wendy Pearlman, We Crossed a Bridge and It Trembled: Voices from Syria

Monday, November 26, 2018

helping readers see that "the other" is a human

I am putting together a gift basket of the best graphic novels for young adults. The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui kept being suggested as a book I should add... so I read it. It is a remarkable and timely story of what it means to be a refugee in search for a better future.

Great quotes from the book:

“To understand how my father became the way he was, I had to learn what happened to him as a little boy. It took a long time to learn the right questions to ask.” 

“This - not any particular piece of Vietnamese culture - is my inheritance: the inexplicable need ad extraordinary ability to run when the shit hits the fan. My refugee reflex.” 

“Má leaves me but I'm not alone, and a terrifying thought creeps into my head. Family is now something I have created and not just something I was born into.”

“Every casualty in war is someone's grandmother, grandfather, mother, father, brother, sister, child, lover.” 

Get this book for the young adults you know. It is filled with empathy.

This graphic memoir is doing the work of helping readers see that "the other" is a human. It's more than a story of one family's journey from Vietnam and the obstacles they overcame. It's so much more. It's relevant today -  a time where immigration and seeking asylum is on the forefront of so many people's minds. We see firsthand why someone might make the tough decision to leave behind everything to start a new life and the incredible sacrifices they must make to provide a better life for their families. 

Sunday, October 28, 2018

The Antidote to Hopelessness

“This is about me making sure that, when it's said and done, I have been of service to a generation of young people who now know that they can have a relationship with literature and literacy, because it is for them.”
- Jason Reynolds

"The antidote to hopelessness is young people."
- Jason Reynolds