Tag Archives: #blackboylit

2021: A Reading Year-In-Progress

JANUARY

One of my multiplying book stacks…

Luster, Raven Leilani
A working class Black girl’s struggle to find herself while navigating a complicated relationship with her white male lover.

Finna, Nate Marshall #blackboylit
A moving book of poetry about Blackness, love of Black people, and Chicago.

The Girl with the Louding Voice, Abi Dare
A young Nigerian girl overcomes a tremendous number of hardships, holding true to her desire to be educated and to find her voice.

Concrete Rose, Angie Thomas #blackboylit
Maverick Carter’s story is powerful: teenage father learning to find his voice and his own power. It will make you immediately go reread The Hate U Give

FEBRUARY

Memorial, Bryan Washington
Queer love story about a Black man and his Asian lover, a dying father, family dynamics, and what happens when a relationship can (and should?) end. It’s not easy, by any stretch of the imagination.

MARCH

Black Kids, Christina Hammonds Reed
I appreciate this book for breaking me out of my reading rut. Fabulous, thoughtful, complex look at a young Black girl who is wealthy, goes to school in a predominantly white environment, and is trying to figure out all the identities she has and wants to be. I’d also use this book as a craft study b/c Hammonds Reed can write a brilliant sentence, and this book has so many. One of my faves of the year at this point.

APRIL

You Should See Me In a Crown, Leah Johnson

I continue to turn to YA as a way to get my reading life restarted. Liz Lighty is an overachieving Black girl who wants to go to the local PWI more than anything. She’s queer, which is hard in a small Indianapolis town, made even more complicated because she runs for prom queen. I felt for Liz, who has be to exceptional in every way, struggles with anxiety, and the loss of her mother, and, well, being working class in a white midwestern town.

MAY

We Are Not Broken, George M. Johnson

Another entry to the #blackboylit canon that gives us a nonbinary young person living their best life. This was a great example of all the ways young people can grow up whole, free, and supported by a loving community. A memoir in vignettes, too!

Things We Couldn’t Say, Jay Coles

I read this one with the Johnson book above in preparation for moderating a panel for SLJ’s Day of Action. Another #blackboylit title. I so appreciated the main character, a bisexual Black boy who experiences depression, a missing parent, and falling in love. I loved Gio so much, and also appreciated his comments about school, lol, especially being dragged through a reading of To Kill A Mockingbird.

The Secret Lives of Church Ladies, Deesha Philyaw

This book got me OUT of my reading rut. Just an excellent collection of short stories about Black women that is beautifully written, funny, sad, healing…just everything. I wished it was longer, have recommended it as my favorite book this year, and gift it, too.

JUNE

Fugitive Pedagogy: Carter G. Woodson and the Art of Black Teaching, Jarvis Givens

I stan for Dr. Givens and his scholarship because it helps me locate myself in the tradition of the art of Black teaching. Lots about the life of Carter G. Woodson, Black teachers, and why what we do matters even more today. It’s also an important reminder that as teachers we need to be “scholars of the practice” and make time to read scholarship.

The Prophets, Robert Jones, Jr.

This queer love story set during enslavement was moving and reminiscent of Morrison in so many ways. I loved the love and resistance of characters and felt such deep sorrow to read about the ancestors, real and imagined. Once I started, I read right through the days to finish, and the two men at the center of the story, and their insistence on loving each other, was so very powerful and beautiful.

Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry, Joya Goffney

Just a fun YA book, perfect for the summer. See my Twitter thread about loving this book and why it’s SO necessary.

Barracoon, Zora Neale Hurston

This book came up at the library and I’ve been wanting to read it. The story of Kossola, the last survivor of the Clotida, is devastating. It’s important for understanding the impact of enslavement, how Africans were treated by African Americans, and the lasting legacy that so many of us carry with us. Required reading. Plus, it’s a powerful account of the anthropological work of Zora Neale Hurston.

The House of Historical Corrections, Danielle Evans

I’m a Danielle Evans fan. Her first short story collection is one of my all-time favorites. This second collection is even more brilliant. She can write a beautiful sentence and tell a brilliant story while breaking your heart and affirming your Blackness and brilliance all at once. These short stories are definitely teachable in high school classrooms, too, and ones I wish I had access to when I was looking for something different for my own short story units…

JULY

So We Can Glow, Leesa Cross Smith

Seems like the universe is trying to help me find my way back to my reading life. These short/micro stories are delightful. Lots take place in Kentucky, so that’s even more special to me, and Cross-Smith is SO good at writing about women in the everyday. I felt so seen while I read this collection in all parts of my life: high school, college, post-college, now.

Act Your Age, Eve Brown, Talia Hibbert

I finished the final book of Hibbert’s trilogy and found it quite satisfying. Hibbert’s characters are funny, thoughtful, smart, and real. A great easy breezy read that also features characters with autism, depicted multidimensionally, where the characters are so much more.

AUGUST

Motherhood So White: A Memoir on Race, Gender, and Parenting in America, Nefertiti Austin

I try to read books on Black motherhood because there are so few out there. I would like a mirror for that part of my experience, too! Austin’s book is an interesting take on adoption and makes a strong case for why and how to do it. I found myself bothered by her perspectives on birth parents and there was an air of respectability that was hard for me. I’m glad this book is out there for folks, though.

Seven Days in June, Tia Williams

Just when I needed a good romance that centered on a single mom suffering from debilitating migraine headaches who was an amazing writer and got back in touch with an old flame, this book delivered. A solid rom-com, filled with some great humor (the tween daughter is well-written, much because I bet Williams drew on her success writing your a YA audience in a couple of her earlier books). Love this, too, especially for the summer.

How Much of These Hills is Gold, C. Pam Zhang

I wanted to immediately teach this book with juniors, especially in all those discussions about the “American Dream.” A story of two Chinese girls in the west, their family, their hopes, their dreams, and, well, what happens as they try to survive during brutal settler colonialism. So many beautiful, heartbreaking sentences and characters who I absolutely loved.


My 2020 Year-In-Reading


Any suggestions about what I should add (or fast track to the top) to my stack? If so, leave them in the comments. Thank you!

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2020: A Wrap-Up & #Blackboylit Faves

I always love reading folks’ year-end reflections. I’ve rarely gotten it together to write one myself, but think that, in this moment I have between working on my book that’s slated to come out in 2021 and procrastination, a year in review seems appropriate.

First, thanks to everyone who’s reached out in solidarity, in purchases of coffee (thank you!) and in love to express their support for #DisruptTexts and my co-founders. The greatest thanks is doing the work; thus, please continue to #DisruptTexts in ways that fundamentally normalize high achievement for all students, and especially Black, Latinx, Indigenous, and other POC children and youth. Please, keep doing that.

Top Blog Posts

  1. 31 Days: We Begin, Again
  2. Dr. Joseph Rodriguez’ Guest Post for #31DaysIBPOC
  3. Announcing: My New JAAL Column
  4. 2020: My Year in Reading Progress

There were also lots of hits around the site about me, how to work with me, and publications/podcasts. I am limiting my professional development work in 2021 to allow me to be intentional about what I say yes to, to continue existing relationships with departments who have already contracted with me, and to be able to continue doing my own work that enables me to be authentic during my PD work. Thus, if you’d like to work with me, please reach out, knowing I have limited availability, but I’d love to work with you if possible.

My Faves

I had a few favorite things from 2020.

My #Blackboylit faves include:

Ty’s Travels from Kelly Starling Lyons–so great for emergent readers!

I Am Every Good Thing, Gordon James & Derrick Barnes

Class Act, Jerry Craft

King and the Dragonflies, Kacen Callender

I was in a significant reading rut because pandemic. I know there were such great young adult and verse texts for #blackboylit that I intend to read in 2021. Once I do, I’ll update my favorites to include those as well. Thanks to Black Children’s Books and Authors for their comprehensive lists that help me to keep my TBR abundant (and I also donated during Kwanzaa in the spirit of cooperative economics, BTW).

I did enjoy expanding to #bipocboylit because I collaborated with one of my favorite brilliant people and educators, Aeriale Johnson. We wrote “Literacy As a Tool for Liberation” for ASCD. In 2021, I am hoping for more opportunities to write with people I admire and who push my practice. Ms. J and I are working on a book together; send us your energy so we complete that project! That’s why I loved editing the JAAL column; such fantastic voices that we should be paying attention to in the field of literacy work.

I had the most fun interviewing MacArthur Genius Fellow THE Jackie Woodson for the Horn Book magazine with some of my favorite Black women. There was so much love for her and for Black children in that moment.

2021: Looking Ahead

ASCD is insisting I complete this book, lol. So, look for that to be out at some point. It’s about how we can do the work of creating culturally relevant intentional literacy communities for Black and IPOC youth. I’m excited for that.

I’ll continue presenting nationally and leading PD for districts. Reach out if you’d like to think about working with me. I’m energized by the work departments are undertaking to push their own understandings forward as they select texts that can make a difference on readers. The best way to find me is through the Find Me/Work with Me page.

I’m grateful for the abundant opportunities to engage in such a broad range of literacy experiences, even during the midst of a global pandemic that has impacted so many. I am encouraged that I am in community with people who are committed to equity, liberation, and justice.

May we have a better 2021. Together.

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#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

 

terricks-noah-568914-unsplash.jpg

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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