“We argue that the ultimate goal of reading is to become more than we are at the moment; to be better than we are now; to become what we did not even know we want to become.”– Kylene Beers and Bob Probst, Disrupting Thinking
My 8th-grade son has just finished a book club experience as part of his ELA class. There were several books he could choose from – The Hate U Give, All American Boys, Ghost Boys, Tyler Johnson Was Here, Dear Martin, How It Went Down and Piecing Me Together. After we talked a little about each book he decided to read Dear Martin.
On a cold Sunday afternoon as we were driving home from Target, (I am learning that VERY important conversations often happen in the car with 14-year-old boys.) I asked if he finished reading and if he liked the book.
“I don’t know – I thought I would learn more about how to stand up when people do things they shouldn’t. He told us about a lot of things that should never have happened in the first place.”
I responded, “Yeah, but when I read I learned a lot. I’ve never thought about talking to you about how to talk to police and I don’t think I’ve ever been in a situation where I looked different than everyone around me. And Justyce felt like this every day when he went to school.”
“Yeah, but Mom people are people and I think as generations move on things change … our friends are better.” He then described some things that my 93-year-old Gramma has said over the years. “I get really mad when family says racists things – they know better. How can I respectfully tell them that it bothers me?”
Wow! I honestly am not 100% sure that I navigated this conversation correctly and by no means is this conversation over. But there is one thing I do know – without these books and these amazing authors I would be even less prepared to talk about this with him.
Rudine Sims Bishop writes about how books can serve as “…windows, offering views of the world that may be real or imagined, familiar or strange.” I am forever grateful for authors who become some of my greatest teachers, through whose words I am able to peek into worlds beyond my experience. Elizabeth Acevado (The Poet X), Samira Ahmed (Love, Hate and Other Filters), Tahereh Mafi (A Very Large Expanse of Sea), Mitali Perkins (You Bring the Distant Near), Jason Reynolds (For Every One), Jewell Parker Rhodes (Ghost Boys), Benjamin Alire Saenz (The Inexplicable Logic of Life) and Angie Thomas (On the Come Up) .you have each recently been my teacher and I want to say THANK YOU!
THANK YOU to all of the teachers and librarians who make these books accessible to young readers. THANK YOU to my son’s 8th grade ELA teacher who used these books as the anchor for book club discussions and learning.