Check out these valuable resources, reviewed by Rethinking Schools editors and Teaching for Change colleagues.
A Broken Flute: The Native Experience in Books for Children
Edited by Doris Seale and Beverly Slapin
(AltaMira Press, 2005)
463 pp. $49.95
A collection of hundreds of reviews of new and old children’s books with Native-American themes, with contributions from more than 70 reviewers. Seale and Slapin have compiled an essential resource for librarians and teachers who want to think more clearly about cultural representation. The authors tackle stereotypes, eurocentric assumptions about Native cultures, and plain old lies. This book rethinks U.S. history as it rethinks children’s literature.
*Caribbean Connections: The Dominican Republic
Edited by Anne Gallin, Ruth Glasser and Jocelyn Santana with Patricia Pessar
(Teaching for Change, 2005)
250 pp. with a 54-page companion book in Spanish. $20
A reader-friendly overview of the history, politics, and culture of the fourth largest Latino community in the United States. Includes essays, oral histories, poetry, fiction, lesson plans, and beautifully illustrated timelines and maps. Ideal text for students reading literature by Dominican authors, for communities with Dominican-American students, and for anyone interested in this Caribbean country.
*Chicken: The Dangerous Transformation of America’s Favorite Food
By Steve Striffler
(Yale University Press, 2005)
195 pp. $25
Striffler draws on his own experiences working in a poultry plant in this damning critique of America’s industrial food system. Chicken is big business, and Striffler offers a startling history. The book could be used in economics, U.S. history, or global studies classes; it focuses extensively on the people who do the “chicken work,” mostly Mexican immigrants.
She Would Not Be Moved
By Herbert Kohl
(New Press, 2005)
144 pp. $22.95
In this substantially expanded essay that was first published in Rethinking Schools, Kohl examines the traditional story of Rosa Parks as represented in many social studies textbooks. Contrasting the errors and omissions with what really happened, Kohl educates the reader about Parks’ history of activism and the importance of the broader Civil Rights Movement. Numerous teaching ideas are included, along with an essay by Cynthia Brown comparing Parks with Septima Clark and Virginia Durr.
Something About America
By Maria Testa
(Candlewick Press, 2005)
84 pp. $14.95
A simple, moving story told through 35 short poems. Written from the perspective of a young girl severely burned in the war in Kosovo, the story/poem reflects on her life as an immigrant to the United States and the hardships that she and her parents endure. When an anti-immigrant group comes to their city to agitate, she and her father take action. Appropriate for upper elementary through high school.
2006 Peace Calendar / Lessons in Peace
By Syracuse Cultural Workers / Mara Sapon-Shevin
lessons 26 pp. $1
Every year the Syracuse Cultural Workers produce a beautiful, full-color calendar that focuses on movements for social justice, along with a teaching guide. This year’s effort features the 1960 Greensboro 4, Kenyan environmental activist Wangari Maathai, Staff Sgt. Camilo Mejia’s resistance to the Iraq war, preservation of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and many others.
Moving from Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason
By Alfie Kohn
(Atria Books, 2005)
264 pp. $24
Just as in his books about school discipline, Kohn takes a provocative stance on parenting, questioning many techniques even the most liberal parents might use. Citing research and numerous examples from raising his own children, Kohn argues for parents to shift from a “doing to” to “working with” approach. A rich blend of insightful reflections and specific suggestions.
How Schools Structure Inequality (Second Edition)
By Jeannie Oakes
(Yale University Press, 2005)
332 pp. $19
The first edition of Keeping Track has become a classic resource for educators and activists concerned about understanding and fighting the discrimination of “ability grouping,” commonly known as tracking. In this second edition, Oakes has added a new preface and two chapters that bring her critique up-to-date. As she says at the outset, “tracking has both changed and endured” since the first edition came out in 1985. The new chapters explore the “tracking wars,” chronicling the push to end tracking and those who fought to preserve it, and examine the schools that have sought to
de-track in pursuit of greater equity.
The Carpet Boy’s Gift
By Pegi Deitz Shea
llustrated by Leane Morin (Tilbury House, 2003)
40 pp. $16.95
A fictionalized account of Nadeem, a young boy who is a carpet worker in Pakistan, based in part on the true story of Iqbal Masih, the famous child laborer-turned-organizer and ultimately martyr. The vivid descriptions of Nadeem’s harsh life and his decision to follow in the footsteps of Iqbal make for a fast-moving story that offers many opportunities for broad curricular connections in math, social studies, and global issues.
Grades 4 and up.
*Patrol: An American Soldier in Vietnam
By Walter Dean Myers
Collages by Ann Grifalconi (HarperTrophy, 2005)
40 pp. $6.99
Patrol is the story of one U.S. soldier on one patrol during the Vietnam War. But this short picture book captures more about the essence of U.S. involvement in that war than many nonfiction books. The book portrays the soldier’s fear and confusion about the often-invisible enemy he is fighting.”Crouched against a tree older than my grandfather, I imagine the enemy crouching against a tree older than his grandfather.” Patrol is a troubling, provocative story, appropriate for students of any age who wonder about U.S. wars, past and present. It contains
no descriptions of violence.
Quinto’s Neighborhood / El Vecindario de Quinto
By Ina Cumpiano
Illustrated by Jose Ramírez (Children’s Book Press, 2005)
24 pp. $16.95
A beautifully illustrated, bilingual (English/Spanish) story that has a young boy tell what many of his family members and neighbors do in their community. With his mami a carpenter and his papi a nurse, the book offers opportunities for teachers and parents to challenge traditional gender stereotypes. Appropriate from kindergarten through primary grades.
By Nikki Giovanni
Illustrated by Bryan Collier
(Henry Holt and Co., 2005)
40 pp. $17.
Award-winning writer Nikki Giovanni’s new children’s book is an antidote to the stories about tired, old Rosa Parks who single-handedly desegregated the buses. Here she is placed firmly in the Civil Rights Movement (along with Jo Ann Robinson and E. D. Nixon) and the key historical events of the time. The text is accessible to young readers without sacrificing the complexity of the story, and the paint/collage illustrations are radiant. An ideal resource to honor the life of Rosa Parks and the 50th anniversary of the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
Magazines for Children
A free newsprint and web newspaper for kids that “aims to educate children on . . . world events from a progressive perspective and to inspire in children a passion for social justice and learning.” The first issue had articles on the Iraq war, Hurricane Katrina, bacteria, cuts in recess, police bag searches, and penguins, as well as interesting graphs, math facts, and word games. The teacher volunteers who publish this have taken care to produce a well-edited and polished paper. Kids definitely have an easier time reading the larger newsprint size than the smaller version most people will create from the online PDF. Despite the New York City–focus of some of the articles, this may well become a welcome antidote to the mainstream news of The Weekly Reader.
The Future of Food
Written and directed by Deborah Koons Garcia
(Lily Films, 2004)
DVD 88 min. $24.95
The future of food is dire, as described in this important film. Of the thousands upon thousands of varieties of vegetables grown at the beginning of the 20th century, 97 percent are now extinct. Industrial agriculture, characterized by the use of chemical fertilizers, insecticides, herbicides, and mono-cropping has now brought us genetically engineered food. The bulk of the DVD focuses on the troubling ethical, environmental, health, and economic implications of this development. The Future of Food is one of those “every citizen should see this” kind of films. Some material goes by pretty quickly, but this is a vital teaching resource, with lots of concrete, compelling examples. Useful in various classes, including health, biology, economics, chemistry, global studies, U.S. history, and government.
*Chavez, Venezuela and the New Latin America
(Ocean Press, 2004)
DVD 55 min. $25
The film is primarily an interview with Hugo Chavez by Aleida Guevara (a physician and Che Guevara’s daughter) and includes an interview with the minister of defense on the coup attempt and brief testimonies by grassroots activists, Cuban doctors, and others. It affords a rare glimpse through the blockade of information imposed by the United States into a country rich with dreams and . . . oil. Spanish with English subtitles.
*Available from www.teachingforchange.org