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1. Rukhsana Khan on Cross-Cultural Writing and Achieving True Diversity

This November I attended the NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English) Annual Convention in Washington, DC and was overwhelmed by the broad focus on diversity in children’s books. Though many of us have been aware of this issue for years (or even decades) it is often a topic set aside for one or two poorly-attended panels located at inconvenient times in back rooms.

Not this year.

This year, NCTE dedicated part of the conference’s Opening Session to the topic. In front of over a thousand people, a panel of authors including Rukhsana Khan, Christopher Myers, Matt de la Peña, and Mitali Perkins spoke about their experiences with diversity—and the lack thereof—in children’s book publishing. Expert Rudine Sims Bishop moderated the panel.

Panels on this topic, even those with heavy-hitters like the people mentioned above, rarely receive this kind of audience or placement. As part of the Opening Session, the panel set the tone for the whole conference, and made a major statement: we will not ignore this problem. Kudos to NCTE for making that statement, and to all of us for creating an environment this year in which such a statement was possible. Below, we have asked Rukhsana Khan to share her comments from the panel:

NCTE Opening Session Panel, from L to R: Rudine Sims Bishop, Rukhsana Khan, Matt de la Peña, Christopher Myers, Mitali Perkins

NCTE Opening Session Panel, from L to R: Rudine Sims Bishop, Rukhsana Khan, Matt de la Peña, Christopher Myers, Mitali Perkins (image provided by NCTE)

Rukhsana Khan: When I was a young girl, growing up in a small Judeo-Christian town, a friend of mine told me this joke. I don’t mean to offend anyone and in fact, I myself found it racist, but I tell it here to make a point:

Once there was a Catholic who lived in a farmhouse.

On a cold stormy night there came a knock at the door. It was a man.

He said, “Please sir, could I have shelter? I’m half frozen and very hungry.”

The owner of the farmhouse said, “Are you Catholic?”

The man said, “Yes.”

“Oh! Come on in and rest yourself there by the fire!”

A little while later another knock came at the door.

It was another man, half frozen, asking for shelter.

The owner said, “Are you Catholic?”

The man said, “Yes.”

“Oh! Come on in and rest yourself there by the fire!”

A little while later another knock came.

It was another man, half frozen.

“Are you Catholic?”

“No, I’m Protestant.”

The owner said, “Oh. Well there’s some room there on the porch. Maybe if you press yourself against the window you can get some warmth from the fire.”

Now, make no mistake. I found this joke to be very offensive, but I didn’t say anything. But to myself, I thought, “Wow. If this is how one Christian talks about another Christian, what the hell do they think of me?”

And ever since then I’ve always felt like I was out there on the porch, looking in, to a warm scene of people gathered around a fire, but the warmth doesn’t penetrate the glass of the window.

Growing up in such a community, I used books to survive.

The books I feasted on were from the library. I didn’t know you could purchase books! As immigrants we had enough problems just keeping food on the table, so there was never money for books!

And I remember reading one of the Anne of Green Gables books, one of the later ones, Anne of the Island or something and I got to a point where L. M. Montgomery refers to ‘those heathen Muhammadans,’and I couldn’t believe it!

Rukhsana Speaks with Rudine Sims Bishop

Rukhsana speaks with Rudine Sims Bishop

She was talking about me!

Couldn’t she ever have imagined that one of those ‘heathen Muhammadans’ would one day be reading one of her Anne books and identifying so much with the characters, thinking that aunt was just like so and so, and that uncle was just like this uncle of hers???

I got so mad I threw the book across the room.

And once more I felt like I was out on the porch, looking in.

We need diverse books! But what really constitutes diversity?

These days there’s an awful lot of books that pass as diverse literature, that are written by white feminists, who mean well, but I wonder how well they can really penetrate the cultural paradigms of the ethnicities they write about.

I mean how can someone from inside the cabin really comprehend what it’s like to be out there on the porch, when they’re sheltered and warm from the fire?

And think about it. When you’re in a well-lit house, looking out onto a dark porch, the windows act as mirrors. You can’t properly see outside! It’s your own world that’s reflected back at you.

And as a result many of these books just come down to plunking a white kid in an exotic setting and writing the story as they would react to it!

What kind of diversity is that?

We can’t just color the kid in the story brown or what-have-you and maintain western ways of thinking. Kids need to be exposed not to just characters of another color but also different cultural thinking and ways of problem solving.

We need to be less superficial.

Because ultimately, how can we ask children to think outside the box when they’re living so firmly within it?

Rukhsana KhanRukhsana Khan is the author of several award-winning books published in the United States and Canada including, most recently, King for a Day. Born in Lahore, Pakistan, she and her family immigrated to Canada when she was three. Khan’s stories enable children of all backgrounds to connect with cultures of Eastern origins. Khan lives with her husband and family in Toronto, Canada. 


Filed under: Diversity 102, Educator Resources, Fairs/Conventions Tagged: NCTE, Rukhsana Khan, writing cross-culturally

2 Comments on Rukhsana Khan on Cross-Cultural Writing and Achieving True Diversity, last added: 12/22/2014
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2. Gift for Readers

giftPrintable Book Plates

Are you looking for a last-minute gift to give to your friends who love reading? Print out a bunch of these bookplates on pretty paper. Then trim them to size, tie them up with a ribbon, and you’re done! Your friends can stick them in all their favorite books. You can print some for yourself, too!

bookplate

You can find more bookplates to print out here.

Happy Holidays!

Sonja, STACKS Staffer

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3. An Age of License: Review Haiku

A perfect last-minute
gift for your favorite
post-college wanderer.

An Age of License: A Travelogue by Lucy Knisley. Fantagraphics, 2014, 189 pages.

0 Comments on An Age of License: Review Haiku as of 12/17/2014 7:06:00 AM
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4. The Badger Knight

The badger knightThe Badger Knight (for ages 8 and up) by Kathryn Erskine

The year is 1346. Adrian is almost 13 years old but he isn’t like most other boys his age. He has Albinism, which means he has very pale skin and light hair and eyes. He has almost always been a small, sickly kid. The bullies in his English village call him “badger” because of the dirt he rubs under his eyes to stop the glare from his paper-white skin.

Adrian has a sharp mind, and all he wants to do is go to war as an archer. This is not his father’s plan. Adrian can write, and Adrian’s father wants him to become a scribe. To Adrian, this sounds like the worst job in the world.The badger knight

The Scottish invade near their home in England, and Adrian’s best friend Hugh joins his father on the battlefield. Adrian follows Hugh, determined to find his friend and participate in his glorious vision of warfare. As Adrian ventures through war-ridden England and Scotland, his voyage becomes a true knight’s tale.

But will Adrian even be able to find Hugh? The perils of war don’t exactly resemble what Adrian had pictured in his head. Will he make it home safely? Read the book to find out how this young knight’s adventure ends. Have you already read The Badger Knight? Leave your Comments in the section below!

Marisa, STACKS Intern

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5. Earth to YA, Part 2: songs and dances

This summer, Techie Boyfriend and I bought four acres of land for a little over three thousand dollars. Here is a picture:


The land has a nine foot swimming hole, a creek where crawfish live among the rocks, a babbling waterfall, and soft flat stones for hopping on. It has bigleaf maples, cedars, and ferns. It has deer and birds and bugs. And it was ours for less than the price of a used car.

I haven't gotten used to being a land owner yet. "I own this cedar," I think to myself, and the thought is uncanny and absurd. I walk around the land, experimenting: "I own this giant maple." "I own these boulders." "I own the ground this beetle burrows in."

If I wanted to, I could cut down the trees, rip out the ferns, squash the bugs, and sell the boulders to a landscaping company. If I wanted to, it would be within my legal rights to turn the place into this:



Or, with a few permits, into this:


I could go up there with a chainsaw this afternoon and lay waste to the place, and there would be nothing you could do about it except spit in my coffee the next time I stopped in at the local diner, or chain yourself to the last big maple and get hauled to jail. In other words, I am legally permitted to be a savage--even rewarded for it, if you consider the economic benefits I would gain from "developing" the land's resources. When it comes to these four acres of the biosphere, there is almost nothing forbidden to me, short of dumping gasoline in the creek and setting it on fire.

This, dear readers, is what they call a mindfuck.

*

A long, long time ago, all land was sacred land. There wasn't some land designated for "preservation" and some land designated for strip malls. It was all alive and rich with significance--you couldn't point to a single inch of the earth and say, "This part doesn't matter."

A thousand years ago, all art was sacred art. The Salish didn't have one type of dance they did for the gods, and another kind of dance for getting on TV. The Vikings didn't tell one kind of story to explain the origins of the universe, and another kind of story to make money. If someone sang, danced, or told a story, it was an act of communication with the divine--you couldn't point to a single moment of it and say "This part has no spiritual significance."

And I can't help but wonder what it means that we live in a world where you can buy a waterfall on craigslist, and sell your stories on the internet, and do your dances on TV. That our songs are no longer intended to make rain fall, our stories no longer function as thinly veiled maps of the underworld, and our land is a thing to be ransacked, paved over and ignored instead of a true and living friend. 

And I wonder how much richer, how much more miraculous our work would be if we were audacious enough to reach past our industrial roles as producers of entertainment and act as if our stories mattered--not just on a human level, but for the benefit of all beings.

*

I think about the creek land often. It enters my thoughts the way a friend does whom you love dearly but don't see every day. I go out my front door and wonder what it used to be like here before someone decided this land was an appropriate place to cut down all the trees and build a town. Then I go back to my writing room and sit at my desk, wondering what I can possibly type on this keyboard to call the old songs and dances back again.













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6. House of Debt on the Independent’s Best of 2014

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Atif Mian and Amir Sufi’s House of Debt, a polemic about the Great Recession and a call to action about the borrowing and lending practices that led us down the fiscal pits, already made a splash on the shortlist for the Financial Times‘s Best Business Book of 2014. Now, over at the Independent, the book tops another Best of 2014 list, this time proclaimed, “the jewel of 2014.” From Ben Chu’s review, which also heralds another university press title—HUP’s blockbuster Capital by Thomas Piketty (“the asteroid”):

As with Capital, House of Debt rests on some first-rate empirical research. Using micro data from America, the professors show that the localities where the accumulation of debt by households was the most rapid were also the areas that cut back on spending most drastically when the bubble burst. Mian and Sufi argue that policymakers across the developed world have had the wrong focus over the past half decade. Instead of seeking to restore growth by encouraging bust banks to lend, they should have been writing down household debts. If the professors are correct—and the evidence they assemble is powerful indeed—this work will take its place in the canon of literary economic breakthroughs.

We’ve blogged about the book previously here and here, and no doubt it will appear on more “Best of” lists for business and economics—it’s a read with teeth and legs, and the ostensible advice it offers to ensure we avoid future crises, points its fingers at criminal lending practices, greedy sub-prime investments, and our failure to share—financially and conceptually—risk-taking in our monetary practices.

You can read more about House of Debt here.

 

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7. Protesting Injustice Then and Now

ferguson 2In August we wrote to you about the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Our publisher said then that the matter of representation was urgent; now, four months later, we see that urgency for what it is: a matter of life or death. Michael Brown’s name now sits alongside new names like Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, and Akai Gurley. How many more names will need to be added before things change?

Protests around the country remind us that we are not in a post-racial society, that inequality is still here. This can be a harrowing reminder, but it is also an important teachable moment for young people. How do we put current events in context and help young people engage in today’s big questions?

In difficult moments, books are often a good starting place for conversation. Books that touch on history can be read with fresh eyes in light of current events. For example, in Love to Langston, author Tony Medina describes when a seventh-grade Langston Hughes in 1914 peacefully protests his teacher’s segregation of black students to one row in the classroom. Even when he is expelled, Hughes fights for what he knows is right and his community joins beside him. The teacher is forced to integrate the classroom:

Jim Crow Row
from Love to Langston
By Tony Medina

In the seventh grade
in Lawrence, Kansas
the teacher puts all
us black kids in the same row
away from all the white kids

I don’t roll my eyes
or suck my teeth
with a heavy heavy sigh
and a why why why

I make signs
that read
that read

Jim Crow Row
Jim Crow Row
we in the Jim Crow Row

Jim Crow is a law
that separates white and black
making white feel better
and black feel left back

So we protest
with our parents
and let everybody
know about

Jim Crow Jim Crow
not allowing us
to grow

Jim Crow Jim Crow
don’t put us in a
Jim Crow Row

Whether it was this event or the lifetime of experiences of racism, Langston Hughes was profoundly transformed and wrote about and advocated for equality and justice throughout his life.

I, Too
By Langston Hughes
From the Poetry Foundation

I, too, sing America.

I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.

Tomorrow,
I’ll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody’ll dare
Say to me,
“Eat in the kitchen,”
Then.

Besides,
They’ll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed—

I, too, am America.

How will today’s children be impacted and awakened as activists by images of and participation in the protesting in Ferguson, New York City, and around the nation? In what ways will this moment and experience affect our children’s lens by which they view the world and influence their life’s purpose or calling? What art will they create to express this moment and themselves?

A photo from one of the recent protests in New York City.

A photo from one of the recent protests in New York City.

Further reading:

Books on Protest:

 


Filed under: Educator Resources, Race Tagged: African/African American Interest, children's books, diversity, Educators, History, Langston Hughes, poetry, Power of Words, race, Race issues, racism

1 Comments on Protesting Injustice Then and Now, last added: 12/17/2014
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8. Literary Cats

Rainbow PenFamous Books Written by Literary Cats

Most people know that cats are smart, but did you know that many famous books were actually written by cats? I had no idea until I discovered these books in my cat’s library (a.k.a. his pile of treasured possessions hidden under the couch).Diary of a Wimpy Cat

Can you identify these literary masterpieces written by cats?

  • Diary of a Wimpy Cat by Jeff Kitty
  • Purrrcy Catson and the Olympians by Rick Rowr-dan
  • Little Kittens by Louisa May Alcat
  • Furry Pawter and the Dog’s Bone by J.K. Meowling
  • Say Meow and Chase that Tiny, Moving Red Dot! by R. L. Feline

Leave your answers in the Comments and let us know what books you would find in your cat library!

Sonja, STACKS Staffer

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9. One Central Hub for All Your Content

Last week, we announced a few updates to the WordPress.com interface, including faster stats and enhanced site management on both desktop and mobile devices.

Our push to make all WordPress.com sites faster and easier to access and manage continues. This week, we’re thrilled to unveil a few brand-new features that allow bloggers, publishers, and business owners to run their sites and manage their content from one central hub, no matter what device they’re using.

From new blog post and page management tools to Jetpack site integrations, we hope you enjoy the latest additions as much as we do!

Centralized post management

You can now access all your posts from one convenient location, whether you write one personal blog or publish on multiple sites. Quickly sort through published, scheduled, drafted, or even trashed posts for one or all of your sites at once!

manage-all-posts

A visual preview of each blog post lets you scan your content to edit, view, publish, or trash from a single list. Another new functionality we’re excited to introduce today: while “Blog Posts” is selected, you can hop to another blog’s post list using the site selector in the sidebar.

Easy access to pages

For many site administrators, managing pages is just as — if not more — important than post management, so we’ve extended to pages the same functionality that lets you review all your posts from one place.

You can look up any of your pages, and then publish, un-publish, or trash them, all directly from your WordPress.com dashboard. Editing pages is also just one click away, regardless of the number of sites you run.

One WordPress dashboard for all your sites

Screenshot of the All My Sites button

We also have great news for those of you who have both self-hosted WordPress sites and WordPress.com sites. The new WordPress dashboard gives you access to all your Jetpack-connected sites as well as to sites hosted here on WordPress.com, and allows you to manage your posts, pages, and plugins from the same central hub.

Tell us what you think!

For some, individual-site management in the classic WP Admin dashboard will continue to be the go-to. That said, today’s updates include some entirely new features that are only accessible in the new dashboard. To tap into multi-site posts and pages lists and manage all your WordPress sites under one hood, we encourage you to try out the new interface.

We want to thank all of you who’ve shared constructive feedback with us — it helps us immensely in our effort to make the experience even smoother. Whichever dashboard you fancy, we hope you’ll take the updates for a spin and continue to share your thoughts with us!


Filed under: Dashboard, Features, Jetpack, New Features, WordPress.com

11 Comments on One Central Hub for All Your Content, last added: 12/15/2014
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10. The Hoarders

nm2

David Drummond’s cover for The Hoarders, one of Paste Magazine’s 30 Best Book Covers of 2014.

This past week, New Yorker critic Joan Acocella profiled Scott Herring’s The Hoarders, a foray into the history of material culture from the perspective of clutter fetish and our fascination with the perils surrounding the urge to organize. The question Herring asks, namely, “What counts as an acceptable material life—and who decides?,” takes on a gradient of meaning for Acocella, who confronts the material preferences of her ninety-three-year-old mother, which prove to be in accord with the DSM V‘s suggestion that, “hoarding sometimes begins in childhood, but that by the time the hoarders come to the attention of the authorities they tend to be old.”

In The Hoarders, Herring tells the tale of Homer and Langley Collyer, two brothers to whom we can trace a legend (um, legacy?) of modern hoarding, whose eccentricity and ill health (Langley took care of Homer, who was both rheumatic and blind) led to a lion’s den of accrual, and a rather unfortunate end. As Acocella explains:

In 1947, a caller alerted the police that someone in the Collyer mansion may have died. After a day’s search, the police found the body of Homer, sitting bent over, with his head on his knees. But where was Langley? It took workers eighteen days to find him. The house contained what, in the end, was said to have been more than a hundred and seventy tons of debris. There were toys, bicycles, guns, chandeliers, tapestries, thousands of books, fourteen grand pianos, an organ, the chassis of a Model T Ford, and Dr. Collyer’s canoe. There were also passbooks for bank accounts containing more than thirty thousand dollars, in today’s money.

As Herring describes it, the rooms were packed almost to the ceilings, but the mass, like a Swiss cheese, was pierced by tunnels, which Langley had equipped with booby traps to foil burglars. It was in one of those tunnels that his corpse, partly eaten by rats, was finally discovered, only a few feet away from where Homer’s body had been found. He was apparently bringing Homer some food when he accidentally set off one of his traps and entombed himself. The medical examiner estimated that Langley had been dead for about a month. Homer seems to have died of starvation, waiting for his dinner.

The New Yorker piece also confronts the grand dames of American hoarding, Little Edie and Big Edie Bouvier Beale, cousins to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, and the subjects of Albert and David Maysles’ cult classic documentary Grey Gardens. Acocella positions the Beales as camped-out, if charming, odd fellows, but also points to an underlying class-based assumption in our embrace of their peculiarities:

If they crammed twenty-eight rooms with junk, that’s in part because they had a house with twenty-eight rooms. And if they declined to do the dishes, wouldn’t you, on many nights, have preferred to omit that task?

This is only slightly out of sorts with the stance Herring adopts in the book: as material culture changes, so too do our interactions with it—and each other. You can read much more from Acocella in her profile, but her takehome—we are what we stuff, except what we stuff is subject to the scrutinies and perversions of our social order (class and race among them)—is worth mentioning: we should get out from under it now, because it’s only going to get worse.

Read more about The Hoarders here.

 

 

 

 

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11. Kate the Great: Review Haiku

A little trite, but
SO true to the modern
fifth-grade experience.

Kate the Great, Except When She's Not by Suzy Becker. Crown, 2014, 272 pages.

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12. Christmas Chihuahua Dog

Create a CaptionCreate a Caption!

This tiny reindeer is ready to ride! Leave your caption for Rudolph’s baby Chihuahua brother in the Comments!

Christmas Chihuahua

Image credit 55Laney69

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13. The Alfred G. Graebner Memorial High School Handbook of Rules and Regulations: Review Haiku

Some parts haven't aged
well, but overall, as awesome
as I recall.

The Alfred G. Graebner Memorial High School Handbook of Rules and Regulations by Ellen Conford. Little Brown, 1976, 220 pages.

(Ignore the "TWO PAWS UP BOOKS" in that image. Jackets of OP books are hard to find . . . )

0 Comments on The Alfred G. Graebner Memorial High School Handbook of Rules and Regulations: Review Haiku as of 12/12/2014 8:38:00 AM
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14. Annie Actress Quvenzhané Wallis

Annie movieMeet the New Annie!

The new movie Annie comes out in theaters on December 19 and we have an interview with the 11-year-old girl who plays Annie. Her name is Quvenzhané Wallis (pronounced kwuh-ven-zhuh-nay), and she is the youngest person to ever have been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress! Read on to hear about her role in the Annie movie.

Q: Did you like shooting the musical parts of the film?
Quvenzhané: Yes, I liked shooting the musical parts of the film because I like to sing and dance.

Q: Were you a fan of the original Annie before you accepted the role?
Quvenzhané: Yes, I was a big fan of Annie when I accepted the role. When we heard that Sony was remaking Annie, I watched to see what it was about and fell in love. I love to sing and dance along with Annie, now people are going get to sing and dance along with me.Annie movie

Q: How does the new movie differ from the original?
Quvenzhané: We’ve made some updates to make it feel like 2014. Like Annie is a foster kid, not an orphan. Mr. Stacks is the head of a cell phone company and cell phones did not exist in the original.

Q: Who is your favorite character in the movie, and why?
Quvenzhané: Ms. Hannigan. She is so funny!

Q: Did any of the older stars in the movie have tips or advice for you?
Quvenzhané: Jamie [Foxx who plays Mr. Stacks] taught me to just have fun. Don’t be so serious. We use laughter to get through some scenes. He would make it fun by telling me funny things or making funny gestures. Rose [Byrne who plays Grace] taught me to always be me and to be kind. Cameron [Diaz who plays Miss Hannigan] taught me to take care of myself. She would check on me to make sure I had what I needed.

Q: What is your favorite subject in school?
Quvenzhané: My favorite subject in school is science.

Q: Your favorite snack to eat on-set?
Quvenzhané: My favorite snack is grapes.

Q: Your favorite thing to do when you are done filming?
Quvenzhané: I like cheerleading, playing basketball and volleyball, reading, swimming, and riding my bike and scooter for fun.

Q: What is your all-time favorite book or author?
Quvenzhané: I like Roald Dahl books because of the mystery.

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15. Forthcoming: The Big Jones Cookbook

It’s unconventional, to say the least, for a university press to publish a cookbook. But an exception to this rule, coming in Spring 2015, is Paul Fehribach’s Big Jones Cookbook, which expands upon the southern Lowcountry cuisine of the eponymous Chicago restaurant. As mentioned in the book’s catalog copy, “from its inception, Big Jones has focused on cooking with local and sustainably grown heirloom crops and heritage livestock, reinvigorating southern cooking through meticulous technique and the unique perspective of its Midwest location.” More expansively, Fehribach’s restaurant positions the social and cultural inheritances involved in regional cooking at the forefront, while the cookbook expands upon the associated recipes by situating their ingredients (and the culinary alchemy involved in their joining!) as part of a rich tradition invigorated by a kind of heirloom sociology, as well as a sustainable farm-to-table tradition.

This past week, as part of the University of Chicago Press’s Spring 2015 sales conference, much of the Book Division took to a celebratory meal at Big Jones, and the photos below, by editorial director Alan Thomas, both show Fehribach in his element, as well as commemorate the occasion:

141202_BigJones_05

 

141202_BigJones_10

141202_BigJones_15

To read more about The Big Jones Cookbook, forthcoming in Spring 2015, click here.

 

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16. What Kids Want in Books

Recommend me!What Do You Want in Books?

I mentioned in a post yesterday that Scholastic just completed a national survey of children aged 6–17 to study their “attitudes and behaviors around reading books for fun.” According to 70% of kids aged 6–17, books that “make me laugh” rank highest on the list across all ages. Here are some more stats for What Kids Want in Books:

  • Children aged 6–8 are more likely than older children to want books with characters that “look like me.”
  • Children aged 9–11 are more likely than younger children to want books that “have a mystery or a problem to solve.”
  • Children aged 12–14 are more likely than older children to want books with “characters I wish I could be like because they are smart, strong or brave.”
  • Children aged 15–17 are more likely than younger children to want books that help them “forget about real life for a while.”

In addition, 73% of children aged 6–17 agree with the statement, “I would read more if I could find more books that I like.”

Do these statistics represent YOU? Leave a Comment to tell us your favorite book with a character who looks like you, or with a mystery, or with smart, strong characters. Tell us what you really want in books!

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17. Citizen: Jane Addams and the labor movement

arena_gay

On this day in 1931, Jane Addams became the first woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize. Read an excerpt from Louise W. Knight’s Citizen: Jane Addams and the Struggle for Democracy, about the ethics and deeply held moral beliefs permeating the labor movement—and Addams’s own relationship to it—after the jump.

***

From Chapter 13, “Claims” (1894)

On May 11 Addams, after giving a talk at the University of Wisconsin and visiting Mary Addams Linn in Kenosha, wrote Alice that their sister’s health was improving. The same day, a major strike erupted at the Pullman Car Works, in the southernmost part of Chicago. The immediate cause of the strike was a series of wage cuts the company had made in response to the economic crisis. Since September the company had hired back most of the workers it had laid off at the beginning of the depression, but during the same period workers’ wages had also fallen an average of 30 percent. Meanwhile, the company, feeling pinched, was determined to increase its profits from rents. In addition to the company’s refusing to lower the rent rate to match the wage cuts, its foremen threatened to fire workers living outside of Pullman who did not relocate to the company town. The result was that two-thirds of the workforce was soon living in Pullman. By April, many families were struggling to pay the rents and in desperate straits; some were starving. The company’s stance was firm. “We just cannot afford in the present state of commercial depression to pay higher wages,” Vice President Thomas H. Wickes said. At the same time, the company continued to pay its stockholders dividends at a the rate of 8 percent per annum, the same rate it had paid before the depression hit.

The workers had tried to negotiate. After threatening on May 5 to strike if necessary, leaders of the forty-six-member workers’ grievance committee met twice with several company officials, including, at the second meeting, George Pullman, the company’s founder and chief executive, to demand that the company reverse the wage cuts and reduce the rents. The company refused, and on May 11, after three of the leaders of the grievance committee had been fired and a rumor had spread that the company would lock out all employees at noon, twenty-five hundred of the thirty-one hundred workers walked out. Later that day, the company laid off the remaining six hundred. The strike had begun. “We struck at Pullman,” one worker said, “because we were without hope.”

For Addams, the coincidental timing of the strike and Mary’s illness, both of which would soon worsen, made each tragedy, if possible, a greater sorrow. The strike was a public crisis. Its eruption raised difficult questions for Addams about the ethics of the industrial relationship. What were George Pullman’s obligations to his employees? And what were his employees’ to him? Was it disloyal of him to treat his workers as cogs in his economic machine? Or was it disloyal of his workers to strike against an employer who supplied them with a fine town to live in? Who had betrayed whom? Where did the moral responsibility lie? Mary’s illness was Addams’s private crisis. Mary was the faithful and loving sister whose affection Addams had always relied on and whose life embodied the sacrifices a good woman made for the sake of family. Mary had given up her chance for further higher education for her family’s sake and had been a devoted wife to a husband who had repeatedly failed to support her and their children. The threat of her death stirred feelings of great affection and fears of desperate loss in Addams.

As events unfolded, the two crises would increasingly compete for Addams’s loyalty and time. She would find herself torn, unsure whether she should give her closest attention to her sister’s struggle against death or to labor’s struggle against the capitalist George Pullman. It was a poignant and unusual dilemma; still, it could be stated in the framework she had formulated in “Subjective Necessity”: What balance should she seek between the family and the social claim?

The causes of the Pullman Strike went deeper than the company’s reaction to the depression. For the workers who lived in Pullman, the cuts in wages and the high rents of 189394 were merely short-term manifestations of long-term grievances, all of them tied to company president George Pullman’s philosophy of industrial paternalism. These included the rules regarding life in Pullman, a privately owned community located within the city of Chicago. Pullman had built the town in 1880 to test his theory that if the company’s workers lived in a beautiful, clean, liquor- and sin-free environment, the company would prosper. Reformers, social commentators, and journalists across the country were fascinated by Pullman’s “socially responsible” experiment. Addams would later recall how he was “dined and feted throughout Europe . . . as a friend and benefactor of workingmen.” The workers, however, thought the Pullman Company exercised too much control. Its appointees settled community issues that elsewhere would have been dealt with by an elected government, company policy forbade anyone to buy a house, the town newspaper was a company organ, labor meetings were banned, and company spies were everywhere. Frustrated by this as well as by various employment practices, workers organized into unions according to their particular trades (the usual practice), and these various unions repeatedly struck Pullman Company in the late 1880s and early 1890s. The May 1894 strike was the first that was companywide.

Behind that accomplishment lay the organizing skills of George Howard, vice president of the American Railway Union (ARU), the new cross-trades railroad union that Eugene Debs, its president, had founded the previous year. To organize across trades was a bold idea. Howard had been in Chicago since March signing up members, and by early May he was guiding the workers in their attempted negotiations with the company. The ARU’s stated purpose was to give railroad employees “a voice in fixing wages and in determining conditions of employment.” Only one month earlier it had led railroad workers at the Great Northern Railroad through a successful strike. Thanks to the ARU as well as to the mediating efforts of some businessmen from St. Paul, Minnesota, voluntary arbitration had resolved the strike, and three-fourths of the wage cut of 30 percent had been restored. Impressed, 35 percent of Pullman’s workers joined the ARU in the weeks that followed, hoping that the new union could work the same magic on their behalf.

At first, the prospects for a similar solution at Pullman did not look promising. After the walkout, George Pullman locked out all employees and, using a business trip to New York as his excuse, removed himself from the scene. Meanwhile, a few days after the strike began, Debs, a powerful orator, addressed the strikers to give them courage. He had the rare ability to elevate a controversy about wages into a great moral struggle. The arguments he used that day, familiar ones in the labor movement, would be echoed in Jane Addams’s eventual interpretation of the Pullman Strike. “I do not like the paternalism of Pullman,” he said. “He is everlastingly saying, what can we do for the poor workingmen? . . . The question,” he thundered, “is what can we do for ourselves?”

At this point, the Civic Federation of Chicago decided to get involved. Its president, Lyman Gage, an enthusiast for arbitration, appointed a prestigious and diverse conciliation board to serve as a neutral third party to bring the disputing sides before a separate arbitration panel. Made up partly of members of the federation’s Industrial Committee, on which Addams sat, it was designed to be representative of various interests, particularly those of capital, labor, academia, and reform. It included bank presidents, merchants, a stockbroker, an attorney, presidents of labor federations, labor newspaper editors, professors, and three women civic activists: Jane Addams, Ellen Henrotin, and Bertha Palmer.

The board divided itself into five committees. In the early phase of the strike it would meet nightly, in Addams’s words, to “compare notes and adopt new tactics.” Having had some success in arranging arbitrations in the Nineteenth Ward, Addams was eager to see the method tried in the Pullman case. She would soon emerge as the driving force and the leading actor in the initiative.

The first question the board discussed was whether the Pullman workers wanted the strike to be arbitrated. Addams investigated the question by visiting the striking workers in Pullman, eating supper with some of the women workers, touring the tenement housing, and asking questions. Afterwards, she asked the president of the local ARU chapter, Thomas Heathcoate, and ARU organizer George Howard to allow the conciliation board to meet with the Strike Committee. Refusing her request, Howard told her that the ARU was willing to have the committee meet with the board but that first the Pullman Company would have to state its willingness to go to arbitration.

Meanwhile, three men from the conciliation board were supposed to try to meet with the Pullman Company. The board’s president, A. C. Bartlett, a businessman, was to arrange the meeting but, as of May 30, two weeks into the strike, he had done nothing. Frustrated, Addams stepped in. On June 1 she arranged for Bartlett, Ralph Easley (the Civic Federation’s secretary), and herself to meet with Vice President Wickes and General Superintendent Brown. At the meeting, which Bartlett failed to attend, Wickes merely repeated the company’s well-known position: that it had “nothing to arbitrate.”

Thwarted, Addams decided, with the board’s support, to try again to arrange for the board to meet with the Strike Committee. At a Conciliation Board meeting, Lyman Gage suggested that she propose that rent be the first issue to be arbitrated. Agreeing, Addams decided that, instead of taking the idea to the uncooperative Howard, she would take it over his head to Debs. Persuaded by Addams, Debs immediately arranged for members of the board to speak that night to the Strike Committee about the proposal. Once again, however, Addams’s colleagues failed to follow through. She was the only board member to turn up.

At the meeting, the strike leaders were suspicious, believing that arbitration was the company’s idea. No report survives of how Addams made her case to them, but one can glean impressions from a description of Addams that a reporter published in a newspaper article in June 1894. She described Addams as a “person of marked individuality[;] she strikes one at first as lacking in suavity and graciousness of manner but the impression soon wears away before [her] earnestness and honesty.” She was struck, too, by Addams’s paleness, her “deep” eyes, her “low and well-trained voice,” and they way her face was “a window behind which stands her soul.”

Addams must have made a powerful presentation to the Strike Committee. After she spoke, it voted to arbitrate not only the rents but any point. It was the breakthrough Addams had been hoping for. “Feeling that we had made a beginning toward conciliation,” Addams remembered, she reported her news to the board.

Meanwhile, with the workers and their families’ hunger and desperation increasing, tensions were mounting. Wishing to increase the pressure on the company, Debs had declared on June 1 that the ARU was willing to organize a nationwide sympathy boycott of Pullman cars among railroad employees generally if the company did not negotiate. The Pullman Company’s cars, though owned and operated by the company, were pulled by various railroads. A national boycott of Pullman cars could bring the nation’s already devastated economy to a new low point. Meanwhile, the ARU opened its national convention in Chicago on June 12. Chicago was nervous. Even before the convention began, Addams commented to William Stead, in town again for a visit, that “all classes of people” were feeling “unrest, discontent, and fear. We seem,” she added, “to be on the edge of some great upheaval but one can never tell whether it will turn out a tragedy or a farce.”

Several late efforts at negotiation were made. On June 15 an ARU committee of twelve, six of them Pullman workers, met with Wickes to ask again whether the company would arbitrate. His answer was the same: there was nothing to arbitrate and the company would not deal with a union. Soon afterward George Pullman returned to town. He agreed to meet with the conciliation board but, perhaps sensing the danger that the sincere and persuasive Jane Addams posed, only with its male members. At the meeting he restated his position: no arbitration. At this point, Addams recalled, the board’s effort collapsed in “failure.” The strike was now almost two months old. Addams had done everything she could to bring about arbitration. Resourceful, persistent, even wily, she had almost single-handedly brought the workers to the table, but because she was denied access to George Pullman on the pretext of her gender, she had failed to persuade the company. Her efforts, however, had made something very clear to herself and many others—that George Pullman’s refusal to submit the dispute to arbitration was the reason the strike was continuing.

The situation now became graver. At the ARU convention, the delegates voted on June 22 to begin a national boycott of Pullman cars on June 26 if no settlement were reached. Abruptly, on the same day as the vote, a powerful new player, the General Managers Association (GMA), announced its support for the company. The GMA had been founded in 1886 as a cartel to consider “problems of management” shared by the twenty-four railroad companies serving Chicago; it had dabbled in wage-fixing and had long been opposed to unions. George Pullman’s refusal to arbitrate had been, among other things, an act of solidarity with these railroad companies, his business partners. Disgusted with the outcome of the Great Northern Strike, they were determined to break the upstart ARU, which threatened to shrink the profits of the entire industry. Pullman departed the city again in late June for his vacation home in New Jersey, leaving the GMA in charge of the antistrike strategy. It announced that any railroad worker who refused to handle Pullman cars would be fired.

The ARU was undaunted. On June 26 the boycott began. Within three days, one hundred thousand men had stopped working and twenty railroads were frozen. Debs did not mince words in his message to ARU members and their supporters. This struggle, he said, “has developed into a contest between the producing classes and the money power of this country.” Class warfare was at hand.

Jane Addams was not in the city when the ARU voted for the boycott. She had gone to Cleveland to give a commencement speech on June 19 at the College for Women of Western Reserve University. But she was in Chicago when the boycott began. Chicago felt its impact immediately. There was no railroad service into or out of the city, and public transportation within the city also ceased as the streetcar workers joined the boycott. With normal life having ground to a halt, the city’s mood, which had been initially sympathetic to the workers, began to polarize along class lines. Working people’s sympathies for the railroad workers and hostility toward capitalists rose to a fever pitch while many people in the middle classes felt equally hostile toward the workers; some thought that the strikers should be shot. In Twenty Years Addams writes, “During all those dark days of the Pullman strike, the growth of class bitterness was most obvious.” It shocked her. Before the strike, she writes, “there had been nothing in my experience [that had] reveal[ed] that distinct cleavage of society which a general strike at least momentarily affords.”

The boycott quickly spread, eventually reaching twenty-seven states and territories and involving more than two hundred thousand workers. It had become the largest coordinated work stoppage in the nation’s history and the most significant exercise of union strength the nation had ever witnessed. The workers were winning through the exercise of raw economic power. Virtually the only railcars moving were the federal mail cars, which the boycotting railroad workers continued to handle, as required by federal law and as Debs had carefully instructed them. The railroad yards in the city of Chicago were full of striking workers and boycotters determined to make sure that other railroad cars did not move and to protect them from vandalism.

Now the GMA took aggressive steps that would change the outcome of the strike. On June 30 it used h its influence in Washington to arrange for its own lawyer, Edwin Walker, to be named a U.S. Special Attorney. Walker then hired four hundred unemployed men, deputized them as U.S. Marshals, armed them, and sent them to guard the federal mail cars in the railroad yards to be sure the mail got through. In the yards, the strikers and marshals eyed each other nervously.

Meanwhile, on June 29, Jane Addams’s family crisis worsened. Jane had visited Mary on June 28 but returned to Chicago the same day. That night she received word that her sister’s condition suddenly had become serious, and the following day she rushed back to Kenosha the next day accompanied by Mary’s son Weber Linn (apparently they traveled in a mail car thanks to Addams’s ties to the strikers). She deeply regretted having been gone so much. “My sister is so pleased to have me with her,” she wrote Mary Rozet Smith, “that I feel like a brute when I think of the days I haven’t been here.” As Addams sat by Mary’s bed in Kenosha, the situation in Chicago remained relatively calm. Nevertheless, the GMA now took two more steps that further drew the federal government into the crisis. Claiming that the strikers were blocking the movement of the federal mails (although the subsequent federal investigation produced no evidence that this was true), the GMA asked the U.S. attorney general to ask President Grover Cleveland to send federal troops to shut down the strike. Cleveland agreed, and on July 3 the first troops entered the city. The same day the attorney general ordered Special Attorney Walker to seek an injunction in federal court against the ARU in order to block the union from preventing workers from doing their work duties. The injunction was immediately issued.

By July 1 it was clear that Mary Addams Linn was dying. Addams wired her brother-in-law John and the two younger children, Esther, thirteen, and Stanley, who had recently turned eleven, to come from Iowa to Kenosha. By July 3 they had somehow reached Chicago but, because of the boycott, they could not find a train for the last leg of their trip. At last John signed a document relieving the railroad of liability; then, he, Esther, and Stanley boarded a train (probably a mail train) and within hours had arrived in Kenosha, protected, or so Esther later believed, by the fact that they were relatives of Jane Addams, “who was working for the strikers.” Mary’s family was now all gathered around her except for her oldest son, John, who was still in California. Unconscious by the time they arrived, she died on July 6.

Pullman strike
Illinois National Guard troops in front of the Arcade Building in Pullman during the Pullman Strike. [Neg. i21195aa.tif, Chicago Historical Society.]

While Jane Addams’s private world was crumbling, so was Chicago’s civic order. On July 4, one thousand federal troops set up camp around the Post Office and across the city, including the Pullman headquarters. On July 5 and 6 thousands of unarmed strikers and boycotters crowded the railroad yards, joined by various hangers-on—hungry, angry, unemployed boys and men. Many were increasingly outraged by the armed marshals and the troops’ presence. Suddenly a railroad agent shot one of them, and they erupted into violence. Hundreds of railroad cars burned as the troops moved in. Now the strikers were fighting not only the GMA but also the federal government. This had been the GMA’s aim all along. In the days to come, thousands more federal troops poured into the city.

After attending Mary’s funeral in Cedarville Jane Addams returned on July 9 to find Chicago an armed camp and class warfare on everyone’s minds. In working-class neighborhoods such as the Nineteenth Ward, people wore white ribbons in support of the strike and the boycott. Across town, middle-class people were greeted at their breakfast tables by sensational newspaper headlines claiming that the strikers were out to destroy the nation. One Tribune headline read, “Dictator Debs versus the Federal Government.” The national press echoed the theme of uncontrolled disorder. Harper’s Weekly called the strikers “anarchists.” And the nation remained in economic gridlock. Farmers and producers were upset that they could not move their produce to market. Passengers were stranded. Telegrams poured into the White House.

Like the strikers’ reputation, Hull House’s was worsening daily. Until the strike took place, Addams later recalled, the settlement, despite its radical Working People’s Social Science Club, had been seen as “a kindly philanthropic undertaking whose new form gave us a certain idealistic glamour.” During and after the strike, the situation “changed markedly.” Although Addams had tried to “maintain avenues of intercourse with both sides,” Hull House was now seen as pro-worker and was condemned for being so. Some of the residents were clearly pro-worker. Florence Kelley and one of her assistant factory inspectors, Alzina Stevens, befriended Debs during the strike and its aftermath. Stevens sheltered him for a time in her suburban home when authorities were trying to arrest him; Kelley tried to raise money for his bail after he was arrested later in July.

Addams and Hull House began to be severely criticized. Donors refused to give. Addams told John Dewey, who had come to town to take up his new position at the University of Chicago, that she had gone to meet with Edward Everett Ayer, a Chicago businessman with railroad industry clients who had often supported Hull House’s relief work, to ask him for another gift. Dewey wrote his wife, “[Ayer] turned on her and told her that she had a great thing and now she had thrown it away; that she had been a trustee for the interests of the poor, and had betrayed it [sic]—that like an idiot she had mixed herself in something which was none of her business and about which she knew nothing, the labor movement and especially Pullman, and had thrown down her own work, etc., etc.” That autumn Addams had “a hard time financing Hull-House,” a wealthy friend later recalled. “Many people felt she was too much in sympathy with the laboring people.” Addams merely notes in Twenty Years that “[in] the public excitement following the Pullman Strike Hull House lost many friends.”

And there were public criticisms as well. Some middle- and upper-class people attacked Addams, one resident remembered, as a “traitor to her class.” When Eugene Debs observed that “epithets, calumny, denunciation . . . have been poured forth in a vitriolic tirade to scathe those who advocated and practiced . . . sympathy,” one suspects that he had in mind the treatment Jane Addams received. Meanwhile, the workers were angry that Addams would not more clearly align herself with their cause. Her stance—that she would take no side—guaranteed that nearly everyone in the intensely polarized city would be angry with her.

Standing apart in this way was extremely painful. She was “very dependent on a sense of warm comradeship and harmony with the mass of her fellowmen,” a friend, Alice Hamilton, recalled. “The famous Pullman strike” was “for her the most painful of experiences, because . . . she was forced by conviction to work against the stream, to separate herself from the great mass of her countrymen.” The result was that Addams “suffered from . . . spiritual loneliness.” In these circumstances, no one could mistake Addams’s neutrality for wishy-washiness. Practicing neutrality during the Pullman Strike required integrity and courage. In being true to her conscience, she paid a tremendous price.

Of course, the strike was not the only reason she was lonely. Mary’s death was the other. And if, as we may suspect, Mary’s passing evoked the old trauma for Jane of their mother Sarah’s passing, not to mention the later losses of their sister Martha and their father, then the loneliness Addams felt in the last days of the strike and the boycott was truly profound.

She does not describe these feelings when she writes about the strike and Mary’s death in Twenty Years, but in the chapter about Abraham Lincoln, she conveys her feelings well enough. She tells about a walk she took in the worst days of the strike. In that “time of great perplexity,” she writes, she decided to seek out Lincoln’s “magnanimous counsel.” In the sweltering heat, dressed in the long skirt and long-sleeved shirtwaist that were then the fashion, Addams walked—because the streetcars were on strike—four and a half “wearisome” miles to St. Gaudens’s fine new statue of Lincoln, placed at the entrance to Lincoln Park just two years earlier, and read the words cut in stone at the slain president’s feet: “With charity towards all.” And then, still bearing on her shoulders the burden of public hatred that Lincoln had also borne, she walked the four and a half miles home.

Although the deployment of troops had broken the strike’s momentum, the government needed to put the strike’s leader behind bars to bring the strike to an end. On July 10 Debs was indicted by a grand jury for violating the injunction and arrested. Bailed out two days later, he was arrested again on July 17 to await trial in jail. However, when the government prosecutor, the ubiquitous Edwin Walker, became ill, the trial was postponed, and Debs went home to Indiana, where he collapsed gratefully into bed. The trial was held in November 1894; Debs would begin serving his six-month sentence in January 1895.

With Debs removed from leadership and fourteen thousand armed troops, police, and guardsmen bivouacked in Chicago, the strike and the boycott soon collapsed. On August 2 the ARU called off the strike, and on the same day the Pullman Company partially reopened. The railroads were soon running again. The anti-labor forces had won. Private industry and the federal government had shown that, united and with the power of the law on their side, no one, not even the hundreds of thousands of workers who ran the nation’s most crucial industry, could defeat them. If the strike had been successful, it would have turned the ARU into the nation’s most powerful union. Given that the strike failed, the opposite result took place. As the GMA had intended, the ARU died. After Debs was released from jail, he did not resurrect the union.

Although the strike was over, innumerable questions remained unanswered. For the country as a whole, whose only sources of information had been sensational news stories and magazine articles, the first question was: What were the facts? To sort these out, President Grover Cleveland appointed a three-person fact-finding commission to investigate and issue a report. Jane Addams would testify before the United States Strike Commission in August, as would George Pullman.

Meanwhile, for Addams and other labor and middle-class reformers in Chicago, the question was how to prevent or resolve future strikes. The Conciliation Board’s effort to promote voluntary arbitration had been promising, but its failure revealed, Addams believed, certain “weaknesses in the legal structure,” that is, in state and federal laws. On July 19, two days after Debs’ second arrest, as the troops began slowly to withdraw from the city, the Central Council of the Civic Federation met at the Commerce Club. At the meeting, M. C. Carroll, editor of a labor magazine and a member of the Conciliation Board, proposed that the federation host a conference “on arbitration or conciliation” to seek ideas about ways to avert “strikes and boycotts in the future.” The Central Council “enthusiastically endorsed” the proposal and appointed a committee to devise a plan. The hope was to do something immediately, while interest was high, to increase public support for arbitration legislation in Illinois and across the nation.

Addams missed the meeting because she was assisting at the Hull House Summer School at Rockford College, which began on July 10. But she was back in Chicago by the second week in August and had soon joined the arbitration conference committee. It devised a three-part strategy. First, it would convene “capital and labor” at a national conference titled “Industrial Conciliation and Arbitration” in Chicago in November to provide a forum for “calm discussion” of the questions raised by the strike and bring together information about methods of arbitration and conciliation. Second, conference participants from Illinois would press the Illinois General Assembly to pass a law creating a state board of arbitration. Third, a national commission would be named at the end of the conference to press for federal legislation. Elected as secretary to the committee, Jane Addams threw herself into organizing the event.

At the same time, she took on new family responsibilities. With Mary’s death, Jane Addams, at thirty-three, became the guardian and mother of the two younger Linn children. Their father had decided he could not afford to keep them. For the fall, she and Alice agreed that Stanley would live at Hull House and Esther would attend the preparatory boarding school that was affiliated with Rockford College. Weber, nineteen, was still a student at the University of Chicago. He would spend his vacations at Hull House. The oldest son, John, twenty-two, having returned from California, was once again a resident at Hull House and studying for the Episcopalian priesthood. Esther remembered Addams as taking “me and my brothers in as her own children. . . . [She] was a wonderful mother to us all.” Addams was particularly close to Stanley, who, according to Alice’s daughter Marcet, “became . . . Aunt Jane’s very own little boy[;] . . . he was always like a son to her.”

Jane Addams would honor this family claim for the rest of her life. Her niece and nephews, later joined by their children, would gather with her for holidays, live with her at Hull House at various times in their lives, and rely on her for advice, as well as for a steady supply of the somewhat shapeless sweaters that she would knit for them. Because few letters between Addams and the Linn children have survived, the historical record is mostly silent about the affectionate bonds that linked them and the faithfulness with which she fulfilled the maternal role. Her devotion arose from a deep understanding of what it felt like for a child to lose its mother and from a deep gratitude that she could give to Mary’s children the gift Mary had given her.

The Pullman Strike was a national tragedy that aroused fierce passions and left many scars. For many in the middle classes, including Jane Addams, some of the most painful scars were the memories of the intense hatred the strike had evoked between the business community and the workers. Was such class antagonism inevitable? Many were saying so, but Addams, committed as she was to Tolstoyan and Christian nonviolence, social Christian cooperation, and Comtean societal unity, found it impossible to accept the prevailing view. That fall she and John Dewey, now the first chair of the Department of Philosophy at the University of Chicago, discussed this question. In a letter to his wife Alice Dewey reported telling Addams that conflict was not only inevitable but possibly a good thing. Addams disagreed. She “had always believed and still believed,” he wrote, that “antagonism was not only useless and harmful, but entirely unnecessary.” She based her claim on her view that antagonisms were not caused by, in Dewey’s words, “objective differences, which would always grow into unity if left alone, but [by] a person’s mixing in his own personal reactions.” A person was antagonistic because he took pleasure in opposing others, because he desired not to be a “moral coward,” or because he felt hurt or insulted. These were all avoidable and unnecessary reactions. Only evil, Addams said, echoing Tolstoy, could come from antagonism.

During their conversation, she asked Dewey repeatedly what he thought. Dewey admitted that he was uncomfortable with Addams’s theory. He agreed that personal reactions often created antagonism, but as for history, he was enough of a social Darwinist and a Hegelian to believe that society progressed via struggle and opposition. He questioned her. Did she not think that, in addition to conflict between individuals, there were conflicts between ideas and between institutions, for example, between Christianity and Judaism and between “Labor and Capital”? And was not the “realization of . . . antagonism necessary to an appreciation of the truth and to a consciousness of growth”?

Again she disagreed. To support her case Addams gave two examples of apparently inevitable conflicts involving ideas or institutions that she interpreted differently. When Jesus angrily drove the moneychangers out of the temple, she argued, his anger was personal and avoidable. He had “lost his faith,” she said, “and reacted.” Or consider the Civil War. Through the antagonism of war, we freed the slaves, she observed, but they were still not free individually, and in addition we have had to “pay the costs of war and reckon with the added bitterness of the Southerner besides.” The “antagonisms of institutions,” Dewey told Alice, summarizing Addams’s response, “were always” due to the “injection of the personal attitude and reaction.”

Dewey was stunned and impressed. Addams’s belief struck him as “the most magnificent exhibition of intellectual & moral faith” that he had ever seen. “[W]hen you think,” he wrote Alice, “that Miss Addams does not think this as a philosophy, but believes it in all her senses & muscles—Great God.” Dewey, gripped by the power of Addams’s grand vision, told Alice, “I never had anything take hold of me so.”

But his intellect lagged behind. Struggling to find a way to reconcile his and Addams’s views, Dewey attempted a formulation that honored Addams’s devotion to unity, which he shared, while retaining the principle of antagonistic development that Addams rejected but he could not abandon. “[T]he unity [is not] the reconciliation of opposites,” he explained to his wife. Rather, “opposites [are] the unity in its growth.” But he knew he had avoided a real point of disagreement between them. He admitted to Alice, “[M]y pride of intellect . . . revolts at thinking” that conflict between ideas or institutions “has no functional value.” His and Addams’s disagreement—was it an antagonism?—was real, and in discovering it, the two had taken each other’s measure. Addams’s principled vision and spiritual charisma had met their match in the cool machinery of John Dewey’s powerful mind.

Two days later Dewey sent Addams a short note in which he retracted part of what he had said. He was now willing to agree, he wrote, that a person’s expectation of opposition was in and of itself not good and even that it caused antagonism to arise. “[T]he first antagonism always come[s] back to the assumption that there is or may be antagonism,” he wrote, and this assumption is “bad.” In other words, he was agreeing with Addams’s points that antagonism was evil and that it always began in the feelings or ideas of the individual. Dewey did not, however, retract his claim that conflict had its historical uses. These were, as he had said, to appreciate truth and to be conscious of its growth, that is, its spread. He was speaking as the Christian idealist he still was—someone who saw truth as God’s revelation. Antagonism, in other words, helped bring man to see the truth, and this was its value.

When Dewey agreed with Addams that opposition originated in individual feelings, he was joining her in rejecting the usual view that objective differences justified antagonism. This was the view that unions held. Workers believed that the antagonism between themselves and employers arose because workers lacked something real and necessary: sufficient negotiating power in the relationship. In denying this, Dewey and Addams were being, in the simplest sense, determinedly apolitical. Addams, despite her recent involvement with strikes and politics, still refused to believe that actual conditions could provide legitimate grounds for opposition. Her idealism, expressed in her fierce commitment to cooperation, Christian love, nonresistance, and unity, stood like a wall preventing her from seeing that power, as much as personal feelings, soured human relations. A strong mind is both an asset and a liability.

That fall, Hull House, returning to normalcy, resumed its rich schedule of classes, club meetings, lectures, and exhibits. As usual, Addams was seriously worried about the settlement’s finances. The size of the total deficit for the year is unknown, but her awareness that the household operating account was $888 in arrears surfaced in a letter to Mary. As she had in previous years, Addams paid for part of the debt herself (how much is unclear; the documentation does not survive). Mary Rozet Smith, among others, sent a generous check. “It gives me a lump in my throat,” Addams wrote her in appreciation, “to think of the dollars you have put . . . into the . . . prosaic debt when there are so many more interesting things you might have done and wanted to do.” Aware of the delicacy of asking a close friend for donations, Addams sounded a note of regret. “It grieves me a little lest our friendship should be jarred by all these money transactions.”

As before, the residents were in the dark about the state of Hull House’s finances. Despite her intentions to keep them informed, Addams had convened no Residents’ Meeting between April and October, perhaps because the strike and Mary’s illness had absorbed so much of her attention. Finally, in early November she and the residents had “a long solemn talk,” as she wrote Mary. She had laid “before folks” the full situation and asked them “for help and suggestions.” And she had vowed that she would “never . . .let things get so bad again” before she consulted them. “I hope,” she told Mary, “we are going to be more intimate and mutually responsible on the financial side.”

Addams was renewed in her determination for two reasons. First, there was the problem of her own worsening finances. Since July she had assumed the new financial burden, apparently without any help from Alice, of raising Mary’s two younger children. Second, there was her increasing fear, as the depression deepened and donations dropped because of Hull House’s involvement with the Pullman Strike, that her personal liability for Hull House’s debts could literally put her in the Dunning poorhouse. Meanwhile, she pushed herself to speak as often as she could to earn lecture fees. In October she reported to Alice that she had given five talks in one week. In November, she gave lectures in three states—Illinois, Wisconsin, and Michigan. It was all that she could think of to do: to work harder.

Hull House was doing well enough by other measures. The residents’ group continued to grow. Despite the house’s recently stained reputation and the risky state of its finances, five new residents arrived, all women, bringing the total to twenty. For 1894–95, the residents had decided, probably at Addams’s urging, to limit the size of the residents, group to that number. There was now a good mix of old and new, with the majority, like Starr, Lathrop, and Kelley, having been there two years or more. The number of men had shrunk from seven to two, but in a few years it would be back to five. Addams, as always, took her greatest pleasure in the effervescent dailiness of it all. The settlement was first and foremost something “organic,” a “way of life,” she told an audience at the University of Chicago that fall.

Furthermore, the residents’ book of maps was moving toward completion. Conceived originally as a way to publicize some of the data about the neighborhood from the Department of Labor study, it had expanded to include a collection of essays on various related subjects and had acquired a sober New York publisher, Thomas Y. Crowell and Company, and a glorious title,Hull-House Maps and Papers: A Presentation of Nationalities and Wages in a Congested District of Chicago, Together with Comments and Essays on Problems Growing Out of the Social Conditions. The byline, it was agreed, would read “Residents of Hull-House.” It would be published in March 1895. Five of the essays, those by Kelley, Lathrop, Starr, and Addams, were much-expanded versions of the presentations they had made at the Congress on Social Settlements the previous year. Five others rounded out the collection. These dealt with the Bohemians, the Italians, and the Jews of the neighborhood, the maps, and the wages and expenses of cloakmakers in Chicago and New York. The maps were the book’s original inspiration and its most extravagant feature. Printed on oiled paper, folded and tucked into special slots in the book’s front and back covers, they displayed, block by block and in graphic, color-coded detail, where people of different nationalities lived in the ward and the range of wages they earned.

Addams, happy to be back in the editor’s chair, wrote the prefatory note, edited essays, and wrote the meaty appendix that described the settlement’s activities and programs. The book’s title was likely also her handiwork. Descriptive, indeed, exhaustive, it was the sort of title in which she specialized. As she once admitted to Weber Linn, “I am very poor at titles.” The book was very close to her heart. When she wrote Henry Demarest Lloyd on December 1 to thank him for sending the house a copy of his Wealth Against Commonwealth, she observed, “I have a great deal of respect for anyone who writes a good book.” After Maps was published she noted to those to whom she sent copies, “We are very proud of the appearance of the child.”

Jane Addams’s contribution to Maps was her essay “The Settlement as a Factor in the Labor Movement.” Her intention was to give a history of Hull House’s relations with unions as a sort of case study and to examine why and how settlements should be engaged with the labor movement. The piece is straightforward in tone, nuanced, not polemical. In it she settles fully into the even-handed interpretive role she had first attempted in her speech on domestic servants eighteen months earlier.

But the essay also burns with the painful knowledge she gained from the Pullman Strike. She wrestles with the tension between the labor movement’s loyalty to its class interests and her own vision of a classless, universalized, democratic society. And she probes the philosophical question she and Dewey had been debating: Are (class) antagonisms inevitable? Are antagonisms useful? The resulting essay was the most in-depth exploration of the subject of class that Addams would ever write. She was trying to find her way back from the edge of the cliff—class warfare—to which the Pullman Strike had brought her and the nation.

On the question of what the strike accomplished, her thoughts had shifted somewhat. Although she had told Dewey that antagonism was always useless, she argues in “The Settlement as a Factor” that strikes, which were certainly were a form of antagonism, can be useful and necessary. Strikes are often “the only method of arresting attention to [the workers’] demands”; they also offer the permanent benefits of strengthening of the ties of “brotherhood” among the strikers and producing (at least when successful) a more “democratic” relation between workers and their employer. Perhaps Dewey had been more persuasive than he realized.

She still felt, however, that personal emotion was the main cause of antagonisms, including strikes. She admits that labor has a responsibility to fight for the interests of the working people (that is, more leisure and wealth) but only because achieving them would help the workingman feel less unjustly treated. She charges labor with storing up of “grudges” against “capitalists” and calls this “selfish.” She ignores the question of whether low wages and long hours are fair. Social justice is not a touchstone for her arguments in this essay.

Instead, Addams stresses the ideal she had emphasized since coming to Chicago: that of a society united by its sense of common humanity. She writes prophetically of “the larger solidarity which includes labor and capital” and that is based on a “notion of universal kinship” and “the common good.” One might read into her argument the conclusion of social justice, yet the principle remains uninvoked. Instead, Addams stays focused on feelings. She is calling for sympathy for others’ suffering, not for a change in workers’ physical condition.

Addams disapproves of capitalism but not because of its effects on the workers. The moral failings of the individual capitalist trouble her. She slips in a rather radical quotation by an unnamed writer: “The crucial question of the time is, ‘In what attitude stand ye toward the present industrial system? Are you content that greed . . . shall rule your business life, while in your family and social life you live so differently? Shall Christianity have no play in trade?’” In one place, although only one place, she takes workers’ perspective and refers to capitalists as “the power-holding classes.” (Here at last was a glancing nod toward power.) The closest she comes to making a social justice argument is in a sentence whose Marxist flavor, like the previous phrase, suggests Florence Kelley’s influence, yet it, too, retains Addams’s characteristic emphasis on feelings. She hopes there will come a time “when no factory child in Chicago can be overworked and underpaid without a protest from all good citizens, capitalist and proletarian.” While Debs had wanted to arouse middle-class sympathies as a ways to improve the working conditions of the Pullman laborers, Addams wanted the labor movement to cause society to be more unified in its sympathies. Their means and ends were reversed.

Addams found the idea that labor’s organizing efforts could benefit society compelling. “If we can accept” that possibility, she adds, then the labor movement is “an ethical movement.” The claim was a startling one for her to make. It seems the strike had shown her at least one moral dimension to the workers’ struggle. The negative had become the potentially positive. Instead of seeing labor’s union organizing as a symptom of society’s moral decay, as she once had and many other middle-class people still did, she was considering the hypothesis that labor organizing was a sign of society’s moral redemption.

The Pullman Strike also cracked her moral absolutism. In “The Settlement as a Factor” she argues for the first time that no person or group can be absolutely right or absolutely wrong. “Life teaches us,” she writes, that there is “nothing more inevitable than that right and wrong are most confusingly mixed; that the blackest wrong [can be] within our own motives.” When we triumph, she adds, we bear “the weight of self-righteousness.” In other words, no one—not unions and working-class people, not businesses and middle-class people, not settlement workers and other middle-class reformers—could claim to hold or ever could hold the highest moral ground. The absolute right did not exist.

For Addams, rejecting moral absolutism was a revolutionary act. She had long believed that a single true, moral way existed and that a person, in theory, could find it. This conviction was her paternal inheritance (one recalls her father’s Christian perfectionism) and her social-cultural inheritance. Moral absolutism was the rock on which her confident Anglo-American culture was grounded. (It is also the belief that most sets the nineteenth century in the West apart from the twenty-first century.) Now she was abandoning that belief. In the territory of her mind, tectonic plates were shifting and a new land mass of moral complexity was arising.

In the fall of 1894, as she was writing “The Settlement as a Factor,” this new perspective became her favorite theme. In October she warned the residents of another newly opened settlement, Chicago Commons, “not to be alarmed,” one resident recalled, “if we found our ethical standards broadening as we became better acquainted with the real facts of the lives of our neighbors.” That same month, speaking to supporters of the University of Chicago Settlement, she hinted again at the dangers of moral absolutism. Do not, she said, seek “to do good.” Instead, simply try to understand life. And when a group of young men from the neighborhood told her they proposed to travel to New York City that fall to help end political corruption and spoke disdainfully of those who were corrupt, she admonished them against believing that they were purer than others and asked them if they knew what harm they did in assuming that they were right and others were wrong.

What had she seen during the Pullman Strike that led to this new awareness? She had seen the destructive force of George Pullman’s moral self-righteousness. It seemed to her that his lack of self-doubt, that is, his unwillingness to negotiate, had produced a national tragedy; his behavior and its consequences had revealed the evil inherent in moral absolutism. In Twenty Years she writes of how, in the midst of the strike’s worst days, as she sat by her dying sister’s bedside, she was thinking about “that touch of self-righteousness which makes the spirit of forgiveness well-nigh impossible.”

She grounded her rejection of absolute truth in her experience. “Life teaches us,” she wrote. This was as revolutionary for her as the decision itself. In “Subjective Necessity” she had embraced experience as a positive teacher in a practical way. Here she was allowing experience to shape her ethics. The further implication was that ethics might evolve, but the point is not argued in “The Settlement as a Factor.” Still, in her eyes ideas no longer had the authority to establish truth that they once had. Her pragmatism was strengthening, but it had not yet blossomed into a full-fledged theory of truth.

The Pullman Strike taught her in a compelling way that moral absolutism was dangerous, but she had been troubled by its dangers before. She had made her own mistakes and, apparently, a whole train of them related to self-righteousness. The details have gone unrecorded, but they made her ready to understand, and not afterwards forget, something James O. Huntington, the Episcopal priest who had shared the podium with her at the Plymouth conference, had said in a speech at Hull House the year before the strike. “I once heard Father Huntington say,” she wrote in 1901, that it is “the essence of immorality to make an exception of one’s self.” She elaborated. “[T]o consider one’s self as . . . unlike the rank and file is to walk straight into the pit of self-righteousness.” As Addams interpreted Huntington, he meant there was no moral justification for believing in one’s superiority, not even a belief that one was right and the others wrong.

A deeply held, central moral belief is like a tent pole: it influences the shape of the entire tent that is a person’s thought. A new central belief is like a taller or shorter tent pole; it requires the tent to take a new shape. The tent stakes must be moved. Jane Addams had decided there was no such thing as something or someone that was purely right or purely wrong, but the rest of her thought had yet to be adjusted. Among other things, she still believed that a person of high culture was superior to those who lacked it; that is, she still believed that cultural accomplishment could justify self-righteousness.

Some hints of this can be found in the adjectives Addams attaches to democracy in “The Settlement as a Factor.” After proposing that the workers might lead the ethical movement of democracy, she anticipates the fear her readers might feel at this idea. “We must learn to trust our democracy,” she writes, “giant-like and threatening as it may appear in its uncouth strength and untried applications.” Addams was edging toward trusting that working-class people, people without the cultural training in “the best,” could set their own course. Such trust, should she embrace it, would require her to go beyond her old ideas—her enthusiasm for egalitarian social etiquette, for the principle of cooperation, and for the ideal of a unified humanity. Not feeling such trust yet, she was unable to give working people’s power a ringing endorsement. The essay is therefore full of warnings about the negative aspects of the labor movement.

These radical claims—that the labor movement was or could become ethical, that the movement was engaged in a struggle that advanced society morally, that capitalists were greedy and ethically compromised, and that there was no absolute right or wrong—opened up a number of complicated issues. Addams decided she needed to write a separate essay—would it be a speech?—to make these points more fully and to make them explicitly, as honesty compelled her to do, about the Pullman strike. Sometime in 1894, she began to write it. A page from the first draft, dated that year, survives with the title “A Modern Tragedy.” In its first paragraph she writes that, because we think of ourselves as modern, “it is hard to remember that the same old human passions persist” and can often lead to “tragedy.” She invited her readers to view “one of these great tragedies” from “the historic perspective,” to seek an “attitude of mental detachment” and “stand aside from our personal prejudices.” Still grieving over what had happened, Addams was hoping that the wisdom of culture, of the humanities, of Greek and Shakespearean tragedy could give her the comfort of emotional distance. But she had pulled too far back. The opening was so blandly vague and philosophical that no one could tell what the essay was about. She set the piece aside.

To read more about Citizen, click here.

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18. Falling Into Place: Review Haiku

Add to your list of
Debuts That Knock It Out of
the Park. Powerful.

Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang. Greenwillow, 2014, 304 pages.

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19. Holiday Present Personality Quiz

giftWhich Holiday Present Is Best For You?

It’s holiday time and everyone is probably asking you what you want for Christmas or Hanukkah. Well, here is a personality quiz to help you simplify your answer. Answer these questions to find out your holiday present personality.

  1. It’s a snow day! You spend the day . . . A) outside building snowmen and having sled races with your friends. B) reorganizing your closet and playing dress-up. C) making a dent in your ever-growing to-read list. D) learning how to knit. E) playing your favorite video game.
  2. Your class is having a holiday party and you’re in charge of dessert. What do you bring? A) Whatever your mom picks out will be fine. B) Cupcakes from your favorite (trendiest) bakery in town. C) An apple pie made from a recipe that’s been in your family for generations. D) A cake you decorated yourself. E) You were supposed to bring dessert??? Oops.
  3. Your mom wants to take a family photo for the holidays. You pick an outfit that . . . A) looks like your regular everyday uniform of jeans and a T-shirt. B) took forty hours to plan because you gotta look hip and perfect! C) is sensible and cute, so you wear your favorite winter sweater. D) is colorful and bright. E) represents your unique and quirky personality: your favorite tee and a Santa hat.
  4. Your favorite subject in school is . . . A) Phys Ed. B) Social Studies. C) Language Arts. D) Art. E) Computers.
  5. ‘Tis the season to give! You give back during the holidays by . . .  A) organizing a fundraiser to help preserve wildlife habitats. B) running a clothing drive. C) donating loved books to your local library. D) volunteering in an animal shelter. E) serving meals at a homeless shelter.
  6. Your favorite book genre is . . .  A) non-fiction. B) realistic fiction. C) fantasy. D) mystery. E) funny books.
  7. Your favorite food is . . . A) sandwiches. B) sushi. C) pizza. D) chocolate. E) ice cream.
  8. Your dream winter getaway vacation is . . . A) a snowboarding trip. B) a fabulous city with excellent shopping options. C) a tropical beach where you can stretch out and read a great book. D) a safari. E) a rainforest adventure.
  9. Your friends would best describe you as . . . A) intense. B) stylish. C) loyal. D) artistic. E) funny.

If you answered mostly A’s: Sports and outdoor adventure gear
You’re super-curious and love a physical challenge, so equipment to prepare you for action-packed adventures is your holiday present personality. As someone who’s upbeat and likes to stay active, you’re happy to spend all winter out in the snow playing games with your friends. What could make those games better than a new football or walkie-talkie set? You keep doing you, kid adventurer. Just remember to leave outdoor activities outdoors — slam-dunks are best executed on the basketball court, not in the living room!

If you answered mostly B’s: Clothing
You’re a whip-smart fashion lover who will settle for nothing less than the perfect winter outfit this holiday season. You understand that staying warm doesn’t mean you have to look dumpy — layers are your best friend! And you know how to rock them with flair. A little wardrobe update is all it takes to get you in the holiday spirit this season. Everyone knows you’re at least ten steps ahead of the curve and are willing to wear some of the most outrageous things in the name of style. Turn that freshly-shoveled driveway into your personal catwalk!

If you answered mostly C’s: Books
Your friends know you as a trustworthy, loyal, and dependable person who will stick it out to the very end. Your personality is low-key and thoughtful, and the gift of a book picked out just for you is guaranteed to brighten up your holiday season. A classic gift that never goes out of style, books are the perfect present for a laid-back but brainy friend. After all, what better way is there to pass the cold winter months than inside curled up with an awesome book?

If you answered mostly D’s: Art supplies
You’re a creative, free-spirited individual who likes to march to the beat of your own drum. That’s why people love you! You want a gift that will allow you to express yourself, so your holiday present personality is the most creative of all. You’re happiest spending the holiday season constructing masterpieces and learning new arts and crafts. All of your friends are going to have a great time telling everyone that they knew you before you were famous.

If you answered mostly E’s: Video games
Real life is awesome, but you’d rather be calling the shots in a different universe — which is why your holiday present drops you off in a virtual world! You’re a risk-taker and like to choose your own adventure. Whether you’re battling dragons or racing cars (or both), your fantasy universe is full of fast-paced action and excitement. You have great energy and really pump up everyone around you. It’s not going to be a party without you around!

Hope this helps you with your holiday list! Leave a Comment to tell us what gifts you are hoping to get this year.

En-Szu, STACKS Writer

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20. The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place: Review Haiku

Way more fun than a
Victorian setting has
any right to be.

The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place by Julie Berry. Roaring Brook, 2014, 351 pages.

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21. Choosing the World Our Students Read

13089CT01.tifteaching toleranceEmily Chiariello is a Teaching and Learning Specialist with Teaching Tolerance. She has 15 years’ experience as a classroom teacher, professional development and curriculum designer in public, charter and alternative school settings, as well as with non-profit organizations. She holds a master’s degree in philosophy and social policy and is certified in secondary social studies.

Here she discusses Teaching Tolerance’s new curriculum tool, “Project Appendix D,” that empowers educators to identify texts that both meet the demands of the Common Core Standards and reflect the world in which our students live. This blog post was originally posted at the Teaching Tolerance blog.

Teaching Tolerance image (2)

by Emily Chiariello

Does the Common Core limit what texts teachers can use? While many people think so, we don’t. Teaching Tolerance believes it is possible—and important—to choose texts that are both rigorous and relevant. Read on to learn about a new approach to text selection: Appendix D: A Tool for Selecting Diverse Texts. This exciting project goes beyond the resources offered in Appendices A and B and offers a new world of possibilities within literacy instruction.

Appendices A and B

Teachers are expected—per the CCSS’s Appendix A—to select more complex texts, teach more nonfiction and ask more text-dependent questions. But do they feel less empowered to choose readings about social justice or to locate texts that reflect the identities and histories of their students and communities? We’re concerned the answer is yes. We know that teachers want texts that mirror their students’ lives. And to achieve equitable outcomes, the Common Core must be implemented in culturally responsive ways that address social emotional learning as well as academic goals. Yet, this kind of implementation is not happening in most districts.

At first glance, one might think that the “Reader and Task” portion of the text selection model in Appendix A makes room for culturally responsive instructional decisions. Instead, there’s only a brief and bland mention of “reader variables”—motivation, knowledge and experiences—ultimately eclipsed by the other two measures: hard Lexile scores (quantitative) and subjective interpretations of meaning and purpose (qualitative).

pull-quoteAnd then there’s the stark imprint of privilege found in the gaps and silences of Appendix B, a list of “text exemplars” that meet the aforementioned approach to text complexity, quality and range. Too many publishers—and districts, too—have interpreted the text exemplars listed in Appendix B as a required reading list.

Woefully few examples of cultural relevance can be found in “Common Core-aligned” materials and trainings, including Appendix B. Jane M. Gangi, professor of education at Mount Saint Mary College, has analyzed Appendix B and found that, of the 171 texts recommended for children in K-5, only 18 are by authors of color, and few reflect the lives of children of color and children in poverty.

Appendix D

We believe that educators—teachers, librarians and literacy specialists—who work in classrooms every day are in the best positions to identify texts that engage diverse students.

That’s why we’re excited to share our new project: Appendix D: A Tool for Selecting Diverse Texts. Traditionally, tools that support text selection have focused on quantitative and qualitative measures only. But Appendix D promotes a multi-dimensional approach to text selection that prioritizes complexity as well as critical literacy and cultural responsiveness.

Appendix D empowers educators to rely on their knowledge of their students, rather than a prepopulated lists of titles, when selecting texts. The tool walks users through four distinct—but interconnected—text-selection considerations: complexity, diversity and representation, critical literacy, and reader and task. And it’s an editable PDF, allowing folks to document, save and share their text-selection process. (Be sure to download to unlock the editing capabilities.)

So, why a tool and not a list? There are commendable lists out there. Gangi and the Collaborative for Equity Literacy Learning (CELL) assembled an alternative list of multicultural titles, but they are not leveled for teachers to assess text complexity. Others, like publishers LEE & LOW, work to bring more diversity and representation into classroom libraries, and to the task of text selection. However, none of the lists we’ve investigated encompass texts that are both culturally relevant and meet the Common Core’s requirements for complexity. And, unless it is dynamic, any list of diverse books is only as diverse as the person—or people—who made it.

We hope the TT community will use Appendix D to help us grow a dynamic and diverse list of texts based on the four considerations and on the diverse needs of our students. We’ve started with the titles currently found in Perspectives for a Diverse America, our new anti-bias curriculum. In the months to come, as you use the Appendix D tool in your own practice, think of which complex, culturally relevant titles you think your fellow social justice educators would want to know about—and be on the lookout for an invitation to submit your texts to the ever-growing, ever-changing TT community list!

Paulo Freire wrote that, when we read words, we read the world. Don’t we owe it to our students to consider them when choosing those words?Gracias


Filed under: Common Core State Standards, Educator Resources, ELL/ESL and Bilingual Books, Guest Blogger Post, Race Tagged: CCSS, children's books, close reading, diversity, Educators, ELA common core standards, multicultural books, Reading Aloud, reading comprehension

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22. Hits the hard stuff; sees stars

My audience-versus-subject preposition obsession is well documented. “About not for 4eva,” and whatnot. So can you see why The Bunker Diary reviews fill me with such perverse delight?

“The Bunker Diary: why wish this book on a child?

“The winner of this year’s Carnegie Medal for an outstanding book for children is a vile and dangerous story. Kevin Brooks’s book contains heroin addiction, attempted rape, torture and murder[…]

“As Brooks revealed in his acceptance speech, he fought for 10 years to get this novel into print, and was repeatedly told that it wouldn’t work for children unless he changed the plot to allow for the possibility of hope. He won the day and, as it stands, his novel is a uniquely sickening read.”

The Telegraph

“Brooks’ latest is not an easy novel, but it’s one that begs for rereading to suss the intricacies of its construction of plot, character development and insight into the human condition.

“Not for everyone, this heady novel is worthy of study alongside existentialist works of the 20th century.”

—starred, Kirkus

It's not a title for everyone: some may be unsettled by the harsh realities the protagonist faces, while others will be fascinated by the simple complexity of Brooks's prose and truly effective storytelling. A unique choice that will get teens talking."

—starred, School Library Journal

"When this latest book from controversy-stirrer Brooks won the 2014 Carnegie Medal in the UK, up piped a familiar chorus of damnation from the frequently scandalized. It was too bleak, too dark, not for kids. The naysayers almost got it right: it is, rather,for everyone, playing just as well as can't-stop-reading entertainment as it does an allegorical passage into darkness.”

—starred, Booklist

Delightful. Just delightful. Keep ‘em coming. (Gratuitous Merle GIF for Carrie. Mr. Kraus of Booklist is welcome over for a drink anytime.)

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23. Holiday Song Mashup

Christmas cookiesTest Your Holiday Song Smarts!

You know it’s finally the holiday season when you turn on the radio and it’s nothing but your favorite holiday jams! Nothing gets me into the holiday spirit like a great holiday song. So I thought it would be a great idea to give y’all a trivia quiz featuring mashed-up, mixed-up holiday song titles!

In case you’re new to the world of title combination quizzes, here’s how to play. Below is a list of 10 holiday songs, but they’re not the songs you’re familiar with. I combined two song titles together, and you get to determine the two original song titles!

For example, “We Wish You A Merry Silent Night” is a mashup of “We Wish You A Merry Christmas” and “Silent Night.”

Can you decode the titles below?

  1. All I Want for Christmas is Bell Rock
  2. Do You Want to Build a Red-Nosed Reindeer?
  3. Rockin’ Around the Navidad
  4. Holly Jolly Mean One, Mister Grinch
  5. It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like the Most Wonderful Time of the Year
  6. Where Are You Silver Bells?
  7. Deck the Christmas Wrapping
  8. 12 Days of Comin’ To Town
  9. Let It Snow Home for Christmas
  10. Have Yourself a Merry Little Sleigh Ride
  11. Frosty the Jingle Bells

BONUS: Auld Lang Wenceslas

Can you figure out what the original song titles are? Share your answers in the Comments below!

En-Szu, STACKS Writer

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24. Free e-book for December: Swordfish

9780226922904

Our free e-book for December is renowned marine biologist Richard Ellis’s Swordfish: A Biography of the Ocean Gladiator.
***
A perfect fish in the evolutionary sense, the broadbill swordfish derives its name from its distinctive bill—much longer and wider than the bill of any other billfish—which is flattened into the sword we all recognize. And though the majesty and allure of this warrior fish has commanded much attention—from adventurous sportfishers eager to land one to ravenous diners eager to taste one—no one has yet been bold enough to truly take on the swordfish as a biographer. Who better to do so than Richard Ellis, a master of marine natural history?Swordfish: A Biography of the Ocean Gladiatoris his masterly ode to this mighty fighter.
The swordfish, whose scientific name means “gladiator,” can take on anyone and anything, including ships, boats, sharks, submarines, divers, and whales, and in this book Ellis regales us with tales of its vitality and strength. Ellis makes it easy to understand why it has inspired so many to take up the challenge of epic sportfishing battles as well as the longline fishing expeditions recounted by writers such as Linda Greenlaw and Sebastian Junger. Ellis shows us how the bill is used for defense—contrary to popular opinion it is not used to spear prey, but to slash and debilitate, like a skillful saber fencer. Swordfish, he explains, hunt at the surface as well as thousands of feet down in the depths, and like tuna and some sharks, have an unusual circulatory system that gives them a significant advantage over their prey, no matter the depth in which they hunt. Their adaptability enables them to swim in waters the world over—tropical, temperate, and sometimes cold—and the largest ever caught on rod and reel was landed in Chile in 1953, weighing in at 1,182 pounds (and this heavyweight fighter, like all the largest swordfish, was a female).
Ellis’s detailed and fascinating, fact-filled biography takes us behind the swordfish’s huge, cornflower-blue eyes and provides a complete history of the fish from prehistoric fossils to its present-day endangerment, as our taste for swordfish has had a drastic effect on their population the world over. Throughout, the book is graced with many of Ellis’s own drawings and paintings, which capture the allure of the fish and bring its splendor and power to life for armchair fishermen and landlocked readers alike.
To download your free copy, click here.

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25. Favorite Funny Books

Funny Books FiestaScholastic wants to know . . . What are your favorite funny books?

Scholastic just completed a national survey of children aged 6–17 to study their “attitudes and behaviors around reading books for fun.” According to 70% of kids aged 6–17, books that “make me laugh” rank highest on the list across all ages.

Here at the STACKS, we already know you love funny books, but we want to know which funny book is your favorite and why?

Please tell us in the Comments! And if you are among the 30% of kids who did not pick funny books as your favorite, tell us what is YOUR favorite kind of book to read for fun?

 

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