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1. Changing Communities with Books: The Citizen Power Project

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In November, First Book and its partners the American Federation of Teachers and the Albert Shanker Institute presented the Citizen Power Project; a challenge to educators nationwide to identify, plan, and implement a civic engagement project important to their students, school or community.

Fifteen projects received grants to help turn big plans into big impact.

The projects represent a wide range of civic engagement – from teaching empathy and healthy habits to supporting student voices and helping the environment.

So far, the civic impact of these projects has been phenomenal.

In Framingham, Massachusetts, middle school English teacher Lori DiGisi knows her students don’t always feel empowered. “They feel like the adults rule everything and that they don’t really have choices,” she explains. “The issue I’m trying to solve is for a diverse group of students to believe that they can make a difference in their community.”

Using the First Book Marketplace, Lori and her class chose to read books about young people who did something to change the world — books with diverse characters that each student could identify with. Through stories, Lori’s students have begun to understand that they too can make a difference.

From here, Lori plans to narrow the focus onto the issue of improving working conditions. Students will interview custodians, secretaries, and cafeteria workers in their school to understand what their working conditions are like and ask the all-important question: what can we, as middle schoolers, do to make your working conditions better?

claudine-quote_editMeanwhile in Malvern, Arkansas, middle school English teacher Claudine James has used the Citizen Power Project to improve upon an already successful program. In 2011, Claudine visited the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC and wanted to bring that experience back to her students.

That year her class studied the Holocaust and put together their own Holocaust Museum in their school and opened it to the public.

The reaction to the museum was something Claudine never expected.

“It was very well received by the community and in fact, we had an opening day reception on a Sunday afternoon and there was no room to even stand.”

Claudine has organized project-based learning initiatives like this every year since. The Malvern community has embraced them, and even come to expect them.

This year, powered by the  Citizen Power Project, Claudine and her class are planning an exhibit called, ‘Writers from Around the World’. They are reading books by authors from all over the globe. Her goal is to promote tolerance and understanding among her students and for them to promote those ideas to the community.

“When my students are presented with problems that other people from other cultures have to overcome, they see the world in a new light,” explains Claudine, “then they go home and spread the word.”

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Artwork by one student in Racheal’s class depicting the negative impacts of climate change.

In Newark, New Jersey, kindergarten teacher Racheal Safier has her young students thinking globally. “We wanted to figure out what climate change is,” she explains, “they took a really big interest in how global warming affects animals.”

Racheal has been amazed by her student’s enthusiasm for this topic and the project, but she knows where it comes from. “Books have been the launching point for so many of the ideas generated in my classroom.”

Now that ideas are being launched, Racheal wants to show her class the next step: what actions do we take?

And they have many planned. There will be brochures distributed to parents, a table at the school’s social justice fair, maybe a video, and even letters to the President.

“I want it to be their project — and some of the things they come up with, I am really blown away.”

These three projects are just a snapshot of all the important work educators are doing around the country for the Citizen Power Project. Lori, Claudine, and Racheal are shining examples of the impact that educators can have on their students and their communities.

For educators to create change though students they need access to educational resources. First Book is proud to help provide that access for the Citizen Power Project.

When these 15 projects are completed in early 2017 be sure to check the First Book blog to see videos and pictures, and read more impact stories of impact from across the United States.

 

If you’re an educator serving kids in need, please visit the First Book Marketplace to register and browse our collection of educational resources. Click here to learn more about the Citizen Power Project.

The post Changing Communities with Books: The Citizen Power Project appeared first on First Book Blog.

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2. #658 – The Story Starts Here! by Caroline Merola

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The Story Starts Here!

Written and illustrated by Caroline Merola
Owlkids Books         9/15/2014
978-1-77147-079-7
40 pages      Age 4 to 8

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“Little Wolf wants to do things his way. And that includes starting HIS story from the back of the book. But Little Wolf’s topsy-turvy day gets a unexpected twist  when someone else decides to join in on the fun.

Play along as Little Wolf turns the picture book on its head!”

Review

Little Wolf is one stubborn little guy.

Oh, wait! I forgot to tell you a very important thing—The Story Starts Here has the ending at the beginning and the beginning at the end.  So flip the book around and upside down, and then open the back “front” cover. Ready?

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Little Wolf is one stubborn little guy.

“Because I said so.”

He wants things his way, including with you; you are reading his book upside down and backwards. Little Wolf eats dessert first, puts his pants on his head, and plays piano with his toes. Little Wolf declares today is backward day to his unwilling and objecting parents.

“No, you will not begin with dessert.”
“No, you will not play piano with your toes!”

Sent to his room to think about his contrary behavior, Little Wolf sneaks outside (with his pants still fashionably atop his head). Outside, all the creatures are quickly running away from something. Little Wolf turns around and finds he is face-to-face with a monster. The Story Starts Here had me laughing from the get go at Little Wolf and his backward antics. Little Wolf playing the piano and wearing his trousers’ on his head is hilarious, but not as much as the twist. The monster is feeling a bit topsy-turvy itself. “It” explains this to Little Wolf, who seems to understand . . . until the monster tells Little Wolf to flip the book back over.

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Oh, wait! I forgot again. Keep the book open and flip back over so the beginning is the beginning and the end is the end. Now we can finish the story.

Despite the funny goings on the story could be better. Little Wolf is the same stubborn wolf as he was at page . . . the beginning of the story. He does not even think the twist is funny. (Spoilt sport, he is!)  I really like The Story Starts Here and the concept of an upside day. Feeling a little off is a good time to mix things up. Good thing dad understands his son.

I love “Dad Books.” The Story Starts Here will entertain fathers and sons, making a great reading experience for both. Little Wolf is generic and so can be any child; dad can be any father. Kids will love the craziness of flipping and reading backward, then suddenly flipping back. It is one more way to engage and interest them in reading. Kids will also love the surprise ending (a new fashion, which had me laughing, is born).  If the book does not make you dizzy—it will not—you and your child will enjoy a funny story and a great lead into a discussion on how sometimes a story—or the world—has more than one view.
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THE STORY STARTS HERE! Text and illustrations copyright © 2014 by Caroline Merola. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Owlkids Books, Berkely, CA.
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Purchase The Story Starts Here at AmazonB&NBook DepositoryOwlkids Books
Learn more about The Story Starts Here HERE.
Meet the author/illustrator, Caroline Merola, at her website:  http://www.carolinemerola.com/
Find more picture books at the Owlkids Books website:  https://store.owlkids.com
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Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews
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Last Chance! VOTE for YOUR FAVORITE BEST BOOK for 2014 HERE.


Filed under: 4stars, Books for Boys, Children's Books, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Picture Book Tagged: "my way", Caroline Merola, fathers and sons, Owlkids Books, stubborn, The Story Starts Here, tolerance, topsy-turpy, world view

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3. "I'm going to raise my voice for peace from now on..." by Miriam Halahmy

Take around seventy students from France, Germany, Spain and Turkey, put them in a room and tell them to speak English, think English, read English and write English about Peace and Tolerance.     What happens?
"Everyone wrote, said and did something about peace, they were creative, honest and nice." Gulsah, 14 years,Turkey.
"I learn sisterhood." Fatma, 16 yrs, Turkey.
 "I enjoyed the teamwork." Sami, 18 yrs, Syria


In October, 2014, I was invited for a second time to the Lycee Maurice Genevoix in Paris  to lead workshops on Peace and Tolerance. The school is part of an EU project and this time the partner schools from Germany, Turkey and Spain were joining us.





All the students were divided into two groups and each group would have a two hour workshop with me.
 How could I make sure that this mix of students with such varied abilities in English, whom I had never met before, had a positive and meaningful experience and gained some insight into working for peace and tolerance?


I need not have worried. The students came prepared to struggle with their English, listen, debate, question, laugh, say things out loud which are really quite difficult to admit to ...."I do not feel I can say that I am proud to be Jewish in France today".... and meet the Other from another country with an open heart and an open mind. It was a privilege to work with them.

I started with a poem by a boy who was an asylum seeker from Bosnia. Unfortunately his name is not known.

Sorry
Désolé
Verzeihung

Sorry, that we are here
Désolé d’être là
                                Verzeiht, dass wir hier sind

That we take your time
De prendre de vôtre temps
Dass wir eure Zeit stehlen

Sorry
Désolé
Verzeihung

Sorry that we breathe your air
Désolé de respirer vôtre air
Das wir eure Luft atmen,

That we walk on your ground
De fouler vôtre sol
Dass wir auf eurem Boden gehen,

That we stand in your view
D’être dans vôtre champ de vision
Dass wir in eurem Blickfeld stehen

Sorry
Désolé
Verzeihung

This the opening of the poem and we had it translated into French, German, Spanish and Turkish. Then students came forward to read the entire poem in all five languages. It was a very moving experience.



After the reading, we discussed the poem and then I asked the students to write a piece showing how they might respond to the boy. Here are examples of their writing :-



Even unhappy stories have to be listened, so raise your voice, tell it to everyone. The only ones to blame are those who refuse to pay attention.   Alex, 17, Spain.

I'm sorry that we look away, feel ashamed if we see you and that we hate ourselves afterwards. For this there is no apologise, for this I can't find any words. Ina, 15, Germany

You said sorry but you're not the only one. I know you suffered and I did too. But we're still here, in this world, maybe as strangers, but as humans. So raise your hands above the waves of sorrow and burn the sadness away. Sami Hazbon, 18, from Syria now living in Paris

I met Sami Hazbon for the first time earlier this year on my first visit to the Lycee. He had only recently arrived with his sister, escaping the war in Homs, Syria.  Sami speaks excellent English. It was lovely to see the progress he is making and how well he is settling into his new life, even though it has been very hard for him.
Sami has read my novel HIDDEN and commented on how he related to this story of asylum seekers.




For this visit I wrote a poem specifically for the students, which I hoped they could access easily and use as a model for writing their own pieces. The poem is called, 'Light a Candle' and there are five stanzas. Here are the last two :-

Light a candle
when you are afraid
lonely, angry, sad
without words
and in despair

Light a candle
light another one
light seven billion candles
for Peace

The students then talked in groups before writing their own poems.



Here are some extracts from their writing :-




Light a candle for freedom/ for a free men, for prosperity/ light a candle for humanity/ light a candle for no war in the world/ light a candle to light way of peace. Mustapha, France.

Yes, light a candle/ because bad things only happen in darkness. Pablo, 17. Spain.

Light a candle and you have a way/ light a candle to help. Felix and Paula, Germany.

Light a candle for respect/... light a candle for the animals.   Rima, 15, France.

Peace is a necessary and we light a candle for peace. Thank you Miriam. It is good.  Fatma, 16, Turkey.



Light a candle for all the people who come from Adam and Eve, to understand that we are all brothers and sisters/ Why not light a candle for brotherhood and the peace of humanity?  Ahmet Murat, Teacher, Turkish Team.
On the feedback form at the end of the session, the students give us a sense of what they feel they gained from working together and writing together.

I'm going to raise my voice for peace from now on. Gulsah, 14, Turkey
The project is really great. You must keep doing this. Rima, 16, France
I enjoyed work with a group, communicate our ideas. Mehaddi, 16, France
It is great to talk with people who lives away of France and to listen to what they thought. Deradji, 17, France.
I learn words in English, tolerance and respect. Sedraoui, 15, France
I learn more about the issues in other countries. Pereira, 16, France
It was great to have a real author here and I thought about how I could change something in this world. Good job! Sebastian, 16, Germany
I learnt it is ok if you don't know what you would do in a situation. Elisabeth, Germany
I like when we must speak with our team and the not easy questions. Hannah, 15, Germany.
Be who you are, you are never alone! Sofie, 15, Germany.
I share the same way to think as the writer so I enjoy this a lot. David, 17, Spain
The conference help us to think about people who haven't our opportunities. Pablo, 17, Spain.
Great to have different points of view from different countries about peace. I really enjoyed it. Pablo Costas, 17, Spain.
We are better collaborating than we think. Raquel, 17, Spain
I'd like to thank Miriam for her amazing work and for the chance to be in her workshop again. Sami Hazbon, 18, Syria/ France

The pleasure was all mine. I could write much more about the sessions but I feel that the students words are more valuable.



I also had the chance to meet up with a group of older students I had first worked with on my previous visit. They particularly liked a poem of mine called, Corner Shop. The poem is set in my local shop just as the first Gulf War broke out. Standing in the queue were orthodox Jews, young children, Hindu aunties and the Japanese hairdresser from opposite. Someone said something about the war and there was a silence. Then the Muslim shopkeeper said,"We won't let that come between us."
 "No! Quite right!" everyone agreed.



It was an amazing moment.  To me it felt like peace had just broken out. I went home and wrote the poem.The last stanza reads :-

We are the peace process
the mother, the brother.
We are the news, the ceasefire
pressed like coriander in a wrinkled palm.
We are the voice, the banner,
the handshake, brown on white on olive.
We are the ear, the eye, the promise,
prisoner released, girl unharmed, bomber stilled.

Two of the girls translated this stanza into French and Arabic. We were filmed as we read out the stanza in all three languages.



You are the peace process!  Hania, 16, France.
Continue to do this workshop for peace. Lucas, 17, France.
The debate on HIDDEN was interesting. It make us think more deeply concerning world peace. Like it! Dora, 16, France.
The debate about Muslim and Jewish people was interesting. Thank you to Miriam for coming, she is an interesting woman. Dea, 17, France.
I learnt about the organisation English PEN and to be more open-minded. Keep doing that, it's awesome for you and the pupils. Chloe, 17, France.

I learnt about the very interesting motto of English PEN and Miriam's actions for peace and her meaning of peace.
My poem :-
We are the peace process
The Christians, the Muslims, the Jews,
We are the future, the hope,
We are citizens of a peaceful world.
Maxime, 17, France.



www.miriamhalahmy.com

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4. El Deafo

eldeafo El DeafoThis week, I was lucky enough to have a thirty-minute window when I could pop into my favorite independent bookstore in Los Angeles. They have a large children’s section on the second floor that I love perusing because they do an excellent job at getting new books.

On one of their displays sat El Deafo by Cece Bell. Intrigued first by the illustration of a superhero bunny and second by the title, my immediate thought was “What is this book about and who is this written for?” As if by fate, a children’s book worker looked up from her task of stocking new books and said “Oh that’s a really cute story. I highly recommend it.” I inquired about the reading level and she said it could be from fourth grade to middle school. Opening it, I was stoked to find out it was a graphic novel. Sold. It may be one of the best impulsive $20 I’ve spent of late.

I read this book in two days. It follows the author’s childhood experiences of being deaf, and specifically highlights her experiences in school. What captured me was the depiction of how people treated her and, since it’s from Cece’s point of view, how she felt. Her emotions come through strongly in the text and illustrations, and made me stop and think about how I treat people even if my intention is good. I connected with Cece’s superhero persona, “El Deafo.” Cece uses El Deafo to imagine the ideal way to handle tough situations, even if that doesn’t play out in real life (something I did as a kid too). What I really loved about this book was how the author depicted her friendships with the other kids (the good and the bad). It reminded me that children can sometimes do really mean things but that most of the time they mean well and can be really amazing friends to each other. It’s a lesson I need to carry for the school year.

Cece’s journey starts at the age of four and ends in fifth grade, so as a fifth grade teacher, I’m very excited to bring this graphic novel to my classroom. I think the students will enjoy this book and learn a lot from it. I believe that it will carry lessons of tolerance and respect for those who are hearing impaired, and prepare my students with tools (Don’t cover your mouth while someone is lip reading! Don’t assume all deaf people can sign!) to create meaningful and comfortable experiences with someone who can’t hear well.

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The post El Deafo appeared first on The Horn Book.

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5. Are schools teaching British values?

By Stephanie Olsen


In June, (now former) Education Secretary Michael Gove announced that all primary and secondary schools should promote “British values”. David Cameron said that the plans for values education are likely to have the “overwhelming support” of citizens throughout the UK. Cameron defined these values as “freedom, tolerance, respect for the rule of law, belief in personal and social responsibility and respect for British institutions”. ‪At root, such a policy gets at the emotional conditioning of children. To adhere to a certain ideological conceptualization of “freedom,” to feel “tolerant,” or to be “respectful” (whether of parents, teachers, authorities or institutions), is to act according to implicit feelings of rightness.

Values are never just abstract ideas, but are expressed and experienced through emotions. And they are not ideologically neutral. To stress the education of British values is to put a form of emotional education on the agenda. Though many commentators have pointed out that the broad outlines of such an education already exist in schools, the fear of “extremism”, of the promotion of the “wrong” sort of values, has triggered a vigorous debate. What has largely gone unrecognized in this debate, however, is that it is emphatically not new.

In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, politicians and educationalists promoted a new education based on character training and the emotions, precisely to build British citizens who would respect and uphold British institutions. This brand of education was to be accomplished at school, but also at home, and in religious and youth organizations.

Herbert Fisher, the President of the Board of Education who spearheaded the Education Act of 1918, argued that the masses should be educated “to stimulate civic spirit, to promote general culture … and to diffuse a steadier judgement and a better informed opinion through the whole body of the community.” Other educational commentators broadly agreed with this mission. Frederick Gould, a former Board School teacher and author of many books on education argued that “The community cannot afford to let the young people pass out with a merely vague notion that they ought to be good; it must frame its teaching with a decisive and clear vision for family responsibilities, civic and political duties”.

Michael Gove, by Paul Clarke, CC-BY-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Michael Gove, by Paul Clarke, CC-BY-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Civic duties – the civic spirit – were to be taught to the extent that they would become ingrained, implicit, felt. This was to be primarily a moral education. Educators stressed character training, linking moral education to British imperialism or nationalism in an unashamedly patriotic spirit. Education reform was to improve future citizens’ productivity and develop national character traits.

Like Gould, educator John Haden Badley stressed the need to teach active citizenship and service. Education on these lines would provide “a deeper understanding of the human values that give to life its real worth”, cultivating and maximizing the potential of a “superior” Britishness. Meanwhile, in a speech in Manchester in 1917, Fisher argued that “the whole future of our race and of our position in the world depends upon the wisdom of the arrangements which we make for education.” He observed, in language strikingly familiar to contemporary political rhetoric, that “we are apt to find that the wrong things are being taught by the wrong people in the wrong way.”

But even in 1917 the rhetoric was clichéd. A generation of commentators before Fisher argued that the civic shortfalls in mass formal education could be fixed by informal education in youth groups and religious organizations and through improved reading matter. Much juvenile and family literature, whether motivated politically or religiously, stressed emotional socialization, especially in the building of morality and character, as critical for national cohesion.

The trouble with visions of national cohesion, as the last century and a half of educational debate bears out, is the difficulty in getting any two parties to agree what that vision looks like. At the turn of the twentieth century all agreed that children mattered. How they were to be educated was important not just to individual children and their families, but equally importantly, to the community and the nation.

Yet some reformers had patriotic aims, others religious; some civic, some imperial; some conservative, others socialist. Many combined some or all of these aims. All, whether explicitly stated or not, wanted to train, instrumentalize and harness children’s emotions. Children’s reading matter, the stories they were told, and the lessons they heard were known to be powerful forces in cultivating the emotions. Hence the high stakes, then and now, on the narratives supplied to children.

Michael Gove, in common with his Victorian forebears, turns to the “great heroes of history” to serve as models of emulation. Back in the early 1900s, Gould thought history “the most vital of all studies for inspiration to conduct.” The study of history is certainly no stranger to being manipulated for didactic ends in order to impart “British values.”

While Gove is only the latest in a long line to link British history, British values and education, there are surely lessons to be learnt from past attempts and past failures to implement this strategy. A generation of boys and young men at the turn of the twentieth century had grown up learning the positive value of patriotic service. In this memorial year, marking a century since the outbreak of the First World War, it seems appropriate to reflect on what values we might want to instil in the young. What feelings do we want them to learn?

Stephanie Olsen is based at the history department, McGill University (Montreal) and the Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Center for the History of Emotions (Berlin). She was previously postdoctoral fellow at the Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies at Harvard University. The co-author of Learning How to Feel: Children’s Literature and the History of Emotional Socialization, c. 1870-1970 she is currently working on children’s education and the cultivation of hope in the First World War.

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6. Peace and Tolerance in Paris by Miriam Halahmy

In January this year I was invited to Maurice Genevoix School in a Paris suburb near Porte D'Orleans to lead workshops on peace and tolerance. The teacher, Sarah El-Bouh, found me via my website because of my experience in working across divided communities and my writings on peace and dialogue. I speak some French, have lived in Paris and visited numerous times and was absolutely delighted to be invited. The school is part of a two year project on peace, with other schools in Europe as part of the Comenius Peace Project.
Like the UK, France is wrestling with its political and social views about ethnic minority groups, immigration and left versus right. A couple of weeks before I travelled, the controversy about the footballer, Nicolas Annelka and le quennelle, an anti-semitic gesture, was all over the media. As an Anglo/Jewish author, whose great uncle had been deported from Paris to Auschwitz and who had written a novel ( HIDDEN, Albury Fiction) about Muslim asylum seekers, how would I be received in a Paris school? I needn't have worried - I had the most amazing time!!


I worked with three groups of students, aged 15-17 years and all of the work was in English. The students read out my poems and drama scripts, spoke, listened and wrote their own pieces all in English which was very impressive. I told them that I belong to English PEN, "literature and human rights," and that PEN's motto is, "The pen is mightier than the sword." They understood straight away and translated into French, "La Plume est plus fort que l'epee." That became our catch phrase for the day.

My aim with the work was to ensure that the students felt that they could all individually contribute to promoting peace and tolerance in their everyday lives. I therefore chose poems and texts which would inspire them to write their own views and feelings.
The first poem I presented  was 'Sorry' by a boy from Bosnia. I had asked the author Hilary Freeman if her partner, Michael, could translate the poem into French for me, which he kindly did. One of the students volunteered to read the French as I read the English.

The students written responses speak for themselves. Here are two examples :-


I have also written my own poems about peace and tolerance and one of the poems asks, What can you do for Peace? The opening stanza gives you a flavour:-

Sunbathe for Peace
go to bed for Peace
strike for Peace
pray for Peace
talk to your son for Peace
love your daughter for Peace
weep for Peace
roll your wheelchair for Peace
strap on your prosthesis for Peace
walk down to the Post Office
and buy a stamp for Peace
swipe your Oyster card for Peace
unpoint your gun
sink your difference
wipe up blood
defuse a bomb for Peace
© Miriam Halahmy

The students loved this idea and of course had plenty of ideas of their own :-



They discussed their writing in groups, wrote in groups and also wrote on their own. But their commitment to expressing themselves in English, despite the difficulty of the subject matter, was outstanding.

Speak with your friends for Peace/grumble with your family for Peace/Ask your teachers for Peace/ Act Now! by Hippolyte Quentin
Do everything for Peace.../Be tolerant for Peace/ Help for Peace/ Don't be racist for Peace/ Pray for Peace/ But you must believe in Peace. by J. Samia
Be different for Peace... by Moulin Emeline
Give some of your time for Peace... by Maxime M.

One of the students, Sami, came to France from Homs in Syria only three months earlier with his sister and knows how hard it is to start again in a new country. I read an extract from HIDDEN and the students then read a drama script at the point where my teens, Alix and Samir, have saved an asylum seeker from the sea and now Samir is trying to persuade Alix to help hide the man to save him from being deported and possibly killed back in his homeland. Alix is faced with an impossible choice.The students discussed the choice in their groups and then fed back to class. Sami felt that as an asylum seeker he could not put himself at risk and would not be able to help. Others were divided as to whether they would help or not. I pointed out that there was no right answer to such a difficult dilemma.

Alizea Girand wrote, "Hidden is my favourite because we see the evolution of Alix. At the beginning she knows nothing about racism but because she becomes friends with Samir, she discovers how hard it is for a foreigner... Peace is something really important in my opinion. We had all the poems before but we didn't know they were as powerful and meaningful as Miriam showed us."
Chloe D wrote, " Getting involved in this peace project is really important to me. In this way meeting a writer too is a good experience because you've more experience that us."

We looked at a poem I wrote after an incident in my 'Corner Shop'. The students read the text before my visit and were curious about its origin. During the Gulf War, in the queue one morning at my local shop run by a Muslim family, there were local people from the orthodox Jewish community,  my Japanese hairdresser, a group of Hindu ladies, an elderly man and some children. Someone said something about the war. The owner spoke up, saying,"Well, we won't let that come between us," and everyone agreed, nodding their heads and saying, "That's right!" As I told the students, Peace broke out in my Corner Shop that day.
The poem ends :-

We are the peace process, the moderate,
the mother, the brother.
We are the news, the ceasefire
pressed like coriander in a wrinkled palm.
We are the voice, the banner,
the handshake, brown on white on olive.
We are the ear, the eye, the promise,
prisoner released, girl unharmed, bomber stilled.
© Miriam Halahmy

This idea really captured the students. Here are some responses:-

We are the peace process/ The ones who give peace a chance/ We can change the minds/ Together against violence and war.  by H. Ouachek
We are the peace process/ We are the world/ We are the peace army, peace warriors.
by Sacha Veilec



Each of our sessions only lasted an hour or an hour and a half and we had a lot to get through. Poems, stories, drama scripts, questions, comments, but I used every single text I had brought with me and was constantly amazed and impressed by how much the students could absorb, comprehend and then respond to in their own independent way. These students had strong political and social views formed by their education, upbringing, reading and observation of the world around them.
Their teachers have sent me their feedback on our sessions :-

It was an honor to meet you - you're searching for peace and you want to share your fight with us. Thank you for coming, I enjoyed this moment. H. Ouachek
Miriam enjoys her work and defends a lot of the essential values like peace, tolerance and respect. She listened to us with an intensive respect. Benjamin
This meeting was very important ...Miriam permitted to us to develop her poems with our opinions. C. Julie
You made me learn a lot of things about the Palestinians resistance and I learnt that I have to be in other people's shoes to understand them. Aime B.
I didn't know what to expect with this meeting... I was very surprised I understood each word. I like the fact we don't only talk about peace but racism and tolerance. I lie if I say that it change my life, but it teach me a lot. A. Ashley

I was unable to include everything that the teachers sent me but I have learnt just as much as the students during our sessions and I came away inspired to continue writing on social and political issues for young people. They are clearly so interested and keen to widen their knowledge and formulate their own opinions. 
I hope that I can return to see the students again one day.

I will leave you with the words of Aime B :-
You don't have to be sorry because we are all human and we can live together.







0 Comments on Peace and Tolerance in Paris by Miriam Halahmy as of 3/15/2014 7:05:00 AM
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7. That Cat Can’t Stay by Thad Krasnesky

Cat Writers' Association Muse Medallion Winner World's Best Litter-ary Award Winner Nebraska Golden Sower Award list 2012-13 Illinois Monarch K-3 Readers' Choice Award list 2012-13 NY State Charlotte Award list 2011-12 Delaware Diamond Award list 2011-12 Storytelling World Award Honor Title 2011 Bank Street Best Books for Children 2011 Wanda Gág Best Read Aloud Book Award 2011 Honor Book Society of School Librarians International Honor Book 2010 Smithsonian Notable Books for Children 2010 NSW Premier Reading Challenge Book (Australia) 1st grade Read-Aloud Choice, 25th Annual Read-Aloud Day, Bridgeport, CT

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8. Children’s Books That Teach Tolerance (Guest Post by Brian Burton)

+Brian Burton loves reading children’s books and running the blog at childrensbookstore.com. He often writes on the topics of kids books and parenting.

It’s never too early to begin instilling positive attitudes about acceptance and tolerance in your children. The important thing is to expose your child to those who might be different than him or her, and children will often sympathize with others that they’ve become familiar with. It’s also important, however, to simply encourage the idea that accepting differences is important and that hateful behavior is not beneficial for anyone. Here are some books that do both: expose children to differences in others that they might not even know exist and show that tolerance and kindness can benefit not only the one who needs it, but also the one who gives it.

How Willy Got His Wheels
Full of lovely, full-page watercolors, How Willy Got His Wheels by Deborah Turner is the funny and inspirational children’s book about a disabled Chihuahua and the woman who tries to help him walk. Based on a true story, the book is an easy but touching way to introduce children to the value of helping others and how fun helping others can actually be.

Little Blue and Little Yellow
Little Blue and Little Yellow by Leo Lionni is a highly imaginative, inventive work, full of stark, solid colored shapes that tell a surprisingly complex and appealing story. This simple picture book is a wonderful way to introduce very young children to the idea that people are different, that there’s value to our differences, and that when our strengths are combined, we can become something more than we were by ourselves, something special.

I Wish I Had Glasses Like Rosa
This bilingual book shows with cute, humorous watercolor illustrations the bond between two young friends that goes beyond skin color. As they try to emulate each other and play together through the simply written book, the reader can learn what is important about friendship, and what is not.

Woolbur
In her delightfully illustrated book, Leslie Helakoski and illustrator Lee Harper tell the story of Woolbur, a “black sheep” who runs into trouble when he wants to play with the dogs and refuses to cut his wool. A book that encourages being yourself and accepting the differences of others, Woolbur is a great book for any mother or father trying to teach their children tolerance, creativity, and kindness.

Whether you’d like to teach your child that disabilities do not mean a person can’t do things like everyone else, or that it’s okay (and good!) to be different, or the importance of friendship, there are many lovely children books that will help you with the task, of which these four are just a few of my personal favorites.

Thank you, Brian, for this insightful post! Readers, please check out these books on Brian’s site!

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9. The Common Core and Teaching Tolerance

Jaclyn DeForgeJaclyn DeForge, our Resident Literacy Expert, began her career teaching first and second grade in the South Bronx, and went on to become a literacy coach and earn her Masters of Science in Teaching. In her column she offers teaching and literacy tips for educators.

I live in Astoria, Queens, one of the most racially, culturally and ethnically diverse neighborhoods in New York, and my apartment building absolutely reflects that diversity.  My neighbors are from Egypt, Bangladesh, and the Dominican Republic and the building is warm and lively, full of immigrant families with young children.

Last week, New York City public schools were closed for Rosh Hashanah, and on Monday, my neighbors’ children played in our building’s courtyard late into the night.  My windows were open, and as I sat reading I caught snippets of their conversations as they laughed and ran and screamed and played. But when I stopped and I listened closely, it occurred to me that I kept hearing the same word over and over: the “n-word.”

It was just falling out of their mouths, every other word, as if it were just a synonym for “friend” or “dude.” This saddened me for a couple reasons:from Amazing Faces

1)  For most of the children in my building, English is a second language.  I can think of thousands of other words that they should be absorbing and using instead.

2)  I also got the sense that the children - being so young and many being first generation Americans, and none of them black - didn’t understand the social and historical implications of the word.  They may have known it was a “bad word,” but I would bet they didn’t understand why.

These were not hateful children. These were uninformed children.  These were children parroting back a word they’d heard others use without understanding its power.  These were children who needed to be taught about the weight of their words.

This got me thinking about the Common Core Standards.  Seems like a bizarre leap, but it’s not, really; I’m a huge literacy nerd, and most of my thoughts can be traced back to curriculum.

On page 7 of the introduction, the authors of the Common Core discuss the intentions of the standards, and express that one of the traits of  college-/career-ready students is that they come to understand other perspectives and cultures:

Students appreciate that the twenty-first-century classroom and workplace are settings in which people from often widely divergent cultures and who represent diverse experiences and perspectives must learn and work together.  Students actively seek to understand other perspectives and cultures through reading and listening, and they are able to communicate effectively with people of varied backgrounds. They evaluate other points of view critically and constructively. Through reading great classic and contemporary works of literature representative of a variety of periods, cultures, and worldviews, students can vicariously inhabit worlds and have experiences much different than their own.

This is huge!  In essence, it empowers educators to teach the big things, like tolerance, acceptance, and equality alongside math and science.  In addition to teaching comprehension strategies, teachers more than ever can choose books to share with their students that take on some pretty powerful topics and use the literacy block to discuss, debate, respond, investigate and explain.

One of my favorite books on curriculum development and educational philosophy around teaching for social justice is Mary Cowhey’s Black Ants and Buddhists: Thinking Critically and Teaching Differently in the Primary Grades.  Ms. Cowhey’s strength is her ability to navigate the delicate and difficult social issues and historical topics with young children, weaving it into the fabric of her literacy and social studies curriculum.

During one Read Aloud a week, Ms. Cowhey chooses a book that will provoke a philosophical discussion and uses the time to focus on listening and language standards, and peppered throughout the book are the titles of the texts she chooses (not surprisingly, some of the books she mentions are ours!).  She includes a powerful chapter entitled “Nurturing History Detectives,” where she talks about how to get children to think critically about perspective when learning history, students that comprehend but can also critique.  The Common Core Standards address this need, too:

“Students are engaged and open-minded—but discerning—readers and listeners. They work diligently to understand precisely what an author or speaker is saying, but they also question an author’s or speaker’s assumptions and premises and assess the veracity of claims and the soundness of reasoning.” (also page 7 of the Introduction)

If the idea of teaching tolerance excites you, and I hope it does, I urge you to check out her book.  I think it will be an important resource as we make the shift to more rigorous, content/comprehension/critical thinking driven Common Core aligned curriculum.


Filed under: Curriculum Corner, Musings & Ponderings, Resources Tagged: Black Ants and Buddhists, common core standards, critical thinking, education, Mary Cowhey, Reading Aloud, reading comprehension, tolerance

1 Comments on The Common Core and Teaching Tolerance, last added: 9/25/2012
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10. Dragonella - A Review

When Claire travels with the flying Sky Dragons she is magically transformed into an older version of herself.  Her mission?  To give Wisdom Pearls to all the children in different lands - with this pearl they will understand their words and actions have an effect.

Dragonella by Janai Lowenstein is a magical journey that entertains little ones and throws a subtle lesson in as well.  As Dragonella visits exotic, make-believe lands (I really liked the ice cream children) she spreads her love and kindness, helping all the different children realize being happy and sharing is so much better than being rude.

The illustrations by Du Ling brings Dragonella and her dragon friends to life.  The magical lands are inviting and playful, drawing your child into the story.

For more information on this book and other helpful suggestions, please visit Janai Lowenstein's web site at; http://www.childstress.org/

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11. Pearl

by Jo Knowles    Henry Holt  2011   When fifteen year old Pearl (aka Bean) loses her grandfather, the one person she felt knew and loved her best, a whole world of secrets open up that forces her to question everything she's ever believed about her world.   Pearl, who goes by the nickname Bean, and her best friend Henry are self-separated outcasts. Henry's mom Sally spends her days watching

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12. Review: Alphabet Kids

logoABC Review: Alphabet KidsThe Alphabet Kids book series

Review by Chris Singer

About the series creators:

Allegra Joyce Kassin is the creator of the Alphabet Kids concept. She is a devoted mother of five and grandmother of seven. With a strong belief in family values and deeply committed to multicultural understanding, she brings unique vision, clarity, continuity and extraordinary leadership to the Alphabet Kids team. She is involved in every aspect of development of the Alphabet Kids characters and their stories. She has brought them to life to share with the children of the world! Allegra Joyce has been engaged in wide ranging philanthropic activities from childhood well-being and health to community development and educational enrichment for over thirty years.

Patrice Samara is co-author of the Alphabet Kids books and Executive in Charge of Development. An Emmy Award-winning producer and United Nations NGO Representative, she has with over twenty years expertise in communications and entertainment. She has won over fifty awards for creativity and excellence including two Parent’s Choice Awards and the 2010 Global Citizenship Award for Helping Humanity from Orphans International. Patrice combined her dedication to educational equality, literacy, and multiculturalism utilizing her global resources to make the Alphabet Kids a virtual celebration of diversity.

About the books:

The Alphabet Kids books follow the adventures of Allegra, Elena, Isaac, Oni, Umar and Yang, a group of children having fun while learning about their diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds. The stories are intended to help children learn to love who they are and realize that people who are different can be very good friends, as well as a number of other valuable life lessons.

book big allegra 150x150 Review: Alphabet Kids

Allegra likes learning to draw at the Alphabet Afterschool Center. When Allegra sees that the children are using a lot of drawing paper, she tells her friends what her mother told her about saving trees. Find out what she said in Allegra’s Apple Tree.

Allegra’s Nationality: Italian-American


book big elena 150x150 Review: Alphabet KidsElena was excited that it was her birthday. But when none of her friends at the Alphabet Afterschool Center wished her Happy Birthday, she became very upset. The Alphabet Kids did not want her to know that they had been making secret plans all along. Find out what happens next in Elena’s Birthday Surprise.

Elena’s Nationality: Hispanic-American

 

book big isaac 150x150 Review: Alphabet Kids

2 Comments on Review: Alphabet Kids, last added: 8/11/2011
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13. Making Peace with Picture Books

Character education is best taught through models. But one look at the headlines of any newspaper should reveal that we, as adults, are failing to provide those models for children. Perhaps picture books can better serve this purpose. But rather than focus upon one of the Six Pillars of Character®, let's focus upon the intended result: Peace.

Through picture books we can Make Peace with Ourselves, Make Peace with Each Other, and Make Peace with the World.

Make Peace with Yourself

Do Unto Otters: A Book About Manners, by Laurie Keller

When Mr. Rabbit discovers that the Otters will be his new neighbors, he exclaims, "I don't know anything about otters. What if we don't get along?" That alone is a fabulous conversation starter for students, who are likely to offer many ways that the two animals might disagree, and agree.

Mr. Owl shares an old saying: "Do unto Otters as you would have otters do unto you." This, in turn, leads Mr. Rabbit to wonder, "How would I like otters to treat me?" He decides he would like otters to be friendly, and polite, and honest, and so on, but more importantly, he describes what those words mean to him, and provides many examples.

So while Do Unto Otters: A Book About Manners at first glance seems to be about manners, it's actually about becoming the kind of person you would like others to be. What's surprising and refreshing is that it doesn't come off as preachy, and Laurie Keller's illustrations are simply hilarious.
  • Extension: Using the traits provided in the book, help students create a "Looks Like, Sounds Like" T-chart for each. We all know that Honesty is important, but what does that look like? How can we see it being practiced? And what does it sound like?
Those Shoes
3 Comments on Making Peace with Picture Books, last added: 2/28/2011
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14. Sit Down and Be Counted: Exploring the Civil Rights Movement with Picture Books

Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down

History is often made by ordinary people taking extraordinary risks.

Such was the case on February 4, 1960, when four black college students took seats at the whites-only lunch counter at Woolworth's in Greensboro, North Carolina. Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down, tells that story with same passion and intensity with which it took place.

The story is told with minimal yet factual narrative, with a delicious dash of figurative language salted throughout (Brian explains why in the video below). The narrative is also punctuated with the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., which not only guided the protesters of the time in their nonviolent methods, but may also help young readers of today understand how these crusaders could withstand such abuse and humiliation.

In this video, author Andrea Davis Pinkney and illustrator Brian Pinkney discuss the events leading up to the sit-ins (these same events are detailed in an epilogue called "A Final Helping" at book's end). They also discuss the writing and illustration process, and close with a brief overview of the book.



Several segments of this video lend themselves to discussion and extensions for the book: 
  • Andrea and Brian discussed the food references used in the book. Why was food mentioned so often? Share a specific passage which employs a food metaphor and ask, What does that passage mean? Why not just come right out and say that? What other food-related metaphors did you hear? In our everyday language, what other metaphors are often used?
  • The author and illustrator talked about the need for conducting research using photographs from the time. Why would this be so important? What information might the photographs provide? If the author/illustrator team chose to create a picture book set in a time period before photography was invented, how might they gather information for their pictures? If we also say, "Write what you know," then why do research?
  • Toward the end of the video, Andrea Davis Pinkney and Brain Pinkney discuss their own heroes. Why is that included in the video? How might their own heroes have affected their decision to create this book? Why is it important to have heroes? Who are some of your heroes? How could you find out more about them?
  • For additional ideas and extensions, check out the teaching guide from Hatchette Book Group, prepared by the very talented Tracie Vaughn Zimmer.
Freedom on the Menu: The Greensboro Sit-Ins

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15. Superman Promoted the “American Way”

Wendy L. Wall is Assistant Professor of History at Queen’s University.  Her book, Inventing the “American Way”: The Politics of Consensus From the New Deal to the Civil Rights Movement, 9780195329100traces the competing efforts of business groups, politicians, leftist intellectuals, interfaith proponents, civil rights activists, and many others over nearly three decades to shape public understandings of the “American Way.” In the excerpt below we learn how Superman promoted the “American Way.”

On April 16, 1946, millions of children across America sat down before dinner to listen to their favorite nightly radio drama, The Adventures of Superman.  For more than six years, the “Man of Steel” had appeared regularly on stations affiliated with the Mutual Broadcasting System and battled mad Nazi scientists, sinister and disloyal Japanese Americans, and radioactive monsters.  The story line that began that night, however, was different.  Entitled “The Hate Mongers Association,” it pitted Clark Kent/ Superman and his sidekick Jimmy Olsen against a secretive group called the Guardians of America.  The Guardians were trying to prevent an interfaith council in Metropolis from constructing a community clubhouse and gymnasium “for the use of all boys and girls in the neighborhood, regardless of race, creed or color.”  They first set fire to the store of a druggist named David Hoffman, then badly beat a boy named Danny O’Neill who had seen them set the fire.  “It isn’t just the Catholics, or the Jews, or the Protestants they’re after,” Kent told Jimmy.  “Their game is to stir up hatred among all of us – to get the Catholic to hate the Jew and the Jew to hate the Protestant, and the Protestant to hate the Catholic.  It’s a dirty, vicious circle, and like Hitler and his Nazi killers, they plan to step in and pick up the marbles while we’re busy hating one another and cutting each other’s throats.  It’s an old trick but or some reason a lot of us still fall for it.”  For the next five weeks, Superman battled no the Scarlet Widow, der Teufel (”the Devil”) or the Atom Man – but bigoted Americans.

“The Hate Mongers Association” marked a turning point for Superman.  As a journalist for the New York Herald Tribune noted, after “years of pure blood, thunder and atomic energy,” the caped avenger had begun crusading for “tolerance.”  In June 1946, Superman fought “The Clan of the Fiery Cross,” which was trying to run a Chinese family out of town.  (Tipped off by a Klu Klux Klan infiltrator, the show’s writers worked real KKK rituals  and passwords into the show.)  In September, the Man of Steel helped pin a murder on a crooked political boss, who had been accused by veterans “representing the three faiths” of discriminating in job appointments…Clark Kent/ Superman was drawn into many of these crusades by his friend Jimmy Olsen, who was involved with a nonsectarian boys club appropriately named “Unity House.”  By 1948, Kellogg Co., which sponsored the program, was including short talks on tolerance “before and after each episode by either the ‘Superman’ actor himself or by the announcer of the program.”  When Superman made the leap to television in 1951, the shows producers highlighted his newfound mission in their introduction: Superman, the announcer intoned, was fighting “a never-ending battle for Truth, Jus

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16. Amazing Peace: A Christmas Poem by Maya Angelou

Amazing Peace: A Christmas PoemContinuing our exploration of respect in relation to end-of-year celebrations and inspired by Marjorie’s beautiful post on The Christmas Menorahs, today I highlight Maya Angelou’s Amazing Peace: A Christmas Poem (Schwartz & Wade, 2008).

Although written in a Christmas spirit, the poem’s resonance is far more broad, as it encourages one and all to “Come away from rancor. Come the way of friendship.” A sound piece of advice to humanity in this day and age when wars and conflicts still happen in the name of religion.

As seen in the excerpted verses below, her poem is a call for peace and unity:

We clap hands and welcome the Peace of Christmas.
We beckon this good season to wait a while with us.
We, Baptist and Buddhist, Methodist and Muslim, say come.
Peace.
Come and fill us and our world with your majesty.
We, the Jew and the Jainist, the Catholic and the Confucian,
Implore you, to stay a while with us.
So we may learn by your shimmering light
How to look beyond complexion and see community.

It is Christmas time, a halting of hate time.

On this platform of peace, we can create a language
To translate ourselves to ourselves and to each other.

These words go straight into the heart, don’t they?

Do you know of other books for children that speak of people from different faiths coming together during the holidays? Would you recommend them? Please do share so we can all learn about how others have “come the way of friendship.”

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17. My little Zoey


My Miniature Pinscher, Zoey is very lovable but I am sure she has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD. Here are some "people" symptoms that she has of the disorder:

* Often fidgeting with hands or feet, or squirming while seated. (fidgeting with paws)
* Having difficulty remaining seated. (lays down but jumps up anytime someone else gets up or walks out of the room)
* Having difficulty awaiting turn in games or group activities( difficulty waiting her turn for treats and food)
* Having difficulty in following instructions. (doesn't listen when asked to stop barking, or to quickly go potty, or . . . )
* Having difficulty sustaining attention in tasks or play activities. (loves to play, but gets distracted and leaves before we've played very long)
* Often shifting from one uncompleted task to another. (she leaves her toys everywhere and never picks them up!)
* Often talking excessively. (barking)
* Often interrupting or intruding on others. (our other dogs)
* Often not listening to what is being said. (doesn't always like to listen to what we have asked her to do. She will look away when we are having a discussion with her)
* Often forgetting things necessary for tasks or activities. (takes her toys outside and forgets to bring them back in)
* Often engaging in physically dangerous activities without considering possible consequences. (running too far in the yard, running to the woods, darting outside)
* Being easily distracted by extraneous stimuli. (going outside to potty and getting distracted by everything before she gets her "job" done. It can take 15 mins for her to potty)

Of course this is all in fun and I don't even know if dogs can suffer from ADHD or not and I'm not making light of the disorder. But regardless, little miss Zoey is a piece of work and is one of a kind. But we wouldn't have her any other way! I love you Zoey!

2 Comments on My little Zoey, last added: 10/13/2009
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18. Empty Nesting for Culture

I fell off the radar temporarily last week. Lost all communication. It was a combination of the end of school, huge trip, and finishing my WIP, Pelorus Jack.

Most of all, though, I was an emotional wreck. My kids left on Friday with my husband for Germany. I stayed at home in the empty nest.

My husband grew up and lived most of his live in Germany until I "imported" him to the U.S. after we got married. Since the girls are a blend of two cultures, we try really hard to get them over to Germany once a year to visit family and friends. This year, we decided they were old enough for a deeper "cultural immersion" program. We're sending them to school there. Which means, I won't see them for 2 and 1/2 weeks. A lifetime.

I was scared and nervous. They were scared and nervous. I'm pretty sure I sprouted countless new gray hairs within those last hours leading up to their flight. The closer it got, the more I asked myself, Why am I doing this? Is it that important for them to be able to speak and understand German?

After I had a good cry, a glass of wine, and a serious portion of Jane Austen, I came to the same conclusion I'd been coming to all year. Sometimes doing what is best in the long run means surmounting some steep short run costs.

My motivation is all experiential. My family is a big, Hungarian family. My generation, however, is the first that didn't learn to speak Hungarian. My grandfather (1st generation American) speaks, writes and reads it. My father (2nd generation) learned only to speak it, and gradually lost it when he grew up. I (3rd generation) only learned to curse in it. Not very useful when trying to communicate in Budapest at age 19, let me tell you.

More than that, though, my whole life I've always felt like there was this big part of my family, my culture, my own history that was lost to me. Moving to America was definitely a step up for us, but we left behind family and traditions in Hungary. Ones I will never really get to know because linguistically, I've lost the tying thread.

I don't want my kids to feel like that. I want them to feel a part of both of their cultures. I also feel like tolerance grows from a more organic and personal relationship to various cultures. One begins to see that things can be done differently and it's still great. Diversity is the spice of life.

So, they start school on Thursday in Germany. Our friends with whom the girls are staying have two boys the same age. They live in a small town. My kids will be the star guests at their school. I'm so excited for them. It's going to be the experience of a lifetime.

If only I could miss them a little less....

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19. 3 Generations of Grouchiness: The Grandmother Doll

The Grandmother DollAuthor: Alice L. Bartels
Illustrator: Duscan Petricic
Published: 2001 Annick Press
ISBN: 1550376667 Chapters.ca Amazon.com

Finally, a little dysfunction!! With all the stomps, sneers and slams you would expect on the third day of influenza-induced confinement, the candor of this warm, magical story is a rare and welcome treat.

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20. Choose Peace: And To Think That We Thought That We’d Never Be Friends

And to Think That We Thought That We'd Never Be FriendsAuthor: Mary Ann Hoberman
Illustrator: Kevin Hawkes
Published: 2003 Dragonfly Books
ISBN: 0440417767 Chapters.ca Amazon.com

Zesty, Seussian rhyme and illustrations hurl us to a crescendo of hardcore harmony. This book’s message is simple: Peace is a choice.

This episode is dedicated to Paul, his stepbrother Dan Johnson (Journey Inside My Mind Podcast), and their families in celebration of Paul returning home from the Navy. Coincidentally, Dan sent an audio comment about Ben’s Trumpet for this show as well.

For a great list of Peace promoting childrens books click here.

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21. Of Foibles and Fortitude: The Cello of Mr. O

The Cello of Mr. OAuthor: Jane Cutler
Illustrator: Greg Couch
Published: 2004 Penguin USA
ISBN: 0142401749 Chapters.ca Amazon.com

This straightforward story of hardship and hope reminds us that war may not deter human weakness but neither can it deter human strength.

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22. Happy Being Me: Suki’s Kimono

Suki's KimonoAuthor: Chieri Uegaki
Illustrator: Stephane Jorisch
Published: 2003 Kids Can Press
ISBN: 1553377524 Chapters.ca Amazon.com

This effervescent story, with its vivid, carefree illustrations and its protaganist’s refreshing win-win attitude, is a rousing celebration of individuality and joie de vivre. We love Suki!!

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4 Comments on Happy Being Me: Suki’s Kimono, last added: 3/2/2007
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23. You want a piece of me?

© Karen L. Syed

Okay, it may be a bit cliché now, but this seems to be the general theme in young adult fiction these days. Don't get me wrong, I love a good shoot 'em up, kill 'em dead adventure as much as the next grown up. But let's think about this. We've got drugs, we've got rape, we've got incest, and we've got murder. Sounds like your typical adult thriller movie, right? Well, unfortunately it is also what you get in a large portion of young adult books.

"Give them what they want!" This is what one author said to me not too long ago. Okay, fair enough, this is what the young kids are reading. Is that because they truly like it, or because it's what's available? Maybe we could give them something a little less vicious to "want."

Before anyone gets all riled up and puts together a mob to lynch me, hear me out. It's a fact of life. I get that, but is it possible that as adults we could put a little more care in what we are pushing into society? I have no children, and many say this gives me no right to say how anyone else's are raised, but I disagree. I can't help but wonder if we could change the likes and attitudes of the young and impressionable by changing what we offer them for consideration. I have often been the victim of someone else's less than adequate parenting. No I am not judging anyone. I know there are circumstances, but let's get real.

Instead of solving problems with fists and weapons, what if we actually taught them to use words and understanding.

Example: walking in Wal-Mart last week I watched a young boy, maybe fourteen, walking down an aisle. There were several people in the aisle and it was a bit crowded…this is relevant because he was carrying a book by a VERY popular author…in case anyone is wondering the young boy was Black. So anyway, he steps to the side to pass another boy, maybe sixteen or seventeen (white). A lady moves her cart, the younger boy bumps into the older boy. The older boy spins around, pushes the younger boy, and yells, "You better watch out, bitch, or I'll pop your ass."

The younger boy, puffs out his chest and snaps back, "You and whose mama?"

Okay. Anyone else see a problem with this? Where in the world was "Excuse me."
It was a casual bump that had all the makings of a gang riot. That is just how high the tension actually rose. Neither of these boys had a parent anywhere in the immediate area and the adults in the aisle simply went along their way with no notice.

Where did the actual breakdown of communication occur for these two strangers and why had neither of them been taught any manners? Okay, maybe they had, but obviously not with enough care.

Why am I going on about this? In my opinion, I think it has a lot to do with what they are being fed in the media and literary world. I scan the shelves at the local library and I see books written for kids with the most frightening themes. Teenage prostitutes, drug dealers, gang members, and even serial killers. How are the kids supposed learn tolerance and understanding when they are force fed violence from every angle.

Am I saying to stop writing these books? Of course not. But maybe I'm asking to temper them a bit, make the lesson a bit more apparent, that it isn't about the graphic violence and sex…yes, folks sex! Maybe we could find a way to feed these young minds some patience and forgiveness. I mean this is something that is out there for the very young. I am currently reading the first Lemony Snickets book, "A Bad Beginning." Yikees!

Drunkenness, child abuse, neglect, violent behavior, the list goes on. This is for young children? I know they are hugely popular and I respect that, but are these really the types of things we want young children to focus on?

Let's really think about this. Isn't there something we can do?

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24. Poetry Friday: Something About America

Maria Testa Candlewick 2005 I was originally going to bow out of Poetry Friday this week with a collection of original things that, honestly, I wasn't sure were worth the electrons. Instead I discovered a collection of poems that caught me in a funny place. The night before I was ranting on to anyone who would listen (my wife) about all the things that I hated about this country and the way

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25. EDUCATIONAL BOOK: "The Magic of Laven-Rock"


The people of K'briadron lived an idyllic life.

Purple and blue magic created by the Jockspurs supplied their every need. That is, until the coming of the Lockstick.

Princess Kaylin Veronica and her cousin, Prince Theodore, escape the confines of their royal lives and set out to find the being who caused so many problems in their land.

Written by the author of The Wishing Flower, The Magic of Laven-Rock is a delightful fairy tale adventure where children learn that sharing is much better than fighting, and that people throughout the world are not so very different than themselves.
Title: The Magic of Laven-Rock
ISBN: 9780981777733
Author: Mosetta M. Penick Phillips-Cermak
Publisher: PM Moon Publishers
Additional Features:
hardcover/68 pages/approx. size 8.25 x 10.75/trade
She is currently writing a teacher manual for ESL teachers to accompany this title.
Her book has been reviewed by the Midwest Book Review and is on their Children's Bookwatch list:
"Children's Bookwatch • Jan, 2009 •
The Magic of Laven-Rock
Mosetta M. Penick Phillips-Cermak
PM Moon Publishers, Limited
PO Box 110813, Cleveland, Ohio 44111-0813
9780981777733, $29.95 http://www.pmmoonpublishers.com/
African-American author, teacher, and counselor Mosetta M. Penick Phillips-Cermak presents The Magic of Laven-Rock, an amazing children's fairy tale about the faraway land of K'briadron, where purple and blue magic fill the needs of the people--until the coming of the Locktick. Princess Kaylin Veronica and her cousin Prince Theodore must go on a quest to find and deal with the creature that has caused so many problems for their homeland! A powerful moral about tolerance, diversity, and the value of sharing rather than fighting pervades this gentle and fairly lengthy (66 pages) story, featuring illustrations ranging from simple, cartoon-like caricatures to gorgeous computer-generated scenic views. Highly recommended. "
Although Dr. Mosetta is a black American, none of her stories are written specific to that community, but embrace all children
Purchase Information: The Magic of Laven-Rock is available at Publisher Graphics Bookstore (http://www.publishersgraphicsbookstore.com/The-Magic-of-Laven-Rock-40sw41-by-Mosetta-Penick-Phillips-Cermak_p_155.html ) at Google books search, and at PM Moon Publishers' website (http://www.pmmoonpublishers.com/ .
Her newest title, Rajah and the Big Blue Ball (ages 6-8), is scheduled for a March 2009 release. Once more, the theme is talking rather than fighting to avoid misunderstandings, when the central character, Rajah, is tormented by another character sharing his yard. Dr. Mosetta is under contract with us to publish five more of her Rajah stories. We believe that these books will delight children everywhere.

Her first book, The Wishing Flower, was originally released as a short story and published in the Writers Post Journal in May 2007. This is a powerful story of how special children are, and the love their parents have for them. Currently in its second edition, The Wishing Flower features simplistic hand-drawn illustrations by Dr. Penick Phillips-Cermak. It is very child-centric. We are also sending this cover. If the email has difficulty reaching you, we will send the jpegs in a separate email.
Purchase Information: Publishers' Graphics Bookstore (http://www.publishersgraphicsbookstore.com/The-Wishing-Flower-by-Mosetta-Penick-Phillips-Cermak-40sw41_p_105.html ), at Google Book search, and at PM Moon Publishers' website (http://www.pmmoonpublishers.com/ .
The Wishing Flower has been used for teachers' education by Western Governors University, and was reviewed by Dr. Jennifer Gill, other teachers and writers:
11-15-2007
Mosetta Penickphillips-Cermak’s story “The Wishing Flower” will be a welcome addition to any classroom or home library. The story opens the possibilities for parents to express to their children how much children are loved—that our children truly are a gift to us. While many of us think this, we may forget to say such things openly, and doing so sends a powerful, affirming message of worth and security to our children. For teachers, “The Wishing Flower” and its accompanying lesson plans can provide a more thorough understanding of the fairy tale as a literary genre, assist students in developing an awareness of their emotional reactions to such stories, and reinforce a sweet and touching message of love.
Jennifer C. Grill, Ph.D.
Academic Mentor, English Language Learning
Content Advisor, English Language Learning
Teachers College, Western Governors University
Toll Free 877-435-7948 ext. #2001 (Eastern Time)
Salt Lake City 801-274-3280 ext. #2001
Email: [email protected]
http://www.wgu.edu/
8-12-07"The concept of your book is excellent. As a child, I received few hugs and cuddles and I can't remember my mother ever saying she loved me. Of course she did and proved it by all she did for me but the lack of affirmation caused insecurity that followed me into my adult life. And this was made worse because I had little contact with my father who did not know how to be a good dad.Things are very different for my own children,Rosemary."http://www.rosemarymorris.co.uk/Tangled Hearts set in the reign of Queen Anne the last Stuart monarchAvailable from: http://www.enspirenpress.com/
3-13-07"What a sweet story. It actually brought a tear to my eye."Jacqueline Druga-JohnstonEditor in Chiefhttp://www.writerspostjournal.com/"The Wishing Flower" is a wonderful storybook for young children and good reading for older children. I liked how the over all message of the book placed great value on the love for children. I look forward to reading "The Wishing Flower" to my five month old daughter for years to come…”Deborah ZigaWaverly SchoolCleveland Metropolitan School District
“The story Wishing Flower brought out what I always knew about children, that they are our true treasures that we can not forget to appreciate…This story stirred up my wonderful memories of my childhood and my years watching and spending enjoyable days with my own children as…they were growing up into now adults.”Kathryn HrusovskyLibrarian at Waverly School in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District- Cleveland,
Dr. Mosetta is available for interviews and lectures. Please contact her directly at [email protected]

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