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Books

Taking the Mystery out of Black History Month: All The Right Stuff by Walter Dean Myers

There’s a reason the late great Walter Dean Myers was named the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature:  he gets young people. His books are for, by, and about, young people. Young people of all different walks of life. Ask any boy in 11th grade, he’s probably read at least one WDM book (Sunrise in Fallujah, for example). And why is that? Because WDM books rock!

They’re not just about life in the inner city, although there’s plenty of that. His books are about growing up and learning to be yourself and learning how to adapt to the world and making choices. Who can’t relate to that? And you know what else? All the Right Stuff relates to food.

Soup.

All the Right Stuff by Walter Dean Myers

How’s that?

After young Paul’s father is killed, he takes a summer job in a soup kitchen in Harlem. The soup man and Paul discuss economics, politics, and decision-making.  And Paul learns how to make soup. Here’s my review.

Another reason to love Black History Month! Also? Counts toward the Diversity Reading Challenge!!

Categories
Children Diversity Reviews Young Adult

You Should Read Walter Dean Myers

Walter Dean Myers is a prolific writer of young adult and middle-grade children’s literature.  The problem is, you might not have heard of him.  WDM’s many titles include:

  • Monster
  • Sunrise over Fallujah
  • Autobiography of My Dead Brother
  • All the Right Stuff
  • and many more

Walter Dean Myers Unconventioinal LibrarianWDM’s writing is good and his work has been awarded countless awards.

That’s because Myers is African  American, his audience is primarily African American children, and his characters are primarily African American or other minorities.  So, unless you’re an avid read of the YA genre, or African American or an educator, you probably haven’t heard of him.

Now you have. And now you should get acquainted with his work.  His work is powerful and speaks to not only those of color but to those who want to do better with their lives or don’t understand why things work the way they do.

Does that sound like you?

That’s because it IS you.

Everyone can benefit from reading a Walter Dean Myers title or two.

I just finished All the Right Stuff, his latest release.

See below as Cleo takes a break from supervising my reading of All the Right Stuff.

Unconventional Librarian All The Right Stuff

I love this book and d’you know why? It’s smart and it makes you think!  Young Paul lives in Harlem and gets a summer job at a soup kitchen where he learns not only how to make soup but how to evaluate his place in the world and how to engage in intelligent conversation about how to change the world for the better.

Any child can relate to this book, not just an African American child or a child who lives in Harlem or another impoverished neighborhood.  Any child who must make a choice between doing good and doing wrong can appreciate the choices Paul has to make.

I can’t recommend this book enough.  Look in your bookshelf; there’s prolly an old copy of a WDM book lying around from a required reading assignment.  Pick it up and read it.  It’ll make you think.  Meanwhile? I’m going to do the same…

I give this book four paws for honest portrayal of young African Americans.

Unconventional Librarian 4paws

 

Categories
Diversity Reading Challenge

Scorpions by Walter Dean Myers

What a pleasure it is to read another of the late Walter Dean Myers’ works. “Scorpions” is a bleak book, reminiscent of Dickens, but without the macabre. Myers’ books give the reader insight into the lives of POC in the inner city. “Scorpions” is the tale of young Jamal and his family and his best friend Tito. Jamal’s brother is in jail, and he’s being pressured to take his brother’s place as leader of a gang but the gang members have other ideas. After all, Jamal is only 12 and what does he know about running a gang?

Jamal’s family can’t catch a break. His mother works intermittently, Jamal and his younger sister often fend for themselves for food, and his troubles at school keep mounting. Through it all  is his constant friend Tito.

What I find most troubling in the book is the school. This is not the era of child centered education. The teachers belittle, threaten, and generally don’t offer support to Jamal in a time when he needs it most (like when he’s being beaten by the school bully). It’s no wonder he gets in trouble so much.

Scorpions will tear your heart out, although there are a few tender moments.  Can you see why this was a Newbery Honor book?

Totally qualifies for the Diversity Reading Challenge.

Categories
Books

Taking the Mystery out of Black History Month: All The Right Stuff by Walter Dean Myers

There’s a reason the late great Walter Dean Myers was named the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature:  he gets young people. His books are for, by, and about, young people. Young people of all different walks of life. Ask any boy in 11th grade, he’s probably read at least one WDM book (Sunrise in Fallujah, for example). And why is that? Because WDM books rock!

They’re not just about life in the inner city, although there’s plenty of that. His books are about growing up and learning to be yourself and learning how to adapt to the world and making choices. Who can’t relate to that? And you know what else? All the Right Stuff relates to food.

Soup.

All the Right Stuff by Walter Dean Myers

How’s that?

After young Paul’s father is killed, he takes a summer job in a soup kitchen in Harlem. The soup man and Paul discuss economics, politics, and decision-making.  And Paul learns how to make soup. Here’s my review.

Another reason to love Black History Month! Also? Counts toward the Diversity Reading Challenge!!

Categories
Banned Books

Banned Books Week Giveaway Hop

Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom To Read

All this week I’ll be celebrating banned books week by highlighting challenged or banned books. Why is banned books week important? According to the American Library Association (of which I’m a member),

By focusing on efforts across the country to remove or restrict access to books, Banned Books Week draws national attention to the harms of censorship.

As a parent, you have a right to decide what your own children should be exposed to, but I strongly believe that you do not have the right to dictate what other children have access to. So, let’s celebrate the books that have been challenged and see if you’ve read any of them and you can make the decision for yourself. Each day of Banned Books Week I’ll highlight several of the titles that were challenged or banned last year. Let’s see how they stack up. Also? This is a blog hop so I’ll giveaway a $10 Amazon gift card to the winner!

Today we’re featuring books by African Americans.

Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers

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Ironically, Fallen Angels was

Challenged on the Danbury Middle School reading list in Toledo, Ohio (2013) because of inappropriate language. The book depicts the reality of the Vietnam War, with sometimes gruesome descriptions of combat and frequent foul language from soldiers.

But here’s the question that I’d like answered: what kind of language would you expect soldiers to use? I know the books are for young teens but depicting soldiers using language that is a little too clean, might be a little too unrealistic.  I don’t know about where you live, but around here, Fallen Angels is on many schools’ required reading lists.

Have you read it?

Next lets visit  Ralph Ellison.

Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

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Please don’t confuse Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison with The Invisible Man by HG Wells!

As he journeys from the Deep South to the streets and basements of Harlem, from a horrifying “battle royal” where black men are reduced to fighting animals, to a Communist rally where they are elevated to the status of trophies, Ralph Ellison’s nameless protagonist ushers readers into a parallel universe that throws our own into harsh and even hilarious relief. Suspenseful and sardonic, narrated in a voice that takes in the symphonic range of the American language, black and white, Invisible Man is one of the most audacious and dazzling novels of our century.

 

For the same reasons that Invisible Man is an important read to understand the struggles of the African American community, Invisible Man has also been challenged. To be sure, the book contains strong language but you cannot properly depict the struggles of that era by using tame language, I think.  Either way, it’ll make you think.

Have you read either of these books or anything by Walter Dean Myers?

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Categories
Children Diversity Reviews Young Adult

Why You Should Read Walter Dean Myers

Walter Dean Myers is a prolific writer of young adult and middle grade children’s literature.  The problem is, you might not have heard of him.  WDM’s many titles include:

  • Monster
  • Sunrise over Fallujah
  • Autobiography of My Dead Brother
  • All the Right Stuff
  • and many many more

Walter Dean Myers Unconventioinal LibrarianWDM’s writing is good and his work has been awarded countless awards.  Currently he is the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, a position that strives to raise literacy awareness.  So, if he’s so important, why have you probably not heard of him?

That’s because Myers is African  American, his audience is primarily African American children, and his characters are primarily African American or other minorities.  So, unless you’re an avid read of the YA genre, or African American or an educator, you probably haven’t heard of him.

But now you have. And now you should get acquainted with his work.  His work is powerful and speaks to not only those of color, but to those who want to do better with their lives or don’t understand why things work the way they do.

Does that sound like you?

That’s because it IS you.

Everyone can benefit from reading a Walter Dean Myers title or two.

I just finished All the Right Stuff, his latest release.

See below as Cleo takes a break from supervising my reading of All the Right Stuff.

Unconventional Librarian All The Right Stuff

I love this book and d’you know why? It’s smart and it makes you think!  Young Paul lives in Harlem and gets a summer job at a soup kitchen where he learns not only how to make soup but how to evaluate his place in the world and how to engage in intelligent conversation about how to change the world for the better.

Any child can relate to this book, not just an African American child or a child who lives in Harlem or another impoverished neighborhood.  Any child who must make a choice between doing good and doing wrong can appreciate the choices Paul has to make.

I can’t recommend this book enough.  Look in your bookshelf; there’s prolly an old copy of a WDM book lying around from a required reading assignment.  Pick it up and read it.  It’ll make you think.  Meanwhile? I’m going to do the same…

I give this book four paws for honest portrayal of young African Americans.

Unconventional Librarian 4paws