A Welcome Reissue of Fierce with Reality

Fierce with Reality, a culturally diverse literary collection on aging, has been reissued by the editor, Margaret Cruikshank. The anthology highlights writings by women from late l9th century American literature to the present, and includes an essay by Pat.

Ranging from ancient Chinese poetry to Mary Oliver and Alice Walker, the anthology includes fiction, philosophical essays, personal essays, humor, analyses of ageism, and folktales from Asia and Iraq. Many facets of aging are explored, revealing the challenges and complexities of late-life experiences, and demonstrating that aging is both individual and social/cultural.
Fierce With Reality

Sharing a letter from Kyle Zimmer, President and CEO, First Book

Kyle writes:

I recently had an amazing conversation with Andrea Davis Pinkney, the author of A Poem for Peter and other award-winning books. She shared this with me:

“When kids see a child that looks like them on the cover of a book, they see that they are important. But when they don’t see themselves reflected, they don’t get to know that they matter. When they don’t see themselves depicted, they don’t get to see that they count. And I think that’s the importance of diversity: kids see what they see, and they don’t see what they don’t see.”

first-book-diversityAndrea’s words echo what we hear from the educators First Book serves: 90% of First Book educators say their students would be more enthusiastic readers if they had access to books with characters, stories, and images that reflect their lives.

When children read more, the greater the likelihood that they will succeed in school, and subsequently, in life. Unfortunately, the lack of diversity in children’s books is staggering.

First Book’s Stories for All Project™ addresses the lack of inclusivity in children’s books by providing kids in need with books representing diverse characters, voices and life circumstances. Promoting understanding and empathy through stories helps children see and celebrate their similarities and differences.

You can help children be seen. Donate to First Book today to help create an empathetic and inclusive generation. When you donate, tell us where you want Stories for All Project™ to be distributed. Open up a world of possibilities for kids in your community.

February is Library Lovers’ Month!

Tomas and the Library LadyThe twentieth Anniversary of Tomás and the Library Lady? How is this possible? As I say in the Tomás section of my site, I had the pleasure and honor of knowing Dr. Tomás Rivera. What an inspiration as many of us work as he did to create an inclusive country, a true democracy. Onward together.

Illustration © Raul Colón from Tomás and the Library Lady. All rights reserved.

Illustration © Raul Colón from Tomás and the Library Lady. All rights reserved.

Día 2017: Exciting Children and Families about Bookjoy

January: across our country, the Día Community reminds our partners that Día: Children’s Day, Book Day, in Spanish, El día de los niños, el día de los libros, is a daily commitment and that January is a good month to begin planning culminating April bookjoy celebrations. Day by day, día por día, we creatively excite children and families about books–all children, all cultures, all languages.

Last year was Día’s 20th Anniversary. Let’s build on that excitement! The Día section of my site includes a planning booklet. If you wish to register your April celebration, please complete this form. We are grateful to our partners at Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) for maintaining this registry, to First Book for coordinating the Mora Award, and to AFT and other partners for helping us promote this literacy initiative.

Join us in creating an annual Día tradition in your community, state and in our inclusive nation.

Happy 21st Dia!

Creativity Salon: An Interview With R. Joseph Rodríguez

R. Joseph RodriguezYears ago, when Joseph was a teenager and I was an administrator at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP), he wrote me, sent me his photo and asked if he could be my poet friend. I treasured his letter, and I deeply treasure his friendship. I believe that Joseph, now a UTEP professor, is a gifted and committed educator. I am excited about his new book. Welcome to our Creativity Salon, Joseph, mi amigo.

1. Do you think of yourself as creative? If yes, have you always thought of yourself as creative?
I fondly remember creativity appearing all around me since I was a young boy. For instance, I recall the artistic planning and deep thinking of my mother, grandmother, and great-aunts in their crocheting, sewing, stitching, listings, prayers, and writings that included their families.

Also, there was applied mathematics for budgeting and constructing that my father, grandfather, and uncles wrote on scrap paper envelopes and wooden boards and planks. Their actions drew me to their ideas and creation. These caring adults were all models, and they invited me to join them and practice.

Thus, long ago I followed the creative, dancing, and glowing mind. Imagination enlivens so much that I feel energized as I create, yet stillness is just as nourishing for my being creative. Although I am far from my boyhood now, the creativity I see and hear among many children, adolescents, and adults keeps me going.

Enacting Adolescent Literacies Across Communities2. How does the above answer apply to your new book?
Since beginning my graduate studies in the late 1990s, I kept notes about literary studies and literacy education. I wanted to write a book that documented both in action. Through my ethnography research, I documented how students and teachers are being and becoming cultivated through various literacies and opportunities to gain scribal identities.

I met students who persisted in a creative mode and made gains with opportunities presented by their teachers and librarians, even when test scores said otherwise. The young people kept going, reading, and learning for understanding–in and out of the classroom.

The book took five years: one year to find research sites, two years for gathering research data, and two years dedicated to writing (while I was also teaching and working at The University of Texas at El Paso).

3. What do you enjoy reading and why is reading important in your life?

Reading fuels my life. I read poems daily. I pay attention to a poet’s use of language arts. A few days ago, I re-read two poems you published in 1986. The poems changed my life when I first read them in 1990.

Your poem “University Avenue” was hung on a wall in the dormitory rooms I inhabited all through my undergraduate studies, while the poem “Sonrisas” reminds me of the rooms we enter and what we overlook. Both poems energize me in my work and remind me to pay attention.

The children’s book Last Stop on Market Street (2015) by Matt de la Peña (author) and Christian Robinson (illustrator) was a wholesome ride to read and experience. A few months ago, I got to perform it for my friend Kimberly’s son, Elliott, while we rode the MARTA in Atlanta.

This month I finished reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (2010) by Rebecca Skloot. I learned that Lacks’s cells possess geographies we follow today.

I believe reading is a form of breathing that nourishes the mind and spirit. My imagination comes alive as I read, and I also revel in the quiet while reading and re-reading. “Bookjoy!” you call it. Hence, I read on.

Common Ground for an Inclusive America

I always smile at the line, “Democracy is not a spectator sport.” Democracy isn’t easy as President Barack Obama reminded us in his farewell remarks. Participating in preserving and strengthening our democracy requires work, hard work–from each of us. I want to remember and return to his words to “be vigilant but not afraid,” to “share a proud title–citizen,” “to show up and dive in.” It has been inspiring to have a President who is an avid reader, who knows bookjoy.

Together, diverse as we are, all of us who want an inclusive America can find common ground for the common good. I am so grateful to Barack Obama and his family for their personal sacrifice and their fine example. Onward together.

ARLINGTON, VA - DECEMBER 17: U.S. President Barack Obama reads a book to second graders at Long Branch Elementary School December 17, 2010 in Arlington, Virginia. Obama is expected to sign the compromise $858 billion tax legislation later in the day. (Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)