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Culturally Responsive Literacy Instruction

Teacher question: I am a Reading Coach at a Title I middle school serving a student population of 95% African American. Less than 40% of our students read at/or above grade level. My goal is to increase the amount of individual time that our students spend reading novels. My suggestion has been to add more classroom novels that are about African Americans, and African American culture. I feel that if we adopt a culturally responsive approach to literature, then our students may become more motivated to read.

Meet the new Ambassador for Young People’s Literature: Gene Yang

Ambassador Gene Luen Yang

On January 7, the 5th Ambassador for Young People’s Literature was officially installed at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. Gene Yang's induction was attended by former ambassadors, Kate DiCamillo and Jon Scieszka in a role also held by Walter Dean Myers and Katherine Paterson.

Gene Luen Yang, New LOC Ambassador for Young People's Literature, Supports Diversity, Technology

Gene Luen Yang will be inaugurated Thursday, Jan. 6 as the 5th National Ambassador for Young People's Literature at a ceremony at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. I plan on being there!

Teacher, Graphic Novelist

9+ Idea-Packed Resources to Prime Staff Development So All Learners Progress in 2016

There is no single best way to grow professionally. Here are some "finds" that educators and related services personnel can add to their 2016 professional development toolkit. 

1. Reading for All

How to Mix Oil and Water So that Nearly Everyone (including '1 in 5' with poor reading skills) Learns to Read by neuropsychologist Tim Conway at TEDxOcala on Dec. 15. Decide if his "highly effective" science-based approach can impact current approaches to reading instruction. 

Inclusion: Advice, Keys to Educating Diverse Early Learners with Dual Language + Disabilities

The Iris Center announces a new IRISSTAR Legacy Module, Dual Language Learners with Disabilities: Supporting Young Children in the Classroom. It is free online and offers ideas for serving diverse early learners in a classroom where instruction must take into account multiple languages, cultures, diverse learning needs, and backgrounds.

The end of a month

I read a statement on a publisher’s blog that resonated with me: “Black History is American History.” (The publisher is Lee & Low, a press known for publishing diverse books.)

I’ve written about this before and still believe that the sooner we get rid of hyphenated Americans, the better off we’ll be, able to have fuller discussions and let readers of all ages revel in the diversity that is us. 

Awards season – with a few surprises

The Newbery and Caldecott (and other Youth Media Awards) were announced yesterday in Chicago at the midwinter conference of the American Library Association. This year’s Caldecott honorees (gold and silver both) remind me that these books are for a wide range of readers, potentially children up to and including age 14.

Humor run amok

To quote Shakespeare, “All the world’s a stage,/And all the men and women merely players…” Some players take their role too far. They feel that comments must be witty or entertaining, frequently at the expense of others.

Loss of a friend

Walter Dean Myers

I've been away for a while. The family vacation was without Internet access or even phone service. When I was reconnected, I was deeply saddened by news that one of the true giants of contemporary children's and young adult literature had died.

Diversity: what does it mean?

Last week I spent an entire morning with students in 2nd, 3rd and 4th grades. A 3rd grade boy asked me my first name (I was introduced as Ms. Salvadore) before he left. When I told him, his wide grin was accompanied by a question: “Where are you from?” I was sorry to disappoint him. In spite of the way my name sounds, I’m not Hispanic (Italian father, Greek mother; English-speaking home). He said he thought maybe I was Honduran — like him. I also am sorry to disappoint children when I can’t find books that reflect who they are.

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"There is no substitute for books in the life of a child." — May Ellen Chase