Reading Ruby with New Americans

Ruby Nell Bridges at age 6, was the first African American child to attend William Franz Elementary School in New Orleans after Federal courts ordered the desegregation of public schools.

One of the jobs I cherish doing is bringing NH Humanities’ book discussion programs to English Language Learners.I met with Christine Powers’ class of adult learners in Salem, New Hampshire this spring. They were all new Americans and also mothers. We met in the school where their kids go. Together we read a series of illustrated biographies including The Story of Ruby Bridges by Robert Coles, the psychologist who wrote The Moral Life of Children.

I discovered Robert Coles’ The Moral Life of Children, years ago. For the book, he interviewed many children including Ruby Bridges, six years old. A New York Times reviewer explained Coles book like this, ”’No one teaches children sociology or psychology,” Dr. Coles remarks; ‘yet, children are constantly noticing who gets along with whom, and why.’ His tales are about what they have noticed, and how it affects them.” Ruby Bridges told Robert Coles about the mobs of people screaming hate at her as she crossed in front of them to go to school:

”They keep coming and saying the bad words, but my momma says they’ll get tired after a while and then they’ll stop coming. They’ll stay home.”

It was powerful reading about social justice issues in the U.S. with women from Pakistan, India, Lebanon, Vietnam, and Latin American countries. They are all mothers and know the power of family words. I stayed only for a short time, but Chris and her students kept delving into the book and the questions it asks of us and what we say to our kids.

In this new language of English, each student wrote a cinquain poem.

Here’s one:

Ruby Bridges

Religious Brave

Reading Praying Talking

“I was praying for them.”

Love.

Thank you, Chris Powers and all the women in your class for our time together.

 

Writing Our Cultural Mosaic

Hello Writers,  it was deeply wonderful to meet old friends and new writers at the  NESCBWI ’17 conference   Here are handouts from the workshop, “Writing Our Cultural Mosaic” I presented at the conference with the extraordinary Susan Lynn Meyer, author of New Shoes, winner of the NAACP Image Award.

Ten Responsibilities for White Writers Writing Our Cultural Mosaic

Writing Our Cultural Mosaic Quotes to Ponder NESCBWI ’17

Writing Prompts

Here are posts I’ve written with links to blogs on writing diverse cultures:  Racial Awareness and Children’s Literature.

Mosaic: Our Characters in the World offers more books and links to explore.

 

 

 

 

The Refugee Experience, ALA Booklist for Teens

ALA-YALSA offers a reading list of YA fiction and nonfiction to help teens understand the refugee experience.  The Refugee Experience for Teens.  The comments section took me to work of nonfiction I have to read, In the Sea There are Crocodiles, the story of Enaiatollah Akbadi written by Fabio Geda.  It is Geda’s “first person rendition” of Enaia’s journey from Afghanistan to Italy.