Favorite Young Adult Novels

  • November Blues
  • Beast
  • My Life As a Rhombus
  • Slam
  • Mother Love
  • Night Watch
  • The Way a Door Closes
  • Last Part First
  • PUSH
  • Watson's Go to Birmingham-1963
  • The Skin I'm In
  • Dope Sick
  • Who Am I Without Him
  • Harlem Hustle
  • Tyrell
  • Bang
  • Tears of a Tiger
  • Forged by Fire

Monday, December 14, 2009

Semester Ending...

This is final exam week. I've just finished writing a final for Thursday's class, and must now read and grade all the final projects students submitted. When I began teaching 11 years ago, a seasoned professor told me something I often forget until this time of the semester..."The more work you give the students, the more work you have to grade." As I sit here now, it's all coming back to me...

I'll revise syllabi for Winter semester with that in mind... Sigh. I say that every semester, perhaps this time will be different.

Back to reading portfolios!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Bad Habit-Maxwell


This song has taken on such a profound meaning in my life. Each time I listen to it, or read the lyrics I see something different and reflect on my life and relationships. It has almost become my theme song. Perhaps, my imprinting for relationships is steeped in classic British literature like Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. Mine have not been that kind of party.

Has my perceptions of love been ruined by the words from a time when all was well, or were they merely writing empty words?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

What Motivates African American males to attend college?

I am totally immersed in Alfred Tatum's book Reading for their Life (Re)Building the Textual Lineages of African American Adolescent Males. I read his first book Teaching Reading To Black Adolescent Males: Closing the Achievement Gap, but this new one is really on target with what I want to see happen with the AAA males I know and love.

Recently, I had a conversation with some former students, all females, all college students or graduates. The question was "Why don't the boys go to college?" As they discussed the young men who attended high school with them, the number of college attendees and/or grads was much lower than those who didn't go. Why is that? I know a young man who was in college, but decided he needed a job to buy a car. The job became a priority and he never returned to college. The car aka " a hooptie" is history. He's laid off now. We have not discussed it, but the rationale that others give relates to responsibilities.

I am wondering if the lure of money is keeping many young AA males from going to college. The messed up economy almost makes a college education invalid, since many college grads are unable to find jobs.

Perhaps fear is a factor. Do they feel unprepared? Is college a monster for AA males whose high school learning experiences was not a preparation site? Then there are those who start college, then stop out, drop out or flunk out. My question is always what are the alternatives? My friend a former HS instructors claims he can tell early which boys will end up in their "mama's basement watching cable" by how many are seen reading books. Interesting.

As I reflect on why I went to college, it was purely survival. I knew the outcome had I not gone to college. It wasn't until 12th grade that anyone ever mentioned going to college to me. I wasn't asked if I wanted to go, I was told "You're going to college."It was just Divine intervention that the right teacher asked the right questions, said the right words and change my life's direction.

Reading Tatum's book there is a sense of urgency. The challenging it seems is engaging these young men early, with an understanding that not going to college is not an option. I am always quoting from Walter Mosley's young adult novel 47. The main character kept telling the enslaved that their condition did not define them. I agree. No one has to live the life script that has been write for them. This is only the first draft. There is always a chance to revise. I hope some of the information in Tatum's book will provide some gum on my eraser as I begin to deconstruct some of the negative perceptions about literacy, that will be a foundation to re-write life scripts.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Just This Morning-Reflections on Rain

August 22, 2009

It's raining today. I've never really liked rain. It confines me and that is frustrating. I fully understand the need for rain. As a child I embraced it because it meant tin tubs would fill with rain water which meant I would not have to tote-yes I said "tote" water from Mr. Lovette's house. You try filling a foot tub with water and toting it back and forth to fill big tin tubs for washing clothes and bodies. Both of which could serve multiple cleaning purposes. The occasional hair washing, dish washing and of course, rinsing out the night bucket also know as "slop bucket". For those whose mental filing cabinet is void of information about "night bucket". it is akin to the night chamber of old. You've seen them in the old movies...the forerunner to the commode! Yes, it is a fact. I grew up in a house that did not have indoor plumbing. The very astute might have deduced that from the whole "toting water" bit. Needless to say, rain was multifunctional. I guess you need more 411 about the night bucket. This might stretch your creative mind a bit, but work with me here. I must build background knowledge. Hmmm, it might be challenging if you have never seen a lard can. I'm not sure they make them any more. Anyway, visual learners, image a gallon can filled with white, cold, lard ( fat from a big old slaughtered hog or not so big pig-check out that rhyme-melted to make cooking grease), recycled to become a toilet! The grease was used to create greasy meals and once emptied a perfect container. Some bright person thought it would be perfect for nightly functions. Who in their right might wanted to trot outdoors in pitch dark down the path to the out house??? Bring on the night pot. Except for a few flaws that are oft to appear in modifying products. There was always the risk of slicing a piece of butt meat when sitting! Of course, the can opener did not double as an edge smoother! Jagged tin edges had a tendency to a bite when flesh is pressed into the can's rim.

As I said, rain is multifunctional. There were those great evenings when I was lulled to sleep to the sound of raindrops hitting the tin roof covering the dilapidated two room house. The rush to put down pots to catch rain that found its way through the holes was always a "rush"-quite a play on words don't you think? And lastly, I am almost ashamed to say... I loved the smell of fresh rain and warm Florida sand. So much so that on occasion I have been known to sample a little taste. I'm attributing it to a vitamin deficiency of some sort.

The sun is poking its rays through my blinds and the patter of raindrops falling on my roof is gone. Warmth is sneaking in to remind me it's still summer. I respect that! I shall rise and enjoy the day. Thankful to be alive to hear the rain and feel the sunshine, remembering the days that shaped who I am today.