By Mark I. West
Cassie loves being with her family and neighbors on the “tiny rooftop” that she calls her “Tar Beach.” Her parents put a mattress on the roof for Cassie to sleep on while the adults are visiting. For Cassie, “Sleeping on Tar Beach was magical. Lying on the roof in the night, with stars and skyscraper buildings all around me, made me feel rich, like I owned all that I could see.” Cassie fantasizes that she can fly. The illustrations depict her soaring above New York City.
Ringgold portrays the rooftop as a liminal space where reality and fantasy merge. In her fantasy flights, Cassie helps her father overcome the racial discrimination that he faces. Within the context of her fantasies, she feels good about herself because she can make life better for her family. Her fantasies correspond to a point that Bruno Bettelheim makes in The Uses of Enchantment about the healing power of fantasy. “While the fantasy is unreal,” Bettelheim writes,” the good feelings it gives us about ourselves and our future are real, and these real good feelings are what we need to sustain us.”
planet known as Junior Brown.” Junior Brown likes the idea of having a planet named after him, and he enjoys creating stories about his planet. For Junior Brown, this experience helps him gain a better sense of self-worth. For Buddy, this room provides him with the sense of security that helps him move beyond being one of the “tough, black children of city streets.” In the process, he begins to imagine a new future for himself.
Like Hamilton, David Barclay Moore spent time in Harlem, and he drew on this experience when writing The Stars Beneath Our Feet. Lolly, the central character, is a twelve-year-old boy who lives in contemporary Harlem. His life is upended when his older brother is killed in a gang-related incident. Lolly also faces changes in his family situation. Before the novel’s opening, his parents separated, and his mother’s girlfriend moved into the apartment. Lolly reacts to these events by withdrawing. His depression causes him to lose interest in everything except building with his Legos blocks, an activity he used to do with his brother.
The protagonists in these books all spend time in liminal spaces where the boundaries between reality and fantasy blur. For my students, these books brought back childhood memories of special places where they, too, felt that reality and fantasy merged. For one, it was a treehouse that she and her brother built, taking their inspiration from the Magic Tree House series. For another, it was a walk-in closet where she set up her dollhouse. When I started the class, I had no idea that these books would spark such lively discussions, but I now realize that these books tap into an aspect of childhood that resonates with students from various backgrounds. They might not be familiar with the term “liminal space,” but they all can relate to the quasi-magical experience of being in a liminal space.
Mark I. West is a Professor of English at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and a member of CLA.
By Mary Ann Cappiello, Xenia Hadjioannou, and Melissa Stewart
We are fortunate to be in the midst of a golden age for nonfiction literature for young people. Today’s nonfiction pushes boundaries in form and function, and its creators write about an ever expanding array of topics. In these books, young people encounter well-researched and nuanced explorations of cutting edge scientific discoveries, underexplored moments throughout history and in our current time, compelling accounts of historically marginalized and minoritized communities and perspectives, and more.
As we advocated in our February 14, 2022, letter to The New York Times, #KidsLoveNonfiction! Indeed, several researchers investigating the reading habits and preferences of young children report that, when given the opportunity to self-select, the majority of children enjoy nonfiction as much as or more than fiction (Correia, 2011; Ives et al. 2020; Mohr, 2006; Repaskey et al., 2017). Yet, adults often assume that young people would rather read fiction, and are therefore hesitant to make nonfiction titles available to children or to devote time to exploring nonfiction with the young people in their lives.
As the school year begins, we want to remind all adults who are involved in the reading lives of children that:
To raise awareness of the potential of nonfiction books to empower young people by feeding their interests and creating pathways to their passions, we’ve created the flyer 10 Ways to Discover & Share Nonfiction with Young People this Fall. We hope it will find its way onto classroom walls, library displays, and home fridges and inspire teachers, librarians, parents, and all people who read with children.
Have a wonderful school year!
Correia, M. P. (2011). Fiction vs. Informational Texts: Which Will Kindergartners Choose? Young Children, 66(6), 100–104.
Ives, S. T., Parsons, S. A., Parsons, A. W., Robertson, D. A., Daoud, N., Young, C., & Polk, L. (2020). Elementary Students’ Motivation to Read and Genre Preferences. Reading Psychology, 41(7), 660–679. https://doi.org/10.1080/02702711.2020.1783143
Mohr, K. A. J. (2006). Children’s Choices for Recreational Reading: A Three-Part Investigation of Selection Preferences, Rationales, and Processes. Journal of Literacy Research, 38(1), 81–104. https://doi.org/10.1207/s15548430jlr3801_4
Repaskey, L. L., Schumm, J., & Johnson, J. (2017). First and Fourth Grade Boys’ and Girls’ Preferences For and Perceptions About Narrative and Expository Text. Reading Psychology, 38(8), 808–847. https://doi.org/10.1080/02702711.2017.1344165
Mary Ann Cappiello teaches courses in children’s literature and literacy methods at Lesley University, blogs about teaching with children’s literature at The Classroom Bookshelf and Text Sets and Trade Books, and is a founding member of The Biography Clearinghouse. She is a former chair of NCTE’s Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction K-8.
Xenia Hadjioannou is associate professor of language and literacy education at the Berks campus of Penn State University. She is vice-president of CLA and co-editor of the CLA Blog. She is a founding member of The Biography Clearinghouse.
Melissa Stewart is the award-winning author of more than 200 science-themed nonfiction books for children and co-author of 5 Kinds of Nonfiction: Enriching Reading and Writing Instruction with Children’s Books. Her highly-regarded website features a rich array of nonfiction writing resources.
By Susan Polos
At the beginning of each school year, teachers flock to public and school libraries in search of familiar or new back-to-school books to read to classes as they welcome students to a new school year. There is no shortage of titles from which to choose. Typical displays in most libraries showcase dozens of choices. Many picture book series feature a well-known character going back to school. Froggy, the Pigeon, the Pout-Pout Fish, Llama Llama and Lola are just a few familiar characters who face their fears and find that school is a happy place.
School itself may be the focus of the read-aloud. This Is a School by John Schu, illustrated by Veronica Miller Jamison, lets children know that school is not just a place but is also a collection of people, grown up and young, whose diverse identities enrich the process of learning. School’s First Day of School by Adam Rex, illustrated by Christian Robison, turns the perspective from the student experience to the experience of the personified school building, which is happy when children are happy and playfully squirts water from the water fountain in the face of a child who has something negative to say about school.
A perennial favorite in many classrooms is First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg, illustrated by Judy Love. The story follows a reluctant protagonist who resists all efforts to get ready for school. Only at the end is it revealed that this character is actually the teacher. This offers the opportunity for students to appreciate that their teacher is a person, too, who may have feelings about the new year that are complicated, just like their own. It is also funny, and first days are better when the class can share a laugh. Beyond the first-day-of-school perspective from the school and teacher, there’s even a book about the first day of school from the point of view of the bus, Little Yellow Bus by Erin Guendelsberger, illustrated by Suzie Mason. The bus, like the teacher, is nervous, but he pushes through and has a great first day!
Children’s literature provides positive examples of children’s agency in the face of new experiences. The Queen of Kindergarten by Derrick Barnes, following The King of Kindergarten, both illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton, is the story of a child who is primed to be successful by her family as she internalizes their praise and deep respect. A fun detail occurs as she is asked to select a book for a classroom read aloud and selects Crown, a book by the same author. Another book that shines light on attitude is I Got the School Spirit by Connie Schofield-Morrison, illustrated by Frank Morrison. This book will create excitement in the classroom as students appreciate that they bring the enthusiasm necessary to shape a strong community.
The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by Rafael López is a book that will help students who worry that they might not fit in. It will open conversation about the value and importance of welcoming and appreciating everyone and provide a springboard to celebrate differences and to find similarities. This can be paired with All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold, illustrated by Suzanne Kaufman, a picture book whose simple message of inclusivity is told in rhyme and reinforced with the images of happy and diverse children.
Every school year is new as students move through different grades, and first days are the subject of books for older students as well as the very young. Beyond picture books, check out the early chapter book Harry Versus the First Hundred Days of School by Emily Jenkins and illustrated by Pete Oswald. Harry is in first grade, and each chapter follows the calendar academic year as he experiences the ups and downs of the school year. For added fun, the author refers to over a dozen picture books which can be read aloud during the school year, including Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña, illustrated by Christian Robinson, and Niño Wrestles the World by Yuyi Morales. Middle schoolers will love New Kid and Class Act by Jerry Craft, graphic novels that follow Jordan, a new student, and his friends as they navigate middle school.
There are many more titles not included here, and this is just a sampling, barely scratching the surface of what is available. First day worries are ubiquitous, and books can normalize the sense of unease while bringing classes together to laugh and to consider how creating a sense of belonging for all can set the tone for the whole year.
Susan Polos is the middle school librarian at Greenwich Country Day School in Greenwich, Connecticut, and is a CLA member.
By Xenia Hadjioannou, Lauren Aimonette Liang & Liz Thackeray Nelson
As yet another unusual school year is drawing to a close, we remain grateful for all the teachers who worked through novel challenges, who never lost sight of their students as humans with curiosities and the desire to learn, and who continued to share all kinds of books with them. Books that spoke to who individual students are and affirmed and bolstered their identities, books that allowed them to glimpse ways and experiences different than their own, and books that fed their wonderings and offered well-researched information about the world. Books they would have picked up anyway but got to experience and think about with others through their classroom communities, and books they would have never read if it weren't for a teacher or a librarian setting them in their hands.
As you are shifting to your summer rhythms, we hope that you will be afforded time for rest and rejuvenation and that you will find plenty of fascinating new reads for both your personal and professional reading stacks.
If you are a CLA member, we also encourage you to consider applying for one of the CLA grants and awards to support your professional activities for the coming academic year.
Information about the three awards and how to apply can be accessed below.
Happy Summer to all and we look forward to "seeing" you in the fall when the CLA Blog returns!
Xenia, Lauren and Liz
Co-editors of the CLA Blog
By Denise Dávila on Behalf of the Biography Clearinghouse
Sister Corita Kent authored provocative multimodal compositions that were inspired by looking closely at ordinary objects and were imbued with intertextual meanings. As suggested in Make Meatballs Sing, much of her work began by focusing her attention on specific elements and blocking out others. She employed cardboard viewfinders with her students as tools for developing the skill of looking. These next activities build upon the use of viewfinders in the classroom. They are adapted from the Make Meatballs Sing Curriculum Guide.
Denise Dávila is an assistant professor at the University of Texas at Austin. She studies childrens literature and researches the home literacy practices of families with young children in under-resourced communities.
By Angela Wiseman and Ally Hauptman, Breakfast Committee co-chairs
Ally Hauptman is a CLA Board Member and co-chair of the 2022 CLA Breakfast Committee. She is an associate professor at Lipscomb University in Nashville, TN.
Angela Wiseman is a CLA Board Member and is co-chair of the 2022 CLA Breakfast Committee. She is an associate professor of literacy education at North Carolina State University.
By Erika Thulin Dawes and Xenia Hadjioannou on behalf of the Biography Clearinghouse
We close out the school year immersed in social strife and conflict. Our students are grappling both with big questions about humanity and substantial uncertainties about everyday life. Recent research describes rising mental health concerns for young people (Acheson, 2020; Cowie & Myers, 2021; Samji et al. 2022) and it’s not surprising that maintaining optimism is challenging in the context of war, a global pandemic, and climate change. As educators, we are seeking ways to provide our students with grounding and with hope. And we believe that biographies, life stories of inspiring people, can help to provide both an anchor and inspiration. Our latest Biography Clearinghouse entry features Duncan Tonatiuh’s picturebook biography Soldier for Equality: José de la Luz Sáenz and the Great War. Using his trademark illustrative style, digital collage inspired by Mixtec Pre-Columbian art, Tonatiuh describes the World War I experiences of ‘Luz’; a teacher, activist, Texan, and a person with Mexican heritage.
Toniatiuh’s biography of José de la Luz Sáenz is a powerful narrative of the transformative power of literacy. Luz’s education and multilingualism were instrumental in his life trajectory; his knowledge allowed him to navigate the battlefield safely, keeping him out of the trenches and instead in a fortified command post for the intelligence service. He developed his skills in organizing while teaching English to Mexican American soldiers. And upon his return to teaching when the war was over, he turned his outrage over unequal schooling for Mexican American children into activism, establishing the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), an organization that helped to end the segregation of Latinx children from white schools.
In our Biography Clearinghouse entry, we provide an interview with Duncan Tonatiuh and a collection of teaching ideas to support student exploration of Soldier for Equality. These teaching ideas encourage students to consider the transformative power of literacy and the generative power of community organizing and activism. They include: an exploration of translanguaging and theme development in picturebooks; a history of and contemporary look at the experience of minoritized populations in the United States army; a call to allyship to counter bullying; a visual literacy exercise exploring traditional artistic motifs; and a tribute to teacher activists.
Below is an excerpt of the teaching ideas in the Biography Clearinghouse entry for Soldier for Equality: José de la Luz Sáenz and the Great War:
Teachers as Activists
Acheson, R. (2020). Research digest: The impact of the covid-19 pandemic on child, adolescent, young adult, and family mental health. Journal of Child Psychotherapy, 46(3), 429-440. https://doi.org/10.1080/0075417X.2021.1912810
Cowie, H., & Myers, C. (2021). The impact of the COVID‐19 pandemic on the mental health and well‐being of children and young people. Children & Society, 35(1), 62-74. https://doi.org/10.1111/chso.12430
Samji, H., Wu, J., Ladak, A., Vossen, C., Stewart, E., Dove, N., Long, D., & Snell, G. (2022). Review: Mental health impacts of the COVID‐19 pandemic on children and youth – a systematic review. Child and Adolescent Mental Health, 27(2), 173-189. https://doi.org/10.1111/camh.12501
Erika Thulin Dawes is a Professor of Language and Literacy at Lesley University where she teaches courses in children’s literature and early childhood literacy and is the program director of the graduate Early Childhood Education program. Erika is a former chair of NCTE’s Charlotte Huck Award for Outstanding Fiction for Children.
Xenia Hadjioannou is an Associate Professor of Language and Literacy Education at the Harrisburg campus of Penn State University where she teaches and works with pre- and in-service teachers through various courses in language and literacy methodology. She is the Vice President and Website Manager of the Children's Literature Assembly, and a co-editor of The CLA Blog.
The Bonnie Campbell Hill National Literacy Leader Award
Classified: The Secret Career of Mary Gold Ross, Cherokee Aerospace Engineer by Cherokee author Traci Sorell and Métis illustrator Natasha Donovan is an excellent example of a biography that features a woman in a STEM career. The book shows Mary’s love of mathematics and traces her path from teaching, to becoming Lockheed’s first female engineer, and then a member of the Skunk Works division working on satellites and spacecraft.
Extensive back matter includes a timeline, photos, an author’s note, an explanation of the Cherokee values mentioned in the text, source notes, and a bibliography. Illustrations showcase some of the aircraft Mary worked on such as the Lockheed A-12 and the Starfighter F-104C, as well as equations related to the projects.
- Read the Smithsonian article “Mary Golda Ross: Aerospace Engineer, Educator, and Advocate.”
- Read the Smithsonian article “Mary Golda Ross: She Reached for the Stars.”
- Watch the Reading Rockets video: “Traci Sorell: Classified: Mary Golda Ross, Cherokee Aerospace Engineer.”
- Access the author’s website for additional materials that explore the Cherokee values Mary personified.
- There is also a Classified Teaching Guide which contains many activity ideas for experimenting with the forces of flight.
Blast Off! How Mary Sherman Morgan Fueled America into Space written by Suzanne Slade and illustrated by Sally Wern Comport is another of the untold stories of the space program. Working with two engineers as her assistants, Mary Sherman Morgan created the rocket fuel hydyne which powered the launch of the first American satellite into space. This biography explores Mary’s late start in school, her determination to pursue a career in chemistry, and her work at North American Aviation.
This book also has plenty of back matter with photos, a timeline, a selected bibliography, and more details about Mary, the Juno 1 rocket and the Explorer 1 satellite. The author’s note includes an explanation of how difficult it was to find information. She states, “Mary Morgan’s history is not well-documented. Unfortunately, that is true of many women who have made meaningful contributions to science and other fields.” Thanks to the author’s persistence in reaching out to family members, people from Mary’s hometown, and aerospace experts, she was able to create this inspiring story.
- The book trailer shows the important launch Mary was working toward with her rocket fuel.
- This NASA video tells more about Explorer 1 and its lasting legacy for space exploration.
- NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory has a web page on Explorer 1 with links to photos, videos, and other information.
- In this short BBC video George Morgan talks about his mother and Rocket Girl, the book he wrote about her work developing rocket fuel.
- To make experiments of their own about the perfect fuel ratio for a rocket launch, students might enjoy working with fizzy rockets and trying out different proportions of water to Alka-Seltzer tablets to power the launch. SciTech Labs has posted a how-to video.
- There is also a lesson plan with instructions available from the Civil Air Patrol.
By Mary Ann Cappiello, Jennifer M. Graff and Melissa Quimby on behalf of The Biography Clearinghouse
Melissa Quimby, a 4th grade teacher in Massachusetts, has written the inaugural entry in our new feature “Stories from the Classroom.” Melissa is the genius behind #MeetSomeoneNewMonday, a weekly initiative that has spread from her classroom to her grade level team to an entirely different school in just three years.
This initiative launched when Melissa decided to share her passion for picturebook biographies with her students through interactive read-alouds. They were hooked! As Melissa writes, “Over time, I molded this project in intentional ways, and it evolved into an adventure that focused on identity, centered marginalized and minoritized communities, and cultivated thoughtful, strategic middle grade readers.” What started as a way to share nonfiction picturebooks as an engaging and compelling art form developed into a more nuanced exploration of global changemakers–past and present. With their weekly reading of picturebook biographies, students grow as readers and thinkers and deepen their individual and collective sense of agency.
In the following excerpts, Melissa describes how she reveals each week’s notable changemaker to her students and shares some of her picturebook biography selections.
Monday Read-Aloud Routines
Some weeks, interactive read aloud time happens on Monday morning immediately following the reveal. On some Mondays, it works best for us to huddle up in the afternoon. Occasionally, we steal pockets of time throughout our busy schedule to enjoy the biography of the week in smaller doses. When we read the text is not as important as how we read the text. The heart of this work truly lies in how we generate emotional investment within our students and how we help our students’ reactions and ideas blossom into new thinking about the world and ways that they can take action in their own lives for themselves and others. Sometimes, we simply read the biography to love it. In those moments, readers are silent with their eyes glued to the book, scanning the illustrations, wide-eyed when something surprising happens. Perhaps they whisper something to their neighbor, let out an audible gasp or share a comment aloud. Sometimes, we read to grow ideas. In these moments, readers are tracking trouble, considering how the figure responds to obstacles. They are ready to turn to their partner and reach for a precise trait word or theme and supporting evidence.
You can also reach out to Melissa through her website (QUIMBYnotRamona) or Twitter (@QUIMBYnotRamona) to discuss how to implement #MeetSomeoneNew initiative in your classroom or school.
Inspired by Melissa’s picturebook biography initiative or done something similar? Share your ideas and stories with us via email: email@example.com. Or, chime in on Twitter (@teachwithbios), Facebook, or Instagram with your own #teachwithbios ideas and picturebook biography recommendations.
Mary Ann Cappiello teaches courses in children’s literature and literacy methods at Lesley University, blogs about teaching with children’s literature at The Classroom Bookshelf. She is a former chair of NCTE’s Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction K-8.
Jennifer M. Graff is an Associate Professor in the Department of Language and Literacy Education at the University of Georgia where her scholarship focuses on diverse children’s literature and early childhood literacy practices. She is a former committee member of NCTE’s Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction K-8, and has served in multiple leadership roles throughout her 16+ year CLA membership.
The Politics of Black Hair: Using Children’s and Young Adult Literature to Teach and Affirm Black Identity
By Tiffeni Fontno
Reintroduced into the conversation through The Crown Act, even in education, Black hair has been policed through discriminatory school codes and policy standards, widening the marginalization against culturally inclusive, responsive, and sustainable identity practices.
Black hair has been subjected to colorism, discrimination based on color, and texturism; the belief that certain hair textures are better than others. Based on enslavement and Western standards of beauty, the idea of "good hair," straight more European, and "bad hair," hair that is curlier and kinkier, creates a standard of sociocultural standards that are a source of contention to this very day (Byrd, 2001).
Culturally responsive teaching involves incorporating culture, knowledge, language, perspectives, and experiences into the curriculum and instruction for more engaging and meaningful learning experiences (Ladson-Billings, 2009). Educators may not be culturally proficient or prepared through teacher education programs to connect with the nuances of relationship building and teaching diverse student populations (Gay, 2002). In this post, I share books and resources for educators to learn and understand the importance of the representation and appreciation of Black hair for students from kindergarten through-8th grade.
Centered from a Black British perspective, Chimbiri’s non-fiction book The Story of Afro Hair sensitively tells a detailed account of the history of Black hair. This stylized journey details hairdos, products, innovations, the science of Black hair, and the philosophy behind styles, like locks.
Also included in the back matter are a glossary and additional references.
Cornrows (Elementary-Middle School)
Cornrows is a fictional story that intertwines and connects the history and pride of Black culture through hair design. Released in 1997, Yarbrough's book, told through the storytelling of Great-Grammaw, inspires pride, hope, and courage.
Both books provide an entryway to a discussion on Black hairstyles, through cultural understanding and historical significance.
Bedtime Bonnet (Elementary)
Nancy Redd’s Bedtime Bonnet shows the Black experience of the nighttime hair routine, which many people of African descent experience. The illustrator Nneka Myers does a beautiful job showing the different textures of hair and preparation.
Know your Hairitage: Zara’s Wash Day (Elementary-Middle School)
Know your Hairitage: Zara’s Wash Day by Zenda Walker and illustrated by Princess Karibo tells the story of Zara, who is frustrated by the weekly ritual of wash day and not having silky straight hair. While doing Zara’s hair, her Mom explains the cultural significance and connection of different styles to regions of Africa and the Rastafari influence, which gives Zara a greater appreciation of her identity. The back matter has a glossary of hairstyles, geographical and cultural terms.
Hair Love (Elementary)
Hair Love by Matthew Cherry follows a father who bravely takes on the challenge of doing his daughter Zuri’s hair for the first time. Using online video tutorials this story shows, dad navigating products and accessories to try and create the perfect hairdo to make Zuri happy.
The following books provide insight into Black hair stories and perspectives beyond America to understand the prevalence of Black hair stigma and culture internationally.
Bad Hair Does Not Exist!/Pelo Malo No Existe! (Elementary-Middle School)
Author Sulma Arzu-Brown's bilingual book uses different phrases to describe kinky, curly hair to counter the negativity of the term ‘pelo malo’ while instilling pride and self-worth. This book is framed through the Afro-Latinx perspective and identity. Arzu-Brown words are culturally affirming throughout the story by reiterating that bad hair doesn’t exist.
Bintou’s Braids (Elementary-Middle School)
Bintou’s Braids by Sylvaine A. Diouf, is the Senegalese story of a young girl who impatiently wants the longer, more complex, braided hairstyles of the women in her village. We learn about the culture of maturation from girlhood to womanhood in understanding self-acceptance and identity through this story. Bintou learns the lesson of patience and enjoying being a child instead of receiving things immediately.
Don’t Touch My Hair (Elementary-Middle School)
Don’t Touch My Hair by Sharee Miller addresses the importance of agency and boundaries. This book gives a funny take on a serious topic of cultural curiosity, permission, and understanding differences.
Can I touch Your Hair? (Elementary)
Told in paired poems, Qualls and Alko’s Can I touch Your Hair? Poems of Race, Mistakes, and Friendship, explores race through navigating childhood friendships. The story centers on Irene and Charles, who are classmates working together on a 5th-grade poetry project. They struggle, awkwardly negotiating challenging moments to relate to one another while working on completing their school project.
Boys and Barbershops
Barbershops are a significant space in the Black community, especially for Black males. The following books provide perspectives on the barbershop experience.
El Primer Corte Mestiza de Fuquan/Furqan's First Flat Top (Elementary)
Robert Liu-Trujillo’s bilingual story of Furqan who wants a cool new haircut as he anxiously visits the barbershop for the first time.
Crown: Ode to the Fresh Cut (Elementary-Middle School)
The story, Crown: Ode to the Fresh Cut, authored by Derrick Barnes and illustrated by Gordon James, pays tribute to the barbershop as a community space by experiencing the ‘glow-up’ and joy of getting the perfect cut that gives the feeling that anything is possible.
In addition to resources in the blog, I’ve created a K-12 guide that lists trade books about the culture of Black hair, providing background knowledge for educators. Books, journal articles, news stories about policing Black hair, and The Crown Act legislation are included. The resources accumulated provide context to creating discussion and ways of knowing in relating and relaying Black culture to validate, teach and normalize cultural differences of hair in affirm student identities.
Dabiri. (2020). Twisted : the tangled history of black hair culture (First U.S. edition.). Harper Perennial.
Gay, G. (2002). Preparing for Culturally Responsive Teaching. Journal of Teacher Education, 53(2), 106–116. https://doi.org/10.1177/0022487102053002003
Ladson-Billings, G. (2009). The dreamkeepers: Successful teachers of African American children (2nd ed..). Jossey-Bass Publishers.
Tiffeni Fontno is Head Librarian at the Educational Resource Center of Boston College Libraries. She is a former classroom teacher and school librarian.
Supporting PreK-12 and university teachers as they share children’s literature with their students in all classroom contexts.
The opinions and ideas posted in the individual entries are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of CLA or the Blog Editors.
contribute to the blog
If you are a current CLA member and you would like to contribute a post to the CLA Blog, please read the Instructions to Authors and email co-editor Liz Thackeray Nelson with your idea.
Back To School
Black Freedom Movement
Bonnie Campbell Hill Award
Book Discussion Guides
Civil Rights Movement
Contemporary Realistic Fiction
Early Chapter Books
First Week Books
First Week Of School
Global Children’s And Adolescent Literature
Global Children’s And Adolescent Literature
International Children's Literature
Journal Of Children's Literature
Middle Grade Literature
Nurturing Lifelong Readers
Young Adult Literature