In 1982 a charismatic and popular young man went out to celebrate his bachelor's party. What happened next would be the subject of several court cases and intense debate. What's undeniable is that a bar fight turned fatal ending with a white father and son beating a Chinese-American man to death. Vincent Chin would never see his wedding day, leaving the friends and family gathering for his wedding to observe his funeral rites instead. When the two white men received only a $3,000 fine and 3 years probation for this heinous crime, it was hard to believe that race hadn't played a role. Soon Vincent Chin's friends and family would rally together to protest the verdict and get the crime retried as the first federal civil rights trial involving a crime against an Asian American. Uncover the story behind this crime through case files, trial transcripts, and interviews with the people who were there. This is a hard but important story, and one that sheds light on what's happening today.
From a Whisper to a Rallying Cry: The Killing of Vincent Chin and the Trial that Galvanized the Asian American Movement by Paula Yoo
Erica's Picks 7th & up tags: history, nonfiction, People of Color, social justice
At first, President Lincoln would not allow African Americans or American Indians to enlist with the union army. But as the war drew on and the casualties mounted, it became harder and harder to find men willing to fight. In 1863 he changed that policy and allowed the creation of segregated units. By the end of the Civil War about 20,000 American Indians fought on both sides. One of the largest companies of American Indians were the Anishinaabe sharpshooters of Company K. Drawing on their hunting skills and their rich warrior tradition they were a formidable force who served with courage and honor. Learn about their stories, their service, and the history of their people.
The primary sources Sally Walker was able to find from photographs to letters home really bring members of Company K to life and depict the life of a Civil War soldier in detail. A fascinating history and a story that should be widely told and remembered.
Deadly Aim: The Civil War Story of Michigan's Anishinaabe Sharpshooters by Sally M. Walker
Erica's Picks 6th - 8th tags: history, nonfiction, People of Color
Gene was never interested in sports, but when he suffers from writer's block and everyone at school is talking about the basketball team, he senses a story. By the time he is done he's immersed himself in the history of basketball as a sport and the specifics of its history at his school. His school really does have a remarkable team with players destined for greatness. Gene was always interested in superheroes and comics, but he never imagined the epic stories of heroes right under his nose and how big a fan he'd become.
This is a great comic for basketball fans and the sports-shy alike. The human stories explored in the comic are universal and I feel lucky that Gene recorded their story to share with all of us. Especially considering its local setting. I'm a fan of Gene's work so I enjoyed the behind-the-scenes glimpse I got into his life as a comics creator.
Dragon Hoops by Gene Luen Yang 7th & 8th grades tags:
In the early days of football, no one wore helmets, forward passes weren't allowed, and the "Big Four" had a stranglehold on championships. But when a high number of deaths made some college deans threaten to ban football, Teddy Roosevelt stepped in to save it and institute new rule changes that would make it safer, break up gridlock on the field, and make it more fun for spectators. No one made it more fun to watch than Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indians. They invented the spiral, created innovative plays, and outplayed teams twice their size while maintaining a gruelling schedule of away games. Jim Thorpe was their breakout star with a speed and style that couldn't be touched. To find out more about the history of football, the life of Jim Thorpe, and life at Indian Boarding Schools, read Undefeated.
I am not a sports fan, but I absolutely loved this book! As always, Sheinkin's writing has all the emotion and fast pacing of a novel and the fact that it's all true only adds to the fascination. There's a wide variety of topics covered but it all feels cohesive. I particularly appreciate the way Sheinkin addresses injustices without sounding preachy and while engaging the reader. A sure-fit hit with fans of history and sports.
Undefeated: Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team by Steve Sheinkin Erica's Picks 6th - 8th grade Tags: history, nonfiction, people of color, sports
Ona Judge was born into slavery, the property of George and Martha Washington. Her mother was an enslaved seamstress owned by Martha Washington and her father was a white indentured servant who would eventually leave them both behind. When she was twenty two, Martha decided to give Ona to her granddaughter as a wedding gift, tearing Ona away from her family and putting her at the mercy of people Ona knew to be cruel. Before she could be handed over like a piece of china, Ona took matters into her own hands and boldy planned her escape.
"Like her mother, Betty, Ona learned how to persevere in the face of extreme hardship. Like her father, Ona would eventually free herself no matter who she left behind. Finally, like America itself, Ona would risk everything so that she, too, could achieve those rights written in the Declaration of Independence: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."
This is a much-needed perspective on American history, and I'm so glad that it came out in an edition for young readers. While the subject matter is by nature difficult, it is accessible and told in an engaging style. I strongly recommend it.
Never Caught, the Story of Ona Judge by Erica Armstrong Dunbar & Kathleen Van Cleve Erica's Picks 5th - 8th tags: biography, history, nonfiction, people of color
As part of a growing nationwide movement to bring Ethnic Studies into K–12 classrooms, Rethinking Ethnic Studies brings together many of the leading teachers, activists, and scholars in this movement to offer examples of Ethnic Studies frameworks, classroom practices, and organizing at the school, district, and statewide levels. Built around core themes of indigeneity, colonization, anti-racism, and activism, Rethinking Ethnic Studies offers vital resources for educators committed to the ongoing struggle for racial justice in our schools.
Teaching for Black Lives Matter
Teaching for Black Lives grows directly out of the movement for Black lives. We recognize that anti-Black racism constructs Black people, and Blackness generally, as not counting as human life. Throughout this book, we provide resources and demonstrate how teachers connect curriculum to young people's lives and root their concerns and daily experiences in what is taught and how classrooms are set up. We also highlight the hope and beauty of student activism and collective action.
A People's History for the Classroom
These exemplary teaching articles and lesson plans -- drawn from an assortment of Rethinking Schools publications -- emphasize the role of working people, women, people of color, and organized social movements in shaping history, and raise important questions about patterns of wealth and power throughout U.S. history. A People's History for the Classroom was produced in cooperation with Teaching for Change, as part of the Zinn Education Project.
Rethinking Elementary Education
The indispensable resource for social justice elementary educators in six parts: Part 1: Building Classroom Community Part 2: Reading and Writing Toward a More Just World Part 3: Minding Media Part 4: Math is More than Numbers Part 5: Laboratory for Justice: Science Across the Curriculum Part 6: The Classroom, The School, The World
Tessa"s Picks. Social Justice, People of Color, Global Perspectives, History
This early tale of biomimicry is based on historical fact. The Gobukson (or turtle ships) were known for their powerful design that included ironclad covering long before any western ships did. The story follows a young boy who observes a turtle in nature and then takes him to the emperor to illustrate his idea. This is a great book for budding inventors and could easily be paired with a maker's activity on boat building. The illustrations are intricate collages that lend the book a sense of warmth and solidity; you can almost feel the textures beneath your fingers. This really helps showcase the various design elements of the ship.
A city of millions cut off from the rest of the world and left to starve. People killing for ration cards, which provide a mere 125 grams of bread made with sawdust mixed in to the flour. Desperate people resorting to cannibalizing the plentiful corpses lining the street. It sounds like the premise for a YA dystopian novel, but it really happened. In 1941 Nazi forces blockaded the city of Leningrad in a siege that would last two and a half years and result in the deaths of over a million people. One of the people trapped in the city was composer Dmitri Shostakovitch. When he escaped the city, he wrote a symphony that would commemorate those lost and give hope to those still trapped. This is his true story.
This thick, nonfiction tome should have taken me ages to slog through, but instead I tore through it like it was the latest sci-fi thriller. The story is at turns moving, disturbing, and triumphant. It is a prime example of the power of narrative nonfiction.
Symphony for the City of the Dead by M.T. Anderson
Erica's Picks 8th & up Tags: biography, dystopian, global perspectives, history, nonfiction
When Hitler invaded Denmark, the adults reluctantly accepted the occupation, too terrified of the overwhelming Nazi forces to fight back. But teenagers rose up to spark a resistance. Knud Pedersen founded the Churchill club with other students and together they started to sabotage the occupying Nazi forces. When the members were finally caught and it was revealed that the brave resistance fighters were teens, it sparked the Dutch resistance among adults. Read the history of the Churchill Club in their own words in this thrilling nonfiction account.
This is an inspiring true story of teenagers organizing themselves in a fight against overwhelming evil. The book is meticulously researched and quotes extensively from interviews the author conducted. A great choice for narrative nonfiction.
The Boys Who Challenged Hitler by Phillip Hoose
Erica's Picks 7th & up Tags: biography, history, nonfiction
A Change of Heart By Alice Walsh Growing up in the 1930s in Georgia, young African American Lanier Phillips lived in fear of the Ku Klux Klan. When he grew up, Phillips joined the Navy looking for a more just atmosphere. Instead he faced more racism and discrimination as the black sailors were made to do menial tasks. Tragedy took no note of skin color when the USS Truxtun was shipwrecked off the coast of Newfoundland with few survivors. Phillips was the only black man rescued and taken into the home of good Samaritans. Never having seen a black man, they thought that the oil from the ship had seeped into his pores. When he tells them that his skin is that color he expects their treatment of him to change. The community’s kindness and care remain constant and their affirmation of his humanity changes his outlook on life forever. He says, “I was wounded in mind and soul, but I was healed in St. Lawrence, Newfoundland .” He went on to march for civil rights with Martin Luther King, Jr. This remarkable true story celebrates the healing power of love and kindness.
Tessa's Picks, 2nd-5th grade, Biography, History, People if Color, Social Justice