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
Rex is looking forward to his first day of 6th grade. He prepares with a checklist to make sure he's ready for anything. But he isn't counting on getting a black eye the night before. Now all his new teachers think he's trouble. At lunch he's even more mortified when he has to yell that he's in the free lunch program to get the lunch lady to hear him. Now the whole school knows his mom can't afford to pay for his lunch. It's hard to imagine that his life could get any worse, until it does.
This memoir depicts the author's childhood experiences with poverty and abuse. There are some bright spots like friendships, a loving grandmother, and a love of comics. Rex Ogle actually grew up to work in the comic book industry. A moving, and powerful story.
Free Lunch by Rex Ogle 5th - 8th Tags: biography, family life, mental illness, nonfiction, SEL
Born in the Great Depression to two Deaf parents, Myron's native tongue is American Sign Language. As he grows up, he navigates his role as translator for his parents to the hearing world. Along the way there's emergency hospital trips, neighborhood bullies, gatherings at the beach, and landmark events. Myron's life is at turns ordinary and extraordinary but it's always fascinating.
I loved reading details about life in the 30's and 40's through the eyes of a child. The peeks into Deaf culture were great and the way Uhlberg describes the signs beautiful. My favorite parts were just reading about every day life in the past.
"Mom, I can't sleep!" "Why not?" "I don't know...I'm nervous and I can't stop thinking, thinking, thinking..." "Do you want me to teach you how to breathe?" "Breathe? But I already know how to breathe!"
This familiar scene of a child having difficulty falling asleep leads to fantastic and imaginative techniques to foster calm and mindfulness. From a boat on your belly to yoga poses these beautifully illustrated and gently described tools are sure to help restless people of any age. Further notes about the techniques are included in the back. This book could be read in a sitting or picked up and put down as needed when you want to try a new tool. The mixed media illustrations perfectly capture abstract concepts to help children with visualizations. A great resource for parents and educators!
Erica's Picks k - 3 Tags: Nonfiction, Picture Books
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.
This wise book starts off reassuring readers that when you go out into the world, you may have questions about what you see, and that is okay. People live in many different ways. It goes on to give an example of a kid walking to school and seeing a man sleeping on the street. The child asks "Why would he sleep outside?" The book answers with matter of fact, developmentally-appropriate language and continues to other questions from what is poverty to what is a fundamental human right to how can I help. This book is an excellent resource for parents or educators looking for language and advice on how to broach this topic with children. You could even just sit down with a child and read the whole book together. I love that the book comes from a place of curiosity and compassion. It doesn't talk down to the reader or make them feel bad for asking perfectly natural questions. Illustrated with a mixture of watercolor and photographs, this approachable book is a must-read.