Thursday, April 9, 2009

April: Happy Poetry Month

I've been reading Jonathan Kozol's Letters to a Young Teacher (which I highly recommend). He references a Yevgeny Yevtushenko poem that I find to be quite beautiful and profound. In today's schools, we often "choose" not to approach particular subjects or even affirm or believe that the troubles our students and their communities face a real and legitimate. Perhaps these are lies of omission. Something to think about...
Telling lies to the young is wrong.
Proving to them that lies are true is wrong.
Telling that god’s in his heaven
And all’s well with the world is wrong.
The young know what you mean. The young are people.
Tell them the difficulties can’t be counted,
And let them see not only what will be
But see with clarity these present times.
Say obstacles exist they must encounter
Sorrow happens, hardship happens.
To hell with it. Who never knew
The price of happiness will not be happy.
Forgive no error you recognize,
It will repeat itself, increase,
And afterwards our pupils
Will not forgive in us what we forgave.

Looking for meaningful children's books?

The Jane Addams Childrens Book Awards are given annually by the Jane Addams Peace Association to children's books that promote peace and social justice. It's an excellent list of books. I know I often have trouble finding children's literature with a social justice foundation.

One book that caught my eye:
Poems to Dream Together=Poemas Para Soñar Juntos, written by Francisco X. Alarcón, illustrated by Paula Barragán, and published by Lee and Low Books, Inc., has been named an honor book in the Books for Younger Children category. In nineteen short and heartfelt poems in Spanish and English, Alarcón encourages and inspires us to dream alone and to work and dream together, as families and communities, in order to make our hopes for a better world come true. The stylized paintings of Paula Barragán colorfully extend and interpret the theme.