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    International Literacy Association Announces 2021 Children’s and Young Adults’ Book Awards Winners

    By ILA Staff
     | May 12, 2021
    Kids reading

    The International Literacy Association (ILA) announced the 2021 winners of its Children’s and Young Adults’ Book Awards this week, highlighting both fiction and nonfiction works that exemplify the very best from rising stars in the literary field.

    The winning authors and titles were unveiled during the ILA Children’s Literature Intensive: Creating a Culturally Responsive Classroom Through Books on May 11.

    ILA’s annual book awards program recognizes newly published authors who exhibit exceptional promise in the children’s and young adults’ book fields; eligible titles must be the author’s first or second. In its history, the awards have featured the early works of now prominent literary figures including Juana Martinez-Neal, Patricia Polacco, and Lois Lowry.

    This year’s honorees offer a range of topics—from overcoming adversity and trauma to celebrating the skin we’re in, from the beginning of the universe to a seahorse’s anatomy, and more.

    “Authors such as this year’s winners provide a gateway to our students to learn both about the world in which we live—past and present—and worlds imagined,” said ILA Executive Director Marcie Craig Post. “With all of the uncertainties of the past year, these book creators are providing the constant we need: the ability to find refuge in and to grow through books.”

    Awards are presented for fiction and nonfiction in each of three categories: primary, intermediate, and young adult.

    The 2021 award winners are:

    Primary Fiction

    Winner: Magnificent Homespun Brown: A Celebration. Samara Cole Doyon. Tilbury House.

    Honor: I Talk Like a River. Jordan Scott. Neal Porter Books.

    Primary Nonfiction

    Winner: This Is a Seahorse. Cassandra Federman. Albert Whitman & Company.

    Honor: The Big Bang Book. Asa Stahl. Creston Books.

    Intermediate Fiction

    Winner: Brother’s Keeper. Julie Lee. Holiday House.

    Honor: When You Know What I Know. Sonja K. Solter. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.

    Intermediate Nonfiction

    Winner: The Suffragist Playbook: Your Guide to Changing the World. Lucinda Robb and Rebecca Boggs Roberts. Candlewick Press.

    Honor: Lizzie Demands a Seat! Elizabeth Jennings Fights for Streetcar Rights. Beth Anderson. Boyds Mills & Kane.

    Young Adult Fiction

    Winner: The Magic Fish. Trung Le Nguyen. Random House Children’s Books.

    Honor: The Lucky Ones. Liz Lawson. Random House Children’s Books.

    Young Adult Nonfiction

    Winner: The Black Friend: On Being a Better White Person. Frederick Joseph. Candlewick Press.

    Additional information on the ILA Children’s and Young Adults’ Book Awards can be found here. Information on the ILA Children’s Literature Intensive, which will be available to view on demand, can be found here.

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    ​ Identifying Your Students' Strengths and Needs

    By Towanda Harris
     | Apr 28, 2021

    Walking into a classroom for the first time can cause a whirlwind of thoughts to whip around in your mind. There are so many factors to consider about the success of your students in that school year. Outside of academics, you have to consider parental involvement, student behaviors, administrative support and, of course, resources.

    You would love to share stories of how your summer preparation is the same year to year. You would love to say that your reading corner is organized the same each year. You would love to say that classroom arrangements stay the same throughout the year. In this fantasy land, we could just unpack our labeled containers and unroll our anchor charts and quickly begin teaching, day one.

    Reality is very different. Changes occur midyear because students are not thriving. We all know this feeling. Just as businesses consider their customers when creating new products, we consider our students when developing our plans of action each year.

     

    In every classroom, you’ll find a range of students, from those who are working several grade levels below to those who are working above level. The only way we can equip our students for success is to meet them where they are, and the only way to do that is to get to know their needs and strengths.

    Knowing our students helps us to choose the most useful resources for them and to make every moment of our precious instructional time count.

    You can continue your professional learning with Towanda Harris by watching this free ILA Webinar, “Journey to a Student-Centered Classroom: Equitable Practices That Make a Difference,” and by downloading a free sample chapter of her book, The Right Tools, from Heinemann.

    From the classroom to the district, Dr. Towanda Harris has trained teachers throughout the state of Georgia. She brings almost 20 years of professional experience to each of her sessions. Her workshops are engaging and provide teachers with useful tools that allow them to reflect on their current practice. Originally an elementary school teacher, she has served as a literacy coach, adjunct professor, K–12 staff developer, and curriculum writer.

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    The Screen Time Dilemma: Picture Books as Tools to Guide Reflection on Social Habits and Cultural Practices

    By Kathleen A. Paciga and Melanie D. Koss
     | Apr 13, 2021
    Girl on mobile phone

    Children’s books are commonly used in home, school, and community contexts to promote awareness of complex social issues at the earliest stages of development. Children and their caregivers encounter cultural models for, and may appropriate sociocultural values and norms about, the screen time dilemma through their experiences with texts that contain narratives about screens. The dilemma centers on the question of how much screen time—oftentimes measured in the number of minutes—is too much? Also considered is the types of interactions children have with devices.

    More and more frequently, picture books contain representations of screens, media, and technologies. How might these texts be leveraged to help children understand their relationships with screens in a more nuanced way?

    Lots of talk about screen time

    Headlines in major news media outlets have long put forward claims about the dangers of increases in screen time for children who are spending more minutes looking at screen media than ever before. This has intensified since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although some of the science has suggested corollary damages to eyes and increased weight in children with excessive and sedentary use of screens, there are several additional factors associated with screen time, some more positive, that tend to be overlooked in the discussion.

    Moving past the number of minutes a child spends with a screen as the criteria for evaluating the worth of a child’s experience with screens is critical. A consideration of the “3 Cs”—the Child, the Context, and the Content—provides a more balanced lens for evaluation. Consider the whole child—their cognitive, physical, social, and emotional development—and their needs as related to the current context in which screens are used. Also consider the quality of the content and whether it is used for entertainment, creativity, or social interaction, or to help the child learn about a topic that is of interest to them.

    Media mentorship

    Shortly after mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets came to market, librarians and education researchers started suggesting that caregivers and children need media mentors. Media mentors help families make wise technology choices for and with their children, and they help families use new cultural tools.

    Teachers can step into this role by leveraging read-alouds to launch discussions around how students and caregivers embrace, restrict, or balance the screens, digital media, and technologies in their lives.

    Titles and talking points

    The stories that follow offer abundant opportunity to explore these issues with pre-K–3 children and their families. Across all titles, teachers have opportunities to talk about what is added to and omitted from the child’s life while screens are turned on, turned off, or put to the side.

    The Breaking News (Sarah Lynne Ruel, Roaring Brook)

    Presenting a view of parents tracking a significant news event on the television and their phones, a little girl is confused and overwhelmed. She tries to find a way to make a difference in cheering up her family and community. This story opens the door for conversations about current events and the role of screens in presenting the news. Kids can advocate in their homes for adults to “turn it off,” and adults can help explain the importance of news in everyday life, exploring the emotions that a breaking news story might present.

    Our Great Big Backyard (Laura Bush & Jenna Bush Hager, HarperCollins)

    Jane’s parents are making her go on a family cross-country road trip, but Jane really wants to stay home with her friends. She spends her time texting her friends or watching videos on a device, ignoring her parents’ encouragement to enjoy the great outdoors. Jane eventually arrives at the conclusion that what is going on around her in reality is worth attending to. This story allows for conversation about children’s desire to connect with peers, the role of media in a child’s life, and the ways caregivers might find balance between experiences indoors and outdoors, with screens and without screens, as well as between peers and family.

    Hair Love (Matthew A. Cherry, Kokila)

    It’s a special day, and Zuri needs to create the perfect hairstyle, but her dad is sleeping. While researching possibilities, her tablet falls, waking her dad. He attempts several styles, but none are quite right. Zuri encourages him to watch a video tutorial to learn how it’s done. This book beautifully celebrates the positives and potentials of screens as a tool for learning and inquiry. It provides opportunities to discuss a child’s goals for using a screen and fosters understandings of how screens can be used alone or in conjunction with others—as is captured in the joint use between Zuri and her father as well as in the celebratory selfie Zuri snaps at the end of the story.

    When Grandma Gives You a Lemon Tree (Jamie L.B. Deenihan, Sterling)

    What do you do when you really want a technological toy for your birthday but instead you get a lemon tree? The main character had to learn to make the best of it, ultimately growing to appreciate the joy that taking care of something can bring. Sharing the tree and lemons with her family and neighborhood inspired the main character to explore gardening and her friends to put down their technology and explore nature. A house portrayed without any technology and feeling like the only one without allows for discussion on consumerism and wanting, yet not always receiving, what peers have, as well as ways to interact with others around items without screens.

    For more on where ILA stands on using technology as a tool to teach children, read our position statement and literacy leadership brief Digital Resources in Early Childhood Literacy Development.

     

    ILA member Katie A. Paciga is an associate professor at Columbia College, Chicago in Illinois.

    ILA member Melanie D. Koss is an associate professor at Northern Illinois University.

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    “He’ll Be Our Inspiration, Still”: Remembering Robert B. Ruddell, Former IRA Board Member and Influential Author

    By Colleen Patrice Clark
     | Mar 25, 2021

    Robert B. RuddellRobert B. Ruddell, professor emeritus at University of California, Berkeley, and a noted scholar of early reading comprehension, critical thinking, and motivation, died on March 14. He was 83.

    Ruddell was a prolific writer and editor perhaps most known for How to Teach Reading to Elementary and Middle School Students: Practical Ideas From Highly Effective Teachers (Pearson) as well as Theoretical Models and Processes of Reading, the first six editions of which were published by the International Reading Association (IRA, now ILA). It is now in its seventh edition as Theoretical Models and Processes of Literacy, published by Routledge.

    A past Board member of IRA, Ruddell also served as president of the Reading Hall of Fame, to which he was inducted in 1989. He was a recipient of the William S. Gray Citation of Merit, ILA’s highest honor reserved for lifetime achievement and leadership contributions to the field, as well as the Oscar S. Causey Research Award from the Literacy Research Association.

    “The news of the loss of Bob Ruddell, who has brought so much to us in the past, brings great sadness,” said Norman Unrau, professor emeritus at California State University, Los Angeles, and a coeditor with Ruddell on the latest editions of Theoretical Models. “During the years Bob and I worked together, I learned immeasurably from his approaches to problems in literacy research and to methods of presenting them to those in our field. And I know that there are countless educators who have benefited from his spirit and will be saddened by his loss.”

    Among those educators is MaryEllen Vogt, a past president of IRA, who was advised by Ruddell when she earned her doctorate in language and literacy from University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley). She recalls the day she received her acceptance letter from him as life changing.

    “To be Bob’s advisee was the best of all worlds as a graduate student,” she said. “He seemed to know everyone in the reading world and pushed me to know them all, too….His jovial approach to life, his friendship, and his unwavering belief that all kids can learn to read have molded me into the reading teacher I am today.”

    Ruddell exceeded in academics early on, finishing high school at just 14 and becoming the youngest student ever to enroll at Morris Harvey College, now Charleston University, at 15. He went on to earn an undergraduate and master’s from West Virginia University, and his PhD from Indiana University.

    He was 26 when he joined UC Berkeley, his academic home for the next 35 years.

    During his time at UC Berkeley, Ruddell served as acting dean of education at Tolman Hall, directed the Advanced Reading-Language Leadership Program, and served as chair of the Language, Literacy, and Culture faculty group. He worked with 86 doctoral students, advising and directing their research and dissertations.

    “He has left a great legacy to the study of reading, not only through his scholarship, but also through his many books for teachers, his leadership in the International Reading Association, and—perhaps most of all—his intellectually rigorous and interpersonally generous mentoring of the next generation of PhD students at Berkeley,” said P. David Pearson, emeritus faculty member at UC Berkeley. “When the topic of language and literacy in the Graduate School of Education at UC Berkeley comes up, Robert Ruddell is the first name that comes to my mind.”

    His passing marks a great loss for the literacy world, but as Donna Alvermann, distinguished research professor of language and literacy education at University of Georgia and a coeditor on Theoretical Models said, his legacy will live on. “I know how hard he worked to support teachers and graduate students from across the country. My coeditors and I will miss working with Bob….He’ll be our inspiration, still.”

    Colleen Patrice Clark is the managing editor of Literacy Today, ILA’s member magazine.

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    Five Steps to Address Anti-Blackness: Black Immigrant Literacies

    By Patriann Smith
     | Mar 17, 2021
    FiveStepsToAddressAntiBlackness_680

    I recently wrote the piece "Beyond Anti-Blackness in Bilingual Education" for the American Educational Research Association's Bilingual Education Research Special Interest Group. In this piece, I invited everyone to think about how anti-Blackness has inadvertently persisted in bilingual education throughout the United States via the lens of Black immigrant literacies. In this blog post, I want to continue that conversation and present five steps educators can take to address anti-Blackness.

    We know Blackness has been excluded from bilingual programs and that limited emphasis is placed on the bilingualism of Black “English learners” at large. We know also that Black students who use multiple Englishes and speak other “dialects” in the U.S. have not been a major part of bilingual programming because of how we continue to define bilingualism. Black immigrants, who are a part of the Black student population and who use their own languages and dialects, further complicate this situation because they tend to be viewed as a model minority, creating an invisible and lingering disconnect between Black American and Black immigrant youth. In turn, many teachers and educators often find themselves struggling to address anti-Blackness in language for all Black students. But things do not have to be this way.

    Consider that in 2019, for the first time, the U.S. reflected a majority non-White population under 16. Note also, that by 2030, the U.S. will face a demographic turning point:

    • Racial and ethnic groups will continue to function as the primary drivers of overall growth because of the unanticipated decline in the country’s White population.
    • Immigration will continue to overtake natural births as the main source of population growth for the country.

    By 2060, the nation’s foreign-born population is projected to rise from 44 million people in 2016 to 69 million. Amid these projections, Black residents in the U.S.—both native and foreign born—are expected to continue to function as one of the major non-White groups accounting for the growth of the nation.

    A perpetuating cycle

    The past five years with increasingly anti-Black languaging geared toward Black residents in the U.S. were a powerful reminder that history repeats itself. Last year, particularly with the death of George Floyd, illustrated what can happen when racial dissent festers, erupts, and destroys—again, because of anti-Black languaging.

    And in January 2021, we saw how the pervasive subtlety of linguistic destruction that has, for decades, wrecked invisible havoc on the hearts and minds of Black youth, came to a climax as anti-Black language and anti-Black literacies functioned as fuel, fanning the flames of violence against Black residents in the U.S.

    If we do not take urgent steps to address anti-Blackness in the languages and literacies of Black students to bridge gaps and build solidarity among Black youth, invisible divisions within the Black population are likely to be further exacerbated by the anti-Black discourses that have managed to create them in the first place. Failing to leverage language and literacy to address anti-Blackness can threaten Black humanity for generations and places everyone at risk.

    I envision, through Black immigrant literacies, a United States where bilingual education is reenvisioned to center the languages, including dialects, of Black children (i.e., African American Vernacular English, Jamaican Creole English, West African Pidgin English). How can we do this together? The Black immigrant literacies framework suggests multiple ways. I present the first in this multipart blog series.

    Through Black immigrant literacies, teachers can create opportunities for youth who identify as Black American and Black immigrant to share what I call “local–global” connections.

    Five steps for creating local–global connections

    Step 1: Have Black immigrant youth share their experiences with language as well as being Black in their home countries and the U.S. through their written and verbal Englishes as well as multimodal literacies. In these creations, encourage youth to reflect on the variations and how they and others perceive their ethnic, racial, and linguistic backgrounds.

    Step 2: Now have Black U.S.-born youth share their experiences with language and being Black in the United States through their written and verbal Englishes as well as multimodal literacies. In these creations, encourage youth to reflect on the variations and how they and others perceive their ethnic, racial, and linguistic backgrounds.

    Step 3: Use these literate creations as a basis for individual reflection about Blackness on the part of each student by having Black American youth exchange their created products with Black immigrant youth and vice versa. What similarities and differences do they see between their creation and that of their peers? What elements do they not understand? Allow all students to write these down.

    Step 4: Engage Black immigrant and Black American youth in discussions about their reflections. How did Blackness seem present or absent in creations when the peers were born in the U.S.? How did Blackness seem present or absent in creations when U.S.-born peers had immigrant parents or when they were foreign born? What new insights can Black immigrant peers learn about Black American students’ experiences and how to respond to negative responses about their languages and literacies?

    Step 5: Have youth revise their creations to reflect insights from their Black immigrant or U.S.-born peers. Have all students share the creations with other Black peers in their classrooms, schools, and via social media as well as with their parents, friends, families, and caregivers. Create opportunities across classrooms and schools for broad discussion about these insights, inviting non-Black peers to be part of the learning and conversation.

    Learn more about how to address anti-Blackness through literacy

    Already there are numerous Black scholars spearheading efforts to address anti-Blackness in language and literacy across organizations such as the International Literacy Association, Literacy Research Association, National Council of Teachers of English, TESOL, and American Association for Applied Linguistics. These scholars invite us to use new tools, theories, and pedagogies to center Blackness in the language and literacy practices that we use as teachers and educators in schools.

    You, too, can address anti-Blackness in language and literacy with and for Black children and youth. Start now by attending my upcoming presentations, "Challenging Anti-Blackness in Language Education" on March 25, 2021, at TESOL 2021 and "A (Trans)Raciolinguistic Approach for Literacy Classrooms" on March 26, 2021, at the Shifting Linguistic Landscapes conference.

    Dr. Patriann Smith is an assistant professor of literacy at the University of South Florida. Her research focuses on cross-cultural and cross-linguistic considerations for Black immigrant literacy and language instruction and assessment. She has proposed a transraciolinguistic approach for clarifying Black immigrant literacies and Englishes. Her research has appeared in journals such as the American Educational Research Journal, ILA’s Reading Research Quarterly, and Teachers College Record. Her current book project is Black Immigrant Literacies: Translanguaging for Success (forthcoming 2022 from Cambridge University Press).

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