Liz Pichon, Top of the Class (nearly) (Tom Gates #9), Scholastic Australia, 1 Nov 2015, 228pp., $16.99 (pbk), ISBN 9781760155285 Having not read a Tom Gates book before (and this is the ninth in the series, I have been missing out) I was surprised to find at the beginning of the book that Tom has notRead More
By Torrey Maldonado, author, teacher and WRADvocate
When LitWorld told me about its February 24th World Read Aloud Day, I jumped to help spotlight the power of reading. Why? Reading showed me that my world was bigger than my zip code. Reading was my magic carpet ride out of poverty.
It was tough growing up where I did. When I was a boy, Life magazine called my Brooklyn housing projects one of the “worst neighborhoods” in New York. Living there while trying to navigate a community and family that were both torn apart, I felt alone and the raw absence of togetherness.
Whenever someone admitted to sharing feelings or life experiences with me, I clung to our common ground. Hearing how they worked through relatable issues strengthened me.
When I was boy, my mother told me, “I read out loud to you when you were in my belly”. I believe it because throughout my life she has taken me by the hand so we could sit side-by-side to hear authors read. Getting lost in distant places described in books lifted my sights from my block to the universe.
As a boy, I loved to watch my mother’s eyes smile as read-alouds gave us access to things we needed—things that all humans need.
Her pouring her love for reading into me bubbled up a desire in me to see the worlds in books that were beyond my zip code. I wanted to rewrite my story into one where I wouldn’t stay poor and living in a cycle of poverty. The love of reading instilled by my mother helped inspire me to want to teach and write. Today, I do both.
This year marks my fifteenth year as a teacher. The New York City Chancellor of schools visited my classroom and honored me as a top educator. Secret Saturdays, my Middle Grade and Young Adult novel, is now used in schools across the U.S.A. to excite a new generation of readers.
When I read aloud now, I always see smiling eyes like my mother's in my listeners. I love pausing to ask, “Do you want me to stop reading?” They adamantly chorus, “NO!” I then test the power of a read aloud and joke, “You’re just being kind.” That’s where I’ve seen tweens to senior citizens beg that I “read just one more page”. Why? Interestingly, most tend to be like me. Maybe they had different upbringings. Maybe they didn’t need a magic carpet ride out of poverty. But, when listeners demand that I keep reading, their eyes say that they feel what I felt growing up: a hunger to hold onto togetherness, a need for validation and a space to feel things, and a desire to work through issues with others in ways that leaves us strengthened.
Torrey Maldonado was voted a "Top 10 Latino Author" and best Middle Grade and Young Adult novelist for African Americans and Latinos. He was recently honored as a top teacher by NYC’s schools Chancellor. His work builds boys into multidimensional males and youth into global, caring citizens. Before teaching, he trained schools to implement Conflict Resolution programs through the U.S.'s largest victim-services agency. His acclaimed novel, Secret Saturdays, made states’ reading lists and is assigned alongside classics and in anti-bullying initiatives.
Author and Clinical and Forensic psychologist Shona Innes, has written an article for us. Here she explains the origins of her series of children’s books, the Big Hug series, and then goes on to offer advice to assist children transition to school in a positive and healthy way. I’m a clinical psychologist and Big HugRead More
The first book I read to myself was Dr Seuss's The Cat in the Hat – something I still recommend to learners – and the Cat's wild anarchic humour has always struck me as the perfect analogy for what happens to a child who discovers books. We think it's about being good – remember how the kids in the story are made to "sit-sit-sit-sit/ And we did not like it/ Not one little bit"? Reading involves sitting, and getting a child to stay still is one of its most unattractive aspects. But once you master this, everything changes. People who love reading are often called bookworms – but that's the wrong way around. It's not you that worms into a book, it's books that worm into you.
Bethanie Deeney Murguia, Cockatoo, Too, The Five Mile Press, Dec 2015, 40pp., $16.95 (hbk), ISBN 9781760401047 Young children will be tied over with this gorgeously amusing, visually and orally pleasing tongue-twister about a flock of dancing birds. Author / illustrator Bethanie Deeney Murguia has cleverly brought together a cocophony of rhythm with the use ofRead More
LITERACY levels of Australian children are worsening in a slow motion disaster, with new analysis revealing one in five children who started school this year already dont have the skills to learn properly.
Although David Bowie was best known for his music, he also made countless contributions to the worlds of art, fashion and film. But the singer, who died Sunday, was also devoted to literature. In 2013, Bowie left the world something other than his groundbreaking albums to remember him by — a list...
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