The Newcomers is must-read nonfiction about a Denver area ELL high school classroom where refugees new to America begin learning English and acclimating to the U.S. education system. It’s a wide-ranging book that’s both the story of one inspiring teacher and his classroom as well as the story of a global refugee crisis, told through profiles of the individual students Thorpe meets and interviews. It’s also a book about empathy and compassion and what kind of people we choose to be when vulnerable and traumatized people need help. I can’t imagine a more necessary book to read in this political climate.
Kwame Alexander resurrected the nightly read-aloud at my house! Even though my son hated the tragedy that opens Rebound, he still wanted to hear the story. It wasn’t until we got to the end that he confessed he hasn’t yet read The Crossover, so for now, I skipped the Epilogue, which includes appearances from Josh and Jordan Bell, and we’ll return and read the final few pages together after we read The Crossover. I did enjoy Rebound, though I liked The Crossover and Booked better.
Maja Wilson’s Reimagining Writing Assessment is a powerful argument against the rubrics, scales, and grades that dominate writing assessment and in favor of assessing writing through stories and a growth lens. I loved how ambitious this book is: Wilson’s ultimate point is that rubrics and scales are anti-democratic “methods of oppression” that create “miseducative experiences” for students and that if we are serious about teaching and learning, we will develop humane methods of assessment that actually promote growth. It’s a very short book (under 150 pages) but includes a thorough critique of scales assessment as well as a thorough description and application of what she proposes to use instead: inquiries into writers’ relationships with writing and an interpretive lens that focuses on their decision-making process throughout the act of writing. If you teach writing, you need to read this book.
Hello Lighthouse is Sophie Blackall’s new picture book, and it just might be her best book yet. Gorgeous illustrations and simple, lyrical text work together seamlessly to convey what it was like to be a lighthouse keeper. This is one I’d really like to own.