I’m so excited about the news that Jacqueline Woodson is the next National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. This news has sent me running to my bookshelves to re-read my JW author collection. Her books have been so integral to my teaching life that I feel almost the way one feels when a family member reaches a big milestone and everyone is overcome with emotions. It’s a feeling deep within my heart, and I’m so grateful for her work and the recognition she’s receiving with this platform. The timing could not be better.
My very first introduction to J. Woodson’s work was at a workshop at Teachers College Reading and Writing Project. One of the staff developers opened her session with a reading from From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun and we were all blown away. To this day, when I read the section of the book with “Alone” I am lifted up to my own reading rainbow!
When I was in the classroom, I loved reading Ms. Woodson’s picture books for a variety of purposes. Her books make fantastic Interactive Read Alouds, and when planned well, teachers and children can have the most profound discussions. If you are looking for Social Action text set material, look no further than Visiting Day, Our Gracie Aunt, and Each Kindness.
The first time I read Visiting Day aloud was with 3rd graders, and the experience prompted me to find more books that helped children deal with hard topics. So many of my students had family members who were incarcerated and what blew me away was how many of them had never talked about it in school and asked for “more books like Visiting Day.” This was way before the #WeNeedDiverseBooks movement, and the experience led me on a book finding journey to make sure my classroom library reflected the students in my classroom.
One of my favorite books to read loud with 5th graders is Locomotion,
followed by Peace, Locomotion. My students always loved Lonnie Collins Motion and his sister, Lili.
Again, the profoundness of the writing comes through so beautifully when you are reading aloud to children and capture their responses in the moment. I can recall many students whose reluctance to read was obliterated by these books.
I’m going to revisit this post …..need to rush back to school this morning … to add more.
Jacqueline Woodson official inauguration as National Ambassador will be live-streamed on January 9, at 10:30 AM EST. See you there!