Reading for Change: Locomotion (week 1)

Gush, gush. 

My inner poet screams when I read the words of Jacqueline Woodson. It screamed last year with Brown Girl Dreamingand it screamed last week with Locomotionand it screamed two days later when I read the follow-up to the first, Peace, Locomotion

Now, hear me out: but for her newest read, Woodson is a children’s writer. Should you choose to read them as intended – aloud, as a piece of poetry – they might take you a couple of hours to get through; but if you just read them, it only takes the average reader a little over an hour to devour (or so says the reading tracker on Kindle).

Regardless, this time around, Woodson weaves the story of a young boy, Locomotion (short for Lonnie Collins Motion), who lost his parents in a fire, and finds himself in the New York state foster system. He misses his sister, who’s with another family, but as he begins to lean into life with his new mama and older brothers, he comes to life through poetry. 

Writers, after all, write about what they know – and Jacqueline Woodson knows poetry. I can see this being the perfect fit for a poetry unit in a middle grade classroom, but it’s also a cozy winter read.

Whatever it is for you, I’ve got three favorite lines of poetry for you:

Writing makes me remember.
It’s like my whole family comes back again
when I write. All of them right
here like somebody pushed the Rewind button

Was it a big sacrifice to give up your life
if you knew you was gonna rise back up?
I mean, isn’t that like just taking a nap?

This day is already putting all kinds of words
in your head
and breaking them up into lines
and making the lines into pictures in your mind
And in the pictures the people are
laughing and frowning and
eating and reading and
playing ball and skipping along and…

spinning themselves into poetry.

Like I said, gush, gush. Just as we all need to slow down with a little bit of poetry in our lives, we all need a little bit of Jacqueline Woodson’s storytelling ways in our lives.

Pick up Locomotion if you haven’t already. Give it a quick read-aloud and see if the kid in you comes alive once again.

Otherwise, whether you’re a blogger or a reader, leave a comment (with link to your review) in the section below. I can’t wait to read your thoughts! Up next week: The Death of RaceAnd people, it’s phenomenal.

Happy reading!

So, what’d you think? Locomotion: like it, love it, want some more of it? 

*Post contains Amazon Affiliate links

Reading for Change (2017)

By far, one of the best reading choices I made in 2016 was to only read books by black authors during the month of February. Alongside some of you, we honored black history month by entering into the stories, experiences and perspectives of blacks, both in American and beyond.

Because here’s the thing: it’s really, really easy for me to only read books written by people who look like me, act like me, believe like me and think like me. 

But when and as I do that, I don’t grow. I stay the same. I engage in perspectives that don’t challenge me to see the world in new ways – and I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to learn. I want to grow. don’t want to stay the same but I want to be transformed by the voices of my brothers and sisters, so I can seek not to be understood but to understand. 

You know?

In that way, I can’t wait to make this reading choice again this year, and I’d love for you to join me.

I’ve chosen four books to read in February, so snag these titles at your local library or on Amazon, and get to reading! Then, check back every Tuesday for my thoughts, and add your own in the comment section or (for bloggers) using the Link Up tool that will be posted that day.  

Care to join me?

Let’s do this!

Week 1, by Tuesday, February 7th: Locomotion (Jacqueline Woodson) – A National Book Award finalist, this children’s book reads like poetry …because it’s written in poetry form. Brown Girl Dreaming, also by Woodson, was one of my favorite books last year, and I can’t wait to read this one by her as well.

Week 2, by Tuesday, February 14th: The Death of Race (Brian Bantum) – Bantum asks the question, “What does it mean to build a new Christianity in a racial world?” If you’re a Christian living in the U.S. right now, I can’t think of a better book you should be reading right now.

Week 3, by Tuesday, February 21st: Beloved (Toni Morrison) – the English teacher formerly known as myself can’t believe she’s never actually read this (adult fiction) novel. Knowing most of you have likely heard of it, if not read it, hold me to reading it and being changed by it, will you?

Week 4, by Tuesday, February 28th: The Warmth of Other Suns (Isabel Wilkerson) – No other book, besides The New Jim Crowhas been recommended to me more than this one. I’ve had it in my Audible queue for awhile, and it’s time to give this particular non-fiction read a try.

While I’m sure I’ll read additional books by black authors in February, these are my top four – and again, I’d love for you to read along with me.

Happy reading!

So, reading for change: are you in? Want to read any of the above books with me? Otherwise, what books do you consciously choose to read next month? 

 

 

31 books I can’t live without: Brown Girl Dreaming (28)

This month I’m participating in the #write31days challenge by highlighting 31 books I can’t live without. Check out this post for more information, and otherwise, read on! 

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51me02yn1yl-_sx331_bo1204203200_Title: Brown Girl Dreaming

Author: Jacqueline Woodson

Synopsis: “Raised in South Carolina and New York, Woodson always felt halfway home in each place. In vivid poems, she shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement. Touching and powerful, each poem is both accessible and emotionally charged, each line a glimpse into a child’s soul as she searches for her place in the world. Woodson’s eloquent poetry also reflects the joy of finding her voice through writing stories, despite the fact that she struggled with reading as a child. Her love of stories inspired her and stayed with her, creating the first sparks of the gifted writer she was to become.”

Why I can’t live without this book: It’s free verse. It’s a Newberry Honor Book (among numerous other awards). It’s a true coming of age story, told from the perspective of a young black girl. It’s gorgeous, it delights in justice and mercy, and it gives those of us who haven’t experienced discrimination because of the color of our skin an insider’s point of view. So read it, even if you’re an adult and it’s written for an age group thirty, forty, fifty years your junior. It still will change you. (I highly recommend the audio version, as it’s read by the author herself, but numerous people say it’s necessary to see it in print – so, have at it, whatever you decide).

(One of my) favorite quotes:

“Even the silence
has a story to tell you.
Just listen. Listen.”

So, Brown Girl Dreaming: have you read it? Did you love it? What of the free verse style? 

*Post contains Amazon Affiliate links, m’ dears.