To celebrate Black History Month, I share a lot of books and resources about the history and lives of African Americans in the United States and around the world with our students and teachers at Van Meter. Being a small school in rural Iowa, we do not have a lot of cultural differences so this is something very important to me to bring inside of our school. Our students love embracing the history and stories from other cultures and books are one way to accomplish this.
One book that I always read is Goin' Someplace Special by Patricia McKissak and illustrated by Jerry Pinkney. Goin' Someplace Special is the story of Tricia Ann (who McKissak tailored after herself) growing up in the 1950's at the time of segregation in the south. Tricia Ann took a journey by herself through several tough situations while going to her someplace special. At the end, we find that it is a big white stone building with "Public Library: Everyone Welcome" chiseled on the outside of the library above the welcoming doorway.
I love the message in the book, because not only is this a true story from the life of an African American growing up as a child in the south, it also shows that libraries are a place for everyone to feel welcome and safe. I read this book every year during Black History Month, because I want all of our students at Van Meter to know how much they are always able to come to the library to feel safe, wanted, and especially to have a VOICE and be heard. This is true with our entire school.
This year Staci Braun and I thought it would be fun to incorporate a fun technology into the lesson. I read the book over Skype (a teleconferencing tool) from my office in the secondary library and it was watched by the 4th graders in their classroom downstairs. Not only did I share the book, we also had a nice conversation about Black History month, segregation, and McKissak herself through this Skype experience. It really made me think about how lucky kids are now. I hope that our students have dozens of experiences such as this by connecting with people all over the world. This is a great way to bring various cultures and experiences into our school. Something that we would not have been as easy to do in the past.
And a powerful way for their VOICES to be heard all over the world....Van Meter is going someplace special!
You can watch Patricia McKissak read the book from the Scholastic Book website here.
Also, here is a list of resources to use and share for Black History Month from my Diigo Library.