Summer is an important time for students to keep reading and improve their language skills. BPS has collaborated with the Boston Public Library to keep students motivated and excited about reading. Check out the following programs and events!
Summer Book Lists can help students and families choose high-quality literature. All of the books on the list are available at your neighborhood library. Make sure you’re exercising your brain over the summer and increasing knowledge through reading!
One of the biggest problems I see as a school librarian is the lack of access to diverse books. The scarcity of children's literature that is representative of urban children, people of color, and the broad diversity of society is real. This is worrisome because as Rudine Sims Bishop said, "when children cannot find themselves reflected in the books they read, or when the images they see are distorted, negative, or laughable, they learn a powerful lesson about who they are devalued in the society of which they are a part of.” With help from our amazing friends at Wondermore, we decided to end the school year with an author visit from Susan Tan, giving students a chance to meet an author they could connect with.
As Toni Morrison wrote, "If there is a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it.” Susan Tan did just that. Susan Tan is the author of Cilla Lee-Jenkins: Future Author Extraordinaire and Cilla Lee-Jenkins: This Book Is A Classic. The third book in the Cilla series will be released in 2019.
Tan showed the students a day in the life of a writer. She showed students where she gets her inspiration and how she goes through the writing process. Students loved learning that Tan writes on her phone and does some of her best work while on the go. Tan mentioned that students might even see her writing while riding the T! Tan drew from real stories to write the Cilla series, explaining to students that her work is based on her own life and family. Students loved learning that the chapter where Cilla puts sparkles in her hair is something that actually happened in Tan’s childhood!
The books available to students need to be as diverse as they are. Many of the students were able to personally identify with Tan’s story and characters. She inspired many of them to continue working on their own creations and let them know that they are ALL writers. Her books are culturally-relevant and resonate with students’ own experiences. I believe that in order to make our students be passionate readers, it is important for them to feel that they can make connections.
Today was truly a day to celebrate, as eight P.A. Shaw students and their families graduated from our Tech Goes Home course. Tech Goes Home (TGH) is a nonprofit organization whose mission is “to bridge the digital divide so that low-income, under-served populations in US cities have full access to technology and the Internet.” This is my second year teaching a TGH course, and they have helped provide the opportunity, tools, education, and access required for 21st century skills development.
I worked with parents and students, showing them how to embrace online tools. We created emails, made Google Slides presentations, found free summer resources and things to do in the city, and learned about educational apps and websites. Participants completed 15 hours of technology training and received their very own Chromebooks. The looks on their faces were priceless when they got to take home their very own computer. After having worked so hard, it really gave students and their families ownership of the device. I had a wonderful time teaching this course, getting to connect on a more personal level with students and improve relationships with families.
Congratulations to all of the families that completed the Tech Goes Home course! Great job acquiring 21st century technology skills and getting those brand new Chromebooks! I couldn’t be prouder of your hard work and dedication.
Mrs. Keohane is the School Librarian at the P.A. Shaw. She loves hockey, going to the beach, and reading (obviously!)