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Saturday, March 21, 2020

The books that bind Hard to be Sixth by Arnold Adoff

A little context
It's Saturday night during the Coronavirus time, and my dear friend and colleague Nelba Marquez Green from the Ana Grace Project, our CCSU Literacy Center, and New Britain Public Schools have joined together to share a Mystery Reader story every night until our public schools open up again. We had to leave our classrooms very quickly, and I did not have access to all our books. I wondered what could I read? Then my wife said silly our daughter's books are upstairs in her old room. As I looked through her books, a million smiles came my way. She is now 30 and lives in Queens NY. As soon as she heard I was going to be one of the Ana Grace Project Readers, she knew I would be torn between two of her favorite books. Last week I read Koala Lou by Mem Fox. This week I am reading "Hard to Be Six". I am reading the books that bind a father and daughter in love that shall live on after I am gone.

About the girl and her father
When our daughter was six years old she wanted to read very much. Her favorite friends were a few paces ahead of her. She loved books but has not pulled everything together yet. The daughter of the Reading Teacher would be a late bloomer who grew into a most amazing reader.

I felt for her but felt confident that her love of books would bring her along. I had brought Arnold Adoff's "Hard To Be Sixth" because his son was impatient and in a hurry, and wanted to grow up quick like many young children. Just like my own daughter.

I also loved that the Grandmother in his story is the one that helps bridge her grandson's impatience. Erin's Grandmother lived in Ireland, she loved her dearly. When she went to study abroad many years later she chose Ireland, because she wanted to be near her. She wanted to be able to jump on the bus if she needed it to grab a cup of tea, a biscuit, and some of her grandmother's love.

About the author and the book 
Arnold Adoff's book was from 1991, but it was ahead of its time. It is the beautiful story of a Biracial family with many glorious intergenerational threads weaved into it. It even lovingly brings in a grandfather who passed before the boy was born.

Something equally important in literature is authenticity. Far too many books are written by others. Arnold Adoff was White and Jewish, and his loving wife was African America Viginia Hamilton one of my favorite children's authors. This family is beautiful, and books should reflect the reality of the world children live in. Families come in all shades, faiths, sizes, and the bond that holds them together is love. Like that love, authenticity holds this book together so very well.

The wheel turns 
It was the perfect book, and our daughter has never forgotten it. When she was seven years old everything with reading fell into place for her. But, she wanted her training wheels off. but, she wasn't ready. She said Daddy I think every year is hard at first, but every year gets better. It's like it "Hard To Be Six"

Many years later, she was leaving for college, and she was worried, and she said Dad would you read Hard To Be Six".
That book binds father and daughter. She is 30 years old living in NY and prospering. Last Saturday I read another favorite of our daughter's Koala Lou for the Ana Grace Project.

Guess which book this Saturday's Mystery Reader is reading tonight, and whose 30-year-old daughter will be watching?

Parents, guardians, and grandparents, what really matters about books
I have always advised parents not to worry about using books to teach lessons to their children, find the books that bind you with your children.
It's the binding with books that matters,
Dr. Jesse P. Turner
CCSU Literacy Center Director
And sometimes Mystery Reader

One last thing, today the university gave me 15 minutes to grab what I needed from our Central Connecticut State University Literacy Center. Guess what I gabbed? Tonight's Mystery Reader is Pirate Captain Read A Lot

If you are wondering what tune inspired my morning walk today it's "Hoist the Colours" 
song from Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

My public educator Pandemic Pledge

My public educator pledge

I have taught for so long, that I live and breathe teaching and learning. So forgive me if I struggle a bit, stumble around, and trying to find ways not to create greater distances, but new ways to use social media to cut the distances.
I shall teach,
I shall learn,
I shall listen,
I shall see,
I shall use my small teacher voice to call out.

I shall find new ways to say let us learn and grow together,
I shall give my all,
My best, and
Though I may stumble a bit,
I shall not fail our teachers and our children.

Teaching is not my job,
It is my vocation,
And my vocation still calls to me.

I will learn, grow, and teach my way forward through this pandemic,
For I am a public educator.

Dr. Jesse P. Turner Director
Central Connecticut State University Literacy Center
Moral Monday CT Education Ambassador
National committee of Uniting to Save Our Schools 

If you like to listen to the song that inspired my morning walk its "Teach your Children" cover of Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young cover by Play For Change. 

I teach the best & the brightest teachers

I teach the most talented & giving of themselves teachers

I teach these most amazing teachers & they are my heart

I teach the most amazing children whose hearts are the biggest in the world

I will fight in and out of the classroom for our children, parents & teachers