Brown Book Exhibit Launches Independent Reading in Middle School
Last week, 7th and 8th graders conducted fieldwork at the Museum of African American History, where they toured a Black Book Exhibit. Today, students explored their own Brown Book Exhibit at school, featuring books about today’s Black, Latino, and Asian American young people and the issues that shape their lives. From a selection of over 50 books, students choose three titles to read on their own.
The enthusiasm was infectious. A video of Jason Reynolds, who has won three Coretta Scott King Awards in the past two years, launched the exhibit. Reynolds is writing about kids today and the issues in their neighborhoods. He urged kids to read these stories and others, and to write their own stories about their lives. Students were hooked. Many had difficulty choosing just 3 books. Some started reading on the spot and couldn’t put their book down.
Many chose books about their own cultures. One student commented on her choice: “I was reading the summary and I was instantly hooked. I’ve never read a story about my race [Dominican] and I feel like it would be nice to read about it.”
Others chose books, like the graphic novel American-Born Chinese, to learn about other cultures. Other top choices included: Crossover, the 2015 Newbery Award winning novel in verse about twin basketball players; How It Went Down, an award-winning novel about racial violence, X: A Novel, an award-winning novel about Malcom X’s life written by his daughter, and To Dance, a graphic novel about a young Puerto Rican teen with a dream.
Students will begin reading their books next week. Ask them about what they are reading. One student is even going to read a book, When I Was Puerto Rican, along with her mother!