Is your teenager looking for some great new reading? Here are five standout choices.
“Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You,” by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi: Reynolds, the current National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, distills Kendi’s National Book Award-winning adult book, “Stamped From the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America,” for teen readers. But this isn’t just a rewrite. Instead, Reynolds uses his considerable literary skills to create a book that will deeply resonate with teens who will find lots to think about and discuss.
“Superman Smashes the Klan,” written by Gene Luen Yang and illustrated by Gurihiru: The award-winning Yang reworks a 1946 Superman radio serial and makes it startlingly relevant to today’s teens in this graphic novel. The story revolves around the Chinese American Lee family, which has just moved from Chinatown to Metropolis. But it quickly appears that the Lees are unwelcome when Klan of the Fiery Kross members burn a cross on their lawn. Yang’s story moves quickly, and seamlessly incorporates Superman’s efforts to rout the racists of Metropolis as he tries to come to grips with his own background as an outsider. The art by Gurihiru, a Japanese illustration team, does a stellar job of heightening the story’s drama.
“Almost American Girl,” written and illustrated by Robin Ha: In this illustrated memoir, Ha details her experience as a reluctant immigrant to the United States. She was doing just fine as a typical teen in her native Seoul when her divorced mother suddenly uprooted them to Huntsville, Alabama, so she could marry a Korean-American man. Devastated by the move, Ha has to find her own way with little English and amid challenges with her stepfamily. Eventually, she enrolls in a local comics class, which provides a lifeline and a future direction. Ha’s illustrations expressively portray both her misery and eventual acceptance of her new life.
“Clap When You Land,” by Elizabeth Acevedo: Acevedo tells the story of two teen sisters who have no idea the other exists until their father dies and his secret – having two families, one in New York, the other in the Dominican Republic – is exposed. Using the novel-in-verse style that she employed so brilliantly in her National Book Award-winning “The Poet X,” Acevedo shows how the sisters discover that they have much in common, despite their very different homes and upbringing.
“Kent State,” by Deborah Wiles: Wiles uses an unusual format of multiple viewpoints to relate the terrible events of May 4, 1970, when four Kent State University students were killed by National Guardsmen during a campus protest of the Vietnam War. Well-researched and riveting, “Kent State” will speak to teens today who are working for social justice.
Test your knowledge with today’s trivia question
When was the first issue of Time magazine published?
Tuesday’s answer: La La Land
If you think painting a picture is fun, imagine how much fun it is to paint a giant one. Murals are great for a big splash of color to any indoor or outdoor space, and they’re an awesome opportunity for young and old people to celebrate creativity and collaboration.
The possibilities are endless, so where do you start? First, decide on your canvas. You’ll need a large surface – a wall if you’re really lucky, but for less permanent options you can use large sheets, plywood, tarps, cardboard boxes or whatever you have handy.
Decide if you want to plan your mural, or just wing it. If you want to plan the mural, you can draw you a smaller version of what you’d like to create. Measure your mural space and scale it down. This may take some fractions and percentages, so depending on whether it is you or your caregivers who are better at math, grab an adult if you need help. Test your designs and ideas on a small scale first. That way, you can change a few things around and do so in less time or start over completely if you decide to.
Once you’ve decided on your methods, you need to decide what you’d like to create and gather your medium of choice. Most murals are done with paint, but you can use marker, crayon or pencils. You could also cut shapes from colored paper to create your mural. As far as subjects go – now that is up to you.
You can create anything you imagine. Maybe your favorite animals, a giant tree, a scene from your favorite park or your favorite weather, your favorite sport, or the people you love. Or instead, you can go abstract and paint whatever you feel.
A mural is a big undertaking, so be prepared for this to take a few hours or days. Breaking your mural down into steps is a great way to stay organized and avoid mishaps (although those are OK, too).
If you can, get some friends or family involved, while still minding the quarantine guidelines, of course. Such a big space can be filled more easily with extra hands, plus it is great fun to share ideas and work together.
History is a great tool for understanding the present, for kids and adults alike. Here are some online history resources that will help kids explore and understand the events and lives of the humans that came before us.
History.com: Provided by the History Channel, find history lessons and activities to learn at home, quick summaries of events that happened on this day in history, search history by topic, and a podcast called “History This Week” that discusses current events through a historic lens.
Big History Project: This is an online resource of social studies curriculum for middle and high school students. All the lessons are free and they provide course plans for various durations of time. Visit bighistoryproject.com.
National Geographic Kids: Natgeokids.com offers a program called “Primary Resources” that has free and downloadable infographics and fact sheets about various history topics like Queen Victoria, Nelson Mandela, ancient Egyptians and more. Visit kids.nationalgeographic.com
Smithsonian’s History Explorer: This is especially for those who really want to do a deep dive into history. You can filter their endless resources by grade level, resource type like lessons and activities, and even cross-curricular connections to see how history overlaps with different subjects. Visit historyexplorer.si.edu/lessons.
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