It’s Monday, What are You Reading is a meme hosted by Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers (new host of Monday reading: Kathryn T at Book Date). Since two of our friends, Linda from Teacher Dance and Tara from A Teaching Life have been joining this meme for quite awhile now, we thought of joining this warm and inviting community.
A Girl Like Me [Amazon | Book Depository]
Written by Angela Johnson Illustrations by Nina Crews
Published by Millbrook Press (2020)
ISBN: 1541557778 (ISBN13: 9781541557772) Borrowed from Overdrive. Book photos taken by me.
The story begins with young girls’ dreams – followed closely by how those dreams are systematically discouraged or diminished by societal norms and other people’s expectations:
Yet despite of, and maybe even because of, the words of discouragement received from the people around them, the girls in this story persist and go out of their way to do the unexpected.
There is this constant call to be like everybody else, to “get down here with the rest of us” – and to stop climbing upwards, onwards, reaching for the stars.
While I confess to not particularly liking the collage style used in the narrative – which might be compounded by the fact that I was reading it in an ebook format – I loved seeing the girls’ bright and happy faces, and reading their brief afterword where they described who they are and what they dream of being. The last several pages also disarmed me, with this empowering message of “making everything bigger than the dream.”
One Girl [Amazon | Book Depository]
Written by Andrea Beaty Illustrated by Dow Phumiruk
Published by Harry N. Abrams (2020)
ISBN: 141971905X (ISBN13: 9781419719059) Borrowed from Overdrive. Book photos taken by me.
This gorgeous picturebook made it to my top favourite picturebooks read in 2020. While I loved Andrea Beaty’s Questioneers Picturebook Series (including Ada Twist, Scientist and Rosie Revere, Engineer just to cite a few), this one left me with my heart on my throat – probably because I see myself reflected in this brown, bright-eyed girl holding a book.
Each page contains only a few words: brief lines, describing how this luminous book that dropped out from the skies can prove to be transformative to this young girl who opened its pages and was forever changed by the experience.
While I generally dislike rhyming text – the surreal storytelling here is lyrical and simply defies poetic borders or boundaries. This universe of books illuminated so glowingly by Phumiruk also moved my sensibilities. I remember that as a young girl, I always had my nose buried in books: they were my friends and my deliverance from a home very much like the one depicted here – showing me entire lives and possibilities outside that which I can see from within the confines of my existence.
In the Author’s Note, Andrea Beaty explained the inspiration behind One Girl:
Everything we have ever known or might ever imagine can be held between the covers of a book. That knowledge is a precious and powerful thing. Education shares that power and helps its recipients become their most amazing selves. But what if someone is kept from an education? That is the situation for over one hundred and thirty million girls around the world. Factors like poverty, political situations, remote living, violence, and child marriage keep girls out of classrooms and stop them from reaching their full potential.
The statistics shared by Beaty is sobering: imagine 130 million young girls deprived of education – and this continues up to the present time. The Author’s Note ends with a call to action, and a web resource where concerned readers can make a difference.
#SurvivalStories2021 Update: 16 / 17 out of target 100
(Dow Phumiruk is Thai American | both Angela Johnson and Nina Crews are POC)