Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Sydney Taylor Award

As taken from The Sydney Taylor Book Award Association of Jewish Libraries, the mission of this award is as follows: "The purpose of the Sydney Taylor Book Award is to encourage the publication of outstanding books of Jewish content for children, books, that exemplify, the highest literary standards while authentically portraying the Jewish experience. We hope that official recognition of such books will inspire authors, encourage publishers, inform parents and teachers, and intrigue young readers. We also hope that by educating readers about the Jewish experience, we can engender pride in Jewish readers while building bridges to readers of other backgrounds."

NOTE: If any professionals in this particular field have any additional information or insight to offer regarding the Sydney Taylor Award, I would be very interested to gain new knowledge and understanding.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Saga Continues..

The more we delve into multicultural literarcy through our discussion and readings, the more complex the issue of insider vs. outsider becomes. This week's readings were an absolute testament to this fact. While Aronson argued that the winner of specific book awards should not be pre-determined based upon the racial and/or cultural identity of the author, Pinkney counteracted this claim by expressing the absolute need for awards that forefront authors of a specific race allowing those books to be easily identifiable to communities desiring diverse literature. While I think that both of these individuals made extremely convincing points and valid arguments in support of their case, I feel that Pinkney took Aronson's article out of context and seemingly misconstrued what he was trying to say. It seemed to me that Aronson's argument was that the criterion of these words was in need of adjustment and reassessment. More specially, he was focusing on technicalities of the wording of some of the established criteria and pointed out the exclusion of individuals that this wording perpetuated. He was not saying that multicultural literature did not have a significant place in the world, rather simply said it is important to focus on the content of the material rather than simply the ethnicity of who wrote it. This reminded me of a point that was made during our class debate. Someone stated that they had a relative of Native American descent yet if this relative was asked to write a culturally diverse novel about individuals deriving from the Native American community, she would have few points of reference and little insight to offer. I feel like this is an excellent example of what Aronson was trying to say; just because you are of a certain race does not necessarily mean you have truly experienced the associated culture and have the authority to write a valid piece of literature regarding that culture. I felt like Pinkney, rather than logically assessing the actual criteria and wording of the awards, spoke from an emotional standpoint and was not able to view Aronson's argument reasonably. She seemed to think that Aronson was saying the awards in themselves had no place in society and were invalid, rather than his actual argument that they simply needed to be adjusted in order to truly recognize the talent of the artists and honor them based upon ability. He was not suggesting that these awards should be done away with, rather maintained a promotion of multicultural literature focusing on the content of the text vs. identity of the author. Had Pinkney truly understood the argument Aronson was trying to make, I feel she may have had a different reaction or response. This is, however, simply my opinion, and like I said before, I can certainly see the validity in both of their arguments. I am truly beginning to understand just how complicated the insider vs. outsider debate can be.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Blog Log

I also would like to say that the blog is going very well. I really enjoy having some freedom with what I choose to post and/or discuss in relation to the novels or articles we have read. Whereas I view blogs for many of my other classes as a chore, I look forward to conveying my thoughts and ideas on this blog because I know that they will not be confined to a specific question/answer format. It is refreshing to be able to include any information that I find meaningful or relevant to class discussion. Overall, I enjoy blogging for this course and have learned alot through my ability to read my peers' blogs as well. It is always educational and entertaining to hear a new perspective on things and see how others view the same issues. I look forward to continuing this process...

Loca En La Cabesa

After completing Bronx Masquerade I am completely in awe of the author's ability to create this simplistic yet intricate plot expressive of the ways in which all of our lives are inextricably tied together. Though each character faced their own, individual battles, whether it be with domestic violence, insecurity with physical aspects of oneself, feeling loca en la cabesa, or suffering a lack of motivation to engross oneself in academics, they each seemed to be bonded to one another through the poetry they shared and comfort of the environment from which this was done. In Jaceline Woodson's aticle "Who Can Tell My Story", she states, "It tells its own story, our language does, and woven through it are all the places we've been, all that we've seen, experience held close, good and bad" (269). I feel like this quote perfectly sums up the significant of, and intent behind Nikki Grimes, Bronx Masquerade; to use one's lanugage and discourse not only to convey an experience through the actually words themselvs but to convey emotions, feelings, and understanding amongst broad populations of students. In essence, to use poetry as a segue or means of forming meaningful relationships based upon shared experiences, backgrounds, or familiar circumstances. In this way, the students within the novel began to see a little bit of themselves in each other. They were able to view their peers not only as the label that they inevitably carried, but as unique individuals possesive of qualities much deeper than surface level facades. Through Grimes piece, she was able to communicate the importance and fragility of our lives and demonstrate the ways in which we are all linked whether it be through our shared experiences, or collective emotions felt at one point in time or another. Rather than robottically viewing individuals deriving from diverse cultures as adversaries, we are painted a portrait of acceptance, understanding, and empathy. Through the characterization and insertion of poetry within this piece, we can begin to dissect the various ways that all of our lives are inextricably bound together and realize that we are not so different after all.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Spike Lee

I just wanted to share a quick quote that ties nicely into our discussion of insider vs. outsider made by the infamous Spike Lee (who I am a little TOO fascinated and obsessed with! haha)

"I'd like to state that Spike Lee is not saying that African American culture is just for black people alone to enjoy and cherish. Culture is for everybody." -Spike Lee

I just thought this was a really intriguing and important statement that just re-emphasizes the fact that regardless of whether culturally diverse pieces of literature are written by an insider or an outsider, they can still be appreciated by all in one way or another. :)


After tonights class, I think I have gained a very well-rounded sense of what the insider vs. outsider debate is all about. Though I highly dislike debates as they make me very anxious and uncomfortable, I think tonight's debate was extremely beneficial in that it allowed us to really examine the issue at hand from each diverse perspective. I also think it was very clever for Deb to assign us which side we would be arguing for and against so as to put our own personal feelings aside and really find supporting evidence for our position. At the end of it all, I now understand why this socio-political debate has continued for so many years. There truly is no right or wrong answer and I think that we, as teachers, will have to do our best to make an educated and informed decision when choosing what texts we place inside our classrooms. I believe that tonight's debate will surely assist us in doing so.

Sunday, February 1, 2009


After reading through the provided samples of "Questioning the Text" papers, I am feeling extremely nervous and anxious about my own paper that I had prepared for last weeks class. I put so much time, thought, and effort into it and am now afraid that it does not even come close to meeting the assignments requirements. I have no idea why I am venting my worries on this blog but sometimes they get so overwhelming that I feel like I just have to put them out there! I am hoping that everyone has taken the opportunity to read the examples Deb has posted because it will absolutely be of assistance to you when putting together your paper. Happy Writing!