Book Review: We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices

This collection of stories, poems, visual art and letters to children is a powerful antidote to the times we are living in.  We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices, edited by Wade Hudson and Cheryl Willis Hudson, features work by more than 50 gifted authors and illustrators and the collection has clear and powerful messages for young readers and children: Don’t be frightened of the current political system — help make the future a better place for all of us as others have done in the past — we adults are here for you when things get difficult.

I have to admit, I was both encouraged and worried about the overt political message of this collection. From the opening page, this is, as the title says, a book of resistance.

I was encouraged because I know many children need a path forward through these dark times, particularly those young people who are the targets of racism and immigration policies and who, if not the target, worry about those messages on others. I was worried because this book is so anti-Trump, it would be difficult for many educators to make the decision to bring this into the classroom, where balance is often requires.

Although, to be fair, that “balance” is a likely a controversial statement. No classroom is fair and balanced in its politics. The classroom culture is shaped by students, and by the teacher guiding the conversations. A classroom is impacted by the larger school, which is impacted by the larger community culture of the town or city in which is sits.

Nothing is neutral.

So, as I read We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices, I kept shaking my head in agreement and reading further into each new story or poem or letter or reflection, feeling my heart beat to the words on the page, and I kept wondering: how can I bring pieces of this powerful text into the classroom?

How can I work into my classroom Kwame Alexander’s poem, A Thousand Winters, about how to keep a young black daughter safe; or Ellen Oh’s Words Have Power about first and second generation American immigrants and the discrimination they face as they hold on to their culture; or Jacqueline Woodson’s amazing Kindness is a Choice, which is about what it says it is about; or Tony Medina’s short story One Day Papi Drove Me to School about separation of family from the viewpoint of a child; or Hena Khan’s How to Pass the Test when anti-Muslim fervor hits the playground.

How? Oh, I’ll find a way. You should, too.

Peace (in the world),

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