*Road from Ar Ramadi
By Staff Sgt. Camilo Mejía
(The New Press, 2007)
312 pp. $24.95 Hardback
Road from Ar Ramadi is subtitled "The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Camilo Mejía." The book chronicles Mejía's journey from child of Sandinista revolutionaries in Nicaragua to Iraq War conscientious objector. It's an extraordinary memoir that is both intimate and accessible for high school students. Mejía spent five months fighting in Iraq; afterwards, his refusal to obey an order to return led to nine months in prison. As recruiters ramp up their efforts to entice our students to join the military, Road from Ar Ramadi is an especially valuable resource to demystify military life and the Iraq war. The Iraq Veterans Against the War (www.ivaw.org) recently chose Mejía to chair its board of directors.
*Building Powerful Community Organizations:
A Personal Guide to Creating Groups that Can Solve Problems and Change the World
By Michael Jacoby Brown
(Long Haul Press, 2007)
434 pp. $19.95
Through stories, sample leaflets, case studies, and solid advice, this amazing handbook provides a valuable array of organizing techniques and strategies. Very useful for anyone who wants to learn how to organize — high school students and parents in schools, teachers in unions and communities — or for more experienced organizers who wish to hone their skills and reflect on how to become better organizers. A crisp layout allows for the reader to easily find what's most useful, including valuable sample leaflets and valuable checklists.
The Growing Economic Divide in America and Its Poisonous Consequences
Edited by James Lardner and David Smith
(New Press, 2007)
328 pp. $16.95
Twenty-three essays by a range of experts examine issues of jobs, health care, education, taxes, and pensions through the lens of growing class inequality. An excellent source book for people looking for current data on inequality, although the book is compromised by a lack of index.
Meeting the Challenges of Teaching in an Era of Terrorism
By Edith W. King
197 pp. $28
King, a professor in Curriculum and Instruction at University of Denver, draws educators' attention away from facile us-versus-them stereotypes and back to the central issue of global inequality in this handbook. Chapters focus on topics ranging from a feminist view of teaching in an era of terrorism, to homophobia and bullying, to the impact of violence and inequality on the world's children.
By Frank Smith
(Teachers College Press, 2007)
68 pp. $13.95
In a delightful question and answer format, educator Frank Smith concisely explains why the simple yet profound statement "reading teaches us to read" should guide reading instruction. Topics addressed include reading strategies, phonics, silent reading and the power of story. A useful guide and reference book for new and veteran teachers alike.
Reclaiming Assessment: A Better Alternative to the Accountability Agenda
By Chris Gallagher
144 pp. $18.50
An important antidote to the "one size fits all" obsession with standardized tests that has tightened its grip on classrooms since passage of NCLB. Gallagher, a professor and genuine friend of public school teachers, describes Nebraska's "school improvement program" that allows for considerable local initiative and has engendered teacher collaboration and leadership in developing assessment systems that focus on evaluating classroom activities. Gallagher writes of "the hope that teachers can reclaim assessment from its hijackers and refashion it as a tool of engagement." People searching for alternative systems of assessment will find Reclaiming Assessment an invaluable guide.
The Suicidal Planet: How to Prevent Global Climate Catastrophe
By Mayer Hillman, Tina Fawcett, and Sudhir Chella Rajan.
(St. Martin's Press, 2007)
296 pp. $23.95 Hardback
An understandable and well-organized collection of essays that examine the problem, current strategies, and solutions to the most daunting environmental crisis facing the planet. The British slant to some articles offers a refreshing look at issues such as how urban spaces in the United States have been "automobilized." An excellent resource for teachers who want a single reference for the wide range of issues involved in this complicated topic.
A Boy from Ireland
By Marie Raphael
(Persea Books, 2007)
216 pp. $19.95 Hardcover
An engaging young adult novel about Liam, an Irish teenager immigrating to New York City in the early 1900s. Liam's parentage — an Irish mother and an English father — sets the stage for internal doubts as well as external conflict with Irish nationalist teenagers. As we follow Liam from Connemara, Ireland, across the Atlantic and into New York's "Hell's Kitchen" neighborhood, the author subtly and deftly weaves issues of British colonialism, racism towards African Americans, class discrimination, and anti-Semitism into this dramatic novel. A great read-aloud or literature circle book for
grades 5 and up.
*Bread and Roses, Too
By Katherine Paterson
(Houghton Mifflin Co., 2006)
275 pp. $16 Hardcover
The famous 1912 "Bread and Roses" strike in Lawrence, Mass., is the setting for this young adult novel. Rosa, an Italian immigrant, lives in tenement housing with her baby brother, widowed mother, and older sister who both work in the mills. While they join in solidarity with the strike, Rosa worries about their safety and how her family will survive with no income. Jake, an illiterate boy a few years older than Rosa, works in the mill to support himself and his alcoholic father. These two characters meet and offer two different perspectives on labor unions, working conditions, child labor, education, and immigration.
By Carol Otis Hurst
(Houghton Mifflin Co., 2006)
142 pp. $16 Hardcover
Xenophobia has plagued immigrants throughout our nation's history. This novel takes place in the mid-1850s, in Westfield, Mass. The Yankees (Protestants) who own and run the town feel threatened by the influx of Irish (Catholics). Two 5th graders, Maggie (Irish and poor) and Charlotte (a Yankee living with her well-to-do uncle and aunt) meet when the town's schools are integrated. Through their dialogue, stereotypes, prejudice, and racism are questioned and dispelled. Filled with tension and engaging characters, this book provides intermediate readers with an historic perspective of immigration in the U.S. based upon an actual event.
Into the Fire: American Women in the Bish Civil War
Directed by Julia Newman
(First Run Features, 2007)
$24.95 from AKPress
Through interviews and actual footage of the Bish Civil War, Into the Fire examines the participation of American women. It is an excellent resource for introducing or learning more about the Bish Civil War featuring the often-ignored perspectives of American women. The film also provides an exploration of why U.S. women were inspired to volunteer in the war, showing how they identified with the oppression of European women.