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Celebrating Black Authors at TCS

Kindergarten Through 3rd Grade Welcomes Authors for Readings and Q&A

The Children's School boasts a strong story-writing culture, with each child publishing their favorite personal work at the end of each year. Our students seem themselves as authors from a young age, and we celebrate the diversity of voice that comes forward when each child is given space and time for creative expression.

So what better way to celebrate Black History Month than to meet grown-up authors of children's books to read their own books to us and answer student questions about their work, the writing process, and what it's like to be an author? With that in mind, our 2nd-grade teacher, Ms. Kendra Roberts, reached out to two Chicago-based authors of children's literature, who each met with our K-3 kids this month:


Dr. Veronica Appleton is a scholar, children’s author, and co-founder of Candidly Connecting, a diversity education firm. She is a lecturer for DePaul Univ. College of Communication, and head facilitator for Yale University’s Women in Leadership Executive Education program. Her work has been recognized by Crain’s Business, FOX News, and Diversity Journal’s Top Professionals in Higher Education.

Tu-Tu Goes To School is part of her Appleville series of children's books. In this story, Tu-Tu loves learning and her journey to Appleville gave her the courage to read many books. Now that it’s the start of the school year, Tu-Tu has a special “Show & Tell” prize for the class. Tu-Tu’s goal for the future is to become an archeologist to explore the earth, travel to far places, and learn about different cultures.

Deanna M. Barnes is a local author who lives in Oak Park with her husband, two sons, and a daughter. She was inspired to write A Very Good Helper after catching her own preschool-aged daughter washing dishes unsupervised - in an attempt to help Mommy. Deanna knew she had to capture the spirit of a young girl of color who is independent, confident, and does everything in love. A Very Good Helper is the first title in a series.

"I had met Deanna at A House in Austin and reached out to her when we had the idea to host Black authors for Black History Month," says 2nd-grade teacher Ms. Kendra Roberts. "It was great to be able to welcome her here to read the book to our K - 3 students, and to give the children an opportunity to ask her questions not only about the book but also about being an author. "

We are purchasing copies of both Deanna Barnes' A Very Good Helper and Victoria Appleton's Tu-Tu Goes to School for our TCS Library, our Pond classrooms, and our neighbors at First Baptist Preschool so that students can continue to enjoy them throughout the years.


4th/5th Grade - An In-Depth Study of Black Authors

Both of our 4th/5th Grade classes are participating in a joint multi-faceted unit built around the work of Black authors. The immersion will include reading, writing, analysis, history, and humanities.

As part of the focus, Mrs. Lori Nitzsche and the "All Hail the Cheeseburgers" class are reading and discussing Hurricane Child by Kacen Callender. It's about 12-year-old Caroline, who is living in the U.S. Virgin Islands and who was born during a hurricane. After her mother leaves, she is struggling through family, social, and identity challenges in a coming-of-age tale with a magical Carribean backdrop.

The students are also reading the poetry of Kwame Alexander and then writing their own poems inspired by his unique style.

Ms. Lisa Friedman and the "Cloudy with a Chance of Gumdrops" students are having book talks and watching recorded interviews of authors of middle-grade books like Kwame Alexander, Kelly Baptist, Sharon M. Draper, Jason Reynolds, and more.


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