Primary Source Hosts a Global Read of The Red Umbrella by Christina Gonzalez

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

Earlier this year I blogged about Primary Source when they hosted a Global Read of Mitali Perkins‘ book Bamboo People.  On March 2nd Primary Source will be hosting a new Global Read, this time focusing on Christina Diaz Gonzalez‘ YA book The Red Umbrella. The online discussion forum will be followed by a live web-based session with Christina on March 9th from 3:00 – 4:00pm EST.  Anyone interested in global issues is welcome to take part in this free event but must register online here.

The Red Umbrella follows a 14-year-old Cuban girl and her brother sent by their parents to live in the United States during the tumultuous period of 1960s Cuba. Christina says the story was ” loosely based on the experiences of my parents, mother-in-law and many of the other 14,000 children who participated in Operation Pedro Pan.”

Talking about why she wrote the book, Christina says:

“Obviously, this is a personal story and part of my family history. In fact, it’s an important part of American history and yet there wasn’t much written about it, especially from the point of view of the children who experienced it. The book showcases how the U.S. has always been a haven for those seeking refuge from injustice and oppression and how average Americans have stepped up to help those in need, even if they were foreigners in our country. I also wanted to show the pride immigrants (in this case Cubans) have for their homeland, but how, in the end, family is what matters most… home is not a physical place. It’s where you feel you belong, where you are surrounded by people who love and accept you.”

The Red Umbrella has been appearing on many YA book lists since being published in May 2010, including ALA/YALSA’s 2011 Best Fiction for Young Adults. You can read an interview with Christina here, and there is also an amazing book trailer made by Christina’s brother-in-law:

Primary Source Hosts a Global Read of Bamboo People by Mitali Perkins~ January 12th – 19th

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

Having just finished reading Bamboo People,  I was excited to see this email in my inbox today from Primary Source, a non-profit organization that promotes history and humanities education by connecting educators to people and cultures throughout the world:

Global Read of Bamboo People by Mitali Perkins

You are invited to join us for a discussion of the young adult novel, Bamboo People, by Mitali Perkins — a compelling coming-of-age story about child soldiers in modern Burma. The online discussion forum will begin tomorrow – Wednesday, January 12th. Then join the author for a live chat on January 19th.

Online discussion forum: January 12th-19th, 2011
Live chat session with the author: Wednesday, January 19, 3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. EST

Register online here (registration is free but participants are responsible for obtaining their own copy of the book). All are welcome – teachers, students, parents, and anyone interested in global issues!

I’m off to register now and hope that some of our PaperTigers readers will join me!

P.S. Don’t forget to take a look at our 1,000th post, with the chance of winning a Spirit of PaperTigers 2010 book set. The deadline for entries is midnight Pacific Standard Time, on Wednesday 19 January with the draw taking placing in San Francisco on Thursday 20 January.

The Tiger’s Choice: Accepting the Challenge (and looking for answers)

Tuesday, March 18th, 2008

The latest Tiger’s Choice, Naming Maya, by Uma Krishnaswami, is a response to the Books at Bedtime Reading Challenge that was extended to all readers of PaperTigers. Thanks to Marjorie for giving us all a chance to read our way through different countries and cultures–this challenge opens up a whole new reading adventure for those of us who choose to take it.

As Naming Maya unfolds, many of its readers are presented with a new country, new codes of behavior, new flavors, smells, and daily landscapes. The taste of “honey and chili powder” mingled on the tongue, milk delivered by bringing a cow to a doorstep and milking it in view of the person who is soon to drink it, listening to the call of a brain-fever bird, seeing a tree that is adorned with flowers, coins, and a statue of ” the plump, cheery elephant-headed god, Ganesha,” these things are all vividly described and give a glimpse of Chennai, India.

Or it does for me. How about you? As you read, do you see Maya’s new world, and experience her confusion? Do the differing values of her mother’s home country that frustrate this New Jersey girl become clear as the book progresses? And is memory a gift or a curse?

As the Tiger’s Bookshelf progresses on its own adventure of searching for readers who will take part in our online book group, the question persists of how do non-virtual, more conventional book groups solve the dilemma of having members take voice in their group discussions? If you belong to a book group that has found solutions to the silence, please let us know! How do you entice the shyest, least confident members to voice their opinions and express their thoughts?

The Tiger's Bookshelf: A Community of Readers

Tuesday, January 15th, 2008

Long ago, back in the Dark Ages of bookselling when life was more leisurely and bookstores had enough time to provide a plethora of programs for readers, I worked in a bookstore that had a monthly Story Hour for little children. It was successful and a good time was had by all, but then some of our audience outgrew the stories and asked for something more substantial than picture books.

That request grew into a read-aloud hour for school-age listeners, a club for young writers, and a book group for young readers, ranging in age from eight to twelve years old. This cluster of programs became popular with our book store staff as well as with our young customers, and booksellers vied for the chance to facilitate these monthly meetings, with the book group becoming the most popular offering for both the presenters and the participants.

We were lucky. The members of our book group came to us as an off shoot of another well-established program. They were already devoted readers by the time we launched a book group, they were accustomed to coming to our events, and they felt comfortable in the store and with the staff. It was the ideal climate for a flourishing book group.

Ten years later, that climate has changed for everyone. Families maintain much more rigorous schedules than in the past, bookstores have been forced to become more competitive, and more and more children are abandoning the printed word. And yet book groups are more popular than ever in the adult reading world. Certainly they could be for children as well.

Do you belong to a book group? Do your children? Have you begun a book group for children? Do you wish you could but are unsure of how to go about it? Let us know. In addition to providing an online book group where children and adults can discuss books that they love, PaperTigers also would love to provide a spot where experienced book group participants give pointers to those who are beginning to explore the pleasures of reading and chatting with others of like mind.

How did your group begin? What do you read? How do you keep your discussions lively and your meetings well-attended? What advice do you have for people who are beginning their own groups? Please let us know and help us spread the joy of reading.