ABOUT STORYSEED CURRICULUM
Our curriculum and ongoing practices are rooted in emergent strategy: “the way complex systems and patterns arise out of a multiplicity of relatively simple interactions.” The interactions we have with books, among reading partners, inside classrooms, and within reading communities are relatively simple. What is cultivated from those interactions is something much more complex – lifelong, daily abolitionist, decolonizing, heart/body-centered, and anti-racist practices. These include learning how to make the ground more fertile for ongoing identity, healing, discussion, action, and imagination practices in ourselves and with each other.
SEED BOOKS & GROWTH BOOKS
Seeds and plants are part of a larger set of organic metaphors that feel right in describing learning for liberation and our practices at Reading Is Resistance. When I made the decision to not only offer a foundational Reading Together Subscription but also a Reading Together+ Subscription with additional middle reader books, I kept coming back to the idea of seed books and growth books.
Seed books are books that seed new ideas, reflection, curiosity, and action in us. In a healthy education, we would all have access to seed books (and seed stories of all mediums) that help us to understand ourselves and each other. Through a justice lens, these books also help us to understand our intersectionality, to know our history, and to imagine our future. They give us the opportunity to practice justice frameworks and language and to develop practices to be in right relationship with each other and the world. A seed book can also be a growth book depending on when we encounter it and what part it plays in our learning.
In our work at Reading Is Resistance, we believe that picture books are a special kind of seed book. We can share them across age and reading level, we can read them to each other, we can experience the visual as well as the textual, and we can dive in right away with folks of all different levels of justice experience, too.
Growth books are not fundamentally any different than seed books. Within this framework, they are also justice focused and function in similar ways to grow our capacity for reflection, conversation, and action. They can be any level or genre of book as well. Unlike a seed book, these books further learning that was planted in a seed book. They deepen, grow, add voices, and complicate our learning from the seed book. They help us to see not just a single story but instead the way all of our identities and stories connect and intersect and how our stories are in relationship with each other.
A VISUAL MAP: A SUNFLOWER OF LEARNING
In a way, this is a practice of aligning reading practice with emergent strategy, of letting the books organically lead the way into deeper growth and greater capacity for liberation. Let's take a look at this visual map.
THE SEED BOOK
The seed book in this map is The Arabic Quilt (TAQ) by Aya Khalil and Anait Semirdzhyan. The story is rich with learning pathways, from immigration to belonging, from xenophobia to apology.
In this map, the growth books expand upon the story seeds that the center book plant in our minds, hearts, imaginations, and bodies.
PICTURE BOOK A: THE KATHA CHEST BY RADHIAH CHOWDHURY & LAVANYA NAIDU
This book centering a Bangladeshi family deepens learning around intergenerational family care and identity. It also talks about quilts as important comfort and storytelling items.
PICTURE BOOK B: THE BANNED BOOK BAKE SALE BY AYA KHALIL & ANAIT SEMIRDZHYAN
This book, like The Arabic Quilt, also features Kanzi. It highlights the school experience and takes us into a new direction -- understanding and fighting against school library book bans. It also talks about the power of protest during the Egyptian Revolution in 2011.
MIDDLE READER BOOK AB: THE DRAGON THEIF BY ZETTA ELLIOT
Set in Brooklyn, NY, this story of a young Black brother and sister team and their magical ancestry is enchanting. In this book (#2 in the series), their Siddi lineage is explored after Kavita asks questions about Auntie's beautiful quilt, an art particular to the Siddi tradition.
BOOK C: HANDS AROUND THE LIBRARY BY KAREN LEGGETT ABOURAYA & SUSAN L. ROTH
This book takes place during the Egyptian Revolution of 2011 when groups of young people joined hands and surrounded historic locations like the Alexandria Library in order to protect it and the books inside.
YA BOOK BC: BANNED BOOK CLUB BY KIM HYUN-SOOK
Set in South Korea, this book is based on the author's own experience as a college student in a banned book club, a reading and activism group pushing back against censorship during South Korea's Fifth Republic.
BOOK D: LAILA'S LUNCHBOX BY REEM FARUQI & LEA LYON
Taking place during Ramadan, this story is about Laila, who recently immigrated to Georgia from Abu Dhabi and is anxious that her teacher and classmates won't understand her cultural identity and practices. A note from her mother and a talk with the school librarian give Laila the tools she needs to feel comfortable sharing her tradition with her class.
MIDDLE READER BOOK CD: AMINA'S VOICE BY HENA KHAN
A story about coming of age, identity, and speaking up, Amina's Voice follows Pakistani-American Amina as she thinks about what it means to belong and how to stand up when her mosque is vandalized with anti-Muslim hate language.
BOOK E: YOUR NAME IS A SONG BY JAMILAH THOMPKINS-BIGELOW & LUISA URIBE
Kora-Jalimuso's name (meaning "singer of cultural history" in West African/Mandika) is unpracticed by her new teachers and classmates. Luckily, her mother has a beautiful way of talking about the beautiful variety of names and their meanings that children from all different identities can have.
MIDDLE READER BOOK DE: A PLACE AT THE TABLE BY SAADIA FARUQI & LAURA SHOVAN
A new school and an after school cooking class bring Pakistani-American Sara (who is Muslim) and Elizabeth (who is white and Jewish) together to learn more about each other's identities, cultures, and how much they have in common.
BOOK F: THAT'S NOT MY NAME BY ANOOSHA SYED
Mirha is so excited about school, but when she gets there, everyone says her name wrong. Later that evening, she gets advice and support from her family, who reminds her that her name is unique, beautiful, and part of who she is. Mirha returns to school empowered to let people know "that's not my name" and to help them to get her name right.
MIDDLE READER BOOK EF: TEACH US YOUR NAME BY HUDA ESA
Based on the experiences of the author, this book is a practical guide for how to approach practicing unpracticed names and to respect each other's identities.
BOOK G: THE ALL-TOGETHER QUILT BY LIZZIE ROCKWELL
Based on a real community project called the Norwalk Community Quilt Project: Peace by Piece, this book talks about intergenerational quilt making, and story sharing. Once each quilt is made, they are given to elders to warm them on chilly days and nights.
MIDDLE READER BOOK FG: FRONT DESK BY KELLY YANG
Mia, who has immigrated with her family from China, inspires us all as she makes friends across identities, works at her family business, and stands up for justice. Kelly Yang's book has been frequently challenged/banned as it specifically challenges anti-immigrant rhetoric and policy.
BOOK H: STITCHIN' AND PULLIN': A GEES BEND QUILT BY PATRICIA MCKISSACK & COZBI A. CABRERA
Quilting is a long tradition of Black artists in Gees Bend, Alabama. Its history is intertwined with that of the Land, the U.S. history of enslavement of Black people, the Civil Rights Movement, and more. This book tracks the history and current practice of quilt making, story telling, mourning, remembering, and creating.
NON-FICTION BOOK MIDDLE READER+ GH: STITCHING STOLEN LIVES -- AMPLIFYING VOICES, EMPOWERING YOUTH, AND BUILDING EMPATHY THROUGH QUILTS
A book detailing the Social Justice Sewing Academy Remembrance Project, a quilt-based project to remember and honor lives lost to injustice in the U.S.
JOIN THE LEARNING COMMUNITY
If you made it to end of this blog post, you're probably a book nerd like me, you may be interested in the way organic patterns can lead us into deeper justice work, and we might need to be besties! I hope this visual map and these ideas about interconnectivity of all of these powerful stories gives you something to ponder and get creative with as well. Think about how awesome it would be to read all of these books in intergenerational community!
If you'd like to explore further, I hope you'll consider joining our subscription and starting to read together. Take a look at our curriculum for The Arabic Quilt. And keep an eye open for workshop and other opportunities to continue to grow our community!