World Read Aloud Day

February 16th is World Read Aloud Day. I will be celebrating this day by reading aloud via Skype to as many classrooms as I can. Last year I read to 15 schools on 3 continents over 24 hours. I’d love to include your school in this year’s celebration. If you are a teacher of students between 3rd and 8th grade and you’d like to share some reading excitement with your class please get in touch as soon as possible so I can fit you into my schedule.

My newest novel The Turn of the Tide will come out in paperback on Valentines Day and in honor of that I’ll be giving away one of my paperbacks to the first ten teachers who schedule a free Skype visit for World Read Aloud Day.

You can use the contact me feature on the website or email me at rosanne@rosanneparry.com

World Read Aloud Day is sponsored by Lit World and they have a pretty impressive slogan:

Read aloud. Change the World.

World Read Aloud Day motivates children, teens, and adults worldwide to celebrate the power of words and creates a community of readers taking action to show the world that the right to literacy belongs to all people. World Read Aloud Day is celebrated by millions of people in more than 100 countries thanks to people like you who participate and spread the word across the globe!

If you are not a teacher I hope you will honor the day by choosing a book or poem you love and reading it to somebody you care about. My mother read poetry aloud to me her whole life long and those are some of the memories of her that I treasure the most.

Presidential Citizenship

I am writing this post in the waning hour of Inauguration Day, in anticipation of the Women’s March in the morning. I do not know what tomorrow will bring, but I have hope.  My neighbor, the noted poet and beloved teacher Kim Stafford, wrote a slim and wise volume of poetry in honor of the times, and I was particularly moved by this poem.

Presidential Citizens

When four guards led Nelson Mandela

first into the prison yard in chains,

he set the pace, slow and steady, so

they stumbled until they matched the step

he had chosen for them all.

 

Now our playground bully

has become school principal

and we are the students of his reign.

Wise rhythms, clear testimony

must be our love of country

guiding from below.

 

I have so many hopes for the future, at least as many as my fears. This is my hope for myself today–that I will be presidential in my citizenship. That I will proceed from this day with dignity and fairness, and with steadfast resolve to guide from below and so help to shape the course of those who have set themselves so far above.

Having looked at the mission statement and unity principles of the Women’s March I am very encouraged by the commitment to non-violence and to upholding human rights. My whole family will be marching in several cities. I am enormously encouraged to see that the Women’s March has hundreds of sister marches around the world. I hope that whether you march or not, you will be a fellow citizen in search of a more perfect union, a more inclusive, kind, just, and generous nation.

The poem Presidential Citizens was reprinted by permission of the author from The Flavor of Unity: Post-Election Poems by Kim Stafford (Portland, Oregon, Little Infinities, 2017).

 

The League of Exceptional Writers

Have you got a young person in your life who loves to read and write? Maybe a teenager who is wondering about pursing a career in the book world? Come to the Cedar Hills Powells this Saturday and hear what Laura Stanfil has to say about the publishing process. Laura is our own local publisher of Forest Avenue Press, and she is going to take our League members step by step through the process of how pages on a writers screen become books that find their way into bookshops like Powells. It’s going to be a great conversation. Come join us Saturday January 14th at 2pm. The Cedar Hills Powells is at 3415 SW Cedar Hills Blvd

Did I mention that Laura is the ultra-cool publisher of City of Weird? A book about strange, and spooky happenings in Portland? Did I further mention that the Cat in the Hat has nothing on Laura Stanfil! I bet she can even juggle fish! Come join us. It will be a blast.

Ringing in the New Year

What an interesting year to work in a book store! Annie Blooms is in a neighborhood with the largest Jewish community in Oregon and also a sizable immigrant African population. Here’s what I’ve found uplifting in a year full of ugly politics. Time and again, readers came in looking for a book that would help them make sense of their opponent’s point of view.

The conservative who just doesn’t understand what black people are so upset about, was willing to walk out of the shop with Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. Willing to look into it. Eager, in fact, to understand better.

The talk of several local, and generally liberal, book clubs has been Hillbilly Elegy by S.A. Vance. “How can a bunch of white men feel so discriminated against,” say the bookclub ladies. “Where on earth can all these Trump supporters be coming from?” I don’t know either but these earnest bookclub members are searching for insight and talking about what they find.

Nearly everybody who comes into the shop talking about some crisis or other, the Standing Rock Sioux and the oil pipeline or the tide of refugees fleeing into Europe, has an opinion to start with. But here’s the cool part; they know they need to know more. They know that what is online masquerading as news is often not reliable. They already know what they think, but they want to know what the other guy thinks. They want to know the context, the history, the back story, the supporting science. And very often they want to know how to talk about these issues with their children. And yes, there are books for that! 

Although we need more than a few good books and people reading them to solve the mountain of issues we will need to address in the coming years, I do believe that books are a good beginning. A jumping-off place. An invitation to conversation. I’m grateful to have a shop full of good books to share, and a community open to new ideas.

My hope for the new year is that I will continue to listen and to and learn what I can, not to erase our differences or compromise on values I hold too dear to let go. But that I can see opponants more clearly and understand issues more fully, and rededicate myself to doing as much good in the world as possible–and maybe even a few good things that are impossible.

Thanking the Light-Bringers

unknown Today is the feast of Saint Lucia, which is traditionally celebrated with a procession involving a girl wearing a crown of candles and a tray full of cookies or sweet breads. The custom commemorates an Italian teenager who, during the Roman persecution of Christians, spent her dowry to bring food and books and letters to Christians who were hiding in caves to survive. The story goes that she wore a crown of candles to light her way in the dark and give the refugee Christians light to read by.

My family has made a custom of baking sweet bread and sharing it with people who are light- bringers in our lives. For the past 21 years that my children have been attending public schools, we have brought sweet bread to their teachers with a note of thanks for all the unsung work they do to make their classrooms and the lives of my children a brighter place.

My youngest will graduate from high school this year, so I wanted to take one last opportunity to thank all of my children’s teachers and librarians over the years, their 16 primary school teachers and the the primary school librarian. their 72 middle school teachers and the middle school librarian, and their 96 high school teachers and high school librarians. All of them teaching in the Beaverton School District in Oregon. I am inspired by your dedication to excellence in the classroom, by your creativity, your steadfastness in a culture that shows little respect for education and even less for those who have dedicated their lives to teaching. Even in those years where one or another of my children struggled with illness or injury or immaturity, you were a steady hand in their young lives. Even in years when you struggled–I remember those too–the year your mother went blind, the year you were pregnant with twins, the year you were critically ill or grieving a death in your family. You were still faithfully in your classroom day after day trying your best with a dwindling pool of resources.

imagesAnd I want you to know that even though I will no longer have children at home to send to your classrooms, you are still all my local teachers. And my work of advocating for better schools and more just funding of educational needs and wise allocation of the funds you have, will go on. Your value extends far beyond what you can do for my immediate family, and I will continue to do what I can to support the light you bring to our community.

Thank you.