Book with excellent concepts for closing the early achievement gap is sadly tainted with audism.
Thirty Million Words: Building a Child’s Brain – Tune In, Talk More, Take Turns by Dana Suskind, Beth Suskind, and Leslie Lewinter-Suskind.
Dutton Imprint, Penguin Random House, New York, 2015.
Adult informative non-fiction, 308 pages including index.
America experiences a significant achievement gap based on socio-economic status. Which also, based on the systemic racism endemic to America, disproportionately affects people of color. Dana Suskind has an idea about what might be causing this, and the surprisingly simple way we can close the gap and empower parents.
I was not planning to review this book here, as it’s a bit beyond the normal scope of my blog – it doesn’t focus on minorities, and the author is a white woman.
However, when reading the first chapter, I found the audism present annoying. Then, after getting into the book, I found some worthwhile information was presented, which is why this was recommended to me in the first place. Finally, checking up on the author, I learned that she was in an interracial marriage (before her husband’s tragic death) which I assume would have given her a different perspective.
“Her skin was all cream and light in comparison to her father’s and very dark when she held her wrist against her mother’s.” p. 35
State of Wonder by Ann Patchett.
Harper Perennial, HaperCollins, 2012.
Adult fiction, 353 pages plus extras.
New York Times Bestseller
Best book of the year 2011 from ten different news sources
AR Level: 6.7 (worth 21.0 points)
Dr. Marina Singh has no interest in going to Brazil. She’s quite happy sitting in her small windowless lab running pharmacological tests, and her lab partner Anders Eckman was happy to go into the Amazon as long as he could take some side trips to photograph rare and unusual birds. But Marina’s plain, comfortable world shatters when a letter arrives relating his death. The company wants to know what happened, and so does his widow.
This was a free book from the library that I grabbed after forgetting my bag so I couldn’t read Hidden Figures on my break. It was surprisingly gripping! There are so many points to discuss which are major spoilers, but I’m going to limit the spoilers here as much as possible.
Cece Bell just wants to live her life and make friends without her hearing aids getting in the way. This graphic novel memoir will appeal to a wide range of students.
El Deafo by Cece Bell, color by David Lasky.
Amulet Books Imprint, Abrams, New York, 2014.
Graphic novel memoir, 242 pages.
Newberry Honor winner, 2015.
Lexile: not yet leveled
AR Level: 2.7 (worth 2.0 points)
Cecilia Bell just wants to live her life, make friends and have fun. But she lost her hearing after a bout of childhood meningitis, and now she has to wear hearing aids. Even worse, at school she has to wear the phonic ear, a special device that allows her teacher’s voice to travel from a microphone directly to her ear. She soon discovers that most teachers forget to turn the phonic ear off, allowing her to hear them anywhere in the school building. This leads to an imaginative fantasy life where she transforms into El Deafo, superhero with mesmerizing rosebud underwear and the power of feedback! Meanwhile, in real life she’s trying to navigate friendships in the hearing world, a tricky business as the only student in her school who can’t hear.
I’m about to post my first review about a book dealing with deafness or hard of hearing issues, but there are sure to be many more. Personally I am not deaf (yet) but several family members have gone through severe hearing loss in middle age, so it’s a possibility I’ve been aware of since I was a child.
As an adult I chose to study American Sign Language for a year and still use it occasionally at one of my jobs. Through my classes (and briefly wanting to be an interpreter) I learned a lot about Deaf culture and made several Deaf friends. My signing is still very basic but I try to learn a new sign with every conversation. Right now I am not really a part of Deaf life in my area – most of my friends are also able to verbalize and lip read some, so we communicate in a mixture of speaking, signing, and text messages when all else fails!
What many people are not aware of: having hearing loss and being Deaf are two different things, similar to how someone can be culturally and ethnically Jewish, but may or may not practice Judaism (the religion). Being Deaf is not about loss but rather about embracing a rich and unique culture. There are different levels of deafness and different amounts and sounds that each deaf person can hear. There are different techniques for managing in the hearing world including hearing aids, cochlear implants, lipreading, and written communication. And there is a different culture in the Deaf world.