Reading for Their Life: (Re)Building the Textual Lineages of African American Adolescent Males

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"Because African American adolescent males and face their own challenges, they must identify texts that mark their times and their lives. If we create opportunities for this to happen, they will not only begin to trust the texts, they will begin to trust us, too. Then maybe, we'll hear one of them say, Education is on our side,' or, 'I used to keep it gutter, but now I am all good.' This is my hope." -Alfred Tatum

No reading strategy, no literacy program, no remediation will close the achievement gap for adolescent African American males. These efforts will continue to fail our students, says Alfred Tatum, until reading instruction is anchored in meaningful texts that build academic and personal resiliency inside and outside school.

In Reading for Their Life Tatum takes a bold step beyond Teaching Reading to Black Adolescent Males. He shows how teachers can encourage adolescent African American males to connect with reading by defining who they are through textual lineages-texts with significance, carefully chosen for instruction because they are useful to young black males and because they matter. With works ranging from Up from Slavery and Sounder to the contemporary Handbook for Boys, Tatum helps you:

  • understand what adolescent African American male readers need
  • select enabling texts that have worked in Tatum's own teaching
  • build textual lineages by putting meaningful texts at the core of a challenging curriculum
  • engage readers in the curriculum through essential questions, writing, and self-assessment.

Click here to see Alfred talking about this book.

"African American males are not engaged in a great conspiracy to fail themselves," writes Tatum. "They continue to underperform in school as they wait for educators to get it right."Join Alfred Tatum, use Reading for Their Life, and strive for "a way to squeeze enabling texts for every ounce of possibility they contain for advancing the literacy development of African American adolescent males."

Get more information on the state of education for African American males, read Yes We Can: The 2010 Schott 50 State Report on Black Males in Public Education.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780325026794
  • Publisher: Heinemann
  • Publication date: 8/17/2009
  • Pages: 172
  • Sales rank: 446,497
  • Product dimensions: 7.30 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Alfred Tatum is the author of the Heinemann titles Reading for Their Life and its DVD staff development companion Reading and Writing for Resiliency. Alfred's textual lineage includes such works as Black Boy, The Autobiography of Malcolm X, and A Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglas. He grew up in the Ida B. Wells housing projects in Chicago , embracing literacy as a way out of violence and poverty. Today his research and advocacy are aimed at advancing the literacy development of adolescents, and especially African American boys in urban communities. Alfred is the author of the NCTE James N. Britton Award - winning Teaching Reading to Black Adolescent Males, an associate professor in the Literacy, Language, and Culture Program at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Director of the UIC Reading Clinic, and a former middle school teacher and reading specialist.
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Table of Contents

Foreword Michael W. Smith vii

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction xi

Part 1 The Urgent Need to Build Textual Lineages

Chapter 1 African American Adolescent Males 3

Poverty Default 4

Relying on Schools 5

Exiled in America 6

Racial Isolation and Social Dislocation 7

African American Males Born in the 1990s 8

Music Hath More Than Charms to Soothe 10

A Generational Shift 12

The Bridge of Opportunities 14

Chapter 2 Shaping Literacy as a Collaborative Act 17

Shaping Collaborative Environments 20

Wearing Books Out Together 22

Brother and Sister Authors 23

Penetrating Texts 26

An Institute Planned as a Literacy Collaborative 32

Productive Starting Points 39

Chapter 3 Vital Signs of Literacy Development 43

Parental Involvement or Lack Thereof 46

Oversimplification and Underestimation 47

Squeezing Teaching and Texts 51

Productive Starting Points 52

Part II Enabling Texts

Chapter 4 Characteristics and Examples of Enabling Texts 55

An Historical Look at Enabling Texts 55

Parallel Texts for Today 57

Fear of and Resistance to Using Enabling Texts 59

A False Dichotomy 61

Moving Beyond Disabling Texts 65

Enabling Texts in the Mid-Twentieth Century 72

A Quick Look at Textual Lineages 74

The Severing of Texts 76

Productive Starting Points for Strengthening Our Educational Ideology 77

Chapter 5 Choosing, Creating, and Mediating Enabling Texts 81

Avoiding Caricatures 82

Establishing Platforms for Literacy Development 85

Reconciling Differences 87

Mediating Texts Across Culture and Gender 88

Productive Starting Points 95

Chapter 6 Poetic Broadsides 97

In Search of Poetic Broadsides 99

Using Poetic Broadsides to Activate theWriter's Minds 105

Poetry and Humanity 109

Productive Starting Points 111

Chapter 7 Short Stories 113

Resurrecting the Short Story 114

Canvassing the Historical Landscape 122

Getting African American Adolescent Males to Read and Write Short Stories 125

Becoming Connected to Short Stories 130

Productive Starting Points 130

Chapter 8 Armed for Battle 131

Being in the World Without 134

Engaging African American Adolescent Male Voices 137

So Where's the List? 138

Appendix A Sample Lesson with Explicit Instruction and Text 141

Appendix B Forty Engaging Texts for African American Adolescent Males 145

Appendix C Texts Mentioned in This Book 148

Appendix D Ten Enabling Texts with Starters and Essential Questions 151

Study Guide Questions 155

Bibliography 161

Index 169

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