We are now halfway through June so I can accurately say we are halfway through the year. It’s time to check in and see how we are doing with our reading challenges. This year we decided to split up our Diverse Stacks, Diverse Lives Reading challenge into two different. One for authors and one for narrators. I’m doing the Narrators and I have to say, I’m doing pretty well. Now, I think there may be a few arguments over some of my books but who doesn’t love a good debate? Going off my list of the books I’ve read, I discovered that there were a few things we should have discussed before setting the challenge out. For instance, can you use the same book for different categories if they have more then one Narrator? I’m going to go with yes because you are getting different perspectives from different characters. So here we go.
Book with a Queer Narrator: The Dark Prophecy by Rick Riordan. Narrator: Apollo. Ok, so this maybe a stretch because as Kate asked me Can we apply modern categories of sexuality to ancient Gods? Well I don’t know, but in The Dark Prophecy, Apollo is currently exiled to Earth as a mortal and while being on Earth has shown equal interest in both Men and Women. So, in the context of the book, I’m counting it.
Book with a African American Narrator: March Vols. 1-3 by Congressman John Lewis. Narrator: John Lewis
Book with characters from various socio-economic backgroundsSilver Stars by Michael Grant. Narrators: Frangie, Rainey and Rio
Books with Asian American Narrator: Always and Forever, Lara Jeanby Jenny Han and The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon. Narrators: Lara Jean and Daniel. I decided to count both since they are both Asian Americans but they have very different perspectives on growing up in America. Lara Jean is definitely your more typical middle class teenage girl who grew up in the suburbs. She’s also mixed because of her Dad is white so she straddles both sides. Daniel grew up in New York City and is the son of two immigrant parents. (I thought about using Natasha from The Sun is also a Star as my African American Narrator but technically speaking she’s not American as her family was living in the US illegally)
Book with a Narrator who has survived abuse: A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas. Narrator : Feyre. I really could have picked any character in this book but since it’s all from Feyre’s point of view she gets the top billing.
A Book with a Mexican Narrator: Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare. Narrator: Cristina. I admit I maybe stretching it a little thin with this one. Cristina is one of six narrators in Lord of Shadows and not one of the two main characters but she is an important to the story as a whole so for now I’m counting it but it might change before the year is out.
Today is the last day of February and as such the last day of our group read of John Lewis’ March. Were you able to finish all three volumes of March? What are your final observations? What will you take away from John Lewis’ story? I was really moved by his story but it also illustrated my own privilege. There are many small things that I have taken for granted. Obviously, I was raised in a different time and place but I’ve never had to worry about where I had to sit on a bus or be concerned about what truck stops to stops at when traveling with my family. My life would never be threatened because I wanted to register vote. Even now,. as more and more states tighten of voting laws, I don’t feel that my constitutional rights will be threatened but I do worry for minorities and marginalized groups having their rights stripped away. We have not come as far as we think we have. Old prejudice are hard die and I worry about how much farther we will fall back. It’s also makes me think about what I’m willing to go to jail for or willing to be beaten for. I’m not really sure. This year, I’ve already participated in my first protest march and have called my Congress representatives more then I have ever in the past. I’m not sure I have the bravery of John Lewis and Fannie Lou Hamer, Rosa Parks and so many others. I seriously hope that it won’t come to that. That we will be able to keep our protest peaceful and those we opposed will to as well. The importance of this book is so we don’t forget the mistakes of our past. To remind all of us about our history so we are not doomed to repeat it. Knowledge is truly power.
I would like to discuss the format. What do you think about John Lewis presenting this story as a graphic novel instead of a straight narrative story? I personally, I loved it. I think it was kind of genius. It’s one thing to read about the sit-ins, marches and the violence that followed but it’s another thing to have it visualized. The illustrations are truly powerful and really make his story and the story of the Civil Rights movement come to life. The graphic novel format also makes it more accessible. How many kids or teens willing read history books? All three books were quick reads but still powerful. Giving the readers a full look of all the challenges that John Lewis and the movement faced. The sacrifices that they made, knowing that they could be arrested or killed. The visual aspect of the novel makes all of these more powerful because the illustrations are simple, yet specific.
Do you agree with me? What do you think of the presentation?
I have had many reactions to this trilogy so far. I’ll admit it’s not an easy read as there are a lot of hard truths here. The question I keep asking myself is how can I be shocked when I know what’s going to happen? I know my history. I know this was not one of America’s proudest moments in our history. I studied in school about the protests and violent reaction to them. I’ve read about Emmit Till, Medger Evers and Freedom Rides. So why am I’m still shocked to read how violent they were? How am I still shocked to read how angry, hurtful and full of hate people can be? It’s not like they were asking for huge things. They wanted to eat at the counters of stores they just bought merchandise in. They wanted to go to the movies. They wanted to ride the bus. They wanted to vote. How are any of these extraordinary requests? How am I still shocked by these when the news lately are full of people saying angry, hurtful and full of hate? Why do I feel like we are repeating history?
Beth and I have both finally gotten our copies of March in the mail, and I started reading it at breakfast this morning! This couldn’t be a more pertinent read. As I am sure you have seen, Senator Elizabeth Warren was officially silenced for the rest of the hearing on whether to confirm Senator Jeff Sessions as Attorney General. She was silenced for reading out part of a letter written by Coretta Scott King to the chair of the judiciary committee in 1986 on Sessions’ possible appointment to a federal judgeship. Warren was officially silenced for, ‘breaking Rule 19, which forbids members from imputing to a colleague “any conduct or motive unworthy or unbecoming a Senator.”‘ (quote from NPR.)
In the letter, King writes about the march from Selma to Montgomery in the letter, setting the stage to discuss subsequent actions designed to deny people their right to vote. She writes, “I was privileged to join Martin and many others during the Selma to Montgomery march for voting rights in 1965. Martin was particularly impressed by the determination to get the franchise of blacks in Selma and neighboring Perry County.” You can read the letter in its entirety here.
Volume one begins with Lewis’s early life; we won’t get to Selma until volume 3 (I believe). It is not often that we read historical pieces that are so immediately relevant as we read them.
For this post, I’m not going to ask discussion questions. So, please feel free to comment with your first impressions of the graphic novel. Are you reading along with us? Have you started? How do you feel about pet chickens? We look forward to hearing what you have to say in the comments.
This February Beth and I are going to be doing something we’ve talked about but haven’t yet done. We’re going to be reading a book together (or, three books as the case may be). Starting February 1st, we will be reading March by John Lewis. This award winning book tells the story of Congressman John Lewis’s coming of age in the Civil Rights movement. We invite you to join us in this reading. As we read, we will be posting our thoughts and open-ended questions. We hope that you will join us for the reading and some discussion.