What Are CIS Partners Reading?

 

We can’t get enough of what you are reading! And a number of you can’t either! Some of you have even emailed and called and stopped us on the street to let us know how much you are enjoying this “What are you reading?” series. So we wondered, what are our wonderful partners up to in the world of books?

Here’s what a few of them said.

 

That was Then, This is Now by S.E. Hinton.

-Cate Jarvis, School Grief Support Counselor, Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan

 

I just started A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway and also just finished 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created by Charles Mann, which was a fascinating read on the consequences of early globalization.

-John Curran, Executive Director, First Day Shoe Fund

 

I just finished reading a novel written by William P. Young entitled The Shack. I love to read the book prior to seeing newly released movies. I just started reading a leadership book written Jon Gordon entitled The Energy Bus: 10 Rules to Fuel Your Life, Work, and Team with Positive Energy.

-Lola Amos, Director of Programs, Prevention Works

 

I’m reading Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad, by M.T. Anderson. It explores a dark and grim period in Russian history as experienced and expressed through the life and work of the famous composer. It was actually written as a book for teenagers, whom the author clearly regards as capable readers who can handle the real story. I highly recommend it as a captivating foray into a dense and difficult historical subject, especially as we grapple with deeply divided social and political beliefs in our own society.

Liz Youker, Vice President of Education and Community Partnerships, Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra

 

I am reading The Gift of Failure by Jessica Lahey.

-Julie Righter, Manager Operational Excellence, Pfizer Kalamazoo

 

I generally read several books at a time. I am currently reading The Power of the Other by Dr. Henry Cloud, Possessing the Secret of Joy by Alice Walker, and Grain Brain by Dr. David Perlmutter.

-Sherry Thomas-Cloud, CEO, Family & Children Services

 

I am currently reading The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead. It is a powerful novel that tells the story of a pre-Civil War slave named Cora. I’m also reading Kareem Abdul Jamar’s Writings on the Wall: Searching for a New Equality Beyond Black and White.

-Jane Baas, Associate Dean of WMU Lee Honors College (and coordinator of WMU Medallion Scholars who volunteer at Milwood Magnet Middle School)

 

I’m reading The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande.

-Amy Kuchta, Chief Executive Officer, Big Brothers Big Sisters, A Community of Caring

 

I am participating in the Kalamazoo Public Library’s Community Read. The book is: Writings On the Wall authored by Kareem Abdul Jabbar and Raymond Obstfeldand. I am also honored to be facilitating one of the chapter discussions at the Douglass Community Associations Powell Branch Library. [Note: This Reading Together event with Von Washington Jr., Dick Shilts, and Beth Washington took place last night. A KPS student in attendance said it was “really good and made you think.”]

-Von Washington Jr., Executive Director of Community Relations, Kalamazoo Promise

 

Thanks for letting us know what you’ve been reading! And thanks, especially, for working with us to help kids stay in school and succeed in life!

Here at Ask Me About My 12,000 Kids, we’re officially expanding March Reading Month into April. In a few weeks, you can learn what CIS board members are reading!

 

 

 

 

 

We are an open book

Today begins National Reading Month. In anticipation of all the fabulous literacy activities kicking off throughout the Kalamazoo Public Schools, Communities In Schools of Kalamazoo (CIS) staff once again prepare by asking each other: What are you reading?

Crash the Chatterbox by Steven Furtick.

-Deondra Ramsey, CIS After School Site Coordinator at Washington Writers’ Academy

 

I am reading the Mindful Manifesto by Jonty Heaversedge and Ed Halliwell and I love it!

-Missy Best, Site Coach & Mentor 

 

I am currently reading From Babylon to Timbuktu- A History of Ancient Black Races Including The Black Hebrews, written by Rudolph R. Windsor.

-Montrell Baker, CIS Site Coordinator, Loy Norrix High School

 

I just finished Memory For Forgetfulness, by Mahmoud Darwish, which is a poetic account of the 1982 Israeli invasion of Beirut. I’m now reading Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin and How The Irish Became White, by Noel Ignatiev.

-Kaitlin Martin, Volunteer Services Coordinator

 

I just finished Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari, which is a case study and research summarization of how people are dating now that technology is involved. I laughed out loud on every page. Everyone on my flight on Tuesday morning thought I was crazy. Now I am going to start reading Sick In The Head by Judd Apatow.

-Elyse Brey, Director of Elementary Sites

 

Station 11 by Emily St. John Mandel.

-Keely Novotny, CIS Site Coordinator, Edison Environmental Science Academy

 

I am reading the first volume of a collection of graphic novels by Jaime Hernandez entitled Love and Rockets. Very fun!

-Katherine Williams, CIS After School Coordinator, Hillside Middle School

 

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

-Stephen Brewer, AmeriCorps VISTA, Edison Environmental Science Academy

 

I am reading…Tales of a Female Nomad  Living at Large in the World by Rita Gelman and We Need New Names by No Violet Bulawayo. Here’s to Good Reads….

-Lauren Longwell, AmeriCorps VISTA Lead

 

I am reading In a Rocket Made of Ice by Gail Gutradt. It’s about Gail’s volunteer experience at my uncles orphanage in Cambodia.

-Terra Mosqueda, AmeriCorps VISTA, Loy Norrix High School & Hillside Middle School

 

I just finished M-A-C-N-O-L-I-A. Through narratively linked poems, A. Van Jordan tells the story of MacNolia Cox. She won the 1936 Akron, Ohio Spelling Bee and then became the first African American to reach the final rounds in the national competition. It’s beautifully written and reads like a play. Now onto reading Nora Webster by Colm Tóibin.

-Jennifer Clark, Special Projects & Initiatives

 

I am currently reading The Witches: Salem, 1692 by Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Stacy Schiff. It is a psychologically thrilling nonfiction account that is rather dense with facts and light on sensationalism. In other words, readers really have to commit, but the payoff has been well worth it.

-Carly Denny, CIS Site Coordinator, Prairie Ridge Elementary

 

The book I currently started dissecting again is The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness written by Michelle Alexander; a former director of the Racial Justice Project at the ACLU of Northern California and past director of the Civil Rights Clinic at Stanford Law School. The New Jim Crow is about the US prison system, its rise to have one of the highest incarceration rates in the world, and how, when systems are created, the social views those systems are predicated on can play a huge role in the systems operation.

Sure to polarize people to one side or another of an already controversial topic, this book is great at inspiring critical reflection on one of Modern America’s major topics!

-Nathaniel Wolfe Easlick, CIS After School Program Coordinator, Milwood Elementary

 

I’m currently reading and listening to Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Full Catastrophe Living:  Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain and Illness. This book details Kabat-Zinn’s Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction program, which in many ways, forms the foundation of mindfulness practices in the United States. I’m also reading The Whole Brain Child, by Dan Siegel, which offers specific strategies for helping kids to integrate the various parts of their brain to help them manage socially and emotionally.

-Deb Faling, Director of Social Emotional Health Initiatives

 

I am currently reading: The Diamond Age: Or, A Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer by Neal Stephenson. A wonderful science fiction classic that deals with computer programming, nano-technology, and the limits of artificial intelligence.

Re-reading: Delivered from Distraction: Getting the Most Out of Life with Attention Deficit Disorder by Edward M. Hallowell, John J. Ratey. A fantastic strength’s based model and, in my opinion, a great read for both those with ADHD and those who work with or love those with ADHD.

Also, Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen is my book club read this month. A fun read so far, it also has poignant themes about the treatment of people living in elder care communities.

-Ellie Galas, CIS Site Coordinator, Linden Grove Middle School

 

I just finished The Wright Brothers and am currently reading two books: Connection Culture by Michael Lee Stallard and Desire Lines by Christina Baker Kline, the author of Orphan Train (the community read this year).

-Mary Oudsema, Special Projects

 

I’m currently reading The Walking Dead Compendium Vol. 3 by Charlie Adlard and Robert Kirkman. It’s a collection of the graphic novels that the television show is based on. If you like the show, you’ll love the graphic novels – they’re amazing!

-Donielle Hetrick, CIS After School Coordinator, Woods Lake Elementary: A Magnet Center for the Arts

 

I have been reading a lot of articles lately on trauma-centered approaches to working with youth as well as other research papers on program design. But, I am about to crack into two books, Beating the Odds: Raising Academically Successful African American Males and Overcoming the Odds: Raising Academically Successful African American Young Women both by Freeman A. Hrambowski, III, Kenneth L. Maton and Geoffrey L. Greif.  Mr. Hrambowski was a keynote speaker at the National Summer Learning Associations training in October in Baltimore.

My book club, The Lovely Ladies of Literature, is voting in a little over a week on our next read.

-Artrella Cohn, Director of Secondary Sites

 

I am currently reading The Girl from the Tar Paper School by Teri Kanefield.

-Tamiko Garrett, Site Coordinator, Milwood Magnet School

 

 

What Are You Reading?

book-1031359_1920In anticipation of National Reading Month this March—in which Kalamazoo Public Schools kicks off literacy activities throughout the schools—we prepare ourselves by engaging in the annual ritual of asking via email: What are you reading? The emails started flying. We think it’s fun to learn what our CIS colleagues are reading…

I thought these snow days were a great time to finally start The Lord of the Rings trilogy. I’m a huge fan of the movies but I’ve never made the time to read the books. I’m half way through The Fellowship of the Ring and can’t put it down!

-Donielle Hetrick, CIS After School Coordinator, Woods Lake

 

I am currently reading the“Ashes” Trilogy by Ilsa J. Bick.

-Orel (Tom) Sosa, CIS Site Coordinator, El Sol Elementary

 

I’ve just finished two wonderful memoirs: I Hate to Leave this Beautiful Place by Howard Norman. Howard grew up in Grand Rapids and went to WMU in the 80s. He’s now teaching writing at U of Maryland. The book is episodic and focuses on his younger years as well as ten years he spent collecting stories from the Inuit in the Hudson Bay area in his 20s. The other book is Gary Shteyngart’s Little Failure, a funny and sometimes painful story of his experience starting life in the Soviet Union in the 80s and then moving with his family to New York when he was 7, and the clash of cultures that he has experienced since that time and that has provided material for his novels. (Interesting fact: Gary was from a Jewish family in Leningrad and they were issued visas to leave the Soviet Union at a time when Russians were not permitted to emigrate. But after a drought and crop failures in Russia the Russian government made a deal with the U.S. which supplied shipments of wheat in exchange for allowing a number of Russian Jews to leave the country.)

-Donna Carroll, Director of Health Initiatives

 

I am reading Key To Success, Letters to a Young Sister, and Letters To a Young Brother. These are books for our upcoming girls and guys group.

-Deborah Yarbrough, CIS Site Coordinator, Kalamazoo Central High School

 

I just finished reading Lessons of Hope by Joel Klein—former Chancellor of the New York City School District under Mayor Bloomberg.  I am now reading Angry Optimist a biography about Jon Stewart (The Daily Show).  I LOVE hearing what everyone is reading.

-Pam Kingery, Executive Director

 

stack-of-books-1001655_1920I have been reading The Triple Package, How Three Unlikely Traits Explain the Rise and Fall of Cultural Groups in America, by Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld, a Chinese immigrant wife and a Jewish American husband. It is a true story about the vast differences in the values and expectations of the couple about raising their two daughters. The differences are based on the parents cultural differences in their own upbringing styles. I can easily identify myself in Amy’s style. The triple package referred to in the book title is identified as: 1. A Superiority Complex, 2. Insecurity, and 3. Impulse Control. Very interesting reading, but also realistic, and hit home to me!

I am reading another book by Amy Chua, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. You get the idea of what this one is about. A clash of cultures…

-Gulnar Husain, CIS Site Coordinator, Arcadia Elementary School

 

I’m reading Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul by John and Stasi Eldredge

-Deondra S. Ramsey, CIS After School Program Coordinator, Washington Writers Academy

 

Currently I am rereading A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon. It’s a part of the Outlander series. I sadly have not read very many new books in the last year due to my heavy reading for my classes. I can’t wait to be done with school so I can indulge in new books that I can really concentrate on!

-Elisabeth Finch, CIS Site Coordinator, Washington Writers Academy

 

I am reading Snow Mountain Passage by James D. Houston, a pioneer story about the Donner Party and their journey west.

-Destinee Lukianoff, AmeriCorps VISTA

 

I love reading local and Quality Snacks hit the spot. I just finished this collection of short stories written by Andy Mozina, a professor at Kalamazoo College. If you want to munch on something smart and funny, this is it.

I now have two books at my bedside, ready to go. The novel, All the Light We Can Not See by Anthony Doerr, who wrote one of my favorite short story collections ever:The Shell Collector. And Deborah Ann Percy’s Invisible Traffic which has been described as “a stunning collection of desperate and gorgeous tales, set against the backdrop of Michigan’s third coast.” (Yes, the writer Deborah Ann Percy is the same woman who retired a few years back, having served a distinguished administrative career in the Kalamazoo Public Schools, notably as principal of Maple Street Magnet Middle School for the Arts.) Also, it is worth noting that the Richard N. Percy Memorial Fund Scholarships (available through CIS of Kalamazoo) is set up in memory of Deborah’s father, Richard Percy. He served as KPS superintendent from 1960-1969. These grants support professional development for Kalamazoo Public Schools’ teachers and administrators that address the individual’s personal interests, specifically their creative or artistic talents.

-Jennifer Clark, Director of Community Relations

 

books-1082942I am reading Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga. I read it before in high school, and I loved it so much that I wanted to read it again.

-Phillip Hegwood, CIS After School Coordinator, Woodward School for Technology and Research

 

I am on the tail end of three books right now. One is Adam Fairclough’s biography of Martin Luther King, another is a novel called Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel—a post-apocalyptic tale that follows a caravan of survivors who travel around the Midwest performing Shakespeare—and the third is a poetry collection calledMotherland Fatherland Homelandsexuals, by Patricia Lockwood.

I LOVE hearing what all of you are reading. And it also fuels my reading obsession!

-Kaitlin Martin, Volunteer Services Coordinator

 

Let’s Pretend this Never Happened  by Jenny Lawson is smart and HILARIOUS.  The Circle by Dave Eggers is scary and disturbing and smart and will make you never look at Facebook ever again. I recently finished and loved them both.

 Laura Keiser, CIS Site Coordinator, King-Westwood Elementary

 

I Just finished True Notebooks: A Writers Year at Juvenile Hall by Mark Salzman, which is a true story about a writer that goes into a Juvenile Hall in Los Angeles and teaches a writing class to some of the inmates and includes some of their work. A very interesting read.

I also just finished Amy Poehler’s and Lena Dunham’s books. Interesting, but Tina Fey’s and Mindy Kaling’s were better.

And now I am just starting Elephant Company by Vicki Croke about a man during WWII who saved a bunch of lives with the help of a herd of elephants. If you’ve been in my office, me reading a book about elephants probably won’t come as a surprise!

Elyse Brey, CIS Director of Secondary Sites

 

I just finished This Is Your Brain On Music: The Science of a Human Obsession by Daniel J. Levitin and I’m working through [insert] Boy by Danez Smith and Reading the Muslim Mind by Hassan Hathout.

-Nicholas A. Baxter, AmeriCorps VISTA

 

I just finished The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas and now I plan on starting The Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon. I love hearing what you all are reading, it’s a great way to find books to add to my “to read” list!

-Lindsey Westfall, CIS After School Coordinator, Northglade Montessori Magnet School

 

I am working diligently on The Toyota Way to Lean Leadership by Jeffrey Liker and Gary Convis.  Someone recommended it to me.  If you are a fan of continuous improvement for self and organization, this is the book for you.

I also just finished Dad is Fat by comedian Jim Gaffigan (the guy who does the “Hot Pockets” sketch).  It is a fast, funny read – especially if you have kids (of any age).  It’s based on his own life with 5 kids in a two-bedroom apartment in New York City.

-Emily Kobza, Director of Development & Business Engagement

 

It may be the time of year or particular time in my life, but I can never get enough information or begin to research everything that interests me. My thoughts are now drifting to my gardens, grapes, strawberries, fruit trees, and honey bees. I’m currently reading up on organic methods of dealing with fungus, blight, and bugs. I read my magazines, books, and  IPad planning for the upcoming season. Actually, I should be cutting back my grape vines now.

-Maureen Cartmill, CIS Site Coordinator, Woods Lake

 

Positive Energy: 10 Extraordinary Prescriptions for Transforming Fatigue by Judith Orloff. This book guides you through fighting off negative energy and how to cope with everyday life. This is a good read.

-Brenda Johnson, AmeriCorps VISTA

 

I just finished Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth. Just in case you missed the news (or the baby bump) we are expecting a new baby in June. This book is a great reminder to trust women and our bodies.

-Leslie Poucher Pratt, CIS Site Coordinator, Prairie Ridge Elementary School

 

I am reading Mr. Kiss and Tell by Rob Thomas.  It is one of the books about the television show Veronica Mars.

-Cakneeshia Stegall, AmeriCorps VISTA


Sadly, I am only reading After-School Centers and Youth Development: Case Studies of Success and Failure by Barton J. Hirsch, Nancy L. Deutsch, and David L. DuBois.

I did receive a magazine as a Pay It Forward gift recently that I am eager to crack open. It shares/highlights 100 major Civil Rights moments.

-Artrella Cohn, Director of Secondary Sites

 

I am currently reading through each state’s flexibility waiver from the ESEA / No Child Left Behind act to compare school accountability systems across the U.S., specifically looking at the correlation between a school’s performance and student poverty. I don’t recommend any of these documents to anyone, but perhaps I’ll share my research paper later. I look forward to reading for pleasure again very soon.

Oh, also baby books – I’m reading a lot of baby books…

-James Hissong, Director of Quality and Evaluation

 

Still don’t have enough? Click here to see what people were reading last year. We’d love to hear what you are reading. Let us know! Just drop me an email atjclark@ciskalamazoo.org. We may just publish what are readers are reading in a future post.

Eleven Tips To Beat The Summer Slide

summerslide-graph1-for-june-post

Finally. Summer is here. But taking a “break” from learning during the summer months is hazardous to a student’s education. According to the National Summer Learning Association more than half of the achievement gap between lower- and higher-income youth can be explained by unequal access to summer learning activities. Summer reading loss is cumulative. Children simply don’t “catch up” in fall when they return to school. Their classmates who read over the summer are moving ahead with their skills. By the end of 6th grade children who lose reading skills over the summer are two years behind their classmates. Here, in no particular order, are eleven tips for grown ups to help kids stay on the path to success over the summer months:

1.  Take advantage of our fabulous public library! Visit the library often and let kids pick out their own books. They are the best experts about what they like. Studies have shown that students who read recreationally out-performed those who don’t. Students read more when they can choose materials based on their own interests.

2.  Make sure they (and you!) sign up for the Kalamazoo Public Library’s Summer Reading Program.

3.  Check out the “Kids & Parents” section of the Kalamazoo Public Library’s website, which features great tips for parents and caregivers, upcoming events, as well as staff picks for books for both parents and kids.

4.  Be a reading role model.

5.  Read as a family.

6.  Talk to kids about what they are reading and what you are reading.

7.  At a loss for what to read? Check out what KPL staff are reading and recommending. I also adore The Cyberlibrarian Reads, which is a blog by a retired librarian, lifelong reader, and local Kalamazoo resident, Miriam Downey. You can also check out this fascinating list of titles on the TED blog to see what Bill and Melinda Gates and others are reading this summer.  After looking it over, I think I’m going to read one of Clay Shirky’s picks, “It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens” by Danah Boyd.

8.  Visit the Bookbug, an independent bookstore located at Oakwood Plaza. Stop down on any Thursday at 10am for Storytime, Songs and Activities.

9.  Let your child read their way to a free book. Stop by Barnes & Noble and pick up one of their summer reading sheets. Children read eight books (they don’t have to be purchased from Barnes & Noble) and then return with the completed sheet to choose a free book.

10.  Last June, Julie Mack shared five strategies Superintendent Michael Rice suggests parents adopt to help build their child’s reading skills over the summer. Refresh your memory and read it here.

11. Tune in every Tuesday and read the latest post at Ask Me About My 12,000 Kids!

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We Geek The Library

Book w GlassesHere at Communities In Schools, we’ve been talking about how much we love our Kalamazoo Public Library. The organization and its people are a part of what makes Kalamazoo excellent.

Speaking of the library, did you remember to vote today? On the ballot is the millage renewal for both the Kalamazoo Public Library and the Kalamazoo Regional Educational Service Agency. If you didn’t catch the Kalamazoo Gazette Editorial in Sunday’s paper, you can read it here. Now go out and vote! I’ll wait right here. The polls are open from 7am to 8pm.

Welcome back. Feels good to exercise your right as a citizen, doesn’t it? Anyway, here are just nine reasons we love our library…

They bring us together.

Huge numbers of us read and discuss the same book in the Reading Together program. By doing so, we become wiser as a community.

KPL is an information hub for our community.

Check out Consumer Reports, find a book on origami or learn about financial derivatives.

No computer? No problem.

Just go to your local library branch and computers and computer help are waiting for you.

They reach out to all members of our community.

With multiple branches and programming geared to every age—from babies to tweens to seniors and all in between—everyone is welcome. Whatever we geek, the library supports us! How cool is that?

(From Left) Dr. Michael F. Rice, Walter Dean Myers, Dr. Zaheerah Shakir Khan, Sue Warner
(From Left) Dr. Michael F. Rice, Walter Dean Myers, Dr. Zaheerah Shakir Khan, Sue Warner

They promote a college going culture.

Whether suggesting books to read—in person or on their blog—the Kalamazoo Public Library encourages us all to read. One of the 8 pillars identified by the Kalamazoo Public Schools for building a college going culture is: “Everyone Reads/Literacy: Language Development, Reading, and Writing.” KPL, in a joint endeavor with Kalamazoo Public Schools, works hard to make sure every KPS first grader has a library card and is a library user.

As a KPS parent, I had the opportunity to chaperone my son’s class on their library trip. I watched librarians asking children what topics interested them and then escorting the children—some who had never set foot inside a public library until that day—to shelves filled with books on the subject they wanted to know more about. It is a thing of beauty to watch the world open for a child as, for the first time, they check out a library book.

They remind us that reading is fun.

They run a fabulous summer reading program. If you have never signed up your child, encouraged others to sign up or signed up yourself, you owe it to yourself to do so.

They play well with others.

KPL partners with a number of terrific organizations throughout the community to co-host family friendly event at the Central Library the first Saturday of every month. Called First Saturdays @ KPL,  CIS loved partnering with our library in hosting a First Saturday which offers fun, free activities.

They keep us hip.

They provide e-books for our Kindle Fires, DVD’s, movies, and music—all at no charge.

They remind us that reading is not an option.

KPL brings great writers to Kalamazoo, like Walter Dean Myers, who are passionate about books and inspire young and old alike. “Either you read or you suffer,” Mr. Myers said during his “Reading is Not Optional” tour this past summer. “A child will pay the penalty for a lack of literacy throughout their life.”

What Are You Reading?

In anticipation of National Reading Month, we’re posting a series of emails that have recently flown between CIS staff. We did this last year and once again, it’s been fun to see what my colleagues are reading. We’ll begin with Artrella’s email that started it all…

A month from now (give or take a few days) Kalamazoo Public Schools will be kicking off its Literacy Month activities at the various schools (National Reading Month is March). I personally think that it is always fun to see the READ posters out at the sites and various KPS buildings when I am out. My curiosity leads me to ask the question…WHAT ARE YOU READING???  

I just received my book via Amazon today, which is a part of my Book Club (The Lovely Ladies of Literature). It is 32 Candles by Ernessa T. Carter. Do share…

-Artrella M. Cohn, Director of Secondary Sites

 

I’m reading Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital by Sheri Fink. “In the tradition of the best investigative journalism, physician and reporter Sheri Fink reconstructs five days at the Memorial Medical Center and draws the reader into the lives of those who struggled mightily to survive and to maintain life amid chaos.” Challenging subject material, but excellent writing.

-Deb Faling, Director of Social Emotional Health Initiatives

 

I just got a box delivered from a friend living in India, and she sent me: Ayoni and Other Stories, a compilation of stories written by various Indian writers “who have focused on women’s issues…and altered the Telugu [Indian ethnic group] literary scene…. These stories deal with the dilemmas and problems faced by women, both on the physical and emotional levels.”

So far, I like how one of the writers captures one of my personal gestures, a blank stare, via writing by the usage of “…”. Tis awesome!!

-Haley A-bel, CIS Site Coordinator, Milwood Magnet Middle School

 

I’m reading Tenth of December, a collection of short stories by George Saunders and have recently finished A Woman in the Polar Night, by Christiane Ritter, the story of a year spent by a woman in a tiny hut on an island in the arctic circle which makes our recent Polar Vortex look like a walk in the park.

-Donna Carroll, Director of Health Initiatives

 

The Wisdom of Insecurity by Alan Watts. A classic introduction to Taoism I have read a few times and it’s always soothing for me.

-Emily Demorest, CIS Site Coordinator, Maple Street Magnet

 

I am reading Affirming Your Greatness Through The Power of Words by Burnette Clingman and Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath.

-Deborah Yarbrough, CIS Site Coordinator, Kalamazoo Central High School

 

I’ve just finished gorging myself with Fried Walleye and Cherry Pie: Midwestern Writers on Food, edited by Peggy Wolff. I’m on to the next course, a combination ofTell Me, poems by one of my favorite poets Kim Addonizio and Traveling Sprinkler, a novel by Nicholson Baker, one of the most uninhibited, funny writers I’ve ever read. Take page 96, for instance. I wanted to tell the Quakers about Debussy’s sunken cathedral. I kept formulating an opening in my head. “A little more than a hundred years ago, a composer named Claude Debussy wrote a piece for piano called ‘The Sunken Cathedral.’ He was a man with a big forehead who loved the sea.

-Jennifer Clark, Director of Community Relations

 

I just finished Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Won’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. Just started a novel called The Daughters of Mars by Thomas Keneally.

–Pam Kingery, Executive Director

 

I am reading Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women, by Melissa Harris Perry and just started the third book in the Game of Thrones series by George R.R. Martin. Yes, #nerdpoints.

-Kaitlin Martin, Volunteer Services Coordinator

 

I am currently reading one of this year’s “Reading Together” books: The American Way of Eating by Tracie McMillan. I also just finished reading a book called Blood and Beauty by Sarah Dunant.  It is a historical fiction on the Borgia family in Italy.

-Emily Kobza, Director of Development & Business Engagement

 

I am listening to Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin and just finished listening to MansfieldPark by Jane Austen. I just finished reading the first two books in the Divergent Seriesby Veronica Roth and am impatiently waiting for my daughters to finish the third.  At one point during reading the first book there were 3 book marks in it.  I love it when we all read the same book- The Newsome Girls Book Club!  It’s really great when we get my mom to join in, too!!

Next in line are Clara and Mr. Tiffany by Susan Vreeland and Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmakerby Jennifer Chiaverni, both historical fiction.

-Debra Newsome, Finance Coordinator

 

Wild Things by Dave Eggers!! Check him out if you haven’t; he’s fantastic.

-Jen DeWaele, CIS Site Coordinator, Woodward School for Technology and Research

 

America’s Women: 400 Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates, and Heroines by Gail Collins. I highly recommend!

-Abby Nappier, Director of Volunteer Services

 

I’m reading A Dance with Dragons, the 5th book in the Fire and Ice/Game of Thrones series by George R.R. Martin. They’re amazing – you guys should just stop reading your current books and switch to these.  🙂

-Donielle Hetrick, CIS Site Coordinator, Woods Lake

 

Currently reading Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind by Jocelyn Glei. Great book for learning how to work smarter and find creativity even when you have no time or energy for it.

P.S. I love seeing what everyone is reading.

-Korrine Wojcik, CIS Site Coordinator, Milwood Elementary

P.P.S. We hope you also loved reading what we are reading. We’d love to hear what you are reading. Let us know! We may just publish what are readers are reading in the near future.

 

A Parent Reflects on Key to Daughter’s Success

20131017-_DSC3900As a parent of a Kalamazoo Public School student, Mr. Weston couldn’t be prouder of his ten year old daughter Lacey. “I am so proud of her accomplishments and good grades. She works hard for them.”

A fifth grader at Arcadia Elementary School, Lacey became involved with CIS when, as a first grader she was struggling in reading and math. Mr. Weston noticed that, when it came to doing homework, “she would struggle and just give up. There was a point she wouldn’t even do it. As a parent, it’s hard to see your child go through that.”

Lacey’s involvement with CIS changed all that. “The Literacy Buddies program benefited her,” says Mr. Weston. “It increased her academic abilities but she has confidence in herself now. She is perfectly content to be herself. CIS made her proud to be her. Lacey really enjoys being a part of the programming she has experienced through CIS. I would love for her to stay involved with it as she grows. Maybe should could even be a literacy buddy herself when she is older. Tutor and give back, you know?”

“My daughter still struggles,” points out Mr. Weston. “Even now, I can see the frustration in her face at times when she’s trying to work on homework, but she keeps plugging away. That’s a credit to my daughter and CIS and the programs she has been supported by at Arcadia. But what is different now is that she pushes herself. I don’t try and deter her from this. I want her to have that initiative and drive to better herself. I’m just really proud of her.”

Lacey is featured in our annual report that recently came out. She talks about how she has been inspired to succeed by people who have helped her through Western Michigan University, Literacy Buddies (funded through State Farm), and Girls on the Run.

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Finding Words in Your Pockets

(From Left) Dr. Michael F. Rice, Walter Dean Myers, Dr. Zaheerah Shakir Khan, Sue Warner
(From Left) Dr. Michael F. Rice, Walter Dean Myers, Dr. Zaheerah Shakir Khan, Sue Warner

Last week, the Kalamazoo Public Library introduced kids and grownups alike to Walter Dean Myers as part of his “Reading is Not Optional” tour sponsored by the Library of Congress, the Children’s Book Council and the Every Child a Reader Foundation.

What a treat! It’s not everyday you have a chance to meet the national ambassador for young people’s literature. A prolific and award-winning author, Mr. Myers is the third person appointed to this post since it was created in 2008. In honor of his visit, KPL put one of his quotes—“Reading is not an option” on a bunch of buttons. Very cool.

On Wednesday, I attended a breakfast/talk hosted at the library. It quickly became clear that Mr. Myers, considered by many to be one of the most important writers in children’s books, is the kind of man who calls things like he sees them. A tall man, Mr. Myers is funny, bright, and spirited. He has an uncommon knack for appearing to be laid back and feisty all at once. I was expecting Mr. Myers to read some of his work, throw out a few interested tidbits and then be on his way.

He didn’t do this. He didn’t read any of his work and what he said was not what I expected to hear. One of the first words out of his mouth was “poverty.” When Mr. Myers talks about poverty, he isn’t talking about economics. He is referring to, “pockets of language poverty” that our children experience. Anyone who works with kids these days knows that too many of our children are growing up with not only a scarcity of food and lack of sufficient housing, but also, a dearth of words.

Some researchers have even taken the time to document this “pockets of language poverty.” Every hour, a child growing up in poverty is exposed to 1,500 less words than a child who is not being raised in poverty. This means that by the time the poor child is four years old, he or she is behind by 32 million words. This word deficit is mind-boggling. It makes the heart heavy to think about all the children who have deep pockets from which they pull out nothing.

“Literacy is a tool all kids need,” Mr. Myers said. “Either you read or you suffer,” he said. “A child will pay the penalty for a lack of literacy throughout their life.”  These aren’t warm and fuzzy statements to make and Mr. Myers knows it. But he is the kind of person who, from what I could tell, calls it like he sees it. “I’m an old black man. I can say whatever I want,” he told the audience. We laughed but we know his comments are true and need to be spoken aloud. Mr. Meyers is serving our nation well as an ambassador, for we too will pay the penalty for every child we fail to reach.

The good news is that our kids here are part of a community that has committed itself to being the education community. Together, as parents, community partners and educators we are filling the pockets of language. These pockets are deep. It is not a matter of simply tucking a word in here and there. To be successful, we must, asSuperintendent Dr. Michael Rice says, have a “drumbeat of literacy.” For the sake of all our children it’s time for all of us to play, and play hard.

Have you picked up your drumsticks, lately?

Want to know more about Walter Dean Myers? Check out his NPR interview here. And if you missed local coverage of his visit, check out Erin Gignac’s article here on MLive.

Reading is not optional