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Five Book Reviews on Diversity

Friday, December 12, 2014  
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The following is a round up of some of the good reads that have been published recently or in the last several years on the topic of diversity in American culture and in our schools. It is well worth engaging with the text of one or all of these works. 


High Schools, Race, and America's Future: What Students Can Teach Us about Morality, Diversity, and Community 
By Lawrence Blum; Forward by Gloria Ladson Billings (published 2012)

Book Review from
In High Schools, Race, and America's Future, Lawrence Blum offers a lively account of a rigorous high school course on race and racism. Set in a racially, ethnically, and economically diverse high school, the book chronicles students engagement with one another, with a rich and challenging academic curriculum, and with questions that relate powerfully to their daily lives. Blum, an acclaimed moral philosopher whose work focuses on issues of race, reflects with candor, insight, and humor on the challenges and surprises encountered in teaching the unexpected turns in conversation, the refreshing directness of students questions, the “aha” moments and the awkward ones, and the paradoxes of his own role as a white college professor teaching in a multiracial high school classroom. High Schools, Race, and America's Future provides an invaluable resource for those who want to teach students to think deeply and talk productively about race.

Dreamkeepers: Successful Teachers of African American Children
By Gloria Ladson-Billings (published 1994)

Review from Library Journal, A.R. Huggins, Memphis State University:
Although statistics paint a harsh picture of the education of African American children, Ladson-Billings (curriculum and instruction, Univ. of Wisconsin) integrates scholarly research with stories of eight successful teachers in a predominantly African American school district to illustrate that the "dream" of all teachers and parents – academic success for all children - is alive and can be emulated. The presentation of examples from "intellectually rigorous and challenging classrooms" emphasizes the cultural and social aspects of the issues in education as a whole. The author's own experiences as a student and teacher of teachers support the need to make the problems of African American children a central issue in any debate on the American educational system. 


Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? And Other Conversations about Race
By Beverly Daniel Tatum (published 2003)
Overview from Barnes and Noble:
Walk into any racially mixed high school and you will see black youth seated together in the cafeteria. Of course, it's not just the black kids sitting together - the white, Hispanic, Asian, and, in some regions, American Indian youth are clustered in their own groups, too. The same phenomenon can be observed in college dining halls, faculty lounges, and corporate cafeterias. What is going on here? Is this self-segregation a problem we should try to fix, or a coping strategy we should support? How can we get past our reluctance to talk about racial issues to even discuss it? And what about all the other questions we and our children have about race? Beverly Daniel Tatum, a renowned authority on the psychology of racism, asserts that we do not know how to talk about our racial differences: Whites are afraid of using the wrong words and being perceived as "racist" while parents of color are afraid of exposing their children to painful racial realities too soon. Using real-life examples and the latest research, Tatum presents strong evidence that straight talk about our racial identities - whatever they may be - is essential if we are serious about facilitating communication across racial and ethnic divides. We have waited far too long to begin our conversations about race. This remarkable book, infused with great wisdom and humanity, has already helped hundreds of thousands of readers figure out where to start.
The Right to Be Out: Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in America’s Public Schools 
By Stuart Biegel (published 2010)

Review from Publisher, John Wilson, Executive Director, National Education Association:
With The Right to Be Out, Stuart Biegel has presented a thorough, timely, and relevant contribution to the education community on a topic that transcends politics or geography and truly impacts every classroom in the nation. Educators of all backgrounds will find Biegel’s compelling and empathic call for inclusion and self-determination both enlightening and instructive. 




Growing Up Global: Raising Children to Be at Home in the World

By Homa Sabet Tavangar (published 2009)
Book Review from Donna Jackson Nakazawa, author, Does Anybody Else Look Like Me: A Parent’s Guide to Raising Multiracial Children
Growing up Global is for every family on the planet, bar none. Tavangar's stellar ideas for deepening children's understanding of and comfort with every culture is a must in today's increasingly borderless world. But Tavangar's tips aren't just about imbuing children with the multicultural competence they need to succeed in today's cultural blender; unwittingly or not, she's also provided a road map for connecting more deeply and joyfully with our kids as we uncover the world's smorgasbord of art, movies, books, games, sports, foods, religions (and dispel antiquated stereotypes) on our journey to discovery. This book is a two for one. 

Do you have good books to recommend? Let us know by sending an email to 

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