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WNDMG Wednesday – Celebrating Juneteenth

We Need Diverse MG
We Need Diverse MG Logo hands holding reading globe with stars and spirals floating around

Illustration by: Aixa Perez-Prado 

Celebrating Juneteenth

School is out for most students around the nation, which means that for many, learning about and celebrating Juneteenth won’t happen as organically as, say, Martin Luther King Day does.  But for families and educators committed to embracing the fulness of our history and the holidays that mark it, we’ve put together some resources for teaching and talking about Juneteenth.

image of the juneteenth flag- blue and red with star in the middle

About Juneteenth Independence Day

Juneteenth just became a national holiday in 2021, but Black Texans have been celebrating it since 1866. The holiday gets its name from the day enslaved Texans learned of their freedom – June 19, 1865 – more than two months after the April 9 end of the Civil War freed all enslaved people. At first, the holiday was confined mostly to Texas. But as families moved to other states, they took their traditions with them, highlighting the day with picnics, music festivals, and family gatherings.

Today it remains a celebration not just of emancipation but of Black culture and tradition. Juneteenth is the first new federal holiday since Martin Luther King Day was recognized in 1983.

crossed flags - US and Juneteenth

Reasons to Study Juneteenth

In addition to celebrating emancipation, Juneteenth is an opportunity for all Americans to learn about the twin legacies of slavery and segregation, as well as the construction of institutional racism. While the story of racism and bias in this country is painful, it is an intrinsic part of who we are as a country. We can empower future generations by teaching them the truth about where we started and urging them to do better than we did, to imagine a better future. We tell our children to make good choices when it comes to behavior, school, and morality, it seems reasonable that we could encourage them to make better choices to create a more diverse, inclusive, and equitable world.

Juneteenth Resources:

If you’re interested in guiding your middle-grade readers to learn what Juneteenth is all about and what the day symbolizes for our country, take a look at these booklists and lesson plans.

Booklists

The New York Public Library

Feminist Books for Kids (Blog)

Harper Collins Publishers

Teaching for Change (multiple booklists arranged by category)

From the Mixed-Up Files …of Middle-Grade Authors

Lesson Plans

The National Museum of African-American History and Culture

Brave Writer (Blog)

We Are Teachers

Care.com

 

text Juneteenth in red black and green with flying birds graphic underneath

STEM Tuesday — Community Science – Book List

More and more individuals today are assisting in the collection of scientific data all over the world. Every person, regardless of age or degree, can make a difference by joining together with other community members or making their own observations. Together our world can be healthier and stronger with community science involvement. Here are our book choices to help you and your students get involved wherever you live! 

The Field Guide to Citizen Science : How You Can Contribute to Scientific Research and Make a Difference by Darlene Cavalier, Caren Cooper,, and Catherine Hoffman

This book from the expert team at SciStarter provides lots of ways for readers to get involved with citizen science projects in their community and discover where their data might lead.

Citizen Scientists: Be A Part of Scientific Discovery From Your Own Backyard by Loree Griffin Burns and Ellen Harasimowicz

This Scientists in the Field title from the notable team of Burns and Harasimowicz describes ways to get involved in the Audubon Bird Count, FrogWatch USA, and other community science projects in your own backyard or neighborhood park. 

The Outdoor Scientist: The Wonder of Observing the Natural World by Temple Grandin

Professor of animal science and inventor, Temple Grandin, introduces readers to many scientific disciplines and how these disciplines can play a role in everyday observations. A perfect read for curios readers. 

Citizen Science Guide for Families: Taking Part in Real Science by Greg Landgraf

Readers will discover what citizen science is and how they can get involved in Landgraf’s book. This is an accessible read for the entire family. 

Get Into Citizen Science (Get-Into-It Guides) by Vic Kovacs

Track butterfly migration or watch the sky for comets. This book gives examples of how readers can use their skills to make an impact as citizen scientists. 

Bat Citizens: Defending the Ninjas of the Night by Rob Laidlaw

Here is an example of how citizen scientists can get involved with one specific species – bats. 

12 Epic Animal Adventures by Janet Slingerland

These animal adventures will connect with curious readers who want to get involved in community science, especially the chapter on sea turtle nest counts.

Be The Change: Rob Greenfield’s Call to Kids – Making A Difference in a Messed-Up World by Rob Greenfield and Antonia Banyard

There are so many ways to make a difference in our world. This book provides young readers with many simple ways to get started. 

Chasing Bats and Tracking Rats: Urban Ecology, Community Science, and How We Share Our Cities by Cylita Guy PhD, Cornelia Li

Community science initiatives happen everywhere, including urban environments. This book delves into the ways city residents can make a difference by observing urban wildlife. 


Photo of DESERTS author Nancy Castaldo

Nancy Castaldo , a founding STEM Tuesday team member, has written books about our planet for over 20 years including, THE STORY OF SEEDS, which earned the Green Earth Book Award, Junior Library Guild Selection, and other honors. Nancy’s research has taken her all over the world from the Galapagos to Russia.  She strives to inform, inspire, and empower her readers. Nancy also served as Regional Advisor Emeritus of the Eastern NY SCBWI region. Her 2022 titles are When the World Runs Dry (Jr Library Guild Selection), The Wolves and Moose of Isle Royale (Scientists in the Field) and Buildings That Breathe. Visit her at www.nancycastaldo.com. 

Patricia Newman , a founding STEM Tuesday team member, writes middle-grade nonfiction that empowers young readers to act on behalf of the environment and their communities. Academy Award winner and environmentalist Jeff Bridges calls Planet Ocean a “must read.” Newman, a Sibert Honor author of Sea Otter Heroes, has also received an NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Book Award for Eavesdropping on Elephants, a Green Earth Book Award for Plastic, Ahoy!, and a Eureka! Gold Medal from the California Reading Association for Zoo Scientists to the Rescue. Her books have received starred reviews, been honored as Junior Library Guild Selections, and included on Bank Street College’s Best Books lists. During author visits, she demonstrates how young readers can use writing to be the voice of change. Visit her at www.patriciamnewman.com.

Interview With Debut Author, Catherine Arguelles

I always love to interview authors, but this one is especially near and dear to me. Catherine is not only my critique partner and a good friend, but her debut novel, FLIP TURNS is with Jolly Fish Press. So we are now pub-sisters!

I am so happy for Catherine and delighted the world gets to read her book. She is an incredibly gifted writer, and I am positive this is just the beginning of a very successful career.

I already know she’s fabulous, now it’s time you do, too!

Lisa: Tell us about Flip Turns.

Catherine: Okay! Flip Turns is a Middle Grade mystery featuring Maddie, a thirteen-year-old girl with anxiety who is struggling with the unwanted attention of a boy at school. When her family’s community pool is vandalized, threatening Maddie’s swim team, Maddie and her best friend Ez search for the culprit while dealing with friend and family dynamics, competitive swimming, and crushes.

Flip Turns comes out on September 13!

Lisa: What inspired the idea for this book?

Catherine: I swam on a summer swim team (Go Piranhas!) like Maddie’s while I was growing up. In the 14 summers on that team, we had our share of pranks and catastrophes. When my daughter started swimming on a team a few years ago, I got to thinking, what if those “pranks” and “accidents” weren’t really accidents or weren’t just pranks? What would make someone want to cause problems at a pool?

Lisa: Did you base any characters on people you know?

Catherine: Heh. Yeah. But I can’t tell you some of them to protect the people involved! I can tell you that both my middle school daughter and I have anxiety, so a lot of Maddie’s feelings and reactions are based on our experiences. But the closest to real-life character is Maddie’s big brother Jack who’s teasing yet loving personality is much like my own brother’s. And like Jack, my brother was a lifeguard adored by all the girls!

Lisa: How much of your real-life experiences play a role in the stories you tell?

Catherine: A lot! In Flip Turns, the swim meets and practices came straight out of my own memory. Also, I had an unwanted admirer in middle school and heard a lot of “Just be nice to him.” I wanted that inappropriate attention to be something we talk about instead of something we try to ignore.

Lisa: What was your hardest scene to write, and why?

Catherine: There’s a scene at the first swim meet where Lucas (the unwanted admirer) tries to hug Maddie. She’s only wearing her bathing suit and shorts and gets very uncomfortable. Every time I worked on that scene, I got the creeps. It’s a super cringey moment. But I think it’s authentic. Hugging is a big thing in middle school, but not everyone likes it.

Lisa: Which of your characters are most likely to be an activist, and what kind?

Catherine: I think Maddie’s best friend Ez would be an activist. She’s very driven and persistent in reaching her swimming goals, and she acts like a bit of an activist towards Maddie, encouraging her to stand up for herself and what she wants. Ez is the person throughout Flip Turns who keeps reminding Maddie that the attention from Lucas is inappropriate. I could see her being an activist for sexual harassment awareness and policy.

Lisa: Which of the characters do you relate to the most and why?

Catherine: I definitely relate to Maddie, the main character. Like I said above, we both have anxiety, and we’re both little sisters. We also both struggled to deal with the attention of that unwanted admirer, while at the same time enjoying crushes on nice boys. We have some differences though—Maddie loves art while I was more interested in reading and writing.

Lisa: What books did you like to read when you were a kid?

Catherine: I loved mysteries – Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden, this wonderful series called T.A.C.K. that I’m pretty sure is sadly out of print now. I definitely wanted to be an amateur sleuth like the characters in those books. I’m also a fan of Astrid Lindgren – I loved Pippi Longstocking, but her lesser-known book Ronia the Robber’s Daughter is one of my favorite MG’s of all time.

Lisa: If you could spend a day with another popular author, whom would you choose?

Catherine: I really enjoy Erin Entrada Kelly’s books, and I’d love to watch her do school visits and meet readers.

Lisa: What advice would you give twelve-year-old, Catherine?

Catherine: I would encourage 12yo me to be more assertive in dealing with that unwanted admirer. I’d tell her to be clear about the discomfort, not just with him but also with adults and friends. And I’d tell her to worry less about what other people thought. Both of my kids have so much more confidence than I did as a middle schooler, and it’s a joy to watch them navigate the drama and social situations without a lot of the hurt and awkwardness I felt. I want to be more like my kids!

Lisa: Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me. I can hardly wait to celebrate your Book Birthday! 

Catherine: Thanks, friend.

 

About Catherine Arguelles 

Before writing novels, Catherine earned a BA in English with a minor in Women’s Studies and a MA in Psychology and Counseling. She has worked as a counselor with middle school students, a fundraiser for non-profits, and is the proud parent of two feminist readers. She lives in Northern California, and her favorite event was once the 100-yard backstroke.

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