Hanh Bui highlights the helpers who welcomed her and her family to the United States in the 1970s, surrounds herself with positive people, and stays true to her story.
During the pandemic when Hanh heard about immigrant children being separated from their parents at the Mexican border, she knew she had to share her immigration story with the world. She wanted to tell stories about all the helpers who eased her and her family's transition to the United States: soldiers, social workers, teachers, church workers, as well as organizations such as the YMCA, the Salvation Army and the Red Cross.
In order to tell her story, she knew she would have to surround herself with positive people. She engaged with her local writing community by attending book launches at independent bookstores. The first author event she attended featured Mary Rand Hess. Mary became her first writer friend and mentor. From there, Hanh joined SCBWI, engaged with Highlights, attended Pat Cumming's Picture Book Boot Camp, and participated in Vivian Kirkfield's 50 Precious Words Contest. Hanh is so grateful to all of these people and organizations for helping her along the way.
Some people wanted Hanh to change certain aspects of her story. For example, some people wanted the mother in Hanh's debut book, The Yellow Áo Dài, to be angry. But that was not the experience Hanh wanted to portray. The fact that Hanh portrayed a kind and empathetic Asian mother, instead of the hurtful, stereotypical Asian tiger mom, attracted illustrator Minnie Phan to Hanh's story. Hanh stayed so true to kindness and empathy, that I felt loved as a reader.
Hanh recommends people have the following picture books in their elementary classrooms:
The Power of Yet by Maryann Cocca-Leffler
This book features a pig who practices patience and perseverance. With those two qualities, anything is possible.
The Kindest Red by S.K. Ali and Hatem Aly
This book shows children that they can be resilient and have courage especially when they surround themselves with positive people.
Hanh also recommends teachers have classics on hand such as Arnold Lobel's Frog and Toad, as well as books by Sandra Boynton and Mo Willems.
If you would like to win a copy of Hanh's book please leave a comment below.
To prep for our next episode, be sure to read one or both of Chris Baron's middle grade novels, All of Me or The Magical Imperfect.
As always, many thanks to Sarah Brannen for Chalk + Ink's banner and logo. Summer is just around the corner. Be sure to pick up a copy of Summertime Sleepers, written by Melissa Stewart and illustrated by Sarah, and start daydreaming about summertime naps.
Mary Ann Cappiello and Erika Thulin Dawes talk about trusting the process, text sets, and the magic of working on multiple projects.
Often times we think our process isn't valid. This could be because it doesn't look like someone else's or because it doesn't look like we think it should look or because we haven't reached the goals we hoped to obtain. But Mary Ann and Erika talk about how important it is to trust the process, whatever that looks like for each writer, whether the two of them are collaborating on a new book, writing on their own, or coaching their students as they craft their own work.
What does it mean when we talk about a text set? Many people may think we're talking about various books. And while books are definitely part of a text set, they're not the whole picture. When Mary Ann and Erika talk and write about Text Sets in Action, they're talking about multi-modal, multi-genre text sets. To help teachers understand the various ways text sets may be utilized in the classroom, they have developed various visual models such as the solar system model or the tree ring model. My favorite is the tree ring model because it centers the main text and examines the sources the author used to create the text.
In addition to thinking our process isn't valid, sometimes we superimpose rules on ourselves that limit our creativity such as I should only work on one project at a time or I'm too busy to balance another project right now. But both Mary Ann and Erika feel when they work on multiple projects at once that not only are they more productive, they are also able to uncover solutions that would have remained buried if they were only working on a single project.
For elementary classrooms, Mary Ann and Erika Thulin Dawes recommend the following books:
Whale Fall by Melissa Stewart and Rob Dunlavey
Mary Ann talks about how a teacher, a former student of hers, raves about Whale Fall and the powerful impact on her elementary students. I just read Whale Fall in my class, and my students loved it, too. I loved watching them point and hearing them ooh and ah at each new sea creature they learned about as they feasted on the whale fall.
Berry Song by Michaela Goade
Erika loves books that celebrate our natural world. Not only does Berry Song invite readers to interact with nature, the text offers multiple opportunities to discuss social and environmental justice.
Ablaze with Color by Jeanne Walker Harvey and Loveis Wise
This book has been bringing Erika joy. She's been using it in one of her students' preschool classrooms and the preschoolers love it.
On Mary Ann and Erika's website, Teaching with Trade Books, they have a ton of curated recommendation lists.
If you would like to win a copy of Text Sets in Action or a thirty-minute coaching session on how to use text sets in the classroom, leave a comment below.
Remember to sign up for our next Chalk + Ink Chat on April 26th with Lisa Stringfellow and Michael Leali to talk about their debut year and DEI in middle grade novels.
On the next episode, I'm looking forward to discussing Hanh Bui’s debut picture book, The Yellow Áo Dài.
Many thanks to Sarah Brannen for Chalk + Ink’s podcast art. Congrats to Sarah on her latest book sale. I’ll echo another critique group member and say I can’t wait to see Lolly on the ice and on bookshelves.
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