Interview with College Professor and Scientist, Loree Griffin Burns
The flexible and observant Loree Griffin Burns talks about how teaching has forced her to dissect her writing process as well as her product which has made her a better writer, how as a teacher she’s embracing the writing process instead of leaning on students’ products and how sometimes the labels we assign to ourselves hold us back from finding out who we really are.
Loree teaches undergraduate as well as graduate students. In her undergraduate class, she teaches a memoir unit and she reads Birds of a Feather: Bowerbirds and Me by Susan L. Roth to her class. In addition to being a stunning piece of art, Birds of a Feather: Bowerbirds and Me is a cross between nonfiction and memoir. After Loree reads the book to her class, she challenges them to write a memoir that reveals who they are by comparing themselves to an animal. Another one of the picture books Loree uses when teaching memoir is Watercress by Andrea Wang, illustrated byJason Chin. I have been wanting to read this book for a long time, and talking to Loree made me realize I can't wait any longer!
We also talked in depth about two of Loree's fabulous books: You're Invited to a Moth Ball and Citizen Scientists. You're Invited to a Moth Ball: A Nighttime Insect Celebration invites readers to join Loree at her house as she welcomes moths of all different colors and sizes to her yard in central Massachusetts. Even better, the book gives readers the information they need to have a moth ball in their own neighborhoods. We also delve into Citizen Scientists: Be a Part of Scientific Discovery from Your Own Backyard. I love that this book gives examples of how to engage with the natural world during all four seasons, not just during warm weather.
Before we move onto the books Loree thinks should be in every classroom, I want to give a shout out to two of Loree's other titles that my students gravitate toward each year: Tracking Trash and Hive Detectives. I highly recommend both titles for students who are interested in preventing plastic pollution or protecting honey bees.
It totally thrilled me when I asked Loree which books she felt should be in every classroom because she mentioned two ofJeanine Atkins' titles: Finding Wonders: Three Girls Who Changed Science and its companion title Grasping Mysteries: Girls Who Loved Math. Although these books are shelved in fiction because they're written in first person poems, each book is a collection of biographies. Finding Wonders features Maria Merian, Mary Anning and Maria Mitchell. Grasping Mysteries also features scientists but Jeanine highlights how math shaped their work. Luckily, I have Finding Wonders in my classroom but I'll have to purchase Grasping Mysteries because I have two girls in my class this year who are obsessed with space and this collection features two astronomers. Can't wait!
Loree shared that the book that has impacted her the most over the past couple of years is Rex Ogle's Free Lunch. This book is a memoir about Rex's very difficult childhood and Loree wishes this book would have been around when she was a child. In 2020, Free Lunch won the YALSA's Excellence in Young Adult Nonfiction award.
An author who is bringing Loree a tremendous amount of joy is poet and professor, Ross Gay. Loree highly recommends The Book of Delights and Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude. Both of these titles will be on my holiday wishlist.
If you'd like to win a signed copy of You're Invited to a Moth Ball, take one or more of these actions: 1) Tweet or retweet this episode and be sure to tag me and Loree, 2) Make a comment below on the episode’s post, 3) Make a comment about the episode on our Chalk + Ink Facebook page; and 4) Become a Chalk + Ink Patreon supporter. Patreon supporters are automatically entered into each giveaway. Each one of these actions is the equivalent of one entry which means people could have up to four entries for each giveaway. In order to enter the giveaway, these actions must be completed by midnight on Friday, October first. The winner will be announced on Friday, October 8th, on the podcast as well as on Twitter and on our Facebook page.
Congrats to last episode's giveaway winner, Sharon Abra Hannen! Sharon, you won a picture book manuscript critique from Carole Boston Weatherford. Yahoo!
Here's the homework for October 8th:
Read YOU ARE A READER!/YOU ARE A WRITER! written by April Jones Prince and illustrated by Christine Davenier.
Interview with College Professor and Poet, Carole Boston Weatherford
The multi-talented and transcendent Carole Boston Weatherford talks about how she scaffolds her English class assignments to meet the needs of all learners, how she channeled Billie Holiday’s voice while writing Becoming Billie Holiday which led to other masterful books such as Birmingham, 1963 and Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer: The Voice of the Civil Rights Movement, and that the author and teacher’s influence extends far beyond a single reader turning a page or the students sitting in front of us.
In addition to channeling, Carole talks about how authors and illustrators create heart projects for one another. During this part of the discussion, Carole talks about Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre illustrated by Floyd Cooper and Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library illustrated by Eric Velasquez.
We dive into Box: Henry Brown Mails Himself to Freedom. Originally, Carole had written this text as a picture book. Then, two amazing picture book biographies debuted about Henry Brown which were both illustrated by artists Carole had previously collaborated with, Henry's Freedom Box illustrated by Kadir Nelson and Freedom Song illustrated by Sean Quails. So, she rewrote the manuscript for older readers and created a masterpiece that is not only an ode to Henry Brown but whose structure highlights the confinement of slavery and the box Henry Brown travelled in to mail himself to freedom.
We also talked about these other amazing books Carole has written:
Freedom on the Menu: The Greensboro Sit-Ins
The Roots of Rap: 16 Bars on the 4 Pillars of Hip Hop
I, Matthew Henson: Polar Explorer
You Can Fly: The Tuskegee Airmen
Beauty Mark Conjures an Icon: A Verse Novel of Marilyn Monroe
Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom
R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul
During the episode, Carole talks about how two books by Jacqueline Woodson, The Other Side and Coming on Home Soon influenced her own writing.
Carole believes every classroom should have the following books:
1) Carver: A Life in Poems by Marilyn Nelson
This is a biography in verse about botanist and professor George Washington Carver.
2) The Cosmobiography of Sun Ra: The Sound of Joy is Enlightening by Chris Raschka
This biography marks the centennial of this jazz great's birth.
3) What Can You Do with a Voice Like That?: The Story of the Remarkable Congresswoman Barbara Jordan written by Chris Barton and illustrated by Ekua Holmes
If you live near Boston, be sure to check out the MFA's exhibit featuring Ekua Holmes' work.
4) William Still and his Freedom Stories: Father of the Underground Railroad by Don Tate
The father of the underground railroad kept meticulous records which helped reunite families after the emancipation.
5) Dream Builder: The Story of Architect Phillip Freelon by Kelly Starling Lyons
This late architect from North Carolina headed up the creation of the National Museum of African American History & Culture in Washington DC.
6) Shirley Chisholm Dared: The Story of the first Black Woman in Congress by Alicia D. Williams
Listen here to Chalk + Ink's interview with Alicia.
This episode’s giveaway is amazing. It’s a picture book manuscript from Carole Boston Weatherford. There are several ways to enter: 1) Tweet or retweet this episode and be sure to tag me and Carole, 2) Make a comment below on this post, 3) Make a comment about the episode on our Chalk + Ink Facebook page; and 4) Become a Chalk + Ink Patreon supporter. Patreon supporters are automatically entered into each giveaway. Each one of these actions is the equivalent of one entry which means people can have up to four entries for each giveaway. In order to enter the giveaway, these actions must be completed by midnight on Friday, September seventeenth. The winner will be announced on Friday, September 24th, on the podcast as well as on Twitter and on our Facebook page.
I have a favor to ask, if you enjoy this podcast, please leave a positive review wherever you listen to your podcasts. That will help other listeners find us.
Finally, I want to give a shout out to Sarah Brannen for Chalk + Ink’s podcast art. If you want to make the most out of these last few summer weeks, be sure to check out Sarah’s A Perfect Day for some summertime fun.
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