Lifelines Podcast Show Notes: Episode 1

Supporting Students in Poverty

In today’s episode…

Saadia Faruqi shares some good book recommendations around the issues of poverty and homelessness in her segment “Books You’ve Never Heard Of:”

This episode also features Ann Braden’s conversation with elementary school librarian Eileen Parks. Many of the students that Eileen’s library serves come from families that are struggling to make ends meet. Also, since the majority of the community is white, children of color can easily feel isolated. She discusses some of the issues she faces in working to serve all of her students.

–> If you have ideas about the issue that Eileen raised around how to balance making sure all kids feel welcome to check out while also working to get missing books back, please reach out and we’ll share them on a future podcast.

Eileen shares titles that have helped her students see themselves in books and helped to broaden the minds of others.

Here is Eileen’s list of her go-to picture books:

Book Uncle and Me – Everyday life, present day, non-white, non-Western household

Phoebe and Digger  – A girl of color takes on a bully who looks remarkably like a typical main character from a 1950’s picture book.

Billions of Bricks – A diverse work crew–women, men, various ethinicities

Last Stop On Market Street – Gold standard, amirite?

Emily’s Blue Period – Fresh, relevant take on a child’s reaction to parents splitting up.

The Dunderheads – We all have gifts. A celebration of multitple intelligence. 

School’s First Day of School – Perfect back to school book–kids will find themselves represented on these pages. 

How To Find Gold – A fun bedtime story with a non-white main character. 

How the Sun Got to Coco’s House – Children take a trip around the world, with accurate scenes of daily life before arriving at Coco’s house.

Before Morning – Mom is a pilot who gets a chance to spend more time with her family thanks to a canceled flight.

The Araboolies of Liberty Street – Who defines what’s different–what makes someone a “weirdo”?

Eileen also teaches the Odyssey to her 6th graders, and uses Romare Bearden: A Black Odyssey as part of the unit:

Finally, the episode concludes with Ann’s segment: “Moving Beyond: Because Books Have No Boundaries:”

This episode makes me think about the role stories can play in crossing the divides of class. I recently signed up to be part of a cross-class dialogue circle. The group is designed to give people across the class spectrum a chance to come together to talk about their experiences with economic class, listen to each other’s stories and perspectives, and then work together as change makers for economic justice. Class informs so much about our perspective and experiences, but it’s something that we hardly ever talk about. In part it’s because when we see differences there can be an instinct to freeze up. We don’t have the words. We don’t know what to say. The guilt and biases take center stage and silence everything else.

But as we gathered together for our first cross-class dialogue circle, the facilitators managed to quickly remove those barriers and made it possible for us all to enter in with honesty, vulnerability, and empathy. What they did was they had us go around the circle and each share the story of our experiences with class before the age of 12. It’s from a time in each of our lives when we basically don’t have control about where we’re living or how we’re living. And as real-life stories go, things are usually more complicated than any kind of neat label would suggest. Even though when we later placed ourselves on the chart showing the full spectrum of economic class, the fifteen of us represented nearly every segment of the population, when we sat in the circle together we were simply all human.

Stories can help us see the human in front of us more clearly. And once we do, real change can happen.