Saturday, September 27, 2014

A Note about Reading, 15 Minutes, & Walter Dean Myers

A Note about Reading, 15 Minutes, & Walter Dean Myers
by BB.Lee (Lee Rhyanes / big brother)

This post today is inspired by a number of reasons.  First, on September 20th I stumbled across a tweet by Reading Rainbow calling for people to take on the 15 minutes a day challenge (click here).  It linked to an article written by Lisa G. Kropp, a youth services coordinator at the Suffolk Cooperative Library System in Bellport, NY.  The article she wrote is titled 'A National Effort to Read to Kids 15 Minutes a Day Needs Our Support' (click here).  

I thought about this article and how much it spoke to me, first as an avid reader ever since my days of early childhood through my mother and father, and second through my work today as a grant writer which requires a daily intensive amount of reading, writing, and thinking.  

Over the past seven years that I've worked as a grant writer I've been able to challenge my mind to see through every and any reading task, even those reading assignments that were once unbearable to read often leaving my head leaning to the side being awoken by the sudden tilt that I was falling into sleep.  It took a while to get use to, but it was those difficult reads that made recreational reading that much more fun.  Coupled with online reading of current events and through my teaching at NMSU its allowed for a consistent daily routine of close reading.  I'm inspired also by my family and our expectation of one another to read.  Whether it's bringing home a book for our brothers or nephews, nieces from the library, going to the library... or even our father thinking of us when he's browsing through Barnes & Nobles on an early afternoon as a retired Army Veteran.  He'll often bring back books he feels will help me with work, or help my brothers with school and sports.  Books & reading is as important in our household as any other basic necessity and its constant in our interaction and expectations of each other.  It's what would inspire the concept behind Reading on the Stoop in which we make space to read where ever we are... whether we're at a library, in front of our homes, on a road trip, or waiting at the dentist.  All space is a reading space as long as we remember to bring a book along.

Every Saturday morning upon waking up, I started making it a priority to read before I go do anything else.  And this morning I decided to pull Just Write, Here's How by Walter Dean Myers from my reading shelf.  Though the initiative to spark 15 minutes a day for reading is loud and clear today, for me, it was a literary hero like Walter Dean Myers, who's stories spoke to me louder than anyone's message to read.  Myer's dedicated his life to stories that would connect with youth, especially older teens, who like myself could have easily gotten lost in the distractions of teenage life to even care about picking up a book.  My appreciation and interest for Myer's stories called me back to the library often, even when I felt I was drifting away from reading responsibility in high school.

Myers passed away this year and often I've thought about a blog post I wanted to write in memory and recognition of Walter Dean Myers and how his books impacted my trajectory through life from school to what would become a career in writing.  While it was the blessing of having two loving, caring parents who were just as passionate about my academic success as I ever could be, it was Myers who inspired me to maintain a daily reading routine.  He was the first writer to really make me think about the connection between story and how we could better our lives.  A concept I would later describe as connecting story to social change, a subject I'd eventually teach at the university I graduated from. 

So as we encourage folks to partake in the 15 minutes a day reading challenge, I want to set off something I've been wanting to do all year since learning of Mr. Myer's passing... and that's share notes from my reading of Myers, any notes I have of Myers over the years and different pieces of information that teach us something new that we may not have known about Myers.  While the RBros blog is about a lot of subjects, I have no problem with it also being a blog fully dedicated to the life of Walter Dean Myers and what he contributed to the world of literature for myself as a youth and adult.  

I will track these posts through two Twitter sites that I post to... (Voices Behind Walls) and (Hip Hop Alumni).  If you want to track these tweets simply visit the twitter site and search for the hashtag #WDMnotes.

For the first post... this one's from this morning's read...Chapter 1, 'Roll Up Your Sleeves'...

"I think a lot more writers would successfully complete their books if they spent more time planning.  I don't mean months or years of planning, but at least getting down the basic idea of where they're going and how they want to get there." - WDM

Keywords + Tag = Walter Dean Myers | WDM | #WDMnotes | Reading Rainbow | www | Lisa G. Kropp | reading | 15 minutes reading | Hip Hop Alumni | Voices Behind Walls | twitter | Christopher Myers | Scorpions | Just Write, Here's How | Harper Collins Publishers | in memory of | Fallen Angels | Monster | Malcolm X | Hoops | Muhammad Ali | Harlem | 2014 | RBros | dedication

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

My Brother's Reading Journey (OTSOG)

My Brother's Reading Journey (OTSOG)
Follow up to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Post: click here

With school already under way for MC Zoo's senior year and E-Man's first month of third grade, the summer left a lot to reflect on.  One of this summer's major accomplishments was my brother's completion of his first 250+ page book.  Instead of checking out the text from the library we decided to purchase one of his choice so that he could take his time to read it.  Searching through Amazon, my brother, who's been a Laker fan for as long as he could talk, decided on a text by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar & Raymond Obstfeld, with forward by Quincy Jones titled On the Shoulders of Giants, My Journey Through the Harlem Renaissance.  I wasn't sure how my brother would take to reading about history but immediately he got into it and appreciated that it was about more than just sports.  It told stories of not only Kareem's experiences, but many names throughout history such as Langston Hughes, Louis Armstrong, Marcus Garvey, Duke Ellington, Zora Neale Hurston, Alain Locke and details about many others from the Harlem Renaissance that impacted sports or vice versa.  The writing style and the references to specific teams including the Harlem Rens and the Original Celtics left a lasting memory on my youngest brother, both through the writing and the photographs included in the book.  The text inspired a respect for Kareem that went beyond just sports and the unstoppable hook shot my brother's been working all summer trying to perfect.  It was a text that traveled with my brother when he tagged along with our pops (aka King Kong) and it also accompanied him on his first trip out of town to support the varsity Andress Eagles basketball squad and their first ever battle towards the Texas regional title.  On the bus, while the Eagles were on their way to making history, my brother was reading about history and continued doing so throughout the year all the way to the final page.  

We worked on a few laptop journal activities but weren't able to get a consistent reading + discussion schedule going (only brief updates from time to time).  To close out the book, we've decided to que the documentary of the same name, On the Shoulder's of Giants (see below) through a Netflix DVD selection.  It'll be a cool way for my brother to reflect on what he's learned as we get ready to archive his first official text.  While my brother has read a lot of books since middle school this is one of the most challenging books he's sought out to add to his own personal library collection.

Currently, he's reading a text titled The Hoops Whisperer: On the Court and Inside the Heads of Basketball's Best Players by Idan Ravin checked out from the El Paso Public Library Irving Schwartz branch.

Keywords + Tag = Kareem Abdul-Jabbar | Bill Cunliffe | On the Shoulders of Giants | basketball | history | Harlem Renaissance | Andress Eagles | Texas | El Paso | Los Angeles Lakers | Paul Baker | Langston Hughes | Louis Armstrong | Al Sharpton | Marcus Garvey | Duke Ellington | Richard Lapchick | Zora Neale Hurston | Jesse Jackson | Alain Locke | Raymond Obstfeld | Isaiah Rhyanes | journey | Barry Cohen | 1920 | Tantor Media | Harlem Rens | The Original Celtics | Netflix | Herbie Hancock | sports documentary | Maya Angelou | Wynton Marsalis | Deborah Morales | Anna Waterhouse | Chuck D | New York Renaissance | Johnny Juice |  Iconomy Multimedia | Cornel West | Samuel D. Pollard | Spike Lee | Union Productions | Jamie Foxx | Bob Costas | Dick Enberg | Harlem | Charles Barkley | John Wooden | David Stern | Bill Russell | Dr. Julius Irving | Clyde Drexler | Carmelo | hoop dreams | hook shot