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New Books that Excite Us Right Now

Books we love

School Clothes: A Collective Memoir of Black Student Witness 
By Associate Professor Jarvis Givens 
School Clothes is a collection of more than 100 firsthand accounts from the 19th and 20th centuries of Black students and what they encountered as they were trying to get an education. Jarvis Givens writes that central to the book is a simple premise: that Black students have a way of seeing school and education in the United States that is distinct and distinguishable. The book reveals “a story of educational domination, and simultaneously, one of fugitive learning,” he writes. Included are the stories of writers like Zora Neale Hurston and Ralph Ellison; political leaders like Mary McLeod Bethune and Angela Davis; and of Black students “whose names are largely ignored.”

Learning to Depolarize: Helping Students and Teachers Reach Across Lines of Disagreement 
By Kent Lenci, Ed.M.’05 
In his new book, Learning to Depolarize, Kent Lenci writes that “we have become a polarized society, bound unconditionally to those on our political team and mistrustful and dismissive of the others.” He saw this day-in and day-out during his two decades working with middle schoolers as a teacher, coach, and school leader. For this reason, he writes, students need to learn skills to help them face divisiveness and reach across lines of political divide. The book includes a look at the causes and consequences of political polarization and the role schools should play working with students and “depolarizing America.”

What Does Brown Mean to You? 
By Ron Grady, first-year Ph.D. student 
In this, Ron Grady’s first children’s picture book, readers follow a young, energetic boy named Benny as he wakes up and goes about his day. The story is lyrical and upbeat and celebrates all shades of brown in Benny's world. As readers learn, this includes “the pup sleeping soundly away” and Benny’s dad stirring pancakes. It’s the best log for Benny to balance on and his grandma’s coffee. It’s his grandpa’s kisses, which create “a lovely moment of bliss.” Grady, currently in his first year of the Ph.D. Program at the Ed School, not only wrote What Does Brown Mean to You?, which Publisher's Weekly says "reads like a gentle embrace,” but he also illustrated the book.

Hope and Healing: Black Colleges and the Future of American Democracy 
By John Silvanus Wilson Jr., Ed.M.’82, Ed.D.’85 
In Hope and Healing, former Morehouse College president John Silvanus Wilson Jr. examines Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and credits HBCUs for not only surviving, not thriving as important and relevant institutions of higher education. When he talked about the book recently on the Harvard EdCast, Wilson said that while HBCUs have long been viewed through a lens of "deficiency and survival," these institutions actually are preeminent in character — something missing from many institutions nationwide. 

When We Thrive, Our World Thrives: Stories of Young People Growing Up with Adversity 
By Connie Chung, Ed.M.’99, Ed.M.’07, Ed.D.’13 
When We Thrive, Our World Thrives highlights the stories of graduates from Dream a Dream, a nonprofit based in India that o¢ers programming to young people from vulnerable backgrounds to help them overcome adversity and develop the kinds of skills they need to thrive. Written by Connie Chung and Vishal Talreja, one of the cofounders of Dream a Dream, the book also weaves in research on positive youth development and what kinds of supports educators and other adults need to give to at-risk youth in order for them to heal and grow.

Greenlight to Freedom: A North Korean Daughter’s Search for Her Mother and Herself 
By Casey Lartigue Jr., Ed.’91, co-authored with North Korean refugee Songmi Han 
Greenlight to Freedom is the true story of a young woman’s life growing up in North Korea and her escape in 2011 to South Korea after enduring abuse, starvation, surveillance, and other hardships. The book was co-written by Casey Lartigue through his South Korean-based nonprofit, Freedom Speakers International. Lartigue says the idea for the book started when Han, working part-time at the nonprofit, shared stories about growing up in North Korea. Lartigue had published refugee memoirs before and told her “there’s a book here.”

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The magazine of the Harvard Graduate School of Education

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