Cultural Flashpoints

This week I read The Hate U Give, The Hate List, “The Portrayal of Bullying in Young Adult Books: Characters, Contexts, and Complex Relationships,” and “Two Professors Critique the Representations of Africans and African Americans in Picture Books.”

The Hate List is a powerful book about a school shooting, the aftermath, bullying and the struggles teens/young adults deal with while in school. Valerie is confused about who she is after her boyfriend decides to open fire at their high school and then kills himself. The problem is she helped him make his list for the killings, she just didn’t realize that would ever happen. Her family is in shambles, she has a hard time figuring out who she is and who she wants to be while the bullying does not seem to stop after the shooting. This is an important book for students and parents alike; school shootings are happening more often across the country and it is important to have a book that sparks discussions about this topic. Students see these shootings and hear about them as much as us adults do so it is important to gauge how they feel about what is happening and get a window into what other students have been through. For those who have been through it this book is a mirror of what they went through.

The Hate U Give, I was so excited to read this book for class because I have been dying to read it personally. The movie is going to be amazing though not as good as the book because let’s be honest they never are. This book covers police brutality and race issues. Starr is from a low income neighborhood but goes to a high end private school. She feels like she has to be two different people to fit into both worlds. She is present when her friend is killed by a police officer and faces a lot of pressure from the two communities she is part of. Police brutality is a hot topic in today’s society and racial profiling is a huge part of the issue. This book, like The Hate List, is both a mirror and a window into the pressures and fears that come with other races. Students face these issues everyday and if they are not personally impacted they certainly see it in the world around them it is important that schools provide a safe place for them to explore this issue and talk about it how they see fit. I think including discussion questions and opening the floor up to the students to describe what they felt while reading the book would make a greater impact.

The Portrayal of Bullying…” was a wonderful read; it was interesting to see the most popular types of bullying brought up in literature but even more interesting to see that there was usually more than one form utilized. The books selected in the study give a fairly well rounded account of what books with bullying in them have to offer. Most are from the point of view of the bullied with a couple from the bully’s point of view. While some tackle bullying head on others have it in the background. Bullying is so prominent in today’s society an author would be remiss to avoid the topic. There are so many ways to bully today than there were a decade ago. It is important for children to read that they are not the only ones being bullied and that it is not the end there are people who care and are willing to help. I will definitely be adding a few of the books from the study to my own TBR list to get a better understanding of the topic. “Two Professors….” this article was refreshing, it was a breakdown of a study of picture books with African or African American characters compared by a white woman and an African American woman both in Literature fields of study. It was roughly 50/50 for books they agreed on and didn’t agree on. Their conversation and honesty with each other in order to truly understand how these books were being produced and received was very interesting to read. They picked a well rounded source of books with authors of different races to see how they held up.

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