I know I’ve been MIA for about a month. In that time, I’ve read three nonfiction books — I’ve been feeling really compelled to read nonfiction lately. And I’m about to start Dave Egger’s “Zeitoun”…probably as soon as I’m done writing this little update…so, we’ll keep up the trend.
Part of my nonfiction submersion was due to the nonfiction unit we’re teaching our juniors right now (well, I was teaching my juniors, up until a week ago…more on that in a second). The juniors have a persuasive writing unit to start off second semester and my colleague and I decided that we wanted to really push kids into reading persuasive nonfiction books that rally around social issues. Our whole first semester of American Literature is “Who am I as an American?” and “American Literary Periods and their relevance to today’s literature”, but then in second semester we take it out and talk about social justice issues in America and the world.
This year we assigned one group of kids to read “Half the Sky” by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. I hadn’t read that before, so I just read the selections we assigned the students. But then I felt a strong desire to go out and buy my own copy of the book and read the whole thing — I am so glad I did. What an amazing, intense, powerful book. Seriously: Must. Be. A. Mandatory. Read. I’m surprised it took me so long to read this — last year while Matt and I were in Vegas, I counted six people reading this book at the pools or at the airport. I kinda wish I had seen more people reading it now.
Anyway, that was my most recent read. And I can’t recommend it enough.
Before that I finished reading “The Death and Life of the American School System” by Diane Ravitch. (Go and watch Thursday’s entire Daily Show if you want to see something that gets my blood pressure all elevated — watching how Fox News portrays teachers in America almost sent me into labor. I’m serious.) This book is interesting; Ravitch approaches her book from a historical point of view, which makes sense since she is a historian, but there are significant passages where I wanted more commentary and opinion. Ravitch’s articles and columns are probably more geared toward editorializing, which doesn’t diminish the importance of this book — if we are going to combat the problems with current education reform, understanding why past policies have failed and are failing is an important step. There were several times I wanted to photocopy sections out of this book and clandestinely drop them into mailboxes of people at my school — not out of maliciousness, but out of a genuine desire to improve the quality of what we do every day. I love teaching and as I embark on year eight of this career, I am finding it easier to be a voice for change and activism — Ravitch’s book can give teachers the tools and data needed to have those important conversations with people who are inclined to misunderstand theories that do sound good on paper.
Okay. Last one. I also finished “The Other Wes Moore” by Wes Moore. This is the Everybody Reads book for Portland and we also picked it as the book for our March Book Club. I liked this book a lot — I wanted more commentary from the author, but at the end of the book he addressed his wariness with trying to come up with a theory about why two people with similar backgrounds, growing up in the same areas, can lead such diametrically opposed lives. So, Book Club will have to explore Nature vs. Nurture on our own and see what we can come up with. Either way, it’s hard not to get drawn into the two boy’s lives. Fans of “The Wire” will notice themes from the TV show in these two men’s stories — an obvious connection I suppose since the book takes place in Baltimore. This is a super short read (I finished it in two days) and it’s written in a simple-straightforward style that won’t win any writing awards, but still manages to paint a clear picture of pre-teens at a crossroad.
So…there you have it: One month of reading.
And I actually read two of those books in the past week…I was pretty busy before that getting ready for the baby and planning at school.
Speaking of school…I am now on mandatory bed rest. I’ll know more tomorrow about whether or not my body has decided to become fully preeclamptic again, but all signs point to ‘yes’ on that. Last Monday I ended up hospitalized and the doctor told me not to go to work, but I didn’t listen. My newspaper staff had a paper that was going to press and I wasn’t about to ditch them; so, I went back to work and lasted only half the day before realizing that I should have listened to my doctor. I ended up being hospitalized AGAIN on Tuesday…and then I was lectured about not returning to work and despite my irritation at that decision, I acquiesced.
I’ve been home since then — reading and watching a lot of television — and going to numerous doctor’s appointments. I also went out and got a pedicure and my hair done — but I don’t think that’s cheating because I was good at keeping my feet up! 🙂 My family has been amazing at taking care of me too — meals and watching Elliott; coming over to do boring tasks like unloading the dishwasher.
And where does that leave me? Well, playing a waiting game. My due date isn’t until March 20th…but they already said they’d induce no later than the 17th (St. Patrick’s Day baby?) if I remain stable. I’m back at the doctor tomorrow to find out if I’m stable or not. So, I could go in tomorrow and they’ll keep me and I could have a baby Tuesday. We’re ready to meet our second son! So, I’m anxious to find out what’s going on with this awesome little body of mine. I’m hugely pregnant, sporting a super high BP even while sitting on my couch, AND having inconsistent contractions throughout my day. And you know what? I’m great — I really am. I’m a little down that I’m not working and I feel worthless stuck at home. I also HATE not knowing what is going to happen; I’d be much better if they just gave me a date and called it good, but I know so many factors can change in a heartbeat, so why plan?
But other than that: I’ve got an amazing two-year-old and I know how fantastic these kids are! So, all of this seems worth it to me. I’m not sure about a third time around yet, but I do know it’s worth it for this one. 🙂
I’ll just keep reading books until I know more…