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142: Unabridged Launches Teaching Tidbits

Updated: Sep 23, 2020

Episode 142 graphic featuring a chalkboard that says "Teaching Tidbits"

In this Unabridged Episode, we share with listeners a brand new type of episode that we're launching in Season Four, Teaching Tidbits! These bite-sized episodes will focus on books and activities relevant to classroom teachers. In today's episode, Sara shares the first Teaching Tidbit focusing on Sandhya Menon's When Dimple Met Rishi. We'll share these a couple of times a month on Fridays, so be on the lookout for them in your feed!

Bookish Check-in

Ashley - Hena Khan’s Amina’s Voice

Jen - Susan Abulhawa’s Against the Loveless World

Sara - Jerry Craft’s New Kid

Sara's Teaching Tidbit

Sandhya Menon's When Dimple Met Rishi

Never Have I Ever Netflix series

Mentioned in Episode

Our upcoming interview with Farrah Rochon. Be sure to check it out next Wednesday!

Give Me One - Favorite Disney Character

Jen - the genie from Aladdin

Sara - Moana from Moana

Ashley - Stitch from Lilo and Stitch

(A note to our readers: click on the hashtags above to see our other blog posts with the same hashtag.)

Interested in what else we're reading? Check out our Featured Books page.

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Bookish Check-in

Sara shared that she has started Jerry Craft's New Kid. She's reading this graphic novel, which her son already read and loved, with the plan to create some enrichment activities for him. Sara shared, "My son actually read it last year during when he I was in school and he really enjoyed it. And so I'm actually trying to read some children's literature because my kids are going to be home all semester this this fall. And being the control freak I am about their education, I want to be able to also create some curriculum for them."

Sara said that she's enjoying the story so far: "It is about a middle school student. And he is the new kid in school, and it's just about those trials and tribulations. As I said, I have just started so I don't have a ton to say, but I've heard amazing things about it. So I'm excited to dig in."

Jen talked about Susan Abulhawa’s Against the Loveless World. Jen shared that "it is about a Palestinian refugee living in Kuwait. And she has at some point been arrested and is imprisoned in this thing that she calls the cube. So while she's in the cube, she has flashbacks of her time in Kuwait. As a refugee there, she lives with her family, including her grandmother and her brother, and experiences a lot of prejudice and resentment that changes over the course of her time in Kuwait. So I'm going to be really interested to see how it all develops. It's one of those books that is planting all of the seeds of these stories. There's a lot of suspense in a book that is literary fiction. It's really this interesting balance of this story that has a lot of cultural commentary, but also that is just keeping me turning the pages because she is this really independent thinking woman. She is cursing her captors and fighting back against her jailers in every way she can, because she just does not want to let them break her spirit."

Ashley shared about Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan. Ashley says, "Amina is the main character, and she just started middle school. And she there are a few things about her. She is sweet. She is shy and she has this really gorgeous voice as the title suggests, but she's too timid to be willing to sing in anything other than a chorus even though she has really lovely voice. So that's happening in the beginning, but also she and her best friend, Soojin, have been in school together for a long time. Amina's family is from Pakistan, and Susan's family is from Korea. And they have some similarities as far as being American kids of immigrants. As we know sometimes happens with kids in middle school, Soojin is interested in kind of changing up her social dynamics. She is starting to get interested in these other girls that Amina has always felt have not been very kind. They've not been very interested in either of the girls, and all of a sudden Soojin is being really kind to particularly this one girl, and Amina just feels this real tension. She can't understand why they're including her, and she's just really lost her footing. Also, Soojin's family is going to become citizens, and so she's considering changing her name to something more American. And I just love it so far because I think that there are a lot of things that resonate with all kids, and particularly with girls about middle school, but then there's also Amina's personal experience of trying to figure out how she fits in and how she can be herself but also belong."

Ashley also shared about her experience reading E.B. White's Charlotte's Web with her girls, so be sure to listen in for that as well!

Main Discussion - Introduction to Teaching Tidbits

In this episode, we introduce a new kind of episode that we'll now be releasing a couple of times a month! Ashley explains, "We've been thinking about this for a long time, the three of us how we can best serve teachers, because we absolutely want to be doing that, but also serve all of our book lover community who are interested in all the bookish things that we discuss. And that's what how we settled on this. It's really been an evolving process to decide that we wanted to launch these Teaching Tidbits, but we feel really good about it. . . . [We have a] desire to serve not just teachers but also parents who are suddenly finding themselves in a position where they are teaching, or at minimum supporting their kids' education in a way they haven't before. We felt like this was a great time to start sharing these episodes."

First Teaching Tidbit - Using Own Voices Texts with Sara

book cover of Sandhya Menon's When Dimple Met Rishi

In this Teaching Tidbit, Sara shares her thoughts about the importance of using own voices texts. She says, "If I were in the English classroom, I would be really talking about and promoting promoting own voices work in literature. So what I mean by own voices work is novels and poems and texts that are written by authors who identify and are a part of the group that they are writing about. So for example, a Black author writing about a Black experience. And often, or sometimes at least, writers are writing books that are perhaps not own voice experiences. And I think that with what has been happening in our world, [it] is important to promote and amplify own voice work."

Sara shares, "I wanted to talk about Sandhya Menon's When Dimple Met Rishi, and for the podcast, we actually did this as a buddy read. It is a great YA book: it has romance, and it also includes a lot about Indian culture. The protagonist Dimple is an Indian American. Both of her parents are from India, so she has been brought up in a traditional Indian household. And so her parents have certain expectations for her, and she is kind of rebelling against those expectations. "

"So what this offers in the classroom is a chance to really explore the differences between Indian culture and American culture. We look at American culture, and when we are so immersed in American culture, especially as young people, we can tend to be pretty insular in our focus. And I think that this book really shows the differences in what American culture promotes and what Indian culture promotes. And it's neither is right or wrong, it is just different and I think it is important for students to really recognize that and understand that."

Be sure to check out the rest of Sara's ideas for this own voices text by listening to the episode—which also includes a recommendation of the Netflix series Never Have I Ever—and the teaching materials that Sara is developing in our Teachers Pay Teachers store!

Give Me One - Favorite Disney Character

We wrapped up with a Give Me One topic, our favorite Disney character, suggested by Farrah Rochon. We also let you in on a secret or two, so be sure to listen in to find out who divulges what.


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