Friday, January 30, 2009


Uptown, by Bryan Collier

buy it here:

Summary: This story is about a young boy who lives in Harlem, and loves his neighborhood. Written from his perspective, it highlights the many different places he enjoys visiting in Harlem- The Apollo Theater, Holcombe Rucker Playground- and the things he sees around his neighborhood- awnings in the windows and girls going to church. The story is sweet, as the reader realizes by the end that Harlem is almost a character, because of the personification the boys gives it and how close his neighborhood is to his heart. Each page is also accompanied by a beautiful collage.

How I would use this in a classroom: When I shared this book with my book group in class, we brainstormed some excellent ways we could use the book in a lesson plan, and even in a unit. Two ideas that stood out were using the book to drive a lesson on identity, encouraging students to write and talk about their own neighborhoods. This lesson could even be expanded to encompass an art lesson, much like that which we did with Nina this week. Because the artwork in the book is collage work, we could use Nina's lesson to teach our students how to make collages that illustrate their own stories about their neighborhoods. The second idea that stuck out from our conversation was using the book as a hook for a unit on New York City, exploring the numerous classes and races that makes up our city.

Domains of Social Justice: This book only focuses on one domain of social justice- stage 1 children learn about their own culture. The story is one of self-exploration. The boy reveals his own identity by talking about the culture and flavor of Uptown. He is proud of his neighborhood and his family history living there, and this translates as pride in himself for identifying with his home.

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