California Educator

June/July 2021

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Hot Reads S E T U P Y O U R students for summer reading with books that will captivate and educate. CTA's California Reads offers an annual list of teacher-vetted books for the classroom or individual reading at Among the 2021 recommendations: In Mario and the Hole in the Sky: How a Chemist Saved Our Planet by Elizabeth Rusch, illustrated by Teresa Martinez (grades 1-2), young Mario Molina examines everything under a microscope. He continues studying chemistry as an adult — and discovers that CFCs, used in millions of refrigerators and spray cans, are destroying the earth's protective ozone layer. Mario's warnings face vitriolic criticism before he is finally taken seriously. The true story of the Nobel Prize-winning Mexican American chemist who indeed saved the planet. In English and Spanish. In a Cleveland neighborhood, a Vietnamese girl plants six lima beans in a vacant lot while a Romanian woman watches suspiciously. A school janitor gets involved, then a Guatemalan family. Then muscle-bound Curtis, trying to win back Lateesha. Then pregnant Maricela, and Amir from India. In Seedfolks by Paul Fleischman, illustrated by Judy Pedersen (grades 6-8), 13 speakers bring to life a community garden — and a community. The book has been used to teach tolerance, read in ESL classes, promoted by urban gardeners, and performed in schools and on stages worldwide. Watch Us Rise by Renée Watson and Ellen Hagan (grades 9-12) tells how best friends Jasmine and Chelsea, sick of how women are treated even at their progressive NYC high school, start a Women's Rights Club. Posts of their poems, essays and videos, and Jasmine's response to racial microaggressions she experiences go viral. But when online trolls get out of control, the principal shuts the club down. Jasmine and Chelsea are unwilling to be silenced and risk all so their voices, and those of other young women, are heard. An inspiration to budding poets, feminists and activists everywhere. We Are Not From Here by Jenny Torres Sanchez (grades 9-12) describes three Guatemalan friends who are threatened by dangers even as they 're surrounded by the love of family. The teens have no choice but to flee their homeland. Crossing through Mexico, they follow the route of La Bestia, the notorious train system that might deliver them to a better life in the U.S. — if they survive the journey. Described as a riveting but devastating read, the story is relevant and timely. 10 In the Know N E W S & N O T E S

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