California Educator

February 2015

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Educator: What compelled you to write about these communities? Brenner: I am a passionate literacy advocate. While working in the Richmond area, I learned of the dire literacy rates at many local schools. First, I volunteered as an adult reading tutor. Next, I received a grant from the California Arts Council for a literacy project at a local continuing education high school. I met mem- bers of West County READS (WCR), a like-minded coalition of literacy and E A D A C R O S S A M E R I C A is March 2, 2015. One of the books recommended by CTA's Read A c ro s s A m e r i c a C o m m i t te e i s Richmond Tales: Lost Secrets of the Iron Triangle by Sum- mer Brenner, illustrated by Miguel Perez. The place-based novel for young readers is full of landmarks local kids know and character types they have been exposed to. Richmond Tales has been used in classrooms, book clubs, independent reading, and adult schools for English learners. Brenner has now written Oakland Tales: Lost Secrets of The Town. The Educator caught up with her at State Council. R Read Across America Book Selection library advocates in West Contra Costa County, and soon joined their board. The West Contra Costa Unified School District (WCCUSD) superintendent offered a challenge: How do we increase reading at home, especially among siblings? Simultaneously, we learned about the "One City, One Book" program ( and decided adopt- ing a children's book for the Richmond community could inspire reading at home. We searched for a book that hon- ored cultural differences, emphasized human connections, and reached across the demographics of race, culture and class. When we failed to find the ideal book, a colleague seized on a solution: "You write it!" Richmond Tales: Lost Secrets of the Iron Triangle is about the reality of present-day streets, a look at history through young people's eyes (a Native American village, 1915 industrial Richmond, World War II), and a vision of the future. Although Richmond Tales is customized with local To purchase copies of the book, visit lost-secrets. The tale behind Richmond Tales Robert Ellis, a teacher at Washington Elementary in Richmond, suggested this book to the RAA Committee. Read Across America CTA & You 50

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