Occasional Paper Series #44

Shattering, Healing, and Dreaming: Lessons from Middle-Grade Literacies and Lives

by Carla España

Listening to these mentors,
I feel like I can prove the negative stereotypes about girls like me wrong.
That I can and will do more, be more.
But when I leave? It happens again. The shattering.
And this makes me wonder if a black girl’s life is only about being stitched together and coming undone, being stitched together and coming undone.
I wonder if there’s ever a way for a girl like me to feel whole.
Wonder if any of these women can answer that.
(Watson, 2017, p. 86)

How can schools be a place where make Black and Brown children can feel whole? How can we create learning spaces that honor the humanity of Black and Brown children? In preparation for a summer enrichment program, I sought the wisdom of Black women authors to teach English Language Arts with seventh- and eighth-graders. Engaging with Renée Watson (2017), Jewell Parker Rhodes (2018), Jacqueline Woodson (2014), and Nikki Grimes (2017) helped ground the conversations in students’ lives and in stories and poems crafted by these Black women.

About the Author

Dr. Carla España is an instructor in the Bilingual/TESOL program at Bank Street Graduate School of Education. Dr. España received her Ph.D. from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Her teaching and learning from bilingual Latinx students began in Harlem, NYC with sixth graders. Dr. España’s writing, teaching, and research examine the ways teachers and bilingual/multilingual students make meaning of their language practices and schooling. Her teaching and research interests include bilingual education, children’s literature, translanguaging, culturally sustaining pedagogy, and teacher preparation. Follow her on Twitter @ProfesoraEspana.