Young people do have stories worth telling

We could not help but share this letter from the astounding student Erica Eliza Smith.

“I just finished reading Claudette Colvin: Twice Towards Justice for the second time. The first time I read it was back in eighth grade (I’m a junior now) when I was trying to figure out what it meant to be a teenager in a world run by adults. This was the same year I read We Were There, Too! and It’s Our World, Too! 

I believe that every book I’ve read has changed my life. But your books have changed my life more than any other book beyond certain religious texts and the books that taught me how to read. You’re the only author I’ve found who seems to care about young people who want to read about other young people.

Young people do have stories worth telling. I understand that my school textbooks will never devote a significant number of pages to young people for the same reasons they don’t talk all that much about women or people of color. Paper and class time is limited. We can only cover the presidents and generals. But that doesn’t mean we weren’t there too. That doesn’t mean we didn’t witness historical events at the very least. And there are always untold stories about people like Claudette who changed things.

I feel like youth are the most neglected of any demographic group. My school offers a women’s history class, which I’ll take next year, and all but one of the movies we watched in U.S. History this year featured African Americans. But so far as young people are concerned, we have Sacagawea and Emmett Till. I wish they’d include more stories about youth. It would help us see history as our story instead of something that happened to old dead guys.

Reading your books, especially We Were There, Too! felt like going through a treasure trove. Here was a young person for all my favorite pieces of history. The sweatshops of the Industrial Revolution. The women’s suffrage movement. The Salem Witch Trials (I’m descended from an accused witch). The pioneer trails (them too). And more little slices of history I’d never given much thought to. I can’t thank you enough for bringing all these stories to light. Please know that your efforts to dig up these people and put them on a page was worthwhile. I recommend them to teenagers and adults alike. Keep writing great stories!”

Pete Seeger, Planter of Seeds

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Phillip Hoose and Pete Seeger, 1996

In the fall of 1954, Pete Seeger began his long-running column “Appleseeds” in Sing Out! Magazine. He dedicated it to “the thousands of boys and girls who today are using their guitars and their songs to plant the seeds of a better tomorrow in the homes across our land.”

He was indeed a planter of seeds, seeds that germinated as individuals and small groups with backbone and heart.

I knew him best through his central role with one of those groups, the Children’s Music Network.

READ MORE of Phillip Hoose’s article, “Singer Seeger’s Legacy Extends Throughout Maine and Across the Generations.”

Little Free Libraries

Look! Hey Little Ant popped up in a Little Free Library the other day.

HEY LITTLE ANT in a Little Free Library

HEY LITTLE ANT in a Little Free Library

The Little Free Library movement started in Wisconsin  and has spread all over the world.  It’s a “take a book, return a book” gathering place where neighbors share their favorite literature and stories. In its most basic form, a Little Free Library is a box full of books where anyone may stop by and pick up a book (or two) and bring back another book to share.

 

Patricia Gonzales & B95

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Argentine shorebird biologist Patricia Gonzales

From Phillip Hoose on Delaware Bay:

This is Argentine shorebird biologist Patricia Gonzales, minutes after having spotted once again the apparently bionic Red Knot whose leg bears an orange band inscribed B95. He migrates back and forth to his breeding grounds nearly 20,000 miles each year.

His lifetime frequent flyer mileage greatly exceeds the distance between the earth and the moon. Hence his nickname–and the title of my book about him, Moonbird. I’ve never quite been able to spot him, though Patricia, who has an amazing connection with him, has held him in her hands and seen him many times.

Moonbird Spotted in Delaware!

B95 Spotted May 2014

B95 Spotted May 2014

Two photos of B95 taken yesterday by Patricia Gonzalez and Allan Baker at Reeds Beach, NJ. B95 is now at least 21 years old, and has flown enough miles to go to the moon and most of the way back. He has already been declared a Natural Ambassador of the city of Río Grande, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina where he was banded so long ago.

The Moonbird is an inspiration to all!!! —Charles Duncan,  Shorebird Recovery Project

B95 Spotted May 2014

B95 Spotted May 2014

My major weapon is a good narrative

Phillip Hoose Talks MOONBIRD at Indiana School

Phillip Hoose Talks MOONBIRD at Indiana School

Thank you to David Snodgress of the Herald-Times for writing about Moonbird and Phillip Hoose’s to Summit Elementary in Indiana.

“Students got to know B95, a small bird that has flown the distance it takes to get to the moon and halfway back, when author and Indiana University graduate Phillip Hoose came by Summit Elementary. To tell third-, fourth- and fifth-graders about B95, Hoose shared pictures of the red knot, a shore bird with a speckled back that travels more than 9,000 miles from its breeding grounds in the Arctic to South America each year. He played his guitar, leading students in sing-a-longs, and the crowd of almost 200 students “awww-ed” at the sight of photos of baby red knots, with their fuzzy white feathers and tiny beaks.

When Hoose asked for questions, their hands shot up into the air. They wanted to know if the baby bird’s mother and father help it learn to fly and how the red knots are able to fly such long distances. They also asked how Hoose got his ideas to write a book like “Moonbird: A Year on the Wind with the Great Survivor B95” and what his other books were about. Talking with youngsters gives Hoose a chance to spread awareness about the reduced populations of animals like red knots.

“My major weapon is a good narrative,” the author said. The nonfiction story of B95 doesn’t only describe the life of one bird, but it also “portrays the worldwide crisis in species loss.” During his presentation, Hoose referred to young people who were working to protect red knots, and he said, “we could use some letters,” because writing messages to legislators might help the long-distance fliers become recognized as an endangered species.

Hoose has been going from school to school talking to kids for about 30 years. “I love kids,” he said. “I want them to know that a writing life is available and there are real people who do this.”

Erika Peek, a fifth-grade teacher at Summit, had a similar idea when she invited Hoose to speak. “It’s inspiring to see someone doing something that they love,” Peek said. As a teacher, she hopes students will grow up into people who can make their passions their livelihood. “It was nice for the kids to meet a speaker with Bloomington ties,” she noted. She hoped it helped the students realize that authors could be among their next-door neighbors.

After Hoose’s presentation, Peek’s students settled into their desks to write poetry or read his books. Leading up to the author’s visit, they had been working in all of their classes on projects related to writing or the subjects of Hoose’s nonfiction, and they will continue to do so after his visit. Peek intends to tailor her upcoming lessons to the students’ interests by exploring areas they were curious about through research activities.

“The speaker may be gone, but we can find other ways to answer their questions,” she said.”

B95 Spotted in Argentina

B95 (center, with orange leg band) recently in Argentina. (Photo by Luis Benegas)

B95 (center, with orange leg band) recently in Argentina. (Photo by Luis Benegas)

“The last we heard of a red knot known as B95 — after his tag — he was in Canada. It was August, and he was on his way south.

As usual, scientists studying red knots figured it might be their last sighting of him. No bird lives forever, they keep telling themselves.

But recently, he’s been spotted — several times! — on wintering grounds at Rio Grande, at the southern tip of Argentina.”

Read more from the Philadelphia Inquirer

Save the Red Knot! Sign the Petition!

B95 (Photo by Christophe Buidin)

B95 (Photo by Christophe Buidin)

If you have read the book Moonbird by Phillip Hoose, you know that one individual bird has had incredible staying power while his species is under great threat.  You can help the Red Knot.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed to protect the Red Knot rufa under the Endangered Species Act. Doing so would not only benefit the Red Knot, but other shorebirds since many other species have similar long migrations and are declining due to habitat pressures. But in order for The FWS to follow through on this recommendation to turn into a real listing your help is needed.

WILL YOU SIGN THE PETITION?

Thanks to the Friends of the Red Knot for initiating this petition.