Thursday, August 18, 2011

Exciting new project: Many Voices, One World

I have an exciting announcement that I believe is quite timely right here at the beginning of the new school year.

I have started a new project, Many Voices, One World. The purpose of the Many Voices, One World project is to provide access to an online collection of picturebooks written in dialect that are read aloud by people who convey an authentic voice of the book.

Today, there are many children’s picturebooks that reflect the language variation found among the many and various cultural groups in the United States. These books do much to validate the cultural values, customs, beliefs, attitudes, and mannerisms of these cultural groups for children.

My hope is that the online read alouds included on the Many Voices, One World project website can be used by teachers to share picturebooks that provide a rich source of culture and diversity to the classroom.

Right now, there is only one book available, but it is a wonderful book: Don't Say Ain't written by Irene Smalls and performed by Anne Charity Hudley. Don't Say Ain't is the perfect "first" book for the collection. Below is the review from School Library Journal:
Dana and her friends Cindybelle and Ellamae live in Harlem in the 1950s where Dana's godmother reminds them, "Don't say ain't, children. People judge you on how you speaks!" When her goddaughter's high scores on a special exam provide access to an advanced, integrated school, the girl isn't quite as enthusiastic as Godmother. Children snicker when her teacher corrects her speech, while at home, her friends call her "Miss Smarty Pants." One day, her teacher announces plans to visit each student's home, and Dana is first on the list. When she arrives, Dana is surprised to learn that "-Godmother knew Mrs. Middleton's mother back in Charleston, South Carolina." However, she is absolutely stunned when her teacher exclaims, "Honeychile, I ain't gonna eat more than one piece of your famous peach cobbler." Confused at first by the woman's use of nonstandard English, Dana is smart enough to discover an essential truth. She reconciles with her friends and announces, "If you want to say `ain't,'-/Just say it at home./And when you roam,/Speaking proper sets de tone-." Engaging, richly hued oil illustrations effectively capture the characters and setting. The flap copy notes that New York City schools were first integrated in 1957, and Smalls portrays the advantages open to a select group of students with subtlety. This perceptive and useful title can be used to generate discussion on a variety of issues.
The online read aloud of Don't Say Ain't is beautifully done. The illustrated pages turn automatically as the story is read aloud by Anne Charity Hudley. Anne is an Associate Professor of Education, English, Linguistics, and Africana Studies at The College of William & Mary and the coauthor of Understanding English Language Variation in U.S. Schools.

The publisher of Don't Say Ain't requires that access to the online read aloud be password protected.  Therefore, if you are an educator and would like to share the online read aloud of Don't Say Ain't with your students, please follow the directions on the Many Voices, One World website to received access.

It is my hope to add many more books to the project over the years. There is a great deal of work involved to create each online read aloud and the project currently has no funding.

Please share your thoughts with me about this project and help me to spread the word about this wonderful resource. If there are books you would like to have included in this online resource, please let me know.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I was thinking about this recently as I was doing my annual sifting through my picture book collection. I added summer finds and I also took out books that are too tattered, or passed on books to others that just do not fit our model mentor texts needs. However, I rejoiced in keeping some of my particular titles which I like to incorporate into lessons that honor the dialect of the characters. I'm also reading the adult book The Help, which is currently being shown as a screen adaptation at movie theaters. Speaking in one's dialect honors their heritage and roots. The story wouldn't feel authentic. The dialect that was coming from inside the reflective thoughts and feelings of the women is what make that story so honest and real. Fantastic project ladies! :)