Monday, February 27, 2017

“Sure to Spark Intense Discussion”

When Ann Bausum wrote Denied Detained Deported: Stories from the Dark Side of American Immigration in 2009, the starred review in Booklist called it a “landmark title, sure to spark intense discussion.” Indeed.  Eight years later, the discussion might be even more intense.

Ann Bausum is the winner of the 2017 Children’s Book Guild Nonfiction Award, given to an author or author-illustrator whose total work has contributed significantly to the quality of nonfiction for children.  Bausum’s work is wide-ranging – The March Against Fear: The Last Great Walk of the Civil Rights Movement and the Emergence of Black Power; Stonewall: Breaking Out in the Fight for Gay Rights; Stubby the War Dog and Denied Detained Deported.

In Denied Detained Deported, Bausum ends many chapters with questions that are excellent, thought-provoking writing prompts for teens and in a few cases, younger students. 

·       “What individual rights should be sacrificed in the name of homeland security?”
·       “Do migrant workers contribute more to society than they take away?”
·       “What protections might Americans be asked to forfeit when their heritage makes them suspect during a time of war?”

Whether students are asked to write essays or debate both sides of each question, they can gain experience in using logical reasoning and facts for civil debate and discourse. 

A less intense writing activity would ask students to write a single diary entry for one of the children whose stories are told in the book. What was a day like for Mary Matsuda in a Japanese internment camp or Herb Karliner, a German Jewish boy expecting to sail to freedom and safety in the United States?  

Herb Karliner, a German Jewish boy expecting to sail to freedom and safety
in the United States in 1939

There are more stories about Chinese who came seeking gold in California in 1849 and cycles of Mexican migration in the 20th century. As Bausum concludes, “The United States has been alternatively welcoming and hostile to those who have tried to cross through ‘the golden door’ into America.”

While you are contemplating which of Ann Bausum’s books to share with your students, make plans to hear her in person at the Children’s Book Guild Nonfiction Award Celebration on April 29 at Clyde’s Gallery Place in Washington, D.C.  Register here . Everyone is welcome!

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