We are pleased to announce BCTELA’s third annual professional literature book club. Three years ago we started a pattern of book clubs over the summer as a lead-up to our fall conference. We have traditionally chosen professional literature authored by our upcoming keynote as a way to extend and deepen the conversations surrounding the themes of our conference.
This year we are continuing to connect our professional book club to the October conference. But this time, rather than choosing a text by our keynote speaker, we are using the theme of the conference as inspiration. The theme of the 2015 BCTELA provincial conference is “Story and the Landscapes of Learning” and centres on the ideas of place-based learning and the stories which make up our experience of ‘place.’
Instead of selecting one professional book as our book club text, we have chosen to build a text-set of four articles. The articles have been carefully chosen to provide a comprehensive foundation from which to further explore and discuss what it means to teach BC students to read and write stories set in BC.
The discussion format will be similar to what we have done in the past: we will use Twitter as an accessible platform and divide the reading into a few hour-long twitter chats. The chats will be on July 9th from 10-11am, and on August 11th from 11am-12pm. As usual, our tweets will be delineated by the hashtag #bctelabook.
If you are interested in reading along with us, download and fill out the 2015 BCTELA book club application and email it to Celia Brogan (address on the form) by June 25th.
Posted by Pamela Richardson
Washita by Patrick Lane
Harbour Publishing, Madeira Park, BC. 2014
If you are looking for new poems from a BC writer that are both masterful yet accessible for adolescent readers and writers then Patrick Lane’s more recent collection, Washita, is a wonderful selection. His imagery, often drawn from the natural world of BC and Western Canada is relatable and evocative, and his language is powerful, often direct and not overly obscure (“I woke up on Six Mile Creek, a willow grouse falling from the sky”) helping us to get to the emotional truth of a moment. He generously provides a glossary at the end to give context for more obscure references, which adds an interesting historical and linguistic layer and commentary. In this glossary we learn that a washita is a sharpening stone fashioned out of white quartz rock from the Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas.
The collection itself was fashioned extremely slowly, as Lane explains in the afterwards to the book. Due to a frozen right shoulder he could not raise his right hand to the keyboard. Lane, a right-handed, one-fingered typist, painstakingly crafted each poem using his non-dominant left index finger. Moreover, his left hand (and right side of his brain) did not know, as his right-hand did, where the letters on the keyboard were and so he had to search out each letter, each time, for each word: T—h—e…. Even simple little words took a while. This gave him lots of time to consider what he wanted to say and how. This writing process brings a stillness and meditative quality to the work and a sense of the poems being utterly balanced.
I had the chance to hear Patrick Lane read from this collection at the book’s launch in the Fall of 2014 in Victoria. Lane is a superb reader of his own work. While I don’t have a clip from Washita, I recommend clips such as this one to hear him read his work.
Posted by Celia Brogan
We’re all so busy. We are passionate educators and want the best learning experiences for our students and there are always so many things we want to plan for them, and learn for ourselves. Finding new local texts to offer our students is something that can take a bit of time if we don’t have reliable sources to which to turn.
Well here is a source for you: The Chocolate Lily Book Awards is a reader’s choice award for young BC readers reading BC authors and illustrators. Read your way through the shortlist (or give the titles to your students) for a great snapshot of some of the best current BC books for young and middle years readers.
Even better, register your class (or ask your teacher-librarian to register your school) and vote for your favourites! What a great way to participate in our province’s reading culture.
posted by Celia Brogan
Students at times have trouble identifying with historical events, especially when those events occurred to a cultural group other than the one(s) with which they are familiar. One way to assist students to identify and begin to understand the emotional and social costs of past injustices is historical fiction.
There is a specific type of historical fiction that I have always found particularly engaging: that which tells of a protagonist who finds herself pulled back through time and experiences a series of historical events firsthand. There are a handful of great examples of this motif in YA literature: Fog Magic by Julia Sauer, Handful of Time by Kit Pearson, and The Grave by James Heneghan, to name just a few.
Today’s BC lit post adds Hannah and the Spindle Whorl and Hannah and the Salish Sea by Carol Ann Shaw to that list.
In the first book Hannah lives in present-day Cowichan Bay. On her walk through a patch of forest one day she discovers an old Salish spindle whorl and it transports her back in time where she meets Yisella, a Salish girl her own age. They become friends and it is through this friendship that Hannah witnesses a small portion of the cultural pillaging that occurred when white Europeans started spreading out along South Coastal BC.
It looks as though a third book about Hannah is coming out this fall. This is a great trilogy to incorporate into a unit learning about the history of the peoples and cultures of South Coastal BC.
Posted by Celia Brogan
I currently live and teach in Vancouver so I am attuned to notice texts set here. Here are two authors who have set their work for elementary and middle years readers here in Vancouver.
Melanie Jackson is the author of the Dinah Galloway mystery series, among other great titles. The Dinah Galloway mysteries are set in and around Vancouver and feature a plucky young detective who, in the tradition of Harriot the Spy, gets herself into trouble while insatiably solving mysteries.
Victoria Miles authored Magnifico, a story of historical fiction set around Commercial Drive in East Vancouver. The protagonist is a first generation Canadian, born to an Italian immigrant family. I like how there are many points of possible connection for students in Vancouver today, even if the countries and cultures of origin have changed.