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Let’s Talk: Sharing Our Stories, Part 1

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This week, the Library premiered a series of videos  with the authors and editors of “The Talk: Conversations on Race, Love & Truth,” a middle-grade anthology that can help teens, parents, caregivers, and teachers navigate these complex conversations in family and classroom environments. A live Q&A session with the creators of the book will take place on May 13th, 2021, at 5 PM EDT. Registration is required. Click here to sign up.  For more information about the event series, visit this post on our blog.

Please note: author Renée Watson is no longer able to join the live Q&A. However, the program will proceed as scheduled. 

Click here to register for the live Q&A

How do we talk about race, with kids and among community members? How can we navigate this complex conversation when it’s easier to keep it light or avoid it entirely? Despite the challenging nature of topic, we might find comfort in the fact that there are many notable people, in the present and throughout history, who can guide us as we learn how to collectively do better.

In this video, for kids over 11 and teens, authors Adam Gidwitz and Renée Watson answer pre-recorded questions from high school students as they discuss their contributions to “The Talk.” We invite you to watch this video as a family or classroom. Below, you will find significant moments timestamped, as well as resources from the Library’s online collections and opportunities for discussions.

The three events are supported by Marcia and Barnet Eskin in honor of their late son, Jonah Solkoff Eskin, who died by suicide. Each program begins with an introduction by the Eskin family, who speak about their family’s loss. For viewers in need of support or resources, we are including here the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1.800.273.TALK (1.800.273.8255), which is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

6:23:     Renée and Adam discuss their works

10: 18:  Student question: If there was any one thing you would want your audience or your readers to take away from your short stories, what would it be, and would it differ among readers of different racial identities, cultural backgrounds or even ages?

21:01:   Student question: How would you change your approach to discussing racism when discussing it with people of different backgrounds?

29:06:  Student question: How do you suggest people should deal with the variety of emotions that arise and the reality of their racist history?

31:55:   Student question: How would you share the story of your ancestors if … you might end up making your parents mad or upset that you shared this less-than-pleasant history publicly?

33:58:  Renée on owning your story: “It’s not just taking the mic and telling your story, it’s also: who do you want to be in this world? [K]nowing where you come from isn’t just so that you can write a poem about it. It’s so that you can do something with that knowledge and use it to make yourselves a better person… how is your family history going to impact the way you show up in the world today and how are you going to do better by your family for your children … and the next generation after [you]?

Continue the Talk:

At 11:01, Renée says: “The letter [that I wrote for The Talk] mentioned some ancestors and activists and artists who have paved the way and left a record of how to survive this world and how to still love yourself in a world that doesn’t always love you, so I hope that [the viewers] really do go look up those poets and activists that I name and learn about them and find strength from their stories”

Explore the people who inspired Renée and Adam. Use the Library of Congress resources as starting points:

At 13:38, Adam states: “What I hope my readers take away [from my story] is… the desire, the drive to go investigate more… I would love them to read it and think, where did I come from? … My family did some serious exploitation of Black people and they also suffered racism at the same time, right?… If we start to learn those stories, then we understand the complexity of our world that we live in, and only when we really start to understand the complexity of our world can we start to fix our world”.

Research family stories in the Library’s collections:

We hope these videos and resources help you and your families or classrooms navigate conversations about race. Share with us what other resources of research materials have helped you in this discussion!

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