On Jan. 24, Antioch University Seattle’s School of Education hosted the third annual Multicultural Children’s Literature Celebration, which supports student access to literature by authors of color, especially literature that helps communities act on social justice issues and content.
Event attendees enjoyed a presentation by guest author Charles Waters, who, with co-author Irene Latham, wrote the book Can I Touch Your Hair? Poems of Race, Mistakes and Friendship. Waters discussed his history and his poetry-writing process, emphasizing the importance of hard work, perseverance, revision, and commitment to your craft. Waters, a New York City-based performance poet, also performed some of his poems.
“This was a wonderful event and an amazing learning opportunity for the teacher candidates in Antioch’s Master’s of Teaching program,” AUS School of Education director Rachel Oppenheim said. “The message of hard work and commitment that Waters shared speaks to the young students in our schools, as well as those training to be teachers.”
The evening also included a presentation by Lacresha Barry, the author of the curriculum guide for Can I Touch Your Hair?, and Kyla Crawford, an Antioch alumna and fourth-grade teacher. Both Barry and Crawford demonstrated the ways that teachers can utilize the book, both to teach content and to open up critical conversations with young people.
“The event was engaging and interactive,” Oppenheim said. “The conversations that it sparked about the importance of cross-racial dialogue and the lessons that it taught emerging teachers about having brave discussions with their students were important antidotes to the often divisive times we are living in.”