This is Maryellen Rooney Moreau’s 50th year as a speech/language pathologist specializing in communication and discourse. Her passion is helping children to think, communicate, and learn. She initially created Story Grammar Marker® in 1991 to help children to re-tell stories and to tell their own stories (personal narratives). Maryellen’s work has been focused on speaking, listening, writing, critical thinking, and perspective taking - all skills that are necessary for fighting all forms of racism.
Just before the COVID19 shutdown, Maryellen ordered this incredible book, Dictionary for a Better World: Poems, Quotes, and Antecdotes from A to Z by Irene Latham and Charles Waters and Mehrdokht Amini (Illustrator), and planned to share it in workshops beginning this Spring. This inspirational book is recommended for ages 8-12 and is set up like a vivid graphic dictionary; for each word, there is a poem, a quote from an inspiring person, a personal anecdote from the authors, and a "try it" prompt for an activity. On the publisher’s website, the categories it falls into are Diversity and Social Emotional Learning. A review by Booklist describes this book:
“...two-page spreads, organized in alphabetical order from acceptance to zest, address positive attributes, aspects of mindfulness and gratitude, acts of kindness and encouragement, and exhortations for inclusion, empathy, and respect.”
We wanted to share with you the following pages from this book because Maryellen liked how they focused on speaking and listening. VOICE is from the letter “V” and LISTEN is from the letter “L” of the A to Z list. Both reinforce the importance of work by parents and professionals in the area of communicative competence to help children listen, find their voice, and to tell their stories.
On the publisher’s website, there is a teaching guide https://lernerbooks.com/teaching_guides/441 which has some thought provoking discussion questions. Story Grammar Marker®, ThemeMaker® and Critical Thinking Triangle® can be used with this teaching guide to analyze the text, and to encourage and conduct meaningful discourse. This book is available on Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Dictionary-Better-World-Quotes-Anecdotes/dp/1541557751 and it is a powerful and beautiful resource for both adults and children.
In recent blogs and lessons, Maryellen has referenced books like Brown Girl Dreaming and The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson with themes of racism and family, and Seedfolks by Paul Fleischman with themes of diversity and community. Our manual Deepening Discourse uses Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts as an exemplar text with themes of kindness, bi-racial friendship, diversity in the classroom, and poverty affecting multiple races. These authors, among many others (below) “tell their stories” so children can think, communicate and learn about the characters’ challenges, troubles, emotions, thoughts and plans.
See below for a list of children’s literature selections to use with Story Grammar Marker® and MindWing Concepts’ tools that are written by Black authors and/or People of Color, have characters representing multiple cultures, and/or take on themes and topics such as racism, racial justice, and diversity. You may recognize some of these books from our workshops and webinars, as they are some of Maryellen’s favorite books. Many of these books have been used in blogs and found at https://mindwingconcepts.com/pages/books-lessons, or in “Maryellen’s Favorite Books...” webinars at: https://mindwingconcepts.com/pages/webinars.