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Reading for Their Life

(Re)Building the Textual Lineages of African American Adolescent Males

By Alfred Tatum
Foreword by Michael Smith

Alfred shows you how to squeeze every single ounce of possibility from texts that enable the literacy development of African American adolescent males. Because it’s not just about literacy—it’s about their lives.

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"Because African American adolescent males and face their own challenges, they must identify texts that mark their times and their lives. If we create opportunities for this to happen, they will not only begin to trust the texts, they will begin to trust us, too. Then maybe, we’ll hear one of them say, Education is on our side,’ or, ‘I used to keep it gutter, but now I am all good.’ This is my hope."  —Alfred Tatum

No reading strategy, no literacy program, no remediation will close the achievement gap for adolescent African American males. These efforts will continue to fail our students, says Alfred Tatum, until reading instruction is anchored in meaningful texts that build academic and personal resiliency inside and outside school.

In Reading for Their Life Tatum takes a bold step beyond Teaching Reading to Black Adolescent Males. He shows how teachers can encourage adolescent African American males to connect with reading by defining who they are through textual lineages—texts with significance, carefully chosen for instruction because they are useful to young black males and because they matter. With works ranging from Up from Slavery and Sounder to the contemporary Handbook for Boys, Tatum helps you:

  • understand what adolescent African American male readers need
  • select enabling texts that have worked in Tatum’s own teaching
  • build textual lineages by putting meaningful texts at the core of a challenging curriculum
  • engage readers in the curriculum through essential questions, writing, and self-assessment.

"African American males are not engaged in a great conspiracy to fail themselves," writes Tatum. "They continue to underperform in school as they wait for educators to get it right. Join Alfred Tatum, use Reading for Their Life, and strive for “a way to squeeze enabling texts for every ounce of possibility they contain for advancing the literacy development of African American adolescent males."

Get more information on the state of education for African American males, read Yes We Can: The 2010 Schott 50 State Report on Black Males in Public Education.

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