Before I leave this morning to head south to teach class tomorrow, I wanted to post about another fine book. Then, it is me and the road and my pal Lois for the next 8 hours or so. To be sure, there will be stops along the way (Buccees!) and a lovely dinner once we arrive in McAllen. Tomorrow will bring 45 folks together for my YA lit class, a smaller version of the 51 I had for children's lit this summer. We will be reading a wide range of books including (first alphabetically on the list) THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART TIME INDIAN by Sherman Alexie which has been removed from the classrooms and libraries in a district in Missouri. Of course, my reading list looks like a veritable Who's Who of Banned Books: THE CHOCOLATE WAR, ANNIE ON MY MIND, IT'S PERFECTLY NORMAL to name a few. Sigh. Sara Ockler had a fabulous blog post about what we teach kids when we censor. Take a look see. It is simply superb. In the meantime, this book was eerily contemporary. I will explain below.
FDR'S ALPHABET SOUP by Tonya Bolden (Knopf 2010) provides the background for FDR's election and for his creation of so many new programs to put people back to work and get the economy moving again. The call out boxes, highlights, back matter, photos, and all the rest make this a terrific nonfiction book, one history teachers will surely want to see and read and share with students. What struck me most though was the parallel to today. Roosevelt is branded a socialist, a communist; critics say his policies rob form the rich who need the break to contribute to the economy. Where have I heard all this recently. Hmmmmm.,,,,
Bolden's text is immediate and accessible. I might even say compelling as I picked it up and was loathe to put it down until I finished it. And I learned some new things even though I was fairly well versed in FDR and the New Deal. Visually appealing and well-written, this proves the value of nonfiction and once again reminds us that history can repeat itself.