Because African American adolescent males are unique 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.
It s not just about their literacy, says Alfred Tatum, it s about their lives. That s why no reading strategy, no literacy program, no remediation will close the achievement gap for adolescent African American males. That s why we will continue to fail our students, he writes, 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 and change the trajectory of their lives 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.
Alfred Tatum s textual lineage includes such works as Black Boy, The Autobiography of Malcolm X, and A Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglas. He grew up in the Ida B. Wells housing projects in Chicago, embracing literacy as a way out of violence and poverty. Today his research and advocacy are aimed at advancing the literacy development and the lives of adolescent African American boys in urban communities and beyond. It s not about reading scores, he says, It s about scoring with reading. Alfred is the author of the NCTE James N. Britton Award winning Teaching Reading to Black Adolescent Males, an associate professor in the Literacy, Language, and Culture Program at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Director of the UIC Reading Clinic, and a former middle school teacher and reading specialist.