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  • akil clark

January Book of the Month “Dictionary for a Better World”

Books are power. When written well and with a particular audience in mind, the words within the covers of a book can encourage the reader to ask questions of themselves and the world around them, challenge preconceived notions, teach, and inspire. Serving a majority-minority student population means that the kids Spark engages with are intimately familiar with the racial, economic, and educational inequalities that plague our nation. Some of our students experience food and housing insecurity firsthand, or have had to live in fear of immigration laws that threaten to deport parents, siblings, friends, or neighbors. Whatever the challenge may be, it is essential to acknowledge that our students face them all the time; and we must provide tools that will encourage them to face their challenges and tackle them together with their peers, caregivers, and teachers.

On the surface, our January Book of the Month, “Dictionary for a Better World,” is not a book that Spark would typically give the fourth-grade students we work with. It is not a novel, short story, or historical picture book. Instead, “Dictionary for a Better World” introduces and breaks down complicated concepts like empathy, courage, equality, and allyship, challenging each reader to put the ideas into practice with friends or family, both inside and outside the classroom.

“Dictionary for a Better World“ is written with the fourth-grade student in mind. Authors Charles Waters and Irene Latham, and illustrator Mehrdokht Amini, use poetry, anecdotes, art, and quotes from the world's brightest minds to introduce each concept. We are proud to offer what we feel is a transformative book to the fourth-grade students of River Woods and Moulton Elementary schools.

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