A solid, if opinionated, look at parenting from a teacher’s perspective.



A veteran teacher shares parenting lessons learned from her students.

In this debut guide, Essalat offers parents insights derived from her work as a teacher and principal. The book covers both practical tips—for instance, when students make negative comments about themselves or their classmates, she requires them to create a list of positives on the same subject—and a broader argument. She makes the case in favor of establishing high expectations, stepping back to allow children to make mistakes and learn from them, and establishing lifelong habits of independence and self-reliance. The chapters are organized thematically, and each includes anecdotes from the author’s teaching experiences—she is not a parent herself, which she acknowledges from the outset. She also delivers concrete suggestions for parents to implement with their children to improve family relations, school performance, and general preparedness for adult life. The topics will be familiar to many readers of parenting books, from social media use and respectful behavior to managing homework and having productive conversations. But with its focus on the collaborative relationship between parents and teachers, the book presents a unique viewpoint. The writing is generally strong and well informed, based on practical experience and a solid understanding of child development. (Both references and additional resources are included in the backmatter.) But Essalat’s tone can be alarmist at times, particularly regarding social media (she tells students they are “putting our entire community in jeopardy” by posting videos that include the school’s name), as well as judgmental (“If someone isn’t going to make the time, have the time, spend the time with their own kids, then why have them at all?”). She also displays a touch of kids-these-days exasperation (“Just how little our kids appreciate things anymore”). For readers who appreciate the back-to-basics, traditionalist tone of the book, it can be a useful collection of advice and strategies for strengthening relationships with children and helping them to succeed in school. The volume also supplies a well-crafted insider’s perspective on how teachers view their students and how parents can best work with them.

A solid, if opinionated, look at parenting from a teacher’s perspective.

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-951412-05-0

Page Count: 145

Publisher: The Collective Book Studio

Review Posted Online: Oct. 20, 2020

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A concise personal and scholarly history that avoids academic jargon as it illuminates emotional truths.

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The Harvard historian and Texas native demonstrates what the holiday means to her and to the rest of the nation.

Initially celebrated primarily by Black Texans, Juneteenth refers to June 19, 1865, when a Union general arrived in Galveston to proclaim the end of slavery with the defeat of the Confederacy. If only history were that simple. In her latest, Gordon-Reed, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award, Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, and numerous other honors, describes how Whites raged and committed violence against celebratory Blacks as racism in Texas and across the country continued to spread through segregation, Jim Crow laws, and separate-but-equal rationalizations. As Gordon-Reed amply shows in this smooth combination of memoir, essay, and history, such racism is by no means a thing of the past, even as Juneteenth has come to be celebrated by all of Texas and throughout the U.S. The Galveston announcement, notes the author, came well after the Emancipation Proclamation but before the ratification of the 13th Amendment. Though Gordon-Reed writes fondly of her native state, especially the strong familial ties and sense of community, she acknowledges her challenges as a woman of color in a state where “the image of Texas has a gender and a race: “Texas is a White man.” The author astutely explores “what that means for everyone who lives in Texas and is not a White man.” With all of its diversity and geographic expanse, Texas also has a singular history—as part of Mexico, as its own republic from 1836 to 1846, and as a place that “has connections to people of African descent that go back centuries.” All of this provides context for the uniqueness of this historical moment, which Gordon-Reed explores with her characteristic rigor and insight.

A concise personal and scholarly history that avoids academic jargon as it illuminates emotional truths.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-63149-883-1

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Liveright/Norton

Review Posted Online: Feb. 24, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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This guide to Black culture for White people is accessible but rarely easy.


A former NFL player casts his gimlet eye on American race relations.

In his first book, Acho, an analyst for Fox Sports who grew up in Dallas as the son of Nigerian immigrants, addresses White readers who have sent him questions about Black history and culture. “My childhood,” he writes, “was one big study abroad in white culture—followed by studying abroad in black culture during college and then during my years in the NFL, which I spent on teams with 80-90 percent black players, each of whom had his own experience of being a person of color in America. Now, I’m fluent in both cultures: black and white.” While the author avoids condescending to readers who already acknowledge their White privilege or understand why it’s unacceptable to use the N-word, he’s also attuned to the sensitive nature of the topic. As such, he has created “a place where questions you may have been afraid to ask get answered.” Acho has a deft touch and a historian’s knack for marshaling facts. He packs a lot into his concise narrative, from an incisive historical breakdown of American racial unrest and violence to the ways of cultural appropriation: Your friend respecting and appreciating Black arts and culture? OK. Kim Kardashian showing off her braids and attributing her sense of style to Bo Derek? Not so much. Within larger chapters, the text, which originated with the author’s online video series with the same title, is neatly organized under helpful headings: “Let’s rewind,” “Let’s get uncomfortable,” “Talk it, walk it.” Acho can be funny, but that’s not his goal—nor is he pedaling gotcha zingers or pleas for headlines. The author delivers exactly what he promises in the title, tackling difficult topics with the depth of an engaged cultural thinker and the style of an experienced wordsmith. Throughout, Acho is a friendly guide, seeking to sow understanding even if it means risking just a little discord.

This guide to Black culture for White people is accessible but rarely easy.

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-80046-6

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020

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