Children’s Book Week 2023

This is Children’s Book Week. I thought I would celebrate by posting about the last children’s book I read — SCHOOL TRIP by Jerry Craft. As much as this series makes me laugh, I learn something with every book I read.

For those who are unfamiliar with the series, Jordan is a student at a prestigious private school. He’s too black to fit in there, acts too white to fit in back in his neighborhood, and now he’s on his way to Paris on a school trip. As always, Craft has created an eye-opening look at life in the US as well how we perceive the world.

There are several reasons that I want to feature this book. One is that Craft is often hassled because of this series. He is straightforward and honest about what it is like for Jordan to attend a predominantly white school. He openly portrays both the blatant hateful racism and the sneaky insidious kind that comes from people who don’t get how some of their remarks and actions are hurtful.

But Craft is always on the lookout for ways to go above and beyond. In SCHOOL TRIP he also shows the prejudice faces by individual teachers, both those who aren’t white and those who are coaches first and teachers second. Craft’s stories are real and unflinchingly honest.

Another reason that I want to cover this particular book is the prejudice directed toward graphic novels but adults that consider themselves literary and open minded. Graphic novels aren’t real books. Reading one doesn’t mark an accomplishment as does reading a novel. They simply are not as good as a “real” novel.

Unfortunately, the people who make these criticisms fail to acknowledge that there are different types of literacy. In addition to helping a reader develop print literacy, a graphic novel helps them develop emotional literacy as they work to comprehend the emotions and motivations of the characters.

No, it isn’t the same experience as reading a novel. But that’s okay. We don’t always eat the same meal or wear the same clothes. Why would we always read the same types of books. If you are looking for a top notch graphic novel for a middle school audience, check out one or all of the books in this series — NEW KID, CLASS ACT, and SCHOOL TRIP.