Readathon Reviews

The Flat World and Education: How America’s Commitment to Equity Will Determine our Future

author: Linda Darling-Hammond

date: Teachers College Press; 2010

This book is a good read for those of us working in education and need to see the forest rather than the trees.  I never could understand why schools near me are allowed to be racially identifiable when schools used to work hard to avoid this and I can’t say I understood the increased economic polarization in schools, either.  This is a phenomenon occurring across the country. There are numerous situations and details in the book that brought so much clarity to how education is playing out in the US. For example, you know how we hear about this movement to get professionals in science and math certified to teach? Well, these teachers with no background in education end up in high minority, high poverty schools that are already struggling to obtain a sense of accomplishment with students. Suburban and private skills hire the best of the best: those with graduate degrees and years of experience.

As Hammond discusses education in the US with global comparisons (because our students will complete as part of a global labor market) I wish she had not limited her analysis of minority data and situations to Black students as there are numerous schools with concentrations of students from Eastern Europe, Asia and Latin America that also struggle to acquire language skills and achieve academic success. Nonetheless, this book is worth reading if you’re interested in learning what schools could be doing.

purchased copy





The Aristobrats

author: Jennifer Solow

date: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, 2010

Four best friends begin their eighth grade year. Not just at any school mind you, but at the exclusive Wallingford Academy where their families are legacies. The extremes to which these girls live are truly the things of which young girls’ fantasies are made and I get that. I get that young girls need dreams to inspire them, we all need dreams! The constant mention of brand names, styles and fad distracts from the story and dates it as well. I found it hard to believe that these girls would only be in the 8th grade given the level of freedom the enjoyed and attitudes they displayed. As the cover indicates, Solow diversified the  friends with the addition of Ikea who is well aware of the lack of Blacks at her school. While most 8th graders would be concerned with their own identity in the midst of so many White students, Ikea wants to see more Blacks in the school. Initial chapters are laden with new characters and the plot is slow to develop.

sent from author



Finding Family

author: Tonya Bolden

date: September, 2010, Bloomsbury Books for Young Readers

main character: Delana Burkett

For years, Bolden has collected photographs, carte-de-visite, tin types, old books and magazines and other items often from the early 19th century. She also collected history. For this book, Bolden freely entwined photographs and historical details to bring life to Delana Burkett.

Delana is a young Black girl who has been living with her grandfather and aunt. They have create a cocoon in which they’ve protected Delana from the world and when Delana’s aunt suddenly dies, so do the stories and warnings that protected Delana. She knew that her mother died during child birth but what about her father? And who are these people in her family, really? Shortly after buying his freedom, Delana’s grandfather does everything he can to re-unite his family. He settles into a community in Charleston, WV where he is able to prosper and provide a comfortable life for his family, a view of history we don’t often (ever!!) get to see.

review copy from the publisher

5 thoughts on “Readathon Reviews

  1. All three books sound so good. The Flat World and Education is a great book when it comes to answering questions that people have about the state of education in the U.S. today and how it should change.


  2. Thanks for sharing these books. Finding Family looks intriguing and The Aristobrats looks cute.

    The Flat World and Education is also something that interests me since I’m in education. I notice the problems mentioned.


  3. Medeia,
    The book does a great job of getting to the root of the problems we see. I had several ‘aha’ moments while reading.
    From what I see, this is her first novel. I really like that she took this family from enslavement to middle class. It may not have been common, but tell me it didn’t happen!
    Thanks for recommending Flat World! What other suggestions do you have?


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