"Our school was abuzz from Mitali's visit ...
|From an 8th Grader in Brookline, MA|
FOR YOUNG PEOPLE
In this 30-minute presentation geared for younger students, Mitali describes her own experience of growing up far away from her grandmothers. In an engaging, age-appropriate way, she describes the festival of Las Posadas, how and why Friendship Park along the border was set up, and how the neighborly relationship between Mexico and the United States has changed. Using slides, Mitali reads Between Us and Abuela aloud and then takes questions from children.
How are books both windows and mirrors to our lives? Students learn about growing up in a Bengali village as featured in the novels Rickshaw Girl and Tiger Boy. Differences and similarities between cultures are explored with laughter and stories.
BANGLADESH 101: Rickshaw Girl and Alpana Art Lesson
During this one-hour session, students learn about the author's Bengali heritage as featured in the novel Rickshaw Girl, and how the lives of girls in Bangladesh are changing for the better. They participate in an alpana art in lesson prepared by the author's mother, Madhusree Bose, a California Teacher of the Year and expert alpana painter. Teachers may prepare for the visit by using this dicussion/study guide.
Using a personal, humorous slide show, Mitali shares candidly about her experience of growing up and writing "between cultures," and the power of stories to keep us balanced. Students are encouraged to participate and the author's conversational style sparks lively responses. Read some wonderful letters from kids responding to "Stories on the Fire Escape."
Writing well about place intensifies plot and brings characters to life. In this workshop, students consider how good writing engages all five senses, underlines a literary theme, and takes readers on journeys to other places. A directed exercise allows participants to apply and demonstrate what they've gained from the workshop. Read samples of great writing produced by eighth-graders during the workshop, and enthusiastic student responses to the presentation.
Classrooms or groups can chat with Mitali virtually about writing in general, any of her books, life between cultures, or any other topic under the sun. She sits in front of her web cam with a cup of tea, you're gathered in your venue, and the discussion flows from there. See a brief sample here:
TRAVELING COMPANIONS: Exploring the Powerful Relationship Between Mothers and Daughters
In an informal, intimate setting, participants explore "traveler's tips" for mothers and daughters who want to journey together through the years. If the group chooses to read one of Mitali's books before the event, discussion and sharing circles around the novel.
FOR ADULTSJUST FICTION: Race, Culture, and Power in Books for Young Readers
In a challenging, inspiring, practical talk for librarians, booksellers, parents, and/or educators, Mitali explores how and why stories empower kids to cross borders, widen hearts and imaginations, and build bridges between cultures. She presents ten questions that help us take a closer look at issues of race, culture, and power in fiction.
UNDER THE WATERLINE: Tips on Writing about Race, Culture, and Power
How do we as creators of fiction avoid those dreaded flaws about race, culture, and power that might harm young readers? Mitali shares questions she asks herself as she crafts a story that will help other writers to deepen their narratives.
Using modern-day examples of a hero's journey as well as a memory from her own life, Mitali uses slides, stories, and revision examples to inspire students to dig deep, tap into all five senses, and craft a scene from a childhood memory for a personal narrative. Participants will write in class and get feedback on the spot from the instructor in a guided, positive discussion.
DIALOGUE: Crafting Conversation in Fiction for Young Readers
Writing excellent dialogue is crucial when your audience is young readers, who are finely attuned to the way both adults and their peers converse with each other. In this hands-on, interactive workshop, participants practice writing lively conversation and learn to avoid seven common dialogue busters.
A WHOLE NEW WORLD: Weaving the Magic Carpet of Place
In this interactive, hands-on workshop, participants will learn how to weave together the three strands of plot/emotion, place, and character into a single, gripping scene. They will be equipped to engage the five senses in creating a sense of place to transport readers directly into the scene. Participants will write in class and get feedback on the spot from the instructor in a guided, positive discussion.
CALLED TO WRITE: Career + Vocation
Mitali offers writers and illustrators an inspirational, honest keynote about how to keep a firm grip on the practical aspects of sustaining a career as a professional and stay true to your vocational mission as a creative serving children.
MY POLICY ON APPEARANCES AND AFFILIATIONS
In general, in the realm of children’s literature, I am a person who says “yes.” I keep my “nos” for the instances where I encounter an unyielding rigidity. Otherwise, by participating, I can speak into an event or institution and hopefully help it move towards justice and the thriving of all children. Judgment in our field should be reluctant, in my opinion. We care deeply about stories and about young people. We believe in the benevolent and malevolent power of stories told and stories erased, and because stories are powerful, I try to cross borders of ideology and identity to share and receive all kinds of stories. In my experience, punitive measures rarely lead to positive change when injustice is de facto instead of de jure. I have seen that deep, lasting changes in my behavior and beliefs have come and continue to come through face-to-face conversations and relationships. My first book came out in 1993. Over the past three decades, I have worked with institutions who at first either didn’t welcome or overlooked authors like me. Some have changed, thanks to the hard work of many courageous people. They have moved towards justice. I have to believe Martin Luther King, Jr., when he reminded us that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” My mission statement to that end is this: I seek to be a loving presence, learner, and peacemaker in the world of children’s literature with the dream of living in a free, just, and diverse society full of young people consuming and creating many, many kinds of stories.