I know I am talking nonsense, but I’d rather go rambling on, and partly expressing something I find it difficult to express, than to keep on transmitting faultless platitudes.
High School Reading List
Back in May, the #weneeddiversebooks campaign lit a fire to fulfill the desperate need for diverse books in children’s literature. Behind the Book has always championed efforts to find diverse authors and protagonists that will appeal to students since we serve communities of color. For your enjoyment (and enrichment), we’ve created an epic list of diverse books to reflect the diversity in our city; here’s our list for high school students.
For descriptions, click the read more!
I don’t want to just hear that I’m pretty or beautiful or sexy. Fuck that. I wanna hear that I’m funny, I’m a good listener, or how you think it’s cute when I pout my lips when I’m pissed or aggravated, or the way my voice shakes when I talk to someone I like, or how I play with my fingers when I’m nervous. I want you to notice who I am, not just what I look like.
You see the world in ways that other people don’t. It’s your gift to see the beauty and the horror in ordinary things.
the night sky,
and the moon will
keep your secrets
Despite numerous attempts with animals ranging from great apes to poodles, there has only ever been one animal truly taught to read. He was a performing orca named Hyak who lived at the Vancouver Aquarium for nearly 20 years. His lessons in reading comprehension started off as an accident. Dirk McKimmel, the senior trainer at the aquarium, found that the whale would often stop by the underwater viewing window that led into his office as he sat reading. He began to show the maturing 5,000 lb animal the pictures in his books and was quite startled by how interested he seemed to be. Thinking the whale simply enjoyed the novel visual stimulation, he soon took the books up to the pool ledge and began reading out loud as he showed the whale the pictures. This continued for about ten years but no one thought Hyak had any actual comprehension of the book he was being read.
One day in 1980, a new cetologist at the aquarium began to question what was really going on in these sessions. In a highly controlled study, he began to ask the whale questions about the books.
On that fateful day, the first thing we did was take Hyak to the smaller side pool in his aquarium, away from his tank mates. He was used to this as we often moved him in order to perform our behavioral experiments, however this time instead of asking him if an image on a screen was round or square as per usual, we asked him if Harold had indeed drawn the moon with his purple crayon. To our great surprise, Hyak distinctly nodded “yes.” We continued on with these studies for several weeks and found that Hyak answered our questions with a 96% accuracy rate on numerous different books McKimmel had been reading him. I decided to take it a step farther, holding books up to Hyak’s window without reading aloud to him. At first it felt a bit silly but soon I noticed when he wanted the page flipped, he would look up and meet my gaze, as though impatient with me. The very next week we attempted to test Hyak’s reading comprehension on this new book he had been reading and discovered he could answer every question about “the Emperor’s New Clothes” perfectly.
[My Life with Whales- Nicholas Willens, 1995]
Willen’s 1989 report on Hyak in Animal Cognition was quickly discredited as the idea of a reading whale appeared simply ludicrous. However recent research into the study has found no factual errors and many are arguing the paper should be taken seriously. Mary Kyles, a senior research scientist at the Whale and Dolphin Conservation society was recorded saying "As it has been proven that orcas are highly linguistic and speak in a language of their own, a whale in captivity with little to do but listen to his trainer read books could easily pick up the skill."
This story does not end well for poor Hyak. Defeated, both Willens and McKimmel stopped providing Hyak with reading material and he sadly passed away in 1991. Though he may be gone, his legacy lives on in the important contributions he made to our understanding of the animal mind and just what it is capable of.
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