At a School Named Love, Alameda fourth-grade educator Ryan Brazil and her class inspire compassion, sharing the joy of words like “hope,” “empathy,” and “voice” in their recently released book, “ Anti-Bias ABC’s”.
The book contains anti-prejudice related words for each letter of the alphabet, as well as descriptions and illustrations written by Brazilian students. The mission to spread love has come a long way since Brazil came up with the idea to write a book with her class – “Anti-Bias ABC’s” can be purchased at all major online booksellers, at Target and at local bookstores like Alameda’s Books Inc., which invited the Brazilian class to sign their books at an event in May.
“We are really excited. Our hope is that people learn from this and then can teach it to other people,” says Brazil, a member of the Alameda Education Association. “We want to inspire love, empathy and compassion.”
Brazil says she had 26 students at the start of the school year and decided to write an alphabet book with her class, with each student given a letter to write and draw. The class discusses social justice every day and Love Elementary School has an anti-bias group. Brazil had the idea of making his primer on the subject and brought it back to his students, who adopted it and embarked on creation.
The words selected for each letter were given great thought, and Brazilian students discussed the merits of each to make difficult decisions as to which one would make the difference.
“Why do we want to be open-minded rather than oppressive,” Brazil asked, noting that the class had come to a consensus on the tone they wanted to set. “We decided to stay positive.”
Brazil was originally going to publish the book using a kit, but decided the result was not of good enough quality. She researched the options and decided to self-publish the hardcover book.
“And it just exploded,” she says. “I wanted it to be high quality because I thought the book was so amazing.”
At press time, Brazil is pleased to report that it has sold nearly 300 books. His students are thrilled to be published authors, especially on their chosen topic.
“They’re on top of the world. They have that pride,” Brazil says. “Every kid is an expert at their specific word.”
Brazil says being anti-bias is a choice we all have to make every day. She says that because a lot of our biases are implicit, we don’t even know we have them. As educators, it is crucial to be aware of these biases, recognize them, and continue to work to be fair to everyone. The book celebrates this equity and inclusion.
“If we have a bit of empathy and see things from a different perspective, I think the world would be a better place,” Brazil said. “And we have to start young.”
Brazil is proud to be a member of CTA, noting that the struggle to continue teaching the truth in classrooms has a direct impact on its classroom experience.
“I can’t do my job if I don’t have the right to teach this stuff,” she says.
Anti-Bias ABC’s is available at online bookstores like Powell’s and your local bookstore.
Reading on social justice for young people
Inspire your students! Some suggestions from socialjusticebooks.org/booklists that have been published so far in 2022:
Still Dreaming / Seguimos Soñando, by Claudia Guadalupe Martínez, Magdalena Mora (illustrator), Luis Humberto Crosthwaite (translator). During the Mexican repatriation between 1930 and 1940, two million people living in the United States were forcibly deported and sent to live in Mexico. A young boy and his family leave their home and begin a journey full of uncertainty.
Truth Has a Power of Its Own: Conversations of One People’s History, by Howard Zinn and Ray Suarez
Days of Infamy: How a Century of Bigotry Led to the Internment of Japanese Americans, by Lawrence Goldstone
Bad Mexicans: Race, Empire, and Revolution in the Borderlands, by Kelly Lytle Hernández
Insurgent Social Studies: Scholar-Educators Disrupting Erasure and Margiality, edited by Sarah B. Shear, Natasha Hakimali Merchant, and Wayne Au
Abdul’s Story, by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow and Tiffany Rose (illustrator)
Call Me Miss Hamilton: One Woman’s Case for Equality and Respect, by Carole Boston Weatherford and Jeffery Boston Weatherford (illustrator)
Yes! Nope! A first conversation about consent, by Megan Madison, Jessica Ralli and Isabel Roxas (illustrator)
Augusta Savage: The Shape of a Sculptor’s Life, by Marilyn Nelson
Forced out ! The fight for the right to vote, by Alice Faye Duncan and Charly Palmer (illustrator)
A Story of Me, by Adrea Theodore and Erin Robinson (illustrator)
Ida B. Wells, Voice of Truth: Educator, Feminist, and Anti-Lynching Civil Rights Leader, by Michelle Duster and Laura Freeman (illustrator)
Overground Railroad: The Green Book and the Roots of Black Travel in America – Young Adult Adaptation, by Candacy Taylor. Chronicles the history of the Green Book, which was published from 1936 to 1966 and was the “Black Travel Guide to America”. For years, it was unsafe for African Americans to travel; they couldn’t eat, sleep, or even get gas at most white-owned businesses. Includes photos of Green Book sites and interviews with people who owned and used these facilities.
In Search of Freedom: The Untold Story of Fortress Monroe and the End of Slavery in America, by Selene Castrovilla and EB Lewis (Illustrator)
Star Child: A Biographical Constellation of Octavia Estelle Butler, by Ibi Zoboi