All American Boys

All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brenden Kiely

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Summary:

Two young men from the same neighborhood, one black and one white reel from the realities of a single violent event. Rashad, a 16 year old black teen, and Quinn Collins, Rashad's 16 year old white classmate are thrown into their neighborhoods racial division, anger and conflict after Rashad is beaten by police officer, Paul Galuzzo, who accuses Rashad of stealing a bag of chips from the neighborhood convenience store. Quinn witnesses the unjust beating of Rashad, but is thrust into internal conflict because Paul is a trusted family friend who has helped to look after Quinn since his father was killed in Afghanistan. The story is told from the  alternating 1st person perspectives of Rashad and Quinn, who both grapple with their fears, disbelief and coming of age in a turbulent and  confusing time.

Genre - realistic fiction
Text Structure -novel
Lexile Level  - HL770L

Themes -  prejudice, injustice/fighting injustice, , police brutality against blacks, speaking up for what’s right, protest, facing fears, family, friends

Rings of Culture represented -

Ethnicity: black/whiteness
Age: teens
Gender: various
Socio -Economic:  lower/middle
National: USA

Why it’s VABBulous -  

  • Reynolds and Kiely capture the timely and realistic challenges of a racially charged America in this novel.

  • With honesty and eloquence they look deep into the minds and experiences of two young men, both marginalized by their socio-economic status, but one priviliged by race.

  • It is effective that the narratives portray the struggle of the teens from the perspective of teens, who are ultimately just trying to go to school, keep their parents off their backs and have fun with friends, sports and girls.

    • This is really what teens want to do, no matter their race, or socio-economic status.

  • That real life prejudice, violence and injustices interrupt this is also realistic and Reynolds and Kiely handle this authentically from the lens of the teen boys.

  • In light of the violence raging out around the country, some will be angry at the portrayal of the police officer and the omission of his voice in this story, but they are missing the point.

    • The point is not to criminalize every police officer, or silence them, the point is to give voice to the community of young men and women who rarely have a voice, teens.

  • Teens are consistently criminalized, marginalized and silenced simply because they are teens and their input is not considered.  

  • Reynolds and Kiely give insight into the complex inner thoughts, and reflections of teens trying to make the difficult to transition to adulthood.

  • They delve into the complexities of decision making, family and friend relationships, as well as, hopes, dreams and feelings.

  • Then they add to that mix a traumatic event, that will change the boys lives forever, and they do it with compassion, and boldness to make readers uncomfortable and hopefully empathetic.

Ideas for CLR -

Set it Off (Into the Text)

Find Somebody Who + Pick A Stick + Train/Pass It On (See the October VABB Perspectives on Communalism)

Sample Prompts for Somebody Who - Somebody who will also work well for discussion/comprehension during/after reading.

  1. What is the relationship between the police and community where you live?
  2. How does oppression still exist? Or not exist in our country?
  3. Discuss a time when you have experienced or witnessed racism or bias.
  4. How comfortable or uncomfortable would you be standing up to authority for injustice?
  5. How have you ever stood up to injustice? Or how do you think you can stand up to injustice?
  6. Do you think black/brown protest is treated/viewed differently than white protest?
  7. How are protestors patriotic?

Stop and Scribble - click on the link to the left to get directions.

Prompts for Stop and Scribble - You can choose one or let students choose which one they want to respond to.

  1. Write a question you have about  police and the black community.

  2. Write a question you have about racism/bias/prejudice in this country.

  3. Write a question about the way  black males are viewed/treated in this country.

  4. Write a question about white privilege.

  5. Write a question about race relations in this country.

For more information on Stop and Scribble - Check out the current VABB It Newsletter
I gave this a 7-10 on Responsive Dots. What did you give it?