Genesis Begins Again by Alicia D. Williams, quite deservedly, is the winner of the 2020 Newbery Honor and the 2020 Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award for New Talent. This modern novel brings diversity and intersectionality to your classroom or homeschool for a whole class novel study, small book groups, or individual book studies.
Published in 2019, it is written in a modern language that middle schoolers will relate to. It is written by a Black author with a Black female protagonist and is a great way to bring diverse voices into your classroom, not just for representation, but for all students to learn from and relate to. Genesis has been dealt a hard hand in life and with her issues and those of her friends, just about every student will find something to relate to.
From the Book Jacket:
There are ninety-six reasons why thirteen-year-old Genesis dislikes herself. She knows the exact number because she keeps a list:
-Because her family is always being put out of their house.
-Because her dad has a gambling problem. And maybe a drinking problem too.
-Because Genesis knows this is all her fault.
-Because she wasn’t born looking like Mama.
-Because she is too black.
Genesis is determined to fix her family, and she’s willing to try anything to do so…even if it means harming herself in the process. But when Genesis starts to find a thing or two she actually likes about herself, she discovers that changing her own attitude is the first step in helping change others.
I offer a complete novel study to accompany Genesis Begins Again for use in the classroom or homeschool. The unit includes both a printable format and a Google Drive™ format for use in a paperless classroom or with Google Classroom.
It is vital to use literature in your classroom that is diverse and represents all voices. Students should see themselves in the literature that they read, and it’s also a way for other students to learn from and understand people that are different from them. Learning from different cultures enhances our empathy as humans to open minds as well as hearts.
Genesis Begins Again tackles issues of poverty, being evicted and having to move homes and schools frequently, having an alcoholic and untrustworthy parent, and at the root of Genesis’s hurt, is the colorism that she faces from her peers, her father, her grandmother, and most of all herself. The novel shines a light on how our American culture and media have a set image of what “beauty” is and how all too often, most of us don’t fit that mold. Genesis Begins Again is a relatable tale of how Genesis learns to trust others and love herself for who she is instead of striving for some unattainable image that could never be. This book is worthy of all the accolades that it has received and is a valuable novel for middle school students to use in their classrooms.
Are you interested in reading about and sharing ideas with other educators on using children’s literature in your classroom? My goal is to bring together teachers and homeschoolers who teach grades 3-8 and use novels with their students. I’d love for you to join me to learn, share, and grow together!
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