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Readers Cafe entices young people

Read-in activities celebrate African American authors

Parents crowded into the Stockbridge Middle School media center, recently, to hear students read, and recite, the prose of African-American writers.

Parents crowded into the Stockbridge Middle School media center, recently, to hear students read, and recite, the prose of African-American writers.

Sixth-grader, Xavier Hunter, read the prose with zeal, reciting lines from “In The Morning,” by the celebrated African-American poet, Paul Laurence Dunbar.

“I think it’s encouraging,” said his mother, Terry Hunter. “Exposure to young people, and parents, to read the works of great African-American authors. It exposes us, again, to the literary contributions of African Americans.”

The 11-year-old was featured, along with about 20 other students, in Stockbridge Middle School’s Readers Café, held this week in the school’s media center.

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Stockbridge Middle School student, Ashley Opoku, reads excerpts from “My Life With Martin Luther King,” by Coretta Scott King.

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Damien Buggs, a seventh-grader at Stockbridge Middle School, recites “Don’t’ Mess With Grandma and Me,” by Walter Dean Myers. The 12-year-old took part in the school’s Reader’s Cafe Celebrating African-American authors.

The evening of literary recitation was entitled “Celebrate African American Authors.”

“It was good because kids got a chance to express themselves,” said Duro Haynes, 12. The seventh-grader read the poem “Another Mountain,” by Abiodun Oyewole.

“People got to express how they feel about the poems and black history,” added seventh-grader, Jalen Benjamin. “It’s important to me to celebrate black history.”

The 12-year-old Benjamin read from the Nikki Grimes’ book, “Bronx Masquerade.”

His classmate, Damien Buggs, read a piece by author Walter Dean Myers.

“I think it was pretty good,” said Buggs, 12. “It was inspiring hearing the poems.”

Betsy Sierra, the school’s media specialist, said the Readers Café accomplished several objectives for the school community.

“Readers Café offers our students the opportunity to learn about, and share, the works of great poets, while also practicing public speaking and reading with fluency,” said Sierra.

She said the school’s Student Council, Beta Club, and Drama Club organized the Readers Café. It was sponsored by Publix at Stockbridge Lakes, and Starbucks, which donated refreshments and coffee.

Seventh-graders, Anthony Combs, and Gabrielle Mack, both 12, said they appreciated the opportunity to read to the audience of friends and family at the school. Combs read a work by Langston Hughes, and Mack took part in a group reading of a work by Carol Boston Weatherford.

Students at Eagle’s Landing High School, in McDonough, were similarly appreciative of learning more about different African-American authors, recently, according to Gabe Crerie, principal at Eagle’s Landing. He said the school has participated in the “National African-American Read-In” since 2007.

“Each year, on Feb. 1 [or the first school day in February], we encourage students to check out, or bring, books by African-American authors, to read as a group in the media center,” said Crerie. “The last two years, we have kicked off the event during the end of the school day to encourage involvement for all 1,200 of our students, and transitioned to the media center after school — reading and eating until 5 p.m.”

Crerie said the event also supports the school’s goal of improving literacy through reading every day. He mentioned that the school plans to host its Sixth Annual Multicultural Read-In on Thursday, March 1.

Clayton State University also announced that it will host its Fifth Annual African American Read-In on Tuesday, Feb. 28, in room G101 of the Arts & Sciences Building. The public is invited to attend.

The Read-In, sponsored by the National Council of English Teachers, will feature two sessions. The first is scheduled for 12:45 p.m., to 2 p.m., and the second, from 2:10 p.m., to 3:25 p.m.

Clayton State officials stipulate that students must read from a work authored by an African-American writer, in order to participate. To learn more, contact organizer LaJuan Simpson, by e-mail, at lajuansimpson@clayton.edu, or by phone, at (678) 466-4558.