Sarah Debacher

Host of Little Voices, Big Ideas

Sarah DeBacher is the Director of Curriculum and Content Development for PRIME TIME Family Reading at the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities. Originally from Atlanta, she has lived in New Orleans for 23 years, where she has taught English and writing at the University of New Orleans, Tulane University, and the Bard Early College program. Her publications include “Making it Up as We Go: Students Writing and Teachers Reflecting on Post-K New Orleans” (Reflections: A Journal of Writing, Service Learning and Community Literacy, 2008), “First, Do No Harm: Teaching Writing in the Wake of Traumatic Events” (Composition Forum, 2016), and several essays on living in New Orleans. She is mother to two young sons, three chickens, two cats, and a rescue dog.

My favorite children’s book of the moment is The Big Orange Splot  by Daniel Pinkwater. It speaks to how the creative resistance of one person, Mr. Plumbean, inspires others to embrace art in their everyday lives. Plus, it’s got some subversive jokes that only the grownups will get.

Maurice Sendak / Harper & Row

Maurice Sendak’s classic children’s book, Where the Wild Things Are, takes readers on an extraordinary journey into the imagination of the wildest thing of all--the young and precocious Max.

Banished to his bedroom for bad behavior, Max sails across weeks and over a year to the land of the wild things, a bunch of misbehaving creatures who want nothing more than to rumpus till they can rumps no more. But when the bandying about is over, Max discovers he misses his home, and the very person who banished him in the first place: his mother.

Holiday House / Holiday House

 

There’s plenty of attention given to the pursuit of “happily ever after” in stories of all sorts. But how should we go about acquiring happiness? Is there a right or wrong way to do it?

Anansi the spider, the thieving trickster at the heart of Eric Kimmel’s Anansi and the Moss-Covered Rock, offers up an opportunity for pushing past mere moralizing toward more nuanced conversations about when tricks cross over into deception territory--and even when a seemingly harmless little lie may not be seen as such by others. 

 

E.B. Lewis / G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers

Of all the difficult subjects deserving of discussion with children, race and racism are perhaps the most required, and least easy to address.

Jon Scieszka / Puffin Books

The big bad wolf shows up in many forms in children’s stories--even disguised as grandma--with the intention of teaching children to be wary of the bad guys out there. But is the big bad wolf really all that big and bad, or has he just been given a bad rap? And when we paint the bad guy with so broad a stroke, might we fostering binary thinking? 

Little Voices, Big Ideas: The Giving Tree

Dec 2, 2020

Episode 2 of “Little Voices, Big Ideas,” makes the case for discussing the big ideas found in the book that everyone loves to love--or loves to hate--Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree.

Criticized for its seeming endorsement of feminine/maternal stereotypes, the book, argues our panel, nonetheless presents parents and children with a unique opportunity to hone critical thinking skills, and to discuss sustainability.

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