Children of Blood and Bone

Posted by Liz Vogel on April 20, 2019

The next selection in our Book Cafe series is Children of Blood and Bone, a 2018 young adult fantasy novel by American author Tomi Adeyemi. This debut novel has been on my radar since it made news for being purchased as a trilogy as one of the largest YA movie deals ever, by one of the youngest YA authors ever, even before the first book was published!
What stood out to me even more in reading early reviews, was how Adeyemi created a fantasy world in which to explore the very real issues of racism, oppression and slavery. 
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Topics: Book

A Hope More Powerful Than The Sea

Posted by Liz Vogel on November 21, 2018


Our second Book Cafe is coming up on Sunday, December 2, 1-3 PM featuring A Hope More Powerful Than The Sea: The Journey of Doaa Al Zamel. RSVP by emailing me at

"Nervously they waited to board. Doaa shifted from foot to foot in the long line to get through customs. Hamudi clutched his mother's arm, while Saja and Nawara sat on their suitcases, standing only to shuffle forward whenever the line moved. It felt as if every part of the journey were about waiting. Jordanian customs officials seemed to be singling out Syrians for security searches, and Doaa's family was asked to come forward with their luggage, while a group of Egyptian travelers were waved through. Doaa lifted her suitcase onto the table in front of the customs officers. When they unzipped her luggage, she looked at what she had hastily selected in the overwhelmingly emotional last hours at home: two dresses, a couple of pairs of pants, two blazers, a few skirts, several veils, and a few accessories. She stared at the meager contents of her suitcase and thought of the books she had left behind because they were too heavy - one about dream interpretation, a few novels, poetry by Nizar Qabbani, and a workbook on English grammar. She pictured her small teddy bear that lit up and made a kissing sound when she squeezed it, and her fashion sketches of clothes she dreamed of wearing in a future she no longer had." (from Chapter 4, Life as a Refugee)

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Topics: Refugees, Refugee Crisis, Book

Star Wars and Facing History

Posted by Guest Blogger on May 24, 2016

As we prepare for our summer seminars at Facing History, we start seeing connections to our work everywhere, even Star Wars. It turns out we aren't the only one! We are pleased to share the following excerpt from the soon-to-be-released, The World According to Star Wars, from the chapter, Rebels, by Cass R. Sunstein.

Star Wars isn’t a political tract, but it has a political message. After all, it opposes an Empire to a Republic, and a First Order to a Resistance, and its heroes are rebels, who want to return peace and justice to the galaxy.

That’s one reason for the universal appeal of the saga. Whatever your political convictions, and wherever you live, you’re likely to see an Emperor of some kind, and you’re likely to have some sympathy for the rebels or the Resistance. Your teacher or your boss might seem like an Emperor. Maybe your nation’s leader reminds you of Palpatine; maybe the opposing party is the Resistance….

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Topics: Choosing to Participate, Critical Thinking, Bystander, Book, In the news

Change the Story - YALLWEST

Posted by Liz Vogel on April 27, 2016

Facing History is proud to partner with YALLWEST Book Festival, the only book festival on the west coast dedicated to young adult literature. YALLWEST has generously provided funding for buses to bring students from a handful of Facing History schools to participate in the festival this coming weekend in Santa Monica. They've also donated hundreds of novels and graphic novels for Facing History students.

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Topics: Choosing to Participate, Los Angeles, Book, Community Event, In the news

3 Ways to Celebrate National Library Week!

Posted by Mary Hendra on April 12, 2016

It's National Library Week!

What is the last book you checked out of the library? Share your latest library read in a comment below.

Those of you who follow me on Twitter know I joined the "Stay at Home and Read a Book Ball" for LA Public Library this year. I curled up with my choice of books - public library and my own - reading two different books that day. One of my memorable moments when studying in the Soviet Union as a college student was trying to get a Soviet library card... and then the entire process of using a library in Moscow! Needless to say, I'm a bit of a library nerd. So, in honor of National Library Week, here are three gifts:

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Topics: Teaching, Teaching Strategy, Book

6 Questions from Courtroom Drama

Posted by Dan Alba on June 5, 2015

This is the final installment in a five-part series on The Great New Orleans Kidnapping Case: Race, Law and Justice in the Reconstruction Era, by Michael A. Ross.

As I approached the last chapters of this book many questions emerged, particularly during the courtroom drama which unfolds in Chapter 9, "Unveiling The Mystery."

  • What message would be sent if the defendant is found guilty or not guilty?
  • Who would claim victory?
  • How would politics and the media, during this era of Reconstruction, use the verdict to influence public opinion?
  • How would the verdict reverberate throughout New Orleans or for that matter, the rest of the nation?
  • What would happen should this case fall apart altogether?
  • And finally, how would the verdict be attributed to race?
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Topics: Reconstruction, The Great New Orleans Kidnapping Case, Book

The World Upside Down

Posted by Dan Alba on May 22, 2015

The politics of reconstruction had turned the world upside down."

This is part four in a five-part series on The Great New Orleans Kidnapping Case: Race, Law and Justice in the Reconstruction Era, by Michael A. Ross.

Chapters 5 to 7 of The Great New Orleans Kidnapping Case reveal that who you were - your color, position, gender, political affiliation, personal history, and where you were from - mattered. These attributes became the basis for how society judged an individual's motives or trustworthiness. One's credibility and reputation rested on these factors more than the substance of what you said or did.

Suspects Ellen Follin, a Creole, and her sister, Louisa Murray, are arrested for the kidnapping of Molly Digby. As a Creole, Ellen had greater status than former slaves in New Orleans society. She owned a Lying-In Hospital, which was what one newspaper referred to as a “house of secret obstetrics,” a questionable profession even then.

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Topics: The Great New Orleans Kidnapping Case, Book

Missed Opportunities

Posted by Dan Alba on April 24, 2015

This is part two in a five-part virtual book club on The Great New Orleans Kidnapping Case: Race, Law and Justice in the Reconstruction Era, by Michael A. Ross.

For this week, we read Chapter One: “A Kidnapping in the Back of Town.” Chapter one sets the stage for introducing one of our country's most sensationalized kidnapping mysteries in history. Through the lives of ordinary Americans from every segment of society in 1870 New Orleans, we see the entire social order of society turned upside down at the height of Reconstruction after the Civil War.

With the kidnapping of Molly Digby, the 17-month-old baby from Irish working class parents, a cast of citizens navigate their identities, roles and responsibilities in a city torn apart by politics, racial fear, rumors, hysteria and religious accusations of Voodoo sacrifices. This includes:

  • Louisiana's Governor, Henry Clay Warmoth,
  • a Union army veteran from Illinois,
  • suspect Ellen Follin, described in the press as a "fashionable tall, mulatto woman, probably for the purpose of receiving a ransom,"
  • police chief Algernon Sidney Badger, originally from Massachusetts, and
  • African American detective John Baptise Jourdain, assigned to the Digby case.
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Topics: Reconstruction, The Great New Orleans Kidnapping Case, Book

The Great New Orleans Kidnapping Case: Race, Law, Justice in the Reconstruction Era

Posted by Dan Alba on April 10, 2015

Although his book reads like a classic "who done it?" detective story from the pages of Sherlock Holmes, Michael A. Ross, author of The Great New Orleans Kidnapping Case: Race and Justice in the Reconstruction Era offers deep insights into the hearts and minds of Southern society in the aftermath of the American Civil War. In honor of the release of Facing History and Ourselves' newest case study The Reconstruction Era: The Fragility of Democracy, we're doing a virtual book club on the blog!

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Topics: Reconstruction, The Great New Orleans Kidnapping Case, Book

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This blog helps Southern California teachers connect directly with each other, share ideas, and learn about new resources and opportunities for those interested in or already implementing Facing History.

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