The Untold Story of the Real Me

Here is an example of what does NOT and will probably NEVER get published by the majors.

This book is a critical piece of work that helps those who work with encouraging text engagement, for it was produced by youth who through poor literacy and life management in their worlds, suffer from huge gaps in their language skills.

They have been provided one of the first chances in their young lives, while incarcerated, to have a chance at navigating through the jungle of written expression to get their messages out to the world of the lessons they have learned from the mistakes they have made in life. Critical literacy development skills requires these opportunities for all youth of all races and economic levels to help them with the development of self-awareness, cultural and social systemic injustices, esteem building, empathy, and understanding for others like and unlike themselves. The youth that contributed to the poetry and prose in this book is not like many in our most elite of schools in that they have never been given the platform to exercise their voice agency. The difference in these youth is that they are mostly black and Latino youth who have been sentenced as adults under the age of 16 for crimes mostly involved with ramped up drug laws, in DC communities where they have no choice or any way to safely avoid being preyed upon by older gang members.

When individual entries from this book are used in a language arts class and students see the errors in grammar, the most reluctant of readers have been literally shocked into action. They began to ask if that is what their writing looks like? Will that be them in high school? It is an amazing tool of engagement for reader's response.

The youth who contributed to this book are part of a writers' workshop Those that aged out or that are no longer in custody are part of a spoken word consortium that advocates for the juvenile justice rights in prison environments and a more socially just education in the American school system. They are but a small voice, but is one many of us are faced with motivating in our communities we serve. There's also a reading club called Free Minds Book Club Please take some time and look at their activity and messages on twitter:

-Brichmt, goodreads reviewer