Kid Quixotes: A Group of Students, Their Teacher, and the One-Room School Where Everything is Possible

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If holding to stereotypes, young immigrant kids translating into English and interpreting the classic Spanish novel Don Quixote sounds like a highly unlikely project. But author Stephen Haff was unfazed. In Bushwick, Brooklyn, one of New York’s less-than-posh areas, he set up Still Calm in the Storm, an after-school program for disadvantaged, mostly Spanish -speaking kids struggling to cope with a new land and often a new language. His aspirations for the kids and his own education along with teaching experience in different settings brought about a near-miracle.

The program he led, in a room barely big enough to cope with the popularity it achieved, ran for years as the little kids grew bigger, the shy grew bold, the imaginative shared their stories and dreams. They became “Kid Quixotes,” exploring words as they translated, sharing memories of difficult times left behind across the border and again sometimes when reviled as immigrants. The stories they developed were about themselves and their families. They wrote sketches and poems, composed songs and staged performances to audiences in venues from the finest to the most humble. They harvested their after-school experience, listening to each other, developing ideas, testing, accepting as they advanced. Not strictly chronological, the book takes time out to follow the paths of kids who entered to the program when they were tiny, just beginning to read, and later blossomed into young teenagers.

Haff’s own recovery from bipolar depression supplied a nourishing sensitivity to his encouragement and challenges and contributed to an outstanding book.

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Star Count 5/5
Format Hard
Page Count 287 pages
Publisher Harper One
Publish Date 2020-04-21
ISBN 9780062934062 Buy this Book
Issue June 2020
Category Current Events & Politics


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