Wednesday, February 7, 2024

FREEDOM DREAMING IN NONFICTION WRITING


Hot. Ugly. Dry. Dirty. Dusty. These were the words my second grade students used as we kicked off a unit of study with the question, “What do you already know about Sudan?”

I searched for a picture book filled with images that could inspire pride and joy in Sudan, the Sudanese people and the Sudanese Arabic. But there weren’t any. There were a few picture books about Sudan, but almost all of them focused on war and famine. Even atlases included little to no information about the country we called home.

Inspired by a visit from Christopher Myers and by his book Black Cat, with the help of photographs from my students’ families, using artwork and text researched and created by the second graders themselves, we made a book called KADISA. Community members translated the text into multiple languages, and it was shared widely throughout the school and added to our school library.  

A few years later, I realized that I wanted KADISA to be more widely available, that every child could see Sudan, in all its beauty and wonder, reflected from the pages of a book. What started with a freedom dream, became KADISA كديسة, a book that has brought joy, pride, and information to children and grownups all over the world.

 

Historian Robin D. G. Kelley coined the term freedom dreaming to describe the power of imagination as a strategy for collective liberation - imagining the world as it should be so we can make it so.

Powerful nonfiction writing at its best stems from freedom dreams. KADISA كديسة originated in a freedom dream that children could love their homeland. My second book, HOW TO BIRD was inspired by the dream that Black and brown children would know that birding, and the public natural spaces where we find birds, belong to them as much as anyone else. My next nonfiction title, ETERNALLY AUTISTIC, is a freedom dream that autistic children and their grownups will know that being autistic is just who we are, and who we will always be.

Here are a few other impactful nonfiction titles that I imagine started with an author’s freedom dreams: THE WEDDING PORTRAIT by Innosanto Nagara; SOMETIMES PEOPLE MARCH by Tessa Allen; WANGARI'S TREES OF PEACE by Jeannette Winter; and WE ARE PALESTINIAN by Reem Kassis

What is your freedom dream for the world? Take a moment. Visualize it. What kind of world do you want for our children? What information, what images, what words are needed to make that dream a reality? 

Let that freedom dream inspire your next nonfiction book.




Meet the Author: 

Rasha Hamid attended NYC public schools before earning a bachelor’s degree in Africana Studies and Education at Vassar College, and a master’s degree in Special Education at Bank Street College of Education. Rasha has developed her practice in classrooms in East Harlem, Hamilton Heights, Khartoum, and Brooklyn for over 25 years. Rasha is an educator-activist—someone who works to make the world more joyful, equitable, and sustainable through education. Rasha is proud to be the autistic mom of an autistic young adult. Rasha also loves baking, making music, and creating all kinds of art.
 

 


43 comments:

  1. These are truly books from the heart that are needed everywhere. Thank you.

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  2. What a wonderful idea from which to write books for children! I look forward to ETERNALLY AUTISTIC.

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  3. Thank you so much for this beautiful and inspiring post! I'm excited to read your works, and to read the other mentor texts you mentioned. I am also really looking forward to working on your prompt to envision what my freedom dream is for the world. I am in a constant state of worry these days with current events in the world that my child is growing up in. I truly appreciate the comforting effects that visualizing freedom dreams to write about, and to read about from other authors, offers. Thank you again!

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    1. Looking forward to see what comes of your envisioning!

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  4. I love this! I'm thinking it can also help bring out the deeper story in a WIP. What's the freedom dream in it?

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  5. My freedom dream is a world that includes as many protected places as possible for earth's creatures to live safely.

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  6. Thank you, Rasha, for sharing nonfiction writing through freedom dreams.

    My freedom dream is for all children to have the freedom to read.

    Suzy Leopold

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  7. Great post, Rasha - I've got How to Bird on my library list right now. I love the idea of freedom dreams as a way to conceptualize the stories we want to bring to children. My freedom dream? That we all be safe, feel safe as who we are

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  8. Terrific post, Rasha. I like your idea of concept freedom dreams. My dream? A world united where each and everyone of us can be heard.

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  9. Rasha, I just love your inspiration form Historian Robin D. G. Kelley about "freedom dreaming." As you clearly well know, there is so much that can be created by "imagining the world as it should be so we can make it so." I have saved that quote for the future. Thank you for sharing!

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  10. I've never phrased my writing goals as "freedom dreams" before...I love it and will add it to my thinking vocabulary when brainstorming book ideas!

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  11. What an inspiring post! I'm so glad that there are more and more books being published that celebrate the cultures of all of our students. As a former ELL teacher, I was often frustrated that I could not find books to share with classrooms that inform and highlight the culture and traditions of my students. Congratulations, and thank you for sharing your story, KADISA, with the world.

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    1. So glad you found Kadisa useful. I'm glad to have been able to represent Sudanese Arabic!

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  12. Thank you Rasha, for a great post and a soul searching prompt. Most importantly for me, Robin's quote ""imagining the world as it should be so we can make it so" is the perfect jumping off place for a NF, I've been trying to find entry into fo a while. Thank you so much.

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    1. Robin D G Kelley''s concept of freedom dreaming is so inspiring!

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  13. I love this concept of Freedom Dreaming...I do this in my writing and didn't really have a term for it!

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  14. Freedom dream is an amazing inspiration! Thank you Rasha for sharing.

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  15. Thanks for sharing the term freedom dreaming. I can frame my endangered species mss as freedom dreams.

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  16. RASHA: THANK YOU for sharing your knowledge of freedom dreams, to INSPIRE us to DREAM our own. I AM SO IN LOVE with this BEAUTIFUL idea! THANK YOU for making me stop and TRULY consider what my own freedom dream is---and ESPECIALLY HOW I can go about making it become a reality.

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  17. Love the varied choice of book titles today. Thank you!

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  18. I love the questions you ask us at the end. Thanks, Rasha!

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  19. I love How to Bird!

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  20. Enjoyed your post with inspirational message. I will read your books. Great Covers.

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  21. 'nough said..."Freedom dreams for the world!" I love, love, love this! Thank you.

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