Each month, the Chancellor selects a children’s book that she feels is inspirational and informative for the students, parents, and staff members who make up the City’s public schools. For past book selections, review the “Book of the Month” category right here on The Morning Bell.

You and Me
(Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2015)
By Susan Verde, illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds

You and Me tells a heartwarming story about friendship and fate, and drives home the importance of connection and inclusion. These are themes that align beautifully with our Equity and Excellence for All vision of supporting students and their families on the path to success.

9781419711978As the story opens, a cat reflects on how he met his best friend, and the circumstances that could have prevented the two from crossing paths. What if his clock had been slow and he was late? What if his bicycle had a flat? What if a rock in his shoe had caused him to pause and miss the bus? He realizes that if a single detail had been different, “ours is a story that might not have been told.”

This book is a reminder that chance pushes and pulls us in different directions, causing our lives to unfold in ways we cannot imagine. As the cat poetically muses: “Serendipity, perfect timing, all the stars aligning. It paved the way for an ideal situation. A delightful blend, a sublime combination.”

Of course, we could not achieve our children’s educational goals by chance alone. Parents, in particular, cannot wait for fate to intervene. We must proactively help to create the inclusive schools our students deserve, and teach our children the difference between “you and me” and “you versus me.” Here are ways to enlist your school community in creating an inclusive learning environment:

  • School climate begins the minute you walk in your building, so ensure that your school is making a positive first impression. Smile at your school safety agents and engage them in friendly conversation.
  • Empower your children through after-school activities, such as Respect for All clubs or Gender and Sexuality Alliances (GSAs), so that they have the opportunity to meet students of diverse backgrounds and foster a dialogue.
  • Pay attention to your child’s experience in the school cafeteria, and encourage them to help create an atmosphere where others feel welcome, comfortable, and included.
  • Parents and families are important assets. Speak to someone at your school to find out what kind of support and school-based activities best meet your needs, and let them know you can be viewed as a partner.

In support of our Equity and Excellence for All agenda, please share the ways in which you are creating a “you and me” culture for your child. I want to hear what you are doing to help the stars align so that all of our students are empowered on their path to success.

Posted by Carmen Fariña

Former Chancellor of NYC Schools, lifelong educator, native Brooklynite, and proud abuela.