I heard Kirkland and some of his students present at the NCTE conference in Boston in 2013. I was intrigued and challenged by what they had to say, so I picked up his book. It took me a while to get to it, but I’m glad I did.

After two unsatisfactory tries, Kirkwood settled on a format for his book. He follows the lives of 6 young men of color and investigates their literacies. By using a combination of anecdotes and research, Kirkwood makes his writing accessible to those of us far removed from graduate school. Though his prose can get more than a bit purple at times, it’s worth wading through those overly poetic passages to read his analysis.

He certainly expanded my notion of literacy. I only wanted more. How can teachers, white teachers, reconcile his persuasive argument about literacy with the requirements of the common core and standardized testing?