ELL News Headlines

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Best of 2020: Teacher Takes In Her Student’s Newborn Brother After His Entire Family Falls Ill With COVID-19

A Stamford, Connecticut, teacher is being heralded a hero after she generously took in the newborn brother of one of her students whose mother sick with the coronavirus. Thirty-two-year-old Luciana Lira teaches at Hart Magnet Elementary School and knew she had to do something when her 7-year-old student Junior's entire family came down with the coronavirus at the same time his mother, Zully, whose last name has not been revealed, was going into labor. So the teacher did what she had to for a family in need.

Best of 2020: They depended on their parents for everything. Then the virus took both.

News that the novel coronavirus had arrived in Michigan first reached the Ismael family's working-class suburb north of Detroit in early March. The Ismael children, aged 13, 18, and 20, didn't worry about it because they seldom worried about anything. That's how their mom and dad wanted it. The family had come to the United States eight years earlier after escaping Iraq, a country that had grown increasingly dangerous for Chaldean Catholics like them. By mid May, their parents had both died of COVID-19, leaving the teens to cope on their own.

Best of 2020: Katherine Johnson, 'hidden figure' at NASA during 1960s space race, dies at 101

When Katherine Johnson began working at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics in 1953, she was classified as "subprofessional," not far outranking a secretary or janitor. Hers was a labor not of scheduling or cleaning but rather of mathematics: using a slide rule or mechanical calculator in complex calculations to check the work of her superiors — engineers who, unlike her, were white and male. Her title, poached by the technology that would soon make the services of many of her colleagues obsolete, was "computer." Mrs. Johnson, who died Feb. 24 at 101, went on to develop equations that helped the NACA and its successor, NASA, send astronauts into orbit and, later, to the moon. In 26 signed reports for the space agency, and in many more papers that bore others' signatures on her work, she codified mathematical principles that remain at the core of human space travel.

Best of 2020: They Work Full Time. They Attend School. They’re Only Teenagers.

The beginning of the pandemic hit Daniela, a junior in high school, with overwhelming force. At the same time her high school shut down, her mom, who was six months pregnant, lost her job, and as a person who entered the country without documentation, she was excluded from federal assistance. Her stepdad, a construction worker, had his hours sharply reduced. Daniela would hear her mom crying about not having enough money and reluctantly asking friends for loans. Daniela needed to help. Daniela is one of many teens caught in the double crisis of an economic downturn and an education system in upheaval. Teens are being forced to become breadwinners, helping to fill in the gaps in their families' income.

Best of 2020: Jason Reynolds Officially Becomes National Ambassador of Young People's Literature at Library of Congress Ceremony

The medal has officially been passed. At an inauguration ceremony at the Library of Congress on Thursday, author Jason Reynolds became the seventh National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. He will hold the post for two years. When it was Reynolds’s turn to speak, he vowed to uphold the responsibility and, he too, told a couple of stories. The first directly related to his platform as ambassador, "GRAB THE MIC: Tell Your Story." He was on an author visit at the middle school in Florida when he watched a girl stand with him in front of staff and students and gain the courage to speak into the microphone. She was visibly moved by hearing her voice reverberate around the room.

Best of 2020: Pura Belpré, the First Puerto Rican Librarian in NYC (And My Library Hero)

In this piece about Pura Belpré, library technician Rachel Rosenberg writes the following, "Since September, I’ve been working on my library Masters. Our prof gave us a list of historical library figures to create presentations about, and I immediately thought of Belpré. She wasn't listed, and I was disappointed. She was an iconic, innovative librarian who altered children's librarianship for the better and was inspirational enough to have an American Library Association award named after her (honoring children's books by Latino writers and illustrators)."

Best of 2020: Best moments from CNN and Sesame Street's town hall on racism for kids and parents

CNN partnered with "Sesame Street" for a special town hall about racism, giving both kids and parents an opportunity to explore the current moment the nation is living through and to understand how these issues affect people. "Coming Together: Standing Up To Racism" aired Saturday morning and left no stone unturned -- discussing everything from how to fight racism when you see it and who to call when police officers are being unsafe. The hour-long program featured "Sesame Street" characters like Elmo, Abby Cadabby and Rosita. Together, they -- along with experts -- answered questions submitted by families.

Best of 2020: We Need Diverse Books Names 2020 Walter Dean Myers Award Winners

The winners of the 2020 Walter Dean Myers Awards for Outstanding Children's Literature are Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me by Mariko Tamaki, illustrated by Rosemary Valero-O'Connell in the teen (age 13-18) category and The Bridge Home by Padma Venkatraman in the younger readers (age 9-13) category. In these fifth annual Walter Awards — which honor diverse authors whose work features "diverse main characters and address diversity in a meaningful way" — there were also two honor books in each category. For teens: Pet by Akwaeke Emezi and With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo. For younger readers: A Good Kind of Trouble by Lisa Moore Ramée and Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga.