We Say #Never Again: Reporting by the Parkland Student Journalists – Melissa Falkowski and Eric Garner, editors

  We Say #Never Again: Reporting by the Parkland Student Journalists – Melissa Falkowski and Eric Garner, editorsCrown Books for Young Readers, (9781984849960), 2018

Format: hardcover

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4

Genre: nonfiction

What did you like about the book?  What happens when journalism students become the story? We Say #NeverAgain explores that topic with essays by students affected by the mass shooting event at Marjory Stoneman Douglas HIgh School. The book includes emotional reactions from student journalists, first person accounts of their experiences as activists, as well as stories of individual acts of courage on the day of the shooting. One student writes effectively about the No Notoriety campaign, which MSD journalists followed (No Notoriety campaign refuses to give any attention to the shooters). Many students write about their responsibility to work to stop gun violence by sharing their story with the media, but also the online bullying by Internet trolls they endured as a side effect. As Rebecca Schneid said “do these people think this is an appropriate way to speak to another human, let alone a teenage survivor of gun violence?” #NeverAgain brings the horrific reality of the tragedy to life while also effectively documenting the emotional aftermath. Multiple perspectives on the March for our Lives are also included; that students planned and executed the event mostly on their own is still astounding to me. Perhaps the best part of this book is the impassioned argument by journalism teacher Melissa Falkowski for independent student journalism programs in every high school in the country. As she says “Teaching students to think critically and question decisions from their ‘government’ forms the groundwork for them to apply those skills later within American society.” Certainly this book is an example of how her journalism program has “empowered” her students to “use their voices, training, and experience in a way that captures national attention and facilitates change.”

Includes links to original reporting by the MSD newspaper and TV news station, biographies of all the student contributors, as well as advice on becoming a student activist, using social media to promote your cause, giving a good interview and contacting your elected representatives. Probably best suited for browsing and not reading cover to cover, this book is nonetheless an essential purchase for any school looking to promote responsible student journalism, as well as schools looking for more books about student activism.

To whom would you recommend this book?  Students who are interested in learning more about responsible student journalism or the emotional aftereffects of gun violence.

Anything you didn’t like about it? It feels disjointed at times and the writing quality varies greatly from account to account. It might be best suited for browsing.

Who should buy this book? Most middle and high school libraries, especially those with strong journalism programs or an interest in developing one.

Where would you shelve it? nonfiction

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? no

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Laura Gardner, Dartmouth Middle School, Dartmouth, MA

Date reviewed: October 26, 2018

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