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DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET WHY I WROTE THIS BOOK : A LET TER TO TEACHERS Dear Teachers, As an African American preschooler growing up in the 1970s, I can remem- ber elders in my family whispering, “That child sure is smart!” “She’s got good sense,” and “Stephanie asks so many questions . . .” My questions and comments became even more frequent, and specific, when I enrolled in the local Head Start program. Being in Head Start awakened me intellec- tually because my teachers taught me to ask how and why. These class- room conversations opened my mind, causing me to wonder and seek information about the what, when, and where of objects and events. These conversations even gave me the confidence to guess or predict what might happen or to give my opinion. What I understand now is that my teachers and I were engaging in instructional conversations that were fostering my critical thinking and language skills. Instructional conversations are a road map for children’s learning. These conversations, indeed, provided a road map for my educational experiences not only as a child but also as an adult who has taught and studied racial and ethnic minority children who are culturally and/or linguistically diverse. I believe children only succeed when the adults who are teaching and caring for them have the knowledge, resources, and support they need. This book is a resource that will provide you with that knowledge and sup- port. I have spent the last several years developing this idea, testing it out with teachers, getting feedback from my colleagues, and evaluating it to see if it works. I offer it to you with the hopes that it will inspire you to broaden your teaching practices and enhance your conversations with children. Sincerely, Stephanie M. Curenton, PhD xiii COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL