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The Pioneer

Two Hayward women self-publish children’s book about street slang versus Standard English

Franklin+explained+the+message+of+%E2%80%9CThe+Code+Switch%E2%80%9D+which+she+co-wrote.
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Two Hayward women self-publish children’s book about street slang versus Standard English

Franklin explained the message of “The Code Switch” which she co-wrote.

Franklin explained the message of “The Code Switch” which she co-wrote.

Marina Swanson

Franklin explained the message of “The Code Switch” which she co-wrote.

Marina Swanson

Marina Swanson

Franklin explained the message of “The Code Switch” which she co-wrote.

Leandra Galloway,
Contributor

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Two friends one author describes as ‘bffs,’ slang for best friends forever, find themselves in a battle that will test their friendship. Both girls have good grades, but one speaks street slang and the other speaks Standard English. The fight is to become class valedictorian, and only one can win.

This is the story told in the children’s Realistic Fiction book “The Code Switch,” written by Hayward residents Ramona Thomas and Yvetta Franklin.

The book follows the lives of two African American girls, Lavender Gray and Keisha Wilkerson.  The two girls are in the sixth grade and have been best friends since kindergarten.  They soon will be making the transition into junior high school, and their friendship is tested as they fight to be recognized as the valedictorian, the highest achieving student in their class.

The authors are both alumni of California State University, East Bay. Thomas has a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication and a Master of Education from Holy Names University and Franklin holds a Bachelor of Art in Liberal Studies and Social Sciences.

Franklin is a first grade teacher at Tyrrell Elementary School in Hayward and Thomas is an author and businesswoman who works part-time for the city of Hayward. The two women collaborated in writing this book based on their different visions of language, Standard English and slang.

Thomas met Franklin one day while in a hair salon.  She approached her about a new book she was in the process of writing, “Grandma’s Brown Cookies,” a children’s book about healthy eating choices.

She wanted Franklin’s constructive feedback, which led to Franklin becoming an editor for her book. She was so impressed with her work that she asked her to collaborate on “The Code Switch.”

“When she approached me one day about what she wanted to do [with the story], I told her that’s called ‘code switching,’” Franklin said.  “Code switching” is a term that refers to changing how you speak depending on the context of the conversation.

Thomas is fond of common slang language, while Franklin’s personal style is more intact with the rules of Standard English.

“A lot of our children of color who live in what we call ‘the hood,’ a lot of their parents are not college educated and they don’t have the vocabulary that their counterparts [in more affluent areas] have,” Franklin stated.

She emphasized that there is nothing wrong with the use of slang. The book argues that slang does not determine whether a person is articulate or not. It just depends on the context. “There’s just a time and place for everything,” Franklin stated.

Franklin said they chose to self-publish through CreateSpace, an Amazon affiliate, after being rejected by several large children’s/young adult publishing companies. It was published in January 2013 and took 13 months to write.

“The English department loved it, they used it for the Hayward Unified School District 2013 Summer Institute Professional Development,” Franklin stated.  They would like the Hayward Unified School District to buy the book so they can implement it into the curriculum.

Franklin stresses that students must engage in reading, as it is the only way they will be able to articulate themselves as they seek employment and career opportunities when they grow up. She read the story last year to her second grade students who enjoyed it.  She said they thought it was humorous and they loved the slang.

“What I want educators and teachers to know is that when our kids enter our classroom in August and September just because they speak a certain way doesn’t mean they are not intelligent,” Franklin said. The main characters in this book are both intellects that promote different aspects of language and culture.

Thomas and Franklin have seen recognition and success for their latest book. Emery Unified School District has picked up their book for their fourth grade students and teachers, and the Alameda County Department of Education purchased several sets of their books last year.

Franklin said they also donated the book to a wide variety of organizations, including the NAACP and the African American Museum and Library and a number of churches and bookstores.

Copies of this book have been donated to various organizations in hopes of book signings and encouraging young children to pick up a book and read.

Thomas and Franklin are currently in the process of developing a sequel. It will feature the same main characters Lavender and Keisha, who will encounter another challenge in their friendship; but this time over the opposite sex.

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Two Hayward women self-publish children’s book about street slang versus Standard English