"57 Bus" Book Discussion

all-school read wraps up with opportunity to speak with author

End of day on Wednesday at John Jay High School could be seen as one big book group, 900 plus students strong.

All students gathered in their 9th period classes to tune into a John Jay book talk with Dashka Slater, award-winning author of “The 57 Bus,” this year's Summer Community Read. [Stream the video recording here.]

Multi genre text

“We loved the book,” said English teacher Vicky Weiss, moderator of the conversation, in preface to a question from a student about Slater’s response to the book being banned in some places.

“It’s sad and infuriating,” said Slater. She explained that in reading a book about a teen who doesn’t identify as masculine or feminine, and a Black teen accused of a hate crime, readers might discover they have a lot more in common with these characters than they might have thought.

“I was laser focused on the young people in the story,” she said. “I wanted to show young adults how this story was experienced by young people.”

explores restorative justice

John Jay students also had a unique insight into the book based on the school's practice of community-building circles and restorative circles. 

Each week at John Jay includes a time for students and teachers to gather in community-building circles and talk. If there’s an issue or behavior problem happening at the school, that can be the topic of the share or the circle might be used in a more private setting to address the specific harm done to a another person.

“The 57 Bus” explores restorative justice, a similar approach that focuses on communication, redemption and forgiveness instead of punishment. Both give a victim the opportunity to heal and a perpetrator a way back from the harm, accepting responsibility for one's actions.