Our lives are going global. Communities in all parts of the world, from rural towns to large urban cities, are increasingly diverse due to global mobility. Rapid economic, social and technological changes connect people around the globe. No matter where we live, our daily lives are interconnected through globalization in all of its differing forms. Knowledge of the world and an understanding of global perspectives have thus become a necessity, not a luxury. Children no longer have a decision about whether or not they will lead global lives—but they do need to decide how they will live in a global society.

One important resource for building bridges across cultures is global children’s literature. Literature provides an opportunity for children to go beyond a tourist perspective of gaining surface-level information about another culture. Literature expands children’s life spaces and takes them outside the boundaries of their lives to other places, times, and ways of living in order to participate in alternative ways of being in the world. Readers are invited to immerse themselves into story worlds to gain insights about how people live, feel, and think around the world in order to develop emotional connections and empathy as well as knowledge.

The goal of integrating global literature into classrooms and libraries is to challenge children and adolescents to understand and accept those different from themselves, thus breaking cycles of oppression and prejudice between people of different cultures. As young people read these books, they come to recognize the common feelings and needs they share with youth around the world, as well as to value the unique differences that each culture adds to the richness of our world. Literature provides a means of building bridges of intercultural understanding across countries and cultures. Through reading books from global cultures, young people connect to their own cultures as well as to the world beyond their homes,

Worlds of Words is committed to providing a range of resources to encourage educators at all levels to integrate global literature into the lives of children. The resources on this site grew out of work in schools around the world and the identification of needs, such as

•Access to titles of global literature for various age levels, themes and global cultures
•Critical evaluations of the cultural authenticity of books
•Ideas for integrating global literature into experiences with children in school and library contexts and in teacher education programs.
•Discussions of current issues related to global literature in order to become more informed as an educator
•Access to resources such as book lists, curricular strategies, author information, etc. related to global literature.

The web site for Worlds of Words includes a searchable data base, a journal of critical book reviews, a journal of classroom vignettes, a weekly blog, book conversations, and a section of resources in response to these needs. All of the journals and resources on the site are available free in order to provide the widest access possible.

In addition, Worlds of Words has a recently renovated center at the University of Arizona which includes a collection of 30,000 children’s and adolescent books that is open to the public and a special collection of original illustrations and first edition, signed books. Events are scheduled at Worlds of Words, ranging from scholarly lectures to celebrations for children and families around new books. An exhibition/studio space is used for exhibitions and for residencies for children’s authors and illustrators. A workshop space is used for university courses on children’s literature and for workshops for teachers and children as well as guest lectures. A visiting scholar’s office houses scholars who are using the collection for their own research projects. Finally, Worlds of Words hosts various school groups and houses materials that are loaned out to schools, libraries, and literacy groups, such as language and culture book kits, cultural community story boxes, and family story backpacks. Other outreach activities include participation in the Tucson Festival of Books and various projects in classrooms and libraries.

The collection in Worlds of Words is organized by different regions of the world and focuses on global literature in English that is published and/or distributed in the United States. The books come from many global cultures and include a strong collection of Indigenous literature. The books in the collection are also available on the data base of the web site and on World Cat, a data base available from libraries. The collection is open to the researchers, students, and community members on a daily basis, Monday-Saturday.

Worlds of Words is located within the College of Education, University of Arizona, and is supported by faculty and students from the department of Teaching, Learning and Sociocultural Studies. The Worlds of Words Advisory Board is actively involved in the journals, blogs, and resources available on the web site and meets twice a year to make decisions about the web site and other outreach programs. Worlds of Words also collaborates with CERCLL, a federal center on less commonly taught languages, at the University of Arizona and has enjoyed the support of various foundations and private individuals for support of programs and outreach.

Inquiries about contributions can be made through the Rick Zurow, Director of Development, College of Education, 520-621-7143 or rickzurow@email.arizona.edu

Questions or inquiries into Worlds of Words about any of the programs, events, or facilities or requests related to residencies should be directed to wow@email.arizona.edu or 520-621-9340.

Kathy G. Short, Director of Worlds of Words
Richard Clift, Coordinator of Outreach and Collections


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