WOW Currents

Creating Student Connections Using Text Sets

By Sakoi Junko, Tucson Unified School District and Yoo Kyung Sung, University of New Mexico

This week, we will continue the discussion about text sets, which were created by the “Read, Write, Review for Us (RWRU)” project to help educate local Tucson children about refugee students’ homelands and the diversity within those groups of people. Once the first text set was displayed for book browsing in the classroom, the 5th graders were able to “relocate” their old home into the various stories within the books. We observed the excitement in the students’ voices as they shared stories of their homeland with their peers. It became obvious at that point that even the 5th graders did not know each other’s backgrounds. Because they are often generalized as “refugee students”, the students’ individual identities are often forgotten. With the exception of customs, the refugee and immigrant students are no different from any of the American students beginning the new year in a new classroom every August. It was particularly advantageous to put aside the term, “refugee” and allow the children to learn about each other from a fresh perspective.

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MTYT: For a Girl Becoming

In the second installment of October’s MTYT, Deborah Dimmett and Angie Hoffman continue to share a sampling of children’s books written by Native American authors who bring to the young reader a deeper understanding about Native American traditions and perspectives. In particular, the theme this month provides a view into the cycle of life of young native women. In For a Girl Becoming, the reader follows the journey of a young girl through all the stages of her life as she comes into adulthood with the love and support of her family.

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WOW Currents

Creating Mixed Genre Text Sets

By Sakoi Junko, Tucson Unified School District and Yoo Kyung Sung, University of New Mexico

Children’s literature may be one the best mediums for promoting new learning in the classroom. Text sets are especially helpful in that they offer a collective of literary landscapes full of unfamiliar places and various perspectives. This week, we introduce a text set that we put together to support the new Tucsonan (immigrant and refugee) children’s cultural affirmation while they develop the Tucsonan side of their identity. The text sets we create for “Read, Write, Review for Us (RWRU)” projects are to inform local Tucson children about refugee students’ homelands and the diversity within those groups of people. When the the topic of refugees is framed in this way, students will realize that the term “refugees” does not always mean war-zone survivors. Students learn that it can also include those surviving climate change. For example, the Marshall Islands are drowning due to climate changes and many of Marshallese had to relocated to places like Tucson.

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WOW News

Ronald Himler Captures the Spirit of Resilience

By Elizabeth Trahan, Content Coordinator Intern, Worlds of Words

The art of award-winning picturebook illustrator Ronald Himler captures how the resilience of children creates hope for the future. Worlds of Words’ new exhibit, “Creating Hope through Resilience: The Picturebook Art of Ronald Himler” displays original illustrations from his books that lay bare the struggles children face when they grow up near conflict zones. Himler’s artistry features striking watercolors depicting children in global contexts coping with challenging experiences in their lives. The new exhibit can be viewed through at Worlds of Words in the UofA College of Education.

Lacey Nehls compares original Ronald Himler illustrations to published ones. Continue reading

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MTYT: My Nana Hannah

MTYT October HeadingIn the first installment of October’s MTYT, Deborah Dimmett and Angie Hoffman are excited for the opportunity to share a sampling of children’s books written by Native American authors who bring to the young reader a deeper understanding about Native American traditions and perspectives. In particular, the theme this month provides a view into the cycle of life of young native women. We will discuss four books this month: My Nana Hannah, For a Girl Becoming, The Gift of Changing Woman and Kinaalda: A Navajo Girl Grows Up.

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WOW Currents

Refugee Waves and New Voices

By Yoo Kyung Sung, University of New Mexico and Junko Sakoi, Tucson Unified School District

In the last decade, Arizona consistently ranks among the top ten states with the number of refugee arrivals (Refugee Processing Center, 2018) with more than 15,400 refugees resettled in Arizona from 2012 through 2016. Accordingly, Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) received refugees since the late 1970s from the Southeast Asian countries, Russia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Cuba, Somalia and Sudan. Democratic Republic of the Congo and Burundi refugees have been the largest groups to arrive in Tucson in 2018 (Arizona Refugee Resettlement Program, 2018), in addition to fifty other countries with thirty-eight different languages. In the past five years, TUSD yearly enrollment has averaged around 900 refugee students across K-12 schools (Tucson Unified School District, 2018).

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WOW Recommends: Book of the Month

WOW Recommends: A Big Mooncake for Little Star

A Big Mooncake for Little StarA Big Mooncake for Little Star, by Grace Lin, will become a classic read aloud to children for generations to come. The endpapers show Little Star and her mama making a Big Mooncake. When it is baked, Little Star’s mama lays it in the night sky to cool. Little Star’s Mama says “your Mooncake took us a long time to bake, so let’s see if you can make it last awhile. Can you remember not to touch this Big Mooncake until I tell you to?” Little Star replies, “Yes, Mama.” “But in the middle of the night, Little Star woke. She forgot what her mama had said and only remembered the Big Mooncake.” So her little feet went “Pat, pat, pat.” across the sky to take a tiny nibble of the brilliant yellow Mooncake. Over the next nights she takes nibbles out of the Mooncake until it is a narrow crescent. A two page spread shows twelve phases of the shrinking moon with Little Star taking a nibble out of each one until it is a crescent. One night Little Star’s mama goes to look for the Big Mooncake and finds it is gone. Mama asks Little Star, “You ate the Big Mooncake again, didn’t you.” “Yes, Mama,” says Little Star. “Now let’s go make another one.” On the final endpapers, the story ends as it began with Little Star and her mama making a new Mooncake to place in the sky. It is a circle story. The story started with the making of the Big Mooncake and finishes with a new cake being made. Continue reading

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MTYT: When the Rain Comes

In September’s MTYT, Jean Schroeder and Holly Johnson discuss the last of four books that topped USBBY’s Outstanding International Books list. The common theme between these books is the need to escape. In When the Rain Comes, the main character needs to escape a natural disaster. This story shows how a young girl must deal with the immediate crisis and do what she can to save her own life and the livelihood her village.

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Authors' Corner

Dusti Bowling on “24 Hours in Nowhere”

By Courtney Gallant, University of Arizona
with Lauren Lombardo, Annie W. Kellond Elementary School (TUSD)

Dusti Bowling

Around the time Worlds of Words received an advance copy of 24 Hours in Nowhere by Dusti Bowling, Lauren was a UofA College of Education senior working at WOW while doing her student teaching at Kellond. As luck would have it, Lauren met Dusti on a school visit that was part of the Tucson Festival of Books in March 2018. Now that the book is out, we felt it appropriate to conduct a follow-up interview. We asked Dusti about the book, what makes for a good school visit and meeting fans. Continue reading

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MTYT: Escape from Syria

In the second installment of September’s MTYT, Jean Schroeder and Holly Johnson discuss the second of four books that topped USBBY’s Outstanding International Books list. The common theme between these books is the need to escape. In Escape from Syria, a young girl and her family desperately try to escape the Syrian civil war. This story shows how they escape and how they adapt to living in a new country as refugees.

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