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Is Reading Aloud Common Ground for WOW and LETRS?

by Mary L. Fahrenbruck, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Author’s Note: The thoughts and opinions expressed in this blog post are my own and do not represent the Worlds of Words Center. The content is based on my professional experiences in WOW and in the LETRS professional development training sessions.

My response to the question posed in the title above is that reading aloud has the potential to become common ground between Worlds of Words (WOW) and Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling (LETRS) (Lexia, 2024). Despite their different focuses – Worlds of Words on global literacies and literatures for all readers and LETRS on professional development training for prek-3 educators and administrators – this common ground exists. This blog post is my attempt to reconcile my theoretical groundings in constructivism, socio-psycholinguistics and Reader Response theory with the LETRS training permeating school districts in New Mexico (NM) where I reside. Continue reading

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What Do WOW and LETRS Have in Common?

by Mary L. Fahrenbruck, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Author’s Note: The thoughts and opinions expressed in this blog post are my own and do not represent the Worlds of Words Center. The content is based on my professional experiences in Worlds of Words and in the LETRS professional development training sessions.

At first glance, WOW (Worlds of Words) and LETRS (Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling) (Lexia, 2024) seem worlds apart. After all, Worlds of Words is an organization focused on global literacies and literatures for all readers while LETRS is a professional development training for pre-k-3 educators and administrators. However, a closer inspection reveals a few surprising theoretical similarities that are worth discussing in WOW Currents. This comparison becomes particularly relevant as educators navigate the evolving shifts in reading instruction. Continue reading

WOW Dozen: Inspiring Journeys: Overcoming Adversity on the Road to Olympic Victory

By Mary L. Fahrenbruck, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM

In July 2024, the world’s attention will turn to Paris, France, as athletes from across the globe come together to compete in the summer Olympic Games. Millions of spectators will watch as these Olympic athletes showcase their physical talents in running, jumping, throwing, rowing, cycling, tumbling, diving and swimming events among others, all competing for a chance to write their names in sporting history.

Olympic athletes, past and present, are often celebrated for their physical achievements, but their journeys to the medal podium are also filled with inspiring stories of overcoming adversity. This month, the WOW Dozen features stories about past Olympic athletes who overcame significant obstacles including racism, sexism, poverty and illness to reach the peak of their sports. Notable stories include Sammy Lee, who practiced his diving skills in a backyard sandpit due to segregated pools, eventually winning gold and bronze medals, and Billy Mills who overcame personal obstacles and surpassed expectations with his remarkable victory in the 10,000-meter race at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

This WOW Dozen features stories about courageous individuals who had the determination and confidence necessary to succeed against all odds. Sharing these Olympians’ stories celebrates their lives and teaches valuable lessons, inspiring the next generation. Continue reading

WOW Recommends: Book of the Month

WOW Recommends: Disagreement

Two people argue with each other, their words turning to blue and orange that mix together.Disagreement by Nani Brunini is a thought-provoking visual portrayal of the evolution, consequences and resolution of a disagreement. Originally published in Portugal as Discórdia, Brunini uses a limited color palette to visually convey the way a disagreement began with a thought exchange between two individuals, but eventually sucks in and escalates to involve a whole group of people shouting at each other, and becoming consumed with the disagreement.

Brunini starts and ends the story on the end pages, using double-page spreads throughout the book. The story begins with a young woman offering a thought bubble about something, represented by a small blue nest of squiggly lines. On the following spread her male companion offers a response, represented with orange blurry lines and smudges. On the next spread the blue nest and orange smudge become bigger as the characters put hands on hips and stand firm. Two characters watch from the side at first, but on the following spread they join in with their own thoughts which have become even bigger as the characters ball their fists and point fingers. On the next spread the disagreement with now six individuals spills across half of the image, the orange and blue weaving in and out and on top of each other. Each following spread adds characters contributing to the disagreement until the disagreement becomes personified as an enormous cat-like monster that chases and consumes the individuals. Continue reading

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Stitching Stories: New Exhibit Featuring Hmong Storycloths

By Daniel Geffre, Editorial Intern, Worlds of Words

The Worlds of Words Center exhibit, Stitching Stories: Hmong Customs and Symbols as Told through Storycloths, features traditional Hmong storycloths from the Worlds of Words Mary J. Wong collection along with children’s books and hands-on activities for all ages. This exhibit highlights the oral and textile storytelling traditions of the Hmong people. Examples of storytelling through textiles from Vietnam, Panama, Peru and Turkey are often also on display with this exhibit.

Stitching Stories Continue reading

Authors' Corner

Authors’ Corner: Joe Cepeda

By Judi Moreillon, Tucson, AZ

Joe Cepeda, a man with glasses in a gray shirt and green apron, smiles as he stands in front of a white wall with pages of sketches pinned to it.Joe Cepeda participated in the 15th Annual Tucson Festival of Books in March, 2024. He was a panelist for the “Every Word Counts: Authoring a Picturebook” session. It was in that panel presentation that Joe shared his deeply personal connection to his latest author/illustrated book Rafa Counts on Papá. Continue reading

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Louise and Laura: Challenging our Assumptions of Indigenous and Pioneer Life

By Mandy Medvin, Elizabeth Ford, and Charlene Klassen Endrizzi, Westminster College, PA., retired faculty

A young girl with a bird on her shoulder stsands in front of a small house in the woods.“Who’s telling the story? What changes when someone else tells the story?” Videos like this one, “The Trouble with History,” from the Native New York exhibit, a branch of Smithsonian’s Museum of the American Indian, challenge students, teachers and parents to consider, “What if the story we are reading isn’t the only one?” And what if the text contains labels that marginalize specific groups?

This month we seek to move beyond a single, white Euro-centric lens on the Westward Movement, a common feature in many middle grade social studies’ textbooks. Louise Erdrich’s The Birchbark House series and Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House novels, both aimed at middle grade readers, are set in the mid-late 1800s and offer a comparative lens on this time period in U.S. history, often called the “pioneer era.” Louise (1954-present) wrote her books based on her family research as a member of the Turtle Mountain band of Ojibwe, Anishinaabe people who lived in the Great Lakes region. Laura (1867 – 1957), born nearby in Wisconsin, provides an early white-centric perspective on the same historical time period and location. Juxtaposing these series offers a way to initiate conversations with students regarding two distinct ways of life and perspectives. Continue reading

WOW Recommends: Book of the Month

WOW Recommends: Amil and the After

Cover of Amil and the After. Two hands rise up from the bottom of the cover and the fingers overlap above the title. Above the hands is a dark city in shades of blue and a starry night sky.Amil and the After by Veera Hiranandani is a companion novel to her Newbery Honor book, The Night Diary. That first book told how the twelve-year-old, twins, Amil and Nisha with their father and grandmother, made a harrowing escape from their family home because the British partitioned India in 1947. That meant that since the family were Hindus, they had to leave what became Pakistan since it just for Muslims after the partition. These historical fiction novels about events that few American children are acquainted with will give young readers insights about how those past events influence what is happening in today’s world.

“That’s when India became free from British rule, partitioned into two countries, and Pakistan was born. Most Muslims went to Pakistan. Most Hindus, Sikhs, and other non-Muslims went to India, and everyone started fighting and killing one another. Many starved or became ill and died on the journey.” (p. 5 Amil and the After.) Continue reading

WOW Dozen: Multiple Perspectives on Names and Naming

By Janine M. Schall, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

People’s names are one of the foundational building blocks of identity. Whether it is a name we are given or one that we choose for ourselves, names can carry multiple layers of meaning, including culture, history, connections to heritage and family, or an expression of personality. In addition to the names of people, names of animals, plants, and other things can also carry historical and cultural meanings.

Most people have more than one name: a legal first name, one or more middle and last names, nicknames (sometimes multiple) given to us by family or friends, and usernames associated with social media accounts. In addition, many people have a religious name and/or a traditional name connected to their culture. There may be specific naming practices or rituals within cultures or groups and names may change, voluntarily or involuntarily, at different stages of life such as adoption, coming of age, or marriage. Continue reading

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Indigenous Family Stories

By Angeline Hoffman, White Mountain Apache Tribe

A family in a white car drive down a road, away from mountains.This month I celebrate global children’s books focused on Indigenous families. Today in the U.S. there are 574 different federally recognized Indigenous tribes. While many teachers see the usefulness of celebrating American Indians during October and November holidays (October 14, Indigenous Peoples’ Day and November – Indigenous Heritage Month), we need to move beyond single days and months to explore Indigenous cultures. Much like the hazards of limiting the study of African American life to Black History Month in February, I hope teachers will ponder how we can explore Indigenous families and life as a part of any literature, history, art or science exploration throughout the school year.

Strong Nations is a useful publisher as I continually search for Indigenous children’s books. My goal in working with fifth and sixth grade Apache and Navajo students is to share books that value their culture, thereby empowering them. This month I focus on five children’s books that center on Indigenous families. Continue reading