Change Over Time: Land, Culture, and Relationships

By Janelle Mathis, University of North Texas

Our final topic for September, “change over time,” may seem like a natural occurrence and not necessarily an issue of concern. However, we know it all depends on the change and how it is perceived by different individuals. As a global issue, change over time can involve people, places, environmental issues, and cultural perspectives, to mention a few.

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The Universal Issue of Bullying

By Janelle Mathis, University of North Texas

While contemplating contemporary issues that cross global communities reflected in children’s literature, I recently found a title of interest in the 2016 Outstanding International Book list of USBBY. This list crosses all levels of readers, young children to young adult, and includes books from a diversity of countries.

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Considering Immigration through Global Perspectives

By Janelle Mathis, University of North Texas

We continue last week’s introduction on sharing children’s literature by focusing on picture books. The notion of a picture book for many is that of “cute” books for young readers. However, images and text in picture books nurture creative and critical thinking. Each new class of preservice teachers I instruct proves this idea and so do many educators already in classrooms. While chapter books approach social issues in their own right, the significance of images in today’s communicative contexts creates a place for illustrators to tell their stories through a variety of modes and mediums. With this in mind, we consider immigration through global perspectives in recent picture books.

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Global Perspectives Offered by Children’s Literature

By Janelle Mathis, University of North Texas

Teaching classes not directly related to children’s or adolescent literature can challenge those whose professional and personal lives involve the potential of literature to bring new insights and perspectives to readers. While our field is vast, not all educators, parents or readers are aware of the potential for contemporary literacy learners. Contemporary children’s literature offers diverse, global perspectives and nurtures a critical mindset for understanding societal issues.

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Native American Children’s Books Featuring Elders

By Angeline P. Hoffman, White Mountain Apache Tribe

The cultural roles of an elder for American Indians include passing down knowledge through intergenerational teaching and learning. Elders, through their empowered words of wisdom and existence, transfer their insight from one generation to the next. In the Apache culture, “elder” endures as a highly-regarded status. Native American elders possess experiential understanding and knowledge, the stories of the world, and especially compassion for their grandchildren. Elders, also known to others as oral historians, teach respect and demonstrate how to respect one another. Joseph Bruchac says that elders and children are meant to be close. By no accident, in every part of the world children and grandparents often share a special understanding and bond. Native American elders connect with their traditional heritage and culture, more so than many other cultures.

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Native American Children’s Books Featuring Coyote

By Angeline P. Hoffman, White Mountain Apache

Designed for Indigenous people, Coyote represents many different characters or things; not one of them is cute. Coyote is a trickster and all trickster figures are more or less human in Native American literature. Besides being such a fool, Coyote is a supernatural being. While the supernatural powers do not necessarily appear in every story, that background knowledge affirms the Coyote stories. We tend to laugh at many of the messes he gets himself into but we also know what he is capable of. In different ways, his characteristics frequently portray some of our worst human aspects. For him “good” and “evil” are not opposites, but represent a continuum.

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Native American Children’s Books Featuring Animals

By Angeline P. Hoffman, White Mountain Apache

One of the themes from my studies, animals, derives from Native American children’s books featuring animals and the encountered stories about ethical or moral behaviors contained within them. Many Indigenous American cultures honor and revere animals. The people know that animals came into existence before man and animals have long been prevalent on Mother Earth. When men came, Animals communicated with humans and they still do. Therefore, they are respected; animals are considered Spirit helpers. Each animal has qualities that are special and powerful and shared with human beings if the animal is respected.

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Native American Children’s Books and Foundations of Self-Knowledge

By Angeline P. Hoffman, White Mountain Apache

One way children can make a connection between history and their own lives is through storytelling that emphasizes self-image and the foundations of self-knowledge of one’s own people. The stories of indigenous people, past and present, are important because one must understand the larger context of life to gain perspective on personal experiences.

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Native American Children’s Books on Indian Residential Schools

By Angeline P. Hoffman, White Mountain Apache

Children today, all children, need to be given the opportunity to understand history, even the parts that illustrate one people’s inhumanity to another people. For this understanding to occur, children need to be able to make a connection between the history being taught and their own lives. Dehumanizing Indian peoples in text and picture, justifying the atrocities committed in the name of “civilization,” presenting Carlisle founder Richard Henry Pratt’s disingenuous propaganda as fact, further adds to the vast body of disinformation being taught about Indian people.

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Refugee and Migrant Narrative in Baddawi by Leila Abdelrazaq

By Seemi Aziz, University of Arizona

BaddawiBaddawi by Leila Abdelrazaq follows Ahmad, a struggling young boy raised in a refugee camp called “Baddawi” in North Lebanon. He tries to find himself and his identity while growing up in a place he cannot call home. His story represents one of the many thousands of refugee children born in Palestine who fled or were forced to leave their homeland after the war in 1948 and the establishment of the state of Israel.
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