Immigrant and Refugee Narratives from 2016

By Lauren Freedman

This week, I will be sharing four new books from 2016. These four books speak to the most current issues facing us if we want to continue to be a welcoming nation in 2017 and beyond: refugee safety, immigration, undocumented Americans. The first two books are picture books that tell refugee stories. One provides a general sense of the refugee experience, the other is about a specific refugee family from Syria. The third book, also a picture book, is a compilation of United States’ immigrant stories told in sparse, lyrical text accompanied by many moving photographs of individuals and families from many different countries around the world. The fourth book is an academic text for adults that shares and discusses the experiences of undocumented teens living in America.

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Picture Books, Chapter Books Showcasing Immigrants and Refugees

By Lauren Freedman

This week, I am sharing works of fiction, nine picture books with illustrations that deepen the reader’s empathy and understanding and four chapter books, all written in free verse. The free verse, I think, captures the shifting emotions and swift changes in locations and circumstances the characters are experiencing and helps the reader feel part of the story. Though fiction, all these stories are based on the real and often current experiences of refugees and immigrants from many parts of the world. For most of the books shared this week there are extension resources available on the internet.

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The Importance of Sharing Immigrant and Refugee Stories

By Lauren Freedman

December’s WOW Currents will focus on sharing immigrant and refugee stories of those children and their families who have been forced to leave the comfort of their homelands. Immigrants and refugees leave their known lives due to war, famine and genocide, among other hardships and disasters. The topic of immigration and refugees is of specific relevance in the current political climate throughout the United States. Sharing immigrant and refugee stories is particularly important in our schools, where bullying of students who are deemed to be “different” due to language, religion and skin color has increased.

sharing immigrant and refugee stories

Illustrations of characters from Playing War by Kathy Beckwith, illustrated by Lea Lyon.


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WOW Recommends: Book of the Month

WOW Recommends: Luis Paints the World

Luis Paints the World by Terry Farish
Book of the Month, December 2016
Luis Paints the World by Terry Farish with illustrations by Oliver Dominguez

Nico, Luis’ older brother is off to join the army and see the world. While Nico is gone, Luis decides to paint the world on an alleyway wall in their Latino neighborhood and is joined by his family and neighbors to create a colorful mural. Spanish words and descriptions of Dominican foods are sprinkled throughout the text contributing to the warm sense of community. -Recommended by Marilyn Carpenter
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The Arizona Experience: Japanese Internment Camps in WWII

By Maya Patterson

As the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor approaches, we examine Arizona’s experience of World War II. This experience encompasses both the American Indian code talkers and two Japanese-American internment camps, the Gila River Internment Camp in Phoenix and the Colorado River Internment Camp in Poston. Newbery Award-winning author, Cynthia Kadohata, sets her novel, Weedflower, in Poston. The book connects the worlds of Japanese-Americans in the camps and American Indians, whose land the camps occupied.

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Exploring the Unbreakable Code

By Maya Patterson

Last week WOW Currents presented a list of American Indian literature and children’s books. This week, we take a closer look at The Unbreakable Code by Sara Hoagland Hunter and illustrated by Julia Miner. This picture book inspired the art from Tucson High Magnet School and Van Buskirk Elementary School in Worlds of Words’s “Code Making and Perspective Taking” exhibit, open from October 28 to December 15.

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Native American Veterans in Children’s Literature

By Angeline P. Hoffman, White Mountain Apache Tribe

Worlds of Words’s current exhibit, “Code Making and Perspective Taking,” features stories of Native American code talkers, with art reflections from Tucson High Magnet School art students and fifth graders at Van Buskirk Elementary School. This week, with Veteran’s Day on Friday, November 11, I present a list of children’s and Native American literature that focuses on Native American veterans and their contribution to war efforts.

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WOW Recommends: Book of the Month

WOW Recommends: Shepherd’s Crown

Shepherds Crown by Terry Pratchett
Book of the Month, November 2016
The Shepherd’s Crown: A Tiffany Aching Adventure by Terry Pratchett

The is the fifth and last fantasy tale about Tiffany, who has grown into a young woman and becomes a powerful and caring Head Witch. The Wee Free Men, 6-inch-tall blue men, zesty characters from the previous four books, join Tiffany to battle an invasion of the evil Fairies. Pratchett’s last book is a testimony to his belief that each person must make a difference in her world by helping others. -Recommended by Marilyn Carpenter
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