WOW Currents

One Crazy Summer: Learning about Your Culture and Heritage

By Kami Gillette, University of South Carolina

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia is about three African-American sisters, Delphine (11), Vonetta (9) and Fern (7) Gaither who take a summer trip from Brooklyn to Oakland, California in 1968, to meet their mother, Cecile, who abandoned them when Fern was a baby. The girls have been raised in Brooklyn by their father and his mother, Big Ma. While in Oakland, the girls hope to form a close bond with their mother and visit Disneyland; however, Cecile is hesitant to acknowledge their existence and sends them out daily to attend the People’s Center, a day camp run by the Black Panther party.

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia
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WOW Currents

Evelyn Serrano: Rediscovering and Reconnecting with Cultural Heritage

by Josh Hill and Julia López-Robertson, University of South Carolina

The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano by Sonia Manzano is about a young Puerto Rican girl, Evelyn, coming of age in the Spanish Harlem neighborhood of New York City during the summer of 1969. Evelyn’s Abuela left Puerto Rico and moved in to the family’s tiny apartment adding to the already tumultuous time in their home and neighborhood. Not only is there one more body in their tiny apartment, she has taken over Evelyn’s bedroom. Their relationship changes however, when the Young Lords, a group of Puerto Rican activists, begin to agitate for change in the neighborhood. The Young Lords presence in the neighborhood causes Evelyn to become intrigued with her Puerto Rican heritage and family history leading her to see Abuela as a source of knowledge and connection to her past.

The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano by Sonia Manzano
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WOW Currents

Coming Home to Los Hormigueros

By Valerie Muñoz and Julia López-Robertson

While considering what to write in the blog this month, it is difficult not to make connections to our current political situation, namely issues surrounding immigration. Almost a year ago, a colleague contacted me with excitement over a piece of writing that a preservice teacher in her writing methods class had crafted during a writer’s workshop. Los Hormigueros, the piece written by Valerie Muñoz, a graduating senior at the University of South Carolina, takes us into her life as she examines childhood memories based on true events. This story recounts the memories Valerie had as a young girl — a memory of when she became aware that she is an immigrant. We invite you to read Valerie’s story.

Los Hermigueros, traveling between Mexico and the U.S. Continue reading

WOW Recommends: Book of the Month

WOW Recommends: Dreamland Burning

Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham
Book of the Month, May 2017
Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham

As the summer of 1921 kicks in, racial tensions in Tulsa strain to the point of violence. This leads to the (controversially named) Tulsa Race Riots, which are not officially part of the Oklahoma History curriculum until July 1, 2012. In this setting, Will and Rowan, biracial teens struggling with both privilege and prejudice, live 90 years apart. A murder ties them together. Dreamland Burning blends historical fiction with mystery to show how “history has a way of sneaking back around.” Carefully paced, compelling, and true-to-life, this is a book I needed growing up in Oklahoma. -Recommended by Rebecca Ballenger

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MTYT: Duck, Death and the Tulip

Compiled by Janelle Mathis

The last My Take/Your Take for April continues with a focus on picture books. For the students involved, part of a doctoral class on critical content and visual analysis of international literature, many picture books became unique points of discussion. In light of the recent 2017 recipient of the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, German author/illustrator Wolf Erlbruch, we read Duck, Death and the Tulip (2011) as well as other books by Erlbruch and some scholarly perspectives.

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WOW Currents

Crossing Educational Borders with Children’s Literature

By Janine Schall

When I was in fifth grade, each child in my class had to demonstrate a science project. We chose our own topics and after much consultation with my parents and science fair books I decided to mix baking soda and vinegar in a bottle so that I could pop off the cork and make it fly across the room. The ‘POP’ was very satisfying.

educational borders

I don’t remember what grade I got for the project, but it was probably pretty good; most of my grades were. I knew how to perform at school, and, with a few math-related exceptions, I did well academically. Both of my parents completed post-secondary education and it was always quite clear to me that I would go to college after high school. Our school district started tracking children in middle school and there was never any question that I would be in the college-prep track. I believed I was smart because my parents, teachers, and friends believed I was smart. Continue reading

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MTYT: Samira and the Skeletons

Compiled by Janelle Mathis

This installment of April’s My Take/Your Take focuses on responses to a title that is on the USBBY 2017 “Outstanding International Book” List. Bill Visco, a doctoral student and high school English teacher, and April Walker, a doctoral student and elementary teacher with a focus in Language Arts and Social Studies, share their responses to Samira and the Skeletons (2016) written by Camilla Kuhn and published by Eerdmans Books for Young Readers. This book was translated from Norwegian by Don Bartlett and humorously shares the story of a child who is obsessed with seeing everyone as walking skeletons after a lesson in school about skeletons.

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WOW Currents

Crossing Linguistic and Cultural Borders

By Janine Schall

The majority of my childhood and teen years were spent in a small, rural Midwestern town. It was a great place to grow up; safe, good schools, and nice people. I learned a lot about myself and about the world in that little town and when I left after college, in most ways I had an excellent foundation for my future life.

However, in one particular way that place failed me. In the ’70s and ’80s, almost the entire population in that geographical location was White, English-speaking, some variety of Christian, and middle or working class. I grew up surrounded by people who looked like me, sounded like me, worshipped like me, and shared values with me. Life there did very little to prepare me for living in a diverse and global society.

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MTYT: What’s Your Story?

Compiled by Janelle Mathis

April’s My Take/Your Take continues with two doctoral students, Nichelle Vaughan, a doctoral student and Graduate Assistant in the UNT Curriculum and Instruction Program, and Bill Visco, a doctoral student and high school English teacher, responding to a picture book they find intriguing in their exploration of international literature. What’s Your Story? (2013) written by Rose Giannone, illustrated by Bern Emmerichs, and published by Berbay, is the focus for week two.

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WOW Currents

Understanding and Crossing Geographic Borders with Children’s Literature

By Janine Schall

Yesterday I drove sixty miles west to attend a meeting on another campus. As I drove, I thought about the borders I was crossing — boundaries between one school district and the next, streets that marked the difference between one town and another, a county line announced by a road sign and a change in pavement. I also paralleled the U.S./Mexico border; when I arrived at the town where the campus is located one left turn would have sent me to the bridge across the Rio Grande River and into Mexico.

Borders are everywhere! But why? What purpose do they serve? How are they established? Who benefits from them? Who is harmed?

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