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Suggest Books to Explore Hunger and Poverty

By Deborah Dimmett, The University of Arizona

This week I am in Caracol, Haiti, working at a camp that is an industrial park partially financed by USAID after the 2010 earthquake. It is hours away from Port-au-Prince where the earthquake occurred and is an attempt to provide factory jobs and low cost housing to Haitians. The industrial park was not constructed without controversy. Haitians who work for the textile factory work long days at a rate of $5 a day. They have to purchase their home, pay for all utilities, and eat with whatever income is left. It’s difficult to imagine how they manage and even more difficult to understand the logic of neoliberal trade agreements that allow large companies like Levi-Strauss to pay so little to those who have few means for their daily sustenance. In fact, meals are sparse, often with little nutritional value but high in carbohydrates and fat so that people can sustain a long work day on only one meal.

SeLavi

Interior illustration from SéLavi by Youme (Cinco Puntos Press, 2004)

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MTYT: December 2016

Examining Morally Complicated Young Adult Literature
By T. Gail Pritchard and Deborah Dimmett

morally complicated young adult literatureThe Bombs That Brought Us Together by Brian Conaghan

GAIL: This time last year, the young adult literature (YAL) world was all abuzz about an unfortunate choice of words by a debut author. Perhaps it was naivety on his part, perhaps it was the way his words were edited in an oft quoted article, perhaps it was a combination — but the result was the same, the YAL community did not like his description of past and current YA as lacking moral complexity. They posted, they blogged, they tweeted; and as a result, lists of morally complicated YAL appeared and sessions at conferences (e.g. YALC 2016, NCTE 2016) were well-attended. Through the discussion of some of the novels appearing on these lists and in conference sessions, we will explore definitions of morally complex YAL, the complicated journeys that occur, the likability of the characters, and the tough questions these novels force us to ask. Continue reading

Those “#$@&%*!” Expletives in Children’s Books

by Deborah Dimmett, University of Arizona

BadWordIt has often been debated just how much children’s literature is intended for an adult audience to the same extent it is for children. We know from our own experiences with picture books that there are some interesting subtleties in the story and the illustrations that hail the adult reader.

A recently released picture book, Little Bird’s Bad Word (2015) by Jacob Grant, is an example of a picture book that is definitely aimed at both children (ages 3-7) and the adults who read with/to them. Continue reading

Providing Books for a School in Haiti

by Deborah Dimmett, University of Arizona

HaitiSchoolHaitian families struggle to send their children to school. Although there is no tuition for attending national schools, parents who earn $1 or less a day still have to find the means to purchase textbooks, supplies, uniforms, and pay the registration fees of $20 to $30 per year if their children are to attend school. Many families make the initial investment in their children’s education through Grade 3. However, the cost of schooling increases after 3rd grade. In fact, it is not unusual for schools to send students home who come without textbooks. Continue reading

The Orbis Pictus Awards: Outstanding Nonfiction Literature

by Deborah Dimmett, The University of Arizona

OPSealThe Orbis Pictus Awards, established in 1989, commemorates the work of Johannes Amos Comenius, whose work included the first nonfiction book for children, Orbis Pictus—The World in Pictures (1657). Each year, NCTE gives one award for a book representing the best of children’s nonfiction for that year along with five honor books and eight recommended books can also be recognized. Continue reading

Using Literature to Investigate Problems Focused on Social Justice

by Deborah Dimmett

There is an abundance of young adult (YA) literature that lends itself to exploring issues of social justice. Introducing young adults to nonfiction books about societal and global dilemmas can be a very exciting way to engage youth in problem-based learning through literature. One issue that has local, national, and global implications deals with huge influx of unaccompanied and undocumented children from Central America. Continue reading

A Community Where There Are No Books for Children to Read

by Deborah Dimmett

haiti-14023_640This summer I spent two weeks in Bainet, a seaside town in Haiti located about 60 miles from the capital. Over the past 11 years, I have visited this small town to provide seminars to teachers on strategies and methods that do not require many material resources. Most learning in Haitian schools takes place through rote instruction; and, when books are required, Continue reading