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Rompiendo nuestra burbuja: An International Perspective on Culturally Specific Literature from the United States

Carmen M. Martínez-Roldán, Teachers College, Columbia, New York, Dámaris Muñoz Cataldo and Katherine Keim Riveros, Universidad de O’Higgins, Rancaqua, O’Higgins, Chile

Dreamers by Yuyi Morales, cover art“Rompe nuestra burbuja” were the words that Mariposa (self-selected pseudonym), an eight-grade Chilean student, used when giving her opinion about the benefits of reading stories that explore how people from different cultures live. She revealed, “Porque uno aprende nuevas cosas y rompe nuestra burbuja, nos muestra diferentes realidades de la vida diaria [because we learn new things, and it pops our bubbles. It shows us different realities from daily life].”

Teachers in U.S. classrooms are continuously looking for ways to engage their readers with children and young adolescent literature from various cultures, not only to support students’ reading but also to promote cross-cultural understandings needed to cultivate solidarity. Muhammad (2020) captured this concern in her question: “How will my instruction help students to learn something about themselves and/or about others?” (p. 58). Continue reading

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Korean Picturebook Authors and New Trends in Japan

by Yoo Kyung Sung, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque and Junko Sakoi, Tucson Unified School District, Tucson

Summer Is Coming Hangul Cover shows line drawing of a girl with a hose spraying perfect water circles.In recent years, increasing numbers of translated and non-translated Korean children’s literature are available to Japanese readers. Yes, Japanese readers read and consume Hangul (written Korean) directly beyond literature experiences (e.g., language learning). We’ve found several major Japanese publishing companies, JBBY (Japanese Board on Books for Young People), bookstores, and public and school libraries feature books by Korean authors and illustrators through social media and physical spaces. Three beloved Korean authors who also illustrate their work influenced Korean picturebooks’ reputations in Japan positively beyond what Japanese audiences are familiar with over the years (i.e., postcolonial texts). In this post, we share three Korean authors, Heena Baek, Suzy Lee and Heeyoung Ko who are among those gaining great popularity in Japan. Continue reading

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Exploring Korea’s Post-Coloniality through Korean Picturebooks Translated into Japanese

by Yoo Kyung Sung, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque and Junko Sakoi, Tucson Unified School District, Tucson

Queen Elizabeth II, the UK’s longest-serving monarch, recently passed away at age 96, after reigning for 70 years. Fourteen countries continue to maintain the monarch as their head of state after gaining independence, despite the collapse of the British Empire in the last century. The death of Queen Elizabeth II could readily accelerate the push by former U.K. colonies to ditch the British crown amid heightened anti-colonial sentiments in the remaining Commonwealth realms (Halb, 2022).

Former UK colonies’ anti-colonial sentiment made us think of colonial histories and facts that are not current hot topics discussed within the global community. Global knowledge of physical outcomes of colonization history is now often romanticized as the beautiful substance of architects, food, festivals, tourism, etc. European countries’ colonial histories in Africa and South America remain aesthetically appreciated based on the historical background of languages, hybrid cultures, diverse ethnicities and educational contexts. Lost are critical perspectives on the colonizers’ past and the colonial indigenous cultures. This leads Junko and I to realize how colonial history among Asian countries is often simplified as Asian history; not knowing who colonized whom in Asia is often a common misperception.

Asian Dragon swoops over landscape to challenge a person in a fieldThis month, Junko and I explore Korean picturebooks translated and published in Japan to analyze colonization patterns in Korea. In 1910, Korea was annexed by the Empire of Japan after years of war, intimidation and political machinations; Japan ruled Korea until 1945, the end of World War II. Until then, Korea was one of Japan’s colonies. During the Korean War that followed, South Korea established strong ties to the U.K. Continue reading

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Searching WOW Center Holdings In the UArizona Library Catalog

The recent release of Disney’s Little Mermaid theatrical trailer made a big splash, and we are here for it! In fact, let’s capitalize on that interest to explore a more global lens on mermaids. In case no one noticed, WOW Dozen recently published a list on Black mermaids and sirens in children’s literature by Desirée Cueto and Dorea Kleker. How about we search the WOW Center shelves to see if we can find additional global mermaid books that may also be of interest to young people inspired by Halle Bailey’s portrayal of Ariel? Continue reading

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2022 Trends in Global Literature: Multilingualism and Language Learning

By Kathy Short, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ

A grandmoter in a sari and a girl in pigtails happily embraceThe increasing global mobility and multilingualism of our world are playing out in interesting ways in recent books for children. Some of these books focus on children learning to speak English or on English-speakers struggling to pronounce a child’s name. Still others naturally integrate multiple languages in a translingual book where characters weave additional languages into their dialogue, drawing from the multiple languages they speak and understand. Another trend is an increase in bilingual books with the entire text in two languages. Continue reading

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2022 Trends in Global Literature: Picturebooks about Relationships with Grandparents

By Kathy G. Short, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ

An open yellow suitcase next to the legs of a young girlThe lack of books depicting contemporary global cultures has been an issue for many years with historical fiction, traditional literature and fantasy dominating the global books published in the U.S. This over-representation of history and traditions often results in stereotypes and misconceptions of these cultures as set back in time or no longer existing in the contemporary world. The recent emergence of picturebooks with contemporary depictions is thus a positive trend in providing books that invite children to make connections between their own culture and global cultures in today’s world. Continue reading

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Trends in Global Literature for Children and Adolescents

By Kathy G. Short, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ

Young boy shows his mutli-colored fingernails.WOW Currents for this month highlights the trends in global books published and/or distributed in the U.S. between Summer 2021 and 2022. Each year, we examine the new books published in that period of time and check out review sources and awards to identify books we believe will be of most interest to K-12 educators for use in their contexts. This process allows us to update the K-12 global reading lists, fiction and nonfiction, to post on the Worlds of Words Center website. This immersion into the new books also helps identify publication trends and patterns over the past year. This post overviews these trends and the posts during the month of August examine one trend in more depth with examples of books. Continue reading

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My Journey Through Culturally Authentic Indigenous American Children’s Literature

By Angeline P. Hoffman, White Mountain Apache

Leather bound book with gold leave title and art showing a storyteller stage with audienceCulturally authentic Indigenous American children’s literature is composed of traditional stories that consist of myths, legends and folktales in the oral storytelling traditions of a given people. This literature also includes contemporary stories and poetry. An affirmation of Indigenous children’s literature is noted by Dr. Debbie Reese (2007, p. 245):

Through stories, people pass their religious beliefs, customs, history, lifestyle, language, values, and the places they hold sacred from one generation to the next. As such, stories and their telling are more than simple entertainment. They matter in significant ways – to the well-being of the communities from which they originate.

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Bookbird as a Resource for Contemporary Themes and Issues in Literature

By Janelle B. Mathis, University of North Texas, Denton, TX

Girl and her dog in an airplaneJune’s earlier post in WOW Currents focused on the wealth of international authors and their works that can be explored by investing time in the nominees, finalists and winners of the Hans Christian Andersen 2022 award. A source to begin this exploration is through Bookbird, A Journal of International Children’s Literature, where an issue each year is focused on these outstanding authors and illustrators of children’s literature. Given the challenge that we all face — identifying global literature to use with students and in research — I wish to continue thinking about Bookbird as a resource by focusing on recently published issues and the themes therein. Continue reading

Bookbird as Resource: Exploring the Hans Christian Andersen Award Nominees

By Janelle B. Mathis, University of North Texas, Denton, TX

As a co-editor of Bookbird, A Journal of International Children’s Literature, the journal of IBBY (International Board on Books for Young People), I am currently involved in putting together the Hans Christian Andersen Winners and Finalists issue. Readers here may be quite familiar with Bookbird and the many scholarly insights around international children’s and young adult literature that it offers readers. Books to explore, creators of literature, activities centered around children’s literature, exploration of themes, ideologies, theoretical perspectives and cultural insights make Bookbird a wealth of global information. Continue reading