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Math In Children’s Literature

By Susan Corapi, Trinity International University, Deerfield, IL

I teach Reading and Writing Across the Curriculum to preservice teachers. The course covers literacy in various content areas at the middle and high school levels. One of my goals in this class is to help students understand the literacy practices embedded in their various disciplines. This gives them a better understanding of how they can support middle and high school students in their attempts to read discipline-specific texts as a mathematician, scientist, historian or musician might read them. I also want them to experience using literature to work across disciplines, collaboratively building unit plans that support critical thinking in their content area.

Really Big Numbers

Illustration from Really Big Numbers by Richard Evan Schwartz.

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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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A Tale of Two Countries and The Hate U Give

By Deborah Dimmett, The University of Arizona

My visit to Haiti this summer has made me reflective about the direction of my own country. For the past month, I worked on three projects that focus on critical problems that have deep roots tied to poverty, opportunism, and politics. However, there are striking parallels to the direction in which the United States is heading with respect to caring for the most needy and vulnerable, honoring civil liberties and human rights, as well as supporting education for all because democracy in any form cannot exist without a well-informed and educated populace. In Haiti, extreme poverty, weak institutions, and natural disasters hold in place the unfortunate status quo for most Haitians. The United States, on the other hand, is among the most privileged countries in the world. Yet, our government and institutions are fervently deciding to pull support from education and social programs while civil liberties continue to be tested by the Trump Administration. This month, I write on four themes that connect realities in United States with those in Haiti. For each theme, I will feature a young adult novel that delves further into that theme. This week, I use The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas to explore racism and police brutality.

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Global Poverty in Ada’s Violin and Malaika’s Costume

By Seemi Aziz, The University of Arizona

As I continue to look at representations of global poverty in picturebooks, resourcefulness remains a predominant theme. Two examples of characters who live in poverty and show resourcefulness come from the books Ada’s Violin, which has been a WOW Recommends: Book of the Month selection, and Malaika’s Costume.

Ada's Violin The Story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay by Susan Hood and illustrated by Sally Wern Comport Continue reading

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Resourcefulness and Poverty in Pablo Finds a Treasure

By Seemi Aziz, The University of Arizona

The lives of children in refugee camps and displaced people are no different from the protagonists in Pablo Finds a Treasure by Andree Poulin and Isabelle Malenfant. The book cover reflects this plight as the audience/reader is invited into the story by faces of two disheveled, scrawny children looking directly out. Pablo and his sister, Sophia, live in unnamed slums in Latin America. They sleep on the floor and look tired and bedraggled, as did Gie Gie in The Water Princess. They similarly have to wake up early and look for “treasure” by rummaging through the huge garbage dump close by. The treasure being anything of value they can find, which includes whatever is barely edible, one shoe, or a torn up book. They do this day in and day out while dreaming of a better life. They represent a myriad of individuals, mostly children.

Interior illustration from Pablo Finds a Treasure by Andree Poulin and Isabelle Malenfant.

Interior illustration from Pablo Finds a Treasure by Andree Poulin and Isabelle Malenfant.

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Access to Water and The Water Princess

By Seemi Aziz, The University of Arizona

I begin with thirst, dry, parched thirst, and the search for clean drinking water in an arid land. Mostly because Ramadan in Arizona in 106-109 degree heat lends to a desperate empathy with all the people who do not have access to water, globally. Being without water and food from sunrise to sunset in this long hot summer month takes its toll. By afternoon it becomes hard to concentrate and one becomes excessively lethargic. This month causes a strong compassionate association to people who do not have access to food and water. But there is light at the end of the tunnel, where clean, cold, clear water and abundant food awaits most fasting people here in Arizona.

An illustration from The Water Princess by Susan Verde and Peter H. Reynolds relates the difficulties associated with global access to water. Continue reading

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Poverty Representations in Children’s Literature

By Seemi Aziz, The University of Arizona

Poverty and social exclusion (due to poverty) are a sad fact of life, globally. Abject poverty and insatiable hunger and thirst impacts various walks of life and all kinds of people, but its impact is stronger, heart wrenching, and more powerful when it comes to young children. Hunger and thirst are a part of this, and it is never more deeply felt than now when Muslims are observing Ramadan globally. Consciously refraining from eating and drinking from sunrise to sunset every day for a month while living in the affluence of urban life in Western nations is very different from shortage or lack of food or water in refugee camps or war torn regions where water and food are already scarce in the relentless heat of summer months. Children’s literature in the USA has mostly been resistant to share these hardships and facts of life with the youth. Happy thoughts and memories are shared freely within picturebooks. We can observe this trend continue but with many recent exceptions where poverty, lives of young refugees and children living in war torn countries, are coming to the fore.

Interior illustration from Pablo Finds a Treasure by Andree Poulin and Isabelle Malenfant.

Interior illustration from Pablo Finds a Treasure by Andree Poulin and Isabelle Malenfant.

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Visit Our New World Language Collection

By Rebecca Ballenger, Coordinator of Outreach and Collections, Worlds of Words

Worlds of Words in the University of Arizona College of Education added a World Language collection of over a thousand texts to its main collection of 36,000 global books. Due to what the book industry refers to as the “translation gap,” it’s likely that fewer than 3.7 percent of WOW’s new World Language collection has an English version.

World Language Collection
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