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The Importance of Family: Learning through Our Heritage

By Josh Hill, Kami Gillette, and Julia López-Robertson, University of South Carolina

Bishop (1990) discusses texts as mirrors, windows, and sliding glass doors. Texts, Bishop explains, allow children to see into another person’s reality and should also allow children to see themselves and their own realities in a book. The three texts we discuss this month, Valerie Muñoz’s story, Los Hormigueros, The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano, and One Crazy Summer, can serve as windows, mirrors, and sliding glass doors and provide clear examples of Yosso’s (2005) notion of Community Cultural Wealth, specifically of familial and resistant capital.

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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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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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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

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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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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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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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Crossing Borders with Children’s Literature

By Janine Schall

As an unapologetic procrastinator, I began writing this blog post by surfing the internet, checking out various social media and news websites to catch up on the latest gossip and political disasters. Stories and comments about the proposed border wall between the United States and Mexico popped up on every website I visited, which was both depressing and predictable.

U.S. Mexico border wall, crossing borders

Photo of the U.S./Mexico border wall in Hidalgo, Texas.

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Favorite USBBY Outstanding International Books for All Grade Levels

By Holly Johnson

This final week of March, I will highlight a final few books to check out from USBBY’s OIB List. I shared all of the books on this list at the Tucson Festival of Books during the weekend of March 11-12 and really enjoyed talking with others who love books! I also reminded them of what I mentioned a few weeks ago about grade levels: Don’t let the grade levels noted on the OIB List deter you from checking out all of these books! There is something for everyone, and so many would work with young people across grade levels.

2017 OIB list, books for all grade levels Continue reading

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Social Justice in USBBY’s 2017 Outstanding International Books List

By Holly Johnson

This week I continue sharing both novels and picture books from USBBY’s 2017 “Outstanding International Books.” I want to pay particular attention to the issue of social justice in these selections with the hope that readers will re-evaluate some of the current thinking within the U.S. I strongly believe that books provide us with “windows, mirrors and sliding glass doors” (Rudine Sims Bishop, 1990). There are times when what we read can help us determine what we believe and perhaps what actions we take in respect to others as well as our own beliefs.

social justice, Don't Cross the Line by Isabel Minhós Martins Continue reading