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

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.

cultural borders Continue reading

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?

crossing geographic borders Continue reading

WOW Currents

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.

Continue reading

WOW Currents

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

WOW Currents

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

WOW Currents

More Outstanding International Books from USBBY

By Holly Johnson

This week, I continue sharing international books that readers will enjoy by highlighting several picturebooks. Revisiting USBBY’s 2017 “Outstanding International Books,” I want to point out several works that span experiences and interests that will be sure to touch all readers regardless of age or grade. While I discuss these books in grade level order as noted on the OIB List, I know these books are not only appropriate for all readers, but will delight them as well.

USBBY Outstanding International Books, OIB list Continue reading

WOW Currents

2017 Outstanding International Books for Everyone!

By Holly Johnson

This month I share international books from across age groups that will be sure to provoke, delight and inspire. This week, I am sharing from the 2017 “Outstanding International Books” from the U.S. Board on Books for Young People (USBBY), a list that came out at the end of January. These books were all published in the U.S. during 2016 and represent countries and cultures from around the world. Some of the books from the list have already been shared on WOW Currents, so while I might mention them, I really want to give you a new set of books to read and enjoy.

international books Continue reading

WOW Currents

Supporting Refugees and Immigrants through Imaginative Narratives

By Susan Corapi

The process of adapting to a new country can take (at best) months or (more probably) years. Picture books about the refugee experience can give the false impression that the process of learning a new language and adapting to a new culture is quick because the narrative is compressed into 32 pages. In reality, the process should be represented as a multivolume work!

imaginative narratives Continue reading

WOW Currents

Supporting Refugees and Immigrants through Narratives with Strong Characters

By Susan Corapi

Christina Igoa, in her book The Inner World of the Immigrant Child (1995), documents her years of teaching in a California classroom designed to support children in their acquisition of English. In order to help that process, she acquired an extensive classroom library and immersed her students in English language texts. She particularly focused on collecting stories that had strong characters who overcame obstacles.

refugees and immigrants, strong characters Continue reading