WOW Currents

Supporting Refugees and Immigrants through Bilingual Books

By Susan Corapi

Learning a new language can be fun depending on how it is taught and the circumstances that are prompting a person to take on the task. Immersion style language learning, when an immigrant is thrust into a new cultural context, is a different matter. It is stressful. It is incredibly tiring. It can also discombobulate a person’s sense of identity, which for many of us is partially anchored in language and the ability to communicate. When that ability to express feelings, ask for what we want, or simply pass the time of day is stripped away, we begin to wonder who we are.

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WOW Currents

Supporting Refugees and Immigrants through Silent Books

By Susan Corapi

On the heels of Lauren Freedman’s posts about the importance of stories about the refugee experience, this month’s blog posts will focus on practical uses of books to support refugees in ways that can help them feel welcome, negotiate the language learning and adaptation process, and gain a sense of a new home.

silent books

A selection of artwork from Bluebird by Bob Staake, listed below.

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Joan Sandin’s Long Road to Publication

By Maya Patterson

Worlds of Words’s exhibit, Inspiration to Celebration: Publishing Journeys is now open to the public. The exhibit features the publishing journey of Coyote School News by Joan Sandin, an award-winning author, illustrator and translator. Sandin’s original artwork for Coyote School News hangs in the WOW Studio, and the Mary J. Wong Collection showcases her journey of publishing the book. Newspaper covers from two publications that feature the voices of young reporters, the Little Cowpuncher and Bear Essential News, also hang in the exhibit in the WOW Hall Gallery.

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Imagination to Celebration: Publishing Journeys Exhibit

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

Award-winning author and illustrator Joan Sandin reflects on the experience researching, writing and publishing the children’s book Coyote School News from 3 to 5 p.m. on January 28 in Worlds of Words. The event celebrates the opening of Worlds of Words’s new exhibit, Imagination to Celebration: Publishing Journeys.

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Immigrant and Refugee Narratives from 2016

By Lauren Freedman

This week, I will be sharing four new books from 2016. These four books speak to the most current issues facing us if we want to continue to be a welcoming nation in 2017 and beyond: refugee safety, immigration, undocumented Americans. The first two books are picture books that tell refugee stories. One provides a general sense of the refugee experience, the other is about a specific refugee family from Syria. The third book, also a picture book, is a compilation of United States’ immigrant stories told in sparse, lyrical text accompanied by many moving photographs of individuals and families from many different countries around the world. The fourth book is an academic text for adults that shares and discusses the experiences of undocumented teens living in America.

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Picture Books, Chapter Books Showcasing Immigrants and Refugees

By Lauren Freedman

This week, I am sharing works of fiction, nine picture books with illustrations that deepen the reader’s empathy and understanding and four chapter books, all written in free verse. The free verse, I think, captures the shifting emotions and swift changes in locations and circumstances the characters are experiencing and helps the reader feel part of the story. Though fiction, all these stories are based on the real and often current experiences of refugees and immigrants from many parts of the world. For most of the books shared this week there are extension resources available on the internet.

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The Importance of Sharing Immigrant and Refugee Stories

By Lauren Freedman

December’s WOW Currents will focus on sharing immigrant and refugee stories of those children and their families who have been forced to leave the comfort of their homelands. Immigrants and refugees leave their known lives due to war, famine and genocide, among other hardships and disasters. The topic of immigration and refugees is of specific relevance in the current political climate throughout the United States. Sharing immigrant and refugee stories is particularly important in our schools, where bullying of students who are deemed to be “different” due to language, religion and skin color has increased.

sharing immigrant and refugee stories

Illustrations of characters from Playing War by Kathy Beckwith, illustrated by Lea Lyon.


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The Arizona Experience: Japanese Internment Camps in WWII

By Maya Patterson

As the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor approaches, we examine Arizona’s experience of World War II. This experience encompasses both the American Indian code talkers and two Japanese-American internment camps, the Gila River Internment Camp in Phoenix and the Colorado River Internment Camp in Poston. Newbery Award-winning author, Cynthia Kadohata, sets her novel, Weedflower, in Poston. The book connects the worlds of Japanese-Americans in the camps and American Indians, whose land the camps occupied.

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