Global Perspectives Offered by Children’s Literature

By Janelle Mathis, University of North Texas

Teaching classes not directly related to children’s or adolescent literature can challenge those whose professional and personal lives involve the potential of literature to bring new insights and perspectives to readers. While our field is vast, not all educators, parents or readers are aware of the potential for contemporary literacy learners. Contemporary children’s literature offers diverse, global perspectives and nurtures a critical mindset for understanding societal issues.

global perspectives Continue reading

Native American Children’s Books Featuring Elders

By Angeline P. Hoffman, White Mountain Apache Tribe

The cultural roles of an elder for American Indians include passing down knowledge through intergenerational teaching and learning. Elders, through their empowered words of wisdom and existence, transfer their insight from one generation to the next. In the Apache culture, “elder” endures as a highly-regarded status. Native American elders possess experiential understanding and knowledge, the stories of the world, and especially compassion for their grandchildren. Elders, also known to others as oral historians, teach respect and demonstrate how to respect one another. Joseph Bruchac says that elders and children are meant to be close. By no accident, in every part of the world children and grandparents often share a special understanding and bond. Native American elders connect with their traditional heritage and culture, more so than many other cultures.

Native American elders, children's book Continue reading

Native American Children’s Books Featuring Coyote

By Angeline P. Hoffman, White Mountain Apache

Designed for Indigenous people, Coyote represents many different characters or things; not one of them is cute. Coyote is a trickster and all trickster figures are more or less human in Native American literature. Besides being such a fool, Coyote is a supernatural being. While the supernatural powers do not necessarily appear in every story, that background knowledge affirms the Coyote stories. We tend to laugh at many of the messes he gets himself into but we also know what he is capable of. In different ways, his characteristics frequently portray some of our worst human aspects. For him “good” and “evil” are not opposites, but represent a continuum.

Coyote stories, Coyote Stories, Mourning Dove, Humishuma Continue reading

Native American Children’s Books Featuring Animals

By Angeline P. Hoffman, White Mountain Apache

One of the themes from my studies, animals, derives from Native American children’s books featuring animals and the encountered stories about ethical or moral behaviors contained within them. Many Indigenous American cultures honor and revere animals. The people know that animals came into existence before man and animals have long been prevalent on Mother Earth. When men came, Animals communicated with humans and they still do. Therefore, they are respected; animals are considered Spirit helpers. Each animal has qualities that are special and powerful and shared with human beings if the animal is respected.

Antelope Woman cover, Native American children's books featuring animals
Continue reading

Native American Children’s Books and Foundations of Self-Knowledge

By Angeline P. Hoffman, White Mountain Apache

One way children can make a connection between history and their own lives is through storytelling that emphasizes self-image and the foundations of self-knowledge of one’s own people. The stories of indigenous people, past and present, are important because one must understand the larger context of life to gain perspective on personal experiences.

Foundations of Self-Knowledge, children's literature Continue reading

Native American Children’s Books on Indian Residential Schools

By Angeline P. Hoffman, White Mountain Apache

Children today, all children, need to be given the opportunity to understand history, even the parts that illustrate one people’s inhumanity to another people. For this understanding to occur, children need to be able to make a connection between the history being taught and their own lives. Dehumanizing Indian peoples in text and picture, justifying the atrocities committed in the name of “civilization,” presenting Carlisle founder Richard Henry Pratt’s disingenuous propaganda as fact, further adds to the vast body of disinformation being taught about Indian people.

Native American Children's Books on Indian Residential Schools Continue reading

Refugee and Migrant Narrative in Baddawi by Leila Abdelrazaq

By Seemi Aziz, University of Arizona

BaddawiBaddawi by Leila Abdelrazaq follows Ahmad, a struggling young boy raised in a refugee camp called “Baddawi” in North Lebanon. He tries to find himself and his identity while growing up in a place he cannot call home. His story represents one of the many thousands of refugee children born in Palestine who fled or were forced to leave their homeland after the war in 1948 and the establishment of the state of Israel.
Continue reading

Refugee and Migrant Narrative in Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan

By Seemi Aziz, University of Arizona

children separated by placeEcho by Pam Muñoz Ryan is a poignant story about the journey of a magical mouth harp (harmonica) through time and space. The masterful enmeshing of timeless fairytale and historical reality binds this powerful text into a strong narrative that highlights world events, prejudice, and social class distinctions. It all begins with Otto, who gets lost in a jungle where three sisters, bound by a witch’s curse, find him. Otto promises to break the curse by taking the harmonica out to the world. The harmonica, through its magical music, tangibly joins three children separated by place, which lifts the curse, freeing the three sisters. Continue reading

Refugee and Migrant Narrative In No Safe Place by Deborah Ellis

By Seemi Aziz, University of Arizona

No Safe Place by Deborah Ellis, undocumented immigrant childrenThe well-executed plot of No Safe Place by Deborah Ellis follows the journey to freedom of three undocumented immigrant children. While the children struggle to reach the shores of England, a British orphan, released from the bonds of an oppressive uncle, joins them. These children, Abdul from Baghdad, Cheslav from Russia, Jonah from England, and the only female, Rosalia, a Romani, develop throughout the story. Ellis depicts a rich cultural background of the countries with distinct circumstances for each character. This story begins in France and culminates in England, providing a fine description of the traumatic lives many immigrants lead in France.
Continue reading

Recent Refugee and Migrant Narratives in Picture Books and YA Novels

By Seemi Aziz, University of Arizona

World populations relocated to varied geographical areas throughout history and time. Such movement contributed to the United States of America and its place of power in the world. The recent significant global impact of large bodies of refugee populations relocating and of forced movements of Mexicans and Muslims to the U.S., Europe and other Western nations present themselves at the forefront of national and international news and politics. One cannot turn on the TV or visit an internet or social media site and not find a reference to these emigrating populations.

Refugee and Migrant Narratives, refugee movements Continue reading