Exploring the Unbreakable Code

By Maya Patterson

Last week WOW Currents presented a list of American Indian literature and children’s books. This week, we take a closer look at The Unbreakable Code by Sara Hoagland Hunter and illustrated by Julia Miner. This picture book inspired the art from Tucson High Magnet School and Van Buskirk Elementary School in Worlds of Words’s “Code Making and Perspective Taking” exhibit, open from October 28 to December 15.

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Native American Veterans in Children’s Literature

By Angeline P. Hoffman, White Mountain Apache Tribe

Worlds of Words’s current exhibit, “Code Making and Perspective Taking,” features stories of Native American code talkers, with art reflections from Tucson High Magnet School art students and fifth graders at Van Buskirk Elementary School. This week, with Veteran’s Day on Friday, November 11, I present a list of children’s and Native American literature that focuses on Native American veterans and their contribution to war efforts.

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Transnational Authors’ Cultural Backgrounds and Further Reading

By Yoo Kyung Sung, University of New Mexico,
and Junko Sakoi, Tucson Unified School District

Throughout this past month we have looked at trends in transnational Asian children’s books. Further, we have discussed new transnational authors that expand cross-cultural peer relations in books and give voice to stories beyond traditional folklore. To wrap up the month of October, we present contemporary Korean and Japanese authors with books released in the U.S. These lists include authors that we have mentioned this month and some that we have not. Each name links to the author’s website, where you can find their books, the authors’ cultural backgrounds and other connections.

authors' cultural backgrounds

Katrina Goldsaito, left, is a new Japanese-American author who lived and wrote in Japan. Linda Sue Park, right, is the first Korean-American author to win the Newbery Award.

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New Transnational Authors of Children’s Books

By Yoo Kyung Sung, University of New Mexico,
and Junko Sakoi, Tucson Unified School District

This week, we discuss new patterns in portraying additional U.S. Asian groups in books by new transnational authors. Like books about Korean and Japanese people and cultures, we observed new themes and perspectives that differ from previous Asian-American books in the ’90s and 2000s. We wondered how such new insights and experiences came to be available for young readers. One big change we’ve observed is the growth of new career authors and illustrators who have different stories to tell compared to previous decades’ stories.

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New Trends in Transnational Japanese Children’s Books

By Junko Sakoi, Tucson Unified School District,
and Yoo Kyung Sung, University of New Mexico

This week we discuss newly published children’s literature in the U.S. about Japanese and Japanese-American people in global contexts. Three patterns emerge when we consider the new trends in transnational Japanese children’s books: 1) little-known historical events between Japan and the U.S., 2) transnational children’s and teen’s journeys across time and space, and 3) children’s experiences in universal and cultural contexts.

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New Trends in Transnational Korean Children’s Books

By Yoo Kyung Sung, University of New Mexico,
and Junko Sakoi, Tucson Unified School District

Most of the stories of Korean-Americans and Korean immigrants are products of the ’90s and 2000s. Ae-Kyung’s Dream (1988) by Min Paek is the only picture book of a Korean immigrant child’s story published in the 1980s. Picture books and chapter books of U.S. Korean groups present different experiences and stories of immigration and integration. The majority of transnational Korean children’s books are either exploring new immigration experiences or following Korean-American children’s journeys of developing their bicultural identities (Sung, 2009).

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New Trends in Transnational Asian Children’s Books

By Yoo Kyung Sung, University of New Mexico,
and Junko Sakoi, Tucson Unified School District

A couple of weeks ago, I (Yoo Kyung) celebrated a student’s cross-departmental achievement. At the dinner in honor of this achievement, the strawberry ice cream prompted those at my table to share their “favorite” things. With my reputation as a teacher of children’s literature courses at a local university, my table-mates asked what my five favorite children’s books were. Then someone asked me, “Do you think children’s books in this country are getting better or worse?”

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Change Over Time: Land, Culture, and Relationships

By Janelle Mathis, University of North Texas

Our final topic for September, “change over time,” may seem like a natural occurrence and not necessarily an issue of concern. However, we know it all depends on the change and how it is perceived by different individuals. As a global issue, change over time can involve people, places, environmental issues, and cultural perspectives, to mention a few.

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Considering Immigration through Global Perspectives

By Janelle Mathis, University of North Texas

We continue last week’s introduction on sharing children’s literature by focusing on picture books. The notion of a picture book for many is that of “cute” books for young readers. However, images and text in picture books nurture creative and critical thinking. Each new class of preservice teachers I instruct proves this idea and so do many educators already in classrooms. While chapter books approach social issues in their own right, the significance of images in today’s communicative contexts creates a place for illustrators to tell their stories through a variety of modes and mediums. With this in mind, we consider immigration through global perspectives in recent picture books.

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