Our workshops focus on professional development for educators to encourage the integration of international literature within classrooms. Literature provides an opportunity for children to go beyond a tourist perspective of gaining information about another country. Through immersing themselves in story worlds, children can gain insights into how people feel, live, and think in other parts of the world and come to recognize their common humanity and to value cultural differences.
WOW workshops employ books housed in the collection to familiarize educators with the books as well as uses of this literature, including explorations of children’s personal cultural identities, in-depth studies of a particular culture, the integration of international books into all subject areas, inquiries on global issues, and the teaching of foreign languages. The goal is to influence practice and encourage the use of international children’s and adolescent literature with a range of K-12 classroom settings, including foreign language classrooms, ESL classrooms, elementary classrooms, and middle and secondary language arts and literature classrooms.
Workshop participants are primarily K-12 teachers, librarians, and curriculum coordinators who want to immerse themselves into the books so that they become familiar with titles as well as engage in learning about teaching strategies. Typically, a series of Saturday morning workshops are held surrounded by the physical collection. These are taught by LRC and SLAT graduate students who have international backgrounds, expertise in children’s and adolescent literature and curriculum, and/or expertise in the teaching of language. Teachers sometimes pay a small fee for the workshop leader, though we actively seek sources of funding to cover those costs.
The workshop series includes invitations for educators to engage in action research to collect data on students’ responses to their use of international literature in their classrooms. These educators meet as a study group on a regular basis to extend their understandings, thinking, and reflections on their experiences. Additionally, they share their work through online publication in WOW Stories and/or WOW Review and presentations at the annual International Conference on Literature and Literacy for Children and Adolescents.