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Activities with Audiobook Incorporating Print Books

Yoo Kyung Sung, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM, Junko Sakoi, Tucson Unified School District, Tucson, AZ

Blended cover
A few years ago, Yoo Kyung and I (Junko) worked with Mr. Wilson’s 8th graders in Tucson Unified School District (TUSD), Tucson, AZ. We shared with them Blended (2018) by Sharon M. Draper through its audiobook and printed text. Blended is a contemporary realistic fiction story of Isabella, a biracial 11-year-old girl, with a Black father and White mother. Isabella’s parents are divorcing and having a new family. One week is Dad’s Week, where she spends her week at her dad’s place with his girlfriend and her son in a fancy big house. Alternatively she spends her week at her mom’s (Mom’s Week) with her mom and her boyfriend in a small, not fancy house. Switching houses, nicknames (i.e. mom calls her Izzy and dad calls her Isabella), and school backpacks every week make Isabella feel stuck between the two lives and ripped in two. At school and in public spaces, she faces racial violence, discrimination, and police-involved shooting. Going through all of these, Isabella begins to think of who she is and how her identity, parents’ divorce, and racism impacts her life and relationships with families and schoolmates. (Watch the Blended book trailer here.) Continue reading

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Digging Deeper into Migration Stories through MultiModal Text Sets

By Carol Brochin, Leah Durán, and Kathy G. Short, University of Arizona

This past summer, faculty in the College of Education at the University of Arizona virtually hosted a seminar for K-12 teachers sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities. Drawing teachers from across the U.S., we looked at the histories and movements of people in what is now Arizona and considered ways to invite students of all ages into our inquiries. Our institute, We the People: Migrant Waves in the Making of America, challenged the perception that migration is a recent negative phenomenon. This two-week virtual institute explored the continuous waves of migration in the U.S. through a case study of Arizona, the last continental state added to the union. We were particularly concerned with the stories often left out of traditional narratives of U.S. history, which are traditionally rooted in the thirteen colonies and so erase the experiences of Black, Indigenous, Latinx and other communities of color. Through interactions with narratives, authors, scholars and museums, our goal was for educators to gain knowledge and strategies to support their teaching by using inquiry strategies from the case study to research migrant waves in their own states.

NEH logo includes US seal with eagle, olive branch and arrows Continue reading

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Exploring Ebook Types For Teaching Resources

Yoo Kyung Sung, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM, Junko Sakoi, Tucson Unified School District, Tucson, AZ


Today, there is a growing number of quality and newly published children’s and young adult literature available in audiobook and ebook formats through various online educational platforms such as Epic, Storyline Online, and PBS KIDS. Also, many stories are read aloud by educators and book authors and uploaded to YouTube. Jacqueline Woodson reads aloud her book The Day You Begin, Minh Le reads aloud his book Drawn Together, and Kevin Henkes reads aloud Kitten’s First Full Moon. Continue reading

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Talking about Audiobook, Videobook, and more: New Changes the Pandemic Brought

Yoo Kyung Sung, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM, Junko Sakoi, Tucson Unified School District, Tucson, AZ


Until the pandemic occurred, my (Yoo Kyung) workout routines barely left indoor facilities. I ran on a treadmill, sweated at a hot yoga studio, and moaned at a pilates studio while something was stretching. Then the pandemic circumstance closed many indoor workout facilities. I needed alternatives so I began running and walking in my neighborhood instead of a treadmill. Thinking back, my audiobook history began with the pandemic just like that. Listening to audiobooks shortened my to-read-stacks while I added my running mileages. When I was listening to David Yoon’s Frankly In Love, I completed a lot of house chores because I kept listening as we often say, “I couldn’t put it [book] down”. It was the exact same feeling. When I needed to mark a passage, the audiobook app let me bookmark with and without my notes. What I appreciate most is that I could do other physical activities while I listen to it so I was able to accomplish multiple tasks that include finishing multiple books. Continue reading

WOW Recommends: Book of the Month

WOW Recommends: Unsettled

Cover of Unsettled depicting a young girl in a light blue hijab walking towards the left on a yellow background, her hijab spilling out behind her to hold aspects of Pakastani culture suck as food, flowers, and street cars.
In Unsettled by Reem Faruqi, readers meet Nurah, who loves her life in Karachi, Pakistan. She loves her extended family, the sounds and tastes of home, and the local pool, where she and her brother Owais feel like they belong. So when her family moves to Peachtree City, Georgia in 2001 for a more stable job for her father, Nurah is not especially happy about it. She and her brother Owais, however, discover the community pool, and life in Georgia begins to show promise. They both make the swim team and work hard not only to excel in the pool, but to blend in to the local culture. But Nurah’s bright clothes, strong accent, and shy ways prove to be a hindrance to that blending in—as does September 11th and a horrific incident at the pool involving her brother. Nurah finally recognizes that she has stood on the sidelines of her own life and her family’s cultural heritage and well-being for too long. She must decide if she wants to fit in or stand out, knowing that her decision will make a difference in not only her happiness, but her sense of self. Continue reading

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2021 Global Literature Trends: Books about Activism and Conservation

by Kathy G. Short, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ

Coer of Rise Up! The Art of Protest depicting a black fist holding a blue paintrbush and an orange paintbrush in front of a red background.
In a time of political division and global uncertainty, despair can be offset by hope through taking action to make a change; a perspective found in global books on activism and conservation. Instead of ignoring global issues or waiting for adults to take action, these books portray the commitment and actions of young people who act to make a difference. These themes go across nonfiction and fiction as well as across ages, providing young people with examples of real people who work for change and with story worlds in which characters act for a cause that matters to them. Continue reading

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MTYT: Just Like That

By Jean Schroeder, The IDEA School, Tucson, AZ, and Holly Johnson, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH

Jean Schroeder and Holly Johnson discuss four historical fiction novels that are relevant to current issues this month. They revisit two novels that are considered classic novels while also introducing a couple of newer books.

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MTYT: Mississippi Bridge

By Jean Schroeder, The IDEA School, Tucson, AZ, and Holly Johnson, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH

Jean Schroeder and Holly Johnson discuss four historical fiction novels that are relevant to current issues this month. They revisit two novels that are considered classic novels while also introducing a couple of newer books.

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2021 Global Literature: Refugee and Immigrant Experiences in Children’s and YA Literature

by Kathy G. Short, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ

The cover of In Search of Safety, depicting a black woman staring contemplatively to the right while sitting in a brown room.
The experiences of refugees dominate the national news, most recently images of Central American asylum seekers at the Mexico/U.S. border and refugees from Afghanistan trying to board planes and attempting border crossings into Pakistan. These experiences also dominate children’s and young adult books, especially in the last ten years with many books about Syrian refugees and refugees from Mexico and Central America. The experiences of immigrant families and children are also increasingly depicted in literature, but instead of focusing on trauma, these books focus on children who navigate multiple cultural identities and locations. Continue reading

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MTYT: Brother’s Keeper

By Jean Schroeder, The IDEA School, Tucson, AZ, and Holly Johnson, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH

Jean Schroeder and Holly Johnson discuss four historical fiction novels that are relevant to current issues this month. They revisit two novels that are considered classic novels while also introducing a couple of newer books.

Continue reading