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Indigenous Family Stories

By Angeline Hoffman, White Mountain Apache Tribe

A family in a white car drive down a road, away from mountains.This month I celebrate global children’s books focused on Indigenous families. Today in the U.S. there are 574 different federally recognized Indigenous tribes. While many teachers see the usefulness of celebrating American Indians during October and November holidays (October 14, Indigenous Peoples’ Day and November – Indigenous Heritage Month), we need to move beyond single days and months to explore Indigenous cultures. Much like the hazards of limiting the study of African American life to Black History Month in February, I hope teachers will ponder how we can explore Indigenous families and life as a part of any literature, history, art or science exploration throughout the school year.

Strong Nations is a useful publisher as I continually search for Indigenous children’s books. My goal in working with fifth and sixth grade Apache and Navajo students is to share books that value their culture, thereby empowering them. This month I focus on five children’s books that center on Indigenous families. Continue reading

WOW Dozen: Children’s Books for Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Heritage

By Stephanie E. Mahar, Washington State University

Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Heritage Month occurs every May. The U.S. Congress officially acknowledged the history and contributions of Asian American communities in the United States in 1977. Representative Frank Horton of New York and Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawaii spearheaded the commemoration to be observed for the first ten days of May. The celebration was initially marked for one week but was later extended to a full month-long tribute, starting in May 1990. May also commemorates the arrival of the first Japanese immigrants to the United States in 1843. Additionally, May marks the transcontinental railroad’s completion on May 10, 1869, which Chinese immigrants primarily built. This WOW dozen contains an assortment of 12 picturebooks and middle grade books to honor and celebrate the cultures of Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander people. Continue reading

WOW Recommends: Book of the Month

WOW Recommends: Kapaemahu

Four Mahu people in a stage triangle look at the readerKapaemahu is a multilayered picturebook that leaves the reader with much to contemplate. Based on a traditional Hawaiian legend, this captivating picturebook begins by transporting the reader to the days before recorded history, the time of storytelling, long before the colonization of Hawaii. In that long ago time, four Tahitians journeyed across the Pacific Ocean and arrived on the shores of Waikiki on the island of Oʻahu. These visitors were māhū, two-spirited beings who were neither male nor female but “a mixture of both in mind, heart, and spirit.” The māhū were favored by the Gods “with skill in the science of healing.” They healed many of the islanders and to honor the māhū, the people erected four great stones. Before vanishing from the island, the māhū transferred their healing powers into these four stones. Following the telling of the history of the māhū, the story moves the reader ahead seven hundred years in history to witness the impact of colonization upon the stones and subsequently the culture of the Native Hawaiians. The book ends with the call to remember the story of the māhū declaring, “When you share that story, you honor it.” Continue reading

WOW Dozen: Books About Voting

By Charlene Klassen Endrizzi, Westminster College (retired), Rebecca Ballenger, Worlds of Words, University of Arizona, Tucson and Aika Adamson, Worlds of Words, University of Arizona, Tucson

Voters’ rights vary around the world, with some countries granting universal suffrage while others restrict voting based on criteria such as age, citizenship or criminal record. In the U.S., voters’ rights have been marked by obstacles like poll taxes, literacy tests and intimidation at the polls, which aimed to disenfranchise people based on race, economic status or gender. The books included in this WOW Dozen portray pivotal moments (historical and fictional) when communities fought for their voices to be heard in the democratic process. These narratives educate about past injustices and inspire young readers to become informed, engaged citizens who advocate for equality and fairness in voting rights. Continue reading

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An On-going Struggle for Equal Voting Rights

By Charlene Klassen Endrizzi, Westminster College, retired, and Rebecca Ballenger, Worlds of Words, University of Arizona, Tucson

People from all backgrounds hold signs that say vote in multiple languagesJane Goodall recently outlined, “Every vote matters, more this year than perhaps any time in history.” As voters from the United States to South Africa, Mexico, India and beyond enter a major election year, Jane urges anyone who will listen to pause and consider each candidate’s record on a single issue–her/his/their efforts to support the health of our Earth. Yet we know U.S. voters will ponder additional issues, ranging from the economy and democracy to immigration, reproductive rights, foreign policy, gun rights, equality and more. Continue reading

WOW Recommends: Book of the Month

WOW Recommends: Okinawa

Cover of Okinawa, which has the title written vertically down the middle no an orange strip. The background is blue at the top and moves into green then yellow as it goes towards the bottom.Originally published in Japan, Susumu Higa’s historical fiction manga Okinawa brings to life the experiences of Okinawans during World War II and the post-war experiences of both younger and older generations. This book binds together two of Higa’s previously published works: Sword of Sand (1995) and Mabui (2010). These narratives are told through illustrations and dialogue, along with onomatopoeia to emphasize actions, in the format of manga. Telling these stories through manga, a Japanese-style of visual storytelling like comics or graphic novels, combines the unique experiences of Okinawan people with the popular Japanese style of storytelling, bringing international readers both the popular culture of the dominant mainland Japan and the voices of a smaller, lesser known community. The United States Board of Books for Young People (USBBY) named Okinawa one of the Outstanding International Books (OIB) of 2024. Continue reading

WOW Recommends: Book of the Month

WOW Recommends: The Blue Book of Nebo

A lonely house on a cliffside. The image is all in different shades of blue.The Blue Book of Nebo by Manon Steffan Ros is a profoundly moving young adult novella. Originally written in Welsh, it is a gentle and raw tale of a family’s survival in an isolated house in Northwest Wales after some kind of horrific disaster. The story is told through alternate journal entries written by Dylan, a young teenager, and his mother, Rowenna. They share a journal, which they call The Blue Book of Nebo, but they agree not to read each other’s entries. Continue reading

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Awards for Translation and Cultural Exchange with Korean Picturebooks

By Yoo Kyung Sung, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque NM

2021 Concurso de Traduccion de Libros Illustrados Coreanos y MexicanosThis month, I invite the WOW Currents audience to partake in global intercultural and language celebration events that unite young and adult readers with languages and cultures from contemporary nations across diverse countries. This edition of WOW Currents invites readers to take a closer look at select award-winning books from recent translation competitions, including Korean to Spanish, Spanish to Korean, Korean to Arabic, and Arabic to Korean languages. The award ceremonies for these competitions were held at the Korean Embassy in Mexico City and the Seoul International Book Exhibition, marking significant intercultural solidarity programs in the field of translation and cultural exchange. Continue reading

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Worlds of Words Center Expands Holdings of Original Picturebook Illustrations

by Rebecca Ballenger, Associate Director of Worlds of Words Center

The Worlds of Words Center adds original illustrations from 55 picturebooks to its holdings as a result of a recent crowdfunding campaign and donations of art by Mary J. Wong. The new pieces are from classic, award-winning, and global children’s literature and include works by illustrators visiting for the Tucson Festival of Books. A selection of the new acquisitions will be on display leading up to the book festival and for UArizona Museum Day at Worlds of Words in the University of Arizona College of Education.

Two women looking at framed art on table easels

Project FOCUS student Daniela Garcia (first-year) and Elementary Education major Lily Volmer (sophomore) compare an original illustration by Jason Chin to its final version. Chin’s work for Watercress earned the 2022 Caldecott Medal.

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WOW Recommends: Book of the Month

WOW Recommends: Welcome to the Wonder House

A blue cover wth a small figure in the bottom left corner looking up through a telescope.In Welcome to the Wonder House, a book of poetry by noted poets Georgia Heard and Rebecca Kai Dotlich, readers are invited to explore twelve rooms filled with poems and objects. The poems will inspire creativity and wonder in young readers. In each room, readers can become historians, scientists, mathematicians, astronauts, architects, geologists, artists or writers while contemplating topics such as nature, space and ancient history, as well as ordinary items. For example, in the Curiosity Room, poems and yellow tinted and cream-colored pictures of dinosaur fossils, planets and meteor collisions spark readers’ interests in natural resources and planets. The poem titles demonstrate the span of resources: Why do diamonds wink / and shine?/ What is quartz?/ What is lime? / What fossils still / sleep underground? / How does our Earth keep spinning around? (p. 4). In the Nature Room, readers explore a stormy sky with rain and thunder: Thunder drums the skin of sky, / striking / an / electric / scar / from cloud to cloud. (p. 12). All poems cover science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) topics and will be a great addition to STEAM lessons for all age groups. Continue reading