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Expanding Reading Boundaries: Mixing Manga with Culturally Diverse Children’s Books

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

Graphic novels are entertaining for teachers and students. Lately we see more teachers adopt graphic novels in their classrooms. Manga may not be the same. Manga have a wide range of volume numbers and often have long series. Many teachers may not be able to monitor the entire volume sets in their busy schedule. We wonder what will happen if manga are mixed with other children’s books, specifically culturally diverse books. I, Yoo Kyung, often observe that students don’t always grab multicultural books when they have other choices (even in Albuquerque, “the Land of Enchantment”.) Book covers with different ethnic groups are not always their passion. Mixing manga within a text set may interest students in multicultural books through common themes and topics, not by category of “diverse” books. Intertextuality pursued by themes and topics attract students to read.

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Sixth-Grade Fans’ Best Manga Choices

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

We continue with favorite popular manga authors and their work and introduce popular manga titles the sixth-graders selected. Interestingly, four out of five titles are boys’ manga, though the three manga fans are girls. The gender classification practice of manga isn’t necessarily ruling criteria. Perhaps manga producers need “target reader” categories more than young readers. For example, contemporary realistic fiction with a high school setting seems to interest sixth-graders. Japanese high school may differ from sixth-grade classrooms, or the authors might make school exotic yet universally empathetic to sixth-graders. Readers identify with the characters’ concerns and issues, relationships with families and siblings, music and sports, school lives and peer cultures.

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MTYT: All American Boys

All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely is a story that focuses on the relationship between Quinn, a white boy, and Rashad, an African American boy who is violently beaten by a white police officer. This week, we discuss the racial issues of this book and how they relate to society today. We will also discuss how bullying in this book compares to what we observed in The Hate U Give and Wolf Hollow.

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In My Opinion: Sixth-Graders Share Manga Experiences

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

This week, we share three sixth-graders’ thoughts on manga and their manga experiences. Many teenagers love reading and illustrating manga, yet there has not been a clear discussion about young readers’ criteria that asks how they recognize excellence in Japanese manga. Since manga is popular among young readers, we wonder how they choose a quality manga that is aesthetically attractive to them. We interpret manga as a product of childhood cultures, so we explore our three manga fans’ thoughts on the quality of manga and compare it to similar sequential art texts like graphic novels.

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MTYT: Wolf Hollow

This week, we look at Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk, a story focused on bullying and friendships in a rural Pennsylvania town in 1943. We will also compare and contrast this book with last week’s book, The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. Both books contain elements of bullying, abuses of power, and the choice to do what is right. However, these books also have a number of differences worth discussing.

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Fun Reading but Serious Talking: Manga History and Social Practice

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

Manga translates literally to “whimsical pictures” and are Japanese comic books (Bonser, 2017, p. 201). Manga was originally published in Japan and then republished in other countries, including the U.S. A dive into manga history shows that it is rooted in Japan’s long tradition of sequential arts, dating back to the Middle Ages when Bishop Tuba, a Buddhist priest, drew caricatures of his fellow priests (Schodt, 1996), which is considered a forerunner of manga. Katsushika Hokusai, a ukiyo-e (floating world picture) woodblock printmaker, coined the word “manga” and Hokusai Manga, containing assorted drawings from Hokusai’s sketchbooks, was published in the early 19th century (see Figure 1). Later on, “manga” was used in reference to a storytelling-style of book by Rakuten Kitazawa, a manga artist known as the founding father of modern manga (see Figure 2).

Figure 1. Hokusai Manga, First and Second Series (Ota Memorial Museum of Art, 2013)

Figure 1. Hokusai Manga, First and Second Series (Ota Memorial Museum of Art, 2013)


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MTYT: The Hate U Give

Copy of My Take _ Your Take Website Headers-7 The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas is a powerful young adult novel that centers on the death of Khalil, an African American teenager who is shot by police after a traffic stop. Starr Carter, a witness to the shooting, frames the story as she watches the chaos and controversy erupt from Khalil’s death. Starr is caught in the middle of a conflict: she must either speak out about what she saw, or let the rumors speak for themselves. It’s a book full of controversy, tension, community and heart that takes a long look at relevant issues and movements, including the Black Lives Matter movement.
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WOW Recommends: Book of the Month

WOW Recommends: Refugee

WOW Recommends Refugee Refugee by Alan Gratz is a poignant, unforgettable novel that effectively interweaves the stories of three 11 and 12-year-old refugees. Josef flees from Nazi Germany to Cuba in 1938, Isabel flees from Cuba to the U.S. in 1994, and Mahmoud flees from Syria in 2015. Their traumatic journeys across landscapes of danger and their sacrifices highlight struggles of freedom and responsibility. This hard-hitting novel thoughtfully raises global and intergenerational issues and invites empathy for those involved in current refugee crises. This is a book that will reverberate in your mind long after you put it down. -Recommended by Kathy Short at the University of Arizona Continue reading