A Dozen Books Dealing with Uncertainty, Grief and Loss

Cynthia K. Ryman, California State University Monterey Bay, Seaside, CA

The past two years have been a time of deep introspection for me. When the pandemic began in 2020, around the world everyone was focused on survival. Many did not survive. As the pandemic raged globally, the United States was being torn apart by deep political divides that left many wondering about the survival of democracy in this country. In the midst of this chaos and confusion, the murder of George Floyd ignited international anger and activism in the Black Lives Matter movement. Now the added crisis of war in Ukraine leaves many wondering what this means for the future wellbeing of our global society. As I considered a book list for these times, I decided to share global books dealing with death and grief. Children are deeply impacted by societal and global events and experience intense feelings of uncertainty, grief and loss. Books open the door for discussions around life’s difficulties and the emotions that accompany. The goal of this WOW Dozen is to provide a means for recognizing and beginning to process emotions related to grief and uncertainty. This collection includes books by authors from Argentina, Denmark, Spain, Iran, Great Britain, Asia, India, Norway, Mexico, Canada and the Cree-Métis nation. Each book provides insights on how to begin to process emotions and find a path forward amidst uncertainty, grief and loss. Continue reading

Authors' Corner

Authors’ Corner: Joseph Bruchac

By Megan McCaffrey, Governor’s State University in Chicago, Chicago, IL

Bruchac sitting on a hide, holding a drum and smiling.

Photo by Eric Jenks

Author Joseph (Joe) Bruchac, a storyteller most of his life, sat in conversation with children’s literature students at the University of Arizona on January 31, 2022, a session which I attended. Raised by his maternal grandparents who lived down the road from his parents, little “Sonny,” as he was called, did not know much about his Native American roots. Once Bruchac began to explore his Native American heritage in college, he became drawn to his Abenki roots. He says, “I knew as a child, for example, that we had native heritage, but I did not know much about it.” Bruchac was born in October 1942 in upstate New York, and he still lives in Saratoga Springs above what was his grandparent’s gas station and general store where he was raised. Today, Bruchac operates a bookstore in the former general store. Continue reading

WOW Recommends: Book of the Month

WOW Recommends: Freedom Swimmer

Photo of a boy in the water at night preparing for a swim.I recommend Freedom Swimmer because of the distinctiveness of the topic as well as the literary quality. This historical fiction novel powerfully captures life for children under the Communist Party during China’s Cultural Revolution. The book is inspired by events that transpired in the life of the author’s father after Mao Zedong seized control of the of government from his intellectual and political adversaries within the Communist Party of China. Continue reading

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WOW Reading Ambassadors Host Read-a-thon

By Veronica Martinez, Worlds of Words Educational Guide Intern

Get lost in a good book with the Worlds of Words Center’s Reading Ambassadors as they host their 3rd-annual Read-a-thon! The middle and high school reading ambassadors encourage booklovers of all ages to join them for focused reading paired with fun prompts from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 9 @WOWTeenAmbassadors on Instagram. There is no physical location for the Read-a-thon, so participants can join from anywhere they would like to read!

Instagram flyer for readathon has same information as contained in the post. Continue reading

A Dozen Books Celebrating Children’s Voices and Their Impact

Angelica Serrano, Tucson Unified School District, Tucson, AZ

A Dozen Books Celebrating Children’s Voices and their Impact is a set of twelve books, both picturebooks and graphic novels, that embrace and celebrate the voices of children across the globe who have used their voices, creativity and thinking to make a change for themselves and others. This set honors World Children’s Day celebrated on April 30. To commemorate this special holiday, the dozen books selected here resonate the power found within each child as they learn about the world around them and themselves. Children have made tremendous changes for the world and this list commemorates the power that children have within them. We invite you to take a closer look at these books and encourage you to embrace the depicted voices of these children into your hearts as we celebrate their impact on the world. We hope that as you browse through these titles you will be inspired to share them with your children, classrooms, fellow educators and communities so that children’s voices can be known and heard. Children are our greatest teachers and there is so much we can learn from them. It is imperative that we invite children to continue to inspire others with what they have to say. Continue reading

WOW Recommends: Book of the Month

WOW Recommends: Hunting by Stars

Night sky with title superimposed and pine trees silhouetted against an orange horizonHunting by Stars, a YA novel by Métis writer Cherie Dimaline, was released as a sequel to The Marrow Thieves, which was honored with many awards. The protagonist, French, of the new novel never expected to see his brother, Mitch, again. After witnessing his brother’s abduction by the Recruiters at the beginning of The Marrow Thieves, French thinks surely they had taken Mitch to die at the new kind of residential school, where Indigenous peoples are harvested for their bone marrow. That’s where the dreams live, and in this dystopian future, the only people who are still able to dream are Indigenous peoples of North America. All others suffer a sickness because of their lack of dreaming. Mitch survives because he becomes one of them after capture, a Recruiter, working on the side of those abducting and harvesting Indigenous peoples. When French and Mitch reunite, it is not a happy reunion, as French has himself been abducted and taken to the school, where he realizes his beloved brother is alive but also, in a sense, his enemy. French has to grapple with the pain of choosing who to fight for, who to protect and support – family by blood or by bond – and how to escape from the school and reunite with his chosen family. Continue reading

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Marching Towards Justice for All: Part I

by Daliswa Kumalo and Charlene Klassen Endrizzi

Four young people in 1950s fashion lead a parade of protestors.Two years ago, Daliswa “Didi” Kumalo shared a compelling picturebook, Let the Children March, with third graders during our School of Education’s annual African American Read-In. She recently revealed the impetus for crafting this engagement. “When I was younger, my dad always told me that ‘history tends to repeat itself.’ As much as I wished that wasn’t the case, as I get older the connections to the past have never felt closer.” Through our blog post, I (Charlene) reveal Didi’s ability to connect 8- and 9-year-olds to the Civil Rights child foot soldiers featured in Monica Clark-Robinson and Frank Morrison‘s award winning book. We believe this literature engagement highlights the value of building bridges to our nation’s past. When teachers initiate hard conversations surrounding unresolved racial struggles, children can begin to consider their power to create much-needed change today. Continue reading

A Dozen Poetry Books

By Deanna Day-Wiff, Washington State University, Vancouver, WA

Poetry is all around us and is fun to read aloud and share with children of all ages. Poetry builds literacy skills with its figurative language, different forms and structures as well as its rhythm and rhyme. This past year I had the honor of serving on the NCTE Notable Poetry Books and Verse Novels Committee. I read over 300 titles—individual poems, anthologies, narrative poems, biographical poems and verse novels. The committee discussed the differences between poetry and prose and then chose 30 titles that reflected the Notable Poetry Books Criteria. This WOW Dozen focuses on some of the books that were considered but did not make the 2022 NCTE Notable Poetry Books and Verse Novels list. Nevertheless, children and adolescents will still enjoy hearing or reading them. Why not bring poetry to life in your classroom by sharing more of it in March, April for National Poetry Month and every day? Continue reading

A Dozen Books on Activism

By Deanna Day-Wiff, Washington State University, Vancouver, WA

Children and adolescents are taking action and making a difference in their communities and across the globe each day. This WOW Dozen highlights titles around the theme of activism. Each picturebook or novel shows how young people are working for change on causes that matter to them such as: saving a lending library, turning a vacant lot into a natural space for butterflies or creating light for a community in the dark. Other titles may inspire readers to speak up for climate change, demonstrate peacefully or sing for transformation. Reading aloud these titles could encourage K-8 readers to think about the needs or changes in their own communities to change our world. Continue reading

WOW Recommends: Book of the Month

WOW Recommends: Unspeakable

A stylish 1920s Black family runs from a burning city. Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre chronicles the murderous hostility, humiliation and hope of this largely suppressed historical event in United States. The devastation occurred in 1921 when a white mob attacked the Black community in Tulsa, Oklahoma. This third person informational text narrates the incidents that occurred in one of the worst racially violent cases in U.S. Tulsa, during this time, was a prosperous segregated town, where descendants of “Black Indians, from formerly enslaved people, and from Exodusters” thrived in their Greenwood community, once known as Black Wallstreet. “Once upon a time” near Tulsa, is a phrase that is eloquently repeated to depict the prosperity that the people in the Greenwood community created. Then one day, the massacre stemmed from one elevator ride where a 17-year-old white elevator operator accused a 19-year old Black shoeshine man of “assault for simmering hatred to boil over.” This incident resulted in 300 Black people who died, and more than 8,000 left homeless, “…hundreds of businesses were reduced to ash.” It took over 75 years to launch an investigation, which uncovered that “police and city officials had plotted with the angry white mob to destroy the nation’s wealthiest Black community.” Continue reading