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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.

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Authors' Corner

Authors’ Corner: Mitali Perkins

By Rebecca Ballenger, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ

Mitali Perkins laughing.Mitali Perkins writes books for readers to explore crossing borders. Her work explores the themes of poverty, immigration, child soldiers, microcredit and human trafficking and is based on her experience living overseas and her study of Political Science at Stanford and Public Policy at U.C. Berkeley. WOW spoke to Perkins about a new movie based on an old book, code switching, her expanding career and connecting with readers. Continue reading

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Travel Around the World in 70 Maps with New Exhibit

The exhibit, Around the World in 70 Maps: Three Centuries of Cartographic Treasures from Children’s Literature, has itself traveled around the world. However, Worlds of Words Center of Global Literacies and Literatures (WOW) in the University of Arizona College of Education is the first venue in the U.S. to show this imaginative collection from the International Youth Library (IYL) in Munich, Germany.

Young teens reading and discussing the books and posters on display.

Students from Paulo Freire Freedom School explore the exhibit, Around the World in 70 Maps.

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MTYT: When We Were Alone

By Celeste Trimble and Kristen Suagee-Beauduy

My Take Your Take Header lists theme of Picturebooks about Indigenous Residential Schools in Canada and the authors.

For the month of August Kristen Suagee-Beauduy and Celeste Trimble take a closer look at the youngest picturebooks about Indigenous residential schooling in Canada. When We Were Alone, written by David A. Robertson (Swampy Cree) and illustrated by Julie Flett (Cree-Metis), tells the story of a contemporary conversation between a First Nations grandmother and her granddaughter. The grandchild asks questions such as: “Why do you wear bright colors?” “Why do you wear your hair long?” “Why do you speak in Cree?”

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WOW Stories Indexed by Directory of Open Access Journals

By Rebecca Ballenger, Associate Director, Worlds of Words

The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) now indexes WOW Stories: Connections from the Classroom, a free, open access, on-line, academic publication of Worlds of Words: Center of Global Literacies and Literatures in the University of Arizona College of Education. WOW Stories contains blind, peer-reviewed vignettes written by educators about children’s experiences reading and responding to literature, the content of which will increase in reach as aggregators, databases, libraries and other publishers access the entry in DOAJ.

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Virtual Tour of Critique to Support and Stretch

By Rebecca Ballenger, The University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ

Brutal honesty connects award winning illustrators Juana Martinez-Neal and Molly Idle. An exhibit of original illustrations and picturebooks put this partnership front and center at Worlds of Words. The pandemic brought Critique to Support and Stretch: A Conversation between Juana Martinez-Neal and Molly Idle to an early close–but not before we filmed a virtual tour. Take a look!

Virtual Tour of Worlds of Words Center’s Critique to Support & Stretch Exhibit from UArizona College of Education.

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Re-Introducing Our Advanced Search Function

By Rebecca Ballenger, The University of Arizona

This month, we take a look at recent updates to our website made possible with help from Longview Foundation. We highlighted our book lists and will discuss our work with UArizona Libraries for digital archiving and preservation of our on-line journals. This week, we share our advanced search function and tips on how to use it to narrow search results.

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WOW Recommends: Book of the Month

WOW Recommends: The World’s Poorest President Speaks Out

José Mujica is no ordinary president. He lives on a small farm with his wife and three-legged dog. He drives a light blue, 1987 VW Bug. When he served as president of Uruguay from 2010 to 2015, Mujica donated 90% of his $12,000 per month salary to charities that worked to support small businesses and those living in poverty. It’s no wonder the citizens of Uruguay affectionately called him “Pepe.” But others around the world called Pepe Mujica “the world’s poorest president.” Pepe dismisses this nickname stating, “I don’t feel poor. Poor people are those who only work to try to keep an expensive lifestyle and always want more.” Readers should know that Pepe is also known for unapologetically speaking his truth even if his words cause discomfort. Continue reading

WOW Recommends: Book of the Month

WOW Recommends: The Most Beautiful Thing

Illustrated cover of The Most Beautiful Thing depicts a child kneeling by seated grandmother. They are surrounded by flora.There are many things beautiful about The Most Beautiful Thing by Kao Kalia Yang. First, it shares the story of a young refugee from Laos and her grandmother. Then it has richly-colored illustrations. But the most beautiful thing might well be different for each reader. It is an emotional refugee story, a narrative of the challenge of poverty, a theme of acceptance, and a reflection on how beauty is identified. Each can be found in this sensitively told story that evolves from the author’s personal experiences. For me, the most beautiful thing about the book is the intergenerational relationship that reveals a mutual bond of love, respect and admiration, setting this book apart from many others that tell of relationships between children and grandparents. One quote represents the tone of this relationship:

“The luckiest of the grandchildren got to help take care of grandma.”

Both Kalia and her grandma are in the forefront as Kalia lovingly takes care of her grandmother, listening to her stories of growing up. Grandma’s story of life in the jungles of Laos are told as related to Kalia’s questions and the challenges of her family having little money. These stories create a brief cultural and historical background for young readers through a rich interweaving of past events, such as Grandma having to run to escape a tiger, with Kalia’s daily life. But they also create a parallel between the two generations as to the challenges of poverty each faced and the love of family that proved stronger than these challenges.

The Most Beautiful Thing is rich with sensory imagery as Kalia describes her grandmother’s soft but dry skin, her rough feet with “deep cracks filled with dirt from long ago and far away,” and the single tooth that stood strong in her mouth. The mixed media visual images created by Vietnamese illustrator Khoa Le provide both realistic and abstract representations of both Kalia’s life with Grandma and the stories Grandma told. Rich colors and cultural motifs keep the stories visually interesting, often with symbolism that helps to show the passage of time as Kalia gets older and Grandma gets slower, although nonetheless wiser.

Kao Kalia Yang shares the Hmong refugee experience from her own childhood, but most impressive are the memories of family, stories, and lessons learned about “the most beautiful thing,” a grandmother’s smile. The focus is uplifting and invites readers of all ages to consider the beauty of the relationships they create. Among her other picturebooks are Map Into the World and The Shared Room. She has also written for adults. -Recommended by Janelle Mathis, University of North Texas

Author: Kalia Yang
Illustrator: Khoa Le
ISBN: 9781541561915
Publisher: Carolrhoda Books
PubDate: October 6, 2020

Each month a committee of Worlds of Words advisors recommends a book published within the last year. Our hope is to spark conversations on our website and on social media about the book that expand global understandings and perceptions. Please join us by leaving a comment. You can also share your thoughts with us by using the hashtag #WOWRecommends on social media. Check out our alphabetical listing of all the books featured in WOW Recommends.

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The Tucson Festival of Books Goes Virtual in 2021

The Tucson Festival of Books goes virtual March 6-7, 2021! The Children’s and Teen sessions will be available on-line and live at 9 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Arizona time. Worlds of Worlds: Center of Global Literacies and Literatures has been involved with the festival since its inception, and we will continue this year as your guide. Download a PDF version of the schedule of the Children’s and Teen sessions. For an accessible schedule, visit

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