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Cognitive Relationships between Music and Language

Janelle Mathis, University of North Texas

Timbaland cover features an African American child with a cupped hand to his ear, listening to the city generally and specifically to the subtitle text Nighttime Symhony curving into his ear.For this last post focused on the role of literature in supporting music’s importance as a multimodal approach to living and learning in the global society, we consider books that reflect the cognitive support between language and music. The development of both music and language for young learners has been revealed as a somewhat reciprocal process. Recent research, has revealed that the brain regions that process syntax are also responsible for other communicative forms such as music. Concepts about print, conventions of print, rhythm, rhyme and patterned texts are each nurtured by music. Phonological awareness and auditory discrimination of letters and notes, important in language learning, are also important in developing communication through music. Literature offers resources that support these processes. Poetry, obviously, provides rhythm and often rhyme; onomatopoetic words within text can sharpen listening skills; language can help develop a sense of dynamics, tempo, and emotional qualities; and books that point to the importance of listening to the sounds around us link the natural world as a form of communication. Continue reading

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MTYT: Unstoppable: How Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team Defeated Army

by Seemi Aziz, University of Arizona, Tucson, and Celeste Trimble, St. Martin’s University, Lacey, WA

For the month of January 2020, Seemi and Celeste continue providing their takes on books centered on the power of strengths and abilities, especially those of little-known athletes of local and global origins. This week, they discuss Unstoppable: How Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team Defeated Army, written by Art Coulson and illustrated by Nick Hardcastle.

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Books Provide a Glimpse of History through Music

by Janelle Mathis, University of North Texas

A Is for Audra cover features six leading ladies of broadway sharing a stageAs we realize, music has been part of mankind’s history since its beginning. The 2019 published books shared here reflect only a few of the ways it has been woven into lives but can encourage readers to seek instances across genre. Broadway is known as the place where music and story intersect in powerful ways and the voices of Broadway impact how these stories are told. A Is for Audra, written by John Robert Allman and illustrated by Peter Emmerich, informs readers about leading ladies who have performed through song, dance and drama on some of the world’s most important stages. With an A-to-Z format, this book celebrates women of Broadway and their noted roles. There have also been biographies of musicians during 2019 that reveal music’s significance in their lives and, thus, their impact in bringing varied music to others. Guitar Genius: How Les Paul Engineered the Solid-Body Electric Guitar and Rocked the World, written by Kim Tomsic and illustrated by Brett Helquist, speaks to invention as well as music. Elvis is King! by Jonah Winter relates details of Elvis’s life with 3-dimensional, hand-built and photographed illustrations by Red Nose Studio. Continue reading

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MTYT: Between the Lines: How Ernie Barnes went from the Football Field to the Art Gallery

by Seemi Aziz, University of Arizona, Tucson, and Celeste Trimble, St. Martin’s University, Lacey, WA

This month we look at representation around abilities and disabilities in children’s picturebooks. Last week we discussed The Proudest Blue. This week, we take on Between the Lines: How Ernie Barnes went from the Football Field to the Art Gallery.

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Literary Insights to Social, Traditional and Cultural Aspects of Music

by Janelle Mathis, University of North Texas

Music is often a focus in literature as readers learn about this communicative art form. It is also a way of contextualizing a character, an event or a culture–revealing a diversity of insights into the daily lives and cultures of the people within the stories told. The books shared here, all published in 2019, represent just a few of the ways music exists in our lives. Three of the books are picturebooks sharing family joy that is supported and expressed through music.

Freedom Soup cover shows a Haitian grandmother in a head scarf dancing in kitchen with child in braids.Freedom Soup by Tami Charles and illustrated by Jacqueline Alcántara is a Haitian story told around the Haitian new year custom of making and eating Freedom Soup, a tradition reflecting the Haitian Revolution. As Ti Gran teaches Belle how to make Freedom Soup, readers experience the process as well as the music that enlivens the experience. The kompa not only provides music as they dance around the kitchen, but most importantly, it provides background for Ti Gran as she tells the story of the Haitian Revolution. Both text and illustration afford readers the jubilant feel of the music. Continue reading

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MTYT: The Proudest Blue: A Story of Hijab and Family

Text reads January 2020  Abilities and Disabilities and their Significance in Picturebooks by Seemi Aziz and Celeste Trimble

by Seemi Aziz, University of Arizona, Tucson, and Celeste Trimble, St. Martin’s University, Lacey, WA

Abilities and disabilities go hand in hand and their representations in children’s picturebooks know no bounds, especially in recent publications. In the instance of strengths and abilities; one observes multiple representations of tennis players in recent brilliant picturebooks such as Game Changers: The story of Venus and Serena Williams by the Ransomes, Sisters by Jeanette Winter, Serena: The Littlest Sister by Karlin Gray and Monica Ahanonu. Recently Simone Biles made history when she became the gymnast with the most World medals and most World gold medals of any gender, as well as the female gymnast with the most World all-around titles. This alone may assure Biles presence in future books. Reading about success stories through picturebooks provide inspiration for children of all ages. For the month of January 2020, we will take on the power of strengths and abilities especially those of little-known athletes of local and global origins.

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Literature that Engages Readers In Music

By Janelle Mathis, University of North Texas

Music and Literature

Skating Over Think Ice by Jean MillsMusic as a multimodal form of communication can be traced back to primitive societies where it served in many cultural roles, for example in religious rituals, healing processes or sharing societal ideologies. Throughout history, music has been an aesthetic engagement for both performers and listeners, a source of hopefulness and encouragement, as well as a cognitive practice. Music aligns with literature in that both enable us to share our stories (often with stories embedded in music), learn more about ourselves and others and comprehend the world around us as it supports the development of intercultural competencies. It is more recently acknowledged that music and literacy are processed through the same cognitive areas of the brain, pointing to an even closer connection between language and music (Mathis, 2019). Continue reading

Authors' Corner

Authors’ Corner: Darryn Joseph

By Nicola Daly, WOW Scholar-in-Residence, New Zealand Fulbright Scholar, University of Waikato

Darryn Joseph is an author/illustrator based in Aotearoa/New Zealand with affiliations to the Ngāti Maniapoto tribe. He is also a university senior lecturer (a professor in American terminology) of Te Reo Māori, the Māori language at Massey University in Te Ika a Māui, the North island of New Zealand. In 2003, he won an award for a short story written in Te Reo Māori and was then commissioned by Huia Publishers (based in Wellington) to write a sci-fi chapter book in Te Reo Māori. RT3: Ki Tua o Rangi Ātea (2004) led to two further books in a trilogy: RT3: Ki Tua o K-T-Pae (2005) and RT3: Ki Tua o Tāwauwau (2006). In 2010, Hewa won the Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa (LIANZA) Te Kura Pounamu Award for children’s books in Te Reo Māori. According to Darryn, “Hewa is about a boy who wants to help protect his family and friends from a baddie. It involves American military software, a futuristic battleship called the USS Barack Obama and artificial intelligences gaining sentience and self determination.”

Head shot of Darryn Joseph. Behind him is one of his paintings of bold strokes in green and red. Continue reading

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MTYT: Hurricane Child

By Michele Ebersole, University of Hawaii, Hilo, HI, and
Yoo Kyung Sung, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM

Continuing with the theme of “sense of belonging” in books for young people, Michele Ebersole and Yoo Kyung Sung read and discuss stories that capture the dynamics of a community and reflect young people’s lives within a community as space. Sense of belonging is a process of understanding who you are and where you belong. This theme unfolds alongside a sense of isolation in Hurricane by Kheryn Callender.

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Inquiry into Global Nonfiction and Informational Literature: Student Learning Outcomes and Reflections

Judi Moreillon, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

This post summarizes IS445 Information Books and Resources for Youth graduate students’ learning outcomes and reflections. I also included my brief reflection on teaching the course at the end of this post.

Small Group Collaborative Inquiry Projects
As noted in last week’s WOW Currents blog post, IS445 Information Books and Resources for Youth graduate students brainstormed topics and formed five inquiry groups. Topics for two of the five groups made natural connections to global books and resources: immigration and refugees. These topics grew out of the prejudice and discrimination pathfinder I provided as a model for students.

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