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2021 Global Literature Trends: Books about Activism and Conservation

by Kathy G. Short, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ

Coer of Rise Up! The Art of Protest depicting a black fist holding a blue paintrbush and an orange paintbrush in front of a red background.
In a time of political division and global uncertainty, despair can be offset by hope through taking action to make a change; a perspective found in global books on activism and conservation. Instead of ignoring global issues or waiting for adults to take action, these books portray the commitment and actions of young people who act to make a difference. These themes go across nonfiction and fiction as well as across ages, providing young people with examples of real people who work for change and with story worlds in which characters act for a cause that matters to them. Continue reading

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MTYT: Just Like That

By Jean Schroeder, The IDEA School, Tucson, AZ, and Holly Johnson, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH

Jean Schroeder and Holly Johnson discuss four historical fiction novels that are relevant to current issues this month. They revisit two novels that are considered classic novels while also introducing a couple of newer books.

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MTYT: Mississippi Bridge

By Jean Schroeder, The IDEA School, Tucson, AZ, and Holly Johnson, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH

Jean Schroeder and Holly Johnson discuss four historical fiction novels that are relevant to current issues this month. They revisit two novels that are considered classic novels while also introducing a couple of newer books.

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2021 Global Literature: Refugee and Immigrant Experiences in Children’s and YA Literature

by Kathy G. Short, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ

The cover of In Search of Safety, depicting a black woman staring contemplatively to the right while sitting in a brown room.
The experiences of refugees dominate the national news, most recently images of Central American asylum seekers at the Mexico/U.S. border and refugees from Afghanistan trying to board planes and attempting border crossings into Pakistan. These experiences also dominate children’s and young adult books, especially in the last ten years with many books about Syrian refugees and refugees from Mexico and Central America. The experiences of immigrant families and children are also increasingly depicted in literature, but instead of focusing on trauma, these books focus on children who navigate multiple cultural identities and locations. Continue reading

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MTYT: Brother’s Keeper

By Jean Schroeder, The IDEA School, Tucson, AZ, and Holly Johnson, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH

Jean Schroeder and Holly Johnson discuss four historical fiction novels that are relevant to current issues this month. They revisit two novels that are considered classic novels while also introducing a couple of newer books.

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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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2021 Trends in Global Literature for Children and Adolescents

By Kathy G. Short, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ

Boy wearing headphones looks out a window at European-style houses that cast a shadow of Middle Eastern buildings on the wall behind him..This month, WOW Currents highlights the trends in global books published in the U.S. between Summer 2020 and 2021. The list was created by exploring new books and reading reviews to create an update of the K-12 global reading lists, fiction and nonfiction, to post on the Worlds of Words Center website. This update also provides an opportunity to identify trends and patterns across this annual collection of global books. This post overviews these trends and the weekly blogs over the month of September will examine one trend in more depth with examples of books. Continue reading

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MTYT: Out of the Dust

By Jean Schroeder, The IDEA School, Tucson, AZ, and Holly Johnson, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH

This month we wanted to ponder four pieces of historical fiction that are relevant to current issues. In doing so, we wanted to also revisit two novels that we consider classic novels while also introducing a couple of newer books that we found to be incredible reads. Many times, these incredible reads are books that present situations, places, or events we don’t quite want to “leave” for any number of reasons. They are, in essence, those that continue to haunt or delight long after the last page.

This month we start with the classic, Out of the Dust (1997) by Karen Hesse, and then turn to Brother’s Keeper (2020) by Julie Lee. For week three, we will highlight Mildred D. Taylor’s Mississippi Bridge (1992), and end with Just Like That (2021) by Gary D. Schmidt. These four novels deliver stories that are not only powerful and long-lasting individually, but are relevant parts of longer conversations addressing displacement, gender, the environment, race, struggle, and advocacy. All in all, they are remarkable.

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WOW Recommends: Book of the Month

WOW Recommends: I Dream of PoPo


Blackburne, the author of I Dream of PoPo, and Kuo, the illustrator, capture the close bond between a girl and her grandmother in rich text and detailed illustrations. Their story starts in Taiwan where they share precious times together rocking, walking in the park, celebrating New Year’s, eating special foods. Then, the girl and her parents move to San Diego, California. Popo sends the child off with, “Call me every week and tell me about your adventures.” The child reports that she is learning a new language, but misses Popo’s noodles. The granddaughter learns English, “the words form easier on my tongue.” But when she visits Popo the Taiwanese words feel “strange in my mouth.” Yet their hugs are “as tight as before.” When Popo is sick, her granddaughter sings to her and says, “I wish I could reach across the ocean and hold her up.” The story ends with the child dreaming about her Popo. 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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