WOW Dozen: Inspiring Journeys: Overcoming Adversity on the Road to Olympic Victory

By Mary L. Fahrenbruck, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM

In July 2024, the world’s attention will turn to Paris, France, as athletes from across the globe come together to compete in the summer Olympic Games. Millions of spectators will watch as these Olympic athletes showcase their physical talents in running, jumping, throwing, rowing, cycling, tumbling, diving and swimming events among others, all competing for a chance to write their names in sporting history.

Olympic athletes, past and present, are often celebrated for their physical achievements, but their journeys to the medal podium are also filled with inspiring stories of overcoming adversity. This month, the WOW Dozen features stories about past Olympic athletes who overcame significant obstacles including racism, sexism, poverty and illness to reach the peak of their sports. Notable stories include Sammy Lee, who practiced his diving skills in a backyard sandpit due to segregated pools, eventually winning gold and bronze medals, and Billy Mills who overcame personal obstacles and surpassed expectations with his remarkable victory in the 10,000-meter race at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

This WOW Dozen features stories about courageous individuals who had the determination and confidence necessary to succeed against all odds. Sharing these Olympians’ stories celebrates their lives and teaches valuable lessons, inspiring the next generation. Continue reading

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Picturebooks That Focus on Black Children and Their Families

Janelle Mathis, University of North Texas, Denton, TX

Cover of Tiara's Hat Parade depicting a young black girl smiling with a blue hat on her head as her mother smiles down at her while making a green hat.

As I continue sharing topics or theme that seemed to be predominant in the many books read by our Notable Children’s Books (ALA) committee, in this WOW currents I will share picturebooks focused on Black children and their families. While this is not a new topic within the books published each year, children’s literature advocates are quick to note that among our diverse populations, the demographics, as continuously recorded by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center regarding populations does not align proportionately with the books published that reflect diverse children. Books sharing the stories of Black / African American children have been continuously increasing in terms of rich tapestries of historical events, previously untold stories of significant individuals, and general narratives of childhood across genre. However, this past year I found interesting, important, and pleasing, the continuous and abundant submission of realistic fiction picturebooks to our committee that specifically focused on the contemporary Black child and family relationships. Among these many books from 2020, I noted culturally specific stories, universal narratives around Black families, and books that celebrate and affirm identity for a child within these families. The seven titles shared here are merely a sampling of these books that stood out for me over 2020 but ones that uphold the potential of children’s literature to serve as mirrors, windows, and sliding glass doors (Rudine Sims Bishop, 1990) for children across the globe. Continue reading

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MTYT: Crown

Continuing our look at award winning-books, this week Mary Fahrenbruck and Tracy Smiles share their take on Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut, awarded a John Newbery Honor, a Caldecott honor and Corretta Scott-King Honor in 2018. The story by Derrick Barnes and illustrations by Gordon C. James presents readers with, as the Huffington Post said when naming it among 2017’s best picturebooks, “a celebration of self-esteem and a thoughtful nod to the importance of stepping into the world with a touch of swagger.”

Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut Continue reading