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More Outstanding International Books from USBBY

By Holly Johnson

This week, I continue sharing international books that readers will enjoy by highlighting several picturebooks. Revisiting USBBY’s 2017 “Outstanding International Books,” I want to point out several works that span experiences and interests that will be sure to touch all readers regardless of age or grade. While I discuss these books in grade level order as noted on the OIB List, I know these books are not only appropriate for all readers, but will delight them as well.

USBBY Outstanding International Books, OIB list Continue reading

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2017 Outstanding International Books for Everyone!

By Holly Johnson

This month I share international books from across age groups that will be sure to provoke, delight and inspire. This week, I am sharing from the 2017 “Outstanding International Books” from the U.S. Board on Books for Young People (USBBY), a list that came out at the end of January. These books were all published in the U.S. during 2016 and represent countries and cultures from around the world. Some of the books from the list have already been shared on WOW Currents, so while I might mention them, I really want to give you a new set of books to read and enjoy.

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WOW Recommends: Book of the Month

WOW Recommends: The Pact

The Pact by Amanda West Lewis
Book of the Month, September 2016
The Pact by Amanda West Lewis

Based on actual events, this WWII novel gives readers an inside look at how a German boy became and internally struggled with his role as a member of the Hitler Youth. This is a fascinating read that compels readers to think both about history and current political situations. -Recommended by Holly Johnson
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WOW Recommends: Book of the Month

WOW Recommends: The Smell of Other People’s Houses

The Smell of Other People's Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock

Book of the Month, June 2016
The Smell of Other People’s Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock

The interweaving of four teen’s lives in Fairbanks, Alaska in 1970 will both inspire and break readers’ hearts. How we touch one another and give each other hope –often unknowingly–are the wondrous and magical aspects of this remarkable and well-written story. -Recommended by Holly Johnson
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Immigration: Informative Texts that Satisfy

by Holly Johnson, The University of Cincinnati


When we came to America, though, we didn’t know what the right thing was. Here we lived with no map. We became invisible, the people who swam in between other people’s lives, bussing dishes, delivering groceries. What was wrong?

We didn’t know. The most important thing, Abba said, was not to stick out. Don’t let them see you. But I think it hurt him, to hide so much.

― Marina Budhos, Ask Me No Questions (2007)

What is the immigrant experience like? Are all immigrant stories similar? What motivates a person to immigrate to another country? Continue reading

Immigration: Narratives to Expand Our Cultural Homes

by Holly Johnson, The University of Cincinnati


My new home is in a new country.
I know very little of the language and culture.
Memories of my old country will be in my heart forever
The love of my old country will always remain.
I leave for a better life and new opportunities
Hoping to make a bright future for me and my family.

–Arty Rico Jones

Moving from one country to another, and knowing it will become “home” can evoke any number of emotions. Continue reading

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Immigration: In Pictures for Any Age Group

by Holly Johnson, The University of Cincinnati


”Reading makes immigrants of us all. It takes us away from home, but more important, it finds homes for us everywhere.”

–Jean Rhys

Books do make us immigrants! They take us to place in which we are unfamiliar, where we might be lost, but with a chance of being found and welcomed. This week, I wanted to share some picture books in which readers—regardless of age—can get lost, but from the journey we find a new understanding of the world, others, and ourselves. Continue reading

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Immigration: Stories about All of Us

by Holly Johnson, The University of Cincinnati


“The land flourished because it was fed from so many sources–because it was nourished by so many cultures and traditions and peoples.”

Lyndon B. Johnson

My grandparents were immigrants. Like many Americans, I can trace my roots to other parts of the world. When I talked with my Norwegian grandmother about her experience of immigrating to the United States, it was one of adventure. Asked by her older brother to make the trans-Atlantic trip in 1920, she responded immediately, and gave her Oslo employer two weeks’ notice. She was 20 years old. Continue reading

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“The Aftermath of Diaspora”

by Holly Johnson

washington-dc-chinatownThe month of May has allowed us to think about diaspora and movement. And with such movement, there is the question of the aftermath of such movements. Do those who were forced to move feel settled in their new homes? Is the new place even home? I would suggest that the aftermath may be similar to borderlands, whereby there is a hybridity of both the old mixed with the new. Continue reading