WOW Dozen: Books That Should Have Won Awards

Compiled by the Worlds of Words Center Board

November, December and January are every bookworm’s favorite months because many book awards are announced. The National Council of English broadcasts the Orbis Pictus and Charlotte Huck awards before Thanksgiving. In December, the National Book Awards are celebrated and then in the first month of the year, the American Library Association announces the children’s and young adult award winning books for numerous awards such as the Pura Belpré Award, Schneider Family Book Award and the Mildred L. Batchelder Award. At a recent Worlds of Words Center gathering, we discussed the many titles that were acknowledged, but were disappointed that some of our favorite 2022 books didn’t receive greater recognition. This month’s WOW Dozen shares the books that we think should have done better this awards season. What book titles do you think should have won a major award? Please share in the comments section. Continue reading

WOW Dozen: Responsibility to Others

By Kathleen Crawford-McKinney, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI

I have been thinking more intently on what it means to be responsible to others. What do we, citizens of the world, have the right to do, or be? Over the past several months we watched people being incarcerated for minor infractions or their cities and lands taken away from them. I wonder who has this type of right to act in these ways to others. Who is responsible for ensuring that these missteps don’t occur in places where people think differently than within our own communities? What would we do, or what should we do if our rights are stepped upon? Who is responsible for taking care of others?

Students in classrooms know their rights and question them within their families and school settings. I hope that they will also push themselves to be responsible to and with each other. To move beyond being kind to each other and to think more broadly about the world. In several of the previous months the themes of the Dozen has encouraged us to think more deeply about the current political world. This month continues with this focus by examining books where the characters look at being responsible to families, to communities, to our environment and to our world. Continue reading

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Chapter Books on the Loss of a Family Member

Janelle Mathis, University of North Texas, Denton, TX

In thinking about particular trends and themes in books explored during 2020 while serving on ALA’s Notable Children’s Books Committee, I want to share some of my heroes and heroines found within the pages of novels, especially in light of issues of family loss through death and separation. As is a common trait of fiction for adolescent readers, the protagonist is faced with a situation or problem around which the plot develops and the character evolves. The situation is one that is believable and invites the reader into the lives, actions and decisions of characters who experience identity shaping events. While the stories can be emotionally charged and often mirror the increasing complexity of a young person’s life, at times without a definitive conclusion, they do end with hope. So, I was not surprised to find the characters in books I read and discussed in 2020 to be in complicated situations; however, interesting was that most experienced the loss of a family member who played an important role in their life. The loss was through death, separation, or the ability of the person to function in the supportive way that they did prior to a change in health, mental abilities, or other life changes. In spite of and because of their loss, characters became resilient, self-reliant, and self-aware. Readers become immersed in their stories and lives, with the potential of learning more about themselves. A few of the books that continue to resonate in my thoughts follow. Continue reading

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MTYT: The Day You Begin

By Holly Johnson, University of Cincinnati and Marilyn Carpenter, Professor Emeritus, Eastern Washington University

In the third MYTYT of April, Holly and Marilyn reflect on kindness through the lens of different picturebooks. This week, they read award-winning Jacqueline Woodson’s newest picturebook, The Day You Begin, which was illustrated by Rafael López. They also consider the order of this month’s text set and how to present these stories to a class.

The Day You Begin Continue reading

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The Choice to Make a Difference: Concluding Thoughts

by Ann Parker, Pima Community College, Tucson, Arizona

Finally, my focus turns to the questions that were asked at the presentation entitled “The Choice to Make a Difference” by Jacqueline Woodson, Jerry Pinkney, and Vaunda M. Nelson at the Tucson Festival of Books on March 9th, 2013. Continue reading

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The Choice to Make a Difference: No Crystal Stair

by Ann Parker, Pima Community College, Tucson, Arizona

Today’s post is a continuation of the presentation with Jerry Pinkney, Jacqueline Woodson, and Vaunda M. Nelson that I attended on March 10, 2013 at the Tucson Festival of Books. The presentation was entitled “The Choice to Make a Difference”. This week, Vaunda M. Nelson describes the writing of her book No Crystal Stair. Continue reading

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The Choice to Make a Difference: A Ripple Effect

by Ann Parker, Pima Community College, Tucson, Arizona

This is the second blog in a series sharing a presentation by Jacqueline Woodson, Jerry Pinkney, and Vaunda M. Nelson entitled “The Choice to Make a Difference” at the 2013 Tucson Festival of Books. Here, Jacqueline Woodson shares her process for writing her book Each Kindness. The book tells the story of a young girl, Chloe, who ignores the new girl in school, even though Maya tries to make friends. After Maya leaves, Chloe realizes she missed an opportunity to show kindness to another person. Continue reading

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Responding To Literature as A Community: Transactions with Feathers

By Andrea García, Hofstra University



Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune–without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I’ve heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

– Emily Dickinson

Book cover for FeathersThere are authors whose words stay with us long after we have turned the last page and placed the book back in our shelves. For me, Jacqueline Woodson is one of those authors, whose writing stays in my mind, as I revisit the emotions evoked by the experiences of the characters in her stories. In her book Feathers we meet Frannie, a six-grade girl who is growing up in a segregated town during the 1970’s. Frannie’s teacher introduced her to Emily Dickinson’s poem Hope, and Frannie is captivated by the words in the poem. She copies them down in her notebook, and is determined to find out their true meaning. Is hope supposed to feel as light as a feather? Continue reading