WOW Currents banner

Picture Books with LGBT Characters

by Janine Schall

10000 Dresses coverRecent court decisions relating to the legality of same sex marriage and the decision by President Obama to sign an executive order banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation by federal contractors are the most recent public manifestations of the long struggle for equal rights and treatment of LGBT people in the United States. These political and judicial decisions both result from and drive cultural changes, which are reflected in popular media, literature, and other cultural artifacts. Continue reading

WOW Currents banner

Story & Place: Discovering the Rio Grande Valley through Literature, Part 4

by Janine Schall, University of Texas-Pan American

In the past three weeks I’ve shared a number of books set in the Rio Grande Valley (RGV) and written by RGV authors. These books feature the culture and traditions of the mostly Latino, working class population in this geographical region along the Texas-Mexico border.

The border is both a physical and mental construct, present in the lives of all RGV citizens. To the south, a physical barrier is formed by the Rio Grande River and the increasingly militaristic presence of customs agents and border patrol. Continue reading

WOW Currents banner

Story and Place: Discovering the Rio Grande Valley through Literature, Part 3

by Janine Schall, University of Texas-Pan American

The Rio Grande Valley (RGV) of South Texas is a place of movement and change. As a Midwestern native now living in the RGV, I joined a history of immigrants to the Valley since the mid-1700s. Today emigration and immigration continues as Americans move to the RGV to pursue business opportunities, Mexicans move for economic opportunity and to flee drug cartel violence, and migrant farm workers harvest crops in the RGV in the winter and travel to other agricultural areas in the summer. Continue reading

WOW Currents banner

Story & Place: Discovering the Rio Grande Valley through Literature

by Janine Schall, University of Texas-Pan American

When children see their lives represented in literature, it shows them that those lives are worth representing. This holds special importance when children come from cultures or areas that are historically isolated, overlooked, or oppressed. The Rio Grande Valley (RGV) of South Texas has been all three. Because of its rural and isolated location, in many ways the RGV has had closer connections with Mexico than with the rest of Texas or the United States. Continue reading

WOW Currents banner

Story & Place: Discovering the Rio Grande Valley through Literature

by Janine Schall, University of Texas-Pan American

In 1992 I left my hometown in Indiana and moved 1500 miles away for a teaching job in the Rio Grande Valley (RGV) of South Texas. In doing so, I discovered a unique geographic and cultural region of the United States.

The RGV, informally called the Valley by locals, is located at the southern tip of Texas along the northern bank of the Rio Grande River, which marks the border between Texas and Mexico. It is not actually a valley, but a floodplain. Land developers in the early 20th century called the area “The Magic Valley” in an effort to promote the region to settlers and investors. Originally home to bands of Coahuiltecan Indians, the Spanish were the first Europeans to arrive in the area in approximately 1750. The area remained under Spanish control until 1836, when it became part of the new Republic of Texas—at least according to the Texans. Continue reading

Los Gatos Black on Halloween

English/Spanish Codeswitching in Children’s Literature

by Janine Schall, University of Texas-Pan American, Edinburg, TX

I Love Saturdays y domingos

I spend los domingos with Abuelito y Abuelita.

Abuelito y Abuelita are my mother’s parents.

They are always happy to see me.

I say: –¡Hola, Abuelito! ¡Hola, Abuelita!—as I get out of the car.

And they say: –¡Hola, hijita! ¿Cómo estás? ¡Hola, mi corazón!

I Love Saturdays y domingos
Alma Flor Ada

“I love to see that my language is valued and that my ELL students are offered booksthat they can connect to.” – Gracia

Continue reading

Responding to Literature in the 21st Century: Challenges and Resources

by Janine Schall, University of Texas-Pan American, Edinburg, TX

I hope that through reading the previous four blog posts you became more aware of available technological resources for literacy classrooms. In this last blog post for November, I will briefly discuss some challenges facing teachers who want to use 21st century technological tools in their classrooms. I end with some online and print resources for those who want to explore these issues further.

Continue reading

Moving Beyond the Graffiti Board

by Janine Schall, University of Texas-Pan American, Edinburg, TX

The world has changed. What it means to be literate has changed.

Ok, so that’s a little portentous and possibly even cliché. It’s still true. Yet, if you look into many of today’s K-12 literacy classrooms you will see lessons, engagements and room arrangements that look almost identical to what you would have seen 50 and even 100 years ago. This is a problem.
Continue reading