WOW News

Worlds of Words Acquires Original Art for “The Caged Birds of Phnom Penh” from Ronald Himler

By Alexandria Hulslander, Worlds of Words Intern

Ronald Himler is an award–winning illustrator with a passion for the process of creating art. A new acquisition of Himler’s work features original watercolor and gouache panels from The Caged Birds of Phnom Penh. The entire set of illustrations for the book is on display through December 20 at Worlds of Words in the University of Arizona College of Education.

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WOW News

Worlds of Words Exhibit Shows Visual Narratives Are Neither “Silent” Nor “Wordless”

Worlds of Words in the University of Arizona College of Education launches “Visual Narratives: Connecting Across Languages and Cultures”, an exhibit of global picturebooks that tell stories primarily through visual images. The exhibit is inspired by the “Silent Books, from the World to Lampedusa and Back,” a traveling exhibit of global books from the International Board on Books for Young People. The exhibit is on display now through December 2019 with an open reception from 3 to 4:30 p.m. on July 25.

Groups of children read visual narratives in WOW's studio

Second and third graders from UofA’s Fusion Camp engage with books from around the world that are part of the “Silent Books” exhibit from the International Board on Books for Young People, now on display in Worlds of Words as part of their Visual Narratives exhibit.

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The Batchelder Award: An Entryway to Translated Children’s Books

By Kathy Short, The University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ

Batchelder MedalThe American Library Association held its highly anticipated annual press conference on January 28, 2019, to announce the major youth awards, including the Caldecott, Newbery, Pura Belpré and Coretta Scott King awards. The award committees worked behind closed doors for 3 days to make final decisions, submitting their award-winners in great secrecy to ALA staff so they could prepare for the press conference and subsequent news releases. This year, I had the honor of serving on the Mildred L. Batchelder Award committee. Continue reading

CERCLL 2018 Summer Institute

CERCLL offers a professional development opportunity in the form of a 3-day summer institute, Reading Globally: Critical Issues in Global Literature for Children and Adolescents.

Participants will explore current trends in global literature for children and adolescents, examine critical issues and approaches to analyzing these books, and experience strategies for critically engaging with global literature. We will use the Worlds of Words collection to immerse ourselves in a wealth of global literature as well as to delve deeply into key books to develop our own critical understandings and to consider how to invite students into a critical reading of the word and the world. An additional component will be interactions that pair classic, well-known texts often used in elementary and secondary classrooms with global children’s and adolescent literature to expand the curriculum and include global perspectives.

The institute will be interactive and include presentations by experts in global literature and authors of global books along with time for browsing and reading books, engaging in literature circles, and discussing classroom connections. There will also be breakout sessions where participants share their work with global literature with each other.

Mitali Perkins will join us on Monday, June 25, and Duncan Tonatiuh will join us on Tuesday, June 26, to interact throughout the day and present on global issues related to their books. Mitali Perkins writes middle grade novels that cross global cultures, including You Bring the Distant Near, Rickshaw Girl, Bamboo People and Tiger Boy. She was born in Kolkata, India, lived in many places around the world, and currently resides in San Francisco. Duncan Tonatiuh is an author/illustrator who is both Mexican and American, growing up in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. His artwork is inspired by Pre-Columbian art, particularly that of the Mixtec codex. His picturebooks include Danza, The Princess and the Warrior, Funny Bones, Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote, Diego Rivera and Salsa.

Continuing Education Certificates are provided for the institute for a total of 18 hours.

Registration Information:
Registration is limited to 60 people. Until May 31, the fee for the institute is only $100 and includes lunch. (The registration fee increases to $140 on June 1st.) You may register as an individual or for a group.

For more information, visit:

Globalizing the Reading of Middle and High School Students

By Kathy Short, The University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ

Although the classics serve as the foundation of most secondary literature classrooms, their domination is challenged by the call for cultural perspectives that reflect the diversity of our global society. The classics are critiqued for their basis in Western mainstream perspectives, biases against women and people of color, and inclusion of dated language and confusing writing styles, such as obscure expressions and unfamiliar sentence constructions. In addition, few classics have teens as main characters, having been written for adult audiences, and so teens struggle to connect. Given that these canonical texts are usually mandated reading, one way that teachers can increase relevancy and globalize reading is to pair the required classics with young adult global literature. These pairings can bring more diverse literature into the curriculum and, at the same time, create a context for understanding the classic work and its relevance for middle and high school students.

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Engaging K-5 Readers with Global Literature

by Kathy Short, The University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ

Our careful survey of global literature available for K-5 readers in the U.S. led us to concerns as well as possibilities. We searched for global literature that is currently in print and met our criteria for text complexity as well as usefulness within the school curriculum. This survey raised several concerns as well as provided possibilities for engagements with readers, especially around paired books.

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Limitations of Lexile Levels for Global Literature

By Kathy Short, The University of Arizona

The standards movement in the U.S. has placed a great deal of emphasis on Lexile levels as a means of determining the appropriateness of a book for a reader, using Lexiles to determine the complexity of a text. The assumption is that readers at each grade level band need to read books within specific Lexile levels or their reading achievement will be negatively affected. Teachers who do not challenge their students to read books within these bands are viewed as negligent in their teaching of reading and as handicapping students. These assumptions can be challenged from many perspectives, including the lack of research to support this position (Allington, McCuiston, & Billen, 2015). Other issues emerge with a close examination of the actual Lexile levels of exemplar texts and global literature.

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The Complexities of Text Complexity

By Kathy Short, Director of Worlds of Words

Debates about text complexity and “appropriate” books for students at each grade level are a major point of emphasis in U.S. schools due to the influence of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Even in states that did not adopt these standards, such as Arizona, similar state-developed standards are guiding policies and instructional practices. The belief that students will become more effective readers if they read difficult texts that continuously increase in complexity with each grade level lies at the heart of the standards. This belief has led to increasing reliance on labeling books according to their Lexile levels and on core reading lists of books for each grade level, restricting students to reading books at those levels. This series of blog posts challenges the assumptions that underlie the current emphasis on text complexity and provides suggestions for engaging students with books that reflect the lives of culturally diverse children/adolescents and the global society in which they live.

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WOW News

Globalizing the Common Core State Standards Exemplar List

The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and their variations influence K-12 curriculum, particularly in the teaching of literacy, across the U.S. and internationally. With funds from the Center for Educational Resources in Culture Language and Literacy (CERCLL), Worlds of Words (WOW) in the University of Arizona College of Education offers an alternative to the CCSS text exemplar list to assist educators searching for ways to globalize their classrooms and libraries.

Globalizing the Common Core State Standards, Odyssey Graphic Novel

Tucson High Magnet School senior, Parrish Ballenger, reads the graphic novelization of The Odyssey by Gareth Hinds based on Homer’s epic poem. Worlds of Words pairs this book with the CCSS exemplar The Odyssey by Homer, along with Here Lies Arthur by Phillip Reeve, Sita’s Ramayana by Samhita Ami and Tiger Moon by Antonia Michaelis.

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Reading Globally: Critical Issues in Global Literature for Children and Adolescents

Kathy G. Short presents Reading Globally at the Sixth International Conference On the Development and Assessment of Intercultural Competence

We live in a world where our lives are interconnected in complex ways across global cultures as well as fractured with tensions that divide us. Global children’s and adolescent literature provides a means of facilitating intercultural understanding, but issues of availability, access, authenticy, and classroom use must be addressed for this potential to be realized. In this workshop, participants will have the opportunity to explore current trends in global literature, examine critical issues, and experience strategies for critically engaging with global literature. One strategy we will explore is pairing classic, well-known books often used in elementary and secondary classroooms with global children’s and adolescent literature to expand the curriculum and include global perspectives. These global books are linked to the Common Core Text Exemplars and provide a means of globalizing the standards in K-12 classrooms. The books will be available for interactions and extensive book lists provided.