Forced and Chosen Journeys: Refugee and Immigrant Experiences in Youth Literature

Join Worlds of Words and CERCLL for a two-day institute.
TIME: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
DATE: Thursday and Friday, May 30-31, 2024
PLACE: Worlds of Words Center

This in-person, professional development event is presented by Dr. Kathy G. Short, Dr. Dorea Kleker and Narges Zandi with participating children’s authors. The $30 registration fee includes lunch, books and materials. Registration is limited to 35.

Register Now.

Join us for a two-day workshop to engage in experiences and books that invite children to immerse themselves in literature about refugee and immigrant experiences. In this interactive workshop, you will explore new picturebooks and novels for your work with students and participate in engagements with these books. You will also interact with several children’s authors/illustrators who will join us to talk about their global books. You will receive their picturebooks along with booklists and other materials.

We are framing this workshop around the conceptual framework of journeys as movement along a pathway to examine the forced and chosen journeys in our own lives. Within this frame, we will explore refugee/immigrant books related to themes of displacement, difficult journeys, detention, belonging, home, language, memory, names and walls. There will be time to browse books as well as use dialogue strategies to engage with books. We will also share our work with children around these books. Our goal is inviting children to critically engage with story as a means of making sense of their own lives and of understanding the lives of children whose experiences differ from their own.

Registration is limited, so reserve your spot today:

Salas de Libros Mediator Workshop

Join us for a two-day immersive workshop for Salas de Libros mediators. We provide a certificate, resources needed to host a Sala/Salon and support in strategies for building communities of readers. Breakfast and lunch provided. We will also have a kick-off social and reception, Friday, May 17, from 5 to 7 p.m. on campus!

If you would like to attend this workshop and become a Salas de Libros Mediator, apply now.

Salas de Libros is a reading promotion program based on a highly successful program from Mexico called Salas de Lectura. Salas refers to spaces in houses, community centers and public parks, where people gather in conversation around sofas, cushions and comfortable chairs to build literate communities around books and civic engagement. Literary salons are based on Black and African American social, cultural and intellectual gatherings that occurred during the 1920/30s. Salas and Salons are intergenerational by design, engaging children, youth and elders, led by community members known as mediators who establish meaningful bridges between books and readers to encourage immersion into reading and conversation.

The Worlds of Words Center and the Southern Arizona Writing Project invite passionate readers and community members to apply to be a part of the second cohort of Literary Mediators. Interested mediators should be avid readers, be willing to promote a love of reading and literacy for social change, live in Tucson or southern Arizona, commit to attending this two-day workshop, and volunteer to facilitate a Sala/Salon in their community in Summer/Fall 2024.

Applications for consideration are due by May 1, 2024. Apply here:

For questions, please email or any of the project Co-Directors, Carol Brochin (, Desiree Cueto ( or Kathy Short (

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Worlds of Words Center Expands Holdings of Original Picturebook Illustrations

by Rebecca Ballenger, Associate Director of Worlds of Words Center

The Worlds of Words Center adds original illustrations from 55 picturebooks to its holdings as a result of a recent crowdfunding campaign and donations of art by Mary J. Wong. The new pieces are from classic, award-winning, and global children’s literature and include works by illustrators visiting for the Tucson Festival of Books. A selection of the new acquisitions will be on display leading up to the book festival and for UArizona Museum Day at Worlds of Words in the University of Arizona College of Education.

Two women looking at framed art on table easels

Project FOCUS student Daniela Garcia (first-year) and Elementary Education major Lily Volmer (sophomore) compare an original illustration by Jason Chin to its final version. Chin’s work for Watercress earned the 2022 Caldecott Medal.

Continue reading

Teaching Arizona: Migration Stories and Hidden Histories

Teaching Arizona: Migration Stories and Hidden HistoriesHello Arizona teachers!

We invite you to join us at the Worlds of Words: Center of Global Literacies and Literatures for Teaching Arizona: Migration Stories and Hidden Histories, a FREE half-day workshop. In this workshop, participants will explore the stories, histories, and contributions of underrepresented groups in Arizona history to understand the influence of continuous waves of migrants on the making of Arizona, and thereby America as well. Teachers can expect to learn ways to teach Arizona history through migration stories and hidden histories. Together, we will engage with children’s and young adult literature, text sets, maps, timelines, virtual field trips and discussions on engaging with museums critically.

To attend, please register through this form. There is a cap of 50 participants for this workshop.

Please email if you have any questions.

Parking is available at the Second Street Garage just west of the UArizona College of Education. Surface lots and street parking should be free on Saturdays when no other UArizona event is occurring. The WOW Center is also located just off of the 2nd St. Streetcar stop, which is also free.

To request disability-related accommodations that would ensure your full participation in this event, please email or call 520.621.9340.

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Celebrating New Authors and Illustrators at the 2024 Tucson Festival of Books

By Kathy G. Short, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ

Two girls holding dolls with a hay bale behind themFestivals are an opportunity to connect with well-known authors who win awards and are on best-selling lists. Plenty of those authors are coming to the Tucson Festival of Books this year, such as Kate DiCamillo, Donna Barba Higuera, Roshani Chokshi, John Parra, Sayantani DasGupta, Jennifer Nielson, Kazu Kibuishi, R.L. Stine, Marissa Meyer, Shelby Mahurin, and Gene Luen Yang. They will appear on panels, solo sessions, and workshops, giving readers a chance to talk with the authors they admire and love to read.

What is often overlooked is that festivals are also an opportunity to meet new authors and illustrators who are making their mark on the field, adding their books as new favorites. Recent illustrators who have published picturebooks will appear on panels and give illustrator studios this year. Jonathan Nelson is the Diné illustrator of Forever Cousins (2022) and A Letter for Bob (2023), demonstrating his commitment to illustrating Native stories by Native authors. A Letter for Bob celebrates the treasured family car that has taken a young girl’s family through happy and sad times. In Lian Cho’s new picturebook, Oh, Olive! (2023), Olive loves to smear, spatter, and splash with a brush in each hand, but faces the displeasure of her parents who are serious artists, painting proper perfect shapes. Continue reading

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Experience the 2024 Tucson Festival of Books

By Kathy G. Short, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ

As a long-time attendee and presenter at professional conferences for educators, book festivals were a new genre for me when I first started working with the Tucson Festival of Books 14 years ago. I quickly realized that the audience was much broader for a festival, many of whom are parents, children and teens with different preferences than educators. A festival needs to balance authors who have popular appeal and write series books with authors who are critically acclaimed, and well-known authors with emerging authors. The sessions also need to offer laughter and playfulness as well as discussions of critical issues.

Over time, we have developed different types of sessions for the children/teen section of the festival to appeal to the different audiences. The overall festival has over 300 authors and 130,000 attendees. 65 of those authors are picturebook authors/illustrators, middle grade authors, graphic novel creators, and young adult authors, who present over 100 sessions. One strength of our program for children and teens is that many of the sessions are in rooms that seat 40-50 people to allow for more intimate interactions with authors, instead of only large auditoriums where authors are at a distance. This WOW Currents highlights the types of sessions and a few of the authors who are coming this March. Go to the festival website for a full list of authors and sessions for the entire festival. Continue reading

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Worlds of Words Center Launches First Crowdfund Effort to Bring Global Stories to Life

By Rebecca Ballenger, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ

The Worlds of Words Center of Global Literacies and Literatures in the University of Arizona College of Education announces the launch of its first ever crowdfunding campaign on October 2. The campaign aims to raise $10,000 to fund a year of exhibits that will spark the imaginations of visitors to the center.

Young teens reading and discussing the books and posters on display.

Students from Paulo Freire Freedom School explore the exhibit, Around the World in 70 Maps.

“We are excited to launch our first crowdfunding campaign,” says UArizona Regents Professor and director of the WOW Center, Kathy Short. “This is a great opportunity to support our mission of sharing global stories. With help from the community, we can continue to provide enriching exhibits that inspire people of all ages.” Continue reading

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2023 Trends in Global Literature: Climate Change and the Environment

By Kathy G. Short, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ

A young boy holds Earth in his hands.Global news reports are constantly documenting increasing temperatures, extreme weather, and natural disasters from around the world. The 2023 K-12 global recommended book lists indicate an increase in books on climate change, endangered animals, and conservation of the environment. The books are set in different parts of the world and depict both the problems and possible responses. Continue reading

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2023 Trends in Global Literature: Books Set in African Countries

By Kathy G. Short, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ

Three young African girls stand facing the viewing waering modern, fashionable clothing while a fourth girl is closer to the view, smiling as she wears more traditional clothing. One continuing trend in K-12 global literature in the U.S. is the dominance of books set in English-speaking countries, especially the UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. The more exciting trend is the diversification of global communities that challenge this dominance. Over the last several years, there has been an explosion of books set in India and other South Asian countries or featuring characters whose heritage is South Asian. In 2023, there were noticeably more books set in African countries or traditions, although West Africa, especially Nigeria and Ghana, dominate. As with the South Asian books, the majority are written by authors whose heritage is Nigerian or Ghanian and who currently live in the U.S. or the U.K. Continue reading

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2023 Trends in Global Youth Literature

by Kathy G. Short, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ

A young boy lays in his grandmother's lap, her blue sari covering him. A cat sleeps on the end of the sari.The trends in global literature published and/or distributed in the U.S. between Summer 2022 and Summer 2023 are the focus of this month’s WOW Currents. These trends were identified by examining new books published during this time period and consulting book reviews to search for books of most interest to K-12 educators. This column provides an overview of the trends from these recent books; two additional blogs this month take on one of these trends in more depth. Continue reading