Decorative WOW Currents Banner

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

Decorative WOW Currents Banner

Reading as a Collaborative Act: Interactions with Linda Sue Park

By Marie LeJeune and Tracy Smiles, Western Oregon University

Mentor Author: Linda Sue Park

This week, we begin our exploration of some of our favorite authors whom we have looked to as mentors in our classrooms—authors whose work and words contribute to our teaching of reading, writing, language, and culture. Again, we draw upon the framework below for our initial selection of possible mentor authors when we embark upon such study with students. Additionally, we are currently deeply immersed in work with international issues, themes, and literature with both students and teachers in K-12 classrooms. We are now layering <a href="’s Framework for Mentor Author Studies with a Framework for International Curriculum (Short, 2003). In addition to seeking authors who are strong mentors for student writers—we also strive to consider and include issues of personal cultural identity, cross cultural studies, the integration of international experiences and texts, and inquiry into global issues (Short, 2003).
Continue reading