By Kathy G. Short, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ
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
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
By Janelle Mathis, North Texas University
In a recent study that examined picturebook biographies of musicians, I was interested in what they offered young readers about the value of music in the lives of these individuals. Shared in a recently submitted article, I discovered over 40 biographies that spanned across historical eras, forms of music, ages of musicians and how music impacted individuals which often was the focus of the picturebook. Books were read and reread revealing themes of offering hope and comfort, creating identity, sharing tradition, giving voice to marginalized people and sharing examples of determination, persistence and strength. Below, are a dozen titles that reflect the challenges and successes of musicians in narratives that provide young readers with new insights to the significance of music in these lives and the potential influences in their own lives. Continue reading
By Deanna Day-Wiff, Washington State University, Vancouver, WA
Poetry is all around us and is fun to read aloud and share with children of all ages. Poetry builds literacy skills with its figurative language, different forms and structures as well as its rhythm and rhyme. This past year I had the honor of serving on the NCTE Notable Poetry Books and Verse Novels Committee. I read over 300 titles—individual poems, anthologies, narrative poems, biographical poems and verse novels. The committee discussed the differences between poetry and prose and then chose 30 titles that reflected the Notable Poetry Books Criteria. This WOW Dozen focuses on some of the books that were considered but did not make the 2022 NCTE Notable Poetry Books and Verse Novels list. Nevertheless, children and adolescents will still enjoy hearing or reading them. Why not bring poetry to life in your classroom by sharing more of it in March, April for National Poetry Month and every day? Continue reading
Liana, age 14, introduces life in Cuba during the summer of 1991 and el período especial en tiempos de paz, which seems to Liana to be a governmental euphemism for hunger. Risking punishment, she’s chosen not to attend mandatory “volunteer” farm labor. Amado, age 15, likewise stays home. Both spend their days wandering to avoid camp and find food. The Singing Dog, age unknown, brings Liana and Amado together to help them discover sources to quench their hunger, to alleviate their isolation and to pursue a peace. Continue reading
Celeste Trimble, St. Martin’s University, Lacey, WA
When I was fourteen, I loved poetry. I always loved it, having grown up on a steady diet of recited nursery rhymes and children’s poetry like A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson. But something happened in junior high school: The anthology, Sounds and Silences: Poetry for Now, edited by Richard Peck. I loved that it included song lyrics by Woody Guthrie, Leonard Cohen and The Beatles–verses I recognized. What I really loved about this book was that it was my introduction to writers who shaped and continue to shape how I think about the world, my life and the lives around me. “The Rebel” by Mari E. Evans was practically an anthem for the duration of my adolescence. Langston Hughes, e e cummings, Dylan Thomas, this book was my introduction to modern poetry. But, most importantly, it was my introduction to Gwendolyn Brooks. Continue reading
This month we examined four books that portray the theme of Sense of Place. A sense of home or belonging is incredibly valuable to humans. The books selected for this month highlight characters who discover that special sense of place, or must leave their longtime place and find a new one. Our final book for the month of August is Forest World.
This year, the Tucson Festival of Books celebrates its 10th anniversary. In a short period of time, the festival rose to become the third largest book festival in the U.S. drawing crowds in excess of 130,000. Each year the festival hosts 60-70 authors and illustrators of books for children and adolescents. This month My Take/Your Take features four books by this year’s festival authors to provide a personal take, starting with Jean and Holly on Drum Dream Girl by Margarita Engle and Rafael López.
The colorful picturebook, All the Way to Havana by Margarita Engle with illustrations by Mike Curato, is set in modern day Cuba. It focuses on a family celebration and how Cuban resourcefulness keeps American cars from the 1950s running. A boy narrates the trip his family takes from the country to Havana in their precious old car, Cara Cara, a 1954 Chevy. Before they can take off, Papa and his son have to fix the car. They try and try to fix the silly noises. “The rattling parts have ben fixed with wire, tape and mixed-up scraps of dented metal.” Finally, “Cara Cara once again begins to sound like a chattering hen!” Continue reading
For this final conversation around “Rethinking conceptual otherness in history: Exploring untold histories in the U.S. and global communities,” Michele Ebersole and Yoo Kyung Sung give their takes on Lion Island: Cuba’s Warrior of Words by Margarita Engle. They began the discussion with A Diamond in the Desert by Kathryn Fitzmaurice, Bronze and Sunflower by Cao Wenxua and Gaijin: American Prisoner of War by Matt Faulkner.