Big Events, Strong Emotions

By Susan Corapi, Trinity International University, Deerfield, IL

Cover for Paws + Edward depicts a boy in repose on the back of a giant romping dog.These past few months have given us plenty of big issues to think about with children. The pandemic has impacted daily life in families, communities, the economy and what the future looks like. If that is not enough, we are now grappling with overt racism as we hear of prejudice against Asian-Americans and police brutality towards African Americans. Immigration policy and deportations have taken a back seat in the news to race riots. The daily news has created fear and anxiety. Continue reading

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MTYT: The Dark and the Light

By Susan Corapi, Trinity International University, Deerfield, IL, and Deanna Day, Washington State University, Vancouver, WA

Last week, Susan and Deanna looked at how companionship develops as a result of crossing borders in The Garden: A Novel. This week, they give their takes on The Light and the Dark by Kerstin Hau and how this fantasy picturebook depicts borders not as something that separates people, but as an instrument that creates a possibility of bringing people together.

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MTYT: The Garden: A Novel

By Susan Corapi, Trinity International University, Deerfield, IL, and Deanna Day, Washington State University, Vancouver, WA

The conflicts in today’s world forces many people to move to new places in hopes of a safer life. Though people may cross borders physically, crossing borders between different people figuratively is often the more difficult task. This week Susan and Deanna give their takes on The Garden: A Novel by Megan Ferrari, another USBBY OIB book, which focuses on a boy from Syria who moves to Canada to escape civil war and struggles to adjust to a new culture and community with help from the people around him.

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MTYT: Daniel and Ismail

By Susan Corapi, Trinity International University, Deerfield, IL, and Deanna Day, Washington State University, Vancouver, WA

Last week, Susan and Deanna looked at Lubna and Pebble to begin this month’s theme of Crossing Borders. This week, they provide their takes for another OIB book which focuses on interactions between people of different backgrounds and cultures in Juan Pablo Iglesias’s Daniel and Ismail.

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MTYT: Lubna and Pebble

By Susan Corapi, Trinity International University, Deerfield, IL, and Deanna Day, Washington State University, Vancouver, WA

This month Susan Corapi and Deanna Day selected titles that were submitted to the Outstanding International Book committee. The OIB committee reads approximately 500 books and selects 42 distinguished titles that represent the best global books in the world. The committee announced the winning titles at the American Library Association conference in January. Visit the United States Board on Books for Young People(USBBY) website for the complete 2020 list of books where you can download a bookmark and a PowerPoint presentation.

As part of the work of the committee themes and issues were identified across all of the titles and for this column we selected books that address crossing borders, whether literally or figuratively.

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Developing Intercultural Competence with OIBs, Part 4: Feeling Comfortable Living in the Borderlands Between Cultures

By Susan Corapi, Trinity International University, Deerfield, IL

This week’s characteristic of intercultural competence is hard to “pin down” with good reason because it involves having a flexible mindset. Homi Bhabha, a Harvard professor who has written about this in his essay The Location of Culture (1994), calls it living in the present in the borderlands. He explains that instead of thinking of ourselves as belonging in certain cultures or spaces, we think of ourselves as in between, or the area between categories where things are fuzzy and we are redefining some of our identity. It is a place of tension–no doubt about it. But it is also an exciting place because it is an area of growth. It is a willingness to live in the messy areas instead of feeling the need to define everything in fixed categories. Continue reading

Developing Intercultural Competence with OIBs, Part 3: Seeing Ourselves with Multicultural Identities

By Susan Corapi, Trinity International University, Deerfield, IL

When people ask me to describe myself, I am hard-pressed to know where to begin. Do I start at the very beginning and talk about all the places I have lived that shaped the way I interact with current life events? Or do I start even further back and talk about my parents and grandparents because they shaped my early values? Or maybe I should start with my husband, sons, daughter-in-laws and grandkids and the way living with them has shaped my views on childrearing, family dynamics, nutrition, etc.? Or should I begin with the life-changing experience of being connected to the work of Worlds of Words? Or I could describe the ways working at a university has shaped the questions I ask or the professional books I read. All of these cultures I belong to have molded me into the person I am. I see myself as multicultural–a person who belongs to multiple groups who have shaped (and continue to shape) my beliefs and values that in turn impact the way I deal with life events.

Cover for Marisol McDonald features an upside down girl with red braids and arms hanging downOne of my favorite book characters who exhibits this same multicultural view of herself is Marisol McDonald (Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match by Monica Brown and Sara Palacios). While others see her as a person who doesn’t “match” because she does not follow societal patterns, she sees herself as a person who loves all the parts of her Scottish/Peruvian/American background. So she eats peanut butter burritos, wears colorful dresses with her Peruvian hat (a gift from her grandmother) and throws in Spanish words when they express her thoughts better than English words. Marisol embodies the third descriptor of interculturally competent people: folks who see themselves with multicultural identities. This week we will look at several of the titles on the USBBY Outstanding International Books 2019 list list that serve as examples of multicultural identities. Continue reading

Developing Intercultural Competence with OIBs, Part 2: Seeking Multiple Perspectives

By Susan Corapi, Trinity International University, Deerfield, IL

This week I profile titles from the USBBY Outstanding International Books 2019 list that serve as examples of another characteristic of intercultural competence. In the two fictional titles the main character is forced to understand different perspectives. In the non-fiction texts, the reader is invited to consider multiple ways of seeing the world.

One of my earliest conscious thoughts about people who move easily between cultures happened when I was a teenager and had just returned to the U.S. after having spent five years living in France. It struck me that the way my French friends approached life was just as “valid” as the approach of my new American friends. One was not better or more correct than the other–they were just different. Years later, my husband and I took our four boys to France to live for two years because we wanted them to learn that there are multiple ways of approaching food, family, the tempo of life, academic studies, etc. I wanted them to understand how important it is to seek other perspectives–it does not require agreeing with the perspectives, but it does mean finding them and hearing them. This willingness to look for other perspectives and listen to them is a characteristic of an interculturally competent person. The four books mentioned in this post helped me understand a perspective I was not familiar with. As a result I did more research on facts or ideas I discovered in these books.

Book Jackets from all four books mentioned in post that encourage seeking multiple perspectives. Continue reading

Peace Defined by Child Characters and the United Nations

Susan Corapi, Trinity International University, Deerfield, IL

I have just been listening (again) to Albinoni’s Adagio in G Minor, the piece that cellist Vedran Smailovic played in Sarajevo to protest the deaths of 22 innocent civilians. As I listen to the exquisite melodies, I think about peace and what that means to so many people around the world who are in areas of political strife. I also think about peace in the homes of the people I interact with, whose lives have been fractured by bullying behavior, divorce, abuse, other forms of violence, death and extreme poverty. We need peace in all areas of our lives.

Peace Defined by Child Characters and the United Nations: UN Resolution Rights of the Child

Click to go to Unicef’s full-size poster.

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Characters Whose Choices Threaten or Support Peace

Susan Corapi, Trinity International University, Deerfield, IL

Ready for the next description of peace based on the book Peace Begins with You by Katherine Scholes and Robert Ingpen? The fourth way they describe peace involves the choices that we all make that either threaten or support peace. Scholes and Ingpen go on to say, “working for peace may be harder than using force. You may have to be braver and stronger. You may have to learn new skills, new ways of thinking and planning.” The focus this week is on characters whose choices threaten or support peace. For many of the characters, that involves a shift in perspective.

Characters Whose Choices Threaten or Support Peace Continue reading