2020 has certainly brought with it many challenges–a global pandemic, many natural disasters, and the loss of more Black and Brown lives to police brutality just to name a few. We, (Patricia in Caguas, Puerto Rico, and Dorea in Tucson, Arizona struggled to come up with a theme that could even possibly begin to touch on all that we are currently experiencing. As we shared stories of what was happening in each of our home contexts, we recognized that while specific events are tied to 2020, the bigger context and varied emotions that accompany each of these are not unique to this year and have, in fact, been part of our worlds for a long time. This month, we turn our attention to four picture books, Why Do We Cry?, Small Things, Rabbit and the Motorbike and Rabbit Listened, that explore emotions not as simple categories such as “happy” and “sad” that can be easily remedied but rather, as complex and dynamic, with no single road map with which to experience them.
Kathy G. Short, The University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ
A long-term issue in global literature is the lack of books showing contemporary experiences, leading to misconceptions that other cultures are set back in time in comparison to the U.S. The global novels for middle grade and young adult readers identified on the 2020 Global Reading Lists are primarily historical fiction or fantasy with the exception of refugee books, a continuation of that problematic trend. In contrast, picturebooks for younger readers include many contemporary depictions of everyday life in a range of global cultures, including Nigeria, Kenya, Pakistan, Japan, China, Korea, India, Tibet, Iran, Syria and Indigenous Canada. Continue reading