A Dozen Books Dealing with Uncertainty, Grief and Loss

Cynthia K. Ryman, California State University Monterey Bay, Seaside, CA

The past two years have been a time of deep introspection for me. When the pandemic began in 2020, around the world everyone was focused on survival. Many did not survive. As the pandemic raged globally, the United States was being torn apart by deep political divides that left many wondering about the survival of democracy in this country. In the midst of this chaos and confusion, the murder of George Floyd ignited international anger and activism in the Black Lives Matter movement. Now the added crisis of war in Ukraine leaves many wondering what this means for the future wellbeing of our global society. As I considered a book list for these times, I decided to share global books dealing with death and grief. Children are deeply impacted by societal and global events and experience intense feelings of uncertainty, grief and loss. Books open the door for discussions around life’s difficulties and the emotions that accompany. The goal of this WOW Dozen is to provide a means for recognizing and beginning to process emotions related to grief and uncertainty. This collection includes books by authors from Argentina, Denmark, Spain, Iran, Great Britain, Asia, India, Norway, Mexico, Canada and the Cree-Métis nation. Each book provides insights on how to begin to process emotions and find a path forward amidst uncertainty, grief and loss. Continue reading

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MTYT: Why Do We Cry?

Dorea Kleker, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, and Patricia Castrodad, Caguas, Puerto Rico

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.

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2020 Global Books: Picturebooks about Contemporary Experiences

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

Freedom Soup cover shows a Haitain grandmother in a head scarf dancing in kitchen with child in braids.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