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Awards for Translation and Cultural Exchange with Korean Picturebooks

By Yoo Kyung Sung, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque NM

2021 Concurso de Traduccion de Libros Illustrados Coreanos y MexicanosThis month, I invite the WOW Currents audience to partake in global intercultural and language celebration events that unite young and adult readers with languages and cultures from contemporary nations across diverse countries. This edition of WOW Currents invites readers to take a closer look at select award-winning books from recent translation competitions, including Korean to Spanish, Spanish to Korean, Korean to Arabic, and Arabic to Korean languages. The award ceremonies for these competitions were held at the Korean Embassy in Mexico City and the Seoul International Book Exhibition, marking significant intercultural solidarity programs in the field of translation and cultural exchange. Continue reading

WOW Dozen: Social and Emotional Growth and Children’s Books

By Yoo Kyung Sung, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM and Junko Sakoi, Tucson Unified School District, Tucson, AZ

This COVID-19 post-pandemic era has been difficult for many of us. In the school district I (Junko Sakoi) am working for, stories have played a significant role in social emotional support for children and teens. Stories have eased their anxiety, stress, fear, and trauma, and helped them find a way to cope with the difficulties. This collection includes PreK–12 titles that portray young characters’ social and emotional struggles. These books could help children build resilience through self-discovery and growth as they cultivate empathetic connections and caring perspectives in relationships. Continue reading

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Korean Picturebook Authors and New Trends in Japan

by Yoo Kyung Sung, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque and Junko Sakoi, Tucson Unified School District, Tucson

Summer Is Coming Hangul Cover shows line drawing of a girl with a hose spraying perfect water circles.In recent years, increasing numbers of translated and non-translated Korean children’s literature are available to Japanese readers. Yes, Japanese readers read and consume Hangul (written Korean) directly beyond literature experiences (e.g., language learning). We’ve found several major Japanese publishing companies, JBBY (Japanese Board on Books for Young People), bookstores, and public and school libraries feature books by Korean authors and illustrators through social media and physical spaces. Three beloved Korean authors who also illustrate their work influenced Korean picturebooks’ reputations in Japan positively beyond what Japanese audiences are familiar with over the years (i.e., postcolonial texts). In this post, we share three Korean authors, Heena Baek, Suzy Lee and Heeyoung Ko who are among those gaining great popularity in Japan. Continue reading

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Exploring Korea’s Post-Coloniality through Korean Picturebooks Translated into Japanese

by Yoo Kyung Sung, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque and Junko Sakoi, Tucson Unified School District, Tucson

Queen Elizabeth II, the UK’s longest-serving monarch, recently passed away at age 96, after reigning for 70 years. Fourteen countries continue to maintain the monarch as their head of state after gaining independence, despite the collapse of the British Empire in the last century. The death of Queen Elizabeth II could readily accelerate the push by former U.K. colonies to ditch the British crown amid heightened anti-colonial sentiments in the remaining Commonwealth realms (Halb, 2022).

Former UK colonies’ anti-colonial sentiment made us think of colonial histories and facts that are not current hot topics discussed within the global community. Global knowledge of physical outcomes of colonization history is now often romanticized as the beautiful substance of architects, food, festivals, tourism, etc. European countries’ colonial histories in Africa and South America remain aesthetically appreciated based on the historical background of languages, hybrid cultures, diverse ethnicities and educational contexts. Lost are critical perspectives on the colonizers’ past and the colonial indigenous cultures. This leads Junko and I to realize how colonial history among Asian countries is often simplified as Asian history; not knowing who colonized whom in Asia is often a common misperception.

Asian Dragon swoops over landscape to challenge a person in a fieldThis month, Junko and I explore Korean picturebooks translated and published in Japan to analyze colonization patterns in Korea. In 1910, Korea was annexed by the Empire of Japan after years of war, intimidation and political machinations; Japan ruled Korea until 1945, the end of World War II. Until then, Korea was one of Japan’s colonies. During the Korean War that followed, South Korea established strong ties to the U.K. Continue reading

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In Honor of Vivian Yenika-Agbaw

Vivian wearing a pearled top and a vivid pink headwrap. She's smiling.Our field lost a scholar of children’s literature, and we lost a treasured friend and colleague when Vivian Yenika-Agbaw passed away on September 20, 2021. Vivian was a professor of children’s and adolescent literature at Penn State University where she taught in both the residential and World campus programs. She grew up in Cameroon and remained connected both professionally and personally to these roots as she gathered supplies and resources for teachers in that country and wrote about West African and African Diaspora literature for young people through the critical lens of postcolonialism. She was concerned about issues of power and colonialism, not only in books from and about countries in Africa, but in other regions around the world whose literatures are seldom the focus of scholarship. Her research on representations of Africa in children’s books provided both historical and current critical analyses of trends and issues. Continue reading

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Activities with Audiobook Incorporating Print Books

Yoo Kyung Sung, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM, Junko Sakoi, Tucson Unified School District, Tucson, AZ

Blended cover
A few years ago, Yoo Kyung and I (Junko) worked with Mr. Wilson’s 8th graders in Tucson Unified School District (TUSD), Tucson, AZ. We shared with them Blended (2018) by Sharon M. Draper through its audiobook and printed text. Blended is a contemporary realistic fiction story of Isabella, a biracial 11-year-old girl, with a Black father and White mother. Isabella’s parents are divorcing and having a new family. One week is Dad’s Week, where she spends her week at her dad’s place with his girlfriend and her son in a fancy big house. Alternatively she spends her week at her mom’s (Mom’s Week) with her mom and her boyfriend in a small, not fancy house. Switching houses, nicknames (i.e. mom calls her Izzy and dad calls her Isabella), and school backpacks every week make Isabella feel stuck between the two lives and ripped in two. At school and in public spaces, she faces racial violence, discrimination, and police-involved shooting. Going through all of these, Isabella begins to think of who she is and how her identity, parents’ divorce, and racism impacts her life and relationships with families and schoolmates. (Watch the Blended book trailer here.) Continue reading

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Exploring Ebook Types For Teaching Resources

Yoo Kyung Sung, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM, Junko Sakoi, Tucson Unified School District, Tucson, AZ

Today, there is a growing number of quality and newly published children’s and young adult literature available in audiobook and ebook formats through various online educational platforms such as Epic, Storyline Online, and PBS KIDS. Also, many stories are read aloud by educators and book authors and uploaded to YouTube. Jacqueline Woodson reads aloud her book The Day You Begin, Minh Le reads aloud his book Drawn Together, and Kevin Henkes reads aloud Kitten’s First Full Moon. Continue reading

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Talking about Audiobook, Videobook, and more: New Changes the Pandemic Brought

Yoo Kyung Sung, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM, Junko Sakoi, Tucson Unified School District, Tucson, AZ

Until the pandemic occurred, my (Yoo Kyung) workout routines barely left indoor facilities. I ran on a treadmill, sweated at a hot yoga studio, and moaned at a pilates studio while something was stretching. Then the pandemic circumstance closed many indoor workout facilities. I needed alternatives so I began running and walking in my neighborhood instead of a treadmill. Thinking back, my audiobook history began with the pandemic just like that. Listening to audiobooks shortened my to-read-stacks while I added my running mileages. When I was listening to David Yoon’s Frankly In Love, I completed a lot of house chores because I kept listening as we often say, “I couldn’t put it [book] down”. It was the exact same feeling. When I needed to mark a passage, the audiobook app let me bookmark with and without my notes. What I appreciate most is that I could do other physical activities while I listen to it so I was able to accomplish multiple tasks that include finishing multiple books. Continue reading

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Creating Literature-Based Digital Classroom

By Junko Sakoi, Tucson Unified School District, Tucson, AZ and Yoo Kyung Sung, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM

In our school district (Tucson Unified School District (TUSD)), in this unusual time, “Bitmoji Classroom” is one of the hottest educational tools among teachers, especially Grades K-5, for distance learning. A bitmoji (personal avatar) classroom is an interactive virtual classroom that bridges virtual and hands-on learning to keep students engaged. It makes resources, such as a school calendar, books, and activities, easily accessible to students and provides them with a sense of virtual familiarity and stability. Continue reading

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MTYT: The War Outside

By Michele Ebersole, University of Hawaii, Hilo, HI, and Yoo Kyung Sung, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM

Michele and Yoo Kyung continue on the theme of Rethinking Cultural and Physical Borders in Children’s Literature: Understanding Today’s Global Politics Through History. This week, they look at The War Outside by Monica Hesse.

The War Outside My Take Your Take banner includes bibliographic information that is available at the bottom of this post. Continue reading