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MTYT: Dreamers

By Dr. Kathleen Crawford-McKinney, Wayne State University and Deanna Day-Wiff, Washington State University

In the second installment of November’s MTYT, Dr. Kathleen Crawford-McKinney and Deanna Day-Wiff talk about the picturebook Dreamers, written by Yuyi Morales. November’s theme is Global Perspectives on the Refugee and Immigrant Experience. This book depicts the real life struggle of a single mother who crossed the US border with her young son in order to seek out a better life.

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‘Señor Calavera still isn’t scary’

by Julia López-Robertson, Tiffany LaBrooy, Kirstin Wade & Jamie Yobs, University of South Carolina

Book jacket for Just a Minute by Yuyi MoralesThis week a group of students read Yuyi Morales’ beautiful stories, Just a Minute and Just in Case. Just a Minute is a witty tale of Grandma Beetle who gets a surprise visit by Señor Calavera, a skeleton who has come to inform her that it is “time to go.” Grandma Beetle says she will go in “just a minute” after she sweeps one house, boils two pots of tea, makes three pounds of corn into tortillas… and on and on until she gets to ten where she informs her grandchildren that Continue reading

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Teaching Biography: Learning about Life through Others’ Lives

by Mary Starrs Armstrong, University of Alaska, Anchorage, AK

Harvesting Hope: teaching biography to enrich cultural knowledgeThis month I invite you to explore biographies, focusing on personal response and extensions to culture. In what ways can reading biographies, thinking and writing and talking about them inform us about ourselves as well as other cultures?

Biographies and autobiography have the unique ability to reach into the soil of human experience and till it for the reader (Duthie, 1998) as well as provide a springboard for thought and argument, inquiry and pleasure (Harvey 2002).

Through reading and responding to Harvesting Hope (Krull 2003), Mario made personal connections that evoked memories keeping him focused, interested while expanding his world.

Mario was a Mexican American fifth grader whose first language is Spanish. He quickly found parallels to events in the early life of Cesar Chavez to a few poignant experiences of his own. He told me:
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Interview with Yuyi Morales, Part 4

by Jeanne Fain, Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, TN and Julia López-Robertson, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC

We wanted to hear Yuyi’s insights on publishing and inquire about her future plans. Additionally, we wanted to end our blog with children’s responses to Yuyi’s work. We asked our colleague Robin Horn from Galveston Elementary in Chandler, AZ and a preschool teacher associate of Julia’s at Spears Creek Road Child Development in Elgin, SC to share responses from Yuyi’s new book with Tony Johnston, My Abuelita. The children responded sharing their stories and connections with the book.

Jeanne: What are your thoughts about children’s publishing especially in regards to bilingual children’s literature?
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Interview with Yuyi Morales, Part 3

by Jeanne Fain, Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, TN and Julia López-Robertson, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC

I have been questioned about my use of Yuyi Morales’s skeletal Señor Calavera in preschool classrooms. Some teachers were initially hesitant to read about him, so I asked Yuyi about her perspectives on him. I wanted to get the insider’s perspective on him and I wanted to hear what children had to say about him. First, we’ll let Señor Calavera share his own search for identity.

WOW! Did you know Señor Calavera has his own My Space account? He does. Maybe you should be his friend there. He’d be a good friend to have because he’s also a decorated story teller. Unfortunately (or fortunately?), something happened on the way to the ALA Pura Belpre book award ceremony.
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Interview with Yuyi Morales, Part 2

by Jeanne Fain, Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, TN and Julia López-Robertson, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC

One of the questions that I often ask children when we are reading bilingual books, is what language do you focus upon? Do you look at both languages in the book? Students have told me that they read the language that they know. Or if they have a question, they read both languages to make sense of the text. We were interested in knowing Yuyi’s process as an author and her views of bilingual texts when English Only is not just sentiment, but the law in many places.

Jeanne: You use code switching (alternating back and forth across languages) often in your books. What process do you use when writing? Do you write in English and then shift to Spanish or vice versa? Have you had to advocate for the use of Spanish in your books?
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Interview with Yuyi Morales

by Jeanne Fain, Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, TN and Julia López-Robertson, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC

Author and illustrator Yuyi Morales has created several books that we have used in our work with children in many classrooms. We especially appreciate the multicultural aspects of her work and that many of her books are bilingual. She uses language that directly relates to the children. Julia had her speak at a conference that she co-chairs yearly in South Carolina. Jeanne met her at the University of Arizona when she spoke at Kathy Short’s children’s literature conference. We both thought Yuyi could add depth to our ongoing discussions around global children’s literature. Fortunately, she agreed to answer questions about her current and upcoming work.
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