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Big Events, Strong Emotions: Anxiety

By Susan Corapi, Trinity International University, Deerfield, IL

The Pencil cover shows the close-up profile of girl holding up a sharpened pencil to two of her friends.The world economic crisis due to COVID-19 has left many unemployed. Newscasts report on long lines of people waiting to enter food banks or receive relief supplies. Then they report on the latest bankruptcy and use terms that hearken back to the Great Depression. Most of us know someone who has suffered from the economic downturn, which, in turn, creates anxiety in the rest of us.

During the spring semester, my university students struggled to keep up with a full load of classes through Zoom meetings, all the while helping their families out. Students’ families had small businesses that were floundering and other students had parents who had lost jobs, so all were working small jobs wherever possible. During weekly check-ins, I invited students to talk about some of the anxiety they felt as families cut back so they could maximize funds. So, this week we look at narratives of people who are lacking basic necessities. Continue reading

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Integrating Youth Culture for Youth Literacy

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

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Magee is one of the largest middle schools in Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) in Tucson, AZ. Approximately, a third of the 650 students with diverse backgrounds are attending Magee middle school. Students are provided with various STEAM opportunities (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math). The school also offers classes in areas such as theater, computer science, and robotics, among others. Above all, Magee’s library provides rich learning opportunities to digital native students in ways that are relevant to their cultures. The library has been responsive to changes in learning environments in school and society. Continue reading

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MTYT: I Walk with Vanessa: A Story About a Simple Act of Kindness

By Holly Johnson, University of Cincinnati and Marilyn Carpenter, Professor Emeritus, Eastern Washington University

In the last April MTYT, Holly and Marilyn discuss the not-so-simple acts of kindness as seen in I Walk with Vanessa: A Story About a Simple Act of Kindness by Kerascoët.

I Walk with Vanessa: A Story About a Simple Act of Kindness Continue reading

MTYT: Freedom in Congo Square

By Holly Johnson, PhD, University of Cincinnati and Samira Gaikward, doctoral student at the University of Cincinnati

To prepare for the Tucson Festival of Books, Worlds of Words focused on stories and ideas presented at the festival. Dr. Holly Johnson and Samira continue this conversation in their discussion of Freedom in Congo Square as they reflect upon a Festival panel’s topic: freedom.

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MTYT: The Fox and the Wild

Several members of our group serve on literature award committees and noticed that in 2017 publishers released some interesting books about foxes. We wondered if the representation or characterization of the fox changed from the traditional portrayal as a sly personality in trickster tales, classics like Aesop’s Fables, Pinocchio and Three Little Pigs, or modern tales like Fox (Margaret Wild and Ron Brooks) and Rosie’s Walk (Pat Hutchins). Are fox characters more empathetic in recent publications such as Pax (Sara Pennypacker and Jon Klassen)? In week 1, we discuss The Fox and the Wild by Clive McFarland.

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MTYT: My Grandfather’s Coat

Written by Jim Aylesworth and illustrated by Barbara McClintock, My Grandfather’s Coat is an adaptation of a Yiddish folk song that weaves a tale of immigration and continuation in a new land. This retelling is full of joy, with a rhythm and rhyme that excites readers young and old. The story follows a single coat as it transforms and changes shape over the years, becoming something brand new. The song is also present in Simms Taback’s Joseph Had a Little Overcoat (Viking, 1999) and Phoebe Gilman’s Something from Nothing (Scholastic, 1992) and is reimagined once more in this charming picture book.

My Grandfather's Coat Continue reading

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Math In Children’s Literature

By Susan Corapi, Trinity International University, Deerfield, IL

I teach Reading and Writing Across the Curriculum to preservice teachers. The course covers literacy in various content areas at the middle and high school levels. One of my goals in this class is to help students understand the literacy practices embedded in their various disciplines. This gives them a better understanding of how they can support middle and high school students in their attempts to read discipline-specific texts as a mathematician, scientist, historian or musician might read them. I also want them to experience using literature to work across disciplines, collaboratively building unit plans that support critical thinking in their content area.

Really Big Numbers

Illustration from Really Big Numbers by Richard Evan Schwartz.

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MTYT: A Diamond In the Desert

MTYT August 2017 BannerThis August, Michele Ebersole and Yoo Kyung Sung give their take on “Rethinking conceptual otherness in history: Exploring untold histories in the U.S. and global communities.” They begin the discussion with the book A Diamond in the Desert by Kathryn Fitzmaurice. In the coming weeks, they also consider Bronze and Sunflower by Cao Wenxua, Gaijin: American Prisoner of War by Matt Faulkner and Lion Island: Cuba’s Warrior of Words by Margarita Engle.

MTYT A Diamond In the Desert Continue reading

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Suggest Books to Explore Hunger and Poverty

By Deborah Dimmett, The University of Arizona

This week I am in Caracol, Haiti, working at a camp that is an industrial park partially financed by USAID after the 2010 earthquake. It is hours away from Port-au-Prince where the earthquake occurred and is an attempt to provide factory jobs and low cost housing to Haitians. The industrial park was not constructed without controversy. Haitians who work for the textile factory work long days at a rate of $5 a day. They have to purchase their home, pay for all utilities, and eat with whatever income is left. It’s difficult to imagine how they manage and even more difficult to understand the logic of neoliberal trade agreements that allow large companies like Levi-Strauss to pay so little to those who have few means for their daily sustenance. In fact, meals are sparse, often with little nutritional value but high in carbohydrates and fat so that people can sustain a long work day on only one meal.


Interior illustration from SéLavi by Youme (Cinco Puntos Press, 2004)

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Global Poverty in Ada’s Violin and Malaika’s Costume

By Seemi Aziz, The University of Arizona

As I continue to look at representations of global poverty in picturebooks, resourcefulness remains a predominant theme. Two examples of characters who live in poverty and show resourcefulness come from the books Ada’s Violin, which has been a WOW Recommends: Book of the Month selection, and Malaika’s Costume.

Ada's Violin The Story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay by Susan Hood and illustrated by Sally Wern Comport Continue reading