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2022 Trends in Global Literature: Picturebooks about Relationships with Grandparents

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

An open yellow suitcase next to the legs of a young girlThe lack of books depicting contemporary global cultures has been an issue for many years with historical fiction, traditional literature and fantasy dominating the global books published in the U.S. This over-representation of history and traditions often results in stereotypes and misconceptions of these cultures as set back in time or no longer existing in the contemporary world. The recent emergence of picturebooks with contemporary depictions is thus a positive trend in providing books that invite children to make connections between their own culture and global cultures in today’s world. Continue reading

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Trends in Global Literature for Children and Adolescents

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

Young boy shows his mutli-colored fingernails.WOW Currents for this month highlights the trends in global books published and/or distributed in the U.S. between Summer 2021 and 2022. Each year, we examine the new books published in that period of time and check out review sources and awards to identify books we believe will be of most interest to K-12 educators for use in their contexts. This process allows us to update the K-12 global reading lists, fiction and nonfiction, to post on the Worlds of Words Center website. This immersion into the new books also helps identify publication trends and patterns over the past year. This post overviews these trends and the posts during the month of August examine one trend in more depth with examples of books. Continue reading

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My Journey Through Culturally Authentic Indigenous American Children’s Literature

By Angeline P. Hoffman, White Mountain Apache

Leather bound book with gold leave title and art showing a storyteller stage with audienceCulturally authentic Indigenous American children’s literature is composed of traditional stories that consist of myths, legends and folktales in the oral storytelling traditions of a given people. This literature also includes contemporary stories and poetry. An affirmation of Indigenous children’s literature is noted by Dr. Debbie Reese (2007, p. 245):

Through stories, people pass their religious beliefs, customs, history, lifestyle, language, values, and the places they hold sacred from one generation to the next. As such, stories and their telling are more than simple entertainment. They matter in significant ways – to the well-being of the communities from which they originate.

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Bookbird as a Resource for Contemporary Themes and Issues in Literature

By Janelle B. Mathis, University of North Texas, Denton, TX

Girl and her dog in an airplaneJune’s earlier post in WOW Currents focused on the wealth of international authors and their works that can be explored by investing time in the nominees, finalists and winners of the Hans Christian Andersen 2022 award. A source to begin this exploration is through Bookbird, A Journal of International Children’s Literature, where an issue each year is focused on these outstanding authors and illustrators of children’s literature. Given the challenge that we all face — identifying global literature to use with students and in research — I wish to continue thinking about Bookbird as a resource by focusing on recently published issues and the themes therein. Continue reading

Bookbird as Resource: Exploring the Hans Christian Andersen Award Nominees

By Janelle B. Mathis, University of North Texas, Denton, TX

As a co-editor of Bookbird, A Journal of International Children’s Literature, the journal of IBBY (International Board on Books for Young People), I am currently involved in putting together the Hans Christian Andersen Winners and Finalists issue. Readers here may be quite familiar with Bookbird and the many scholarly insights around international children’s and young adult literature that it offers readers. Books to explore, creators of literature, activities centered around children’s literature, exploration of themes, ideologies, theoretical perspectives and cultural insights make Bookbird a wealth of global information. Continue reading

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Ukraine: Unexpected Connections and Insights

by Charlene Klassen Endrizzi and Grace Klassen

A single story or book cannot completely portray the richness or ambiguities of one culture (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, 2009). As we study media images of atrocities occurring within Ukraine, we pause to wonder about these vibrant, resilient people and their varied stories. This exploration allows us to develop a more comprehensive understanding of universal themes relevant to many cultures which emerge from Ukrainian children’s authors. Continue reading

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Marching Towards Justice for All: Part II

by Daliswa Kumalo and Charlene Klassen Endrizzi

This week Daliswa (Didi) and I continue our look back at her African American Read-In experience with third graders, inspired by their exploration of Let the Children March. We share letters sent to students from foot soldiers still residing in Birmingham, Alabama and then consider third graders’ reactions. This insight from Desiree Cueto sums up our overarching intentions. “Our hope is that this work will inspire others to be courageous in their teaching and in their resolve to usher in a new generation of thoughtful and compassionate citizens.” Continue reading

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Marching Towards Justice for All: Part I

by Daliswa Kumalo and Charlene Klassen Endrizzi

Four young people in 1950s fashion lead a parade of protestors.Two years ago, Daliswa “Didi” Kumalo shared a compelling picturebook, Let the Children March, with third graders during our School of Education’s annual African American Read-In. She recently revealed the impetus for crafting this engagement. “When I was younger, my dad always told me that ‘history tends to repeat itself.’ As much as I wished that wasn’t the case, as I get older the connections to the past have never felt closer.” Through our blog post, I (Charlene) reveal Didi’s ability to connect 8- and 9-year-olds to the Civil Rights child foot soldiers featured in Monica Clark-Robinson and Frank Morrison‘s award winning book. We believe this literature engagement highlights the value of building bridges to our nation’s past. When teachers initiate hard conversations surrounding unresolved racial struggles, children can begin to consider their power to create much-needed change today. Continue reading

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Picturebooks: The Wisdom Found in Ages

By Holly Johnson, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH

The last week of December, and of 2021, is a great time to think about wisdom, and what we can learn not only from the past year, and from those who have lived many years. Four picturebooks highlighted during the last 12 months include the wisdom of the ages—three grandparents and one country leader. I Dream of Popo is the story of a young girl who misses her grandmother when her family moves to the United States from Taiwan. The young protagonist remembers what her grandmother means to her, and what she learned from her grandmother. And while they are able to use technology to “visit” one another, there is still the longing to be with, and to continue to learn from, this very special person. Readers can relate to the wisdom of their own grandparents or older family relatives. There are their family stories to be heard, memories to hold, and love to take with them as they venture out seeking further knowledge and perhaps, wisdom as they grow. Continue reading

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Government Practices & Policies, and the Dangers to Individuals

By Holly Johnson, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH


The four novels this week address issues of government practices and policies and how those initiatives impact human beings. The Firekeeper’s Daughter, Your Heart, My Sky, The Beatryce Prophecy, and Unsettled as a text set are a blend of historical realities, fable/fairytale, as well as legends and cultural traditions. The power of these novels is the ability of the authors to create realistic contexts that are often too familiar while highlighting individuals and their responses to that political context. Each of these narratives invite questions about government programming and the gaps within the lived reality as well as the historical documentation of that programming provides entrée into the study of history itself. Who and what is fore fronted? Who or what is silenced or rendered invisible? How can history be re-envisioned, and in what ways can more of the “story” of history be brought into view? How can students of history look beneath the official narrative and, perhaps, bring about change? How do people actually live within the history given? How does one make a life in dangerous times? Continue reading