WOW Currents

Indigenous Comics and Graphic Narratives

By Celeste Trimble, St. Martin’s University, Lacey, WA

Last week at AILDI, the American Indian Languages Development Institute at the University of Arizona, Jon Proudstar gave a talk about infusing Indigenous language and culture into his comic books. Although I was unable to attend, I am happy to see Indigenous comics and graphic narratives being a part of the conversation at AILDI.

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WOW Currents

Indigenous Own Voices after Sherman Alexie

By Celeste Trimble, St. Martin’s University, Lacey, WA

I grew up on a steady diet of Island of the Blue Dolphins, Little House on the Prairie, Walk Two Moons, Julie of the Wolves, et cetera, stories with native content written by non-native authors. Before The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian, I hadn’t read Cynthia Leitich Smith’s or Joseph Bruchac’s novels. But I had read Michael Dorris’ and Lousie Erdrich’s work for children, thanks to my love affair with Erdrich’s novels for adults. I hadn’t read any Indigenous Canadian authors writing for youth. Before The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian, I offered my students and my children solely historical fiction about Indigenous identities and stories. Nothing contemporary, and so very little, sadly, Indigenous Own Voices.

Indigenous Own Voices Sherman Alexie Continue reading

WOW Currents

Globalizing the Reading of Middle and High School Students

By Kathy Short, The University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ

Although the classics serve as the foundation of most secondary literature classrooms, their domination is challenged by the call for cultural perspectives that reflect the diversity of our global society. The classics are critiqued for their basis in Western mainstream perspectives, biases against women and people of color, and inclusion of dated language and confusing writing styles, such as obscure expressions and unfamiliar sentence constructions. In addition, few classics have teens as main characters, having been written for adult audiences, and so teens struggle to connect. Given that these canonical texts are usually mandated reading, one way that teachers can increase relevancy and globalize reading is to pair the required classics with young adult global literature. These pairings can bring more diverse literature into the curriculum and, at the same time, create a context for understanding the classic work and its relevance for middle and high school students.

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WOW Currents

Engaging K-5 Readers with Global Literature

by Kathy Short, The University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ

Our careful survey of global literature available for K-5 readers in the U.S. led us to concerns as well as possibilities. We searched for global literature that is currently in print and met our criteria for text complexity as well as usefulness within the school curriculum. This survey raised several concerns as well as provided possibilities for engagements with readers, especially around paired books.

The Red Pencil Continue reading

WOW Currents

Limitations of Lexile Levels for Global Literature

By Kathy Short, The University of Arizona

The standards movement in the U.S. has placed a great deal of emphasis on Lexile levels as a means of determining the appropriateness of a book for a reader, using Lexiles to determine the complexity of a text. The assumption is that readers at each grade level band need to read books within specific Lexile levels or their reading achievement will be negatively affected. Teachers who do not challenge their students to read books within these bands are viewed as negligent in their teaching of reading and as handicapping students. These assumptions can be challenged from many perspectives, including the lack of research to support this position (Allington, McCuiston, & Billen, 2015). Other issues emerge with a close examination of the actual Lexile levels of exemplar texts and global literature.

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WOW Currents

The Complexities of Text Complexity

By Kathy Short, Director of Worlds of Words

Debates about text complexity and “appropriate” books for students at each grade level are a major point of emphasis in U.S. schools due to the influence of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Even in states that did not adopt these standards, such as Arizona, similar state-developed standards are guiding policies and instructional practices. The belief that students will become more effective readers if they read difficult texts that continuously increase in complexity with each grade level lies at the heart of the standards. This belief has led to increasing reliance on labeling books according to their Lexile levels and on core reading lists of books for each grade level, restricting students to reading books at those levels. This series of blog posts challenges the assumptions that underlie the current emphasis on text complexity and provides suggestions for engaging students with books that reflect the lives of culturally diverse children/adolescents and the global society in which they live.

The Complexities of Text Complexity in Common Core State Standards Continue reading

WOW Currents

Explorando Libros: Publishing Houses in Mexico Transforming Children’s and Young Adult Literature–Editorial 3 Abejas

By Andrea García, Ph.D. Literacy Consultant, Pädi, Queretaro, Mexico

My writing for this week focuses on the work of Editorial 3 Abejas, an independent Mexican editorial house launched in 2013. Editorial 3 Abejas is dedicated to publishing children’s and young adult literature with special attention to bringing together imaginative stories with innovative graphic design and illustrations. Their catalog represents a carefully curated collection of books intended to bring together young and experienced readers in the sharing of meaningful stories.

Editorial 3 abejas at FILIJ Continue reading

WOW Currents

Explorando Libros: Publishing Houses in Mexico Transforming Children’s and Young Adult’s Literature–Fondo de Cultura Económica

By Andrea García, Ph.D. Literacy Consultant, Pädi, Queretaro, Mexico

This week, I will focus on one of the oldest and most important editorial houses in Mexico, and across Latin America, the Fondo de Cultura Económica, FCE or “el Fondo,” as it is usually referred to. FCE is a nonprofit organization that is partially funded by the Mexican government.

Fondo de Cultura Económica at FILIJ Continue reading

WOW Currents

Explorando Libros: Publishing Houses in Mexico Transforming Children’s and Young Adult’s Literature – Nostra Ediciones

By Andrea García, Ph.D. Literacy Consultant, Pädi, Queretaro, Mexico

This week, we take a closer look at the work of Nostra Ediciones, an independent Mexican publishing company founded in 2000. Nostra identifies its mission as publishing books with an emphasis on promoting high-quality literary works with innovative visual layouts that generate “curiosity and enthusiasm in all readers, regardless of their age and whether they are novice or experienced readers.” Their main line of publication is geared towards children’s and young adult literature, but they also have books geared for the public in general.

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WOW Currents

Explorando Libros: Publishing Houses in Mexico Transforming Children’s and Young Adult Literature–Ediciones Tecolote

By Andrea García, Ph.D. Literacy Consultant, Pädi, Queretaro, Mexico

The second stop in our journey into the world of publishing houses in Mexico takes us to the work of Ediciones Tecolote. And this week, my writing for WOW Currents could not have arrived at a better time, as the world of children’s and young adult literature in Mexico is celebrating. Ediciones Tecolote was just named the recipient of the 6th Bologna Prize for the Best Children’s Publishers of the Year (BOP Prize) for Central and South America. This prestigious award is presented at the 2018 Bologna Children’s Book Fair, celebrated this year from March 26 to 29, 2018 in Bologna, Italy.

Tecolote Display at FILIJ Continue reading