Decorative WOW Currents Banner

2020 Trends in Global Literature for Children and Adolescents

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

This month, WOW Currents highlights the trends in global books published in the U.S. between Summer 2019 and 2020. Each summer, I work on an update for the K-12 global reading lists, fiction and nonfiction, to post on the Worlds of Words website. Exploring possible book titles, reading reviews and analyzing themes provides insights into patterns across this annual collection of global books. This post overviews these trends and the subsequent weekly posts each examine one trend in more depth with examples of books. Continue reading

Decorative WOW Currents Banner

Children’s Literature and Strong Emotions During Civil Unrest

By Susan Corapi, Trinity International University, Deerfield, IL

Cover of Daniel and Ismail with the title in English, Hebrew, and Arabic on a orange background with two young boys kicking a soccer ball below the title.Multiple cities in the U.S. have been racked by civil unrest, whether the protesters are frustrated with racial inequalities, face mask policy or simply tired of the limitations of living in a pandemic. Children cannot miss hearing the strong emotions that are projected in the media or felt by adults as they eavesdrop on conversations. The resulting need is to help them think about these big events and the strong emotions that ensue.

While the previous three blog posts have been about just that–helping children think about strong emotions–this week I focus on the thoughts of children as they face civil unrest. What do children think of in the middle of unrest? What do they dream of? As adults working with children, these stories can give us a new focus for discussion as we hear about ways kids cope with stress. Continue reading

Decorative WOW Currents Banner

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

Decorative WOW Currents Banner

Big Events, Strong Emotions: Anger

By Susan Corapi, Trinity International University, Deerfield, IL

Angry Man Cover depicts Young boy with straight brown hair and a grave expression in lower right corner.This past week, I was at my local grocery store, masked and intent on finding the items on my list. As I swung around the corner with my buggy (obeying the one way directional arrows on the floor), a young man walked toward me, clearly not obeying the directional arrows. Furthermore he was not wearing a mask (required in all buildings in the state of Illinois). I was ticked–why did he think he could skip the mask, not follow the arrows telling him where to walk, and endanger my health??? For a moment I debated asking about his required mask, but I quickly dropped the idea and ignored him. My anger was safely bottled up and shared only with people as we discussed behaviors that keep us safe. But that is not the case for many across the country, as people express their anger at racism, the pandemic restrictions and any other big or little thing that has happened (e.g., the sun was too bright; my internet crashed yet again). Understandably, we are reacting to the tension of the difficult past months and an unknown future. As adults, we struggle to remain calm and not overreact. If we ourselves are learning how to express our frustrations in this new time, it points to the necessity of helping kids express and deal with their strong emotions, particularly the focus this week: anger. Continue reading

Decorative WOW Currents Banner

Big Events, Strong Emotions: Grief

By Susan Corapi, Trinity International University, Deerfield, IL

Cover for Paws + Edward depicts a boy in repose on the back of a giant romping dog.These past few months have given us plenty of big issues to think about with children. The pandemic has impacted daily life in families, communities, the economy and what the future looks like. If that is not enough, we are now grappling with overt racism as we hear of prejudice against Asian-Americans and police brutality towards African Americans. Immigration policy and deportations have taken a back seat in the news to race riots. The daily news has created fear and anxiety. Continue reading

Decorative WOW Currents Banner

A Long Time Coming: Representations of Male Queerness in Children’s Literature

Donna Bulatowicz, Montana State University, Billings, MT, and Desiree Cueto, Western Washington University, WA, with Gavin McCormick

This series of WOW Currents, “A Long Time Coming,” centers on the progress made toward diversifying children’s literature and on the need to further this effort. In this final segment, we look at the evolution of LGBTQ+ books. The importance of authentic depictions in these books cannot be overemphasized, as Ellen Oh wrote on her blog, “Because queer kids are still killing themselves over being different (or being told that they’re different) and the greater representation they have in books, the less alone they’ll feel.” Continue reading

Decorative WOW Currents Banner

A Long Time Coming: Representations of Muslim Characters in Children’s Literature

By Donna Bulatowicz, Montana State University Billings, MT, and Desiree Cueto, Western Washington University, WA with Alicen Anijo

Cover of One Green Apple depicting a yong girl in a light colored hijab holding an apple with an apple orchard in the background, where other children pick apples.Even though roughly 1% of U.S. adults identify as Muslim (Pew Research Center 2020), few books published in the United States authentically portray this community. This leads to challenges in finding books for Muslim children that represent their religious identity. It also poses a problem for non-Muslim children who need to see religious diversity represented in literature. Books are one way to mitigate prejudice; thus, the importance of a multitude of authentic portrayals of Muslim main characters in books can make a difference. Continue reading

Decorative WOW Currents Banner

A Long Time Coming: Fictional Depictions of Autism Spectrum Disorder

By Donna Bulatowicz, Montana State University Billings, MT, and Desiree W. Cueto, Western Washington University, WA with with Megan Robinson

Cover of A Friend For Henry depicting a young boy with black hair playing with colored blocksIn 1965, Nancy Larrick wrote “The All-White World of Children’s Books,” which called publishers to task for limited, almost non-existent representations of diverse characters. Fast-forward nearly 50 years and the same sentiment is conveyed through the hashtag, turned movement, turned non-profit, We Need Diverse Books. According to its website, We Need Diverse Books serves as a grassroots organization of children’s book lovers who advocate for essential changes in the publishing industry to produce and promote literature that reflects and honors the lives of all young people. The ongoing work of readers, reviewers, authors and publishing houses connected to the movement has changed the industry in significant ways. However, there is still a long way to go before inclusivity is the industry standard. This WOW Currents post highlights newer titles that move the work forward by reflecting the lives of marginalized groups with depth and complexity. We also consider how some representations in children’s books have remained stagnant and limited to heroic or stereotypical representations. In each segment, we feature the perspectives of cultural insiders: Megan Robinson, Alicen Anijo, Gavin McCormick and Ana Casillas-Sanchez, who enrolled in Desiree Cueto’s Culturally Relevant Materials for Diverse Learners course at Western Washington University. Drawing on their inquiries, we examine representations of Autism Spectrum Disorder, LGBTQAI+, Islam/Muslim Religion and Depression. Continue reading

Decorative WOW Currents Banner

All Listening Together: Biographical Picturebooks About Global Musicians

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

Last Sunday, I attended my first virtual dance party put on by D-Nice on Instagram Live, dubbed Club Quarantine. I’ve seen conflicting reports that there were 50,000 to 150,000 virtual attendees from all over the globe all listening to music and dancing alone together. It was a true stress relief, as music can often be. It also reminded me that music is often a social act. Most of us grow up with some music, and many of us grow up surrounded by music. Music is one way that our identities get formed–through identifying with others who share the same musical interests or culture. Our families raise us with their own musical interests, but we explore on our own, forming our own musical identities. In this post, I will explore picturebook biographies about global musicians that relate to my own musical upbringing and identities. Continue reading

Decorative WOW Currents Banner

Resources Around Epidemics and Pandemics

Cholera warning posters by seventh gradersMany readers are looking for virtual escape as movement is restricted due to the spread of COVID-19. Schools nation-wide are closed, but they will soon open either on line or face-to-face and teachers will be keen to help young people make sense of current events. The Executive Board of Worlds of Words came together to determine how we might assist in the effort to find quality literature for young people around epidemics and pandemics.

This post includes a booklist of recently published fiction and non-fiction books as well as links to previously published WOW Currents posts with this focus. We’d love to hear from you too! Provide your comments and recommendations of books and other resources below. Continue reading