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2022 Trends in Global Literature: Multilingualism and Language Learning

By Kathy Short, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ

A grandmoter in a sari and a girl in pigtails happily embraceThe increasing global mobility and multilingualism of our world are playing out in interesting ways in recent books for children. Some of these books focus on children learning to speak English or on English-speakers struggling to pronounce a child’s name. Still others naturally integrate multiple languages in a translingual book where characters weave additional languages into their dialogue, drawing from the multiple languages they speak and understand. Another trend is an increase in bilingual books with the entire text in two languages. Continue reading

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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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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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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

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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

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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

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Language Hierarchies in Picturebooks

By Nicola Daly, The University of Waikato Te Whare Wānanga o Waikato, New Zealand

A sign reading No matter where you're from, we're glad you're our neighbor in Spanish, English and Arabic on a green, blue and orange background As I mentioned in in my first post for WOW Currents, I am interested in bilingual and multilingual picturebooks and how they arrange the different language texts on the page. To frame my research in this area, I use a sociolinguistic lens called Linguistic Landscape. This approach is more commonly used to examine how languages are displayed in public spaces (for example a streetscape) on signage, and it is interpreted as a reflection of the status and vitality of languages and their associated communities. Which languages are on printed signs, and which are handwritten? When several languages are on one sign, which is larger, which is first? Continue reading

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Italicizing Non-English Words: The Case of Spanish in Picturebooks

By María V. Acevedo, Texas A&M University-San Antonio, San Antonio, TX
With Rebecca Ballenger, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ

I read out loud All Around Us, by Xelena Gonzalez, illustrated by Adriana García, to a class of undergraduate students. When I read, “We eat what we’ve grown-crunchy lettuce, sweet carrots and spicy chiles,” one of my students said, “I love your Spanish accent.” Chiles is the only Spanish word in this picturebook and it is not italicized. The student’s comment made me think of picturebooks that highlight non-English words in one way or another and the implications of this practice to fictional characters and readers.

Cover art for La Princesa and the Pea shows a girl with a crown of flowers sitting atop multiple mismatched mattresses and a surly cat perched on the bed's footboard Continue reading

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Using Stories to Teach Life Lessons in the Classroom

By Asiye Demir, Lauren Hunt, Priscila Costa and Julia López-Robertson, University of South Carolina

Buried Beneath the Baobab TreeBuried Beneath the Baobab Tree by Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani (2018) tells the story of a girl who was kidnapped and forced to marry one of the militants of Boko Haram in Nigeria. Through the storyline of the novel, we witness their living standards, culture and religious practices. Last week we talked about our responses to this novel and since we are a diverse group of people, our responses were varied and had different aspects. Our group is made up of four teachers who have profound experiences with English language learners and other diverse student populations and as such this week we will approach our blog from the perspective of classroom applications. Continue reading