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Imagination Fridays

By Mary L. Fahrenbruck, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM

Each week in November, WOW Currents will feature an online resource that teachers and families can access to support literacy instruction in their virtual learning spaces. This week’s post features Imagination Friday hosted by Worlds of Words: Center of Global Literacies and Literatures and Tucson Festival of Books. WOW offers many amazing resources for teachers and families, and Imagination Friday is no exception. Continue reading

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Creating Literature-Based Digital Classroom

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

In our school district (Tucson Unified School District (TUSD)), in this unusual time, “Bitmoji Classroom” is one of the hottest educational tools among teachers, especially Grades K-5, for distance learning. A bitmoji (personal avatar) classroom is an interactive virtual classroom that bridges virtual and hands-on learning to keep students engaged. It makes resources, such as a school calendar, books, and activities, easily accessible to students and provides them with a sense of virtual familiarity and stability. Continue reading

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Locating Resources on Global Children’s and YA Literature

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

Many authors, illustrators, publishers and literacy organizations offer valuable resources during this time of mandated on-line learning. An ongoing issue, however, is that only a few of these resources highlight global literature, books set in global cultures outside of the U.S. Our goal for this website is to support educators and families in engaging readers with global literature to encourage intercultural understanding across cultures. If you are a teacher educator searching for on-line readings and book lists for your courses or a teacher creating new inquiry units that are global in focus, the following resources can support your work. You can also use these features as examples for students to create their own reviews, vignettes or book recommendations. Continue reading

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2020 Global Books: Trends in the Portrayals of World War II

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

Cover of Under the Broken Sky which depicts two young Japanese girls carrying backpacks and embracing each other, looking out to the viewer on a background of desert and blue sky.Books about World War II continue to trend in global literature for children and adolescents. The 2020 global reading lists contain many books for middle grade and young adult readers that reflect on-going interest in this time period. The majority are historical fiction and focus on World War II events in Europe, but a new trend is historical fiction that focuses on events in Asia. Continue reading

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2020 Global Books: Fantasy Based in Many Cultural Traditions

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

Cover art for The Dark Fantastic includes a Black girl sitting on the edge of a tree village extending her hand to a fantastical bird.For many years, fantasy primarily originated in English-speaking countries and featured European traditions and White protagonists. The popularity of Harry Potter and the Hunger Games and the many books based in Greek and Roman mythology reflect this trend. In The Dark Fantastic, Ebony Elizabeth Thomas (2019) argues that fantasy offers readers portals into real and imagined worlds but bars the doors for people of color or subjects them to marginalization and violence. Thomas sees this gap as both a lack of representation and a lack of imagination. Continue reading

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2020 Global Books: Picturebooks about Contemporary Experiences

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

Freedom Soup cover shows a Haitain grandmother in a head scarf dancing in kitchen with child in braids.A long-term issue in global literature is the lack of books showing contemporary experiences, leading to misconceptions that other cultures are set back in time in comparison to the U.S. The global novels for middle grade and young adult readers identified on the 2020 Global Reading Lists are primarily historical fiction or fantasy with the exception of refugee books, a continuation of that problematic trend. In contrast, picturebooks for younger readers include many contemporary depictions of everyday life in a range of global cultures, including Nigeria, Kenya, Pakistan, Japan, China, Korea, India, Tibet, Iran, Syria and Indigenous Canada. Continue reading

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2020 Global Books: Refugee Experiences in Children’s and YA Literature

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

Story Boat cover shows two children and a cat sailing in a teacup with a flower for a mast and surrounded by animals and objects.Refugee experiences continue to dominate global children’s and YA literature in books published between June 2019 and 2020. As in previous years, many contain heart-wrenching stories of refugees experiencing displacement due to violence and war and their journeys of hardship and loss. A smaller number focus on life in refugee camps and detention centers, a sense of belonging in a new place, and home as two places in one’s heart. 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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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

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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