Decorative WOW Currents Banner

Scientists and Mathematicians in Children’s Literature

By Susan Corapi, Trinity International University, Deerfield, IL


The last fifteen months have been filled with science and math as we have followed the spread of a new virus and disease that rapidly shifted from localized outbreaks to a pandemic. We watched the race to develop mRNA and viral vector vaccines that were effective in protecting against COVID-19. We have been inundated with scientific diagrams, statistics, infection rates, and percentages of people vaccinated in different parts of the world–in other words, we have been immersed in principles of science and math. So, it seemed fitting to focus WOW Currents in July on global and multicultural books that engage with STEM subjects–science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The titles this week portray scientists and mathematicians from around the world who have contributed to our understanding of their fields. Continue reading

Decorative WOW Currents Banner

Reaction to Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam from a Criminologist’s Point of View

By Genisis Luevanos, Taylor Hogan, Saundra D. Trujillo, and Mary L. Fahrenbruck, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, New Mexico

The fourth and final installment of WOW Currents for June features Genisis and Taylor’s reactions Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam. Both women are students majoring in Criminal Justice at NMSU and read the novel as part of their study of criminology theories in Saundra’s Race, Crime and Justice course.

In their reactions, both women convey strong emotional connections to Amal and the circumstances he endures throughout the novel. Genisis questions the idea of hope and reflects on the authors’ writing that humanizes incarcerated persons. Taylor reacts to the scene where Amal realizes that the color of his skin affected how he was perceived in the courtroom. Saundra and Mary reflect on the experience of applying criminology theories to young adult literature in a criminal justice course to close out the final post for June. Continue reading

Decorative WOW Currents Banner

Reaction to Juvie by Steve Watkins from a Criminologist’s Point of View

By McKensi Spears, Saundra D. Trujillo, and Mary L. Fahrenbruck, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Cover of Juvie depicting empty cells on three levels, with the bottom level holding a young woman in an orange prison jumpsuit replacing the I in Juvie.

The third WOW Currents post in June features McKensi Spears’ reaction to Juvie by Steve Watkins. McKensi, a criminal justice major at NMSU, briefly discusses Labeling Theory and then applies the theory to the novel. McKensi primarily addresses the changes in the behavior of Sadie, the main character, that seem to emerge as labels are placed upon her before and during her time in the juvenile justice system.

Saundra and Mary close out the post with their reflections about the novel and about Labeling Theory. In her reflection, Saundra cleverly connects the labels found in the novel to labels found in songs recorded by Eminem and Billie Eilish. Mary reflects on how Watkins’ personal experiences as a Court Appointed Special Advocate might have influenced the plot of the novel and the idea that discussions about Labeling Theory might facilitate readers’ deeper comprehension of the novel. Continue reading

Decorative WOW Currents Banner

Reaction to Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds from a Criminologist’s Point of View

By Trevor Brohard, Saundra D. Trujillo, and Mary L. Fahrenbruck, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

Using YA literature in the Criminal Justice field is a relatively new approach to exploring criminology theories. Saundra, a Criminology/Criminal Justice professor, and Mary, a Language, Literacy and Culture professor, implemented YA literature into Saundra’s Criminal Justice graduate course, Race, Crime and Justice, to learn if this unique approach could extend students’ thinking about various criminology theories as they applied the theories to YA literature.

This week’s WOW Currents features Trevor Brohard’s reaction to Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds. Trevor uses a criminology/criminal justice lens to reflect on various criminology theories related to the intersections of race, ethnicity, crime, justice, cultural and structural contexts within the novel. Saundra and Mary reflect on Trevor’s reaction to close out this week’s post. Continue reading

Decorative WOW Currents Banner

Reaction to Illegal. A Disappeared Novel by Francisco X. Stork from a Criminologist’s Point of View

By Kelly Weese, Saundra D. Trujillo, and Mary L. Fahrenbruck, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Cover depicts a teenage boy running across a trainyard with a train in the background, backlit by yellow sunlight.

WOW Currents for June will feature reactions to young adult literature from graduate students enrolled in the Criminal Justice Program at New Mexico State University. Using a criminology/criminal justice lens, students enrolled in Saundra’s Criminal Justice course, Race, Crime and Justice examined current young adult literature as a part of their studies. Saundra, a Criminology/Criminal Justice professor, and Mary, a Language, Literacy and Culture professor, were curious to learn if incorporating young adult literature could push students’ engagement with various theories and inspire creativity in students’ ability to apply criminology theories related to the intersections of race, ethnicity, crime, justice, cultural and structural contexts. Continue reading

Decorative WOW Currents Banner

Re-Introducing Our Advanced Search Function

By Rebecca Ballenger, The University of Arizona

This month, we take a look at recent updates to our website made possible with help from Longview Foundation. We highlighted our book lists and will discuss our work with UArizona Libraries for digital archiving and preservation of our on-line journals. This week, we share our advanced search function and tips on how to use it to narrow search results.

Top navigation bar with spy glass icon circled. Continue reading

Decorative WOW Currents Banner

Website Improvements Include Updated Book Lists

By Rebecca Ballenger, The University of Arizona

With help from Longview Foundation, Worlds of Words spent a year improving our website. Much of this work won’t be noticeable to the average visitor, who is likely less concerned that we reduced the size of our website by a third without losing any content than they are accessing the content. This month, we take a look at some of the noticeable changes, including updating our book lists and resources, re-launching our Advance Search function and partnering with UArizona Libraries for digital archiving and preservation of our on-line journals.

The Longview Foundation logo is the institution name where the O is replaced with a globe gridded on the diagonal. Continue reading

Decorative WOW Currents Banner

Chapter Books on the Loss of a Family Member

Janelle Mathis, University of North Texas, Denton, TX

In thinking about particular trends and themes in books explored during 2020 while serving on ALA’s Notable Children’s Books Committee, I want to share some of my heroes and heroines found within the pages of novels, especially in light of issues of family loss through death and separation. As is a common trait of fiction for adolescent readers, the protagonist is faced with a situation or problem around which the plot develops and the character evolves. The situation is one that is believable and invites the reader into the lives, actions and decisions of characters who experience identity shaping events. While the stories can be emotionally charged and often mirror the increasing complexity of a young person’s life, at times without a definitive conclusion, they do end with hope. So, I was not surprised to find the characters in books I read and discussed in 2020 to be in complicated situations; however, interesting was that most experienced the loss of a family member who played an important role in their life. The loss was through death, separation, or the ability of the person to function in the supportive way that they did prior to a change in health, mental abilities, or other life changes. In spite of and because of their loss, characters became resilient, self-reliant, and self-aware. Readers become immersed in their stories and lives, with the potential of learning more about themselves. A few of the books that continue to resonate in my thoughts follow. Continue reading

Decorative WOW Currents Banner
Decorative WOW Currents Banner

Picturebooks That Focus on Black Children and Their Families

Janelle Mathis, University of North Texas, Denton, TX

Cover of Tiara's Hat Parade depicting a young black girl smiling with a blue hat on her head as her mother smiles down at her while making a green hat.

As I continue sharing topics or theme that seemed to be predominant in the many books read by our Notable Children’s Books (ALA) committee, in this WOW currents I will share picturebooks focused on Black children and their families. While this is not a new topic within the books published each year, children’s literature advocates are quick to note that among our diverse populations, the demographics, as continuously recorded by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center regarding populations does not align proportionately with the books published that reflect diverse children. Books sharing the stories of Black / African American children have been continuously increasing in terms of rich tapestries of historical events, previously untold stories of significant individuals, and general narratives of childhood across genre. However, this past year I found interesting, important, and pleasing, the continuous and abundant submission of realistic fiction picturebooks to our committee that specifically focused on the contemporary Black child and family relationships. Among these many books from 2020, I noted culturally specific stories, universal narratives around Black families, and books that celebrate and affirm identity for a child within these families. The seven titles shared here are merely a sampling of these books that stood out for me over 2020 but ones that uphold the potential of children’s literature to serve as mirrors, windows, and sliding glass doors (Rudine Sims Bishop, 1990) for children across the globe. Continue reading