Literary Insights to Social, Traditional and Cultural Aspects of Music

by Janelle Mathis, University of North Texas

Music is often a focus in literature as readers learn about this communicative art form. It is also a way of contextualizing a character, an event or a culture–revealing a diversity of insights into the daily lives and cultures of the people within the stories told. The books shared here, all published in 2019, represent just a few of the ways music exists in our lives. Three of the books are picturebooks sharing family joy that is supported and expressed through music.

Freedom Soup cover shows a Haitian grandmother in a head scarf dancing in kitchen with child in braids.Freedom Soup by Tami Charles and illustrated by Jacqueline Alcántara is a Haitian story told around the Haitian new year custom of making and eating Freedom Soup, a tradition reflecting the Haitian Revolution. As Ti Gran teaches Belle how to make Freedom Soup, readers experience the process as well as the music that enlivens the experience. The kompa not only provides music as they dance around the kitchen, but most importantly, it provides background for Ti Gran as she tells the story of the Haitian Revolution. Both text and illustration afford readers the jubilant feel of the music. Continue reading

Literature that Engages Readers In Music

By Janelle Mathis, University of North Texas

Music and Literature

Skating Over Think Ice by Jean MillsMusic as a multimodal form of communication can be traced back to primitive societies where it served in many cultural roles, for example in religious rituals, healing processes or sharing societal ideologies. Throughout history, music has been an aesthetic engagement for both performers and listeners, a source of hopefulness and encouragement, as well as a cognitive practice. Music aligns with literature in that both enable us to share our stories (often with stories embedded in music), learn more about ourselves and others and comprehend the world around us as it supports the development of intercultural competencies. It is more recently acknowledged that music and literacy are processed through the same cognitive areas of the brain, pointing to an even closer connection between language and music (Mathis, 2019). Continue reading

Fantasy and Science Fiction for the Adventurous Reader

Holly Johnson, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH

This week, let’s take a look at three books that reside outside of our current reality, but have real potential for informing us about the world! Two pieces of fantasy were recommended this year, and one piece of science fiction made it to the list (in December). I will start with the stunning fantasies and then finish this with a look at a gangbuster piece of science fiction. Continue reading

Reviewing the Year

Holly Johnson, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH

The Cardboard KingdomAs 2019 comes to an end, taking a second look at the books members of the WoW community recommended over the past year is a good way to see where we’ve been, and perhaps take a look at where we are going. WoW Recommends is a monthly book recommendation a member of the WoW community believes others should not only know about, but READ! Typically, the recommended books are published within the last two years, and are considered a must for global readers. Continue reading

IBBY Mexico: 40 Years of Forming Readers and Promoting Excellence in Children´s and YA Lit in Spanish

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

IBBY Mexico LogoThe International Board for Books for Young People (IBBY) is a well–established international presence for promoting reading and helping bring high quality children’s and young adult literature to readers across the world. Today, I want to focus on IBBY Mexico, and specifically to highlight their yearly guide to the best children’s and young adult literature available in Spanish. This is a resource that I know will become a favorite one for teachers, educators, and researchers around the world wanting to keep up with the latest trends and happenings in the publishing world in Spanish. Continue reading

The White Ravens: International Recognition of Children’s and Young Adult’s Literature Published in Spanish from Mexico

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

The White Ravens CoverShifts in demographics over the last decades reveal that the U.S. is the second largest Spanish–speaking country after Mexico. Data reported by the Instituto Cervantes in 2019, indicate that the U.S. has over 50 million Spanish speakers, including both native and bilingual speakers. It is no surprise that over the years that librarians, teachers, parents, and readers in general have expressed an interest in locating high quality children’s and young adult’s literature published originally in Spanish to respond to this growing demand from readers. Continue reading

Fundación Cuatrogatos: Promoting Children’s and YA Literature in Spanish in the United States

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

Fundacion CuatrogatosFor the last couple of years, I have been working as a teacher, educator and a literacy consultant in both Mexico and the United States. Through my work and conversations with teachers, educators, and parents in both countries, I know that there is still a great need to diversify the choices we offer our younger readers, particularly stories with authentic and contemporary representations of traditionally marginalized identities across ethnicity, race, gender, ability, and so on. Continue reading