WOW Currents

In My Opinion: Sixth-Graders Share Manga Experiences

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

This week, we share three sixth-graders’ thoughts on manga and their manga experiences. Many teenagers love reading and illustrating manga, yet there has not been a clear discussion about young readers’ criteria that asks how they recognize excellence in Japanese manga. Since manga is popular among young readers, we wonder how they choose a quality manga that is aesthetically attractive to them. We interpret manga as a product of childhood cultures, so we explore our three manga fans’ thoughts on the quality of manga and compare it to similar sequential art texts like graphic novels.

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WOW Currents

Fun Reading but Serious Talking: Manga History and Social Practice

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

Manga translates literally to “whimsical pictures” and are Japanese comic books (Bonser, 2017, p. 201). Manga was originally published in Japan and then republished in other countries, including the U.S. A dive into manga history shows that it is rooted in Japan’s long tradition of sequential arts, dating back to the Middle Ages when Bishop Tuba, a Buddhist priest, drew caricatures of his fellow priests (Schodt, 1996), which is considered a forerunner of manga. Katsushika Hokusai, a ukiyo-e (floating world picture) woodblock printmaker, coined the word “manga” and Hokusai Manga, containing assorted drawings from Hokusai’s sketchbooks, was published in the early 19th century (see Figure 1). Later on, “manga” was used in reference to a storytelling-style of book by Rakuten Kitazawa, a manga artist known as the founding father of modern manga (see Figure 2).

Figure 1. Hokusai Manga, First and Second Series (Ota Memorial Museum of Art, 2013)

Figure 1. Hokusai Manga, First and Second Series (Ota Memorial Museum of Art, 2013)


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WOW Currents

Get to know Japanese Manga Up Close and Personal: Children and Youth Choices for Fun

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

This past spring, Junko visited a 6th grade classroom in Tucson, Arizona. She watched three girls having fun reading together. These readers kept reading and shared their thoughts from their reading any time and anywhere they could, like in the classroom or at recess. Holding their attention–Japanese comic books called manga. It didn’t take long for those manga fans to ask Junko any number of questions about Japan. Their knowledge was based on the popular Japanese manga they had read, so it was thoughtful. The 6th-grade manga fans were not shy about showing off that they read manga alongside other novels. The fact that they read manga whenever possible makes them similar to “book nerds,” except people wouldn’t call manga fans “nerds” because manga is meant for pleasure and fun. It is not traditionally considered as literature with a high literary value.

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WOW Currents

Hello, Dear Ferdinand! Of Bulls, Flowers and a Banned Book

By Tracy Smiles, Western Oregon University, Monmouth, OR

September is the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom’s “Banned Books” month, when we celebrate books that at one time or another have been challenged and/or censored. These books are often removed from the shelves of school and public libraries because an individual or organization found them to be politically, morally or religiously offensive and problematic. This year, Banned Book Week runs from September 24-30, which coincides with a special exhibit at Worlds of Words–Hello, Dear Enemy!
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WOW Currents

Books that Support STEAM Explorations

By Susan Corapi, Trinity International University, Deerfield, IL

While many books can be used to explore mathematical connections, the four titles profiled in this post work particularly well. I include cross-disciplinary inquiries that fit with each title, particularly inquiries that support STEAM explorations. The suggested inquiries can support the transfer of concepts between disciplines, critical thinking about social issues in classes in mathematics, history, science, and the arts, and creative problem solving.

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WOW Currents

Stories and Poems that Incorporate Math

By Susan Corapi, Trinity International University, Deerfield, IL

This week’s focus is on books that incorporate math into a story. Books written to teach a mathematical concept are not always connected well to real life. The stories profiled in this post are about people who use math in their work, their social lives and their classes. The stories are complex with layered characters and are rich with themes to explore and discuss in STEM areas and also in other content areas (particularly the social sciences). The second half of the post is focused on poetry that incorporates math and science.

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WOW Currents
WOW Currents

Math In Children’s Literature

By Susan Corapi, Trinity International University, Deerfield, IL

I teach Reading and Writing Across the Curriculum to preservice teachers. The course covers literacy in various content areas at the middle and high school levels. One of my goals in this class is to help students understand the literacy practices embedded in their various disciplines. This gives them a better understanding of how they can support middle and high school students in their attempts to read discipline-specific texts as a mathematician, scientist, historian or musician might read them. I also want them to experience using literature to work across disciplines, collaboratively building unit plans that support critical thinking in their content area.

Really Big Numbers

Illustration from Really Big Numbers by Richard Evan Schwartz.

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WOW Currents
WOW Currents

Suggest Books to Explore Hunger and Poverty

By Deborah Dimmett, The University of Arizona

This week I am in Caracol, Haiti, working at a camp that is an industrial park partially financed by USAID after the 2010 earthquake. It is hours away from Port-au-Prince where the earthquake occurred and is an attempt to provide factory jobs and low cost housing to Haitians. The industrial park was not constructed without controversy. Haitians who work for the textile factory work long days at a rate of $5 a day. They have to purchase their home, pay for all utilities, and eat with whatever income is left. It’s difficult to imagine how they manage and even more difficult to understand the logic of neoliberal trade agreements that allow large companies like Levi-Strauss to pay so little to those who have few means for their daily sustenance. In fact, meals are sparse, often with little nutritional value but high in carbohydrates and fat so that people can sustain a long work day on only one meal.

SeLavi

Interior illustration from SéLavi by Youme (Cinco Puntos Press, 2004)

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