WOW Currents banner

Literacy Is All Around Us

By Maria Acevedo-Aquino, Texas A&M University-San Antonio, San Antonio, TX, in collaboration with graduate students

When conversing with graduate students about their experiences as early childhood educators and caregivers, they often describe curricula that supports views on literacy reduced to reading and writing. These perspectives tend to overlook the multiple ways in which children, make sense of their world and construct meaning in a daily basis. While this argument is not new, the process for integrating learning experiences in the classroom align with expansive ways of thinking about literacy is a persistent struggle. This post offers learning experiences that highlight broader views on literacy to further explore the picturebook All Around Us written by Xelena Gonzáles with illustrations by Adriana Garcia.

All Around Us cover features girl meditating on circles with a portion of a rainbow visible in the upper right corner Continue reading

WOW Currents banner

Classroom Connections Using Multimodal Artifacts

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

All the Stars Denied and Buried Beneath the Baobab TreeIn our 5th and final post in this series, we would like to provide teachers with ideas for how students can respond to the reading of the two novels we have been discussing– All the Stars Denied (McCall, 2018) and Buried Beneath the Baobab Tree (Nwaubani, 2018). As you might remember from reading the first article in this series, we are educators with many years of teaching experience at different settings with diverse student populations, and we see various possibilities for the use of these two texts. It has been an educating journey for each of us as we worked together to design strategies that can be implemented in classrooms at various grade levels and at various contexts. Before we present you with instructional ideas, we would like to share with you some of our personal thoughts. Continue reading

WOW Currents banner

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

WOW Currents banner

Patriarchal Societies and Oppression of Women

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

Buried Beneath the Baobab TreeFor the next two blogs our discussion will focus on Buried Beneath the Baobab Tree, by Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani. This story is based on the experiences of girls captured by the extremist group, Boko Haram in Nigeria. Nwaubani (2018) writes, “since 2009, the terrorist group Boko Haram has been fighting an armed insurgency with the aim of creating an Islamic state in northern Nigeria. More than twenty thousand people have been killed and over two million displaced by the fighting” (p. 293). Boko Haram has wreaked havoc on Nigeria and its people, and the group received worldwide media coverage when they kidnapped 276 girls from a Chibok school. According to the BBC News, “Boko Haram was targeting [the girls] because of their opposition to Western education, which the militants believe corrupts the values of Muslims.” Nwaubani’s novel brings to light the struggles of the Nigerian people, especially its women, as a result of Boko Haram. Continue reading

WOW Currents banner

Connecting to YA novels through Song

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

Last week we talked about connecting with literature through music and left you with Un besito más a 2015 song from Mexican brother/sister duo Jesse & Joy that tells the story of what happens when an undocumented family calls the fire department. Although the song is from 2015, it remains relevant four years later. According to the Migration Policy Institute, in 2017, 44 percent of U.S. immigrants (19.7 million people) reported having Hispanic or Latino origins and of those, approximately 10. 7 million are undocumented immigrants (Pew Hispanic Center, 2018). Important to note, the number of undocumented immigrants living in the United States is at the lowest level in a decade. While the book deals with the repatriation of American citizens and not with undocumented immigrants, we drew similarities between the lack of humanity in their treatment. Continue reading

WOW Currents banner

Building Literacy Connections with YA Novels

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

For the month of April, we are going to engage in discussions about All the Stars Denied by Guadalupe García McCall and Buried Beneath the Baobob Tree by Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani. Before we begin though, let’s get to know who ‘we’ are.

All the Stars Denied and Buried Beneath the Baobab Tree Continue reading

WOW Currents banner

Books that Invite Smiles

By Janelle Mathis, University of North Texas

As this week brings to a close my sharing some personal highlights of this year’s Outstanding International Book Award list, I wanted to mention a few titles that left me smiling for a number of different reasons. While many of the rich international titles are ones that challenge us to be responsible readers and take on new perspectives and difficult topics, there is also the universally shared pleasure in reading. What makes us smile could be that the situation in the book is one we have experienced or one that is ironically silly; a smile could come from how the illustrator depicts a character with personality, often with the simplicity of lines and positioning; and we could just smile because of the satisfactory solution to a problem that a character finds. While humor and laughing out loud are not outside the reading experience, a smile can be that satisfactory emotional expression that connects us in many ways to our reading.

I Really Want to See You, Grandma cover Continue reading

WOW Currents banner

Contemplating Children Dealing with Personal Issues

By Janelle Mathis, University of North Texas

Me and My Fear by Francesca SannaWhile many books position children in personal and social roles that can present challenges, this year’s Outstanding International Books List (OIB) and submissions include some titles unique in both topic and format. The intended audience for these books is child and adolescent readers, however adult readership can gain insights into personal issues faced by children, how they cope, where they need support and the situations in which these issues can be contextualized. Continue reading

WOW Currents banner

Explore Imagination through Outstanding International Book Characters

By Janelle Mathis, University of North Texas

Imagination in its many forms is present in much of children’s and young adult literature just as it is in “real” life. It can help us deal with situations that are seemingly beyond our control, express ourselves in authentic ways through other sign systems, create practical solutions to everyday needs or desires, position ourselves in other contexts as we work to understand other perspectives and eras and add an enjoyable fantasy element to our lives. I always enjoy revisiting the following quote: “Imagining possibilities is at the core of understanding other people, other times, and other places” (Wilhelm and Edmiston, 1998, p. 4). I also am reminded of Frank Smith’s idea (1992) that imagination makes reality possible (1992). So, while there are many ways to celebrate imagination in children’s literature, I would like to share, from the 2019 (published in English in 2018) OIB list, a few very basic examples of children using imagination in seemingly simplistic ways. I believe that these are the seeds that can grow into more complex uses of imagination as children grow into creative and responsible adults.

Cover for Stories of the Night by Kitty Crowther Continue reading

WOW Currents banner

USBBY Award-Winning Books: The Role Literature Plays in Supporting Music

By Janelle B. Mathis, University of North Texas

USBBY LogoBoth the prestigious American Library Association Awards and the USBBY Outstanding International Book Award lists in children’s and young adult literature were recently announced. This list of 39 translated books that cut across age levels from Pre-K to YA offers many genres, themes and countries of origin with a variety of potential uses in the classroom. While the OIB committee, on which I served this year, suggests potential thematic connections in their discussions as well as in the School Library Journal article announcing the list, I would like to share some personal connections I made while reading and discussing these books. Most of these connections cut across the award list, but later this month, I will share some excellent books that didn’t make the final list as well as other recently published books. Continue reading