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Resources Around Epidemics and Pandemics

Cholera warning posters by seventh gradersMany readers are looking for virtual escape as movement is restricted due to the spread of COVID-19. Schools nation-wide are closed, but they will soon open either on line or face-to-face and teachers will be keen to help young people make sense of current events. The Executive Board of Worlds of Words came together to determine how we might assist in the effort to find quality literature for young people around epidemics and pandemics.

This post includes a booklist of recently published fiction and non-fiction books as well as links to previously published WOW Currents posts with this focus. We’d love to hear from you too! Provide your comments and recommendations of books and other resources below. Continue reading

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Literary Arts Biographies for Young Readers and Writers

Celeste Trimble, St. Martin’s University, Lacey, WA

Cover of Sounds and Silences, depicting two trees, one drawn realistically and one drawn abstractly.When I was fourteen, I loved poetry. I always loved it, having grown up on a steady diet of recited nursery rhymes and children’s poetry like A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson. But something happened in junior high school: The anthology, Sounds and Silences: Poetry for Now, edited by Richard Peck. I loved that it included song lyrics by Woody Guthrie, Leonard Cohen and The Beatles–verses I recognized. What I really loved about this book was that it was my introduction to writers who shaped and continue to shape how I think about the world, my life and the lives around me. “The Rebel” by Mari E. Evans was practically an anthem for the duration of my adolescence. Langston Hughes, e e cummings, Dylan Thomas, this book was my introduction to modern poetry. But, most importantly, it was my introduction to Gwendolyn Brooks. Continue reading

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Dancing On The Shelves: Biographical Picturebooks About Dancers

Celeste Trimble, St. Martin’s University, Lacey, WA

Cover of Swan depicting a young girl with black hair in a pink dress dancing with one arm above her head and the other extended to the side, where wings appear, on a black background.There are countless forms of dance around the world. Ceremonial dance, liturgical dance, social dance, performance dance, and all the countless variations within. For this look at biographical picturebooks of dancers, I look specifically at dancers who have practiced ballet, and some who have moved through ballet to other forms. Continue reading

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Theater Arts Biographies for Young Readers

Celeste Trimble, St. Martin’s University, Lacey, WA

Cover of The Legendary Miss Lena Horne depicting a black woman in a black dress in front of a red background.This month, Wow Currents will focus on artist’s biographies in children’s literature. There has been a significant increase in biographical picturebooks throughout the last decade, and trends have shown that biographies of women have been particularly sought out by publishers. Initially, I wanted to focus solely on biographical picturebooks, however there are a few biographies that I want to highlight that don’t fall into that category, including longer form biographies, graphic narratives, and verse biographies. Continue reading

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Language Hierarchies in Picturebooks

By Nicola Daly, The University of Waikato Te Whare Wānanga o Waikato, New Zealand

A sign reading No matter where you're from, we're glad you're our neighbor in Spanish, English and Arabic on a green, blue and orange background As I mentioned in in my first post for WOW Currents, I am interested in bilingual and multilingual picturebooks and how they arrange the different language texts on the page. To frame my research in this area, I use a sociolinguistic lens called Linguistic Landscape. This approach is more commonly used to examine how languages are displayed in public spaces (for example a streetscape) on signage, and it is interpreted as a reflection of the status and vitality of languages and their associated communities. Which languages are on printed signs, and which are handwritten? When several languages are on one sign, which is larger, which is first? Continue reading

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Two of My Favorite Books: The Kuia and the Spider and The Bomb

By Nicola Daly, The University of Waikato Te Whare Wānanga o Waikato, New Zealand

Cover of The Kuia and the Spider depicting an old woman sitting in a chair in a kitchen looking towards a spider in the upper right cornerIn this post I’d like to share two of my favorite New Zealand picturebooks. One is an absolute classic published back in 1981, The Kuia and the Spider/Te Kuia me te pungawerewere by Patricia Grace and Robyn Kahukiwa (Penguin), and the other, The Bomb/Te Pohū by Sarah Cotter and Josh Morgan (Huia, 2019) is the 2019 New Zealand Children and Young People’s Picturebook of the the year and overall book of the year. They span an era in New Zealand children’s publishing which has seen the increase of local authors being published, and an era during which there has been a Renaissance of the Māori culture and language. Continue reading

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Directing the Waikato Picturebook Research Unit

By Nicola Daly, The University of Waikato Te Whare Wānanga o Waikato, New Zealand

Cover depicts woman in Victorian era clothing with suffragettes behind herIn 2016, I established the Waikato Picturebook Research Unit based in the Division of Education at the University of Waikato. Its stated aim is to research and analyze the picturebook form and exploring its pedagogical potentials. Together with my colleague Dr. Janette Kelly-Ware, we are gradually building the activities of WaiPRU, as we call it. Continue reading

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Being a Fulbright Scholar in the Worlds of Words Center

By Nicola Daly, The University of Waikato Te Whare Wānanga o Waikato, New Zealand

Portrait of Nicola DalyBeing a Fulbright Scholar in Worlds of Words is an amazing privilege. I arrived here in late October 2019 and will leave at the end of February 2020, after a four-month period. There are many scholarships available through Fulbright, all of them encouraging exchange between the United States and another country in the world. The Fulbright program was started in 1946 by Senator J. William Fulbright with the express purpose of fostering international exchange to encourage world peace and understanding. There are a range of exchanges available for teachers, postgraduate students and academics between the United States and approximately 160 counties in a range of 8,000 grants annually. Since its inception, there have been over 370,000 Fulbrighters who have participated in the program. Continue reading

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Cognitive Relationships between Music and Language

Janelle Mathis, University of North Texas

Timbaland cover features an African American child with a cupped hand to his ear, listening to the city generally and specifically to the subtitle text Nighttime Symhony curving into his ear.For this last post focused on the role of literature in supporting music’s importance as a multimodal approach to living and learning in the global society, we consider books that reflect the cognitive support between language and music. The development of both music and language for young learners has been revealed as a somewhat reciprocal process. Recent research, has revealed that the brain regions that process syntax are also responsible for other communicative forms such as music. Concepts about print, conventions of print, rhythm, rhyme and patterned texts are each nurtured by music. Phonological awareness and auditory discrimination of letters and notes, important in language learning, are also important in developing communication through music. Literature offers resources that support these processes. Poetry, obviously, provides rhythm and often rhyme; onomatopoetic words within text can sharpen listening skills; language can help develop a sense of dynamics, tempo, and emotional qualities; and books that point to the importance of listening to the sounds around us link the natural world as a form of communication. Continue reading

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Books Provide a Glimpse of History through Music

by Janelle Mathis, University of North Texas

A Is for Audra cover features six leading ladies of broadway sharing a stageAs we realize, music has been part of mankind’s history since its beginning. The 2019 published books shared here reflect only a few of the ways it has been woven into lives but can encourage readers to seek instances across genre. Broadway is known as the place where music and story intersect in powerful ways and the voices of Broadway impact how these stories are told. A Is for Audra, written by John Robert Allman and illustrated by Peter Emmerich, informs readers about leading ladies who have performed through song, dance and drama on some of the world’s most important stages. With an A-to-Z format, this book celebrates women of Broadway and their noted roles. There have also been biographies of musicians during 2019 that reveal music’s significance in their lives and, thus, their impact in bringing varied music to others. Guitar Genius: How Les Paul Engineered the Solid-Body Electric Guitar and Rocked the World, written by Kim Tomsic and illustrated by Brett Helquist, speaks to invention as well as music. Elvis is King! by Jonah Winter relates details of Elvis’s life with 3-dimensional, hand-built and photographed illustrations by Red Nose Studio. Continue reading