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The Batchelder Award: An Entryway to Translated Children’s Books

By Kathy Short, The University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ

Batchelder MedalThe American Library Association held its highly anticipated annual press conference on January 28, 2019, to announce the major youth awards, including the Caldecott, Newbery, Pura Belpré and Coretta Scott King awards. The award committees worked behind closed doors for 3 days to make final decisions, submitting their award-winners in great secrecy to ALA staff so they could prepare for the press conference and subsequent news releases. This year, I had the honor of serving on the Mildred L. Batchelder Award committee. Continue reading

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YA Fantasies for the New Year

By Holly Johnson, University of Cincinnati

The last two books to round out 2018 will also take us into 2019 since both are the first books of a series. And the best (or worst, depending on how you think about this) is they are fantastic adventures… that you will need to wait (impatiently if you are like me) for their second titles! Yet, while I call them fantastic, and they are, I really resisted reading both of these books because they are the first two in a series in which their companions are not available. When it comes to story, I am hard-pressed to delay gratification! The two books of which I speak are The Book of Dust (2017) by Philip Pullman and Children of Blood and Bone (2108) by Tomi Adeyemi.

YA Fantasies Continue reading

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Picturebooks that Delight

By Holly Johnson, University of Cincinnati

This week I want to focus on four picturebooks that were highlighted in WOW Currents during 2018. All create connections across cultures while delighting us with their stories. Those four books are Mommy’s Khimar (2018) by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow (Illustrated by Ebony Glenn), I Really Want to See You, Grandma (2018) by Taro Gomi, A Big Mooncake for Little Star (2018) by Grace Lin, and Drawn Together (2018) by Minh Lê (Illustrated by Dan Santat). Addressing particular aspects of their cultural backgrounds or heritages, these authors share stories that make us smile as well as educate us on the use of a Muslim khimar, the Moon Festival and Asian mooncakes, the connection of grandparents and grandchildren and how art can bring people together across the expanse of silence. Let’s take a look at each one in turn.

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Fiction that Inspires

By Holly Johnson, University of Cincinnati

Last week I talked about the three biographies on the WOW Recommends list and how inspiring they are for young people. This week I want to talk about a few equally inspiring fiction pieces. Those three books are The Stars at Oktober Bend (2018) by Glenda Millard, Speak: The Graphic Novel (2018) by Laurie Halse Anderson, and Escape from Aleppo (2018) by N.H. Senzai. While I suggest these books are inspiring, that does not mean they are without tragedy. In fact, all three chronicle an overwhelming tragedy for each of the protagonists. And it is their battle to overcome despite the tragedy, their hope for their futures and their ultimate victories that are so inspiring. The readers are with these characters as they encounter or struggle through the aftermath of each of their individual horrors. Let’s take a look at each one in turn. They deserve this second look!

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Re-Introducing 2018 WOW Recommends

By Holly Johnson, University of Cincinnati

Each year, members of the Worlds of Words community recommend monthly books for readers to consider through the WoW Recommends feature. The main criteria is that the book must have a publish date within the last two years. Taking a look back at the 2018 list, I was interested in finding out what had been recommended so that I might read these books and think about how they may or may not resonate with me. I was also curious about what themes were discussed so that I might share my own thoughts about these texts.
WOW Recommends: Book of the Month Continue reading

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Gender Themed Latinx Children’s Literature

By Gilberto Peña Lara, The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

Gender is often presented as a binary where children have only two specific gender trajectories. As social norms, children are expected to conform to male or female ways of being. When children deviate from these social rules they are often met with harsh scolding, ridicule or even threats of harm. School is a place of socialization where children are socialized in many ways including rigid gendered identities. The classroom also offers important opportunities to break with sexist and homophobic attitudes and language. Just as we have a responsibility to stand up to racism or advocate for diversity, we also need to position gender identity as equally important and a basic human right. Continue reading

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Exploring the Latinx Immigration Experience through Children’s Literature

By Maria Leija, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

There are many children’s books that are now available to discuss immigration. Discussing immigration sheds light on the emotional and physical hardships that documented and undocumented immigrants face as they immigrate to another country and/or live in their new country. The impact of immigration status on teachers’ as well as students’ and their families’ lives continues to be important for understanding the need for changes in schools. For example, societal views on immigration affects families’ home life and children’s schooling experiences. Because immigration policies and practices affect the health, academic performance, and school attendance of undocumented students or students living in mixed-status families; teachers, administrators, and school communities are not exempt from dealing with the repercussions of immigration policies. The American Federation of Teachers encourages teachers to discuss immigration issues as a way to create a safe learning environment and so that students identify educators as allies who can provide important information. Continue reading

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Agency and Community in Latinx Immigrant Journey Picturebooks

By Janine M. Schall, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, Edinburg, TX

This month in WOW Currents my colleagues and I discuss various aspects of children’s literature that features Latinx characters and settings. The Latinx population in the United States has grown dramatically and Latinx people now make up about 20% of the U.S. population. Yet this group remains underrepresented in the media, including children’s book publishing. Continue reading