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Characters Whose Choices Threaten or Support Peace

Susan Corapi, Trinity International University, Deerfield, IL

Ready for the next description of peace based on the book Peace Begins with You by Katherine Scholes and Robert Ingpen? The fourth way they describe peace involves the choices that we all make that either threaten or support peace. Scholes and Ingpen go on to say, “working for peace may be harder than using force. You may have to be braver and stronger. You may have to learn new skills, new ways of thinking and planning.” The focus this week is on characters whose choices threaten or support peace. For many of the characters, that involves a shift in perspective.

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Challenging Status Quo to Create Peace in Children’s Literature

Susan Corapi, Trinity International University, Deerfield, IL

One of my challenges is to fit inside the boxes that different groups in society create for me to live in. For example, I am a professor, so I live with the box of student expectation and preference for numerical grades instead of narrative feedback (my preference). Another box I live with relates to the frequent moves I have made between countries, states or provinces. Each place has their own way of operating, so I spend the first few months in a new environment learning the rules of that community. There are many rules that are fine and help me get along with the neighbors (e.g., “Mow your lawn once a week”). Others puzzle and constrain (e.g.,”Normal families eat dinner at 6 p.m.”) and end up making me feel odd, unwelcome and definitely not at peace.

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The Difference Between Wants and Needs

Susan Corapi, Trinity International University, Deerfield, IL

A big challenge I faced as a parent of four boys was helping them understand the difference between things that are a big want and things that are a small want. My husband and I had no extra money, so it was important that they grasp the difference so they did not feel deprived! It took multiple discussions for them to develop a nuanced understanding of what was a need and what would be cool to have. The great challenge for me as a parent was providing them with what they didn’t consider to be a want, but that, unbeknownst to them, they needed in order to have a sense of peace, of well-being. Those “hidden” big wants or needs are the focus of this post.

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Seeking Peace in Children’s Literature

By Susan Corapi, Trinity International University, Deerfield, IL

As I began to write this post, President Trump returned from the Singapore summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. The goal: a fragile peace. While I don’t work towards peace at that diplomatic level, my desire to foster world peace motivates what I do on a daily basis. My hope as an educator is to shape my students to be peace-seeking individuals. But fostering peace in the classroom or at home isn’t always easy because peace is abstract and difficult to describe; it’s hard to figure out how peace “happens.” It’s not passivity, ignoring conflict in the hopes that it will go away. And it’s not the opposite, digging in heels at all costs because we feel we’re right. Continue reading

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Uplifting Indigenous Literature

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

Daniel Heath Justice’s new book Why Indigenous Literatures Matter is a marvelous look at the the critical issues within and surrounding Indigenous Literature in Canada and the United States. Justice, Colorado born Cherokee citizen, now also a Canadian citizen, holds the Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Literature and Expressive Culture at the University of British Columbia. The work is academic, but personal and poetic. It highlights contemporary Indigenous authors writing for adults and children and touches on fiction, poetry, personal essay, and memoir.

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Indigenous Comics and Graphic Narratives

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

Last week at AILDI, the American Indian Languages Development Institute at the University of Arizona, Jon Proudstar gave a talk about infusing Indigenous language and culture into his comic books. Although I was unable to attend, I am happy to see Indigenous comics and graphic narratives being a part of the conversation at AILDI.

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Indigenous Own Voices after Sherman Alexie

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

I grew up on a steady diet of Island of the Blue Dolphins, Little House on the Prairie, Walk Two Moons, Julie of the Wolves, et cetera, stories with native content written by non-native authors. Before The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian, I hadn’t read Cynthia Leitich Smith’s or Joseph Bruchac’s novels. But I had read Michael Dorris’ and Lousie Erdrich’s work for children, thanks to my love affair with Erdrich’s novels for adults. I hadn’t read any Indigenous Canadian authors writing for youth. Before The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian, I offered my students and my children solely historical fiction about Indigenous identities and stories. Nothing contemporary, and so very little, sadly, Indigenous Own Voices.

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Globalizing the Reading of Middle and High School Students

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

Although the classics serve as the foundation of most secondary literature classrooms, their domination is challenged by the call for cultural perspectives that reflect the diversity of our global society. The classics are critiqued for their basis in Western mainstream perspectives, biases against women and people of color, and inclusion of dated language and confusing writing styles, such as obscure expressions and unfamiliar sentence constructions. In addition, few classics have teens as main characters, having been written for adult audiences, and so teens struggle to connect. Given that these canonical texts are usually mandated reading, one way that teachers can increase relevancy and globalize reading is to pair the required classics with young adult global literature. These pairings can bring more diverse literature into the curriculum and, at the same time, create a context for understanding the classic work and its relevance for middle and high school students.

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Engaging K-5 Readers with Global Literature

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

Our careful survey of global literature available for K-5 readers in the U.S. led us to concerns as well as possibilities. We searched for global literature that is currently in print and met our criteria for text complexity as well as usefulness within the school curriculum. This survey raised several concerns as well as provided possibilities for engagements with readers, especially around paired books.

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Limitations of Lexile Levels for Global Literature

By Kathy Short, The University of Arizona

The standards movement in the U.S. has placed a great deal of emphasis on Lexile levels as a means of determining the appropriateness of a book for a reader, using Lexiles to determine the complexity of a text. The assumption is that readers at each grade level band need to read books within specific Lexile levels or their reading achievement will be negatively affected. Teachers who do not challenge their students to read books within these bands are viewed as negligent in their teaching of reading and as handicapping students. These assumptions can be challenged from many perspectives, including the lack of research to support this position (Allington, McCuiston, & Billen, 2015). Other issues emerge with a close examination of the actual Lexile levels of exemplar texts and global literature.

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