WOW Dozen: Cousin Love

by Mary L. Fahrenbruck, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM and Violet Henderson, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM

At the 2022 Latinx Kitlit Book Festival, one of the featured authors mentioned the power and sanctity of “cousin love.” The audience’s overwhelmingly positive reaction caught our attention and caused us to think about picturebooks and young adult novels that featured the special bond between cousins.

Drawing from personal memories about the unique connections we share with our own cousins, we selected picturebooks and young adult novels that highlight the complex family relationships that develop across time and place. These texts highlight the creative ways that cousins sustain their bonds through various forms of communication from letter writing to social media, and gap the distances through visits by car and air travel. Continue reading

WOW Dozen: Korean Books Translated Into English

By HeeYoung Kim, West Texas A&M University, Canyon, Texas

Welcome abroad! This month’s WOW dozen takes readers on a journey to Korea. Each picturebook and novel in this column were originally published in Korea and later translated into English. These titles are written by Korean authors who speak Korean and live in Korea. Rudine Sims Bishop’s metaphor of mirrors and windows for multicultural children’s literature is an an invaluable tenet when reading global children’s literature too. Each book on this list introduces readers to the Korean culture as well as themes around imagination, love, loss and hope. Continue reading

WOW Dozen: Global Picturebooks for the Secondary Classroom

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

There is a common misperception that picturebooks are only for early elementary students. Secondary students and even students in upper elementary often miss out on the particular artistry and poetry that come through the picturebook form. In this month’s WOW Dozen, I bring together examples of global picturebooks that can be explored and enjoyed in secondary English Language Arts as well as the content areas. Books in this list can be used as models for writing, artworks for practicing analysis, avenues for identity development as well as exploration of the experiences of others, inspiration for creativity, tools to deepen content knowledge, and so much more. Of course, picturebooks are vital additions to the classroom library in any secondary classroom, just for the pleasure of reading. Continue reading

WOW Dozen: Books Featuring Trans* and Trans*-accepting Characters

By Mary L. Fahrenbruck, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM, and Efrain Alvarez Morales, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM

October is LGBT History Month. Established in 1994, Rodney Wilson, selected the tenth month of the year because National Coming Out Day is celebrated on October 11 and the first national march for gay and lesbian rights took place in Washington, DC on October 14, 1979. In conjunction with LGBT History Month, this dozen features picturebooks and novels with trans* and trans*- accepting characters. Unlike stories with trans* characters published in the past, the plot lines in these stories reflect a shift from shaming, resistance, violence and tragic endings to affirming, understanding, compassion and positive endings. Trans* and trans*- accepting characters experience seemingly typical life challenges connected to friendship, belonging and discovering one’s identity. Additionally, in several novels the characters encounter challenges that might seem atypical like interacting with a brujo or the ghost of a deceased uncle, or hunting a monster alongside a creature that emerged from a painting. Ultimately, readers will find the characters, setting and plot lines of each story to be engaging, exciting and believable. Continue reading

WOW Dozen: Responsibility to Others

By Kathleen Crawford-McKinney, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI

I have been thinking more intently on what it means to be responsible to others. What do we, citizens of the world, have the right to do, or be? Over the past several months we watched people being incarcerated for minor infractions or their cities and lands taken away from them. I wonder who has this type of right to act in these ways to others. Who is responsible for ensuring that these missteps don’t occur in places where people think differently than within our own communities? What would we do, or what should we do if our rights are stepped upon? Who is responsible for taking care of others?

Students in classrooms know their rights and question them within their families and school settings. I hope that they will also push themselves to be responsible to and with each other. To move beyond being kind to each other and to think more broadly about the world. In several of the previous months the themes of the Dozen has encouraged us to think more deeply about the current political world. This month continues with this focus by examining books where the characters look at being responsible to families, to communities, to our environment and to our world. Continue reading

WOW Dozen: Intergenerational Global Families in Picturebooks

by Judi Moreillon, Tucson, AZ, and Mary Margaret Mercado, Pima County Public Libraries, AZ

For economic, political and personal reasons, families today are spread across countries and continents. They must navigate language and cultural differences and geography to hold their familial ties together. Some children and families are able to travel to visit their relatives in their heritage countries; others are unable to cross borders to maintain their family connections. Some families have only photographs or memories to share of their extended families and ancestors.

In this WOW Dozen, children navigate the challenges that can separate them from their loved ones and their heritage cultures. Some learn the language of their parents, grandparents or other relatives. Some learn about culture through traditional artifacts, food, celebrations and family stories. Some have only hopes and dreams of reuniting with their relatives or maintaining connections to a “home” they may never visit and relatives they may never meet face to face. Continue reading

A Dozen Strong Indigenous Voices in YA and Picturebooks

By Seemi Aziz

There has been a struggle to bring authentic Indigenous voices into books for young readers. Recent publications have been encouraging as more and more insider voices tell stories that are culturally authentic and respectful of the multiple tribal viewpoints in Indigenous communities. This WOW Dozen focuses on bringing to light a few strong and significant examples. Some have received renowned awards with most written and illustrated by members of Indigenous communities. Continue reading

A Dozen Books on African Mythology: The Significance of Black Mermaids and Sirens

By Desiree Cueto and Dorea Kleker, The University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ

African diaspora folklore, myths and legends have been passed down through oral traditions from generation to generation. A prominent figure in stories told across different African nations is that of the mermaid. The half human/half fish water spirit is referred to by different names depending on the specific African nation and unique cultures within. For example, Mami Wata is a deity whose story is told throughout different parts of West Africa. She is known for bestowing wealth and power as well as destruction. A similar figure, called Yemoja is known to the Yoruba people of Nigeria to be a giver of life, and La Sirene is a Haitian spirit of the sea. Over time, the oral stories of mermaids and sirens have been written and published throughout the world and have become the inspiration for several recent picture books and novels. This set of books features twelve books that center on Black mermaids and African mythology. Continue reading

A Dozen Books Dealing with Uncertainty, Grief and Loss

Cynthia K. Ryman, California State University Monterey Bay, Seaside, CA

The past two years have been a time of deep introspection for me. When the pandemic began in 2020, around the world everyone was focused on survival. Many did not survive. As the pandemic raged globally, the United States was being torn apart by deep political divides that left many wondering about the survival of democracy in this country. In the midst of this chaos and confusion, the murder of George Floyd ignited international anger and activism in the Black Lives Matter movement. Now the added crisis of war in Ukraine leaves many wondering what this means for the future wellbeing of our global society. As I considered a book list for these times, I decided to share global books dealing with death and grief. Children are deeply impacted by societal and global events and experience intense feelings of uncertainty, grief and loss. Books open the door for discussions around life’s difficulties and the emotions that accompany. The goal of this WOW Dozen is to provide a means for recognizing and beginning to process emotions related to grief and uncertainty. This collection includes books by authors from Argentina, Denmark, Spain, Iran, Great Britain, Asia, India, Norway, Mexico, Canada and the Cree-Métis nation. Each book provides insights on how to begin to process emotions and find a path forward amidst uncertainty, grief and loss. Continue reading

A Dozen Books Celebrating Children’s Voices and Their Impact

Angelica Serrano, Tucson Unified School District, Tucson, AZ

A Dozen Books Celebrating Children’s Voices and their Impact is a set of twelve books, both picturebooks and graphic novels, that embrace and celebrate the voices of children across the globe who have used their voices, creativity and thinking to make a change for themselves and others. This set honors World Children’s Day celebrated on April 30. To commemorate this special holiday, the dozen books selected here resonate the power found within each child as they learn about the world around them and themselves. Children have made tremendous changes for the world and this list commemorates the power that children have within them. We invite you to take a closer look at these books and encourage you to embrace the depicted voices of these children into your hearts as we celebrate their impact on the world. We hope that as you browse through these titles you will be inspired to share them with your children, classrooms, fellow educators and communities so that children’s voices can be known and heard. Children are our greatest teachers and there is so much we can learn from them. It is imperative that we invite children to continue to inspire others with what they have to say. Continue reading