WOW Stories Volume X, Issue 1

Going Global with Literature
Andi Webb

Wilmington, North Carolina is a port city in the southeastern region of the state. Known for its beautiful beaches, it attracts many tourists throughout the year. The River Festival and Azalea Festival are popular times of the year for people to flock to the area. Within the city, there are diverse dynamics in the school system. At Forest Hills Global Elementary, we serve students from supportive families, students from traumatic backgrounds, English Language Learners, Deaf and Hard of Hearing students, and students with academic and behavioral challenges. The support of Worlds of Words and CERCLL was powerful for students and teachers because books were literally put in the hands of children who need them and may not have access to literature at home.

With the Global Literacies Community grant, I formed a team of educators who were representative of the K-2 grade span and the 3-5 grade span, as well as leadership team members, our global studies coordinator, and our media specialist. Most of our team members additionally serve on the school’s global professional learning team. Through this grant, specific books were requested that met a need at the school. As a global school, we do our best to teach students about the world around them and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Globally focused books were requested and our team recorded the books being read aloud and wrote lesson plans/resource guides for each book to make utilizing them easier for teachers.

The recordings of the books being read aloud, as well as the lesson plans, were uploaded to our Google Drive and shared with all teachers to utilize in their classrooms. The specific books chosen are suggested by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Book Club. Recommended literature is included and updated for the Sustainable Development Goals on a regular basis on the website.

In addition, traveling books in English and Spanish were purchased in an effort to help bridge the connection between school and home with our English Language Learners and their families while simultaneously helping young students learn to read. These books were extremely helpful in providing books for English Language Learners whose families do not speak English and may not have access to many books at home. Teachers utilized the books in their classrooms to help students read in their native language and books were sent home for families to be able to read to their children in their native language as well. We are hopeful that our families who do not speak English as a native language will be able to see that we value their cultures and languages, and are working to meet the needs of their children.

Figure 1. Spanish for Kids.

Our Deaf and Hard of Hearing population acquired books to utilize as they learn American Sign Language (ASL). The books have helped support staff who do not know ASL to communicate better with students who do use sign language. Because some of Deaf and Hard of Hearing students are just learning ASL, these books are helpful to provide them with visuals and progress toward improved communication so their thoughts can be understood and their needs met.

It is imperative, when students are young, to build a strong foundation in literacy and help develop a love for learning. Easy readers in Spanish and books on American Sign Language provide access for students and staff to use when needed. The global books based on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals help students understand people and places that differ from their own cultures, while helping educators foster empathy, understanding, and peace.

Figure 2. Global books at Forest Hills Global Elementary.

Andi Webb is a teacher and instructional coach in North Carolina. She loves to read and wants to help children love to read as well.

Creative Commons License

WOW Stories, Volume X, Issue 1 by Worlds of Words is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Based on work by Andi Webb at

WOW stories: connections from the classroom
ISSN 2577-0551