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Notable Books for a Global Society

Rebecca Leedham and Nicole Grote

Notable Books for a Global Society Project

Tch & Lrn 307

Washington State University


Notable Books for a Global Society 1

Introduction:

For this project we selected eight books from the Notable Books for a Global Society

(NBGS) list. Using these books, we will be summarizing, analyzing and critiquing all eight,

based off of our opinion of the book, as well as how appropriately these books fit the NBGS

criteria. Then using the NBGS criteria we will pick one book that we feel checks off everything

on the NBGS check list. This book will be known as our winner. Two other books will be chosen

and will be considered honors. These two books will be works of literature that we felt were very

close to being the winner, but for some reason or another didn’t quite make the cut. Through this

project we will learn more about multicultural books and think critically about how these books

can effectively be used in a classroom setting.

Purpose of the assignment:

In today’s world it seems to be more and more important that as a humans, we understand

and work with one another. Day in and day out, today’s youth see generations of individuals who

fear one another and refuse to work together. This fear seems to be brought on by decades of

misunderstanding and lack of knowledge from both parts. Making this project by far one of the

most important projects we have done this semester. Through this project we are reminded how

important it is to be culturally responsive teachers. By introducing students to literature that

showcases the multicultural experiences of those in America, educators are able to provide

students with “ cultural knowledge, prior experiences, frames of reference and performance

styles of ethnically diverse students…” (Woolfolk, 2016, p..237) When educators are able to

think critically about which books highlight the multicultural experience, and then share these

books with our students, we help create generations that can work together. As well as be more

thoughtful and understanding of the situations and backgrounds their peers may come from. So
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to truly answer the question, we believe that by reading and comparing the NBGS winners, we

have been introduced to several of the tools and resources that highlight the literary works used

to showcase multicultural experiences. With these resources, we can introduce students to new

ideas and human experiences that without literature, they may not experience. This way, we

shape a generation of individuals who do not fear the unknown but rather welcome it. When we

create a generation that celebrates the similarities and differences between, race, ethnicity,

gender, religion, etc., we see a world full of kindness and acceptance. Ultimately, literature may

be the key in doing so. As Rudine Sims Bishop said, “literature is one of the world’s most

powerful components of a multicultural education curriculum, the underlying purpose of which

is to help make the society a more equitable one.” (Tunnel, et. al., 2016, p.202).

Steps Taken:

Nicole:

To find my books, I typed Notable Books for a Global Society into a Google search

engine. Then I found a website that had a list of years to choose from. On theses lists, were all

twenty five NBGS books listed by their title, an image of the book and short description about

the book. Using these descriptions, I then picked the list of book I wanted to read. Some of my

original picks had to be changed because I couldn’t find them. So in the end, the books that I

choose depended on two factors. The first was if it sounded appealing and interesting. The

second was whether or not I could access the book in a physical copy or ebook through the

Pullman Public Library. After finding the books on the libraries website, I reserved George,

which I had to pick up physically in the library. While the other three books (Ada’s Violin,

Orbiting Jupiter and Separate is Never Equal) I was able to check out through an ebook provider

and just downloaded them onto my computer and Kindle. Thankfully, the library had most of my
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top picks, making the book finding process quite effortless. As for finding a partner, I had

worked with Rebecca for several other class assignments and she has always been a great

partner. So when I found out she hadn’t had a partner yet, I quickly asked if she would work with

me. Thankfully she said yes and the rest has been smooth sailing.

Rebecca:

In order to find my books, I searched for quite some time on the internet. Nicole and I

had decided that we would both choose 2 chapter books and 2 picture books. I went through the

many different notable books for the most recent years first, then year by year down. I first

looked at the books by their cover and if they caught my interest, then I looked up summaries of

them to see if I found them interesting or not. The most limiting factor that I found when

choosing my books was whether or not the WSU library had them or not. After going through an

extensive on and off search for the four books, I finally found 2 picture books and 2 chapter

books that struck my interest and were available for pickup at the library. The books I chose

were The Turtle of Oman by Naomi Shihab Nye, Talking Leaves by Joseph Bruchac, Mirror by

Jeannie Baker, and I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark by Debbie Levy.

Definition for multicultural literature before

Nicole:

Before this project, I personally thought that multicultural or global literature just focused

on race. More specifically, that it only focused on a racial group who at the time, were

experiencing hardships or who were witnessing racism. I feel that I had this preconceived

definition because it seemed like in school whenever we would read a book about different races

or religions, there was always some sort of discrimination taking place. For example, in Harper
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Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, the story follows a young white girl, but also talks about the

injustice and discrimination that African Americans faced at the time. Then there was The Diary

of Anne Frank, which tells Frank's story of hiding from the Nazis during World War 2. More

specifically, the book highlights that there was a lot of anti-semitism throughout Germany and

other parts of Europe. With that said, those books both clearly show some form of xenophobia

affecting the book's characters. Since it seemed like this was always the case for any book I read

with multicultural characters, I assumed that every multicultural book must depict a character

experiencing some kind of a problem or form of discrimination. At large, I would say that my

previous definition and understanding of multicultural literature was shaped by the books I read

prior to college.

Rebecca:

Before beginning my research and this project, I really had never even thought of the

term ‘multicultural literature.’ However, if I were to put my own definition on it prior to

knowing anything about it, I would think of it similar to books informing readers about every

culture. Multicultural, by definition, means multiple cultures. Therefore, I would think of it also

as potentially being books that represent more than one culture. A book that I have read in the

past that could help support this theory may be The Help by Kathryn Stockett. This book shows

the African American individuals go through their daily lives as well as the white women, and

sometimes men, living their various lives. It creates a view of at least two different cultures for

the reader. I think that culture is often shown through characters and their daily lives in books,

but this isn’t always true. Some books incorporate small details that can also bring a different

culture into a book. Going off of my definition prior to learning, these books would be

multicultural as well.
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Definition for multicultural after project

Nicole:

After the last several weeks in class and completing this project, I have definitely seen

my definition of multicultural literature change. I now realise several things about multicultural

literature. For one, it can cover literally any race and or ethnicity and these books don’t even

need to necessarily focus on those either. Many multicultural books highlight different religions,

genders, sexualities and even socioeconomic statuses. For example, in Orbiting Jupiter the book

follows white characters, but one of the characters is a teen father who has been in and out of

foster care and juvenile detention facilities. It has nothing to do with religion or race. Yet is still

powerful and gives readers a look into this character's life. The next way in which my

perspective has changed is that I have realized that these books don’t always have to have a

problem, or highlight racial or religious persecution. I always thought that these books had to

depict characters who experienced some form of racism or discrimination. Then when I read As

Brave as You, Jason Reynolds does not write about the books black characters being affected by

racism. It simply depicts them as any other American citizen. Sure the grandfather is blind, but

that’s not a hot topic or racial issue. You do get a glimpse into their daily lifestyle and what I’m

assuming is an accurate depiction of black culture, although I as a white woman cannot confirm

nor deny this. Yet we take Reynolds word for it since he himself is a black man living in

America. What I’m trying to get at though, is that I now see that multicultural literature can

consist of books that depict modern families who may or may not experience discrimination.

Instead, authors write stories that show readers that these groups of people who may be different

from the reader, happen to have a lot in common as well. Through many different shapes, forms
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and stories, multicultural literature reminds readers that we are all human and that while we can

appreciate our differences, we should also celebrate our similarities.

Rebecca:

After spending time inside and outside of class and working on this project, I came to an

understanding of what multicultural literature is. Multicultural literature can include cultures of

any kind and represent the details of them to show the reader what they are. These books tend to

really explore the culture that they are representing as they reflect who the characters really are

through details, potential language, interactions, potential cultural issues, and more. For example,

the book Turtles of Oman was all about the big move that a boy, Aref, and his family are making

to the United States from Oman to allow the parents to go to graduate school. It pointed out

different aspects of their culture throughout the book starting with where they lived, how they

acted within their home, and even some of their home spoken language, Arabic. This book was

fully focused on this culture rather than bringing in multiple cultures to show diversity, which is

what I had originally thought multicultural literature usually would do. Multicultural literature

can also be any type of literature which I had not expected. I figured in order to incorporate the

details to make a book cultural, it would have to have more words. However, Mirror by Jeannie

Baker, proved this wrong.

The part of this definition that has some room for argument would be the definition of

what culture is. Culture can be anything about the way a person lives. However, I think the

multicultural books that I have experienced tend to focus on exploring the main components of a

person/groups life. For example, in Mirror the author illustrates side by side illustrations

throughout the book to show her daily routine in her own culture compared to that of Morocco,

Africa. These images included the way the family spent their morning gathering their breakfast
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to enjoy together, how they went to the market to trade and buy items from others, and how they

spent their evening. This was all compared to the way the Author experienced each part of her

day with her family in Australia. This book showed a different image of culture than the book I

Dissent, by Debbie Levy. This book went through Ruth’s whole life story of how she overcame

the odds of her being a woman and a Jew so that she could hold the spot on the supreme court

that she does today. Overall, these books show how many different outlooks on culture that

multicultural books can take on, but each book can shows us details about a culture that many of

us may not have seen before.

NBGS Selection and Completion Process:

In 1995 the first ever children’s literature and reading special interest group (CL/R SIG)

was formed to select the first group of NBGS books. Since then, a group of nine CL/R/SIG

members annually honor “25 outstanding trade books for enhancing students understanding of

people and cultures throughout the world” (About NBGS). These outstanding works, highlight

the best fiction, nonfiction and poetry written for grades K-12. In order to be eligible, to be

considered for this honor, there is one requirement books must meet. Which is, that the book

must have been published in the United States the year prior to the current award season. By

giving out these honors, the committee hopes to recognize and highlight books that they felt

showcased an “understanding of and appreciation for the world’s full range of diverse cultures

and ethnic and racial groups” (About NBGS). The work of these writers and committee

members, continues to become more and more prevalent and important as the political climate in

our country continues to change. Heading in a direction where individuals seem to feed off of

fear and misunderstanding of other races and ethnicities. As Tunnel and his colleagues point out,

“Literature can be one of the most powerful tools for combating the ignorance that breeds
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xenophobic and judgmental behaviors” (Tunnell et. al., 2013). In a world where we need to

understand each other and come together, this award become more and more prevalent. Because

for some, literature will be the only thing that allows them to build the bridge between

themselves and others. Literature allows readers to acknowledge their differences and similarities

to other human beings.

In order for such books to win the NBGS title, they must fit the criteria used by the

CL/R/SIG to judge all the possible contenders. Through this criteria, committee members are

able to pick the the best K-12 multicultural literature the country has to offer. With this list,

educators and the public are gifted with the knowledge to find truly wonderful works of writing.

Below is the NBGS criteria:

Part I

(Meet one or more criteria from this section.)

• Portray cultural accuracy and authenticity of characters in terms of (a) physical characteristics,

(b) intellectual abilities and problem solving capabilities, (c) leadership and cooperative

dimensions, and (d) social and economic status;

• Be rich in cultural details;

• Honor and celebrate diversity as well as common bonds in humanity;

• Provide in-depth treatment of cultural issues;

• Include characters within a cultural group or between two or more cultural groups who interact

substantively and authentically;

• Include members of a “minority” group for a purpose other than filling a “quota.”

Part II

(Meet all criteria from this section.)


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• Invite reflection, critical analysis, and response;

• Demonstrate unique language or style;

• Meet generally-accepted criteria of quality for the genre in which they are written; and

• Have an appealing format and be of enduring quality

Books & Summaries

Separate is Never Equal

Tonatiuh, D. (2014). Separate is never equal. New York, NY: Abrams Books for Young

Readers

Separate is Never Equal is a book that focuses on the Mendez family, whose children

were turned away from the local school for being Mexican American. After experiencing this

injustice the children’s father gets a lawyer and they challenge the school to make it integrated.

After a year long process the judge finally rules that it is unconstitutional for the school to keep

out Mexican American children. Throughout the book you see the struggle and discrimination

the Mendez family witnesses. Yet you also get to see the love and kindness that they received

from other families who went through similar troubles.

The book itself seems to do an excellent job at portraying Mexican Americans and their

culture. I felt the illustrations showed the readers that the Mendez family was truly like any other

American family. From the way they spoke to the clothes they wore and how they did their hair.

While the writing showed that the family were well educated and fully capable of doing anything

that their white counterparts could do. Overall, I felt this book did a great job at capturing the

Mendez family in an accurate and appropriate light.


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Another aspect of this book that is well done is the interaction between the Mendez

family and the white administration at the school. The interaction between the two groups seems

very accurate and is not sugar coated to make the reader believe that the administration was in

anyway, shape or form, nice to the Mendez family. The book captures the rude way in which the

family was treated and the discrimination they faced. For example, the Principle of the school

said this during the trial “...they need to find cleanliness of mind, manner and dress…”

(Tonatuith, 2014, p.26). This was only one short quote out of many, that showed readers the

nasty and rude things the school’s administration said about the Mendez family and other

Mexican Americans. The book truly captures the interaction between the groups in an

appropriate and accurate manner.

While I did mostly enjoy this book, there were also things that I didn’t like about this

book. The first would be the illustrations. I felt that for such a powerful story, the images were

lacking. I personally would have liked to see more moving illustrations that were of the same

powerful nature as the text. The illustrations just seemed to fall flat and were just there, rather

than enhancing the text. While yes, nowhere in the criteria are illustrations on the list, good

images can add a lot to a book. Whereas these illustrations did not. With that said though, I felt

that the text was extremely well done. It was simplified enough that young readers could

understand what was going on in the story and could pick up on the racial injustice. I think the

book also would allow children to think about what life would be like today if there were

segregated schools. Especially because today’s schools are for the most part very diverse. The

book really allows students to reflect on the world as they know it today.

In a classroom setting, the book would be a great tool to use during history lessons about

the civil rights movements or any lessons on Mexican American history. Especially if you as a
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teacher wanted to talk about segregation, what it is and what it looks like, this would be a great

book. For older grades that might be talking about social studies or the countries political state,

this book could be used. More specifically, it can be used to demonstrate what racism and

segregation look like in action. I also think it’s a book that can show students that our country is

better when it’s a melting pot of all kinds of individuals. Lastly, I truly feel that the book could

be used in the classroom to show students the hardships and discrimination that in this specific

circumstance, Mexican Americans faced. I would then have students think about how Mexican

Americans are treated today. By doing so, I could hopefully engrane the idea that we should not

repeat history. I would then have students brainstorm what they could do to stop these events

from repeating.

Ada’s Violin: The story of the recycled orchestra of Paraguay

Hood, S. & Comport, S.W. (2016). Ada’s Violin: The story of the recycled orchestra of Paraguay.

New York, NY: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers.

The book Ada’s Violin tells the story of a girl who lives in a slum located in Paraguay,

where trash covers most of the city. Making it extremely dirty and pungent underneath the hot

sun. The slum is where many families live off of barely any money and any thing they do have is

made by finding valuables within the piles of trash and rummage. Ada and her sister are young

girls who have nothing to do after school while her parents are at work and she fears that her and

her sister might get involved with the violence and gangs that so many of the town's youth do.

Then one day the girls Abuela (grandmother) surprises them by signing them up for music

lessons. There is one problem though, there aren’t enough instruments for every child and they

can’t take home the instruments to practice because they might get stolen. Thankfully, a local

recycler/carpenter helps the children make instruments out of the trash and rubble in the area.

This way each child has an instrument that won’t get stolen. Throughout the rest of the book the
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reader gets to see how hard all of the children practiced and all of the amazing opportunities they

experienced because of their talent. The story is both moving and inspirational for the reader.

This particular book does a great job of meeting the NGBS criteria. Especially when it

comes to talking about a cultural issue. The book focuses on the problems slums face and the

way in which the environment affects those who live there. In Ada’s Violin, this specifically

means that the mounds of trash affect the overall lifestyle of the people who live there. For

example, after thinking about the rubble that affects their community, young Ada think to herself

“what would happen to them...to her...to her little sister? She watched as the older kids turned to

gangs and and got into fights.” (Hood & Comport, 2016, p. 16).Words like these used throughout

the book help to show the reader that the environment in which they live in has created a culture

where people live in poverty, are prone to violence and stealing just to get by. While the book

focuses just on Paraguay, the story can also expand to show the reader that there are many other

places in the world where sadly enough, their everyday lives are very much like those of the

people in the story. For that reason alone it’s easy to see why this book made it onto the NBGS

list.

One thing that I felt truly enhanced the message of this book and helped to capture the

conditions in which these individuals were living under, were the illustrations. The book’s

illustrations are truly beautiful and were one aspect of this book that really made it stand out to

me. They truly captured the environment by showing garbage filled streets and streams, so that

the reader understood how dirty and trash filled the area actually was. I also enjoyed that the

faces of the people were very lifelike, which truly helped to capture the emotions on their face.

Once again bringing the text to life for the reader. Overall, the illustrations are vivid and add

texture and character to the books pages. While appropriately and accurately depicting the people
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of the Paraguay slums and the life they lived day in and day out. Which truly made the story

come to life for the reader.

While there were a lot of things that I really enjoyed about this book from the writing to

the illustrations, there was one small thing that I would have liked added to this book. Early in

the book on page 8, Hood writes that families can make “Five cents for a pound of cardboard, ten

cents for a pound of plastic.” Then in the back of the book in the authors note, Hood says that in

the town that Ada lives in, “Twenty thousand people - live there on less than two dollars a day...”

(p.41) and that often people have fourteen hour work days where they sort through trash. While

the quote from page 8 is powerful, I personally feel that the second leaves the reader astonished.

It’s also a number that is more attainable for children. They realize that when they go to the

grocery store, they can’t purchase a lot if they only have two dollars. With that said, my only

complaint about this book is that I wish Wood would have included this statistic into the actual

text rather than the one she used. I feel it would have had more impact on the reader and would

have been a better numerical example for young readers since many children understand that two

dollars a day is not much money to live off of.

As a teacher, I would use this book in the classroom for social studies purposes and for

days where we might be talking about humanities, or looking at how different people around the

world live. That way students can understand that the life they live is most likely a life of

privilege. Reading the book in class would definitely be an eye opener for most students and

would allow them to see a reality that many may have ever been exposed to. If we want students

who are sympathetic and who are culturally responsive, we need to be opening them up to new

ideas and new realities. Even if they aren’t good realities, the truth shouldn’t be sugar coated.

Lastly, the book could also be great to read on Earth Day. To remind students that we must be
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mindful of the trash we use and that it doesn’t just disappear. It usually has to go somewhere, and

sadly it has been placed where many people call home. Once again, it would be a real eye

opening lesson for students to not only read about but also think about.

George

Gino, A. (2015). George. New York, NY: Scholastic Press.

This eye opening story follows a young boy named George, George has a secret though.

George thinks of himself as a girl and throughout the book uses the she/her pronoun when

referring to herself. George wants nothing more than to be seen as a girl and to actually be a girl

since that’s who she knows she is in her heart. Then one day after reading Charlotte's web,

George’s teacher announces that all of the fourth grade classrooms will be presenting a play

based off of the book. George decides that she will try out for the part of Charlotte, even if it is

only open for girls to audition for. After practicing and putting in the hard work, it’s time to

audition. George’s teacher think she is joking and tells George that she can’t have the part

because it’s for a girl. After a few weeks of sadness take over George, she confronts her best

friend Kelly, the girl who did get the part of Charlotte. George accidentally tells Kelly that she is

a girl and not in fact a boy. Kelly accepts George and a few days later comes up with a plan to

get George on stage as Charlotte. That way George’s mom can see who she truly is at heart.

Before George knows it, she is starring on stage as Charlotte and finally feeling like the person

she has known herself to always have been. This finally prompts her mother to understand how

George see’s herself. Yet her mother isn’t ready to rush into anything, slowly she warms up to

the idea of her son being transgender and tells her that they will find somebody they can both

talk to. The book then ends when Kelly and George go with Kelly’s uncle to a zoo in New York.

What’s special about this excursion though, is that Kelly is calling George by her new name
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Melissa, which George has picked for herself. Kelly give Melissa a skirt and pink tank top to

wear. The pair put makeup on and before Melissa knows it they are in public and for once she

feels like her true self. All she hopes for now is that she can feel and look this way for the rest of

her life.

After finishing this book, I was able to quickly realise why this book was a NBGS

winner. I truly felt that this book hit the criteria of authentically portraying the intellectual

abilities of transgender youth as well as provided an in depth look at how people treat

transgender youth and individuals. While I myself am not transgender and don’t personally know

any individuals who identify and transgender, I truly feel that the dialog and thoughts that

George has in this book, capture the pain, confusion and fear that many transgender individuals

do, or have experienced. The way in which Gino displays George’s thoughts and feelings for the

reader, truly help the reader understand what George is going through. It’s an eye opening

insight into the experience transgender youth go through on a daily basis. Showing that everyday

things many don’t even think twice about, can be much more difficult for others. For example,

there is a scene where George is getting ready to take a bath, rather than just undress like most

youth, she “...waited until the last possible moment to take off her pants and underwear. She

immersed her body in the warm water and tried not to think about what was between her legs,

but there it was, bobbing in front of her. She washed her hair with lots of shampoo so that the

suds would cover the surface of the water.” (Gino, 2015, p. 44-45). This scene alone is one of

many Gino writes about. Where the reader can see that George is ashamed and embarrassed by

her own body. Which for anyone with an ounce of compassion, will feel so sorry for George.

They can recognize that no one should have to feel that they don’t belong in their own body. Just

thinking about it now breaks my heart, as I’m sure it has and will for others.
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As for the portrayal of societal treatment towards transgender youth, there is the scene

that occurs when George’s mother finally finds out how George see’s herself. She tells George

that “...the world isn’t always good to people who are different. I just don’t want you to make

your road any harder than it has to be.” (Gino, 2015, pg. 170). I feel this quote perfectly captures

the way in which Transgender youth are treated in today's society. You have those who are

negative and hateful towards transgender individuals, who are just trying to live their truest lives.

Then you have those individuals who know that the journey will be difficult but are completely

supportive of transgender men and women. You also see these ideas throughout the rest of the

book, like when the two boys George goes to school with pick on him and tell him he’s a freak.

Then there is George’s principle, who after George’s performance as Charlotte whispers in her

ear that her office door is always open. Through the use of different characters and situations,

Gino accurately captures the different ways in which our society treats and views transgender

men and women.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and found it to be both heartwarming and eye opening.

There aren't a lot of literary works out there that talk to children about the transgender

experience. So to have a book that does so in such a poignant and creative way, is a breath of

fresh air. While I did really enjoy this book, there were a few things that I didn’t care for. The

first would be that when George told her older brother that she felt like a girl, her brother didn’t

bat an eye. While this is obviously how we would hope everyone one would react when hearing

this information, it’s most likely not the norm. Her brother just instantly accepts her and says

nothing negative. Once again, while this is great, I feel that it’s not very accurate. I just worry

that it gives students the wrong idea that when transgender children come out to their loved ones,

they’re instantly accepted. Where often times this is not the case. While I understand that Gino
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most likely did this to make the book a bit more child friendly, it seems to take away from the

reality that many transgender youth face. Other than that issue, I felt that the book did a beautiful

job of capturing a best case scenario of the transgender youth experience.

In a classroom setting, I would probably offer this book as free reading book that students

could read when they had free choice time. I could also see myself creating a unit where we read

multicultural books for a few weeks, either independently or in book club groups. That way

students would have the opportunity to read a book that gives them a glance into a human

experience that they may have not known anything about. The goal would be to educate students

on transgender topics as well as make them more understanding and accepting individuals, who

will be kind and welcoming to those who may be different from themselves.

Orbiting Jupiter

Schmidt, G. D., (2015) Orbiting jupiter. New York, NY: Clarion Books

Orbiting Jupiter is a beautiful book that follows two teenage boys, Jack and Joseph.

Joseph is fourteen years old and after running away from multiple group homes and juvenile

centers, comes to live with twelve year old Jack and his family. Over time, the boys grow closer

through walking to school together, milking the family cows and talking. Jack learns that Joseph

is a father to a three month old baby girl named Jupiter. He also learns that Joseph’s first love,

and the mother of his daughter, died during childbirth. An event that hurt Joseph like he had

never been hurt before. As time goes on and Joseph continues to open up to Jack and his parents,

the two form a strong bond and as described in the book, have each others backs. Throughout the

book the reader also sees Joseph’s want and need to meet the daughter he has only seen in

pictures. His love for Jupiter has no bounds and is truly remarkable. Towards the end of the

book, this causes Joseph to run away and find Jupiter. Which then leads to a manhunt to find
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Joseph. While looking for Joseph, Jack meets Jupiter's foster mom and goes home with her to

find Joseph at her front yard. He knows Jupiter is there and he wants to see her. After some

discussion, Joseph agrees to not see Jupiter, but the foster mother must send him photos and

letter about her growth. She honors the deal and months pass where Joseph and the family are

able to live happily and start a new chapter in life. Then one day, Joseph's father storms the

house with a gun, demanding that his son come home with him or he will shoot Jack. To save

Jack and prevent a bigger scene from happening, Joseph get’s in the car with his drunk father.

Sadly, they get into a car accident, where their car slides into the frozen river and both Joseph

and his father die in the frozen water. The very end of the book is simultaneously heartwarming

and heartbreaking at once. The reader is informed that Jack's parents have adopted Jupiter.

Almost as if they are promising Joseph that they will keep her safe and raise her and he would

have. Schmidt writes a raw and telling story that is sure to stick with readers long after they have

read the book's final words.

A part of the criteria that I felt this book covered well was in part 1, more specifically, I

felt that this book did an excellent job at honoring and celebrate diversity in human kind as well

as common bonds in humanity. Joseph is a character that readers immediately bond with. We

want to see him succeed and your heart breaks when you find out more about his life. You see

him struggle with life, socioeconomic differences, love and loss at a young age. He’s lived a very

different life than those around him as well as from many readers. Yet both his foster family and

the reader, do what they can to understand him. We sympathise with him, and in some shape or

form, most of us understand his pain. Whether that be because we have lost someone, we have

experienced the loss of love, or have experienced bumps in the road that sometimes make our

days more difficult. For Joesph, one of these bumps is when his social worker tell him that his
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first love has died “... Don’t say anything, don’t-...That was how Joseph heard for the first time

that he would never see Madeline again, never touch her again, never talk to her again, never

walk through the woods with her again. That was how Joseph heard for the first time that

Madeline, whom he loved, was gone.” (Schmidt, 2015, p.85). These words connect with the

reader, help them form an emotional bond with Joseph. If that doesn’t draw readers to Joseph

though, the fact that throughout the book you see Joseph stay strong, will. Ultimately, his

emotional strength makes him much like us, we all try to persevere. To chase the things that we

love most and that are most important to us. So while Joseph may be different from the reader in

some shape or form, there are also aspects of Joseph that we can relate to. Which allows the

reader to bond with Joseph in a way that only humans can.

For the most part I really enjoyed this book. It made me laugh, cry and then cry some

more. There were a few things that bothered me about the writing though. The first would be

which parts of Joseph's life Schmidt chose to talk about. What I mean by this, is that there were a

few scenes where Joseph mentioned a bit about his mother, yet the reader never finds out quite

exactly what happened to her or why she isn’t in his life. We hear and see the father but never

the mother. Even though it’s a touchy subject for Joseph and caused him to shut down, it would

have been nice to get to see that part of Joseph's life as well. The last thing that I would have

liked to have had clarified, was why Joseph called Jack, Jackie. You see Jack correct him time

and time again but you never get to see why he has been given the name. Even in the end when

Jupiter calls Jack, Jackie, no explanation or understanding on Jacks part is shown. I just think it

would have been nice to see. Especially because it could have given the reader another glimpse

at the relationship the two boys shared.


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This is a book that would be great to use in a middle school or highschool classroom.

After reading this book, I instantly knew how I would use it. In Teaching and Learning 301 we

talked about the idea of a cultural iceberg (Woolfolk, 2016, p. 210-211). The idea is that we only

see someone for what’s on the surface rather than getting to truly know who they are and all of

the different experiences and cultural factors they have experienced that shape who they are.

Throughout this book you see a lot of people quickly judge Joseph based on rumors they have

heard or their quick encounters with him. Little do these people know what he has been through

and his actual story. Yet, for those who have taken the time to get to know Joseph, they see a

young man who amongst hardships continues to become a better person. With that said, I would

want to use the book in a lesson about the cultural iceberg, to get students thinking about the fact

that we know very little about a person until we actually get to know them. Which means we

shouldn't make assumptions or judge a book by it’s cover.

I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark

Levy, D., Baddeley, E. (2016). I dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg makes her mark. New York:

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.

I Dissent is a book that goes through the life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a woman who is

one of the nine Supreme Court justices today. The book begins by introducing the neighborhood

that Ruth lived in as a child. The author writes, “Boys were expected to grow up, go out in the

word, and do big things. Girls? Girls were expected to find husbands” (Levy, pg. 4). This quote

automatically began the disagreement that Ruth held throughout the book. She didn’t want to be

just another woman who finds a husband and doesn’t work. Ruth goes to school as a child and

wants to try everything. The teachers tell her she needs to write with her right hand but she

knows that she is better with her left so she disobeys them. She realizes that she is much better at
Notable Books for a Global Society 21

some things than others but this doesn’t hold her back from doing anything that she wants to do.

Ruth goes to college and finds her husband that she was not looking for and they both head to

law school together after college with their new child. In a class of 500 men and only 9 women,

Ruth was tied for top of her class. However, she still struggled to find a job coming out of

graduate school just because she was a woman-- but she didn’t give up. When she finally

received her first law job, she excelled which opened many doors for her. Ruth was an extremely

opinionated person and this worked to her benefit as she made her way up the courts.

Ruth stood up for human rights dissenting from some of the biggest court issues. These

included unfair treatment in the workplace for women, African Americans, and immigrants; the

right to vote for all citizens, no matter their skin color; the better chance for African Americans

to go to college; and much more. She grew to be very convincing and her powerful opinion only

grew stronger within the courts. Justice Ginsburg didn’t let the prejudice against her or anyone

else stand in her way. She truly believed in human equality and equal opportunities for all and

this is shown throughout her life story in this book.

I think that this book fulfilled the criteria for notable books, but in a different way than

the other books we read did. I Dissent began showing that Ruth was a female Jew and this was

going to be her biggest roadblock in her future career. Levy explains that Ruth’s childhood

neighborhood was full of different cultures that celebrate different holidays and eat different

foods, however, she didn’t go into details about these. Ruth’s culture was apparent throughout

the book and definitely set her back when it came to going to school and first finding a job, but

being a female gave her more struggles than anything else. One thing that this book really

focused on, falling under the first criteria list, was providing in depth treatment of cultural issues.

Ruth’s life consisted of dealing with many different cultural issues even if they weren’t
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consistent with her own culture. This book pulls these issues into her courts and portrays the

prejudice that many people, including some in the courts, had against these groups. These

cultural issues were for women, African Americans, immigrants, and more. This book also

exemplifies Ruth, a character of one cultural group, interacting with characters of many different

cultural groups throughout her childhood and her time in the courts.

Before reading this book, I had never even heard of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I really

enjoyed getting to know about her history, but more importantly, the difference her actions of

dissent made in the courts. This book is full of context that would usually be found in a history or

political lesson. However, Levy incorporates all of this into a picture book that not only did I

enjoy reading, but I learned a lot from. The text in this book was the perfect amount for a page. It

allowed for me to read the text to get the intended information from the page and then to move

on to look at the pictures for a better visualization of what was going on. The illustrations were

also combined with the text at points. The illustrator incorporated text in big, beautiful letters

that stretched across the page. This allowed me, as the reader, to look across the whole

illustration as I read the text. The illustrations alone were also wonderfully put together. I think

that the colors always followed the mood of the text on the page with tendency to stay bright as

Ruth always stayed hopeful. I learned almost as much from taking in the details from the

illustrations as I did from reading the text. The author and the illustrator truly worked together to

create a book that was not only informational about history, culture, and discrimination, but

enjoyable to read as well.

This book could be used for many different lessons in the classroom. Ruth is still on the

Supreme Court today. Many elementary students may not know anything about how the court

systems work. This book could be a good book to introduce a lesson about the court systems; it
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shows how they work and what the judges do. It also includes many different historical issues of

inequality. Students can spend time focusing on the many dissents that Justice Ginsburg made

for the sake of equality for all. Since this book also begins in a neighborhood full of immigrants,

a lesson could be incorporated on how different of a world we live in today compared to how

different Brooklyn, New York was back in 1940. Finally, this book could present a lesson on

never giving up. Ruth had the odds against her for almost her entire life. She rarely had many

people around to support her but she had an idea in her head that she was going to fulfil and she

didn’t let anything get in her way. Although there are many more equal opportunities today than

there were in 1940, people lose hope and do not persevere everyday. Presenting this book to an

elementary class to show them what true perseverance can do can give them the mindset early

that they can do absolutely anything that they put their mind to.

Mirror

Baker, J. (2010). Mirror(1st ed.). London: Walker Books.

Mirror is a wordless picture book that compares two different cultures-- a family living in

Australia to a family living in Morocco, Africa. This book is set up so the reader will turn the

pages on the left and the right of the book simultaneously to compare the daily lives of the two

different families. The families begin by waking up in their homes and going through their

morning routines. The boy in the Australian family wakes up and climbs into his parents bed as

his mother gets up to take care of the baby. The Moroccan family wakes up and does their

morning prayers. The days continue and the Australian family multitasks and have their

breakfast and get out of the door to drive their cars to their daily activities. The Moroccan family

gathers their food from the animals, enjoys it sitting as a family, and then travels by donkey to

their activities for the day. The book shows vast images that compare the highly developed city
Notable Books for a Global Society 24

in Australia to the wide desert in Morocco. When the Australian family gets to their hardware

store; they walk in, get what they need, and check out. The Moroccan family reaches the market

where there are items of all kinds that they can trade for. Once both families are back home, they

make dinner and enjoy it in their house. The Australian family eats at table sitting on chairs

while the Moroccan family sits on pillows at their table. In the end of the book, both families

spend their evening happily together.

The book completely immersed the reader into two different cultures at once. My life is

very similar to the Australian side of this book. As I went through the book, it was very

interesting for me to compare different aspects similar to my lifestyle to the Moroccan lifestyle,

which is very different. This book shows that the culture that one lives is widely developed

depending on where they are located. For example, the family on the western side of the book

goes to the hardware store and drives a car to get there. However, the Moroccan family rides

their donkey a further distance to the community trading area to get what they need. The reason

that these families are using these specific types of travel is because that is what their community

is setup to use. People don’t have donkeys on the highways in Australia just as there are no cars

found driving in the desert of this community in Morocco. The entire book is full of details that

help to immerse the reader into both of the cultures presented. Not only are there cultural details

presented, but this book unites the two cultures. As different as they may be, they are still so

similar. Both families complete their day and find themselves enjoying dinner and evening

activities together at the end of the book, united. This book fulfills taking two different cultures,

providing cultural details for the two, and uniting them in the end which are all potential criteria

for a notable book. The author writes at the beginning and the end of the book her explanations

of the story. On the Australian side, the words are written in English. On the Moroccan side, the
Notable Books for a Global Society 25

words are written in Arabic. Through this, the author found a way to demonstrate the language of

both cultures while still keeping this book as a wordless picture book.

I really enjoyed reading this book. To begin, this book had a layout that I have never

experienced before. With the help of a little blurb of directions from the author, I easily began by

opening both sides at one time. Some pages consisted more of a comic book style to incorporate

many little actions that were happening within each family. Other pages were large illustrations

that had many important details that demonstrated the culture of each family. For example, the

Australian family begins their morning with a comic book style page showing their showerhead,

their dishwasher, and their laptop usage. The Moroccan family has a page that shows them

milking a cow, getting water from a well, and counting their change. These pages helped me to

really think about all of the little details that are different between these two different lifestyles

and how much this plays into one’s culture. My favorite part about this book was the final page

that the author wrote on. She explained that she created this book because of the extremely high

amounts of respect that she found for the strangers in Morocco when she visited. She writes how

in Australia, where she lives, there is, “...political poisoning of attitudes towards foreigners and

foreignness.” (Baker, pg. 20). She found nothing but kindness from everyone that saw her as a

stranger and, in this, saw that we aren’t really strangers. We are all one big community.

Even without words, this book can hold a very powerful lesson to be used in the

classroom. Although it may not be physically easy to read to a class, the final lesson portrayed is

worth taking the time to experience the images with a group of students. I would take certain

images and have students hold them side by side to compare them. Students can take their time

finding similarities and differences between the two cultures presented as well as within their

own life. I would use this book to hold a discussion on how we are all one big community and
Notable Books for a Global Society 26

how just because we may live somewhere different from other people, doesn’t mean that we are

internally any different from them. I think that the ending passage that Baker writes is extremely

powerful and a class of just about any older elementary age can get a lot from it. With so much

going on in the world and the idea that is becoming politically stronger that we cannot support

foreigners, it is important to reassure our incoming generation that no matter where we are born,

we are all the same and we should always respect each other.

The Turtle of Oman

Nye, N. S. (2014). The turtle of oman. New York, NY: HarperCollins.

The Turtle of Oman is a book about a young boy named Aref. The book begins as Aref

and his mother drop their father off at the airport. He is flying to their new home for the next

three years in Michigan and Aref and his mother will be following him in a week. Aref is not

excited about this move because even though he has many pamphlets, he has no idea what

Michigan is really going to be like. He doesn’t want to leave his friends, his neighbors, and most

importantly, his grandfather in Oman. The book goes through many different stages of Aref

trying to pack and his mother trying to get him excited about going. Finally, his mother calls up

his grandfather and asks if he will still take him on the camping trip that he had considered. Aref

and his grandfather, Sidi, start off their adventures by going to the desert to the Camp of a

Thousand Stars. They continue on their adventures and they even see sea turtles at a nature

reserve, Aref’s favorite. One thing that Aref finds a pamphlet for in Michigan that could

potentially be very exciting for him are the turtles. He has always passionately loved turtles and

knowing that they are all over Michigan creates some excitement. Throughout the book, there are

journal entries that Aref writes. He writes in the form of lists. For example; he wrote,

“Questions: 1. Why can’t Sidi come with us? 2. Is my handwriting in both English and Arabic
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getting better?” (Nye, pg. 63). This helps to give the reader a direct glimpse into Aref’s thoughts

throughout the book.

This book fulfills the criteria by hitting a few different points. It focused on the culture

that Aref lived in at the time in Muscat, Oman. It also brought in some slight comparisons to the

culture that the book portrayed there to be in Michigan. Overall, it went more in depth on

experiencing Aref’s life with his grandfather and their culture came out most as they interacted

with each other on their adventures. This book incorporated some of the Arabic language when

certain people spoke to each other or often when there were greetings between them and new

friends. I found the culture presented in this book to be very similar of my own which shows that

location is not always a large determining factor of one’s culture.

When I first opened this book, I was very excited to learn about the lives of Aref and his

family in Muscat and to see their transition into the United States. Knowing a lot about the

United States and little to no information about Oman, I thought that I would see new interesting

details that I would excitingly compare to my own life. However, this book didn’t quite do that

for me. The beginning of this book was fairly slow and it didn’t show me much of Aref’s culture.

Aref lived in a multiple story home, he rode his bike up and down his street, and he his family

had a fairly high socioeconomic status. Not knowing much about Oman, I figured there would be

many differences from where I live by solely location but there didn’t seem to be. As Aref and

his grandfather set out on their adventures, I was able to see a little bit more into Aref’s culture

through their interactions with others and their conversations. However, I think this book was

more of a kind-hearted book about a boy saying goodbye to his home before moving to another

country. Yes, his home was beautiful and he saw a lot of adventure in it towards the end with his

grandfather. However, in my opinion, there could have been a greater amount of details about
Notable Books for a Global Society 28

Aref and his family to incorporate more of the cultural aspect in this book. Also, from the

beginning, the book had me excited to see Aref actually make the move and to experience his

transition with him. Halfway through the book, Aref was still packing at his house and saying

goodbye. It wasn’t until I was almost finished with the book that I realized that this book was all

about the goodbyes Aref said to his home country. I think that the author could have been more

clear in the first couple chapters as to what to expect. If I had known that Aref was not going to

actually make the move from the beginning, it may have felt like it dragged less.

This book could be used in a classroom to show how similar other cultures may be to

ours even when they’re distantly far. Aref is a young boy that lives a very similar life to many

children I know today. Sometimes people think that just because someone lives far away, they

participate in many different daily activities. The descriptive setting of this book sounded very

similar to different places I have seen inside the United States. I wouldn’t necessarily use this

book for students to become more culturally aware because it doesn’t show a very extensive

amount of Aref’s culture. This book was a very easy book to read because of the way it was set

up as well. The chapters were short and the text was spaced out. This book could be beneficial to

a student if they were focusing on just one chapter for a specific purpose. For example, if a

student was handed just the chapter that described two of Aref’s friends that came by his house

to say goodbye (pg. 29-43) they could read over it and look for any hints to show them where

geographically this could have take place.

Talking Leaves

Bruchac, J. (2016). Talking Leaves. New York, NY: Puffin Books.

Talking Leaves is about a boy, Uwohali, who doesn’t know much about his father other

than the fact that his mother asked him to leave years ago. Now everyone in town is convinced
Notable Books for a Global Society 29

that he is taking part in witchcraft. His father has a new wife and a stepdaughter. The boy is still

intrigued by the idea of meeting his father but nervous at the same time. His mother finally gives

him the go and Uwohali goes out with a fairly open mind to meet the man that his father really

is. He is welcomed with kindness by his father and his family. The Cherokee tribe does not have

a written language at this time. Sequhyah, the boy’s father, has created this written language on

his own based off of the syllables in each of the words they say. The book consists of the battle

of his father trying to convince the community that what he has at hand is not witchcraft but a

way for them to communicate through writing. The book ends with Sequhyah proving to the

tribal community, with the help of his step daughter and son, that he has really created a written

language. With extensive proof, the majority of the community is in awe. At the end of the book,

Uwohali has his final realization that he is going to follow in the footsteps of his father. Instead

of becoming a blacksmith, he is going to teach his people their newfound language.

This book was full of culture. When I first opened it, I could see culture just by the list of

names on the first page followed by their cultural meaning. The jobs that are experienced

throughout the book, such as a blacksmith, also show the type tight community that they are had

as a tribe. Reading this book, I saw the culture of the Cherokee tribe through the way that many

of the characters interacted, simply because it is so different from my own culture. For example,

the author writes, “No Cherokee man would be foolish enough to try to argue when a Cherokee

woman tells him that their marriage has ended.” (Bruchac, pg. 19). Many people in the word that

I live in would have some kind of argument if they were asked to just leave without explanation

if they were married. However, Sequhyah’s wife told him that he needed to go and he simply

packed up his items and moved out.


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I personally did not think that I would enjoy this book when I first opened it. I read a few

pages and thought that it didn’t seem like something that I would typically enjoy reading.

However, I continued to read and immediately found myself further and further into the book.

Bruchac incorporated culture into a story that has a purpose. This made the story interesting to

read and the reader is continuously questioning what is going to happen next. My favorite part of

this book was the end. Sequhyah stood in front of his entire community as he was booed for

witchcraft and announced his new form of writing. Seeing doubt in the eyes of many community

memebers, Uwohali stood up and spoke in front of them all to help him. The book turned around

completely. From having a nonexistent connection between father and son, to having Uwohali

follow in Sequhyah’s footsteps, this book was very thoughtfully written.

I think that at times many people think of different locations around the world as having

different cultures. Sometimes they think of different races as having different cultures. However,

many people seem to overlook the different cultures of different tribes because they are located

all around. This book could be beneficial in any classroom because it can allow students to get a

complete look into the background of the Cherokee tribe. Although every tribe is very different,

having a class read this book can open their mind to the word culture and allow them to see what

a culture that is likely very close by them is like.

Award Winner

Out of all eight books we read for this project, we felt that Gary Schmidt’s Orbiting

Jupiter was the book that exemplified the NBGS criteria the most. All of the other books were

excellent books, but this book just stood out more. It’s a book that left us in tears and we were

still moved by days after reading its last words. Which in our minds, is something that only

quality writing can do. We also felt that the book was both relatable and eye opening for
Notable Books for a Global Society 31

students. Making it a great book to use in a classroom setting. The book itself is well thought out

and includes characters that readers not only can relate to but also sympathise with. Additionally,

we found that the book covered many of the NBGS requirements in part 1 of the criteria as well

as all the requirements in part 2. All of which helped contribute to making this book our winner.

Part 1

Portray cultural accuracy and authenticity of characters in terms of (a) physical


characteristics, (b) intellectual abilities and problem solving capabilities, (c) leadership and
cooperative dimensions, and (d) social and economic status

Something that young readers may connect with in this book, is the character Joseph.

What we loved about Joseph is that even though he has been through so much as a child and

hasn’t necessarily come from the best background, he is very bright. For this reason, we feel that

the book accurately depicts B and D listed above. The book shows the reality that your

socioeconomic status doesn’t represent how intelligent you are. Just like in reality there are

people who are homeless, yet when given the chance, have gotten into colleges like Harvard.

While yes, students who may come from wealthier families and schools do generally have an

advantage, it does not mean that students who come from lower income families don’t have the

same intellectual abilities as their wealthier peers. The book helps to remind students that your

past and socioeconomic status, don’t define your abilities and don’t necessarily decide your

future either. You have the choice to rise above and surprise those around you, just as Joseph did.

Honor and celebrate diversity as well as common bonds in humanity

One thing that Schmidt does exceptionally well in this book is create characters that are

different yet similar to readers. Yet both characters (Jack and Joseph) in some way or another,

create a bond with the reader. You want to see both boys grow and succeed throughout the book.

The more you get to know them, the more you love them as if they were your own friend or
Notable Books for a Global Society 32

child. Especially Joseph, who hasn’t always has a lot of luck in his life. As readers discover his

ups and downs they grow attached and truly can see themselves in Joseph, in one way or another.

Whether that be understanding the loss of first love, of having a rough upbringing, being the

weird kid at school, having rumors spread about you or even just having teachers doubt your

abilities. We truly believe that Joseph had qualities that everyone can either relate to or

sympathize with. For instance, there is a scene in the book where after he confides in the family

that all he wants is to meet his daughter, and he need their help. Then for christmas Jack’s

parents have a special surprise for Joseph. They leave a letter on the tree and when Joseph opens

it he says “...We’ll help” he read… “We’ll call Mrs. Stroud tomorrow and see if we can set up a

meeting” my mother said… He (Joesph) put the paper back into the envelope...And no kidding,

watching him, I thought he was going to start bawling…” (Schmidt, 2015, p.109) At this point in

the book we too were bawling! The reader finds out that the family is going to help Joesph try

and see his daughter. It’s an emotional moment where the reader gets to see his raw pain and

emotion, his love for his daughter and his blossoming relationship with his foster family.

Overall, it’s one of many scenes in this book where you would have to be un-human not to feel

some kind of emotional connection with the character. He’s the underdog that steals your heart

and you can’t help but to root for, even if he is different than you in some way. .

Include characters within a cultural group or between two or more cultural groups who
interact substantively and authentically

In this book you see several different groups of individuals interact. The first is one

between cultural groups. In Orbiting Jupiter, the group seems to be white Americans. We don’t

recall this ever being flat out said, but the cover and book details seem to imply it. You also see

the interaction between rich and poor. Madeline, the young girl whom Joseph loved, came from a

wealthy family. Both her parents were lawyers, she had a nanny and attended prep school. While
Notable Books for a Global Society 33

Joseph lives with his single father who as seen throughout the book, had money issues and often

abused Joseph. When the two meet and they fall in love, they’re innocent and don’t think about

their social class just like many children their age wouldn’t. Like many young teens who feel like

they are experiencing love, the factors that might tear them apart don’t seem to be apparent. Yet

when Madeline’s parents find out, a whole new interaction comes into play. They quickly send

their daughter to a new state and try to cut off all contact the two teens have. Some of this is

contributed to the fact that Joseph got their thirteen year old daughter pregnant, but the point is

that many parents would most likely act in a similar way. They would be upset, show concern

and most likely try and give the teens some time apart. While not everyone may react this way, it

is an actual outcome that many parents and teens have or may experience in some form. There

are many other actions between family, social workers and classmates that many readers will

have also experienced. Once again making aspects of this book very realistic as well as relatable

for those reading it.

Part 2

Invite reflection, critical analysis, and response;

Out of all the books we read, this was the one that we felt students could really analyze

and think critically about. We felt that the messages in the book could connect to many teens

while also teaching them important life lessons. With that said, we felt that you could ask

students about how Josephs peers treated him, how they see him, assume things about him.

Students could also be asked to think about how Joseph’s life events have shaped him and how

others perceptions of him affect him. They could be asked to look at how socio-economic

standings played a role in the book. Finally, students could even look at why and how Joseph's

walls come down throughout the book to trust Jack and his family. Our point for asking these
Notable Books for a Global Society 34

questions would be to help students realize that everyone has a past, that they are more than what

they seem. Which is something you see a lot throughout the book. While students make

assumptions and judgments about Joseph based on rumours, there are others who get to actually

know him. When they do, they realize all the pain he has endured in life as well as what a kind

hearted young man he really is. Overall, the book has a great message and provides the reader

and educators a lot of different thoughts and questions to work with, that allow critical thinking

to take place in the classroom.

Demonstrate unique language or style;

Chapter four in Orbiting Jupiter is when the reader finally gets a glimpse into Joesph life,

who Madeline is and how he ended up with a daughter. Besides this chapter being emotional, the

way in which it is written is original and something we’re not sure we have ever seen done

before. Instead of having Joseph tell the story to the reader, and seeing it through his point of

view, we see Jack tell his story. The reader sees Jack’s summary/ interpretation of what Joseph

had told him and his parents. By doing so it allows both characters perspectives to be show. Jack

talks about the emotional way in which Joseph tells his story. Yet the reader gets to see Jack’s

thoughts and perspective. The chapter is written in such a way that the reader is able to see both

boys thoughts and emotions displayed. Even though only one of the boy’s is acting as the

narrator for the reader.

The book also displays and excellent use of style. One thing that Schmidt has done

exceptionally well is take difficult topics and phrase them in ways that make the book more child

friendly. What we mean by this, is that there are several times where the topic of abuse and sex

are brought up in the book. Yet the way in which they are written, make the reader question what

is happening. Even we as adults could still be unsure about whether or not Joseph was abused by
Notable Books for a Global Society 35

his father. It’s hinted at, but is never flat out said. Yet the way in which Joseph reacts to his

father and to others, tells the reader that his dad had mostly likely mistreated him in some way.

Then there is the scene where Joseph talks about having sex with Madeline “...she leaned

forward and she kissed him for the first time. The first time. Then they went back inside, under

the red woolen blanket” (Schmidt, 2015, p.79). While young readers might not understand what

this implies, older readers can. It’s almost as if Schmidt uses the line “The first time” twice to tell

the reader that while they might have kissed for the first time, they also had sex for the first time.

If readers were still unsure, the line about the red blanket gives another clue as to what happened.

Once again, younger readers may not come to this conclusion but older students can. Truly

demonstrating a unique sense of style that only talented writers can pull off.

Meet generally-accepted criteria of quality for the genre in which they are written

If there were only a handful of books that could be the poster children for quality works

of young adult fiction, this book would be on the list. This book does everything that a YA novel

should. This book makes readers fall in love with the characters, in a way that you become

emotionally attached and invested in their story. The book also has situations and individuals that

young readers can relate to in some way or another. It might not be teenage parenthood, but it

could be young love, bullying or even being a foster kid. Schmidt also does an excellent job at

writing a story that is captivating and takes readers on an emotional and enlightening journey. To

sum up the quality of this book, we have this to say. We have read many young adult books this

semester. Many of which were award winning books and were all amazing. Yet out of all of

those award winning books, this book seems to take the cake. It truly is a book that will be hard

to forget and is one we want to share with everyone we know. Which if you ask us, is one of the

highest honors a book can receive, besides actual awards of course.


Notable Books for a Global Society 36

Have an appealing format and be of enduring quality.

The way in which the book is formatted and laid out is very efficient and makes the

writing easy to understand. The book is split up by chapters that are well timed and lead into one

another. We enjoyed that every chapter seemed to end a scene in a well thought out manner.

There weren’t a lot of cliffhangers or moments where you felt as if you were cheated out of a

scene. Instead each chapter had a solid drop off point, which flowed nicely into the next chapter.

We also felt like the chapters were appropriately sized. They were sometimes on the longer side,

but they didn’t seem endless. We also found that we liked that the book only had nine chapters.

When reading, the book just seemed more attainable because of the fewer amount of chapters. It

was nice to be on chapter five and know that you had four more chapters compared to twenty

left. For younger readers this format may be enticing, just as it was for us.

After reading this book, we quickly realized that we had read something special,

something that future generations could relate to and cherish the way we did. There are so many

elements in this book that unfortunately aren’t going away anytime soon. Orbiting Jupiter

discusses topics like abuse, social class, bullying, rumors, love, foster families and death, just to

name a few. As we have seen for past decades, these topics continue to exist and most likely will

for quite some time. Just as teens in 2017 can relate to the material in this book, teens in 2070

will most likely be able to do the same. As far a the whole story line, we believe that there is no

generation that won’t be moved by this story and it’s character in some way. We like to think

that while social topics may change overtime, human compassion does not. The way in which

this book makes readers feel, plays a large role in why we chose this book as our winner. This

book has the ability to make you feel captivated, sad and happy all at once, which is no small
Notable Books for a Global Society 37

feat. If it has the ability to do that now, we have no doubt in our minds that it will be able to do

the same for other readers in the future decades to come.

First Honor Book

The book that we thought fulfilled the criteria second best out of all seven others was

Mirror by Jeannie Baker. Interestingly enough, this book had no words. Typically, we wouldn’t

choose a book with no words for an award because it’s very difficult to portray a story with only

pictures and it becomes even more difficult to keep it within the length of a typical picture book.

This book was truly unlike any other book we have ever read before. The artwork was done very

intently beginning with drawings, then moved to a wooden board to construct into a collage

using natural and artificial materials. There is no doubt that Baker spent a large amount of time

creating the artwork for this book and we think it exemplified exactly what she was going for.

The comparison between two cultures is portrayed beautifully in this book and any absolutely

any audience could benefit from sitting down and simultaneously turning these pages.

Part 1:

Honor and celebrate diversity as well as common bonds in humanity

The reason that Jeannie Baker wrote Mirror, as she stated at the end of her illustrations,

was because of her experience when she visited Morocco. She wrote that there is such a conflict

in her own country and a poisoned attitude against people seen as strangers. In Morocco, she was

the stranger. She almost expected that there would be some kind of attitude towards her as a

foreigner. When she visited, she was greeted with kindness and generosity from the people she

met.

There is a pattern seen throughout this book. Both sides, the Australian and Moroccan

side, start out with families getting up to start their morning. Although they experience different
Notable Books for a Global Society 38

morning routines, they are one in the same-- all human, all alike. By doing this, Baker

automatically shows the bonds that these two families unknowingly share from across the world.

The story continues on and both of the families participate in very similar activities as they both

go to buy items for their home. They travel in different ways and to different types of shops, but

they are participating in the same kind of activity. There are little differences throughout this

book that are strictly based on location and culture. However, Baker brings both families back to

their homes in the end to enjoy their dinners as families before their night ends. This example of

the two daily routines of these families came together to perfectly portray the very diverse lives

of the families in Australia and Morocco. At the same time, they are all bonded over the same

humanity.

Part 2:

Invite reflection, critical analysis, and response

At the end of this book, the author writes about the whole idea for her book. This

includes, “Inwardly we are so alike, it could be each other we see when we look in the mirror.”

(Baker, pg. 20). Reading this last sentence regarding the purpose of the book, we really stopped

to think. As future teachers who are continuously learning about different cultures and equality,

we have extremely open minds. However, it’s new to think that we could be looking at ourselves

when we look at someone else. As one large community, we really are all one in the same. Baker

makes an extremely thought-provoking point here. We should see ourselves in every person we

meet. Maybe then there wouldn’t be a poisonous attitude towards strangers around the world.

Demonstrate unique language or style

Right away, we saw a style in this book that neither of us have ever experienced before.

This book opens up on the left side with the family that lives in Sydney, Australia. The right side
Notable Books for a Global Society 39

of the book opens up to show the family that lives in Morocco, Africa. There is a quick

instructional blurb that tells that the book is supposed to be read simultaneously on both sides.

Flipping through the pages and admiring the illustrations, we both found this unique style to be

an extremely powerful way to portray the two cultures side by side. The author also incorporated

both English writing and Arabic. Whenever there were words (instructions at the beginning and

the reflection at the end) they were written in English on the left side and Arabic on the right side

of the book. This made the book even stronger. Not only can an English speaker understand the

text and experience the beautiful illustrations, but anyone who speaks Arabic can go through this

book and experience the two cultures side by side.

Meet generally-accepted criteria of quality for the genre in which they are written

As far as a wordless picture book, this book went above and beyond our expectations. As

stated above, the layout automatically created a whole new way to read this genre of book. The

illustrations were beautifully created and the details presented completely explained the story.

Some pages of this book had comic book strip boxes to incorporate a few different activities that

the family partook in. This allowed the reader to see even more detail within the cultures of both

stories. Not only was this wordless picture book enjoyable to read, but we both learned from it.

Have an appealing format and be of enduring quality

The author took her time when creating this book and it shows. She began with sketches

and moved them over to wood panels. She then used different materials to fill in her artwork.

This created different collages for each page and allowed for details to pop out with every page

that is turned. The format, unlike anything that we have ever read, was presented with great

quality. Each page, without words, had the appropriate number or illustrations to portray what

the author was trying to compare between the two cultures at that exact time. There was clear
Notable Books for a Global Society 40

time put into this book and it came together to create a culturally full book that portrays the true

bonds we all have as humans.

Second Honor Book

The second book that we chose to honor was I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her

Mark written by Debbie Levy and illustrated by Elizabeth Baddeley. This book took history,

culture, and reality and put it all into one illustrated picture book. Before reading this book, we

didn’t even know who Justice Ginsburg was. She is still a part of our Supreme Court today

which means not only was she an important person, but she continues to be as she is involved in

extremely important decisions that are still being made. Presenting this book to many adults that

do not know about our courts or much about the important decisions that have been made in the

past could be very educational. Since this book is also a picture book, however, it could also start

the education process very young with children who can even benefit from just observing the

pictures. The author and illustrator worked to take a very complex topic and incorporate it into a

child-friendly informative text in a way that we haven’t seen very much of before.

Part 1:

Provide in-depth treatment of cultural issues

Through this book, many different cultural issues are presented. Not only does the author

stick with just focusing on what Justice Ginsburg had to go through to get to where she is, but

she also goes through different cultural issues that the Justice made an impact on. To begin, Ruth

was a female and a Jew. The first page of this book talks about how where they lived in

Brooklyn, New York had extreme diversity. There were immigrants from many different
Notable Books for a Global Society 41

countries and Ruth observed that this also brought along different cultures, customs, and holiday

celebrations. Diversity from culture to culture was everywhere. The thing that caused Ruth to

fight the hardest for what she wanted was being a woman. Not only was Ruth looked at

differently throughout her pathway to success because she was a Jew, but also because she was a

woman.

The author also focused on just a few of the many different cultural issues that Ruth

fought for during her time in the courts. Ruth herself was someone who had to fight for her own

rights for equality so she was constantly dissenting the laws that limited other rights for the sake

of their skin color, gender, birthplace, and more. For example, Levy writes, “I dissent, Justice

Ginsburg said when the court wouldn’t help women or African Americans or immigrants who

had been treated unfairly at work.” (pg. 30). On this same page, the illustration shows a line of

individual people standing behind Ruth. These people are all of different, culture, religion, race,

age, and gender. Between the text and the illustrations, this books represents the right of many

cultures rather than just one. More importantly, it represents the equality that we all hold in

different cultures. We are all the same.

Part 2:

Invite reflection, critical analysis, and response

On the final page, the author writes, “She made change happen, and she changed minds.

She cleared a path for people to follow in her footsteps--girls in college, women in law school,

and everyone who wants to be treated without prejudice.” (Levy, pg. 34). She continues on

further summarizing what Ruth did and how it has affected our world today. As readers, we can

read this page and reflect. Not only can we think about each individual change that Justice

Ginsburg has been a part of and how that is currently affecting our world today, but also how we
Notable Books for a Global Society 42

can take this book as a lesson. Ruth let nothing stand in her way. She knew what she wanted to

do and she planned to do it better than anyone else. Taking her actions and persistence into

consideration, we can strive to have the ambition that Ruth had and hopefully, as teachers, make

a difference in this world towards equality just the same one day.

Demonstrate unique language or style

When going through this book, one of the things that stood out to us most as readers was

the style. The author and the illustrator truly worked together to create a very unique style for

this book. There are the illustrations and there are the words and then there are some of the

words that are incorporated into illustrations. For example, the illustrator painted in bold,

colorful letters across the page, “RUTH, MARTY, JANE, AND JAMES DID NOT CONCUR.”

(Levy, pg. 25). These words are an important part of the text. This not allow caused the reader to

see the importance of these words, but they follow the illustration as they read the words as well.

By doing this, the reader can clearly see that the importance of the author and the illustrator are

equal in this book.

Meet generally-accepted criteria of quality for the genre in which they are written

Typically, a book with this type of context is incorporated into more of a lengthy

informational text. Ruth’s whole life was written and illustrated in about 36 pages and it includes

everything that it would need. The history of Ruth’s life is accumulated through about the first

half of the book with details and dates. Then, the book transfers into more recent court cases that

Ruth has been a part of once she achieved her career as a court justice. The book includes facts

about Ruth as a person and as a judge as well as a great amount of her decisions of agreement

and dissent. The author includes a page at the end of the book to sum everything up that talks

about the change that Ruth made as a Justice and how she continues to make changes in the
Notable Books for a Global Society 43

Supreme court today. The reader can even take away the lesson that is made clear in this last

page of perseverance. If Ruth can make a difference, so can anyone else who picks up this book.

Have an appealing format and be of enduring quality

Unlike many other picture books, this book had a format that often mixed the text with

the illustrations. Some pages had the text all grouped up in the corner of the book as many other

children’s books present it. However, other pages took the fully colorful page and grouped the

text throughout the page in little sections of the illustration. The illustrations themselves were

also large and vibrant. This gives the reader something else to learn from other than the words.

The emotions and details within the illustrations not only help to tell the story, but completely

add to the story as well. The work of the author and the illustrator together created a beautifully

formatted educational picture book.

Conclusion

Throughout this entire assignment, we both learned a lot about multicultural literature,

the different ways that it can be presented, and about different cultures in general. We learned

that some books are better at grasping a culture within the text (and sometimes illustrations)

while others seem to not have the culture as their main focus. The notable books for a global

society is a great resource that both of us plan to go to when we have our own classroom and we

are looking for books to incorporate into our lessons. Although we both knew the importance of

bringing many different cultures into our classrooms, neither of us knew how easy it was to find

books of all different types that could do this. By simply reading these eight books, we have

found eight great resources that can all be wonderfully used for different academic purposes.

Another thing that both of us learned when going through each of these books in detail

was that some books definitely fit the criteria for NBGS better than others. It can sometimes be
Notable Books for a Global Society 44

difficult to compare the books next to each other as some are wordless picture books and some

are long wordy books, but comparing each book to the criteria, we saw a whole new way to score

them. For example, one of our favorite books was Mirror, a wordless book that completely blew

us away with the cultures represented in the images. However, one of our least favorite books

was The Turtle of Oman because it didn’t nearly portray as much culture in the few hundred

pages of text that we were hoping for. In our society today, it is important to make sure everyone

feels included and proud of their culture. This becomes even more important with children in the

classroom. Our main tool in the classroom will continue to be books and knowing that there are

so many books out there that can assist us in bringing cultural awareness to our classroom makes

our future classrooms look so much brighter.


Notable Books for a Global Society 45

Bibliography

Baker, J. (2010). Mirror(1st ed.). London: Walker Books.

Bruchac, J. (2016). Talking Leaves. New York, NY: Puffin Books.

Children's Literature and Reading Special Interest Group. (n.d.). ABOUT NBGS Notable Books

for a Global Society. Retrieved November 16, 2017, from http://clrsig.org/nbgs.php

Gino, A. (2015). George. New York, NY: Scholastic Press.

Hood, S. & Comport, S.W. (2016). Ada’s Violin: The story of the recycled orchestra of

Paraguay. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers

Levy, D., Baddeley, E. (2016). I dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg makes her mark. New York:

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.

Nye, N. S. (2014). The turtle of Oman. New York, NY: HarperCollins.

Schmidt, G. D., (2015) Orbiting jupiter. New York, NY: Clarion Books

Tonatiuh, D. (2014). Separate is never equal. New York, NY: Abrams Books for Young Readers

Tunnell, M. O., Jacobs, J. S., Young, T. A., & Bryan, G. (2016). Children’s literature, briefly. 6th

Edition. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Merrill Prentice Hall

Woolfolk, A. (2016). Educational psychology. 13th Edition. Boston, Mass: Allyn and Bacon
Notable Books for a Global Society 46

COLLABORATION FORM
Working together on an assignment or project means sharing the responsibilities for completing that assignment.
While each member will naturally shoulder different responsibilities while working on the project, collaboration
does not mean merely tacking someone else’s name to the project so that they can earn credit for completing it.
Listed below are the members of our collaborative group along with our signatures. We have also specified the
aspects of the project for which each one of us was responsible and rated ourselves on our collaborative work.

Names of Group Responsibilities Self-Assessment


Members &
Signature

I was responsible for finding and reading I felt that I put in


four of the eight books. I also set up the a lot of time and
Nicole Grote Google Doc and wrote a fair portion of our effort into the
essay. I summarized my four books as well project. I like to
as created the citation for these books. think I produced
good work and
overall I felt that
I did an equal
amount of work
as Rebecca.

I was responsible for finding and reading I felt that I


four of the eight books. I wrote a fair portion dedicated a lot of
of the essay. I also retrieved my four books time and thought
Rebecca Leedham and summarized and cited these four. into this project
as well. I think
that Nicole and I
did an equal
amount of work.

Our signatures above attest that we all contributed equally in this project.
Notable Books for a Global Society 47