Academic journal article School Libraries Worldwide

Curation in Translation: Promoting Global Citizenship through Literature

Academic journal article School Libraries Worldwide

Curation in Translation: Promoting Global Citizenship through Literature

Article excerpt

Introduction

Curation derives its meaning in part from the word "care." In school libraries, we often think of the word in terms of collections that are carefully selected and tended. School librarians also have a role in both caring for students and teaching students to care (for more on this topic, see Knowledge Quest, May/June 2012). One aspect of caring is thinking about social justice and issues of human rights around the world. Brigham (2011) defines global citizenship as understanding the world and our connections, seeing social (in)justice and (in)equity, and acting by exercising political rights and challenging injustices. Grant and Gibson (2013) call the attention of educators concerned with social justice in K-12 education to consider the related and more global issue of human rights.

One vehicle for engaging students with issues of global human rights is the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of the Child (DRC). The DRC was adopted by the United Nations on December 10, 1959, and was subsequently ratified by the United Nations General Assembly. The document asserts that the child needs "special safeguards and care," which was also stated in the Geneva Declaration of the Rights of the Child in 1924 and by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1989 and further, that "mankind owes to the child the best it has to give." The United Nations Cyberschoolbus website, part of the Global Teaching and Learning Project, offers an introduction to the document for children and a simple language version to facilitate discussion with students (the version used in this study). There is also a picture book with the rights listed, On Wings of Love (Agostinelli, 1981), although Amazon lists it as out of print. Stomfay-Stitz and Wheeler (2005) are among the few authors who directly address using the DRC with students in their article advocating for integrating human rights education as a daily practice in classrooms. They suggest creating a poster of the rights and discussing portions daily with students. In 1979, the "Year of the Child," School Library Journal reprinted the DRC as the Editor's column proclaiming the continuing relevance of the document (Doughty, 1979). School librarians can further facilitate an understanding of these rights through curations of books that provide concrete and contextualized examples of violations of human rights around the world and through history. In this paper, we explore one such set of books: those recognized by the Mildred L. Batchelder Award for outstanding translations.

Critical reading of global literature provides an opportunity for youth to read the world and connect their own identity and experiences to others hailing from differing backgrounds (Buck et al., 2011; Louie & Louie, 1999). Such interactions are integral to building global citizenship skills. The focus, noted by Brigham's (2011) definition, on understanding, seeing, and acting in developing the disposition of a global citizen (Brigham, 2011) gives support for the selection of titles and curation of a school library collection with global origins, settings, and/or themes. Heilman (2008) explicitly suggests the use of children's literature to give youth the chance to explore cultures and gain global perspectives otherwise out of their reach. Research supports the use of translated titles specifically in promoting global citizenship skills and dispositions (Jewett, 2011; Martin, Smolen, Oswald, & Milam, 2012). Further, researchers in Canada note the importance of "spaces to critically engage with dominant views and perspectives" about global issues, histories, and cultures as a principle for promoting global citizenship with students (Eidoo, et al., 2011, p. 76).

The school library collection is clearly a practical place in the school community to serve as this space with the curation and provision of quality global literature supporting engagement in critical discussions and examinations of global citizenship and social justice issues with youth. …

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