Discoveries at IYL: Books, books, books

The fellowship program offered by the International Youth Library allows up to 15 researchers from all over the world to stay and work in our reading room. Our guests always find ther personal „treasures“. Today we would like to share with you what Dr. Kimberly McFall, Assistant professor at Marshall University, West Virginia, found during her stay with us:

During my time at the International Youth Library, I have been exposed to numerous books on my research topic of “Whose God? Using Children’s Literature to teach multicultural awareness.” The topic started specifically in illustrations that used religious symbolism and morphed into a broader scope of themes that include Myths, Folklore, Celebrations, Instruction, and Nature.

One book that I found that is incredibly relevant is Faith: Five Religions and what they share by Steckel, Simons, Wyatt, Steckel, & Lehman in 2012.  This book does an excellent job of highlighting similarities of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and Judaism.  The book is written in such a way that it gives an overview of faith in general and then breaks down what that means in each of the practices.  It includes photographs and easy to understand text and concepts. The addition of this book to upper elementary and middle school collections will add depth to the religious section and will open up conversations that can be meaningful and will be important to shaping student perceptions about the world.  My hope is that I can use this work with my graduate students—future school librarians—to help them expand their knowledge of cultures. By demonstrating the understanding of similarities within different practicing faiths they can educate their stakeholders to think of the world as a global community and not “us and them.”

Another book that called to me was by Czech author and illustrator Pavel Cech published in 2001 called  Dědečkové or Grandfather.  As a wordless picture book, this book has so much potential to open up conversations about relationships.  The book was created in honor of all grandfathers.  Throughout the book, the stories are illustrated in such a way that they are independent of one another, yet the theme of Grandfathers run throughout the book.  The award winning artwork is stunning.  This book can be used in all grade level classrooms to talk about kindness, bullying, prediction, loneliness, Heaven, and so much more.  More information about Mr. Cech and his work can be found here:

Among the volumes of the International Youth Library, the joy of experiencing the beautifully curated exhibits, the round table discussion with a nationally known illustrator, meetings at lunch with leaders in the field of Children’s Literature, perhaps the most important discovery of all was that I discovered myself. The passion for pictures books that had burned away to mere embers by time and relentless administrative tasks has been rekindled to remind me of why I wanted to be a librarian in the first place. Hooray!

Books give a voice, a community, an escape when necessary, a connection to people and cultures that would have otherwise left undiscovered.  In a world that pushes to eBooks and audiobooks, the reminder of the feel of pages and the joy of exquisite popup books was almost a spiritual experience for me.

With the books, come the people.  My time here has yielded important professional contacts I can collaborate with in the future; but more than that, I have new friends from all over the world.  Although I have always been a firm believer in we are all just human after all, this opportunity was a beautiful reminder of how people are people, no matter where we hang our hats. We are scholars and lovers of literature.  We are educators and artists.  We have a common goal to strive for those “ah-ha” moments.  We have the same struggles and the same victories.  We can make a difference through following our passions.  And so can you.

Thank you, Kimberly!

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