Tuesday, July 10, 2007
‘Children Between Worlds’ book exhibit comes to OU
By Rebecca Wyatt Thomas, OU Web Writer
“Children Between Worlds,” a book exhibition based on awakening cultural interests in children, will be on display in the Educational Resources Laboratory (ERL) in Pawley Hall from mid-July through Labor Day. Linda Pavonetti, associate professor in the School of Education and Human Services, had encountered other exhibits sponsored by the International Youth Library and expressed an interest in creating one that would benefit children in America. The result is a traveling exhibit that will encourage children to better understand multicultural experiences.
The International Youth Library (IYL) was started by Jella Lepman in Germany at the end of World War II. Lepman was asked to come back to Germany by the Allied forces to serve as the Minister for Women’s and Children’s Affairs. Lepman said the best thing she could do for women and children was to make high-quality books available to them. Many of the books in Germany had been destroyed by the Adolf Hitler regime so Lepman solicited books from other countries and called for international support. One supporter was Eleanor Roosevelt.
With the help of her supporters, the IYL grew very quickly. From 1946-49, Lepman was able to collect 8,000 children’s books. Now more than 350,000 books are part of the collection.
Pavonetti served as a fellow at the International Youth Library for three months in 2005. At the time, the IYL had created the traveling exhibit “Hello Dear Enemy,” a collection of books on war and peace for children. Pavonetti was instrumental in bringing that exhibit to Oakland in 2006.
“It was such a success,” Pavonetti said. “People were requesting more opportunities to share international children’s books, especially on topics such as this.”
Working with the United States Board on Books for Young People (USBBY) and the IYL, Pavonetti helped develop “Children Between Worlds,” a collection of books traveling the country that focuses on multicultural issues.
“These books are for kids who exist in multiple cultures or feel as if they don’t belong in any culture,” Pavonetti said. “We really wanted to target children who are looking at the world through multiple lenses.”
Many of the books in the exhibition are written in English, but many are written in German. There are also books in Arabic, Albanian, Dutch, French and Italian. The books are appropriate for children from age 4 through 16.
Some of the books that are part of the exhibit are “Das Kamel mit dem Nasenring (The camel with the nose-ring),” “Racism explained to my daughter” (available in English and French), “Looking for Alibrandi,” “Children just like me,” “Afrika achter het hek (Africa behind the fence),” “Little Soldier,” “Medlenka,” and “Leon the chameleon.”
The exhibit is open to the public during regular ERL hours: Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Pavonetti encourages parents to share the books with their children by discussing the illustrations or reading them to their children. They can also request similar books from their public libraries.
Pavonetti said there is also the opportunity for read-aloud sessions for larger groups of students who visit the exhibit. Those who wish to bring larger groups to the ERL for a read-aloud can contact Pavonetti at email@example.com or (248) 370-4683.
“We are educators and I believe that it is extremely important for us to recognize that our children don’t come from only one culture. Even if the child is a white, middle-class child, they don’t come from just one culture and we want them to explore their backgrounds,” Pavonetti said.
The exhibit came to Oakland University from a public library in Arlington, Texas. In September, it will make another trip to Texas, and a stop in Arizona for the USBBY’s regional conference. It will then come back to Oakland University where it will permanently reside. Libraries and schools can request the exhibit from OU.
For more information on the “Children Between Worlds” exhibit, contact Pavonetti at firstname.lastname@example.org or (248) 370-4683. For more information on the ERL, visit the ERL Web site or call (248) 370-4877.