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By Rachel Wadham, Host of WORLDS AWAITING

As a professor of children’s and adolescent literature at Brigham Young University, I often tell students that the great thing about being an adult is that we can read anything. Preschoolers have a limited reading scope because of their development and ability. But as adults we have no such limitations. So why not enjoy everything! All types, genres, and formats have something to offer and we should embrace them all. So it should make a lot of sense to you when I confess that one of my favorite formats is the picture book. Too often we think of picture books as only appropriate for younger readers who have yet to master the intricacies of the written word. While these books are certainly appropriate for the preschool or beginning readers because the illustrations support their developmental needs, this does not mean that they are inappropriate for older readers. In fact, as we grow we should include picture books as part of our ever expanding scope of reading instead of excluding it. So today I’d like to share with you a few of my favorite picture books that are appropriate for all ages.  All of these are a perfect example of just how fun a great picture book can be for anyone at any age.

Goodnight Already! By Jory John, illustrated by Benji Davies, HarperCollins, 2014 – Bear just wants to go to sleep but Duck has other plans in this book told entirely in dialogue between these two loveable characters.

Kid Sheriff and the Terrible Toads by Bob Shea and illustrated by Lane Smith, Roaring Brook Press, 2014 – A delightful story of how a young sheriff is able to rid the town of some tricky bandits using great figurative language and dialect.

Near, Far: A Minibombo Book by Silvia Borando, Candlewick Press, 2015.  A wordless book which explores the concepts of near and far with big graphic illustrations.

Thunder Boy Jr. by Sherman Alexie, illustrated by Yuyi Morales, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2016.  Thunder Boy wishes for a name all his own and with the help of his dad he finds just the right one in this picture books with strikingly bold illustrations.

The Whale in My Swimming Pool by Joyce Wan, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2015 – A humors story of what a boy does when he finds a whale has taken over his pool with lovely bold illustrations.

What You Think You Know About Surviving a Bear Encounter is Probably Wrong

If you encounter a bear in the woods, DO NOT PLAY DEAD unless it's already mauling you (and you're probably gonna die anyway). If you encounter a bear in the woods, DO NOT RUN (it will catch you and eat you). If you encounter a bear in the woods, stand your ground and reach for your bear spray. BEAR SPRAY people, this is your best chance for survival. Also, don't lather your body in strawberry delight lotion and don't pitch your tent on a trail, or you're asking for a bear to check you out. And when you come around a bend into a spot where a bear is hanging out, clap your hands and let the bear know you're coming so he isn't surprised. Bears hate surprises. You could sing opera on the trail, which would let the bear know you're coming, but it might get you killed by a highly-annoyed researcher like BYU prof and former National Park Service biologist Tom Smith. Smith has been studying bear encounters for decades. He knows his stuff and doesn't mince words and if you spend a lot of time in bear country, you need to listen to this interview now on BYUradio. Plus, you will laugh. Click here to listen to the interview.

Avoid Judging Others

"One of the things I see happen a lot is when we have a strong opinion, we put ourselves on a higher moral pedestal than others. We talk down to people, and we look down on certain situations. Even if we express something positive, and we do it from a higher up position, we might block the communication and the interpersonal relation in the same way." 

"Criticizing in the greatest form of judgement. When we criticize, we simply block the communication we could have. When you criticize, you might put someone you're talking to on defense, which is not the best situation to be in. My invitation is to become aware when we are criticizing, so we can avoid making people feel defensive and upset."  - Aldo Civico

Listen to the rest of the podcast

Matt talks with Aldo Civico, an Anthropology professor at Rutgers University and a conflict resolution lecturer at Columbia University, and has provided advice in conflict resolution and peacebuilding to national and local governments, NGOs as well as communities and businesses.

Join The Matt Townsend Show, Weekdays 9am-12pm ET on BYU RADIO (Sirius XM Channel 143) or byuradio.org

To Get More Creative, Become Less Productive

"The problem with creativity is if you think about the things you have to do, you have to learn a lot, you have to explore new possibilities, you have to follow your way down different rabbit holes in order to try different prospects. The problem is at any given moment, you may not have come up with anything that's really good yet. Unlike typical product management, with reaching milestones day by day, with creativity, you could go weeks without having a great idea, and at that point it's hard to tell the difference between you, and if somebody's not doing something at all." 

"You need to have some down time. If you're constantly under the gun and never relax, you'll never be able to produce a good amount of creativity." - Dr. Art Markman

Listen to the rest of the podcast

Matt talks with Dr. Art Markman, the director of the Human Dimensions of Organizations at the University of Texas and is a member of the editorial board of Cognitive Psychology.  Dr. Markman discuss his article, “To Get More Creative, Become Less Productive."

Join The Matt Townsend Show, Weekdays 9am-12pm ET on BYU RADIO (Sirius XM Channel 143) or byuradio.org.

"Lockwood and Company"

By Rachel Wadham, Host of “Worlds Awaiting”

As a children’s literature specialist in an academic library, I’m blessed to engage with a wide range of books in every genre and in every format. My own personal tastes are expansive and very eclectic. As you continue to read in this blog and as you tune into the show, you’ll probably hear a lot about all the different kinds of books I love to read and share with my community. 

Today, however, I’d like to focus on one of my current favorites: the Lockwood and Company series by Jonathan Stroud. Designed for late elementary and middle school readers, Stroud has created a most intriguing adventure series. Laced with mystery, a little horror, and lots of humor, these books recount the tale of Lucy Carlyle who lives in a version of historical London that is plagued by ghosts. To fight the plague, a number of Psychic Investigations Agencies are founded and employ gifted children who can see the ghosts. Lucy finds herself at the smallest and most run down of these agencies run by Anthony Lockwood. But when Lucy and her companions stay overnight in one of the most haunted houses in England, they find that solving this mystery could make them one of the most renowned agencies out there. Thus begins Lucy’s adventures which are now chronicled in four books: The Screaming Staircase, The Whispering Skull, The Hollow Boy, and The Creeping Shadow.  With spot on characters, an imaginative and interesting setting, and tons of action in the plot, this series will have wide appeal with readers who love something that’s just a little bit spooky and a little bit funny.  Stroud’s knack for getting his heroine and heroes into and out of sticky situations is perfect, and makes me as a reader cheer every single time. 

The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud.  Disney-Hyperion, 2013.

The Whispering Skull by Jonathan Stroud.  Disney-Hyperion, 2014.

The Hollow Boy by Jonathan Stroud.  Disney-Hyperion, 2015.

The Creeping Shadow by Jonathan Stroud.  Disney-Hyperion, 2016. 

Worlds Awaiting Book Reviews


Here at Worlds Awaiting we love to promote every aspect of a child's literacy, to read, write, see, speak, think, and listen. That said, books will always hold a special place in our hearts. Sometimes though it can be tough to get started or find the right one. When that happens we turn to the experts for their advice. Every new book is a new world awaiting and the following is where we've gathered recommendations on some of the most exciting, intriguing, educational, or fun worlds that you or the special children in your life could dive into today.


Picture Books

Egg by Kevin Henkes

Reviewed by Gene Nelson, Director of the Provo, Utah Library

[audio src="Gene; Egg EDIT.mp3"]

The Night Gardener by Terry and Eric Fan

Reviewed by Gene Nelson, Director of the Provo, Utah Library

[audio src="Gene; The Night Gardener EDIT.mp3"]

Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World's Most Famous Bear by Lindsay Mattick

Reviewed by Shauna Mundinger, Children's Librarian of the Orem, Utah Public Library

[audio src="Shauna; Finding Winnie.mp3"]

Flora and the Peacocks by Molly Idle

Reviewed by Lauren Tolman, Children's Librarian Springville, Utah Library

[audio src="Lauren; Flora EDIT.mp3"]

Pink is for Blobfish by Jess Keating and Illustrations by David DeGrand

Reviewed by Lauren Tolman, Children's Librarian Springville, Utah Library

[audio src="Lauren; Pink is for Blobfish EDIT.mp3"]

I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark by Debbie Levy

Reviewed by Margaret Neville, Children's Book Buyer at the King's English Bookshop

[audio src="Margret; I Dissent.mp3"]

Dance! Dance! Underpants! by Bob Shea

Reviewed by Joella Peterson, Children's Services Manager at the Provo City Library

[audio src="Joella; Dance Dance.mp3"]

The Princess and the Warrior by Duncan Tonatiuh

Reviewed by Joella Peterson, Children's Services Manager at the Provo City Library

[audio src="Joella; Princess.mp3"]


Middle-Grade Books

Fish Girl by David Wiesner & Donna Jo Napoli

Reviewed by Gene Nelson, Director of the Provo, Utah Library

[audio src="Gene; Fishgirl EDIT.mp3"]

Pax by Sara Pennypacker

Reviewed by Gene Nelson, Director of the Provo, Utah Library

[audio src="Gene; Pax EDIT 2.mp3"]

Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk

Reviewed by Gene Nelson, Director of the Provo, Utah Library

[audio src="Gene; Wolfhollow EDIT.mp3"]

El Deafo by Cece Bell

Reviewed by Rita Christensen, Children's Librarian of the Orem, Utah Public Library

[audio src="Rita; El Deafo.mp3"]

Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan

Reviewed by Ann-Marie Marchant, Teen Librarian and Teen Programs Director of the Provo, Utah Library

[audio src="Ann-Marie; Echo EDIT 2.mp3"]

Nine, Ten: A September 11 Story by Nora Raleigh Baskin

Reviewed by Lauren Tolman, Children's Librarian Springville, Utah Library

[audio src="Laura; Nine Ten.mp3"]

Ghost by Jason Reynolds

Reviewed by Margaret Neville, Children's Book Buyer at the King's English Bookshop

[audio src="Margret; Ghost.mp3"]

The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill

Reviewed by Joella Peterson, Children's Services Manager at the Provo City Library

[audio src="Joella; Girl Who Drank.mp3"]

Mayday by Karen Harrington

Reviewed by Trent Nelson, Grade School Teacher in the Alpine School District

[audio src="Trent; Mayday EDIT.mp3"]

Free Verse by Sarah Dooley

Reviewed by Trent Nelson, Grade School Teacher in the Alpine School District

[audio src="Trent; Free Verse EDIT.mp3"]


Young Adult

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

Reviewed by Gene Nelson, Director of the Provo, Utah Library

[audio src="Gene; Salt to the Sea.mp3"]

Bluescreen by Dan Wells

Reviewed by Mindy Hale, Reference Librarian of the Orem, Utah Public Library

[audio src="Mindy; Blue Screen.mp3"]

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

Reviewed by Ann-Marie Marchant, Teen Librarian and Teen Programs Director of the Provo, Utah Library

[audio src="Ann-Marie; American Born Chinese EDIT 2.mp3"]

Wanderlost by Jen Malone

Reviewed by Ann-Marie Marchant, Teen Librarian and Teen Programs Director of the Provo, Utah Library

[audio src="Ann-Marie; Wanderlust EDIT.mp3"]

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, and John Tiffany

Reviewed by Kim Christensen, Teen Librarian Springville, Utah Library

[audio src="Kim; Harry Potter.mp3"]

The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and The Fall of Imperial Russia by Candace Fleming

Reviewed by Kim Christensen, Teen Librarian Springville, Utah Library

[audio src="Kim; The Family Romanov.mp3"]

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Reviewed by Kim Christensen, Teen Librarian Springville, Utah Library

[audio src="Kim; Six of Crows.mp3"]

Symphony for the City of the Dead by M.T. Anderson

Reviewed by Margaret Neville, Children's Book Buyer at the King's English Bookshop

[audio src="Margret; Symphony EDIT.mp3"]


Forgotten Children's Classics

Fresh thoughts and reviews of some classics of children's literature including mentions of authors such as Bernard Waber, Marjorie Weinman Sharmat, and Bill Peet.

Reviewed by Mark H. Pulham Librarian in the Children's Department Orem, Utah Library

[audio src="The Classics EDIT.mp3"]


Additional Links

Recently we opened our studio to students at Rachel Wadham's children's literacy class for them to review some of their favorite children's books. For that page please click here.

Can't Wait to Get Off Work Every Day?

Can't Wait to Get Off Work Every Day? Here's How to Find More Happiness at Work:

"If your ultimate goal in life is to get away from work, maybe you are missing something. Maybe you are missing what your driver is, which could be to no longer be in a stressful work place. But you need to find what the drivers are. So we've got to figure out what the drivers are around you. Are the drivers the people around you? Are the drivers the opportunities to be creative and imaginative and inventive? Is it just being more optimistic?

So you've got to figure out what moves you, and as you look through the people that your with, and the activities your doing, you'll discover what helps you become more active in your job."   - Matt Townsend

Tune in to the rest of the podcast here!

Matt hosts a segment 1-3 times a week called "Coaches Corner", which are tips to help you better your life and the way you look at the world.

 Join The Matt Townsend Show, Weekdays 9am-12pm ET on BYU RADIO (Sirius XM Channel 143) or byuradio.org

Reading Happily

By Rachel Wadham, Host of “Worlds Awaiting”

In my job as the education librarian, I love to read about all the great things that other educators are thinking and talking about.  I recently re-read the book Happiness and Education by one of my favorite educational theorists, Nel Noddings.  In it she wrote, “through more than five decades of teaching and mothering, I have noticed . . . that children (and adults, too) learn best when they are happy.”  Noddings contends that happiness should be an integral aim of both life and education.  I fully agree with this great theorist—especially when it comes to reading. Reading is best done when we are happy. And, for us to be happy when we read, we need to read stuff that we enjoy. Far too often, we adults give books to children just because they made us happy. But therein lies the problem: when it comes it reading, it is clear that no one book will make all readers happy. I’m sure we have all had an experience of reading a book that we just loved. So, we decide to share it with a friend. However, our friend found that he or she could barely tolerate the same book we loved. We all have different experiences with text; no two readers are likely to interact with a text in the same way. This is why I encourage all the students I teach at the university to really get to know the readers they are working with at a personal level. Only then will they be able to really find the right kinds of books that will resonate with those readers. The same advice goes for anyone wanting to share books with kids: first find out what makes them happy, then find books that fit those needs. Happily, along the way, we are sure to find the book that we can all share and love, which in my family happens to be The Judge by Harve and Margot Zemach. But even if we don’t agree, we’re still bound to explore the wide world of great literature in new and exciting ways that will make us all happy to read and learn.

Happiness and Education by Nel Noddings. Cambridge University Press, 2003.

The Judge by Harve and Margot Zemach.  Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1969.

Graphic Novels?

Such a tremendous honor to speak with Congressman John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell about the March graphic novels on BYUradio. (Link to interview below.) 

It's hard to express how powerful these books were to a white girl raised in a white community in the Western US. School sivics lessons didn't convey the scope of the ‪#‎CivilRights‬ struggle, or what it had to do with me. It was simple to sit comfortably in my position of white privilege and say, "I'm not a racist. I believe skin color shouldn't matter," then close the history book and feel smug about living in a day when America is so "colorblind," we've elected an African American president. This is why I agree with so many others who've said the March Trilogy should be required reading in high schools around the country. It tells the story of the Civil Rights movement through the eyes of John Lewis, a central figure in the lunch counter sit-ins, the freedom rides, the March on Washington in 1963, the march from Selma to Montgomery, and the list goes on. He was beaten and jailed dozens of times, but never lost his commitment to non-violent protest, never raised a finger in retaliation. The March Books are history in comic-form, but they feel very current with simmering tension between police and communities of color, and the rise of the ‪#‎BlackLivesMatter‬ movement. 

"I'm not a hero," Rep. Lewis told me. "I saw things I didn't like and I was told, 'That's the way it is.'" But he didn't accept that. He stood up for what he believed was right, even when it could have meant his death. He never became bitter or hostile, never embraced hate. And his message to young people today? Speak up. Speak out. Make a contribution. 

Listen to our conversation here


Pokemon Go

“Pokemon”

By Rachel Wadham, host of “Worlds Awaiting”

In my work to research and expand my own understanding of evolving 21st century literacies, I often look to popular culture for new conversations.  While many may discount the often corporate driven popular icons of our day, the reality is that these are often the things that are pushing boundaries, especially when it comes to literacy.

The recent explosion of Pokemon Go as a worldwide phenomenon has underscored this for me.  While I don’t wish to downplay some important and valid conversations that this game is creating over concerns with privacy, safety, and social responsibility, it seems that along with these potentially negative aspects there are some great benefits to this game, especially when it comes to literacy.  I would contend that one of the most engaging things about this game are the fact that it engages in real world literacy skills all dressed up in a very engaging fictional environment.  Because the made up world is overlaid on the real world, there is some great visual literacy here as players learn to read and navigate maps.  Being aware of where we are in space and time and being able to read maps to find our way around, is an essential skill that this game can develop.  There is also some great potential here to mathematical literacies.

Memorizing Pokemon character names and abilities, computing combat power potentials, and leaning to assess information from data banks of information are certainly mathematical skills that are apparent in the game.  But even with all of those literacies in the game, one of the main things we can’t forget is the social literacies that people are employing like never before.  As I look at the 300 people who gathered on my local library’s lawn, I can’t discount the number of new friends made along with this increased interaction in both the real world and as players join teams online.  The types of lines this game is crossing in communities by gathering people of different ages, races, cultures, backgrounds, and socioeconomic status around one beloved fictional world, really underscores the amazing potential this game has to bring humanity together in peaceful engagement.

Even with social interaction as an added bonus, if you connect the potentials for Go players to interact with the other media like television, movies, and yes even books, you have created the perfect storm where a wide range of literacies can be developed and nurtured.  So, next time you encounter a Pokemon, you may just want to think about the kinds of literacies we care about here on “Worlds Awaiting,” that you might be capturing.    

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