To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Peace Corps, the Kennedy Library and John F. Kennedy National Historic Site presented Crossing Borders - Through Literature, Poetry and Personal Stories, a conference for teachers of grades 3-8 and school librarians. More than 100 people gathered at the Library on April 7, 2011 for discussions with award-winning authors and Peace Corps educators on how to deepen students’ understanding of peoples and cultures around the world.

Marjorie Anctil and Lynette Bouchie of Coverdell World Wise Schools guided participants through the Peace Corps’ extensive resources for educators, available online at www.peacecorps.gov/wws. Sasha Lauterbach, librarian at Cambridge Friends School, and Marion Reynolds, instructor of children’s literature at Tufts University, presented high quality books set in different countries as well as criteria for selecting materials which accurately reflect a particular culture.

Junko Yokota, professor of education and director of the Center for Teaching through Children’s Books at National-Louis University, served as moderator for a riveting panel discussion with authors Alma Flor Ada, Naomi Shihab Nye, Linda Sue Park and James Rumford. The authors drew on personal experience, examples from their works, and responses from readers as they offered a range of perspectives on what it means to “cross borders.”

Click on Books as Passports to access an annotated bibliography created for the conference.


Listen to excerpts from the authors' panel:

Alma Flor Ada

Books include: Dancing Home; Under the Royal Palms; Where the Flame Trees Bloom; The Gold Coin; Gathering the Sun; and A Magical Encounter: Latino Children's Literature in the Classroom.

"As I think about borders... I think that many times there’s a confusion between another word beginning with the same sound, and that is 'barriers'.  And I think that it’s essential that borders should not be barriers."

Click here for audio excerpt and transcript.

Naomi Shihab Nye

Books include: This Same Sky; What Have you Lost?; Honeybee; 19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East; Sitti's Secrets; and Habibi.

"I’m always interested in discussing how kids of all ages have a much stronger instinct for connection than separation."

Click here for audio excerpt and transcript.

Linda Sue Park

Books include: A Single Shard; The Kite Fighters; When My Name Was Keoko; The Firekeeper's Son; Seesaw Girl; and A Long Walk to Water.

"I have the kind of mind for whom borders are extremely useful..." 

Click here for audio excerpt and transcript.

James Rumford

Books include: Rain School; Silent Music: A Story of Baghdad; The Cloudmakers; Traveling Man: The Journey of Ibn Battuta, 1325-1354; and Seeker of Knowledge: The Man Who Deciphered Egyptian Hieroglyphs.

"...I think that when you start with the basic human emotion of respect that it is this human emotion that you must always go back to before you begin anything, before you even begin to think about the differences in culture."

Click here for audio excerpt and transcript.
 

Marjorie Anctil, Director of World Wise Schools

Marjorie Anctil, Director of World Wise Schools

Click here to access Peace Corps resources for the classroom.

Alma Flor Ada at the 2011 Crossing Borders conference

Alma Flor Ada, guest author at the Crossing Borders Through Literature, Poetry, and Personal Stories conference.

Click  here for an excerpt from the authors' panel discussion.

Naomi Shihab Nye at the 2011 Crossing Borders conference

Naomi Shihab Nye, guest author at the Crossing Borders Through Literature, Poetry, and Personal Stories conference.

Click here for an excerpt from the authors' panel discussion.

Linda Sue Park at the 2011 Crossing Borders conference

Linda Sue Park, guest author at the Crossing Borders Through Literature, Poetry, and Personal Stories conference.

Click here for an excerpt from the authors' panel discussion.

James Rumford at the 2011 Crossing Borders conference

James Rumford, guest author at the Crossing Borders Through Literature, Poetry, and Personal Stories conference.

Click here for an excerpt from the authors' panel discussion.