I’m still reading graphic novels by the bunch: I’ve even applied to be a CYBILS Graphic Novel judge this year, because I had such a great time being one last year! There are such good books coming out for middle grade and YA, and with a new focus on early reader graphic novels picking up strength, I can honestly say we comic book fans have inherited the earth and it feels good. Here are a few more to add to your Fall order carts.
Barron’s Educational’s Children in Our World series continues with the release of two more books: Racism and Intolerance and Global Conflict.
As with the previous titles, Refugees and Migrants (2017) and Poverty and Hunger (2017), these titles provide smart, open social commentary on issues that face our kids every day, in a manner that’s factual, sensitive, and empowering. Illustrations provide examples of everyday intolerance, from someone refusing to provide a bouncy ball to a Jewish child to a group of people who refuse to give up their seats on a bus – or their bags’ seats – for an elderly woman with a cane. Global Conflict explores the reasons for conflict, and the violent ways that conflict can manifest: terrorism and war.
Each book also describes the aid efforts of individuals and charities who step into help others, and soothes children who may be afraid of what they see going on around them by encouraging them to talk to a grownup about their fears. Author Louise Spilsbury offers ways that children can help elevate the dialogue: by understanding one another, and by offering ways to help, whether it’s taking part in a bake sale fundraiser for charity or by writing letters to elected officials. There are additional books and resources for readers, caregivers, parents, and educators who want to learn more, glossaries of terms used, and indexes.
Hanane Kai’s artwork creates soft, muted pictures showing individuals working together to create understanding and, in turn, a better world for all.
Originally published in the UK in 2016 and 2017, these books – paired with the first two in the series – contribute to a strong current events shelf for elementary-age students, and a nice addition to collections for burgeoning activists. Add books like Innosanto Nagara’s A is for Activist and Counting on Community, and Maribeth Boelt’s Those Shoes and A Bike Like Sergio’s for a strong social commentary collection.
In the midst of political and ideological conflict, things are rarely as black and white as they appear to be. This is especially true now, in our post 9/11-society – a society that Jeannie Waudby’s One of Us taps into for her story.
“…how can you face a danger you can’t see? A person who looks like any other person, but who secretly wants to kill you and everyone like you?”
After a terrorist attack during uprising called The Strife orphaned her at the age of two, K has been alone. She was raised by her grandmother until she, too, died when K was 10, and now, at 15, is a ward of the state, living in a halfway house and flunking out of school. She survives a bomb blast – another terrorist attack, like the one that killed her parents – and is saved by Oskar, whom she thinks is a cop. She learns that The Brotherhood, an insurgent group that lives and moves among her society, is behind the blast. Oskar recruits K as an informant. Her mission is to infiltrate The Brotherhood and report back to Oskar and his people. It should be that easy.
It’s never that easy. As K lives among a group of Brotherhood students, she begins to question everything she’s been brought up to believe and discovers that every side has its own secrets. What is she willing to do to keep her new friends safe?
One of Us isn’t afraid to show readers that things aren’t always what they seem. The good guys aren’t always good, the bad guys aren’t always bad, and people will use other people as pawns in a game to get what they want, no matter who gets hurt in the process. In a day and age where we tend to make snap judgements about groups of people based on ideology, religion, or appearance, One of Us is essential reading that reminds us – demands, in fact – that we think before we act.
The characters are solidly constructed and likable, the situations they’re put in tense and real. It’s a gripping read from start to finish, and the plot twists left me with clenched fists and jaw until I finished the book. This one’s going on the shelves at my library, and I’m giving my copy to my teenage son tonight. Don’t miss this book – it’s an opportunity to open up some incredible conversations with the teens and young adults in your life.
Don’t miss your chance to win your own copy of One of Us! Enter a Rafflecopter giveaway from Running Press now!
Book Info: One of Us, by Jeannie Waudby (Oct. 2015, Running Press Teens), $16.95, ISBN: 978-0-7624-5799-1
Recommended for ages 13+
Recommended for ages 9-14
There are some great books available on Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teenager that defied the Taliban by demanding education for girls and young women, and was shot for her activism. I have most of them in my library – I buy every book I can on Malala, because I want boys and girls alike to know her story and understand that education is a right that not every child enjoys in this world, and the lengths that children will go to in order to have that right.
Rebecca Langston-George’s book For the Right to Learn: Malala Yousafzai’s Story, illustrated by Janna Bock, is nonfiction that reads like fiction. We’ve seen Malala’s photos at the UN, of Malala in the hospital, Malala with her family, but illustrating a book on Malala allows us to see the events in her life that led to the present. Digitally created images, like Malala writing science formulas on her hands when other girls drew flowers are powerful and beautiful. The fear in her eyes and her friends’ eyes when a Taliban soldier boards her school bus, looking for her, grips readers who know what will happen – the drops of blood on a fallen book, set against a stark white background with the words, “Three shots shattered the silence”, is incredibly effective.
For visual middle grade learners, this is a great companion to any social studies/current events discussions. There is a glossary and an index in the back of the book, and there’s a great blog with Web resources that can round out any lesson plan on Malala.