Every once in a while I read a book that stays with me long after I finish it. The characters’ journeys stay with me and I feel thankful to that author for writing such an incredibly powerful story.
As we’re all giving thanks this season, I’m especially thankful for these 5 books. They’ve all stayed with me and I continue recommending to students and staff. Each book offers thought-provoking events that will allow for rich and engaging discussions year after year.
Refugee by Alan Gratz
In this book three different children are seeking refuge from different periods in history: the Nazi invasion, the riots in Cuba, and the war in Syria. There are no words as you read through the harrowing journeys they all go through throughout the book. Gratz does an unbelievable job of weaving their stories together, even though they all take place in very different decades. It’s hard to imagine children going through these events; which makes it my number one book I’m thankful for.
Resistance by Jennifer A. Nielsen
This was a incredibly well-written story about the work of Jewish resistance fighters during the Holocaust. There was no sugar-coating any of the horrible events that happened, but it also had some uplifting messages of hope and friendship. The story follows Chaya as she hides her Jewish background in order to smuggle food and information through the ghettos of Poland to help save as many people as she can. I’m thankful everyday for the heroes throughout history that stood up during the worst times….people like Chaya.
Front Desk by Kelly Yang
Don’t let the light-hearted cover fool you. Kelly Yang tackles some big issues as we follow 10 year old Mia, a Chinese immigrant and her parents as they run a motel in Cali in the 90’s. All the characters are so well-written and present such deep stories that reveal what life in America in the 1990s for persons of color was like. The sequel, Three Keys, was recently released and picks up Mia’s story. I’m so thankful that Yang was brave enough to use her own life story to write this book; many adults and children are now able to get a glimpse into the life of an immigrant.
Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed
Amal is a 12 year old girl who dreams of being a teacher. Her dream is cut short when she accidentally insults a member of her Pakistani village’s ruling family. As punishment, she is forced to leave her family behind and go work at their estate as a servant. As she’s in the house, she realizes just how terrifying things get in order for the Khan family to stay in control. I’m thankful for this book and the light it sheds on some of the terrible things that happen in countries most of us never experience.
All the Broken Pieces by Ann E. Burg
This is the first book I’ve ever read that’s written in verse. Matt is a boy who is saved and airlifted out of Vietnam during the war, then adopted by a caring family in America. He’s now is forced to face the memories of what happened: his war-torn country, dropping bombs, and a secret. I’m thankful for this book, and all of the families out there that have adopted or fostering kids just like Matt. This book proves just how powerful a family’s love can be, even if not related by blood.