Posted on December 10th, 2020 by pajamapress
The stories featured on this list deal with topics and themes related to human rights, and will engage young readers with their literary quality and gorgeous illustrations.
Author Bahram Rahman grew up in Afghanistan during years of civil war and the restrictive Taliban regime. He wrote The Library Bus to tell new generations about the struggles of women who, like his own sister, were forbidden to learn. Brought to life by the pensive and captivating art of award-winning illustrator Gabrielle Grimard, The Library Bus is a celebration of literacy, ingenuity, and the strength of women and girls demanding a future for themselves.
A gentle yet moving story of refugees of the Syrian civil war, My Beautiful Birds by Suzanne Del Rizzo illuminates the crisis as it affects its children. It shows the reality of the refugee camps, where people attempt to pick up their lives and carry on. And it reveals the hope of generations of people as they struggle to redefine home.
Nia would love nothing more than to continue her education and become a writer. But high school costs too much. Her father sells banana fritters at the train station, but too much of his earnings go toward his drinking habit. Too often Nia is left alone to take over the food cart as well as care for her brother and their home in the Jakarta slums. And her father has his mind set on wedding her to someone that she does not want to marry. If Nia is to write a new story for herself, she must overcome more obstacles than she could ever have conceived of, and summon courage she isn’t sure she has.
Water’s Children is a celebration of our world’s most precious resource and will encourage thoughtful discussion among young readers and listeners. The narrators’ words, lyrically written by Angèle Delaunois, offer emotional and sensory details that bring their experiences to life and are accompanied by the glowing illustrations of Gérard Frischeteau. On the final page, a guide identifies the languages in which the phrase “water is life” appears throughout the book, with thanks to the individuals who provided the translations, helping to craft this truly global story.
Fifteen-year-old Farrin has many secrets. Although she goes to a school for gifted girls in Tehran, as the daughter of an aristocratic mother and wealthy father, Farrin must keep a low profile. It is 1988; ever since the Shah was overthrown, the deeply conservative and religious government controls every facet of life in Iran. If the Revolutionary Guard finds out about her mother’s Bring Back the Shah activities or her own blossoming closeness with a female classmate, her family could be thrown in jail, or worse. Based on real-life events, Moon at Nine is a tense and riveting story about a world where homosexuality is considered so abhorrent that it is punishable by death.
In a Tanzanian village school, Anna struggles to keep up. Her walk home takes so long that when she arrives, it is too dark to do her homework. Working through the lunch hour instead, she doesn’t see the truck from the bicycle library pull into the schoolyard. By the time she gets out there, the bikes are all gone. Anna hides her disappointment, happy to help her friends learn to balance and steer. She doesn’t know a compassionate friend will offer her a clever solution—and the chance to raise her own cloud of dust. Inspired by organizations like The Village Bicycle Project that have opened bicycle libraries all across Africa, In a Cloud of Dust is an uplifting example of how a simple opportunity can make a dramatic change in a child’s life.