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Dear Friends,
Happy New Year. I hope one of the resolutions for this year is to discover more great literature for children. That's still on my list! 

A few of this month's selection are admittedly on the serious side, dealing with social issues. I am discovering well-crafted books bring today's realities into children's life  as effectively as historical fiction does for the past. While I don't recommend an unbalanced diet- we need joy and laughter too- I wouldn't shy away from these books.

Two of them skillfully address the experiences of refugee children. Nowhere Boy is a dramatic tale of a young Syrian refugee boy, while The Eleventh Trade works with an Afghani boy recently arrived in America. Both books give us wonderful glimpses into the Muslim cultures that the children have left behind, and the trauma they have experienced in their flight to freedom. I recommend reading them with your children.

For older children, 12 and up, Gandhi- My Life is My Message is a beautifully crafted graphic novel, that doesn't white-wash the violence of India's independence, but does give hope.

Finally, a light-hearted tale for younger children, 6-8, the original Moomintroll book, Moomins and the Great Flood, is a fun bedtime read. 

May this be a year where the written word uplifts us and leads the way into the heart.

Laura Duggan

Links to Interesting Articles about Children's Literature and Reading:

The Loveliest Children's Books of 2018

‘I Read Morning, Night and in Between’: How One Novelist Came to Love Books

Nowhere Boy

Published: 2018
Theme: Moral Courage
Best for: 10 and up

"Ahmed–he had a name, Max reminded himself–was just a boy, a boy who liked soccer and comic book heroes. He had lost his parents, he was alone, and he seemed far more frightened than dangerous.” 

All I can say is – read this to crack open your heart with compassion for the plight of refugees. Read more

The Eleventh Trade

Published:  2018
Theme: Religious Tolerance
Best for: 9 and up

“The middle school cafeteria always makes me wish for the school in Istanbul. We often shared meals there, seated on the ground, with little to give. But most important, it was quiet.” 

It is time, past time, to bring our children into the conversation about religious tolerance, and immigration. This book is a start. Read more ›

Gandhi - My Life is My Message

Published: 2018
Theme: Biography Graphic Novel
Best for: 11 and up

“We must melt the hearts of the Government with love… Remember, we can only win the opponent over by love, never by hate. Hate is the subtlest form of violence. Hatred injures the hater, never the hated.” 

This very thorough biography of Gandhi in graphic novel form is a pleasure to read, despite the challenging events it describes... 
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The Moomins and the Great Flood

Published: 2018 (originally 1945)
Theme: Imaginative Tale
Best for: 5 - 8

"At first Moominmamma was frightened too, but then she said soothingly: “It’s really a very little creature. Wait, and I’ll shine a light on it. Everything looks worse in the dark, you know.” 

This is wonderful way to be introduced to the family of Moomintrolls, since it is the story where they first came to life… 
Read More
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