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books to help understand current events

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There are many things going on and being discussed in the world right now that might be scary and/or new to children. There are books that cover some of these either specifically, or thematically. I thought it might be a good idea to start a thread for these books so that people looking for them would be able to find them or ask if people know of books on particular subjects, like war or refugees. These are hard topics, but books can make them easier to understand.

I'll start with a WWII topic that came up in the news today:

If you're looking for books about Japanese internment & relocation during WWII, here's a list of kids books (put together by author Cynthia Leitich Smith, which Megan Dowd Lambert shared on Twitter):

http://www.cynthialeitichsmith.com/lit_resources/diversity/asian_am/japanese_am/nihon_WWII.html

Note: The topics that are likely to be covered in this thread are emotional and political in the real world. Please keep this thread focused on the books and resources to discuss the topics, and not on politics or personal feelings, so that people can find books they might need. Thanks!

Mods: This seemed like the best place to put this topic, but please move if it would be better somewhere else.
#1 - November 18, 2015, 08:27 PM
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Thanks for starting this thread, Stephanie. I really like Eve Bunting's book picture book SMOKY NIGHT to start a discussion on urban violence. It's an older book, but very relevant.
#2 - November 18, 2015, 08:57 PM
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This is a great idea for a thread, Stephanie. Not sure if this is better here or in book talk?  :eh2

I wasn't brought up with a religion, but my kids were curious and I wanted them to have understanding and acceptance, so when my oldest was little I got one of those Usborne illustrated reference books to help explain the different religions of the world to him. I'm pretty sure it's this one, only my edition is older and has a slightly different cover:  http://www.usborne.com/catalogue/book/1~RL~RWR~1693/book-of-world-religions.aspx

ETA: I just dug up the kids' book, and it wasn't the Usborne one (explains why the cover was different, lol). It was this one by Kids Can Press: http://www.amazon.com/The-Kids-Book-World-Religions/dp/1554539811  The Usborne one is probably good too (we have a lot of their reference books), but I haven't actually read it. 
#3 - November 18, 2015, 09:09 PM
« Last Edit: November 21, 2015, 01:16 PM by Artemesia »
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KUNG POW CHICKEN 1-4, Scholastic 2014 :chicken

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There's the YA The Tyrant's Daughter by J. C. Carleson. It's fiction, but written by a former CIA agent, so very detailed and hopefully realistic. It's about a girl who's father was a very wealthy middle eastern dictator who is overthrown. Her family is offered safe harbor in the US, but she struggles at her new school with Being an outsider and coming to terms with who her father was and what he did.
#4 - November 19, 2015, 06:18 AM
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Thanks for the titles, Betsy, Arty, and AnneM!

Suzanne Collins writes books about war. There was an interview with her a while back about her books and growing up in a military family. Can't find the link right now, but if you happen across it, it's a good read. Here are 3 books/series of hers on war:

Picture Book: YEAR OF THE JUNGLE, Memories From The Home Front by Suzanne Collins, illustrated by James Proimos

Middle Grade Series: Gregor The Overlander by Suzanne Collins

YA Series: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

#5 - November 19, 2015, 12:20 PM
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Good thread. But it might be better in Book Talk too.

I really liked Smoky Nights too, Ellen. Also The Man Who Walked Two Towers -- my kids were babies during 9/11 but I gave it to my husband for his birthday and it remains a favorite book.

I believe Lerner and Rosen both publish books that are balanced on current and/or difficult topics.

Vijaya
#6 - November 19, 2015, 12:48 PM
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Good point, Vijaya. Lerner had a book on Rwanda when I worked at Carolrhoda. It was really powerful and so hard to read, but it puts war in perspective.

Going to go see if I can find the title. Don't remember it offhand.

Found it: Over a Thousand Hills I Walk with You by Hanna Jansen

I highly recommend this book, but I need to warn you that it's very graphic and hard to read. The realities of the conflict and the violence of neighbor against neighbor are shown as the character experiences them (and sometimes the violence is family member against family member). It's a heartbreaking look at what war can be like.
#7 - November 19, 2015, 05:28 PM
« Last Edit: November 19, 2015, 05:34 PM by Stephanie Ruble »
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I've read the Hunger Games and the Gregor books, but didn't realize Suzanne Collins also wrote PBs. I'll have to look for that one.

In that fictional vein, I'd also recommend the Chaos Walking Trilogy by Patrick Ness.

And speaking of Patrick Ness, A Monster Calls was an amazing book about a kid coming to terms with his mother's terminal illness.
#8 - November 21, 2015, 01:19 PM
THIS LITTLE PIGGY (AN OWNER'S MANUAL), Aladdin PIX June 2017 :pigsnort
KUNG POW CHICKEN 1-4, Scholastic 2014 :chicken

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MG novel (comes out in a few months) - it's light and delightful, but also has a thread of darkness - the main character's older sister is caught up in the current epidemic of heroin addiction:
THE SEVENTH WISH by Kate Messner: http://www.amazon.com/Seventh-Wish-Kate-Messner/dp/1619633760/ref=sr_1_cc_1?s=aps&ie=UTF8&qid=1448152479&sr=1-1-catcorr&keywords=7th+wish

MG novel about a 4th grader who knows she's a girl, despite the world seeing a boy - GEORGE by Alex Gino is as joyful and hopeful a novel as one could want, and good for ALL kids (and adults) -- not just trans or "questioning" ones.
 http://www.amazon.com/George-Alex-Gino/dp/0545812542/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1448152694&sr=1-1&keywords=george

Graphic Novel about Japanese Internment: GAIJIN, PRISONER OF WAR by Matt Faulkner
 http://www.amazon.com/Gaijin-American-Prisoner-Matt-Faulkner/dp/1423137353

Graphic Nonfiction about Hurricane Katrina: DROWNED CITY by Don Brown
http://www.amazon.com/Drowned-City-Hurricane-Katrina-Orleans/dp/054415777X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1448151450&sr=1-1&keywords=drowned+city

YA novel about illegal immigration/poverty/racism: ILLEGAL by Bettina Restrepo
http://www.amazon.com/Illegal-Bettina-Restrepo/dp/0061953423/ref=pd_sim_14_7?ie=UTF8&dpID=511vVRnbyNL&dpSrc=sims&preST=_AC_UL160_SR106%2C160_&refRID=1Q9G8W7FB02GCT0TVDWG

Upper MG/YA novel about modern-day child slavery: BITTER SIDE OF SWEET by Tara Sullivan
http://www.amazon.com/Bitter-Side-Sweet-Tara-Sullivan/dp/0399173072/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1448151853&sr=1-1&keywords=bitter+side+of+sweet

MG about a girl in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan: THE BREADWINNER by Deborah Ellis
http://www.amazon.com/Breadwinner-Deborah-Ellis/dp/1554987652/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1448151935&sr=1-1&keywords=breadwinner

MG novel in verse about a girl in war-torn Sudan: THE RED PENCIL by Andrea Davis Pinkney
http://www.amazon.com/The-Pencil-Andrea-Davis-Pinkney/dp/0316247804/ref=pd_sim_14_30?ie=UTF8&dpID=51HkcMxEt3L&dpSrc=sims&preST=_AC_UL160_SR110%2C160_&refRID=1NYM6JYGD239BNM5GY27

YA novel in verse about a girl who is sold into sex slavery in India: SOLD by Patricia McCormick - [side note, I did an event for this book at a school, and the kids were ASTOUNDED that there are entire villages in Nepal/India where there are LITERALLY NO GIRLS LEFT because THEIR FAMILIES HAVE SOLD THEM. It's a hard topic - but these are kids THE SAME AGE as these readers, or even younger -- it's an amazing and important book.]
http://www.amazon.com/Sold-Patricia-McCormick-ebook/dp/B003V8BRS2/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

#9 - November 21, 2015, 04:45 PM
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Wow. That is some list.

Eve Bunting has other topical books. Fly Away Home is one. It covers homelessness.

A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park covers warfare associated with water rights in Sudan and is based on a true story, as I recall.

Milala's book belongs on this list.

Baseball Saved Us covers Japanese internment in a picture book.

Ninth Ward is another Katrina book.

Lupita Manana by Patricia Beatty covers illegal immigration.
#10 - November 23, 2015, 12:32 PM
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Lots of great books here, thanks everyone! Hope people continue to add to the list.

Another Lerner / Carolrhoda book I just remembered is Traitor by Gudrun Pausewang. Set near the end of WWII, av15-year-old German girl, Anna, hides a Russian soldier and prisoner of war. The danger of the situation makes the situation tense. Anna chooses to help, despite that her actions make her a traitor. This novel has stuck with me for years.
#11 - November 23, 2015, 02:00 PM
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My next YA read (and a book everyone seems to be talking about right now) is about racism and police brutality - ALL AMERICAN BOYS by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely.

SUNNY SIDE UP by Jenni Holm, illustrated by Matthew Holm and Lark Pien, is an MG graphic novel that's partly about drug abuse.
#12 - November 23, 2015, 02:29 PM

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BOUND (Bodach Books, 2018)
TEN EASTER EGGS (Scholastic, 2015)
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Kekla Magoon's HOW IT WENT DOWN is eerily similar to Michael Brown's death in Ferguson. Amazing YA novel.
#14 - November 23, 2015, 05:34 PM
BLACKOUT -- available now
DESERTED -- available now
SISTERS DON'T TELL -- available now
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I can't believe I forgot LIE by Carolyn Bock. As I recall, it's about the beating of a Latino boy. Found it and my recollection is off by a little: http://www.carolinebock.com/LIE.html

Carolyn's other book is topical too. See her website for more info.
#15 - November 29, 2015, 09:20 PM
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