Posts Tagged Peace

Diversity in MG Lit #7: Violence and the Response to it

I am keenly aware as I write this post that we are near the one year anniversary of the Parkland school shooting. It’s such a difficult topic. I wasn’t sure how or whether to address it here. And then I found a book about how six eyewitness survivors of a school shooting navigated their recovery. It’s geared for 12 and up, which puts it at the upper end of the MG range. Still I think the book is well worth a read for anyone who is curious about school shootings and the grief that follows an act of violence. 
It’s called THAT’S NOT WHAT HAPPENED by Kody Keplinger.
 
 In addition to a very thoughtful take on the school shooting crisis, THAT’S NOT WHAT HAPPENED has one of the more diverse casts of characters I’ve seen recently. The main character, Lee, identifies herself as asexual, meaning an individual who is is not sexually attracted to either men or women. The other characters are: a religiously observant Christian girl, a non-observant Christian presenting herself in a goth style, a boy whose race was unspecified with parents in prison for addiction, a black boy who is blind, and a Hispanic girl who is a lesbian. The author treats each of these identities as secondary to the main action of the plot but still vital to the identity of the character. If you are looking for an example of “incidental diversity or casual diversity” this is a good choice. 
 
My second recommendation this month is possibly the most uplifting book I’ve read all year. I love it because it’s lively non-fiction. Because it’s engaging and accessible activism.  Because it gives me hope for a kinder yet fiercer future where people of all ages will dig into the work of living more peacefully.  The book is called PUTTING PEACE FIRST: 7 COMMITMENTS TO CHANGE THE WORLD. It takes readers through concrete practical steps that other teens have used to make positive changes in their community. They include things like understanding the root cause of the problem you’d like to change and planning for bumps in the road. The young mentors profiled in this book include: a Muslim girl from California, a white boy from Arizona and one from Iowa, a young woman with cerebral palsy from Minnesota, a male Asian immigrant from Pennsylvania, a black boy from Maryland, a black girl from Georgia. Each one had a story of a specific goal they pursued in their community, from changing the social media culture of their high school to curbing gun violence in their neighborhood.
So many young people are not yet jaded. So many have energy and idealism and lack only mentors and the means to make a change. I’d love to see this book in every middle school and high school where it can have incredible impact. 

Middle Grade Books For Military Appreciation Month

May is National Military Appreciation Month, a time for all of us to reflect upon the historical impact of the military, and honor those who served or are currently serving in the armed forces. Here are fiction titles for middle grade readers with an interest in stories that relate to the U.S. military (both past and present) and want to explore the lives of children who have family members serving.

Heart of a Shepherd by Rosanne Parry
When Brother’s dad is shipped off to Iraq, along with the rest of his reserve unit, Brother must help his grandparents keep the ranch going. He’s determined to maintain it just as his father left it, in the hope that doing so will ensure his father’s safe return. (From MUF contributor Rosanne Parry.) 

 

 

 

Max: Best Friend. Hero. Marine. by Jennifer Li Shotz
A moving story about Justin, whose older brother Kyle is killed in Afghanistan, leaving behind not only a grieving family, but a traumatized military canine named Max. When Max and Justin meet, the heartbroken boy and the troubled dog may be able to help each other as they grapple with their loss—if they’re able to learn to trust each other. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt 

Sixth grader Ally may be smart, but things aren’t easy for her. Her military dad has been deployed overseas and she’s struggling in school because of a undiagnosed learning disability. But with a new teacher and a supportive group of buddies, Ally may have a chance to come out of her shell and find her own, unique way.  

Code Talker: A Novel about the Navajo Marines by Joseph Bruchac
A fictional story inspired by true events of the incredible Navajo code talkers of World War II, whose unbreakable code, using their native language, saved countless American lives. In this older middle grade/early YA story, readers meet sixteen-year-old Ned, a Navajo teen who becomes a code talker.

 

Operation Yes by Sara Lewis Holmes
On the highly disciplined Air Force base, sixth-grade teacher Ms. Loupe sure is different–from her unique style to her interest in improv and theater games. But her students come to love her, and when Ms. Loupe’s brother goes missing in Afghanistan, the kids and and the community come together to support her.

 

 

Peace, Locomotion by Jacqueline Woodson
Lonnie and Lili are siblings who are in separate foster homes after their parents died in a fire. Both are in loving homes, but Lonnie wants to be sure the siblings stay in touch, so he writes his little sister a series of letter to remember each other and their lives together. In them, we learn about Lonnie’s life, and the issues raised when Lonnie’s foster brother is injured in the war and returns to live at home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


(Younger elementary and early MG readers will appreciate Woodson’s picture book, Coming oComing on Home Soonn Home Soon, during World War II. It tells the story of Ada Ruth, who stays behind with her grandmother when Ada Ruth’s mother leaves for Chicago, one of the many women filling jobs left empty by the men who went off to fight in the war.)  

 

 

 

 

You Can Fly: The Tuskegee Airmen by Carole Boston Weatherford and Jeffery Boston Weatherford
Thirty three poems about the famous Tuskegee Airmen, the World War II American fighter pilots. Racism meant their bravery and accomplishments were woefully underappreciated for far too long after the war.

 

 

Lily’s Crossing by Patricia Reilly Giff
It’s 1944, and Lily is spending the summer with her grandmother in Rockaway, New York. When Lily’s father is drafted and Lily’s best friend moves away, Lily finds herself sad and alone. That is, until she meets a Hungarian refugee her own age named Albert, and the two bond in this realistic and age-appropriate portrayal of what life during World War II. Lily's Crossing