Read books that explore important topics
Strengthen values with today's titles
When you really think about it, there are many forces at work that try to shape what we think about other people, ourselves and life in general. Many of these influential sources come from seemingly` "good" places — institutions, organizations or people we trust. But are their ideas always right? Do those ideas possess honor, kindness, tolerance and ethical fairness? Not always.
Today's reviewed books explore topics that make readers think and question values, right and wrong, and the courage to do and act upon what many might turn a blind eye to or simply refuse to acknowledge. Books like these can be important instruments for change — change that is good and essential. Take a look for yourself. I hope you'll agree.
Books to Borrow
The following book is available at many public libraries.
"Let's Talk About Race" by Julius Lester, illustrated by Karen Barbour, Amistad/ HarperCollins, 32 pages
Read aloud: age 5 - 6 and older
Read yourself: age 7 — 8 and older
"I am a story. So are you. So is everyone." And while our stories are very similar, it's all too common for people to tell a story that isn't true — that they are better than others because of their race or religion or because they have more money than others.
Lester challenges readers to think beyond those false stories. If we all took off our skin and hair, "We would look at each other and couldn't tell who was a man, who was a woman, who was white, black, Hispanic or Asian." The only way we could distinguish one person from another would be to get to know that person by hearing their stories and discovering what lies beneath a person's skin.
Extraordinarily profound on numerous levels, this selection is exceptional.
Library: Sutter County Library, 750 Forbes Ave., Yuba City
Library Director: Roxanna Parker
Children's Librarian: Chalese Valdez
Choices this week: "Kiss Kiss" by Margaret Wild; "Are You Quite Polite?" by Alan Katz; "John, Paul, George and Ben" by Lane Smith
Books to Buy
The following books are available at your favorite bookstores.
"His Name Was Raoul Wallenberg: Courage, Rescue, and Mystery During World War II" by Louise Borden, photos and illustrations various credits, Houghton Mifflin, 2012, 136 pages, $18.99 hardcover
Read aloud: age 10 — 11 and older
Read yourself: age 11 — 12 and older
As a little boy growing up in Stockholm, Sweden, in the early 1900s, Raoul Wallenberg was interested in everything. His curiosity was fostered by his family and, in particular, his grandfather. And while Raoul came from a privileged family, he was intent on doing something useful with his life and make his mark in his own way.
Raoul traveled extensively, graduated from the University of Michigan with honors, spoke five languages fluently and was a good listener and influential speaker. During the final years of World War II, when Budapest and its thousands of Hungarian Jews were begging other countries for help, neutral Sweden requested that Raoul be Sweden's diplomat to Hungary to try and save as many Jewish lives as possible. Raoul jumped at the opportunity and passionately threw himself into his mission.
Working against impossible odds, Raoul was responsible for saving tens of thousands of lives in Budapest. Sadly, Raoul's fate is not wholly known, but his name and his acts of bravery should never be forgotten.
Author Louise Borden has brought to light the boldness, courage and conviction of duty of Raoul Wallenberg. A remarkable story in every regard, this selection is a "must read" for older children and adults.
"Glory Be" by Augusta Scattergood, Scholastic, 2012, 202 pages, $16.99 hardcover
Read aloud: age 8 and older
Read yourself: age 9 — 10 and older
In Mississippi in the summer of 1964, 11-year-old Glory thinks that the most important thing is to make sure the pool where she swims stays open. But as events unravel, Glory begins to understand far more about what is happening in her town and elsewhere.
Freedom Workers have come to Glory's town to help do away with the town-enforced segregation. Glory hadn't thought much about these issues before, but now the matter has segregated the Community Pool, and rather than allow blacks to swim there, the town has closed the pool indefinitely. As Glory makes new friends, loses others and finds her voice to speak out against injustice, she grows in many important ways.
Drawing on real-life events from her childhood, debut novelist Augusta Scattergood has created a memorable story that will cause essential, serious reflection about prejudice, bigotry and ignorance.
Kendal A. Rautzhan writes and lectures about children's literature. She can be reached at her website: greatestbooksforkids.com.