Thursday, July 22, 2010

Reading Brings the World to Our Doorstep

Bamboo People
by Mitali Perkins
Charlesbridge Publishing, 2010
review copy provided by the publisher

It's one thing to read about the current conflict in Myrnmar (formerly Burma) in the news, but it's another when the world comes to life through the characters in the book you're reading. If middle school students could read this book at the same time they are studying some of the historic conflicts in US history -- the Civil Rights Movement and race issues, the removal of native peoples to reservations -- they might better understand the warning about history repeating itself.

Chiko, son of a doctor, is hoping to become a teacher. When he answers an ad for a teaching job, he is conscripted in the Burmese army. Chiko's story is contrasted with that of Tu Reh, one of the ethnic minorities on the other side in the conflict. Their stories intersect. Choices must be made. Both boys grow in understanding and compassion.

Boys Without Names
by Kashmira Sheth
Balzer + Bray (HarperCollins), 2010
review copy provided by the publisher

Middle schoolers studying migrant labor or homeless issues in the US could read this book and expand their study to include child labor and third world sweatshop industries.

Gopal's family moves from rural India to Mumbai to escape debt. They become separated from his father and Gopal wants to try to earn money for their family. He meets someone who promises him a factory job, but who drugs and kidnaps him to work in an attic sweatshop with 5 other boys making beaded frames. Through storytelling, the boys learn to trust one another enough to escape from their cruel boss.


  1. Thanks so much for these reviews. I can't wait to buy these for my son (8th grade). I'm a teacher and struggle a bit with keeping him interested in reading. He is a great student and in the gifted program, but is an athlete that would rather do something active instead of sitting and reading. But, he loves history and world issues, etc. and when I can get the right book in his hand, he loves it and loves to talk to us about the book and the related issue/history. These are perfect!

  2. Thanks for this! So appreciate the help in connecting books like these to the right readers.


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