November 20 is World Children’s Day, a day dedicated to promoting international togetherness, awareness among children worldwide, and improving children’s welfare. With this in mind, our Outreach Coordinator, Leena Desai recommends books that offer inspiring messages of hope and empowerment while also shedding light on some of the issues children face today.
One Too Many by Linda Grace Smith, illustrated by Emmi Ojala
One Too Many celebrates the power of one person to bring about change in society, while at the same time maintaining that if one child remains without basic rights, that’s one too many. This book addresses social issues surrounding poverty, education, and safety, but it does so in a way that is hopeful, creative, and empowering. The book makes a case for not looking the other way when someone sees a person in need, but instead offering simple acts of kindness that can make a big difference. Linda Grace Smith’s simple words and Emmi Ojala’s endearing illustrations touch on the basics of shelter, clothing, healthcare, food, water, education, safety and belonging, and spark conversations towards practical action and community transformation. For teachers looking for ways to introduce young readers to the concept of social justice in action, this book is a great choice. Grades P-2
What the Kite Saw by Anne Laurel Carter
As much as we would wish otherwise, war remains a part of the lives of millions of children worldwide. But even under dire circumstances, kids find joy in ordinary things. The protagonist of this book lives in a war-torn region. Ever since his father and brother were taken away by soldiers, fear and gloom have entered his life and the house he shares with his mother and sister. At night, the boy looks out the window and is chilled to see a tank’s spotlight searching the park where he plays with his friends. He hears shouts and gunshots and catches sight of someone running in the street. He wonders what it would be like to just fly away. The next day, when the curfew is lifted and he is playing with his friends, the boy gets the idea of making a kite and after he has made one, he flies it from his rooftop, imagining what it can see and through the journey of the kite, the boy finds solace and hope for the future. This is a beautiful and moving story about finding strength through creativity and imagination and offers many lessons about empathy and compassion. Grades K-3
My Words Flew Away Like Birds by Debora Pearson, illustrated by Shrija Jain
This book could be seen as a companion piece to Anne Laurel Carter’s What the Kite Saw in that it also uses the conceit of flight and is about a child who has relocated to a new place to seek a better life. To prepare for her life in the new place, the little girl learns words in another language, but when she, her mother, and her father arrive, “all her words fly away like birds.” The girl waits and observes, but it’s hard for her to use the new language. Then one day, she meets someone who needs to help and she makes a new friend and thus finds that the new words start to come easier, until one day, they become her own words, at last. Author Debora Pearson draws from her own experiences as a children’s librarian where she has had the opportunity to meet many newcomer families. Her engaging and accessible free verse and Shrija Jain’s whimsical illustrations add warmth and playfulness to this book which links to social studies lessons on community and global and cultural awareness. Grades Preschool-3