Youth Book Corner: International Day of Non-Violence

Today is International Day of Non-Violence: an observance that commemorates the birthday of non-violent activist and political leader, Mahatma Gandhi. On this occasion, our Outreach Coordinator Leena Desai recommends some books that shine the spotlight on youth activism and kindness.

Small History of a Disagreement
Written by Claudio Fuentes, illustrated by Gabriela Lyon

We live in uncertain times, where debate, once a tried-and-tested rational and peaceful solution to a disagreement, has been reduced to political mud-slinging and television farce. This book, however, reminds us what debates really mean and can achieve. In the book, students return to school only to find a thousand-year-old monkey puzzle tree sharing space with a crane, which has been placed there to uproot and cut the tree down to make way for new labs and classrooms. After protests, marches, fights and strikes don’t achieve anything, the students have a debate to decide the fate of the ancient tree. Inspirational without being preachy, Small History of a Disagreement is a poignant reminder of the potential of truly listening to each other and of collective decision-making. Grades 1-6

When We Are Kind
Written by Monique Gray Smith, illustrated by Nicole Neidhardt

Indigenous author Monique Gray Smith has written award-winning books on the topics of resilience and reconciliation. In When We Are Kind, she uses simple words and phrases that act as affirmations to talk to children about how they feel when they initiate and receive simple acts of everyday kindness. The text is accompanied by beautiful illustrations featuring Indigenous characters by artist Nicole Neidhardt and help in making this book an introduction to the concepts of kindness and giving to very young readers. Grades Preschool-K

The Stray and the Strangers
Written by Steven Heighton, illustrated by Melissa Iwai

In 2015, Governor General’s Literary Award-winning author Steven Heighton worked as a volunteer on the frontlines of the Syrian refugee crisis in Lesvos, Greece. This is one of the books that is inspired by his experience over there. Kanella is a stray dog that makes herself at home and guards the people sheltered inside a makeshift refugee camp. She, especially, befriends a bearded aid worker and protects a homeless little boy. But eventually, the boy’s parents come and take him away and the camp is dismantled. All hope seems lost until one day, the bearded aid worker comes back for Kanella to offer her a permanent home. Accompanied by detailed, watercolour illustrations, The Stray and the Strangers is an evocative book about extending kindness to all creatures great and small. Grades 1-4
Steven Heighton participates in the fall installment of Writers in the Classroom and will appear in the event ‘Poets on Memoir’ on October 23 at 3pm where he will talk about his memoir Reaching Mithymna.    


Leena Desai