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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

7 Inspiring Picture Books

True life stories can be quite inspiring for the young. And stories set in parts of the world where life is so very different from theirs can be both educational and moving.

While many of these books are a few years old, the message remains relevant and meaningful for kids growing up in today's increasingly global world.


Four Feet, Two Sandals
by Karen Lynn Williams & Khadra Mohammed
illustrated by Doug Chayka

Relief workers bring in used clothing and shoes to a refugee camp. Everyone scrambles to get what they need. Ten-year-old Lina is thrilled to find a perfect sandal. However, she is a bit upset when she finds another girl holding the other matching sandal.

Soon Lina befriends the other girl, Feroza, and they decide to take turns to use the pair of sandals.

Warm colors and double page spreads bring the terrain closer to the readers, while the words portray the hope and courage and strength of the refugees around the world who live in constant uncertainty and fear.

Teacher's Guide

[image source: Author Karen Lynn Williams website]



Razia's Ray of Hope
One Gir's Dream of an Education
by Elizabeth Suneby
illustrated by Suana Verelst

Razia Jan, born in Afghanistan, moved to the US when she was a young woman. She worked as a tailor and raised her kid in a small town in MA. When Razia felt the need to connect people from her new home in America with people in Afghanistan, especially after Sept 11, 2001, she looked for ways to make a difference.

She finally left US and went back to Afghanistan where she felt she can make a difference by educating the girls there who are usually sidelined and subjugated. She started the Zabuli Center for Girls in the middle of seven villages that never had a girls' school before.

Gorgeous illustrations transport the reader to the culture and country, while the carefully chosen words explain the complicated nature of relationships and priorities for families in that part of the world. Glossary introduces us to Dari words.

[image source: Author Elizabeth Suneby website]


Malala Yousafzai
Warrior with Words
by Karen Leggett Abouraya
illustrated by L.C.Wheatley

Winner of Nobel Peace prize 2014, Malala is not an unknown figure today. Her belief that every child has a right to education has inspired many children and adults around the world including governments and policy-makers.

To think that a simple act of going to school can be dangerous in some parts of the world was rather unbelievable for my kids when we read this story. And that she would be shot in the head while riding a bus with other kids was even scarier.

The book is a kid-friendly story of her life so far and how she started the Malala Fund to give girls hope for a better life through education. Malala's courage and determination shines through the story.

[image source: amazon.com]



Emmanuel's Dream
The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah
by Laurie Ann Thompson
illustrated by Sean Qualls


In Ghana, West Africa, a baby boy was born:
Two bright eyes blinked in the light,
two tiny fists opened and closed,
but only one strong leg kicked.

Born with only one strong leg, Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah did not let his disability define him. He cycled an incredible 400 miles across Ghana to spread his message: disability does not mean inability.

After his mom died, Emmanuel came up with a plan. He wrote to the Challenged Athletes Foundation in San Diego, CA, who sent him bike, plus helmet, shorts, socks, and gloves! He went door to door for further support and hired a taxi to follow him with water; he got a camera and had his friends make the video.

Through bustling Accra, over rolling hills, through rain forests and across wide muddy rivers he pedaled on for 10 days, wearing the colors of his country and a shirt printed with the words "The Pozo" or "the disabled person."

He didn't stop there, though. His continued efforts and activism inspired the Ghanian Parliament to pass the Persons with Disability Act which ensures equal rights for all the citizens, disabled or not.

[image source: Author Laurie Thompson website]



One Plastic Bag
Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia
by Miranda Paul
illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon

In Njau, Gambia, people simply started trashing the plastic bags, dropping them where they please and going about their way, not paying any heed to the environmental impact of their action. Bags accumulated in ugly heaps, catching water and breeding mosquitoes, strangling gardens and suffocating livestock.

Isatou Cessay could not sit by and watch this. She decided to do something about it. She collected these discarded plastic bags, recycled them into beautiful utilitarian purses. Soon other women joined in and she showed them how to make purses, which they then sold for a fair dalasi. Soon, she had made enough money to buy a goat for their family.

One day the rubbish will be gone and my home will be beautiful, thinks Isatou...

[image source: Author Miranda Paul website]



One Hen
How One Small Loan made a Big Difference
by Katie Smith Milway
illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes

When kids ask how can one little thing make any difference, this is the story that can inspire them about how a small help can make a huge difference in someone's life.

Set in Ghana, the story is about how Kojo, a microentrepreneur, takes the small loan of one hen and ends up building a poultry farm. Based on a real person, Kwabena Darko, who changed his community and is helping others do the same, this is a story as much about perseverance and determination as it is about generosity and resourcefulness.

Beatrice's Goat by Page McBrier and Lori Lohstoeter is a similar story where Beatrice receives a goat, Mugisa, as a present, much like Heifer  Project International has been doing. Milk from the goat helps the poor family of six hope for a better life. And eventually, it even allows Beatrice to go to school as she dreamed.

OneHen.org, a non-profit empowers children to become social entrepreneurs to make a difference in the world.

[image source: One Hen Inc.,]



The Red Bicycle
The Extraordinary Story of One Ordinary Bicycle
by Jude Isabella
illustrated by Simone Shin

Bicycle can be the best mode of transportation in many parts of the world where unpaved roads and rough terrain discourage motorized transportation between remote villages. Bringing crops and goods to market is made easier with just pedal power.

When Leo in North America outgrows his bike, he wants it to be something more than just a pile of metal tossed in a junkyard. When he talks to his bike shop owner, he learns of an organization that collects used but good bicycles, fixes them up and sends them across the world to those who cannot afford one or have access to one but certainly need one for local transportation.

Thus begins the journey of "Big Red", Leo's bicylce, which ends up with Alisetta in Burkina Faso where she puts it to good use hauling goods to the market and watching over her family's sorghum field. When Big Red's spokes break and Alisetta knows not what to do with it, along comes Boukary who can fix anything. Can he squeeze yet another use out of Big Red? Of course!

Boukary attaches a trailer to the bicycle and it becomes a makeshift ambulance with a stretcher and belt for keeping patients safe when transporting them to the nearest clinic. Haridata loads the medical bags, water, blanket on La Grand Rouge as she calls the bike, and rides ready in case she runs into someone needing medical aid.

Back of the book has information section titled, What You Can Do To Help.

[image source: Author Jude Isabella website]


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