Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan
Esperanza Rising is an award-winning historical fiction book by Pam Munoz Ryan. Published in 2000, it tells the life story of a Mexican immigrant farmworker called Esperanza during the 1930s. When her rich father is murdered by bandits in Mexico, her manipulative uncle burns the family ranch in an attempt to pressurize her widowed mother to become his wife. Esperanza flees to the United States with her mother where she struggles to adjust to a grueling life working as a farmworker. With the help of friends and a supportive family, she starts working towards a better future.
The story is all about the history of California, the Great Depression, and America as a nation. It also looks at how life was for immigrant Hispanic farm workers in the 1930s, as characters are faced with unpleasant living conditions, discrimination, and strikes. While Esperanza Rising targets children aged between 9 and 15 years, the author appears to be targeting a much wider audience.
Hold Fast by Blue Balliett
Hold Fast by Blue Balliett tells the story of an 11-year-old girl called Early. She lives with a happy and loving family despite them not being that well off. However, their happiness is abruptly shattered when her father disappears and thieves break into their home. Everything the family owns is either stolen or destroyed, leaving them homeless. The thieves imply that the incident is retribution for a shady business that Earlys father was involved in. when her mother goes to the police for help, they do not believe her. With nowhere to go, she takes Early and her younger brother called Jubie to a shelter. While Early comes into contact with a few untrustworthy adults, she finds several people to help her solve the mystery of her fathers disappearance.
The book delves into philosophy, history, and mathematical puzzles, while the most important theme is compassion for other people. Earlys father had taught his family to hold on to their dreams. The author makes the reader understand that shelter homes are full of individuals in need of a dream to hold on to, as is the case with everyone else. The mature subject matter of homelessness and crime makes Hold Fast ideal for children aged ten years and above.
I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai and Patricia McCormick
I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World is a memoir by a Pakistani girl called Malala Yousafzai together with Patricia McCormick. It tells the story of Malala who rose to fame in 2012 after she was shot by a Taliban member for advocating girls education. She later received the Nobel Peace Prize and relocated to England with her family. Malala narrates about how she was encouraged by her teacher father at a young age to stand up for her rights, and of the harsh and frightening life under the Taliban regime. She also touches on clashes with her brothers and friends when she became a symbol of the right of girls to attain education.
The memoirs authors mention the political and cultural events that led to the shooting incidence, what followed, and the girls dramatic recovery. They also highlight the stringent rules put in place by the Taliban regime such as banning girls education and the annihilation of Western influence. The book is an inspiring first-person narrative of what one teenager accomplished, and what it cost her and the family. The violence witnessed in Pakistan as mentioned in the memoir may be too much for sensitive children. All in all, it is recommended for children aged 10 years and above.
My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George
My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George is a classic unusual by nonetheless inspiring story of how to survive in the wilderness. It is about a teenage boy called who abandons the crowds and noise of the city of New York to live in peaceful solitude in the Catskills Mountains. He displays brilliant self-confidence and resourcefulness that was would particularly inspire boys. The way he disregards material possessions and embraces the spirit of hard work to survive in the forest is quite impressive.
It may be difficult for some parents to encourage their teenage children to run away from home and live in the wilderness. Also, the fact that it is set in the 1950s makes its contents somewhat old-fashioned for the modern audience. Some children may get upset by the killing of wild animals as food depicted in the story. All in all, the book would be totally appealing to children with a vivid imagination. Hence, it is recommended for any child aged between 9 and 12 years old.
Revolution Is Not a Dinner Party by Ying Chang Compestine
Revolution Is Not a Dinner Party is a fictionalized novel by Ying Chang Compestine about her childhood experiences in oppressive China. It tells the story of a child called Ling during the last few years of Mao Zedongs Cultural Revolution. He doctor parents are laid off from their jobs, and a high ranking political official invades their home against their wishes. When her father is taken away to detention, Ling and her father struggle to survive as food becomes rationed. Her family is also persecuted by the government and she is bullied at school.
As the storys protagonist, children can relate to Ling; particularly her determined and admirable defiance towards the Red Guards and bullies. The books events are carefully presented in a way that they do not overwhelm young readers by making them appear as adventures. Lings inner strength and gradual maturity makes it look like a coming-of-age novel ideal for children in upper elementary school.
Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
Walk Two Moons is a novel about self-discovery written by Sharon Creech. It tells the story of a 13-year-old girl called Sal as she looks into her personal and cultural heritage as well as her country; all at a go. It is divided into two narratives. One is taking place in the present as Sal is accompanied by her parents on a road trip. In the other, she tells them about her friend named phoebe. In her attempts to help her friend wade through a family crisis, the main character gains a deeper and more meaningful understanding of her own loss feelings.
In Walk Two Moons, the author narrates a complex story within a narrative that is full of intersecting and dramatic events. The novel also has well-presented characters and excellently articulated feelings. Although it is meant for children, even grown up readers capable of predicting the plots ending will be in for several surprises. The book is recommended for children aged between 10 and 15 years.
Wonder by R.J. Palacio
Wonder is a novel by R.J. Palacio about the experiences of disfigured boy during his first time in school. 10-year-old August Pullman suffers from a severe genetic facial disfiguration. After years of being homeschooled, he joins school in fifth grade where he has to contend with a wide range of reactions to his appearance. The story follows Augusts first year at middle school from the start to end. It is a time that he gets a first-hand experience of what human nature can offer, and a year of significant emotional growth for him.
The novel presents a realistic look at the unpleasant reality of a largely ignored subject in childrens books. Wonder is about something that people do not like to discuss because it is quite rare and so sad. It is about a boy who cannot be ignored or silenced in his world just because of his appearance. The book is recommended for children aged between 9 and 12 years.
Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card is among the best science fiction novels ever written. After the earth is attacked twice by aliens, the military embarks on recruiting a child genius to prevent another attack. They single out a brilliant and compassionate but embattled child called Ender Wiggins. A problem arises on how to manipulate him to battle the aliens while equipping him with the necessary skills to do it.
While the violence in Enders Game is intense at times, the ruthlessly efficient fighting skills displayed by the main character are quite admirable. The adults running will stop at nothing to achieve their goal, even at the expense of a young boys will. The novel is a thrilling and emotional sci-fi story that will appeal to pre-teens.
The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton
Since The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton was published in 1967, it has become one of the most popular novels among pre-teens and teens. It narrates about a rivalry between two teenage gangs: the lower-class Greasers and the upper-class Socs as each try to cement their place in the society. The plot includes violence, delinquent behavior, under-age drinking, and violence.
The juvenile delinquent characters in The Outsiders are fully and humanely presented in this realistic examination of growing up and gang violence as narrated from a teenagers point of view. It is recommended for pre-teens, especially those in sixth grade, since they are at an age when children break into social cliques and align themselves along ethnic or racial lines.
Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl
Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl is a gripping look at the Second World War from the perspective of a young girl. It tells the story of Anne Frank and her family who go into hiding to avoid being captured by the Nazis during the German occupation of Holland. They spend two years in rooms located inside the warehouse of her fathers business. Anne writes a diary describing her experiences in the hideout, including the hunger, boredom, longing, and fear. She starts to mature while finding her greatest comfort in the written world.
As a narrator, Anne is remarkably clever and thoughtful narrator while the diary is quite entertaining since it is a notable historical document. Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl is recommended for children aged between 9 and 12 years, and has even been made a required reading for many middle-school pupils.
Balliett, B., Turpin, B., & Scholastic Audiobooks. (2013). Hold fast. New York: Scholastic Audiobooks.
Card, O. S. (2010). Ender's game (Vol. 1). Macmillan.
Compestine, Y. C. (2007). Revolution is not a dinner party. Macmillan.
Creech, S. (2001). Walk two moons. Pan Macmillan.
Frank, A. (2010). The diary of a young girl (No. 333). Everyman's Library.
George, J. C. (1959). My side of the mountain. New York: Scholastic.
Howard, T. (2001). The Outsiders. Lucent Books.
Palacio, R. J. (2012). Wonder. Edicions La Campana SL.
Ryan, P. M. (2002). Esperanza rising. Scholastic Inc..
Yousafzai, M., & McCormick, P. (2014). I am Malala: How one girl stood up for education and changed the world. Hachette UK.
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