International Children’s Education
Sharing resources, supporting families and teachers overseas...
Books for TCKs and their Families
compiled by Pam Gentry, 2005
There is a downloadable version of this document at the bottom of this page.
Rader & Sittig. (2003) New Kid in School: Using Literature to Help Children in Transition.
This parent resource book provides an explanation of the transition process that all children people go through during a move. The authors rely on Dave Pollock’s RAFT Model1 of transitions to provide a framework to discuss the moving process and provide tools for children to make successful transitions during any move, but particularly a move overseas. A book outline, discussion questions and activities are given for 30 children’s books. Recommended reading levels are given for each book, with a focus between grades K and 8. However, the material could easily be extended for use with older children.
Picture Books aren’t just for little kids anymore. Older kids still like them. Don’t overlook the power of picture books even with teens. Leave a few of these laying around, and you may be surprised by the level of connection kids make.
Celebrating Family and Keeping Memories
Polocco, Patricia. (2001) The Keeping Quilt.
This book reflects Patricia’s own story as the child of an immigrant Jewish family from Russia. The central character, Anna, arrives in the United States with few possessions. When she outgrows the dress that she wore on the trip over, Anna’s mother combines the fabric with fabric from other clothing to piece a quilt. That quilt is passed on to each generation in Anna’s family with the stories represented in each piece of clothing fabric. Black and white illustrations are punctuated with the colorfully illustrated quilt to focus on the warmth and richness of memories. This is a great story about how one family managed their transition between two very different countries: holding onto what they value from the old country while continuing to move forward in the new country.
Fox, Mem. (1989) Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge.
96-year-old Miss Nancy lives in a retirement home next to young Wilfrid. Miss Nancy has lost her memory, and Wilfrid sets out to help her find it, even though he doesn’t know what a memory is. This story provides an opportunity to talk about how we keep memories alive and what they mean to us. It also underscores the special relationships that can develop across generations. A family struggling with being distant from aging grandparents might achieve both comfort and ideas for creative responses to the distance. Mem Fox’s delightful play with the sound of words is sprinkled through this book through people — "Mrs. Jordan who played the organ" and "Mr. Hosking who told him scary stories."
Condra, Estelle. (1994) See the Ocean, illustrated by Linda Crockett-Blassingame.
Nellie enjoys her family's annual trips to the ocean. She feeds crumbs to the seagulls, tosses pebbles into ponds, and handles seashells and driftwood. There is no explicit reference to her blindness until the end, when she claims to be able to see the ocean through a thick mist. A sweet story that honors family and focuses on both savoring memories and looking to the future.
Fox, Mem. (1994) Koala Lou, illustrated by Pamela Lofts.
Koala Lou is loved by everyone, but it is her mother who loves her most of all. She often tells her daughter, "Koala Lou, I DO love you." As the family grows and her mother gets busier, Koala Lou yearns to hear those words again. She responds to the stress of her family’s life transitions through achievement by trying to win the Bush Olympics. Mem Fox is an Australian TCK; many of her books reflect her Australian roots or the perspective of a TCK.
Talking about Emotions
Aliki. (1998) Marianthe’s Story: Painted Words Spoken Memories.
This is two books in one. It tells the same story of moving to a new culture from two perspectives. Story one is told in pictures before Marianthe had the words in her new language to talk about what she was experiencing. Story two adds in the words.
Aliki. (1996) Feelings.
Happy, sad, shy, excited…sometimes it's hard to find the words to talk about our feelings. This book has a series of small vignettes that help get the conversations started.
Aliki. (1997) Manners.
Aliki offers a perspective on good manners. The author/illustrator offers a flurry of do’s and don’ts in the context of real-life situations faced by the small characters on each page. A strength of the book is the message that the purpose of good manners is care for one another. You may not agree with every “rule of etiquette” suggested in this book, but it is an excellent and fun way to start up some discussion in the family. This book offers an opportunity to discuss and identify good manners and how they affect social situations. Extend the discussion to good manners in different cultural situations...or make your own book!
Fox, Mem. (2001) Boo! to a Goose, illustrated by David Miller.
A child recites 12-plus reasons for not saying boo to a goose, including "I'd eat all the butter in Calcutta” (say it with an Aussie accent and it rhymes) and "I'd feed my pajamas to giant piranhas" and will have children quickly chiming in on the repeating line "But I wouldn't say 'boo' to a goose." Readers will have to wait until the last page to find out why. This book reflects the TCK perspective on taking risks in life…it's an adventure! But everyone has their limits. What are yours?
Lucado, Max. (1992) Just in Case you Wonder.
A bedtime story to instill in your child just how much he or she is loved not only by you, but also God. Christian author Max Lucado writes, "As you grow and change, some things will stay the same. I'll always love you. I'll always hug you. I'll always be on your side. And I want you to know that . . . just in case you ever wonder."
Cultural Adjustment and Bicultural Identity
Say, Allan. (1999) Tea with Milk.
This picture book will have appeal into middle school and beyond. Whether the subject is food ("no more pancakes or omelets, fried chicken or spaghetti" in Japan) or the deeper issues of ostracism (her fellow students call Masako "gaijin" a foreigner) and gender expectations, Say provides gentle insights into human nature as well as East-West cultural differences. His exquisite, spare portraits convey emotions that lie close to the surface and flow easily from page to reader: with views of Masako's slumping posture and mask-like face as she dons her first kimono or alone in the schoolyard, it's easy to sense her dejection. Through choice words and scrupulously choreographed paintings, Say's story communicates both the heart's yearning for individuality and freedom and how love and friendship can bridge cultural chasms. Say is a prolific writer; look for other books by him as well. Grandfather’s Journey is a companion to this book.
Lucado, Max. (1999) Just the Way You Are.
Another children’s book by Christian author Max Lucado. This is the story of five children trying to impress the King (in this case the analogy points to God) by their many talents and skills. One girl doesn't think that she has any talents or skills, but she does have a good heart. In the end, that is what counts the most to the King (God).
Goodman, S. (1999) Chopsticks for my Noodlesoup.
Five-year-old Eliza Doolittle from Connecticut learns about a very different kind of life when she spends a year in Malaysia with her scientist mother and photographer father. This is a photo essay of a TCK child’s experience of going to a new culture for the first time. In her new home, Eliza discovers new ways to do everyday things. Eliza learns the language and goes about her daily routine at home, school, market, and play. This book is likely to reflect the experience of any TCK living in a village situation and as such, could provide a model for putting together your own photo essay of life. Those who live in the city might enjoy doing some comparison and contrast of different ways to live.
Moving and Transitions
MacLachlan, Patricia. (1995) What You Know First, illustrated by Barry Moser.
The illustrations are the only clue that this book about moving away from home is set in the U.S. Depression era. A young girl resists the move her family must make by plotting to live in the attic, certain that her parents will be comforted by the new baby who won’t know what it is missing in the move. The text evokes feelings of loss and fear inherent in transitions from a child’s perspective. As you read this book with your child, make connections with Pollock’s RAFT model of dealing with transitions. What stage is this child at? How would you help her? Is the time and place setting important to this story? How might the story be different if it were written to reflect the experience of our own family?
Looking at Life from Different Points of View
Add some of these books to your book collection to balance out a preponderance of more easily found “American” books.
Wheatley, Nadia. (1989) My Place.
A “backwards chronology” depicting life in Australia at different times in its development by viewing one place in different years while moving backwards from 1988 to 1788. Fun to read and explore the detailed illustrations
Mennen, I & Daly, N. (1992) Somewhere in Africa, illustrated by Nicolas Maritz.
Africa is a diverse continent. Frequently, only the exotic side of African life is presented in literature. This book fills the need for going beyond zebras, lions, and jungles to depicting everyday life in a very modern South African city. The central character, Ashraf, vicariously experiences the wild side of African children in other parts of the world through books in the library. The authors create an immediately appealing story at once universal and distinctly African.
Svend, Ott. (1982) Children of the Yangtze River.
Picture book set in China with illustrations depicting cultural detail: houses, multigenerational families, clothing, schools, favorite knacks, pets, occupations, modes of transportation, and handwriting.
Williams, K.O. (1990) Galimoto.
Set in a small African village, this is a story of determination, resourcefulness, and ingenuity. Seven-year-old Kondi decides to fashion a galimoto (a generic term for various push-toys made from wires and sticks). Despite opposition from his older brother who believes he is not able to undertake such a difficult task, Kondi successfully scavenges the materials he needs and makes his toy. This book would fit in with a unit about play, character, families, and cultures.
Tompert, Ann. (1990) Grandfather Tang’s Story.
Here's a folktale with a twist: Seven "tans" (standard-sized pieces of a square) are arranged and rearranged to represent various characters in the story. The fox fairies vie to outdo each other--the first one becomes a rabbit, the other a dog who chases him, and so on--but when the two chase each other right into danger, they finally have to set their competition aside and pull together.
Parry, F. H. & Gilliland, J.H. (1990) The Day of Ahmed’s Secret, illustrated by Ted Lewin
The busy streets of Cairo are depicted with warm illustrations and interpreted through the eyes of young Ahmed as he wanders through the city on his donkey delivery cart. He is pleased with his new found literacy skill that no one who sees him would guess. Ahmed’s words encourage the reader to personally experience the sites, sounds, and smells of a Middle Eastern bazaar. The pride of Arabic-speaking people in their written language is evident in Ahmed’s secret.
Brusca, Maria Cristina. (1991) On the Pampas.
An account of a little girl’s idyllic summer at her grandparents’ ranch on the pampas of Argentina.
Parry, F. H. & Gilliland, J. H. (1992) Sami and the Time of the Troubles, illustrated by Ted Lewin
A ten-year-old Lebanese boy goes to school, helps his mother with chores, plays with his friends, and lives with his family in a basement shelter when bombings occur and fighting begins on his street.
Takeshita, Furmiko. (1988) The Park Bench, illustrated by Mamoru Suzuki.
All through the sunny day the white bench in the park provides pleasure for the many people who come by, from the old man taking a walk to the children playing in the park (bilingual Japanese/English)
Carle, Eric & Iwamura, Kazuo. (2003) Where are You Going? To See My Friend!
Originally published in Japan, this picture storybook is in a unique bilingual format that tells the same story from front to back in English and from back to front in Japanese. Eric Carle’s well-known illustrations follow a dog, a cat, a rooster, a goat, and a rabbit to meet the dog’s friend who is a young boy with a guitar. The repetitive, predictable text follows a simple format that uses line-drawing icons to indicate each speaker. Kazuo Iwamura is Japan’s equivalent to Eric Carle. His illustrations tell the same story beginning at the end of the book and moving toward the front. The climax of this two-ended book is in the middle, where all of the friends meet and celebrate their friendship.
Zhensun, Zheng, & Alice Low. (1991) A Young Painter, illustrated by Wang Yani.
Examines the life and works of the young Chinese girl who started painting animals at the age of three and in her teens became the youngest artist to have a one-person show at the Smithsonian Institution.
Ancona, George. (2000) Cuban kids.
Acona is well known for his photo-essay books for children. His camera lens depicts the joy, pride, and strength of each subject with vibrant full-color pictures and accessible text. This book includes pictures of Cuban children and their families in rural and urban settings at celebrations, school, a doctor's office, farm work, sports, making music, and dance. Youngsters dressed in their school uniforms are depicted reading and writing in rustic classrooms. Acona avoids political discussion, choosing to focus on the life and people of Cuba. Other books by Ancona:
Carnaval, similar treatment of the famous festival in Brazil
The Pinata Maker, modern-day telling of traditional craftsmanship in Mexico
Sneve, Virginia Driving Hawk. (1993) The Sioux: A First Americans Book.
It is difficult to find authentic, culturally-sensitive books for children about Native Americans that are not also full of political statements. These books are a highly recommended resource to meet the need. The focus of the handsomely illustrated titles in the First Americans series is on the history, beliefs, and daily life of the various Indian Nations. Necessarily simplifying the tribes' stories for her young audience, the author includes age-appropriate information about children's activities and responsibilities, as well as descriptions of each nation's housing, livelihood, social and cultural activities, and key rituals and ceremonies. Also in this series: Apaches, Navajo, Seminole, Nez Pierce, Iroquois, Hopi, Cherokee, and Cheyenne.
Bruchac, J. (2000) Squanto’s Journey: The Story of the First Thanksgiving.
For a view of American Thanksgiving that gives a broader point of view to include that of the Indians, try this book. Told from Squanto's point of view, this historically accurate and detailed story brings to life one of the most important moments in America's past. Demonstrating how much his people (the Patuxet, the People of the Falls) value honor, Squanto befriends English traders, even after being kidnapped and taken to Spain. After much hard work, Squanto manages to sail back to his homeland, where, in spite of his discovery that many of his people have died from disease brought by white people, he acts as the envoy between the English and his own people and helps the pilgrims survive in their new world. Throughout this moving tale, Squanto's belief that "these men can share our land as friends" poignantly shines through.
Fox, Mem. (1991) Possum Magic, illustrated by Julie Vivas.
Grandma Poss uses bush magic to make Hush invisible, but when Hush wants to see herself again, Grandma can't remember which particular Australian food is needed to reverse the spell. Traveling around the continent in search of an antidote, Grandma and Hush sample Anzac biscuits, mornay, vegemite, and pavlova until the right delicacy is found. Although the characters, locales, and vocabulary are thoroughly Australian, Possum Magic has universal appeal. Fox chooses her words carefully, making readers believe that certain foods just might be magical.
Fox, Mem. (1999) Wombat Divine, illustrated by Kerry Argent.
Wombat tries out for the annual Nativity play and wins the role of Jesus. In a starred review of this playful story, [Publishers Weekly] said, "Its pleasures are infectious."
Dooley, Norah. (1991) Everybody Cooks Rice, illustrated by Peter J. Thornton.
A child is sent to find a younger brother at dinnertime and is introduced to a variety of cultures through encountering the many different ways rice is prepared at the different households visited.
Lankford, Mary. (1992) Hopscotch around the World, illustrated by Karen Milone.
Presents directions for playing variations of hopscotch, an ancient game still played worldwide.
Morris, Anne. (1989) Bread, Bread, Bread.
A photographic trip around the world, depicting the importance of bread in every culture.
Other titles in series: Hats, Hats, Hats. Houses, Houses, Houses.
Anno, Mitsumasa. (1986) All in a Day.
Brief text and illustrations by ten internationally well-known artists reveal a day in the lives of children in eight different countries showing the similarities and differences and emphasizing the commonality of humankind.
Lauber, Patricia. (1999) What You Never Knew About Fingers, Forks, & Chopsticks, illustrated by John Manders.
A delicious blend of humor and fascinating facts in this historical and, at times, hilarious tour through the rules and tools of eating. From the Stone Age to modern times, all over the globe, the discovery and fine-tuning of utensils that help us slice, jab, and scoop our food are vividly described and depicted. The lively, linear drawings incorporate amusing asides in dialogue balloons that will entertain readers as the text enlightens them about the subject. There are brief instructions on how to use chopsticks; rules of etiquette in the Middle Ages; some modern table-manner tips; and acknowledgments that, at various times and in different cultures, the tool of choice may well be the fingers.
Furlaud, S, Verboud P. and Ommer, U. (2003) Families: Around the World, One Kid at a Time.
This large-format book, adapted from photographer Ommer's exhibition and 580-page coffee-table tome, 1000 Families, (2000), will broaden children's horizons with stunning photographs of families from countries as diverse as Finland and Peru, Eritrea and Turkmenistan. Hints of globalization (an Adidas logo here, a Disney T-shirt there) will likely surprise young readers as much as the more exotic details, such as the neck-stretching copper bands worn by a 10-year-old Palaung girl. Opposite each full-page photograph, readers will find a map of the country, vital statistics, and some text clumsily styled as a quote from one of the family's children, "My father is a polygamist, which means he has two wives." But Ommer's exquisite photos carry the day.
Similar books to consider:
Maya K. Ajmera and Anna Rhesa Versola's Children from Australia to Zimbabwe, (Charlesbridge, 1997,) and Barnabas and Anabel Kindersley's Children Just Like Me, (DK, 1995), and Families Around the World Series (Rain Tree Publishers) i.e., A family from _________.
These overviews look at life in their respective countries through the perspective of one "typical" family. The most useful information is found in the introductions, which have a map, basic facts, and a clear picture of the flag. Countries available: China, Persian Gulf, Germany, Japan, Eskimo, India, Australia, Vietnam, France.
Kindersley, Barnabas & Anabel. Children Just Like Me.
Similar to Ommer’s book (above) but a bit smaller. This book was published in association with the United Nations Children’s Fund specifically with a children’s audience in mind. The Kindersleys traveled the globe for nearly two years visiting with contacts that were obtained through UNESCO. They met with these families, photographed them, and tell their stories with words and pictures in the succinct style that DK Publishing books are known for. Each two-page spread focuses on one child, his family, and various aspects of his/her daily life and culture. There are statements by each child that express their hopes and dreams and worldview, as well as a handwriting sample of their name.
Reflecting a Multicultural TCK Perspective and for young children
Mora, Pat. (1996 HC, 1999 PB) Confetti: Poems for children.
Narrative poems in free verse capture the rhythms and uniqueness of the Southwest and its culture as seen through the eyes of a Mexican-American girl. Many Spanish words are interwoven into the verses and translated in a glossary at the book's end giving the perspective of a bicultural identity. The beauty of the natural world is captured in Sanchez's acrylic illustrations.
Benjamin, Floella, ed. (1995 HC, 1998 PB) Skip Across the Ocean: Nursery Rhymes from Around the World, illustrated by Sheila Moxley.
A multicultural collection of 32 nursery rhymes, some of which appear in their original languages — French, German, Spanish, Norwegian, Fanti, Luganda, and Yoruba as well as in English. The sprightly, brightly-colored folk-art illustrations have a childlike quality, complementing the rhymes, which are divided into categories of lullabies, action rhymes, nature, and miscellaneous.
Adoff, Arnold. (1991) In for Winter, Out for Spring, illustrated by Jerry Pinkney (African American illustrator).
This collection of poems told from the perspective of a young girl, celebrates family life throughout the yearly cycle of seasons.
Ho, Minfong. (1996) Maples in the Mist: Poems for Children from the Tang Dynasty.
These beautiful poems about everyday sights have been translated into a poetic form of English to be enjoyed by modern English readers. Illustrations accompany the text.
Reflecting a Multicultural and TCK Perspective for young adults
Soto, Gary. (1999) A Fire in My Hands.
Hispanic writer who focuses on common, everyday observations about first love as a young teen, looking for role models who look like him, and fitting in.
Nye, Naomi Shihab, ed. (1996) This Same Sky: A collection of poems from around the world.
Selections from the Middle East, Asia, Africa, India, and South and Central America. They are indexed by country as well as by poet. This is a lengthy collection, close to 200 pages long, brimming with much lovely material. The poems are about many things: the nature of poetry (and language itself), the beauty of the natural world, how feelings about childhood are colored by memory, the love of parent for a child (and vice versa).
Wong, Janet. (1996) A suitcase of seaweed.
Poems that reflect the author’s Korean, Chinese, and American heritage and memories. The quiet, touching poems are divided into three sections, each honoring another part of her ethnicity. The Korean section deals with such diverse topics as hospitality, acupuncture, or the spicy kimchi that was a frequent dinner food. The author learned about Chinese culture from her father's parents, whose presence plays a large role in these poems of family. As an American, Wong writes poems of realization and identity.
Wong, Janet. (1994) Good Luck Gold.
Most of the 42 poems in this collection give readers insight into the experiences of Chinese-American children. Starting with the "Good Luck Gold" of charms on a bracelet, they explore feelings about food, language, shopping, the importance of grandparents, and holidays. A number of the selections reflect on serious themes such as racism, the death of loved ones, divorce, and illness, all of which represent universal experiences.
Mora, Pat. (2000) My Own True Name: New and Selected Poems for Young Adults.
Mora has selected poems from her adult collections and added some new ones. She speaks of her own experience as a Latina in the Southwest and of the experiences of those people whose lives have touched her own. Using the metaphor of a cactus, she has grouped the selections into three sections: "Blooms" (of loves and joys), "Thorns" (of hardships and sorrows), and "Roots" (of family, wisdom, home, and strength). Some of her most poignant poems for the TCK will be those that reflect on the experience of learning a second language.
About living with a learning disability
Abeel, S. (1994) Reach for the Moon. Pfeifer-Hamilton Publishers.
Brown, D.S. (1995) I Know I Can Climb the Mountain. Mountain Books and Music.
Young Adult Fiction — Cultural Adjustment and Bicultural Identity
Na, An (2003) A Step from Heaven.
This book is for older readers who can handle some of the difficult issues this book brings up. In many ways it is a hard look at a struggling immigrant family who goes through the acculturation process in various ways. TCKs will identify with the experience of cultural adjustment and learning to balance the culture of family and the host culture. At age four, Young Ju is not happy to be leaving her Korean home and loving Halmoni (grandmother) to move with her parents to Mi Gook (America), believed to be the land of great promise. Through Young Ju's experiences, listeners hear the family unravel as difficulties mount for them in the States. Young Ju's parents struggle with several low-paying jobs, handicapped by their language barrier. Young Ju's alcoholic and bitter father abuses his wife and children and forbids Young Ju to socialize with American friends.
Ryan, Pam Munoz. (2002) Esperanza Rising.
Ryan uses the experiences of her own Mexican grandmother as the basis for this compelling story of immigration and assimilation, not only to a new country but also into a different social class. Esperanza's expectation that her 13th birthday will be celebrated with all the material pleasures and folk elements of her previous years is shattered when her father is murdered by bandits. His powerful stepbrothers then hold her mother as a social and economic hostage, wanting to force her remarriage to one of them, and go so far as to burn down the family home. Esperanza's mother then decides to join the cook and gardener and their son as they move to the United States and work in California's agricultural industry. They embark on a new way of life, away from the uncles, and Esperanza unwillingly enters a world where she is no longer a princess but a worker.
Yep, Laurence. (1996) The Lost Garden.
In this somewhat desultory but affecting autobiography, Yep (Dragonwings) describes himself as a collection of disparate puzzle pieces: a Chinese-American raised in a black neighborhood, a child too American to fit into Chinatown and too Chinese to fit in anywhere else. Writing, he explains, has conferred on him the role of puzzle-solver, allowing him imaginatively to join and even reinvent the pieces.
Yep, Laurence. Child of the Owl.
Casey struggles with her own insecurities as a culturally-different American. Casey realizes valuing her Chinese roots does not take away from her identity as an American and finds balance to her inner battle for self-acceptance.
Yep, Laurence. (1995) Later, Gator.
Teddy and his family live in San Francisco’s Chinatown during the 1960’s. He is an older brother with a bent for mischief and little regard for his younger sibling. When Bobby’s birthday approaches, Teddy’s mom encourages him to choose a pet turtle for his little brother instead of his usual gift, white gym socks. Always resistant to adult instruction, Teddy purchases a baby alligator instead. This cast of characters live between two worlds: the old China and the new America. In the bi-cultural world that Yep recreates, the boys learn to weigh the mixed messages they encounter. TCKs will identify with the boys' sense of being between two worlds that causes some misunderstandings and frustration as well as enriching their life.
Pinkwater, Manus. (1975) Wingman.
Short novel about Donald Chen, a Chinese-American native New Yorker, who felt alienated from school and created his own comic book hero, Wingman, to help him with the difficulties he experienced. Portrays the strengths of the Chinese-American family and reveals how a teacher was able to encourage the work of an individual child by valuing the child’s abilities and cultural background.
Lucado, Max. (1997) You are Special.
This book shows how true freedom for us comes by not being enslaved to the opinions of others. Max Lucado tells the story to communicate to children (and most definitely to adults as well) that by taking time to experience and remember God's love for us, we can have a deep joy that isn't contingent upon whether people bestow praise (represented by gold stars) or insults (gray dots) upon us.
Nye, Naomi Shihab. (1999) Habibi.
When Liyana's doctor father, a native Palestinian, decides to move his contemporary Arab-American family back to Jerusalem from St. Louis, 14-year-old Liyana is unenthusiastic. Arriving in Jerusalem, the girl and her family are gathered in by their colorful, warmhearted Palestinian relatives and immersed in a culture where only tourists wear shorts and there is a prohibition against boy/girl relationships. When Liyana falls in love with Omer, a Jewish boy, she challenges family, culture, and tradition, but her homesickness fades. Liyana’s story can be traced using the grid of transition management (R.A.F.T.) and traditional models of the acculturation process. A unique feature of this book is its portrayal of the “American” as an immigrant to another culture. Although Liyana is an Arab American, it soon becomes clear to the reader that she is more American than she realizes. Liyana’s expression of a universalist, religious orientation that is common to American youth culture today should provide an opportunity for discussion.
Meir, Mira. (1982) Alina: A Russian Girl Comes to Israel, translated by Zeva Shapiero, Jewish Publication Society of America, Philadelphia.
Photos illustrate the frustrations and eventual joys of acclamation to a new home by a young “Russian” Jew. Excellent story for understanding how to treat any newcomer. Celebrates the immigration of former Soviet Jews to Israel.
Soto, Gary. (1990) Baseball in April.
Eleven short stories give a glimpse of life from the perspective of an emerging adolescent. Soto masterfully recreates the vulnerable child/adult world of young teens struggling to make sense of their world. His viewpoint as a middle-class Hispanic youth in suburbia may strike a chord for TCKs.
“Broken Chain” — Young Alfonso tries to get his brother to lend him his bicycle so he can take his first love for a ride.
“Baseball in April” — Michael and Jesse swing their way through a baseball season of lost games.
“Two Dreamers” — Hector and his grandfather’s dreams about real estate feed each other when Hector’s grandfather enlists him to represent him to a broker on the phone because he is embarrassed about his English.
“Barbie” — Veronica pines for a real Barbie and then loses the doll’s head when she finally gets one.
“The No-Guitar Blues” — Fausto longs for a guitar and is rewarded with a family heirloom.
“Seventh Grade” — “Great rosebushes of red” bloom on Victor’s cheeks when he shows off to his love
interest in French class. Then, to his relief, she is impressed and the
“Mother and Daughter” — Yollie and her mother scheme to stretch their limited income to include a new dress for the school dance.
“The Karate Kid” — Gilbert is relieved when the expensive karate lessons he “just had to have” are cancelled and he doesn’t have to admit that they are boring.
“La Bamba” — Manuel goes through the predictable phases of stage fright when he volunteers to perform for a school talent night.
“The Marble Champ” — Lupe finds a sport she can win with a lot of hard work and learns the big impact that little things can have.
“Growing Up” — Maria feels that she is too big to go on family vacations now that she is a teenager. When she stays home by herself for the week, she gains a new appreciation for her family.
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