“One of the things we can do as artists is to be truthful about what the world holds.”
—Tony Abbott, author of The Great Jeff and Firegirl
Literature is a powerful tool that both reflects our world and widens it, allowing readers to see themselves and to see how people different from themselves live. One of the most important things literature does is allow us approach tough topics. It gives us both imagined and real spaces to explore subjects like displacement, homelessness, and poverty, gives us words to describe the emotional and psychological landscapes those realities engender, gives us trailblazers, truthtellers, and characters who populate those landscapes. Here at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers we’ve a curated list of titles that can help you address these topics with the young readers in your classrooms and libraries. They cover everything from how a parent losing her job can lead to homelessness, to a hurricane forcing a young girl and her family to find a new home, to the stories of the children of migrant workers. We’re confident these books can help spark difficult conversations that need to be held, and keep those conversations going.
Perfect for fans of Gary D. Schmidt comes the companion to the modern classic Firegirl from acclaimed writer Tony Abbott.
Life hasn't been great for Jeff Hicks. After years at his beloved St. Catherine's, he's forced to spend eighth grade in the public middle school, which he hates. He's no longer speaking to his former best friend, Tom Bender, because of "that burned girl" Jessica Feeney. But worst of all, his family is changing, and it's not for the better.
When his mom comes home announcing that she's lost her job, Jeff begins to worry about things far beyond his years: How will they pay the rent? Will his absentee dad step up and save the day? Is his mom drinking too much? And ultimately, where will they live?
The Great Jeff is a powerful look at the life of a troubled boy who finds his life spiraling out of control.
This timely coming of age novel takes on the controversial issues of fracking and environmental protection.
Stay away from my woods.
Eleven-year-old Fern doesn't have the easiest life. Her stepfather is out of work, and she's responsible for putting dinner on the table--not to mention keeping her wild younger brothers out of trouble. The woods near their home is her only refuge, where she finds food and plays with her neighbor's dog. But when a fracking company rolls into town, her special grove could be ripped away, and no one else seems to care.
Her stepfather needs the money that a job with the frackers could bring to their family, and her wealthy grandfather likes the business it brings to their town. Even her best friend doesn't understand what the land means to Fern. With no one on her side, how can she save the forest that has protected her for so long?
The acclaimed author of Wonder at the Edge of the World weaves a poignant story about life on the poverty line, the environment, friendship and family--and, most of all, finding your place in the world.
Zaynab was out of school for two years as she fled war before landing in America. Her sister, Sabreen, survived a harrowing journey to Italy.
Ajida escaped horrific violence, but then found herself battling the elements to keep her family safe.
In her powerful new book, Nobel Peace Prize winner and New York Times-bestselling author Malala Yousafzai introduces some of the people behind the statistics and news stories about the millions of people displaced worldwide.
Malala's experiences visiting refugee camps caused her to reconsider her own displacement -- first as an Internally Displaced Person when she was a young child in Pakistan, and then as an international activist who could travel anywhere in the world except to the home she loved. In We Are Displaced, which is part memoir, part communal storytelling, Malala not only explores her own story, but she also shares the personal stories of some of the incredible girls she has met on her journeys -- girls who have lost their community, relatives, and often the only world they've ever known.
In a time of immigration crises, war, and border conflicts, We Are Displaced is an important reminder from one of the world's most prominent young activists that every single one of the 68.5 million currently displaced is a person -- often a young person -- with hopes and dreams.
In this charming historical novel, acclaimed artist Lauren A. Mills reimagines her beloved picture book, The Rag Coat, with fifty delicate pencil illustrations and an expanded story about a resilient little girl, her patchwork coat, and how the two bring a community together.
Minna and her family don't have much in their small Appalachian cabin, but "people only need people," Papa always reminds her. Unable to afford a winter coat to wear to school, she's forced to use an old feed sack to keep her warm. Then Papa's terrible cough from working in the coal mines takes him away forever, and Minna has a hard time believing that anything will be right again...until her neighbors work tirelessly to create a coat for her out of old fabric scraps. Now Minna must show her teasing classmates that her coat is more than just rags--it's a collection of their own cherished memories, each with a story to share.
Amber Appleton lives in a bus. Ever since her mom's boyfriend kicked them out, Amber, her mom, and her totally loyal dog, Bobby Big Boy (aka Thrice B) have been camped out in the back of Hello Yellow (the school bus her mom drives). Still, Amber, the self-proclaimed princess of hope and girl of unyielding optimism, refuses to sweat the bad stuff. But when a fatal tragedy threatens Amber's optimism--and her way of life, can Amber continue to be the rock star of hope?
With an oddball cast of characters, and a heartwarming, inspiring story, this novel unveils a beautifully beaten-up world of laughs, loyalty, and hard-earned hope. The world is Amber's stage, and Amber is, well...she's sorta like a rock star. True? True.
In the wake of a destructive tornado, one girl develops feelings for another in this stunning, tender novel about emerging identity, perfect for fans of The Thing About Jellyfish.
When a tornado rips through town, twelve-year-old Ivy Aberdeen's house is destroyed and her family of five is displaced. Ivy feels invisible and ignored in the aftermath of the storm--and what's worse, her notebook filled with secret drawings of girls holding hands has gone missing.
Mysteriously, Ivy's drawings begin to reappear in her locker with notes from someone telling her to open up about her identity. Ivy thinks--and hopes--that this someone might be her classmate, another girl for whom Ivy has begun to develop a crush. Will Ivy find the strength and courage to follow her true feelings?
Ivy Aberdeen's Letter to the World exquisitely enriches the rare category of female middle-grade characters who like girls--and children's literature at large.
The bestselling memoir by Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai.
I Am Malala. This is my story.
Malala Yousafzai was only ten years old when the Taliban took control of her region. They said music was a crime. They said women weren't allowed to go to the market. They said girls couldn't go to school.
Raised in a once-peaceful area of Pakistan transformed by terrorism, Malala was taught to stand up for what she believes. So she fought for her right to be educated. And on October 9, 2012, she nearly lost her life for the cause: She was shot point-blank while riding the bus on her way home from school.
No one expected her to survive.
Now Malala is an international symbol of peaceful protest and the youngest ever Nobel Peace Prize winner. In this Young Readers Edition of her bestselling memoir, which has been reimagined specifically for a younger audience and includes exclusive photos and material, we hear firsthand the remarkable story of a girl who knew from a young age that she wanted to change the world -- and did.
Malala's powerful story will open your eyes to another world and will make you believe in hope, truth, miracles and the possibility that one person -- one young person -- can inspire change in her community and beyond.
From New York Times bestselling and award-winning author Jewell Parker Rhodes comes a heartbreaking and uplifting tale of survival in the face of Hurricane Katrina.
Twelve-year-old Lanesha lives in a tight-knit community in New Orleans' Ninth Ward. She doesn't have a fancy house like her uptown family or lots of friends like the other kids on her street. But what she does have is Mama Ya-Ya, her fiercely loving caretaker, wise in the ways of the world and able to predict the future. So when Mama Ya-Ya's visions show a powerful hurricane--Katrina--fast approaching, it's up to Lanesha to call upon the hope and strength Mama Ya-Ya has given her to help them both survive the storm.
From the New York Times bestselling author of Ghost Boys and Towers Falling, Ninth Ward is a deeply emotional story about transformation and a celebration of resilience, friendship, and family--as only love can define it.
My father says that a journey should always change your life in some way. Well, when you have nothing, I suppose a journey promises everything.
"Diamonds for everyone." That's what fifteen-year-old Patson Moyo hears when his family arrives in the Marange diamond fields. Soon Patson is working in the mines along with four friends, pooling their profits for a chance at a better life. Each of them hopes to find a girazi, a priceless stone that could change their circumstances forever. But when the government's soldiers come to Marange, Patson's world is shattered.
Set against the backdrop of Zimbabwe's brutal recent history, Diamond Boy is the story of a young man who succumbs to greed but finds his way out through a transformative journey to South Africa in search of his missing sister, in search of freedom, and in search of himself.
A high-stakes, harrowing adventure in the blood-diamond fields of southern Africa, from the critically acclaimed author of Now Is the Time for Running.