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Books For Children and Young Adults

March 2, 2012

Books For Children and Young Adults

We’ve Got a Job, by Cynthia Levinson. Peachtree Press. 2012. I received this book from Netgallery and read it on my Nook.

Behind the Mountains, by Edwidge Danticat. Scholastic Paperbacks (2004), Paperback, 166 pages

I don’t read and review children’s and young adult books, except. . . .

As I was getting started book blogging last month, I inadvertently requested and received two books written for teenage audiences. I had been initially attracted to them because of their subjects and authors without realizing their intended audiences. When they arrived I was still curious and read both. I was delighted with them, and now I want to praise them publicly.

We’ve Got a Job, by Cynthia Levinson, is the story of the “Children’s March” during the civil rights demonstrations in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963. The event is described by four black young people, three of whom who chose to march and one who was arrested along with them. The circumstances of the march are told with fairness and sophistication. Disagreements within the Movement are explained and a section offers reasons why white supremacists fought so hard against any lessening of restrictions on blacks. But it is the voices of the students themselves, telling why they acted as they did, that sets this book apart.

Danticat is the author of Beyond the Mountains, published in the series First Person Fiction. Here the highly respected author retells her own story of life in Haiti and immigration to New York City. It is a story that would resonate with readers making similar journeys or simply trying to understand classmates who do. As always, Danticat is an exquisite writer and tells her story with grace and insight. That alone makes this book worth reading. She, and the creators of this series, deserve credit for such a book.

I recommend both these books highly, not just for black or immigrant readers but for all who would want to broaden their understanding of the lives of others. I can not guess what age range would appreciate these books, only that I enjoyed and learned from them and that other adults could also. And books like these should be widely available in schools everywhere.

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