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Fiction that Inspires

By Holly Johnson, University of Cincinnati

Last week I talked about the three biographies on the WOW Recommends list and how inspiring they are for young people. This week I want to talk about a few equally inspiring fiction pieces. Those three books are The Stars at Oktober Bend (2018) by Glenda Millard, Speak: The Graphic Novel (2018) by Laurie Halse Anderson, and Escape from Aleppo (2018) by N.H. Senzai. While I suggest these books are inspiring, that does not mean they are without tragedy. In fact, all three chronicle an overwhelming tragedy for each of the protagonists. And it is their battle to overcome despite the tragedy, their hope for their futures and their ultimate victories that are so inspiring. The readers are with these characters as they encounter or struggle through the aftermath of each of their individual horrors. Let’s take a look at each one in turn. They deserve this second look!

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Re-Introducing 2018 WOW Recommends

By Holly Johnson, University of Cincinnati

Each year, members of the Worlds of Words community recommend monthly books for readers to consider through the WoW Recommends feature. The main criteria is that the book must have a publish date within the last two years. Taking a look back at the 2018 list, I was interested in finding out what had been recommended so that I might read these books and think about how they may or may not resonate with me. I was also curious about what themes were discussed so that I might share my own thoughts about these texts.
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MTYT: When the Rain Comes

In September’s MTYT, Jean Schroeder and Holly Johnson discuss the last of four books that topped USBBY’s Outstanding International Books list. The common theme between these books is the need to escape. In When the Rain Comes, the main character needs to escape a natural disaster. This story shows how a young girl must deal with the immediate crisis and do what she can to save her own life and the livelihood her village.

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MTYT: Escape from Syria

In the second installment of September’s MTYT, Jean Schroeder and Holly Johnson discuss the second of four books that topped USBBY’s Outstanding International Books list. The common theme between these books is the need to escape. In Escape from Syria, a young girl and her family desperately try to escape the Syrian civil war. This story shows how they escape and how they adapt to living in a new country as refugees.

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MTYT: Peter in Peril: Courage and Hope in WWII

In the second installment of September’s MTYT, Jean Schroeder and Holly Johnson discuss the second of four books that topped USBBY’s Outstanding International Books list. The common theme between these books is the need to escape. In Peter in Peril: Courage and Hope in WWII, the main character needs to escape persecution as a result of a world war. This story shows how young Peter is able to survive and stay hopeful against insurmountable odds.

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WOW Recommends: Book of the Month

WOW Recommends: The Stars at Oktober Bend

The Stars at Oktober BendImbued with lyrical and poignant language, readers of The Stars at Oktober Bend by Glenda Millard are invited into 15-year-old Alice Nightingale’s wonder and promise-filled world even as she remains on the margins. Alice attempts to manage a broken life and family after being attacked, leaving her with brain damage that may result in her being “twelveness” for the rest of her life. But Alice is resourceful and starts to grow away from her twelveness by relearning language through writing poetry in her Book of Flying, by connecting with Emmanuel (Manny) James, who also has been damaged by the world, and by remaining true to never forsaking her younger brother Joey and “Grandma Glorious.” Alice’s father is dead, and her mother left the country to pursue her career. Grandfather Papa is in prison for killing the men who attacked Alice, leaving the family of three living outside of their Australian town, hidden away from most of the world. Alice is artistic and fills her days with making fishing lures and writing while Joey goes to school bringing books and information for Alice to learn. Because she is often overwhelmed by typical human interactions, Alice cannot attend school and thus spends much of her time alone–until she sees and is seen by Manny. Readers venture with Alice as she grows into her adolescence, hoping for love and connection outside of the family. And as Alice’s world becomes more and more precarious, readers will fall in love with Alice and Manny as they share their pain and love with each other in hopes of overcoming. -Recommended by Holly Johnson. Continue reading

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MTYT: Connecting Our Reading to Each Other and Further Readings

In this week’s MTYT, Holly and Marilyn discuss how different books with similar themes connect to one another in meaningful ways. When these connections are recognized, separate pieces of literature are able to be looked at together. This creates the opportunity for younger readers to further educate themselves on the different cultures within these books.

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