Call Me American

Abdi Nor Iftin first fell in love with America from afar. As a child, he learned English by listening to American pop artists like Michael Jackson and watching films starring action heroes like Arnold Schwarzenegger. When U.S. marines landed in Mogadishu to take on the warlords, Abdi cheered the arrival of these real Americans, who seemed as heroic as those of the movies. Sporting American clothes and dance moves, he became known around Mogadishu as Abdi American, but when the radical Islamist group al-Shabaab rose to power in 2006, it suddenly became dangerous to celebrate Western culture. Desperate to make a living, Abdi used his language skills to post secret dispatches to NPR and the Internet, which found an audience of worldwide listeners. But as life in Somalia grew more dangerous, Abdi was left with no choice but to flee to Kenya as a refugee. In an amazing stroke of luck, Abdi won entrance to the U.S. in the annual visa lottery, though his route to America was filled with twists and turns and a harrowing sequence of events that nearly stranded him in Nairobi. Now a proud resident of Maine and on the path to citizenship, Abdi Nor Iftin’s dramatic, deeply stirring memoir is truly a story for our time: a vivid reminder of why western democracies still beckon to those looking to make a better life.

The Cat Man Of Aleppo

The courageous and true story of Mohammad Alaa Aljaleel, who in the midst of the Syrian Civil War offered safe haven to Aleppo’s abandoned cats. Aleppo’s city center no longer echoes with the rich, exciting sounds of copper-pot pounding and traditional sword sharpening. His neighborhood is empty–except for the many cats left behind. Alaa loves Aleppo, but when war comes his neighbors flee to safety, leaving their many pets behind. Alaa decides to stay–he can make a difference by driving an ambulance, carrying the sick and wounded to safety. One day he hears hungry cats calling out to him on his way home. They are lonely and scared, just like him. He feeds and pets them to let them know they are loved. The next day more cats come, and then even more! There are too many for Alaa to take care of on his own. Alaa has a big heart, but he will need help from others if he wants to keep all of his new friends safe.

The Hawk and the Dove

The late Paul Kor, an internationally acclaimed Israeli author-illustrator, sought to create a miracle with this book borne out of his own brutal experiences of war. With its striking illustrations, the simple but powerful story offers a hopeful message of peace in a time of uncertainty. Clever paper cuts allow readers to play an active role in the transformations with every turn of the page, thus encouraging children to recognize they have the power to affect change, including when it comes to choosing peace over war in the future. This book provides an accessible look at the concepts of war and peace and would make a terrific discussion starter on the subject. It could also be a model for an art lesson on papercutting. A note at the end of the book details the inspiration behind the story and the book’s creation, accompanied by photographs.

Tomorrow

Yazan no longer goes to the park to play, and he no longer sees his friend who lives next door. Everything around him is changing. His parents sit in front of the television with the news turned up LOUD and Yazan’s little red bike leans forgotten against the wall. Will he ever be able to go outside and play? An uplifting story about a courageous little boy growing up in a time of conflict, and the strength of family love.

Too Young To Escape: A Vietnamese Girl Waits To Be Reuited With Her Family

After the end of the Vietnam War, Van wakes up one morning to find that her mother, sisters, and brother are gone. They have escaped the new communist regime that has taken over Ho Chi Minh City for freedom in the West. Van is too young–and her grandmother too old–for such a dangerous journey by boat, so the two have been left behind. Once settled in North America, her parents will be able to sponser them, and Van and her grandmother will fly away to safety. But in the meantime, Van is forced ot work hard to satisfy her aunt and uncle, who treat her like an unwelcome guest. And at school she must learn that calling attention to herself is a mistake, especially when the bully who has been tormenting her turns out to be the son of a military policeman.

The Day War Came

A powerful and necessary picture book – the journey of a child forced to become a refugee when war destroys everything she has ever known. Imagine if, on an ordinary day, war came. Imagine it turned your town to rubble. Imagine going on a long and difficult journey – all alone. Imagine finding no welcome at the end of it. Then imagine a child who gives you something small but very, very precious … When the government refused to allow 3000 child refugees to enter this country in 2016, Nicola Davies was so angry she wrote a poem. It started a campaign for which artists contributed drawings of chairs, symbolising a seat in a classroom, education, kindness, the hope of a future. The poem has become this book, movingly illustrated by Rebecca Cobb, which should prove a powerful aid for explaining the ongoing refugee crisis to younger readers.

Grenade

On April 1, 1945 with the battle of Okinawa beginning, fourteen-year-old native Okinawan Hideki, drafted into the Blood and Iron Student Corps, is handed two grenades and told to go kill American soldiers; small for his age Hideki does not really want to kill anyone, he just wants to find his family, and his struggle across the island will finally bring him face-to-face with Ray, a marine in his very first battle and the choice he makes then will change his life forever.

How Dare The Sun Rise

This profoundly moving memoir is the remarkable and inspiring true story of Sandra Uwiringiyimana, a girl from the Democratic Republic of the Congo who tells the tale of how she survived a massacre, immigrated to America, and overcame her trauma through art and activism.

This book has been included in WOW’s Language and Learning: Children’s and Young Adult Fiction Booklist. For our current list, visit our Booklist page under Resources in the green navigation bar.