It was only as I posted a recommendation for ‘The Emergency Zoo‘ by Miriam Halahmy, http://bookwagon.co.uk/product/the-emergency-zoo/, that I recalled that this is Refugee Week 2017- http://refugeeweek.org.uk.
Brexit negotiations have commenced, London has suffered another terrorist attack on its community, while the Grenfell Tower tragedy continues to unfold; it is fresh in our hearts and minds. Thoughts of those less fortunate than so many of us, today, and through history, perpetuate. This week carries weight and meaning.
Throughout 2016, with difficult events and decisions abounding, many of my friends and families were at a loss to explain them to their children. I have tried to put myself in their places, but frequently returned to the recommendations of esteemed educator Nancy Carlsson- Paige- http://www.nancycarlssonpaige.org
However, as we take the lessons raised by the Empathy Lab, and think about the messages within the Amnesty Honour winners in the 2017 Carnegie/ Greenaway Medals, yet again, I have turned to books.
Reading offers explanations, both directly, as in non-fiction books, and indirectly, through fiction. It suggests actions and reactions.
When I read William Grill’s wonderful ‘Shackleton’s Journey‘ I am inspired by leadership, camaraderie and resilience. ‘This is How We Do It‘ by Matt La Mothe explains how we are all the same, even when we are different. ‘Last Stop on Market Street‘ by Matt De La Pena, offers us an opportunity to share a journey with a young commuter making sense of his place in the world.
When I read ‘Pax‘ by Sara Pennypacker, I am shaken, urging Peter’s father to show compassion with his son’s untenable situation. When children move from reading words, to inhaling and needing meaning from books, they seek to make sense of this crazy world.
They look to hold their own, as ‘Cowgirl‘ Kate does, despite persistent doubts, slurs and arrows. They seek to stand up for the truth, as Maia does in ‘Journey to the River Sea‘. They make plans against the inexplicable, like Tilly and Rosie in ‘The Emergency Zoo.’ They cheer with hope in Lara, in Jane Ray’s ‘Heartsong‘. They aim to show unbelievable courage, like Parvana’ in ‘The Breadwinner‘. They hold their breaths and wipe their tears as they share Standish Treadwell’s finest moment, in ‘Maggot Moon‘. We realise that while we may see the world about us differently, we all see the world- ‘They All Saw a Cat‘.
It matters to us that the titles we select for Bookwagon should have meaning, reason, warmth and empathy. They should stir emotional response in the reader.
Refugee Week reminds us that though ‘different parts/ shared futures’ we all want futures that are safe, secure and happy. Bronnie
As I have been writing there has been news of of acclaimed writer, Emma Carroll. Her most recent book, ‘Letters from the Lighthouse’ includes the unravelling of the heartbreaking history of secondary character, Esther Jenkins. This author has demonstrated her empathy and strength, by initiating Authors for Grenfell Tower, an initiative to raise money to support victims of this tragedy, many of whom have been left as refugees. Refugees are not people ‘out there’ or ‘long ago’ but here amongst us. https://twitter.com/emmac2603/status/876750971308781568