Books at Bedtime: Peace

Yesterday was Peace Day – thousands of people around the world stopped to stand together for a world without conflict, for a world united:

PEACE is more than the absence of war.
It is about transforming our societies and
uniting our global community
to work together for a more peaceful, just
and sustainable world for ALL. (Peace Day)

There is an ever-increasing number of children’s books being written by people who have experienced conflict first hand and whose stories give rise to discussion that may not be able to answer the question, “Why?” but at least allows history to become known and hopefully learnt from.

For younger children, such books as A Place Where Sunflowers Grow by Amy Lee-Tai and illustrated by Felicia Hoshino; Peacebound Trains by Haemi Balgassi; and The Orphans of Normandy by Nancy Amis all The Orphans of Normandyfocus on children who are the innocent victims of conflict. We came across The Orphans of Normandy last summer. I was looking for something to read with my boys on holiday, when we were visiting some of the Normandy World War II sites. It is an extraordinary book: a diary written by the head of an orphanage in Caen and illustrated by the girls themselves as they made a journey of 150 miles to flee the coast. Some of the images are very sobering, being an accurate depiction of war by such young witnesses. It worked well as an introduction to the effects of conflict, without being unnecessarily traumatic.

The story of Sadako Sasaki, One Thousand Paper Cranesthe young Japanese girl who died aged twelve from leukkemia eleven years after the atom bomb fell on Hiroshima, is a truly inspirational one. There are several versions of the story, adapted for different age-groups. I haven’t seen the one by Eleanor Coerr illustrated by Ed Young but I’d like to! One Thousand Paper Cranes: The Story of Sadako and the Children’s Peace Statue by Takayuki Ishii is definitely a book for adults as well as older children; one which all will benefit from reading together. For more children’s books about Peace, check out Uma Krishnaswami‘s booklist

Books about people who devoted their lives to Peace include Gandhi by Demi and Jane Addams: Champion of Democracy by Judith Bloom Fradin and Dennis Brindell Fradin. The Jane Addams Book Award list is always a good resource for the latest stories about seeking peace in times of conflict.

And don’t miss Susan Guevara’s Personal View in this month’s PaperTigers Update: “Literacy: a Path to Peace”. Look at her stunning mural and mull over Pat Mora’s beautiful poem.


5 Responses to “Books at Bedtime: Peace”

  1. Corinne Says:

    The 2007 Jane Addams Children’s Book Awards will be presented Oct. 19/07 in New York City. A Place Where Sunflowers Grow is one of this year’s winners! Their website has more information on this year’s 6 award winners, as well as the previous winners.

  2. Marjorie Says:

    Thanks for pointing that out, Corinne. Also, Weedflower by Cynthia Kadohata is one of the other 2007 award winners.

  3. Mad Hatter Says:

    What a great topic to highlight. It would be interesting to see how many non WWII books there are out there on the topic of peace. I should do some scrounging around. Here in Canada, Deborah Ellis has published a number of books about middle east. The Breadwinner and Parvana’s Journey deal with a young girl growing up in Afghanistan. Mmmm. I’ll have to keep thinking about all this.

  4. Marjorie Says:

    You raise an interesting point and if you do find anything interesting, do let us know. Thank you for pointing out Deborah Ellis’ books. She is a very powerful writer and you can read a bit of background to her Breadwinner Trilogy in an interview with her on PaperTigers. We will also be reviewing her most recent book, Sacred Leaf, in our next issue. The sequel to I Am a Taxi, it is all about conflict too, focussing on issues within Bolivia about the coca plant, and indirectly on the influence of the US on government policy…