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A Journey Through 15 Extraordinary Books
Readers' recommendations for Rohingya refugee who asked for book suggestions.
I must say, I'm astounded by the brilliance of your book recommendations. Initially, we were aiming for a list of 5 books to recommend to young folks in a unique situation—limited access to educational resources, and still learning the ropes of the English language. But, with your wisdom, that number has delightfully ballooned to 15 (whittled down from something like 44 recommendations). Thank you for making my life harder and richer!
Eighteen of you wrote in/messaged me/tagged me. I genuinely appreciate each and every one of you who took the time to make these thoughtful contributions. Why did I get rid of the other 29 proposed books? Well, while some of the suggested works were intellectually tantalising, they may be a bit too linguistically challenging for our readers!
So without further ado, here is the the grand unveiling of the final list, a combination of your intellectual curiosity, real-world pragmatism, and, let’s be honest, my own preferences.
In random order:
"The Bone Sparrow" by Zana Fraillon
This book is about Subhi, a Rohingya refugee boy, living in an Australian detention center, and it provides a poignant glimpse into the lives of detained refugees.
“I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World” by Malala Yousafza.
The inspiring autobiography of Malala, a young advocate for education and girls' rights.
"The Dark Materials" trilogy by Philip Pullman
Beloved of my son, and my sole contribution to this list. Captivating and thought-provoking epic that delves into parallel worlds, magical creatures, and the timeless battle between good and evil. The trilogy explores complex themes related to the abuse of power, dogma, and authoritarianism within religious institutions.
"Salt to the Sea" by Ruta Sepetys
This historical fiction novel focuses on the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff during World War II and is told from four different perspectives, including that of refugees. The themes of displacement, seeking safety, and the harrowing journey across the sea are universal and may resonate with any group of refugees, including of course Rohingya refugees.
"The Windup Girl" by Paolo Bacigalupi
A captivating science fiction novel set in a future Thailand, where biotechnology sparks a societal revolution. Deals with issues such as biotechnology and global warming.
"Animal Farm" by George Orwell
This book needs no introduction. A tale about farm animals who overthrow their human owner, only to find that their new leaders, the pigs, become just as oppressive. The story serves as an allegory for political corruption and misuse of power.
"The Hate U Give" by Angie Thomas
While not directly about migration or refugees, this book tackles themes of racial justice in the United States. A New York Times best-seller.
"The Red Pencil" by Andrea Davis Pinkney
A 12-year-old Sudanese girl, Amira Bright, faces a challenging battle for survival following a harrowing janjaweed attack on her town, which compels her family to seek refuge in an overcrowded camp. Despite the turmoil, Amira holds onto a dream — to leave her South Darfur farm and enroll at Gad Primary School, where girls are welcomed.
"Born a Crime" by Trevor Noah
This is a captivating memoir that humorously and poignantly recounts Trevor Noah’s experiences growing up in apartheid-era and post-apartheid South Africa, offering a unique perspective on racial identity.
"Inside Out & Back Again" by Thanhha Lai
A novel written in verse. Inspired by the author's own experience, this novel tells the story of a Vietnamese girl who moves to the United States after the fall of Saigon.
"The Arrival" by Shaun Tan
This wordless graphic novel vividly depicts the immigrant experience as it follows a young man leaving his family behind to forge a new life in a foreign land.
"Refugee" by Alan Gratz
This book tells the story of three separate child refugees from three different time periods (Nazi Germany, 1990s Cuba, and modern Syria), highlighting the universal struggles and hopes of refugees.
"Nowhere Boy" by Katherine Marsh
This story of a Syrian refugee and an American boy in Brussels touches on issues of asylum and friendship.
Outcasts United: The Story of a Refugee Soccer Team That Changed a Town" by Warren St. John
Set in Clarkston, Georgia, this is a real-life tale that tracks the Fugees, a youth soccer team composed of children from conflict-ridden regions in the Middle East, Africa, and Eastern Europe.
"Of Mice and Men" by John Steinbeck
A novella that explores the friendship between two displaced ranch workers during the Great Depression and the challenges they face while striving to achieve their dreams in a harsh and unforgiving world.
"The Little Prince" by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
A beloved novella that follows the adventures of a young prince as he explores different planets, imparting lessons about life, love, and imagination. (Oooops - I forgot this one!! Total is 16).
Thank you to all the contributors for your valuable book recommendations.. I'll be adding some of these fantastic book suggestions to my own 'To buy' list promptly.
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