Powerful books inspire readers
Non-fiction stories make positive impact
It's important to expose children of all ages to stories that will inspire them. True stories, such as those reviewed below, carry great impact. Works of fiction can also be equally inspiring, providing readers with thought-provoking prose that expand the reader beyond what they previously thought or knew or considered.
Finding such books isn't the easiest task. With thousands of new books published every year, the choices are practically endless. One quick reference is to visit the companion website to this column, Greatest Books for Kids. Just click on Best Books in the left toolbar, then select what age group you are looking for. It's as easy as that.
Inspire kids with stories that will help them broaden their horizons. Kids need that, and you have the power to make that happen.
Books to Borrow
The following book is available at many public libraries.
"14 Cows for America" by Carmen Agra Deedy in collaboration with Wilson Kimeli Naiyomah, illustrated by Thomas Gonzalez, Peachtree, 40 pages
Read aloud: age 6 — 10
Read yourself: age 8 — 10
Kimeli is a Maasai tribesman and Stanford University student. He hasn't been home in a very long time, but in June 2002, he returns to his Kenyan village. Kimeli knows his fellow Maasai will be eager for stories, and when they ask him if he has any to share, he nods, then relates the true story of what he witnessed when visiting New York City on Sept. 11, 2001.
The Maasai are stunned, for they are "easily moved to kindness when they hear of suffering or injustice." Reacting to the sorrow and suffering of Americans half a world away, the compassionate Maasai offer the greatest gift they have — 14 cows for America.
An extraordinary true story of generosity, compassion and hope, "14 Cows for America" is rich on multiple levels for young and old alike.
Library: Gridley Branch, Butte County Library, 299 Spruce St., Gridley
Library Director: Linda Mielke
Branch Librarian: Cynthia Pustejovsky
Children's Services: Christy Cooke-Williford
Choices this week: "Louise, The Adventures of a Chicken" by Kate DiCamillo; "The Lemonade Club" by Patricia Polacco; "Because of Winn-Dixie" by Kate DiCamillo
Books to Buy
The following books are available at your favorite bookstores.
"The Warrior's Heart: Becoming a Man of Compassion and Courage" by Eric Greitens, Navy SEAL, Houghton Mifflin, 2012, 266 pages, $16.99 hardcover
Read aloud: age 11 — 12 and older
Read yourself: age 12 and older
Navy SEAL Eric Greitens, author of the best-selling adult book "The Heart and the Fist," has adapted that book for a teen audience in this powerful recommendation, "The Warrior's Heart." Far more than a memoir, Greitens challenges teens to expand their minds, challenge themselves, develop courage and compassion and to make the right choices.
An extraordinarily accomplished man and eloquent writer, readers join Greitens on his journeys through life that shaped and changed him, from his experiences in China; humanitarian work in Rwanda, Bosnia and Bolivia; to his training as a Navy SEAL and hunting terrorists in Iraq; and his creation of his nonprofit organization, The Mission Continues.
This remarkable, inspiring story is a call to action to live a life filled with integrity, courage and compassion — an important message for young and old alike.
"Stolen into Slavery: The True Story of Solomon Northup, Free Black Man" by Judith Fradin and Dennis Fradin, National Geographic, 2012, 120 pages, $18.95 hardcover
Read aloud: age 8 — 9 and older
Read yourself: age 10 and older
In 1841, Solomon Northup woke up in the middle of the night to find himself handcuffed and his feet chained to the floor in a dark dungeon. The black man had been born free, was educated and had a wife and family in upstate New York.
He thought surely this was a mistake, but as Solomon soon realized, he had been stolen and sold illegally into slavery where he would spend the next 12 years of his life.
A gripping story of courage, perseverance, and strong will, this flawlessly written true story is one readers won't soon forget.
Kendal A. Rautzhan writes and lectures about children's literature. She can be reached at her website: greatestbooksforkids.com.