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Resource November 15, 2010

Children's Lives in Central Africa: A Reading List

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English

For decades the international community has been dogged by its failures to protect civilians from...

Photo by Jina Moore
Photo by Jina Moore
The novels described in this reading list are a fraction of the fiction and non-fiction resources related countries discussed in Jina Moore's work. The resources are appropriate for a range of students and should be pre-viewed by the class teacher before use in the classroom.
You can also download a PDF of this reading list.
The book descriptions, as well as additional information about the author, can be found by clicking on each book title.
Children's Lives Across Africa
Say You're One of Them
By Uwem Akpan
"Each story in this jubilantly acclaimed collection pays testament to the wisdom and resilience of children, even in the face of the most agonizing circumstances.
A family living in a makeshift shanty in urban Kenya scurries to find gifts of any kind for the impending Christmas holiday. A Rwandan girl relates her family's struggles to maintain a facade of normalcy amid unspeakable acts. A young brother and sister cope with their uncle's attempt to sell them into slavery. Aboard a bus filled with refugees—a microcosm of today's Africa—a Muslim boy summons his faith to bear a treacherous ride across Nigeria. Through the eyes of childhood friends the emotional toll of religious conflict in Ethiopia becomes viscerally clear.
Uwem Akpan's debut signals the arrival of a breathtakingly talented writer who gives a matter-of-fact reality to the most extreme circumstances in stories that are nothing short of transcendent."

Burundi
Strength in What Remains
By Tracy Kidder
"Deo grew up in the mountains of Burundi, and survived a civil war and genocide before seeking a new life in America. In New York City he lived homeless in Central Park before finding his way to Columbia University. But Deo's story really begins with his will to turn his life into something truly remarkable; he returns to his native country to help people there, as well as people in the United States.
An extraordinary writer, Kidder has the remarkable ability to show us what it means to be fully human, and to tell the unadorned story of a life based on hope. Riveting and inspiring, this may be his most magnificent work to date. Strength in What Remains is a testament to the power of will and friendship, and of the endurance of the soul."

Sierra Leone
The Bite of the Mango
By Mariatu Kamara with Susan McClelland
"As a child in a small rural village in Sierra Leone, Mariatu Kamara lived peacefully surrounded by family and friends. Rumors of rebel attacks were no more than a distant worry. 

But when 12-year-old Mariatu set out for a neighboring village, she never arrived. Heavily armed rebel soldiers, many no older than children themselves, attacked and tortured Mariatu. During this brutal act of senseless violence they cut off both her hands. Stumbling through the countryside, Mariatu miraculously survived. The sweet taste of a mango, her first food after the attack, reaffirmed her desire to live, but the challenge of clutching the fruit in her bloodied arms reinforced the grim new reality that stood before her. With no parents or living adult to support her and living in a refugee camp, she turned to begging in the streets of Freetown.
As told to her by Mariatu, journalist Susan McClelland has written the heartbreaking true story of the brutal attack, its aftermath and Mariatu's eventual arrival in Toronto where she began to pull together the pieces of her broken life with courage, astonishing resilience and hope."
A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier
By Ishmael Beah
"There may be as many as 300,000 child soldiers, hopped-up on drugs and wielding AK-47s, in more than fifty conflicts around the world. Ishmael Beah used to be one of them. He is one of the first to tell his story in his own words.
In A LONG WAY GONE, Beah, now twenty-six years old, tells a riveting story. At the age of twelve, he fled attacking rebels and wandered a land rendered unrecognizable by violence. By thirteen, he'd been picked up by the government army, and Beah, at heart a gentle boy, found that he was capable of truly terrible acts. Eventually released by the army and sent to a UNICEF rehabilitation center, he struggled to regain his humanity and to reenter the world of civilians, who viewed him with fear and suspicion. This is, at last, a story of redemption and hope."
Diamonds in the Shadow
By Caroline B. Cooney
"The Finch Family did not know that five refugees landed from Africa on the day they went to the airport to welcome the family sponsored by their church. The Finch family only knew about the four refugees they were meeting - Andre, Celestine, Mattu, and Alake - mother, father, teenage son and daughter.
Soon Jared realizes that the good guys are not always innocent, and he must make a decision that could change the fate of both families. This story presents many points of view and a fresh perspective on doing the right thing."

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