Children's Reading Suggestions

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Asia/Middle East

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Trent Reedy. Words in the Dust. (Afghanistan)

Zulaikha, a thirteen-year-old girl in Afghanistan, faces a series of frightening but exhilarating changes in her life as she defies her father and secretly meets with an old woman who teaches her to read, her older sister gets married, and American troops offer her surgery to fix her disfiguring cleft lip.

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Mitali Perkins. Bamboo People. (Burma)

Two Burmese boys, one a Karenni refugee and the other the son of an imprisoned Burmese doctor, meet in the jungle and in order to survive they must learn to trust each other.

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Minfong Ho. The Clay Marble.  (Cambodia)

In the late 1970s twelve-year-old Dara joins a refugee camp in war-torn Cambodia and becomes separated from her family.

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Ying Chang Compestine. The Story of Paper. (China)

After the Kang brothers get in trouble at school, they devise a way to make paper, which will make things easier for both their teacher and themselves. Includes a historical note and a recipe for home-made paper.

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Laurence Yep. Spring Pearl.  (China)

Called boyish by her new family for being able to read and write, twelve-year-old, orphaned Spring Pearl’s “odd ways” help save the family during the 1857 Opium War in Canton, China.

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Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. The Conch Bearer. (India)

In India, a healer invites twelve-year-old Anand to join him on a quest to return a magical conch to its safe and rightful home, high in the Himalayan mountains.

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Sue Alexander. Behold the Trees.  (Israel)

A land once protected by all sorts of wonderful trees is reduced over time by war and environmental neglect to desert, until new inhabitants plant trees and slowly make Israel bloom again.

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Leslea Newman. Hachiko Waits.  (Japan)

Professor Ueno’s loyal Akita, Hachiko, waits for him at the train station every afternoon, and even after the professor has a fatal heart attack while at work, Hachiko faithfully continues to await his return until the day the dog dies. Based on a true story; includes an author’s note and glossary of Japanese words.

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Virginia Kroll. A Carp for Kimiko.  (Japan)

Although the tradition is to present carp kites only to boys on Children’s Day, Kimiko’s parents find a way to make the day special for her.

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Linda Sue Park. A Single Shard.  (Korea)

Tree-ear, a thirteen-year-old orphan in medieval Korea, lives under a bridge in a potters’ village, and longs to learn how to throw the delicate celadon ceramics himself. 2002 Newbery Award winner.

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Pamela Service. Alien Expedition.  (Mongolia)

Young alien agent Zack joins an archaeological dig in Mongolia to ensure that there is no trouble from the dinosaur-like scientists from Vraj’s home planet who are on a similar dig nearby.

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Gordon Korman. The Contest (Everest series).  (Nepal)

A group of kids are going to compete to break the record for the youngest person ever to climb Mount Everest. Some are not ready for what they will face. And some will stop at nothing to get to the top.

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Karen English.  Nadia’s Hands.  (Pakistan)

Nadia is the flower girl at her aunt’s wedding and, as part of the Pakistani tradition, has her hands decorated with a long-lasting henna dye, but Nadia worries about what the kids at school will say about it on Monday.

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Cathryn Clinton. A Stone in My Hand.  (Palestine)

Eleven-year-old Malaak and her family are touched by the violence in Gaza between Jews and Palestinians when first her father disappears and then her older brother is drawn to the Islamic Jihad.

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Bindi Irwin. Camouflage. (Singapore)

When a rare Komodo dragon goes missing from a new reptile park in Singapore, Bindi and her brother Robert must find the lizard and solve the mystery before the grand opening of the park.

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Beatrice Gormley. Adara.  (Syria)

A slave girl convinces her master, the mighty Syrian general, Naaman, to seek a cure from his leprosy from the prophet Elisha in this novelization of the Old Testament story.

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Minfong Ho. Hush! A Thai Lullaby.  (Thailand)

A lullaby which asks animals such as a lizard, monkey, and water-buffalo to be quiet and not disturb the sleeping baby.

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Carolyn Marsden. Silk Umbrellas. (Thailand)

Eleven-year-old Noi worries that she will have to stop painting the silk umbrellas her family sells at the market near their Thai village and be forced to join her older sister in difficult work at a local factory instead.

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Gaye Hicyilmaz. Against the Storm.  (Turkey)

Twelve-year-old Mehmet’s move from his Turkish village with flowers everywhere to a shanty-town existence in the city of Ankara brings him almost unbearable misery, but his desire to create a life for himself helps him to survive.

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Cynthia Kadohata. A Million Shades of Gray. (Vietnam)

In 1975 after American troops pull out of Vietnam, a thirteen-year-old boy and his beloved elephant escape into the jungle when the Viet Cong attack his village.

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