I am very proud to announce that I will be taking part in the August Social Justice Challenge for Illiteracy and Education. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the challenge, I encourage you to read more about it on the website. The challenge was founded on the premise that reading can change the world and encourages us to assist in making a difference in the face of injustice. I can only wholeheartedly agree with the goals and motives behind this campaign. The subject of this month’s challenge is one which has long been close to my heart and I look forward to doing my part to help inform and educate the world about illiteracy at home and abroad. I have ordered four books online to read for the challenge, all of which came recommended on the challenge website. I tried to pick a variety of books and made sure to include a couple geared towards younger audiences. Here are my selections:
Promoting Reading in Developing Countries by the International Reading Association. The book was published in 1996 and studies the barriers faced by those seeking to increase literacy in the developing world.
Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson. This is the young readers edition which was just published earlier this year. From the publisher: With the first cup of tea, you are a stranger. With the second …a friend. With the third cup of tea, you are family. One day Greg Mortenson set out to climb K2 – the world’s second highest mountain – in honour of his younger sister, but things went wrong and Greg became lost. He wandered into a poor village, where the chief and his people took him in. Moved by their kindness, Greg promised to return and build a school for the children. This is the remarkable story of how Greg built not one but more than sixty schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and how he has dedicated his life to promoting literacy, peace and understanding.
Nasreen’s Secret School by Jeanette Winter was published in 2009 and will be the first children’s book to be reviewed at Pink Sheep Cafe. From the publisher: Young Nasreen has not spoken a word to anyone since her parents disappeared. In despair, her grandmother risks everything to enroll Nasreen in a secret school for girls. Will a devoted teacher, a new friend, and the worlds she discovers in books be enough to draw Nasreen out of her shell of sadness? Based on a true story from Afghanistan, this inspiring book will touch readers deeply as it affirms both the life-changing power of education and the healing power of love.
The Blue Notebook by James Levine was published this year. From the publisher: The Blue Notebook brings us into the life of a young woman for whom stories are not just entertainment but a means of survival. Even as the novel humanizes and addresses the devastating global issue of child prostitution, it also delivers an inspiring message about the uplifting power of words and reading–a message that is so important to hold on to, especially in difficult times. Dr. Levine is donating all his U.S. proceeds from this book to help exploited children. Batuk’s story can make a difference.
I felt this was a nice rounded selection of books with one non-fiction, one contemporary fiction, one YA non-fiction and one children’s story. I shouldn’t have any problems getting through these books this month. My only problem is that I need to get in some Booker Prize longlist selections this month too. The Social Justice Challenge books will definitely be taking priority though. I have yet to decide what I am going to do as my own action to support the cause. I would like to volunteer some time with a youth literacy group, but my Croatian is not very good, so I don’t know what the possibilities are here for teaching people to read English. I hope in reading this that some of you will also choose to take up the challenge and support this worthy cause.