What Do You Do With A Problem?

Author: Kobi Yamada


Publisher: Compendium Inc

Assigned Reading Age: 3-9

Subjects: Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance

Loving illustrations of a young boy who starts out with a teeny tiny - but persistent - problem that just grows bigger and bigger. The “problem” is illustrated as a small black cloud above his head but the more he ignores it or tries to hide away from it the bigger it gets all the while playing with his moods and emotions. In the end he discovers that the only way around this problem really is to face it and tackle it. When he eventually does this, he realizes that the problem is actually not as bad as his mind had made it out to be and from then on decides to tackle problems assertively. He learns that problems can be beautiful and can be an opportunity to learn and grow.

What we can learn from this book is that nothing is achieved by turning our back on problems or issues we are constantly faced with. Rather we should muster up our courage to face them and then they might even turn out to be something totally different from what we expected it to be. We may end up learning something along the way. As the author says, problems have a way of challenging and changing us in unexpected ways.

What Do You Do With An Idea?

Author: Kobi Yamada


Publisher: Compendium Inc

Assigned Reading Age: 3-9

Subjects: Self-Esteem, Self-Reliance & Self-Confidence

The story is about an idea (cutely illustrated as an egg with a crown) that the main character gets. At first he tries to ignore it but to no avail. It keeps on following him until slowly but surely he starts to accept it. The idea is “fed” by this acceptance and appreciation of it. The boy tries to share it with others who scoff or belittle him but he does not let it bother him as now he has come to love the idea. The idea gets bigger until eventually the idea has reached it maximum size, takes wing and flies off.

The theme behind this book is a good one. How many times have we had ideas but not paid heed to them. How many times have others taken ideas and changed the world with them. What if they, too, had not paid heed to their idea? Where would we be today if we all ignored our ideas.

The OK Book

Author: Amy Krouse Rosenthal &Tom Lichtenheld

Publisher: Harper Collins Publishers


Assigned Reading Age: 3-6

Subjects: Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance

A simple book about a stick person (wittily illustrated by the letters O and K) trying out different things and not being too good – or bad – at them; just being mediocre. The lesson to learn from this person is that it is okay to not be good at everything we do, as long as we have fun while doing it, that it is OK to be OK. The authors celebrate the real skills and talents children possess, encouraging and empowering them to discover their own individual strengths and personalities but making sure they enjoy the process. Many times we adults also need to learn this important lesson.

The Shepherd's Granddaughter

Author: Anne Laurel Carter


Publisher: Groundwood Books, 2008

Assigned Reading Age: Youth/Young Adult

Subjects: Family, Political

The Shepherd's Granddaughter is the story of a Palestinian family and their suffering under the occupation. Amani lives with her extended family outside a Palestinian village on land that has belonged to her ancestors for over a thousand years. She is only six years old when she decides she wants to follow in the footsteps of her grandfather and become a shepherd. Although her family has had generations of male shepherds, her grandfather realizes her potential and hands over his shepherd's crook to her. She fulfills his expectations and becomes a great shepherd. Amani's life changes when Jewish settlers intrude into their lives and take over their land, their olive orchards and their sheep. The building of Jewish settlements and construction of a new highway through their land destroys the family's peaceful and pleasant way of life forever.

A well developed and realistic novel, the story of Amani and her family is poignant and sad. It shows the effect of occupation on everyday life. The misery that it creates is heartbreaking at times. The resistance and bravery of the Palestinians is admirable and many of the dilemmas they face are thought provoking. It shows the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from a perspective that is not often shown in the media. The book also has many themes that would generate interesting discussions such as multigenerational families, relationships, resilience, importance of education, the struggle to hold on to culture, etc.

The Shepherd's Granddaughter has won many awards including the Canadian Library Association Book of the Year for Children award. It was nominated by the Ontario Library Association as part of its Forest of Reading Program for Grades 7 and 8. Controversy arose when the Toronto School Board received complaints from a parent and Jewish advocacy groups who condemned the book as 'vehemently anti-Israel'. The board reviewed the book and maintained its earlier decision based on the educational and social benefit of the book. However it is presently reviewing the matter again. The author has defended her book and says it shows the reality of Palestinian life. She has based her story on a family she met near Hebron, whom she visited many times. Her full interview about thebook can be found at http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/education/article/800159--author-defends-the-shepherd-s-granddaughter: Many insightful reviews and blogs about the book can also be found online.

What You Can Do: Read the book, publicize it, buy it, donate it to a school or mosque library, discuss it with others, encourage your friends and family to read it, introduce it in your children's school, Madrasah, home reading program, etc. Do you part in spreading awareness of the the plight of the Palestinian people.