Deborah Ellis went to Kabul to find out what happened to Afghanistan’s children since the fall of the Taliban in 2001. She interviewed children who spoke about their lives. They are still living in a country torn apart by war, violence and oppression still exist, particularly affecting the lives of girls, but the kids are weathering their lives with courage and optimism. (Grades 5 – 12)
When twelve-year-old Sarojini is forced to begin the school year without her best friend, Amir, who begins attending a higher class school outside of their neighborhood, she becomes wholly conflicted about her own social standing. Fortuitously, Sarojini’s spirited new teacher assigns her to write letters to someone she would like to know, and as Sarojini channels her thoughts as correspondence with her deceased, freedom-fighter namesake, Sarojini Naidu, she awakens her own sense of activism, communal relationships, familial bonds, and confirmed friendships, both old and new. (Grades 6 and up).
In the Nepalese Borderlands, twelve-year-old orphan Nandu realizes his destiny as a “mahout” (elephant driver). Through a vivid jungle setting and Nandu’s first-person narration, this story reveals the rich diversity of the natural world and the connection between humans and animals. (Grades 4-7)
Set in Myanmar, this story is about Hasina and her family who belong to the Rohingya community and the threat they face from Sit Tat. During an attack, Hasina escapes into the forest, returning to find the village destroyed and her family missing. The rest of the story highlights her struggles to locate the family members. (Grades 6 and above)
Twelve-year old Ram survives on the streets of Chandigarh, India, winning games of gilli for money. After a game goes wrong, Ram darts deep into the forest, where he encounters a mysterious man, Nek, who creates art with scraps of metal and junk. Can Ram discover a way to keep Nek’s sculptures safe? (Grades 4-8)
Twelve-year old Amal aspires to be a teacher in Pakistan. After unintentionally insulting a member of her village’s ruling family, that dream is sunk. As punishment, Amal is forced to leave her distraught family behind and work as an indentured servant at the Khan estate. Discovering their corruptness, Amal summons her courage and intellect to secure justice and freedom. (Grades 5-8)
Runaway sisters Viji and Rukku learn the harsh realities of life on the swarming streets of Chennai, India. They find shelter and friendship with Muthi and Arul, two homeless boys living under an abandoned bridge. Forming a family, the four use their instincts and tenacity to survive in a perilous, indifferent world. (Grades 4-6)
Kabir was born in jail, where his mother was unjustly serving time. When determined that he was too old to stay and is suddenly released, he loses the only family and home he knows. The rest of the story is about him, learning how to survive in the world, with the help of Rani, a street girl. (Grades 5-8)