Myra here.

It’s Monday, What are You Reading is a meme hosted by Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers (brainchild of Sheila at BookJourney). Since two of our friends, Linda from Teacher Dance and Tara from A Teaching Life have been joining this meme for quite awhile now, we thought of joining this warm and inviting community.

Last Week’s Review and Miscellany Posts

We’re also inviting everyone to join our Check Off your Reading List Challenge 2014.


Click here to sign up. If you have already signed up, here is the April-June linky where you can link up your reviews or updates from your reading list. We are also very excited to share that Pansing Books will be giving away copies of Julian Sedgwick’s Mysterium: The Palace of Mystery to two lucky CORL participants from April-June. So link up your posts now!

Carrie Gelson of There is a Book for That is also hosting #mustreadin2014.


These two picturebooks celebrate how very young children can let go of past hurts and transform their pain into something healing, productive, and life-changing not just for themselves but for others too.

IMG_2369Desmond and the Very Mean Word

Written by: Archbishop Desmond Tutu andDouglas Carlton Abrams  Illustration by: A. G. Ford
Published byCandlewick Press, 2013
Borrowed from the library. Book photos taken by me.

This story is actually based on an episode in the life of Archishop Desmond Tutu when he was a young boy in South Africa. Desmond was on his way to see Father Trevor, very excited to show the loving priest his brand new bicycle. On his way there, however, he came upon a group of young boys who started calling him names and shouting mean things at him.


When he arrived at Father Trevor’s office, his excitement about his new bicycle was all but gone. The only thing left was a growing pain nursed by the memory of a very mean word that Desmond can not seem to get out of his mind. When Father Trevor learned about the incident, he asked Desmond whether he can find it in his heart to forgive the boys, to which Desmond replied “No! Never!” 


I could imagine where Desmond is coming from. An outright forgiveness at that stage may be premature and meaningless to one whose pain is still bigger than one’s self. Father Trevor, however, said several things that stuck to my mind as a reader. He told Desmond:

“When we hurt someone,” Father Trevor said as he got up, “it hurts us, too.”


I like how the concept of forgiveness was never trivialized in this picturebook. It is perceived as a form of letting go, a release, rather than a benediction of healed hearts and closed wounds – when it is pretty clear that there are scars everywhere. Too often, adults or figures of authority or even psychologists force this idea onto wounded children, unmindful of where the individual is at that point in his or her life. This book shows how we liberate our own selves from self-imposed pain by choosing things which should matter to us in our lives.

IMG_2374Our Rights: How Kids are Changing the World

Written and Illustrated by: Janet Wilson
Published by: Second Story Press, 2013
Borrowed from the library. Book photos taken by me.

I was fascinated with this picturebook. I came upon it by accident I was browsing through the displays on the library shelves. This illustrated book contains true stories of young individuals who are courageous enough to do something concrete to change their reality and the people around them.


There is the story of 11 year old Dylan Mahalingam from the US who used the Internet to raise more than $700,000 to help impoverished children from India. He is cofounder of Lil MDG, derived from the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals which aims to put global poverty in half by 2015.


There is 14 year old Emanuel Bagual from the Philippines who is part of the Dunamic Teen Company, a group that provides poor children with medical care, food, and sustenance. He uses his pushcart to bring school supplies and books to children, inspiring them to make a better life for themselves through education.


There is also the story of 10 year old Nujood Ali from Yemen who was divorced at age ten, after being mistreated by her significantly-older husband. She is studying to become a lawyer to help more young girls from Yemen who may be in the same situation.


The story of eleven year old Ndale Nyengela from Congo is sobering as he spoke of how very young boys such as himself are kidnapped by soldiers and are trained to hold weapons and kill enemies over something as a stolen cow. Ndale managed to escape from this situation and return to school. He eventually ended up as a representative of child soldiers in the world and has sat “on the jury to nominate candidates for the World’s Children’s Prize for the Rights of the Child.”

This picturebook made me quite emotional as I read these true-to-life accounts of decisive, brave young hearts who are determined to change the course of their lives, not allowing circumstance to define their destiny, changing other people’s lives in the process. The last few pages of the book also include information on how kids are able to take action with the things that are happening in their lives, how their artistic works and collective voices can make a difference, as well as specific ways to involve the youth in making the world a much better place.

Currently Reading…


I am glad to share that I finished reading two books during the past week: Shine by Candy Gourlay and The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction by Alan Jacobs. Right now, I am in the thick of reading Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan and…


Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader by Anne Fadiman which was recommended by Elisabeth Ellington from The Dirigible Plum.



Reading Challenge Update: 60, 61 (25)

10 comments on “[Monday Reading] Of Mean Words and Children who are Changing the World

  1. What happens to a dream deferred?
    I ❤ Langston Hughes.
    Looks like you have some good books to read.


  2. I’m so glad you enjoyed Aristotle & Dante! One of my 41 most favorite books! I fell in love with it right away! Have a great reading week! -Earl!


  3. Biographies were my favorite books when I was a child and boy did they help me in high school and college. You gain so many little tidbits that stick with you until you need them. I plan on reading Counting by Sevens soon. I have a copy on my bedside table all ready.


  4. Desmond and the Very Mean Word looks like a wonderful book to share and discuss with my class. Our Rights also looks amazing! I like how each page is different story of a real child. I am thinking I could use this book for small group presentations (each group present on one child from the book to the rest of the class) Thanks for these great suggestions!


  5. Wow! So much great stuff on this post! I loved Aristotle and Counting by 7s. I’ve been meaning to read Desmond and the Very Mean Word. Happy reading this week!


  6. The two first books sound great, Myra. I hadn’t heard of the book about changing the world. There are so many young kids doing good work everywhere. The ‘mean word’ book is one I need to get, know of it, but still haven’t made the effort to get from the library. Ex Libris is such a favorite. I’ve given it as a gift often to my reader friends. So glad you’re reading it, plus Counting By 7s, such a good book, a recent favorite. Thanks for all you do to share books!


  7. I loved Dante and Aristotle! Have you read Ask the Passengers by A.S. King? Another lovely coming of age story with a GLBT theme. Have a great week! ~Megan


  8. I especially want to get – Our Rights: How Kids are Changing the World ! Thanks for telling us about it!


  9. Counting by 7s was one of my favourite titles of 2013. Desmond and the Very Mean Word is such a powerful title. We read it in September and my students still reference things that happened.


  10. OUR RIGHTS has such beautiful imagery. Thank you for sharing the illustrations with us! I absolutely love ARISTOTLE & DANTE DISCOVER THE SECRETS OF THE UNIVERSE and am glad you are sharing about it. I have to check out COUNTING BY 7S, based on the comment from Carrie and its inclusion in your post!


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