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Global Literature  

Recommendations for K-12 classrooms
Last Updated: May 24, 2017 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

Books for 6-8 Print Page

Global Issues

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First Crossing: Stories about Teen Immigrants - Donald R. Gallo, editor
Stories about recent immigrants from Mexico, Cambodia, Palestine, China, etc. Includes short fiction works by authors Minfong Ho, Pam Munoz Ryan, Elsa Marston, and Lensey Namioka.

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The Teen Guide to Global Action: How to Connect with Others (Near & Far) to Create Social Change - Barbara A. Lewis
Includes real-life stories, hands-on activities, and up-to-date resources that inspire kids to make significant social changes in the world around them such as fighting hunger and poverty, promoting health and human rights, and saving the environment.

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Hungry Planet: What the World Eats - Peter Menzel
Presents approximately two hundred color photos of thirty families from twenty-four countries and the foods they eat over the course of one week, and discusses their eating habits; shopping, farming, fishing, or hunting practices; and cooking methods. Each profile includes a family recipe.

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Material World: A Global Family Portrait - Peter Menzel
The material possessions of families from around the world are displayed in front of or near their homes.

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Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure the World - Tracy Kidder; Michael French
Kidder's bestselling book about Paul Farmer has now been adapted for young adults. The story of Paul Farmer's quest to bring healthcare to impoverished regions of the world.

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The Carbon Diaries 2015 - Saci Lloyd
In the year 2015, global warming has begun to ravage the environment. In response, the UK becomes the first country to mandate carbon rationing--a well-intentioned plan that goes tragically awry. One girl attempts to stay grounded in a world where disaster has become the norm, and tells her story through diary entries.

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Outcasts United - Warren St. John
Based on the adult bestseller, Outcasts United: An American Town, a Refugee Team, and One Woman's Quest to Make a Difference, this young people's edition is a complex and inspirational story about the Fugees, a youth soccer team made up of diverse refugees from around the world, and their formidable female coach, Luma Mufleh.


Middle East

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Tasting the Sky: A Palestinian Childhood - Ibtisam Barakat
A memoir of Barakat's childhood as a young girl in Palestine in the 1960s.

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Damascus Nights - Rafik Schami; Philip Boehm (Translator)
The time is present-day Damascus, and Salim the coachman, the city's most famous storyteller, is mysteriously struck dumb. To break the spell, seven friends gather for seven nights to present Salim with seven wondrous 'gifts'--seven stories of their own design.

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The Flag of Childhood: Poems from the Middle East - Naomi Shihab Nye
A collection of poetry about the Middle East, selected by the author of Habibi.

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A Bottle in the Gaza Sea - Valerie Zenatti; Adriana Hunter (Translator)
A seventeen-year-old from Jerusalem, Tal Levine comes from a family that always believed peace would come to the Middle East. But when a terrorist explosion kills a young woman at a cafe in Jerusalem, something changes for Tal. One day she writes a letter, puts it in a bottle, and sends it to Gaza-to the other side-beginning a correspondence with a young Palestinian man that will ultimately open their eyes to each other's lives and hearts.

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IraqiGirl - IraqiGirl; Elizabeth Wrigley-Field (Editor); John Ross (Editor)
"I feel that I have been sleeping all my life and I have woken up and opened my eyes to the world. A beautiful world! But impossible to live in." These are the words of fifteen-year-old Hadiya, blogging from the city of Mosul, Iraq, to let the world know what life is really like as the military occupation of her country unfolds.

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Santa Claus in Baghdad and Other Stories about Teens in the Arab World - Elsa Marston
This lively collection of eight short stories about Arab teenagers living in Iraq, Tunisia, Egypt, the West Bank, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and a Palestinian refugee camp engagingly depicts young people's experiences growing up in the Middle East.



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Heart of a Samurai - Margi Preus
In 1841, rescued by an American whaler after a terrible shipwreck leaves him and his four companions castaways on a remote island, fourteen-year-old Manjiro, who dreams of becoming a samurai, learns new laws and customs as he becomes the first Japanese person to set foot in the United States.

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Mao's Last Dancer (Young Readers Edition) - Li Cunxin
Li's memoir details how he was selected as a child by Madame Mao to attend the dance academy in Beijing.

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Three Cups of Tea (Young Readers Edition) - Greg Mortenson and Sarah L. Thomson
Adapts for young readers Greg Mortenson's book in which he recounts the experiences he had while trying to help impoverished villages in Pakistan's Karakoram Himalaya build schools for their children.

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Climbing the Stairs - Padma Venkatraman
Set in India in 1941, this novel tells of a family who goes to live with extended family following a tragic accident. Themes include violence vs. non-violence, colonialism, gender, and World War II.

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Inside Out and Back Again - Thanhhà Lai
For all the ten years of her life, Ha has only known Saigon: the thrills of its markets, the joy of its traditions, the warmth of her friends close by, and the beauty of her very own papaya tree. But now the Vietnam War has reached her home. Ha and her family are forced to flee as Saigon falls, and they board a ship headed toward hope.

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Bamboo People: A Novel - Mitali Perkins
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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A Million Shades of Gray - Cynthia Kadohata
A young boy's story to become an elephant trainer when his village in Vietnam is torn apart by war.

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I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World (Young Readers Edition) - Malala Yousafzai; Patricia McCormick (As told to)
Raised in a once-peaceful area of Pakistan transformed by terrorism, Malala was taught to stand up for what she believes. So she fought for her right to be educated. And on October 9, 2012, she nearly lost her life for the cause: She was shot point-blank while riding the bus on her way home from school.

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In the Sea There Are Crocodiles - Fabio Geda
In early 2002, Enaiatollah Akbari's village fell prey to the Taliban. His mother, fearing for his life, led him across the border. So began Enaiat's remarkable and often publishing five-year ordeal--trekking across bitterly cold mountains, riding the suffocating false bottom of a truck, steering an inflatable raft in violent waters--through Iran, Turkey, Pakistan, and Greece, before he eventually sought political asylum in Italy, all before he turned fifteen years old.



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Child Soldier: When Boys and Girls Are Used in War - Michel Chikwanine, Jessica Dee Humphreys; Claudia Dávila (Illustrator)
Michel Chikwanine was five when he was abducted from his school-yard in the Democratic Republic of Congo and forced to become a soldier for a brutal rebel militia. He managed to escape and find his way back to his family. After immigrating to Canada, Michel was encouraged by a teacher to share what happened to him in order to raise awareness about child soldiers around the world. Told in the first person in a graphic novel format, Michel's story is moving and unsettling. But the humanity he exhibits in the telling, along with Dávila's illustrations, which evoke rather than depict the violent elements of the story, makes the book accessible for this age group and, ultimately, reassuring and hopeful.

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The Mzungu Boy - Meja Mwangi
For Kariuki, life in his small Kenyan village is one great adventure. It gets even more interesting when he meets Nigel, an English boy who is visiting his grandfather. Kariuki befriends Nigel even though the rest of the villagers fear him and call him "the mzungu boy."

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The African Mask - Janet Rupert
Twelve-year-old Layo, a Yoruba girl living in the area of eleventh-century Africa which is now Nigeria, attempts to reject the man who has been chosen to be her husband.

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The Storyteller's Beads - Jane Kurtz
During the political strife and famine of the 1980's, two Ethiopian girls, one Christian and the other Jewish and blind, struggle to overcome many difficulties, including their prejudices about each other, as they make the dangerous journey out of Ethiopia.

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The Other Side of Truth - Beverley Naidoo
Smuggled out of Nigeria after their mother's murder, Sade and her younger brother are abandoned in London when their uncle fails to meet them at the airport and they are fearful of their new surroundings and of what may have happened to their journalist father back in Nigeria.

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The Red Pencil - Andrea Davis Pinkney; Shane W. Evans (Illustrator)
Life in Amira's peaceful Sudanese village is shattered when Janjaweed attackers arrive, unleashing unspeakable horrors. After losing nearly everything, Amira needs to find the strength to make the long journey on foot to safety at a refugee camp. She begins to lose hope, until the gift of a simple red pencil opens her mind -- and all kinds of possibilities.

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A Long Walk to Water: Based on a True Story - Linda Sue Park
When the Sudanese civil war reaches his village in 1985, eleven-year-old Salva becomes separated from his family and must walk with other Dinka tribe members through southern Sudan, Ethiopia, and Kenya in search of safe haven. Based on the life of Salva Dut, who, after emigrating to America in 1996, began a project to dig water wells in Sudan.

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Latin America

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Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings: A Memoir - Margarita Engle; Edel Rodriguez (Illustrator)
Living in Los Angeles, Margarita dreams of summers when she can take a plane through the enchanted air to Cuba, her mother’s home country. When hostility between Cuba and the United States erupts at the Bay of Pigs Invasion, Margarita’s worlds collide.

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I Lived on Butterfly Hill - Marjorie Agosín
An eleven-year-old’s world is upended by political turmoil in this “lyrically ambitious tale of exile and reunification” (Kirkus Reviews) from an award-winning poet, based on true events in Chile.

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The Red Umbrella - Christina Diaz Gonzalez
In 1961 after Castro has come to power in Cuba, fourteen-year-old Lucia and her seven-year-old brother are sent to the United States when her parents, who are not in favor of the new regime, fear that the children will be taken away from them as others have been.

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Wachale!: Poetry and Prose About Growing up Latino in America - edited by Ilan Stavans
A bilingual collection of poems, stories, and other writings that celebrates diversity among Latinos.

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The Circuit: Stories from the Life of a Migrant Child - Francisco Jimenez

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The Queen of Water - Maria Virginia Farinango; Laura Resau
The story of a young woman's life as she is taken from her small Andean village in Ecuador, to be a servant to a mestizo couple. Based on a true story.

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The Dreamer - Pam Muñoz Ryan; Peter Sís (Illustrator)
From the time he is a young boy, Neftali hears the call of a mysterious voice. It leads him under the canopy of the lush rain forest, into the fearsome sea, and through the persistent Chilean rain, until finally, he discovers its source. Combining elements of magical realism with biography, poetry, literary fiction, and sensorial, transporting illustrations, Pam Muñoz Ryan and Peter Sís take readers on a rare journey of the heart and imagination.

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Caminar - Skila Brown
Set in 1981 Guatemala, a lyrical debut novel tells the powerful tale of a boy who must decide what it means to be a man during a time of war.

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The Only Road - Alexandra Diaz
Twelve-year-old Jaime makes the treacherous and life-changing journey from his home in Guatemala to live with his older brother in the United States in this gripping and realistic middle grade novel.


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