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Global Literature  

Recommendations for K-12 classrooms
Last Updated: Jan 11, 2017 URL: http://resources.primarysource.org/globalliterature Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

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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.

 

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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A Fistful of Pearls and Other Tales from Iraq - Elizabeth Laird
A collection of nine traditional Iraqi folktales that describes magical creatures and strange encounters, and includes selections entitled "The Pots that had Babies," "The Suit of Stone," and others.

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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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Kids of Kabul: Living Bravely Through a Never-Ending War - Deborah Ellis
Interviews with teens in Kabul about their life in a constant state of war. Interviews describe their daily lives, schools, jobs, and dreams.

 

Asia

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Samurai Rising: The Epic Life of Minamoto Yoshitsune - Pamela S. Turner; Gareth Hinds (Illustrator)
*NEW in 2016* This epic warrior tale reads like a novel, but is the true story of the greatest samurai in Japanese history.

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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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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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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.

 

Africa

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Child Soldier: When Boys and Girls Are Used in War - Michel Chikwanine, Jessica Dee Humphreys; Claudia Dávila (Illustrator)
*NEW in 2015* 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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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)
*NEW in 2015* A memoir in free verse about growing up as a child of two cultures during the Cold War. 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 Surrender Tree: Poems of Cuba's Struggle for Freedom - Margarita Engle
This history in verse creates a lyrical portrait of Cuba.

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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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