Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Book Worm Wednesday: 'The Boy in the Back of the Class'

Since all the kiddos are heading back to school, I thought I'd start my first Book Worm Wednesday post sharing one of my very favorite reads of 2019 (and quite possibly of all time). I've seen many, many schools in England, adding this tale to their class libraries and to their curriculum. I only hope that happens here in the states, because when kindness and open-heartedness are needed more than ever, I can't think of a book that teaches those values more.

First, let me back up a bit. I read a lot of middle grade stories. Some of the best writers of today, are writing for children in the 9-12 year range. It's spectacular to see the stories these writers tell, and the lessons they share with their eager readers. Around the start of the year, on social media I was seeing a lot of The Boy in the Back of the Class, by Onjali Q. Rauf. I knew very little, other than people from all walks of life were seemingly falling for this story of a young refugee and his friends. Though it was only released in Great Britain at the time, I was able to snag it through Book Depository*. 

I believe I read it in about 24 hours. It's that fantastic! What the author manages to do is  share the plight of refugees fleeing from war-torn countries (in this case, Syria), in a way that is completely real, but never too difficult for kids to understand and empathize with. 

What must life be for these kids? They've fled everything and sometimes everyone they know. It's not an easy ride. You hear about these young children losing parents and being completely alone, and your heart breaks for them.  But in some cases, like the little boy in this book, there are kind children, and teachers that completely change their lives. The kids who chose to help "the boy in the back of the class", are superheroes in their own story. And their superpower is straight up kindness! Kids like this exist. You don't often hear about them, because the news covers more bad than good. But in Rauf's book, they're given center stage. That in itself is amazing on so many levels! 

The children and adults alike who are reading and loving this book, are getting a chance to see that love makes all the difference in a person's life. And they're also getting a taste of what these refugees are up against. These are very real people with very real obstacles. Opening our hearts and homes to them is one small way in which we can help them to thrive. 

It's a beautifully written story, that I will continue to recommend to everyone I meet. It's sweet and important - not a combination you hear about very often. And it should be in every classroom's library, all over the world.

* If you're like me and enjoy reading British books which are hard to come by here in the states, Book Depository is your answer. As long as you don't mind a slow turnaround (I swear they're actually delivered by a snail...), you can find all the British books your Anglophile heart desires, and there's no shipping costs! 

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