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The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba among Bishop's Stortford College librarian Lizzie Hall's recommended books for teaching children about resilience




Bishop's Stortford College Prep School librarian Lizzie Hall writes about the magic of storytelling...

Dear Reader. Resilience is a skill that can be learned. It takes practice and patience.

We cannot shield our kids from all of life's disappointments and challenges. One of the best ways of encouraging resilience is through reading about characters who have grit and a determination to get through tough times.

Here are some reading suggestions around resilience...

Younger readers

A Perfectly Messed-Up Story by Patrick McDonnell

A Perfectly Messed-Up Story by Patrick McDonnell (46786119)
A Perfectly Messed-Up Story by Patrick McDonnell (46786119)

In this interactive and engaging read-aloud, bestselling author and award-winning artist Patrick McDonnell creates a funny, engaging and almost perfect story about embracing life's messes.

Little Louie's story keeps getting messed up, and he's not happy about it! What's the point of telling his tale if he can't tell it perfectly?

But when he stops and takes a deep breath, he realises that everything is actually just fine, and his story is a good one - imperfections and all.

The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds

Vashti thinks she can't draw. But her teacher is sure that she can.

She knows that there's creative spirit in everyone and encourages Vashti to sign the angry dot she makes in frustration on a piece of paper.

This act makes Vashti look at herself a little differently, and helps her discover that where there's a dot there's a way…

The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds (46786114)
The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds (46786114)

Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beatty and David Roberts

Rosie may seem quiet during the day, but at night she's a brilliant inventor of gizmos and gadgets who dreams of becoming a great engineer.

When her Great, Great Aunt Rose (Rosie the Riveter) comes for a visit and mentions her one unfinished goal - to fly - Rosie sets to work building a contraption to make her aunt's dream come true.

Her invention complete, Rosie attempts a test flight but, after a moment, the machine crashes to the ground.

Discouraged, Rosie deems the invention a failure. But Aunt Rose insists that, on the contrary, it was a raging success.

You can only truly fail, she explains, if you quit. Reassured, Rosie returns to her engineering and inspires her classmates to join in the fun.

Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beatty and David Roberts (46786139)
Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beatty and David Roberts (46786139)

Older readers

A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park

Eleven-year-old Salva is forced to flee on foot when his village comes under attack. Braving every imaginable hardship – including killer lions and hungry crocodiles – he is one of the 'lost boys' travelling the African continent on foot in search of his family and a safe place to stay.

Nya goes to the pond twice a day to fetch water. It takes her eight hours. But there is unexpected hope, as these two stories set in Sudan – one unfolding in 2008 and one in 1985 – go on to intersect with Nya's in an astonishing and moving way.

A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park (46786112)
A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park (46786112)

El Deafo by Cece Bell

El Deafo is a funny, deeply honest graphic novel memoir. It chronicles the author's hearing loss at a young age and her subsequent experiences with a powerful and very awkward hearing aid called the Phonic Ear.

It gives her the ability to hear - sometimes things she shouldn't - but also isolates her from her classmates. She really just wants to fit in and find a true friend, someone who appreciates her, Phonic Ear and all.

Finally, she is able to harness the power of the Phonic Ear and become El Deafo, Listener for All. And, more importantly, declare a place for herself in the world and find the friend she's longed for.

El Deafo by Cece Bell (46786110)
El Deafo by Cece Bell (46786110)

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba

Now a Netflix film starring and directed by Chiwetel Ejiofor, this is a gripping memoir of survival and perseverance about the heroic young inventor who brought electricity to his Malawian village.

When a terrible drought struck William Kamkwamba's tiny village, his family lost all of the season's crops, leaving them with nothing to eat and nothing to sell.

William began to explore science books in his village library, looking for a solution, and he came up with the idea that would change his family's life forever - he could build a windmill. Made out of scrap metal and old bicycle parts, William's windmill brought electricity to his home and helped his family pump the water they needed to farm the land.

Retold for a younger audience, this exciting memoir shows how, even in a desperate situation, one boy's brilliant idea can light up the world.

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba (46786108)
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba (46786108)

Teenagers and young adults

Every Falling Star: The True Story of How I Survived and Escaped North Korea by Sungju Lee and Susan Elizabeth McClelland

Every Falling Star, the first book to portray contemporary North Korea to a young audience, is the intense memoir of a North Korean boy named Sungju who was forced at the age of 12 to live on the streets and fend for himself.

To survive, Sungju creates a gang and lives by thieving, fighting, begging and stealing rides on cargo trains.

Sungju richly recreates his scabrous story, depicting what it was like for a boy alone to create a new family with his gang - "his brothers" - to be hungry daily and to fear arrest, imprisonment and even execution.

This riveting memoir allows young readers to learn about other cultures where freedoms they take for granted do not exist.

Every Falling Star: The True Story of How I Survived and Escaped North Korea by Sungju Lee and Susan Elizabeth McClelland (46786106)
Every Falling Star: The True Story of How I Survived and Escaped North Korea by Sungju Lee and Susan Elizabeth McClelland (46786106)

No Ballet Shoes in Syria by Catherine Bruton

Aya is 11 years old and has just arrived in Britain with her mum and baby brother, seeking asylum from war in Syria.

When Aya stumbles across a local ballet class, the formidable dance teacher spots her exceptional talent and believes that Aya has the potential to earn a prestigious ballet scholarship.

But, at the same time, Aya and her family must fight to be allowed to remain in the country, to make a home for themselves and to find Aya's father, who was separated from the rest of the family during the journey from Syria.

With beautiful, captivating writing, wonderfully authentic ballet detail and an important message championing the rights of refugees, this is classic storytelling filled with warmth, hope and humanity.

No Ballet Shoes in Syria by Catherine Bruton (46786104)
No Ballet Shoes in Syria by Catherine Bruton (46786104)

Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper

Melody is not like most people. She cannot walk or talk, but she has a photographic memory - she can remember every detail of everything she has ever experienced.

She is smarter than most of the adults who try to diagnose her and smarter than her classmates in her integrated classroom - the very same classmates who dismiss her as mentally challenged because she cannot tell them otherwise.

But Melody refuses to be defined by cerebral palsy. And she's determined to let everyone know it…somehow.

Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper (46786102)
Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper (46786102)


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