I came across this book while looking for books to read for my bi monthly storytelling at a public library near my place. My name is Nadia and I have Autism is a bilingual book about a 8 year old girl Nadia Sander who has autism. It is written in both English and Malay. It shows that Nadia, despite her developmental difficulties, is just like any other child her age.
I chose this book to read to my group of children on 13th Nov. I was a little trepiditious as I was new to reading books about children with special needs and was a little concerned if I could explain autism to the children in a simple concise manner and wondered how the children will respond. When I seeked permission to read this book, I found out that apparently, I was the first storyteller to read a book about autism to the children in that library.
It was 7.30pm when all the children had settled down and I was overjoyed to see 12 eager children in front of me. I started off by announcing that I had a really special book to read and got the children's attention right away. But to hold their attention and eagerness for the next 30 minutes, I informed them that I will only read the special book at the end. I started reading the other 3 books first and when it came to this book, they were at the edge of their seats.
When I read the title, many questioning eyes looked at me. What is autism ? I explained very simply that some children view and react to the world differently from us and they get affected by loud noises and bright lights. That they are special, that's why they are called special needs children and we shouldn't look or treat them differently from us. Confused looks followed until I opened the pages and starting reading and showing the pictures of Nadia's experiences. In the end, when I posed the question in the book to the children - 'I am Nadia, will you be friend?' and probed 'Who will be Nadia's friend?' many hands went up which gave me an immense sense of fulfillment.
I hope I had introduced special needs children to these group of children so that they realise that special needs children should not be judged or stared at or worse bullied and that they are just like all of us.
Researching more on this book, I unearthed that Nadia is a 9-year-old autistic girl from Johor, Malaysia whom Huda, the author, met whilst conducting her research for her personal study. After meeting Nadia and her family members, Huda felt the urge to do something more. It didn’t take her long before she decided to retell the story of Nadia from a first person narrative. Huda says this :
“I hope this book will help to raise the awareness of autism in the community; it still carries social stigma and there is a lack of understanding about it. As mentioned by Dr Mariam Aljunied in the foreword of the book, ‘with better awareness, early intervention and good understanding as well as support from people around them, children with autism are being helped to reach their full potential’.”
I enjoyed reading this book to the children and it also helped me to understand autistic children a little better since I have expressed my interest to volunteer to help at a school for autistic children near my place. The pages are illustrated very colourfully to appeal to the children and its written very simply to allow many kids to understand autism better. Apparently, there is also another book in this series called My Name is Mikhail and I have Cerebral Palsy. Interesting. Perhaps one of my next books to read to the children?
Book rating : A
My 14 year old daughter Ranya told me to read this book. She said it is a moving book and that she couldn't stop crying when she reached the ending. It wasn't a thick book so I agreed (I actually agreed more to avoid her 'How come you can read Riya's book? (having read Riya's literature book Wonder) But not mine?'
Stolen is Lucy Christopher's (See author's picture below) debut 2009 novel and published in UK. The book is set in the Great Sandy Desert of Australia. It tells the story of 16 year old British Gemma who is waiting for her flight in Bangkok on her way to Vietnam with her parents. 24 year old Ty kidnaps her and takes her to Australia and holds her captive in a shack in the middle of dry sandy hot desert. Gemma finds out that he has been stalking her for the last 6 years and that his motive for kidnapping her was to make her fall in with him! ( Dude - there are so many other ways to make a girl fall in love with you. Kidnapping her is definitely not an option!)
Gemma tries to escape but fails. Ty finds her and brings her back to the shack and nurses her with tender loving care. Gemma starts falling in love with him... will she eventually stay back with him isolated from the world with no other person in sight and with only camels, chickens, snakes and lizards for company? Or will she somehow escape and get back with her parents? You have to read the novel to find out.
Stolen is written from Gemma's perpective as a letter to her captor Ty. It has been classified under young adult fiction . But I thought the novel was written very well. Not once did I feel that I was reading from a 16 year old's view. There are basically only 2 main characters Gemma and Ty and little here and there is written about her friends back home, Anna, Ben, Josh and a female camel they catch in the dessert. When Ty asks Gemma what name to give her, Gemma replies Stolen because she has been stolen away from her herd. Very nicely said, Gemma.
Stolen has won a couple of awards Branford Boase Award, Printz Honor Award and shortlisted for the Prime Minister's Literary Award. It has also been translated into French, Greek, German and Dutch.
I would recommend this book definitely to any teenagers or young adults. It comprises 304 pages. Available online in Amazon or check out any of your local bookstores.
Wonder by R J Palacio is my first children's novel to review. In between books and while waiting for The Constant Princess by Philippa Gregory for our next Book Club discussion in March, Riya my 12 year old passed me her school Literature book to read. Being a Potterhead, she has been bugging me to read the entire Harry Potter series! I have been evading her citing housework and the fact that there are like 7 thick books to read, for a while now. So I couldn't escape this time :)
Wonder is a 2012 novel and has received many awards and recognition.
One of Time Magazine's
100 Best Young Adult Books
of all Time
An Entertainment Weekly
10 Great Kids' Books
A Parent Magazine's
Top 10 Book of the Year
Wonder is soon to be a major motion picture and is a #1 New York Times Bestseller.
August Pullman or Auggie as he is fondly called is born with a facial abnormality. Home schooled till 10, his mom decides to send him to a public school in Grade 5. He joins Breecher Prep School, New York with much reluctance. Being a new kid in a school is already hard. Imagine being a new kid with facial difference from the rest?? How can he convince his classmates and schoolmates that he is just like them inside, despite his E T like appearance?
It is a nice feel good book with a lot of lessons to be learnt. Told from the perspectives of Auggie, his sister Olivia, his good friends Jack, Summer and Olivia's best friend Miranda and split into 8 parts. Some quotes from the novel :
'Your deeds are your monuments. We should be remembered for the things we do. They are more important than what we look like or what we say' - Auggie in English class.
'Funny how sometimes you worry a lot about something and it turns out to be nothing' - Auggie when he gets a hearing aid.
'...You don't need your eyes to love, right? You just feel it inside you...Its just love, and no one forgets who they love.' - Auggie's sister Olivia when asked how do people recognize each other in heaven.
'Kinder than necessary...Because its not enough to be kind. One should be kinder than needed. Wherever you are, whenever you can, if you will try to act a little kinder than is necessary - the world would be a better place'. Mr Tushman, principal of Breecher Prep School giving his graduation speech.
Excellent for pre teens and even 8 - 10 year olds to read. I thought it was little youngish for a 12 -13 year old, though. Consisting of 310 pages in medium sized font, Wonder would make a lovely gift for your children, nieces or nephews.
R J Palacio is an American author living in New York. Her chance encounter one day with an extraordinary child in front of an ice cream store made her realize the time has come for her to write her first novel. Wonder is the product of that realization.