World Humanitarian Day


August 19th is World Humanitarian Day:
a day to remember aid workers who have died
in their efforts to save people in war-torn areas of our world.

Read true stories about life for people living in areas of conflict and for those who help:


Kuklin, Susan. Iqbal Masih and the Crusaders Against Child Slavery. New York: Henry Holt, 1998.
An account of the former Pakistani child labor activist whose life and unexplained murder has brought to the attention of the world the evil of child bondage. – CIP

Healing our World

Morley, David.  Healing Our World: Inside Doctors Without Borders. Markham, Ont.: Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2007.
Winner of multiple awards, this is an “…excellent, timely, and relevant account of the work of Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders by the executive director of MSF Canada from 1998 to 2005. . . The easy-to-read text is accompanied by black-and-white photos that show the humanity and the intense severity of the conditions described. …”– School Library Journal Starred Review


Afghan Dreams

O’Brien, Tony.  Afghan Dreams. Bloomsbury Children’s Books, 2008.
This poignantly illustrated collection of brief interviews tells the true stories of children and young adults trying to survive in Afghanistan.

Elephants Fight

Walters, Eric and Adrian Bradbury. When Elephants Fight. Victoria: Orca, 2008.
This non-fiction book “presents the stories of five children…from five very different and distinct conflicts — Sri Lanka, Uganda, Sarajevo, Afghanistan and the Sudan. Along with these very personal accounts, the book also offers brief analyses of the history and geopolitical issues that are the canvas on which these conflicts occur.” — back cover

Read a novel about a girl whose father provides humanitarian aid in war zones:

Against the Odds

Hof, Marjolijn. Against the Odds. Toronto: Groundwood, 2006.
Translated from German, this short award-winning novel tells the story of Kiki, whose father disappears while on a medical mission to help people in a war zone.

Read novels about people affected by modern conflicts:

Raven Summer

Almond, David. Raven Summer. Delacorte Press, 2008.
All of Almond’s novels are for readers with speculative minds. “What if. . .” is always the question that changes the course of what might have been a straight-forward realistic novel.  And in this novel, the question is “What if an abandoned baby leads us to discover children who have lived through horrific acts of war? What shall we do? Send them back to their nightmares?” Since Almond is a British writer, some of the words are not familiar in Canada but that will in no way detract from a powerful story that addresses questions faced by Canadians, as well. Suitable for grades 7 and up.


Bell, William. The Blue Helmet. N.p.: Doubleday Canada, 2006.
Lee wants to become a member of the biggest, most powerful gang in his neighbourhood. But when his initiation goes wrong and the police catch him robbing an auto supply store, Lee’s father sends him to live with his aunt in New Toronto [where he meets a former peacekeeper who was stationed to Bosnia]. (back cover)will intrigue readers aged eleven and up.


Coates, Jan L. A Hare in the Elephant’s Trunk. Red Deer Press, 2010.
Jacob flees when war comes to his Southern Sudan village in 1987.  He spends months on the run and years in refugee camps but somehow survives to tell his story and start a new life in Canada. Based on the experiences of Jacob Deng, this informative novel will be appreciated by readers who prefer ‘real’ stories. [Sudan; Refugees; Deng, Jacob; War; Historical fiction]

Broken Memory

Combres, Elisabeth. Broken Memory. Groundwood Books, 2007.
Translated from French by Shelley Tanaka, this young adult novel tells the story of fourteen-year-old Emma who sets out to discover the truth behind the nightmares that started when she was five years old, running away after hearing her mother slaughtered during the genocidal war in Rwanda. This short emotionally powerful novel is best suited for mature readers in grades six and up. [Rwanda; Genocide; Historical fiction; War; Orphans; Post-traumatic stress disorder; Courage; Survival]


Doder, Joshua. Grk Smells a Rat! Anderson Press, 2008.
Tim and his dog Grk are off to watch Max play in a tennis tournament in Delhi, India. But when they discover enslaved children working in hidden factories, they have to help even if it places their lives in danger.  Action, suspense and humour combine to make this a great read for fourth to seventh graders. (India; Adventure and adventurers; Dogs; Humour; Mystery and detective stories; Child labor; Tennis)

Never Fall Down

McCormick, Patricia. Never Fall Down. New York : Balzer + Bray, 2012.
Arn is forced to serve as a child soldier in this vivid novel, based on a real story, by an accomplished author. It will be appreciated by mature readers in grades eight and up. [War; Survival; Cambodia; Soldiers; Genocide; Young adult fiction; Kidnapping]

War Brothers

McKay, Sharon E. War Brothers. Toronto: Puffin Canada, 2008.
Jacob is the son of a wealthy landowner. Oteka has lost his parents to AIDS and is alone in the world. And Hannah, beaten but not defeated, holds the secrets of all the vanished children….[Their] destines become entwined as they find themselves in the clutches of the Lord’s Resistance Army, forced to march endlessly….The boys plan a group escape, but will…[they] survive? (back cover) [Africa; Child abuse; Courage; Friendship; Kidnapping; Soldiers; Uganda; Young adult fiction]


Oron, Judie. Cry of the Giraffe. Toronto: Annick Press, 2010.
Thirteen-year-old Wuditu and her family, Ethiopian Jews, set out for the Sudan, hoping to eventually reach safety in Israel.  Instead, Wuditu ends up in a refugee camp and life as a slave.  Will she ever be reuinited with her family?  Based on a true story, this novel is for mature readers. [Ethiopia; Sudan; Jews; Refugees; Slavery; Historical fiction]

Bamboo People

Perkins, Mitali. Bamboo People. Watertown, Mass.: Charlesbridge, 2010.
Chiko has been forced to join the Burmese army.Tu Reh has run away from a refugee camp to join his father fighting with the Karen people against the Burmese government. The two boys unexpectedly meet in the jungle.  What will happen? This young adult novel of compassion and hope set in Myanmar is recommended for readers 12-years-old and up, especially ones who appreciated  War Brothers by Sharon McKay and Shattered by Erica Walters.  [Fathers and sons; Burma; Survival; Soldiers; Refugees; War stories; Courage]

Smith, Harvey. Siad of Somalia. The Kids Netword, 1997.
A short novel written by a Canadian high school student about the effects of Canadian peacekeepers in Somalia. (Somalia; Soldiers; Canada; Children’s writings)

Chanda's Wars

Stratton, Allan. Chanda’s Wars. Toronto: HarperCollins, 2008.
Chanda Kabelo, a teenaged African girl, must save her younger siblings after they are kidnapped and forced to serve as child soldiers in General Mandiki’s rebel army. This vivid fictional account is for mature readers only due to the subject matter. [Africa; Brothers and sisters; Child soldiers; Civil war; Kidnapping; Orphans; Survival; Young adult fiction]


Walters, Eric. Shattered. Viking Canada, c2006; Puffin Canada, 2008.
A teenage boy from a wealthy home, volunteering in a poor area of Vancouver, B.C. in order to meet high school graduation requirements, meets a homeless soldier and learns about the plight of victims of war. Includes a forward by Lieutenant General Romeo Dallaire. (Rwanda; Soldiers; Homelessness; Vancouver (B.C.); War;  Post-traumatic stress disorder; Teenagers; Young adult fiction; AR 4.4)


Walters, Eric. Wounded. Toronto: Puffin Canada, 2010.
When Marcus’s father comes home from Afghanistan, the family is overcome by happiness that he is safe, but as the days pass, Marcus begins to feel that there is something different about his father. The plot contains descriptions of violence. – CIP [Afghanistan; Fathers and sons; Post-traumatic stress disorder; Soldiers]


 Click HERE to find more books about modern day conflicts around the world.

Click HERE to find more books about people of courage.

Click HERE to find an outline for writing an essay on heroes.