“Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak knits up the o-er wrought heart and bids it break.”
William Shakespeare, Macbeth

Little Audrey

“In 1948, eleven-year-old Audrey  lives with her father, mother, and three younger sisters in Jewell Valley, a coal mining camp in Southwest Virginia, where her mother still mourns the death of a baby, her father goes on drinking binges on paydays, and Audrey tries to recover from the scarlet fever that has left her skinny and needing to wear glasses.” – CIP. 

“In this book I have written about a time of great trauma in my family. I have used the voice of my oldest sister, Audrey, who was eleven at the time, to tell the story in her own words as she might have done then….My sisters Yvonne and Eleanor helped me with the details of the story. We are the only ones now who remember how it was for us….” (from the preface)

“‘…I want you to remember your daddy. There’s no need to dwell on his bad habits,’ she went on. ‘Just remember the good things about him, the good times we all had together'” (140).

“Don’t be ashamed to weep; ’tis right to grieve. Tears are only water, and flowers, trees, and fruit cannot grow without water. But there must be sunlight also. A wounded heart will heal in time, and when it does, the memory and love of our lost ones is sealed inside to comfort us.” – Brian Jacques, Taggerung

More stories of poverty: HERE

More stories based on memories: HERE

“We seem to live in a world where forgetting and oblivion are an industry in themselves and very, very few people are remotely interested or aware of their own recent history, much less their neighbors’. I tend to think we are what we remember, what we know. The less we remember, the less we know about ourselves, the less we are.” – Carlos Ruiz Zafón, author of The Midnight Palace


Let There Be Peace

A Little Peace

Kerley, Barbara. A Little Peace. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic, 2007.
Full-page coloured photographs depict portraits of peace from around the world. Recommended for all ages.

“Peace begins with a smile.” – Mother Teresa

What Does Peace

Radunsky, Vladimir. What Does Peace Feel Like? New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2004.
“Simple text and illustrations portray what peace looks, sounds, tastes, feels, and smells like to children around the world.” – CIP. Recommended for children aged four to ten.

“While you are proclaiming peace with your lips, be careful to have it even more fully in your heart.”– St Frances of Assisi

Let There Be Peace

Let There Be Peace: Prayers from Around the World. Selected by Jeremy Brooks. London: Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, 2009.
A collection of prayers, both traditional and modern, from people of many different faiths and traditions. Highly recommended!

“In joined hands there is still some token of hope, in the clinched fist none.” – Victor Hugo, The Toilers of the Sea

The Enemy

Cali, David. The Enemy: A Book about Peace. New York: Schwartz & Wade Books, 2009.
“After watching an enemy for a very long time during an endless war, a soldier finally creeps out into the night to the other man’s hole and is surprised by what he finds there.” – CIP. Recommended for readers 11 years old and up. 

“Peace between countries must rest on the solid foundation of love between individuals.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Pauli Pastrami

Proimos, James. Paulie Pastrami Achieves World Peace. New York: Little Brown Books for Young Readers, 2009.
“Seven-year-old Paulie, an ordinary boy, brings peace to his home and school through small acts of kindness, but needs help to achieve his goal of world peace.” – CIP.  A highly recommended humorous picture book for all ages, sure to prompt laughter, discussion and reflection.

“My attitude to peace is rather based on the Burmese definition of peace – it really means removing all the negative factors that destroy peace in this world. So peace does not mean just putting an end to violence or to war, but to all other factors that threaten peace, such as discrimination, such as inequality, poverty.”– Aung San Suu Kyi, awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991

Stories of forgiveness: HERE

Stories of faith: HERE

Novels of conflicts around the world: HERE

Beauty from Ashes

When I Was Eight

Prejudice. Oppression. Abuse. Throughout history, harm has been done in the name of justice. But usually there is no justice. Only revenge.

Literature for children and young adults portrays these stories of pain and suffering. Reading them can help build understanding and compassion, but it can also lead to discouragement. What hope is there in this inhumane world?

Some stories show the possibility of a better world. And they offer this hope not by denying the reality of evil but by creating a powerful beauty. When I Was Eight, a picture book by Christy Jordan-Fenton and Margaret Pokiak-Fenton and illustrated by Gabrielle Grimard, tells a haunting story of racism against Inuit children in Canada’s residential schools. And yet the mood is not dark. Instead, the determination of the main character, Olemaun, and the rhythm of the writing combine to create a sense of hope that takes this story far behind the usual accounts of injustice in this world. 

Read this story aloud, even if you are by yourself.  Use it as a pattern for writing your own story.  Or use it to teach creative writing.  When I Was Eight is highly recommended for all readers, and listeners, eight-years-old and up.

Jordan-Fenton, Christy. When I Was Eight. Toronto: Annick Press, 2013.

More stories about aboriginal people of North America: HERE.

More stories about abuse: HERE.

More stories about the power of reading: HERE.

“By teaching us how to read, they had taught us how to get away.” Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien (New York: Aladdin Paperbacks, 1986, c1971).

The Beauty of the Trees

Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.” – John Lubbock, British advocate for science education and shorter working hours

In the early 1800s, an American travelled through Ohio and Indiana planting apple trees. John Chapman planted hundreds and hundreds of trees, so many that he became known as Johnny Appleseed. Learn more about him in…

Seed by Seed

Codell, Esme Raji. Seed by Seed: the Legend and Legacy of Johnny ‘Appleseed’. New York: Greenwillow Books, 2012.

In the late 1800s, an American moved to San Diego in southern California. Kate Sessions decided her new city needed more greenery, so she planted hundred and hundreds of trees and taught countless people how to grow gardens. She became known as the Mother of Balboa Park. Learn more about her in…

The Tree Lady

Hopkins, H. Joseph. The Tree Lady: the True Story of How One Tree-loving Woman Changed a City Forever. New York: Beach Lane Books, 2013.

“I think that I shall never see
A billboard lovely as a tree.
Perhaps, unless the billboards fall,
I’ll never see a tree at all.”

– Ogden Nash, American poet

At the end of the 20th century, a Kenyan woman was dismayed to discover that her beautiful country was becoming dry and dusty because so many trees were being cut down. So Wangari Maathai started planting trees and teaching other women how to plant trees. In 2004, she became the first African woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Learn more about her in these three beautiful books…

Mama Miti

Napoli, Donna Jo. Mama Mita: Wangari Maathai and the Trees of Kenya. New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2010.

Planting the Trees

Nivola, Claire A. Planting the Trees of Kenya: the Story of Wangari Maathai. New York: Francis Foster Books / Farrar Straus and Giroux, 2008.

Wangari's Trees

Winter, Jeanette. Wangari’s Trees of Peace: a True Story from Africa. Orlando, FL: Harcourt, 2008.

Here is one more picture book about Wangari Maathai. The illustrations are not quite as powerful. The text does not flow as beautifully.  But there is so much information…

Seeds of Change

Johnson, Jen Cullerton. Seeds of Change: Planting a Path to Peace. New York: Lee & Low Books, 2010.

The beauty of the trees,
the softness of the air,
the fragrance of the grass,
speaks to me.
The summit of the mountain,
the thunder of the sky,
speaks to me.
The faintness of the stars,
the trail of the sun,
the strength of fire,
and the life that never goes away,
they speak to me.
And my heart soars.

– Chief Dan George, Coast Salish poet

More biographies: HERE

More books celebrating nature: HERE


 White hydrangeas

In 1998, a British-Lebanese woman, Alexandra Asseily, had an idea.  Her country of Lebanon had suffered from years of civil war, and now her city needed a place for people where people of different beliefs could gather together in peace.  Other people agreed with her. And so in the middle of Beruit, surrounded by three mosques and three cathedrals, a garden was built. Known as Hadiqat As-Samah in Arabic and The Garden of Forgiveness in English, this garden has become a reminder that revenge will never bring peace. Only when people forgive will there be lasting peace.

Author Lauren Thompson and illustrator Christy Hale have created a beautiful picture book inspired by this garden. 

The Forgiveness Garden

“It is not enough to win a war; it is more important to organize the peace.” – Aristotle, Greek philosopher


“…and when all the wars are over, a butterfly will still be beautiful.” – Ruskin Bond, Indian author of over 30 children’s books

A Child's Garden

“A garden is a grand teacher. It teaches patience and careful watchfulness; it teaches industry and thrift; above all it teaches entire trust.” – Gertrude Jekyll, English gardener.


Learn to forgive: HERE

Foreman, Michael. A Child’s Garden: A Story of Hope. Somerville, Mass.: Candlewick Press, 2009.
Halperin, Wendy Anderson. Peace. New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2013.
Thompson, Lauren. The Forgiveness Garden. New York: Feiwel and Friends, 2012.
Tutu, Desmond. Desmond and the Very Mean Word: A Story of Forgiveness. Somerville, Mass. : Candlewick Press, c2013..




Stories of the Middle East

“Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice and lying and greed. If people all over the world…would do this, it would change the earth.” – William Faulkner, American writer
Where the Streets
Abdel-Fattah, Randa. Where the Streets Had a Name. Scholastic Press, 2010, c2008.
“Thirteen-year-old Hayaat of Bethlehem faces check points, curfews, and the travel permit system designed to keep people on the West Bank when she attempts to go to her grandmother’s ancestral home in Jerusalem with her best friend.” – CIP.
Broken Bridge
Banks, Lynne Reid. Broken Bridge. London: Puffin, 1997, c1994.
“Nimrod and Nili are two Jewish teenagers growing up on a kibbutz. Their mother Lesley, goes to meet Nili on her return from a trip to London, and at Ben Gurion airport, learns that Nili’s plane has been blown up by terrorists. But Nili never boarded the plane, prevented by a mysterious stranger.” – CIP
“We must have our say, not through violence, aggression or fear. We must speak out calmly and forcefully. We shall only be able to enter the new world era if we agree to engage in dialogue with the other side.” Tahar Ben Jelloun, Moroccan writer
Tasting the Sky
Barakat, Ibtisam. Tasting the Sky: A Palestinian Childhood. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007.
“In this memoir set in Ramallah during the aftermath of the 1967 Six-Day War, Ibtisam Barakat captures what it is like to be a child whose world is shattered by war.” – CIP
Carmi, Daniella. Samir and Yonatan. New York: Arthur A. Levine Books, c2000.
“Samir, a Palestinian boy, is sent for surgery to an Israeli hospital where he has two otherworldly experiences, making friends with an Israeli boy, Yonatan, and traveling with him to Mars where Samir finds peace over his younger brother’s death in the war.” – CIP.
“Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding.” – Albert Einstein
The Shepherd's Granddaughter
Carter, Ann Laurel. The Shepherd’s Granddaughter. Toronto: Groundwood Books / House of Anansi Press, 2008.
“Amani longs to be a shepherd like her grandfather, Seedo. Like many Palestinians, her family has grazed sheep above the olive groves of the family homestead for generations, and she has been steeped in Seedo’s stories, especially one about a secret meadow called the Firdoos–and the wolf that once showed him the path there.” – CIP.
A Stone in My Hand
Clinton, Cathryn. A Stone in My Hand. Cambridge, Mass.: Candlewick Press, 2004, c2002.
“Eleven-year-old Malaak and her family are touched by the violence in Gaza between Jews and Palestinians when first her father disappears and then her older brother is drawn to a radical group.” – CIP. 
“Our object must be to bring our territory into harmony with the numbers of our population.” – Adolf Hitler
Three Wishes
Ellis, Deborah. Three Wishes: Palestinian and Israeli Children Speak. Toronto: Groundwood Books, 2004.
“Young people between the ages of eleven and eighteen share what it is like to live in the midst of the upheaval and violence of the Israeli – Palestinian conflict.” – CIP.
“An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.” – Mahatma Gandhi
Real Time
Kass, Pnina Moed.  Real Time.  New York: Clarion Books, 2004.
“Sixteen-year-old Tomas Wanninger persuades his mother to let him leave Germany to volunteer at a kibbutz in Israel, where he experiences a violent political attack and finds answers about his own past.” – CIP
A Little Piece of Ground
Laird, Elizabeth. A Little Piece of Ground.  London, UK : Macmillan Children’s Books, 2004.
“During the Israeli occupation of Ramallah in the West Bank of Palestine, twelve-year-old Karim and his friends create a secret place for themselves where they can momentarily forget the horrors of war.” – CIP
Macdonald, Margaret Read. Tunjur! Tunjur! Tunjur!: A Palestinian Folktale. New York: Marshall Cavendish, 2006.
“A childless woman’s prayers are answered by the arrival of a talking pot, but the new mother knows that Little Pot must learn right from wrong just like any child.” – CIP [Folklore; Humorous stories; Palestinian Arabs; Theft]
“I am never proud to participate in violence, yet I know that each of us must care enough about ourselves that we can be ready and able to come to our own defense when and wherever needed.” – Maya Angelou, American poet
Crescent Star
Maes, Nicholas. Crescent Star: a Novel. Toronto: Dundurn Press, 2011.
Avi is Jewish and Moussa is Palestinian. Both boys are fifteen years old and live in Jerusalem. They belong to the same soccer club but do not know each other.  As they struggle to find their own paths in life, readers gain a better understanding of the complexity of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Recommended for young adults.
Enemy Territory
McKay, Sharon E. Enemy Territory. Toronto: Annick Press, 2012.
“Sam, an Israeli teen whose leg may have to be amputated, and Yusuf, a Palestinian teen who has lost his left eye, find themselves uneasy roommates in a Jerusalem hospital.” – back cover. While not the most memorable novel on this theme nor the best written, this story is nevertheless recommended for readers 11 to 16 years old who want to learn more about the Arab-Israeli conflict.

The Enemy has a Face
Miklowitz, Gloria D. The Enemy Has a Face. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2003.
“Netta and her family have relocated temporarily from Israel to Los Angeles, and when her seventeen-year-old brother mysteriously disappears, she becomes convinced that he has been abducted by Palestinian terrorists.” – CIP.
Message in a Bottle
Zenatti, Valerie. Message in a Bottle. New York: Bloomsbury, 2005, translation c2008.
“Seventeen-year-old Tal of Jerusalem, dejected over the ongoing Arab-Israeli conflict, puts her hopes for peace in a bottle and asks her brother, a military nurse in the Gaza Strip, to toss it into the sea.” – CIP.
More stories of current and recent conflicts: HERE
Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” – Martin Luther King Jr.