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Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday is hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy and was started to help promote the reading of nonfiction texts. Most Wednesdays, we will be participating and will review a nonfiction text (though it may not always be a picture book).
Be sure to visit Kid Lit Frenzy and see what other nonfiction books are shared this week!

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Children Growing Up with War
Author and Photographer: Jenny Matthews
Published October 14th, 2014 by Candlewick Press

Goodreads Summary: Through personal narrative and candid photographs, a photojournalist chronicles young lives upended by violence and strife.

The right to adequate nutrition and medical care.
The right to free education.
The right to a name and nationality.
The right to affection, love, and understanding.

In conflict zones around the world, children are denied these and other basic rights. Follow photographer Jenny Matthews into refugee camps, overcrowded cities, damaged villages, clinics, and support centers where children and their families live, work, play, learn, heal, and try to survive the devastating impact of war. This moving book depicts the resilience and resourcefulness of young people who, though heavily impacted by the ravages of war, search for a better future for themselves, their families, and their cultures.

Kellee’s Review:  This was a very tough book to read. I thought I’d be able to sit and read it all in one sitting, but I couldn’t. As a mother and a teacher, I love children, and it truly saddened me to see the situations that these children are in.

Fortunately, as an American, very few wars touch our lives. Unfortunately, our news doesn’t focus on many of the tumultuous conflicts that are active throughout the world, so we have become detached from reality. Our students are even more detached. That is why this book is important. It puts it all into perspective and really makes me feel and think. We rarely look at the humans that are being affected by the wars, we always focus on getting the bad guy. This book puts faces to the people, specifically the children, being affected every day.  I found it very interesting how the author set up the book. You can tell she is a photojournalist because it is set up to give information in the most impactful way.

Ricki’s Review: When I was teaching high school, one of my main goals was to provide my students with a more global perspective. I wish I had had this incredible text available at the time because it evoked powerful emotions in me. I know it would do the same for my students. The balance of photography and words is very well done, and I will admit that I took many breaks because these images and words hit me to my core. This is an important book that belongs in classrooms. It is a good length that teachers will easily be able to use it as a pairing with other texts about war and genocide. It is important to learn about our past, but it is just as important to understand the wars that persist today—which is foundational to this book. I wish I could meet this author to thank her for writing a text that moved me so deeply.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This book presents many different discussion opportunities (e.g., the affects of war on children throughout the world, different active wars,Rights of the Child, importance of journalism). It would be fascinating to read with students and hear their perspective on the very tough topics and perspectives shared in the book.

Also, the book sets up nicely for a jigsaw discussion. The author set up the book to look at the different ways lives are affected: home & displacement, family, health, work, and school & play. Within each of these sections, she also looks at different places in the world such as Tunisia, Jordan, Afghanistan, Uganda, Rwanda, Gaza, and Kurdistan. She also includes different Rights of the Child throughout the book. The teacher could jigsaw either with the topic, the places, or the Rights and have students dig deeper.

Another way to look at this book is from a journalistic/photography point of view. I [Kellee] teach journalism, and I already plan on using Photos Framed as part of my photography unit, and I think this book will add an even deeper look into the importance of photography/journalism and with a topic (children’s lives) that my students can connect with.

Discussion Questions: How does Jenny Matthews’s photos, books, and stories help children who are growing up with war?; Why would Jenny Matthews choose to go into such dangerous situations?; If you had to choose one single photo to sum up Children Growing Up with War, which of these would you choose? (p. 42); Which of the UN’s Rights of the Child are affected when war is involved?; In what different way does war affect the children growing up in the conflict area?

We Flagged: “How would you feel if you lost your home and had to flee from your own country? Imagine losing some or all of your family, either as a direct result of fighting or indirectly through illness or disease. You might have to work to support your family or fight and kill other people just to survive. And how can you go to school if it’s being used as an army command outpost and all the books have been destroyed?

This is the reality for too many children and their families in the world. Today, children are still growing up with war—the consequences of which they’ll live with for the rest of their lives” (p. 3).

Read This If You Loved: Photos Framed: A Fresh Look at the World’s Most Memorable Photographs by Ruth Thomson
This would be an excellent nonfiction companion to: Never Fall Down by Patricia McCormick, Endangered by Eliot Schrefer, Caminar by Skila Brown, The Other Side of the Wall by Simon Schwartz, The Milk of Birds by Sylvia Whitman, or Son of a Gun by Anne de Graaf.

Recommended For: 

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5 Responses to Children Growing Up with War by Jenny Matthews

  1. This book looks heartbreaking but important! I teach a social injustice/responsibility unit to my 6th graders in the fall – this book looks perfect for it.

  2. I can imagine this was a tough read for both of you as parents. Incredible how we have such radically different lives.

  3. I cannot imagine living life the way these children do. I can only imagine the conversations that would occur in classrooms.

  4. I think any book with children and war as its theme is a very powerful and important read. Especially books that come with actual photos. Thank you for sharing your insights, Kellee and Ricki!

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