JOURNEYS: YOUNG READERS' LETTERS TO AUTHORS WHO CHANGED THEIR LIVES -- reveals how deeply books affect the lives of young readers
Journeys: Young Readers' Letters to Authors Who Changed Their Lives, Edited by Catherine Gourley(2017, Candlewick; 240 pages)
The Library of Congress is the world´s largest library and it was established in 1800. John Y. Cole writes in the foreword of Journeys that it is also uniquely American, pointing out that Thomas Jefferson, America´s founding father and third president, understood the power of words, "not just to inform but also to inspire."
This book belongs to one of the programs of The Center for The Book in the Library of Congress, whose goal is to fulfill Thomas Jefferson´s philosophy of promoting libraries and developing lifelong readers celebrating the country´s literary diversity and leadership. The book is the response to an invitation to young readers to share their personal connections with authors. It is packed with more than fifty letters that showcase how young readers have been inspired and healed by the power of a book or the power of author´s words. The book is divided into three parts: the first one belongs to the letters from upper elementary, the second one, to middle school students and the third one to high school students. Chapters are divided by themes: destinations, realizations, and returning home. The result is frankly interesting and very inspiring. One of the letters that I enjoyed the most was the one by Xiomara Torres. Through her letter, she shares with author Randa Abdel-Fattah the following testimony after reading Does My Head Look Big in This?:
"A year ago, if you had asked me about my race, I would have begrudgingly admitted that I was Puerto Rican and then swiftly changed the subject. The truth is, I was ashamed of my nacionality. I did not want to be Hispanic. I resented the fact that I had been born into my big Latino family, so I attempted to conceal it. I did everything in my power to separate myself from the stereotype about the Puerto Rican race. I paraded my obsession with rock music and my obviously punk style in clothing. I made sure every one knew that my best friend was white and that I thought shaggy-haired skaters were adorable. I straightened my overabundance of tightly curled hair whenever I had the chance. Instead of Xiomara or even my usual nickname, Xio, I demanded that everyone call me Mara because it sounded more at home among the mass of Rachels, Alis, and Courtneys at my high school. And my unbreakable golden rule: NEVER EVER SPEAK SPANISH.EVER.
I was embarrassed by myself by myself and by so many aspects of my life. I hated my small, poor inner-city school because it swarmed with Puerto Ricans, Mexicans and Cubans like myself. I constantly and publicly put down ´ghetto´ kids in hopes of deflecting any notions that I myself was one. Reggaeton, rap, hip-hop and salsa were , to me, nonexistent genres of music. Although I never bragged, I pride myself on the fact that I was number one in my class because I felt that it somehow made up for my ´sin´of being Hispanic. When I was nagged once about learning to speak Spanish, I remember yelling, ¨We are in America! Before Spanish even crosses our minds, we should learn to speak proper English!¨ I was always paranoid that behind my back, someone would be judging me, stereotyping me, making jokes about me, counting me out because of my race."
If you want to read how Does My Head Look Big in It changed Xiomara´s point of view, get this book.
Recommended to those who believe that book can changes lives and those interested in getting to know more than fifty different young readers through powerful letters. Read it!
Find this title in our catalog: This book is on order
Recommended by: Maite