A Noble NOBEL Award: Book Recommendation


Malala Youzafsay

The 2014 NOBEL PEACE PRIZE (2014) –details here- was recently awarded to co-recients, Malala Youzafsay and Kailash Satyarthi. Pakistani Malala’s identity has been well-known since her name, face, and story hit world news two years ago. Instead of allowing the attack on her by the Taliban to make her a victim, she has used her public platform to advocate for a cause, the one and only, non-political cause she addresses so effectively: The right of every child (girls AND boys) to an education.

Kailash By contrast, Kailash Satyarthi of India has lived a much longer life, dedicating his efforts to ending child abduction and child labor by following in the footsteps of Mahatma Ghandi’s non-violent protests. In many parts of the world he is well known and revered, but his efforts are followed world-wide far less often than are Malala’s. To gain a greater understanding of his commitment to this cause, listen to this interview with his son, Bhuwan Ribhu on LAKE EFFECT, (Milwaukee’s public radio station WUWM).

Both causes defy argument by any reasonable human. Both causes can feel “too big to get our arms around” to the extent that we question the effectiveness of any actions on our part as members of a privileged, first world community. The very least we can do is to actively work to become better informed.

Several books about Malala and her cause have already been published and others are underway. 

9780061857607 boys without names

Boys Without Names, Balzer and Bray, 2010

Books about child abduction and child labor are not as prominent in the media. Whether you are concerned about the cause of child abduction and child labor or not (Seriously? Could anyone not care?) I recommend reading one of the most powerful books I’ve ever encountered. BOYS WITHOUT NAMES is  contemporary fiction, set in India, and written by Wisconsin’s/India’s remarkable author, KASHMIRA SHETH.  As is the case with the very best of middle grade novels, it offers readers of all ages a window into overwhelmingly important and complex topics through the lives of characters we care about and deeply respect. 

This contemporary story set in India reveals insights and details of the ways in which child labor/slavery/abduction can occur and be perpetuated despite laws against it. Author Kashmira Sheth writes with sensitivity, credibility, and authentic details. Her characters reveal the universality of human nature and yet are each so fully developed that they are unforgettable individuals, not faceless statistics.
The setting and conversations in this story feel permanently ingrained in my memory and I’m willing to bet the same will be true for every reader. It is a testament to the power of story to save lives.

BOYS WITHOUT NAMES is a book I’ve recommended often since its release four years ago. Kailash Satyarthi’s NOBEL PEACE PRIZE provides an excellent reminder to recommend it again. DO yourself a favor and read it. If nothing else you’ll be able to engage others in more informed conversations, because you will WANT to talk about BOYS WITHOUT NAMES.


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