Fill the World with Words

Imagine a world where everyone had access to books and had a passion for reading and learning. You’re sitting at the bus stop and everyone around you has a book in their hands, you’re in the cafeteria and people are actually talking about real issues and new books they’ve read, or you get to class and find that you actually understand what’s going on because you read about it somewhere before and you’re actually able to have a discussion because the rest of the class read too. That’s the kind of world the International Federation of Library Associations is trying to create.

The International Federation of Library Associations is an organization that’s main intention is to uphold the interests of library and informational services. It is the global voice for people in the field of library and information services and the people who use them. In order to progress their intentions, they have broken their plan into four main parts. They hope to shape libraries into places that promote literate and informed participative members of society, to create places that give equitable access to information, to protect cultural heritage in order to preserve all they can do for society, and finally to serve as an advocate for librarians and library representatives at all levels (IFLA). These plans are broken down even further into sub-plans that will help them to obtain their overall goal which is to ensure people are informed, have access to libraries, have a wide range of sources, and feel like they have a voice.

In partnership with the IFLA, is the ICDL or the International Children’s Digital Library. They provide free internet access to children’s books from around the world written in their original languages (IFLA). They rely on children as well as authors of children’s literature in order to make accessible and an expanding collection of historic and contemporary children’s literature. They aim to encourage children to read, prepare children to read, and combat illiteracy around the world.

Another organization partnered with the IFLA is the IBBY or the International Board on Books for Young People. They aim to bring books and children together worldwide (What is IBBY). Their mission is very similar to the ICDL’s mission and both their missions align with the goals of the IFLA. It makes sense that all these organizations are partnered together. They’re aiming to create a better world through the accessibility of information and knowledge along with encouraging a passion for reading from a young age.

Works Cited

“IFLA — About IFLA.” Accessed December 5, 2018.

“What Is IBBY: IBBY Official Website.” Accessed December 5, 2018.


A Fresh Perspective

Do you remember begging your parents to read you a story before going to bed every night? I remember not being able to fall asleep unless I had a bedtime story. It’s not like that anymore and as much as I try I always find myself turning to grab my phone before bed instead of a good book. I don’t know where my love for reading went, but I’m happy to see that my younger sister still has a passion for it. She’s a sophomore in high school and has read more books over the summer than I have in the past couple of months

Over Thanksgiving break, I had the chance to sit down with her a discuss some of the books she has read while I was gone. After a long discussion of titles like Secrets for the Mad by Dodie Clark, Dear Evan Hansen: The novel by Val Emmich, Steven Levenson, Benj Pasek, and Justin Paul, Any book by John Green, and To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han, I was surprised to see that all of the books she has read recently have come from the United States and the United Kingdom. Being the sister that I am, I asked her to read a book that would broaden her view of the world. The book I chose for her was No Guns at my Son’s Funeral by Paro Anand.  

After reading the novel, I asked her a couple of questions to see how she enjoyed the book and what she learned from it. For some background, No Guns at my Son’s Funeral is a story about a young Kashmiri boy, Aftab. He lives a normal life by day where he plays cricket, attends school, and spends time with his family. By night, he sneaks around with Akram and a group of tearaway terrorists. This story is raw and could be classified as ‘reality fiction’ as it could be set in any country facing violence in their own backyard.

What were your thoughts going into reading this book?

Kiersten: I wasn’t sure if I’d really like this book. I’ve never read a book for school that wasn’t published in the United States. For pleasure reading, I usually choose fantasy books as my go to. After reading some background about the novel, I became more intrigued because it seemed like it would be a very cathartic read something I knew I haven’t experienced in a while and I looked forward to doing.  

Were there any things that seemed to make your understanding of the novel more challenging?

Kiersten: I found while reading the book it was hard to make a connection with the protagonist. I have not experienced violence first hand like the children in this novel have. I did feel sympathy for Aftab as I do know what it’s like to be an outsider. I know there’s no excuse for killing innocent people in the name of religion or any reason but I can see why Aftab was so enthralled with Akram. He was accepting, attractive, and a great leader. It makes sense that Aftab would stay with him because he finally had a place where he felt like he belonged.

Do you think you’ll continue to read young adult novels from around the world?

Kiersten: I think it’s something I’ll be more aware of when picking out books to read in the future. I felt like I have gained a new perspective of the world and am thankful you introduced me to that. This novel wasn’t necessarily one of my favorite reads but I do believe reading novels about other young adults from different countries does show that even though we live in different places and our environments are very different we still deal with similar issues like stereotypes, love, friendships, and loss. I found that the way this novel was written really led to me liking it as it didn’t try so hard to sound like a young adult and it wasn’t overdone either. I feel like it stayed true to that teen voice. The one that is still figuring out the world and doesn’t always think through their decisions.  

Works Cited

Anand, Paro. No Guns at my Son’s Funeral. Roli Books, 2005.


Book Review of Melina Marchetta’s “On the Jellicoe Road”

On the Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta is a beautifully intricate novel that won the 2009 Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in young adult literature. The YA novel was first published in Austrailia in 2006 and made its debut in the United States in 2008 with an abbreviated title Jellicoe Road.  

*Austrailian cover pictured left and right, U.S. cover center

In the beginning of the novel, I found myself lost. Marchetta has such a way of writing that even though I was struggling to decipher what was happening I found myself wanting to go on and read more in search of answers similar to Taylor the main protagonist of the novel. The fragmentation of the novel really lends itself to seeking answers. Marchetta breaks the novel into almost two different stories it seems.

There’s 17-year-old Taylor Markham who is a senior attending a boarding school on Jellicoe Road. This boarding school is no ordinary boarding school, as it is a school specifically meant for children who have been abandoned by their parents and families. Taylor ended up at Jellicoe after her mother left her at a 7/11 when she was eleven. Every autumn a territory war is waged between the students, the “townies” of Jellicoe, and the cadets of a military school in Sydney. The cadets set up camp near the school every September as part of their outdoor training. Taylor being the student who has lived in Jellicoe the longest becomes the elected leader of the school during the war. Chaz Santangelo, son of the police chief, is the leader of the townies, and the cadets are led by Jonah Griggs.

Interwoven among Taylor’s story is one of five children who lived in Jellicoe twenty-two years previously. Their story is told in bits in pieces as it is part of Hanah’s book. Hannah actually happens to be the woman who brought Taylor to the boarding school. The freaky thing is that Hannah’s book and Taylor’s story happen to have many things in common. We’re left, as is Taylor, wondering how fictitious is Hannah’s story; could it possibly be true?

Marchetta’s ability to withhold the deepest of secrets while still telling a well-constructed novel is what drives the plot. She gradually reveals bits and pieces of the overall story offering the audience time to contemplate the actions of the characters and their past.

Taylor is probably one of the most complex characters I have encountered in a young adult novel. She is a leader but selfish, she is abrasive but longs for love, but most importantly she is brave but afraid of getting to close to people and trusting them. There are so many people in her life that want to love her but some of them can’t because of their own demons they are dealing with or Taylor can’t let them because of her own. She has dealt with sexual, emotional, and mental abuse from a very young age. Sadly, when Taylor goes off to find her mother in search for answers about her past she learns of about these abuses; memories she has forgotten all about. Taylor becomes most vulnerable with Jonah, the leader of the cadets. Previously, when Taylor was around 14, she and Jonah ran away together to find her mother in Sydney. But, Jonah ends up calling the Brigadier, the adult in charge of the cadets, to pick them up. Taylor and Jonah have a falling out but eventually makeup later on in the novel. I believe the reason Taylor and Jonah have such a strong bond is because they have both endured similar types of abuses. They both struggle to let people in because it’s a lot easier to say goodbye to people whom you have no connection with. Watching Taylor’s progression of maturing and ultimately finding her self is ambivalent in nature. As the story unfolds so do all her past traumas and there is something beautiful in the realism Marchetta uses to express this coming to terms Taylor experiences.

I think the important themes of the novel: loss, identity, and the past really emphasize the connection that can be made with young adults. These themes are present in both Taylor’s story and Hannah’s manuscript. I believe this novel does an extremely well job of describing how children respond to loss and rejection of a parent. Taylor and the children of the boarding school are all too familiar of this kind of loss just as the five children in Hannah’s manuscript are. Inresponse to this abandonment, they band together forming their own family units; while struggling with difficult questions and longing for answers. For instance, Taylor is put in the difficult position of being in charge of her House while trying to dealing with the emptiness of her mom’s absence. She finds solace in her friends Raffela, Ben, and eventually Chaz and Jonah too. All these themes go hand in hand as Taylor is struggling to figure out who she is because she has dealt with tremendous trauma and loss that she has suppressed and been suppressing for many years. While uncovering her past is a painful journey, it is the truth about her past that sets her free from all the pain she has been causing herself. Understanding her past and learning the circumstances of the loss she has endured, Taylor is better fit to understand who she is, where she comes from, and who she wants to be.

On the Jellicoe Road has stuck with me ever since I finished reading it. I was so drawn to the characters and enjoyed watching them develop as the story progressed. Knowing that you are not alone is something all of us long for. The connection I felt to all of the children in this novel was extremely powerful. We all want to belong and are looking for a place to call our own and people to call our own. I found that in this novel. I found a place that calls my name and I hope that if you read this novel you’ll find that too.

Works Cited

Anonymous Blogger. On the Jellicoe Road book covers Around the Globe. 2011. Awesome Inc. Theme. ina_31.Html. Accessed 28 November 2018.