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Books can help children stockpile greater measures of courage

Humans are braver and more resilient than many might think. Often, it isn’t until we are faced with adversity that we come to realize we are capable of handling difficult situations and choices we may not have considered would come our way.

One certain way to help a child stockpile greater measures of courage and bravery is to read books together that demonstrate what the characters, both real and imagined, do when they are faced with decisions and hardship.

Such books cause readers/listeners to wonder if they might be as brave as those characters, if they could make the right choices, all the while being assured that it’s okay if the first attempt doesn’t work out; the next step is to try again.

The books reviewed today are a good place to start. Ask your librarian and bookseller to direct you to others. We all need extra measures of courage, and for the child in your life, it begins with you.

Books to borrow

The following book is available at many public libraries.

“A Night Divided” by Jennifer A. Nielsen, Scholastic, 336 pages

Read aloud: age 8 – 12.

Read yourself: age 9 – 10 and older.

Tensions in Berlin had been rising for years, and 12-year-old Gerta and her family had contemplated moving out of East Berlin to West Berlin. Her father and one brother had gone to West Berlin looking for work. They intended to be gone for two nights.

But on Aug. 13, 1961, a fence was erected separating East Berlin from the rest of the city. The fence soon became a wall; the East Berliners were literally imprisoned. With her father and brother unable to return home, Gerta, her mother and older brother struggled to adjust to their family being so hastily divided.

Life in East Berlin grew increasingly more difficult and dangerous, never knowing who to trust. One day, Gerta sees her father standing on the wall, doing a funny little dance about digging. Gerta is certain he wants her and her older brother, Fritz, to tunnel beneath the wall and escape to West Berlin.

Leaving East Berlin was strictly prohibited, and the consequences for trying would be deadly. However, Gerta, Fritz and their mother decided there were some things worth risking their lives for.

A marvelously crafted historical novel about courage, perseverance and the will to survive, “A Night Divided” excels in every regard.

Librarian’s choice

Library: Schuylkill Valley Community Library, 1310 Washington Road, Bern Township

Library director: Christie Himmelreich

Youth librarian: Kelly Jacoby

Choices this week: “I’m Brave!” by Kate & Jim McMullan; “If the Wind Changes” by Steve Smallman; “Last Man Out” by Mike Lupica

Books to buy

The following books are available at favorite bookstores.

“Maybe” by Kobi Yamada, illustrated by Gabriella Barouch, Compendium, 2019, 40 pages, $18.95 hardcover

Read aloud: age 3 – adult.

Read yourself: age 6 and older.

This beautifully written and illustrated recommendation will have young and old alike being buoyed with encouragement for all the possibilities that life offers for the unique person you are.

“You are the only you there ever has been or ever will be. You have so much to offer.”

Maybe you will invent something, or maybe you will help others. Try many things and discover what you are meant to do and be. It won’t always be easy, and sometimes you will be afraid and maybe fail, but you’ll get back up, stronger than before. The world needs all you have to offer — your gifts and talents and big ideas. Keep going and do everything with love.

Contemplative and profound, “Maybe” is an extraordinary book that’s inspiring in every possible way.

“Guts for Glory: The Story of Civil War Soldier Rosetta Wakeman,” written and illustrated by JoAnna Lapati, is based on a true story and will empower readers to embrace their own courage. (Courtesy of Eerdmans)

“Guts for Glory: The Story of Civil War Soldier Rosetta Wakeman,” written and illustrated by JoAnna Lapati, Eerdmans, 2024, 56 pages, $19.99 hardcover

Read aloud: age 7 – 12.

Read yourself: age 7 – 12.

In 1862, the Civil War was raging. Men went off to fight, and women stayed behind to take care of their families. Nineteen-year-old Rosetta Wakeman grew tired of the monotonous life at home tending to endless chores. She wanted something more exciting and purposeful, so one early morning, Rosetta cut her hair, bound her chest, dressed in her Pa’s old clothes and headed out the door, looking like a man.

Rosetta practiced speaking in a deep voice, and decided her new name would be Lyons Wakeman. On her brave journey from her home in rural New York, Lyons enlisted in the Union army. Lyons and her regiment guarded Washington, D.C., then went south to dangerous battlefields, pushing the Confederates back.

Throughout, Lyons was able to conceal her true identity, send money home to support her family, all the while working to help win the war for the Union.

Based on the true story of Rosetta Wakeman during the Civil War, readers/listeners will feel empowered to embrace their own courage through her example.

Nationally syndicated, Kendal Rautzhan writes and lectures on children’s literature. She can be reached at

Source: Berkshire mont

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