Read a Biography

There’s still time to work on your July Summer Challenge Sheet! Have you read a biography or memoir yet? Biographies are a fantastic genre because they give a glimpse of another person’s life. They can inspire or challenge you. And, reading about other people’s lives can be beneficial to your own.

Here are a few biographies and memoirs to check out:

 

Indira by Katherine Frank – Indira Ghandi was reluctant to enter politics. She was educated at schools in Switzerland, England and India while her father and many family members were in and out of jail during the Independence Movement in India. After the deaths of her husband, her fathers, and independent India’s first leader she joined politics in order to realize the dream of an independent country.

Call Me American by Abdi Nor Iftin – Read about Iftin’s path to US citizenship. He grew up in Somalia and loved American culture as a young child and learned English by listening to American music. But when a radical Islamist group rose to power in 2006, it became dangerous to celebrate any kind of Western culture. Iftin used his language skills to post secret dispatches to NPR and the Internet in order to make a living, and found an audience of worldwide listeners. But as life in Somalia grew more dangerous, Ilftin had no choice but to flee to Kenya as a refugee.

Sick by Porochista Khapour – Khapour doesn’t remember a time when she wasn’t sick. Several hospitalizations and $100,000 later, Khapour finally learns that she has Lyme disease. Read about her long, emotional journey and how she deals with the American medical system.

Well That Escalated Quickly by Franchesca Ramsey – The comedian and activist shares her advice on how to deal with internet trolls, low-key racists and social media in general.

How To American by Jimmy Yang – Jimmy Yang is a standup comedian and actor. In his hilarious memoir, he shares his story of growing up as a Chinese immigrant and how pursuing a Hollywood career went against the dreams of his parents.

Discover a Scientist

Still working on your June Summer Challenge sheet? Here are some titles to help you “Discover a Scientist:”

Rosalind Franklin: The Dark Lady of DNA by Brenda Maddox – In 1962, Maurice Wilkins, Francis Crick, and James Watson received the Nobel Prize, but it was Rosalind Franklin’s data and photographs of DNA that led to their discovery. This is the powerful story of a remarkably single-minded, forthright, and strong young woman who was erased from the greatest scientific discovery of the twentieth century.

A Crack in Creation by Jennifer Doudna – Doudna helped create a new technology, CRISPR, that can make changes to human embryos. CRISPR may provide the cure to HIV, genetic diseases, and some cancers, and will help address the world’s hunger crisis. However, even the tiniest changes to DNA could have unforeseeable consequences. This is the thrilling story of her discovery.

Doudna is a Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of California, Berkley. Her lab focuses on obtaining a mechanistic understanding of biological processes involving RNA.

Unnatural Selection: How We are Changing Life, Gene by Gene by Emily Monosson – When our powerful chemicals put the pressure on to evolve or die, beneficial traits can sweep rapidly through a population, or a species could die out.

Monosson is an environmental toxicologist and writer. She currently holds an adjunct faculty position in the Department of Environmental Conservation at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee – Take a look into the future of cancer treatments and discover a different perspective on the way doctors, scientists, philosophers, and lay people have observed and understood the human body for millennia.

Mukherjee is an oncologist and his research focuses on the links between normal stem cells and cancer cells.

Memoirs of Refugees in Recognition of World Refugee Day

you have to understand,
that no one puts their children in a boat
unless the water is safer than the land
                           —“Home” by Warsan Shire

World Refugee Day is June 20. According to the United Nations every minute 20 people leave everything behind to escape war, persecution or terror. For anyone who is trying to comprehend what it feels like to be driven from your home, books written by or about refugees are a good first step toward understanding. Here are a few of their stories:

alongwaygoneA Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah – Ishmael Beah was born in Sierra Leone, and when he was twelve, his village was attacked by rebels. When he fled he was separated from his family. Beah wandered through the war-filled country before being picked up by the government army and forced to join an army unit.

 

thebestwecoulddoThe Best We Could Do: An Illustrated Memoir by Thi Bui – This graphic novel memoir documents the story of Thi Bui’s family’s escape from South Vietnam in the 1970s. Bui describes the difficulties her family faced as refugees and the hardships they overcame as they built a new life for their family.

 

thegirlwhoescapedisisThe Girl Who Escaped ISIS by Farida Khalaf – Farida Khalaf was 19 years old and living a normal, sheltered life in northern Iraq during the summer of 2014 when her village was attacked by ISIS. All of the men in her town were killed and the women were taken into slavery. Khalaf was sold into the homes of ISIS soldiers and is then brought to an ISIS training camp. She plots a dangerous escape for her and five other girls. This is her harrowing account.

 

hopemorepowerfulA Hope More Powerful Than the Sea by Melissa Fleming – This book chronicles the life of Doaa, a Syrian girl whose life was dramatically altered in 2011 by the onset of her country’s brutal civil war. Doaa and her fiance, Bassem, decide to flee to Europe to seek safety and an education, but just days after setting sail on a smuggler’s rickety fishing vessel along with more than five hundred other refugees, their boat is attacked and begins to sink. This is when Doaa’s struggle for survival really begins.

Books for Children

The Journey by Francesca Sanna – This picture book depicts the decisions made as a family leaves their home and everything they know in order to escape the tragedy brought by war. Best for ages 6 and up.

Four Feet, Two Sandals by Karen Lynn Williams & Khadra Mohammed – Relief workers bring used clothing to a refugee camp in Pakistan, and people grab whatever they can. Ten-year-old Lina is excited when she finds a sandal that fits her foot perfectly, until she sees that another girl has the matching shoe. But soon Lina and Feroza meet and decide that it is better to share the sandals than for each to wear only one. Best for ages 7 and up.

Lost and Found Cat by Doug Kuntz & Amy Shrodes – When an Iraqi family is forced to flee their home, they carry their beloved cat with them from Iraq to Greece, keeping their secret passenger hidden away in this true story. But during the crowded boat crossing to Greece, his carrier breaks and the frightened cat runs away. The family is devastated, but must continue their journey. However, the cat is found and a worldwide community comes together to spread the word on the Internet and reunite them. Best for ages 4 and up.