Books to Borrow: Inspiring books about courage

Teach children about courage with inspiring books


It’s inspiring to read about people who have accomplished great things under difficult circumstances. Such stories often provide the reader with an idea one may not have had before. These stories can motivate, provide encouragement and bolster our sense of courage, spirit and self-reliance.

Life sometimes requires great acts of courage, boldness and difficult decision-making. The ability to overcome life’s hurdles often comes from years of personal experience. Add to that a willingness to learn from the experiences of others, whether someone we know or someone we read about (both fictional characters and true stories), and we have a greater well to tap into when faced with our own challenges.

Such is the case with the books reviewed today. There are many, many more that will inspire readers. Ask your local librarian to point you in the right direction. Children, with fewer years of life experience, can benefit greatly from such stories. It’s up to you to bring those books into their lives.

Books to borrow

The following book is available at many public libraries:

Forbidden Schoolhouse: The True and Dramatic Story of Prudence Crandall and Her Students by Suzanne Jurmain (Houghton Mifflin, 126 pages)

Read aloud: age 8 to 9 and older

Read yourself: age 9 and older

In 1833, the villagers and town authorities in Canterbury, Conn., considered Prudence Crandall a criminal. Her “crime” was opening and operating one of the first African-American schools in America. Filled with such hate for Miss Crandall and her students, people threw rotten eggs and rocks at the school windows, screamed insults and pounded on the doors with iron bars, threw manure in the school well and tried to burn down the schoolhouse. Miss Crandall was hauled off to jail and put on trial for breaking the law. Throughout it all, Prudence Crandall persisted because she knew she was right.

An extraordinary true story of a courageous woman and her equally courageous students, this important selection is rich on many levels.

Librarian’s choice

Library: Citizens Library, 55 S. College St., Washington

Library director: Diane Ambrose

Children’s Services manager: Rebecca E. Smiley

Choices this week: “You Will Be My Friend” by Peter Brown; “The Voyage of Turtle Rex” by Kurt Cyrus; “The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom” by Christopher Healy

Books to buy

The following books are available at bookstores:

Nelson Mandela, written and illustrated by Kadir Nelson (Katherine Tegan Books, 2013, 40 pages, $17.99 hardcover)

Read aloud: age 6 to 8

Read yourself: age 8 to 9

Nelson Mandela was the smartest boy in his village. Nelson was 9 years old when his father died, and Nelson was sent far away to continue his schooling with a powerful chief. There he excelled in his studies and went on to Johannesburg and became a lawyer.

Nelson saw that there were many Africans of color who were very poor and severely discriminated against, and he vowed to make it his life mission to defend them and eliminate apartheid. But speaking out against the government was against the law, and eventually Nelson was imprisoned – for 27 1/2 years. His courage and determination didn’t waver, however, and when Nelson Mandela was finally set free, the people of South Africa elected him their president.

Through powerful words and lavish illustrations, Kadir Nelson brings us this highly inspiring true story of a most remarkable, courageous man.

Desmond and the Very Mean Word by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Douglas Carlton Abrams, and illustrated by A.G. Ford (Candlewick, 2013, 32 pages, $15.99 hardcover)

Desmond’s perfect day is ruined in an instant when some boys shout a very mean word to him. Feeling angry and hurt, Desmond seeks the advice of Father Trevor, the kind, wise priest who always makes time for everyone.

Father Trevor speaks with Desmond about what happened and gently guides Desmond by saying, “Our hearts are fragile and easily hurt. This is why we were given a way to heal them – it’s called forgiveness. … You don’t need to wait until someone says they’re sorry to forgive them. You have the power to forgive whenever you are ready. … When you forgive someone, you free yourself from what they have said or done. It’s like magic.”

This eloquently written, important true story of an event in Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s childhood demonstrates the power of words, the courage it takes to do the right thing and the transformative joy of forgiveness.

Kendal Rautzhan can be reached at

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