We Recommend: South Africa Edition

Look everyone, it's We Recommend, in which we attempt to match kids up with their perfect book. Got a kid in your life who needs a recommendation? Write us at thediamondinthewindow (at) gmail (dot) com with the age, reading tastes, favorite books, and any other relevant (or irrelevant) information, and we'll give it a shot. And really? All the good suggestions are in the comments, so be sure to look there!

OK, we're going to keep going with our air of international expansiveness and all the complicated things the world brings up like race, and apartheid and colonialism. That's right, folks, it's time to find a book about South Africa for a tender and curious 7th grader!

As we see here:

My husband and I are going to South Africa in April with our 12-year-old. She has lived in Maine pretty much her whole life. Our state is beautiful but hardly diverse. Visiting Africa is going to be a huge eye-opener for her, in many ways. I wonder if there are any age-appropriate books that talk about apartheid, or even books that simply take place in Africa.
Also, she's a very sensitive kid. We took her to see "The Help" and she got pretty freaked out by the way the blacks were treated and just had a hard time with the whole thing in general. They do study civil rights in school, but not until 7th grade.
I hope you (and your readers) can help us out!

Are we all feeling the pressure? Well when in doubt, I run cravenly to Diana and beg. She thought for about a millisecond and said, "How about Journey to Jo'burg?"


She said if the girl likes historical fiction—and what sensitive soul doesn't?—this will be good for her. I think there are some tense and upsetting parts, but the truth is that South Africa's history—and present to some extent—are tense and upsetting, and it might be a great way to talk about things rather than just have the scary silent weight of history out there.

Do I feel a wee bit weak relying only on the good judgment of my 7th grader? Maybe. But I know you guys are in good hands.

But that's just one option. There may be other, better books, and for sure they'll need more than just one on a trip that far. So readers, they're counting on us! What do we have?

5 thoughts on “We Recommend: South Africa Edition

  1. My daughters (11 and 8) and I liked The White Giraffe by Lauren St. John a lot and it was a great introduction to (South) Africa, as experienced by a girl coming from England, for my Vermont-raised girls. Definitely some difficult moments (parents die to start off the book), but worth working through.


  2. I LOVED reading Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible when I was in middle school, although I think it’s written for adults. Some heavy topics involved, but great reading! One of my favorite books to this day.


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