We Ask a Book Blogger: What Book Changed Your Perspective?
Each month, we present a panel of book bloggers with a question relating to children’s books and we share their views here on the blog. If you missed last month’s post on the picture books our bloggers buy for themselves, you can read it here .
The question this month: Have you ever read a book that completely changed your view on an issue or a person? If so, what was it? (adult, picture book, young adult and middle grade books are all fine!) I have to be honest: it’s a tough question that I might not even be able to answer myself! But our blogger panel came up with some terrific books that impacted their perspectives on a variety of topics and I know you’ll love reading what they have to say.
I read The Goats by Brock Cole, a young adult novel that came out a while ago. It completely changed the way I think about representing sex responsibly for kids– it starts off with two kids getting stripped down and left naked on an island. Which, from the surface of it, sounds callous and irresponsible. But what follows is an incredibly thoughtful, honest and beautiful story about two kids falling in love BEFORE they fully understand sex, and what it means.
-Maggie, Not Your Mother’s Book Club Blog @NYMBC
I have to go with Slaughterhouse-Five. Vonnegut’s satirical and controversial masterpiece was the first anti-war novel I ever read. In fact, I still remember the young teaching assistant (though I’ve forgotten his name) in my eleventh-grade classroom, telling us to think of it as an anti “war-novel” instead of an “anti-war” novel. The difference is subtle. But that was decades ago and it’s still clear in my mind. Unlike a lot of other writers up until then who romanticized war, Vonnegut wasn’t afraid to show us how ludicrous war really is. And his approach was so different, with the Tralfamadorians abducting Billy Pilgrim and Billy coming unstuck in time, that it has stayed with me all these years. Until then, I never knew writers could do things like that!
-Joanne, My Brain on Books @JoanneRFritz
I’m not sure Dead Man Walking, by Helen Prejean, completely changed my view on an issue but it’s the first book that came to my mind. This book made me think deeply about the death penalty and why people end up on Death Row. It also made me question our justice system. It’s very well written and thought provoking and I spoke about it constantly while I was reading it. It’s been years since I read the book but I still think about it and talk about it quite often. It may not have changed my views but it certainly influenced them.
-Kathy, Bermudaonion’s Weblog @bermudaonion
The travel memoir Holy Cow by Sarah Macdonald changed my perception of India, preparing me somewhat for the chaos and wonder I encountered on my first visit to that country. Before that book, most of my impressions of India were from “Monsoon Wedding” and snippets of Bollywood films. Macdonald’s descriptions of India– the smells, the people, the religious practices, and the overwhelmingness of it all– shocked, intrigued, and delighted me.
– Tegan, TSquared Blog @ttigani
I don’t know that it changed my view but Getting Away With Murder: The True Story of the Emmett Till Case by Chris Crowe really opened my eyes. I had a very surface knowledge of the Civil Rights Movement. I’m sad to say that I had never heard of the Emmett Till case until I came across this book. After reading it I went on a nonfiction binge and read every book I could find in my LMC on the Civil Rights Movement. Books like Marching For Freedom by Elizabeth Partridge, We Shall Overcome by Reggie Finlayson, and Spies of Mississippi by Rick Bowers helped me to expand my knowledge of the events and people crucial to this time.
-Heidi, YABibliophile @hmz1505
I’ve never been an animal person. I had a fish once, and a couple of filthy hermit crabs, but nothing cuddly or cute or friendly. Truthfully, dogs still kind of make me nervous. (Although I have names for my future cats — not sure what this says about me!) And while I appreciate animals from afar and their very life on this planet, I’ve just never really gotten behind the whole movement of care and love and rights and support. But then I read The One and Only Ivan, and my heart grew larger than possible, bursting with love for a real gorilla. A gorilla with heart and soul, emotions and friends. And unfortunately, a gorilla with meager and limited space to live his tamed life. It saddened me, but I think (still deciding!) it ultimately filled me with hope that those animals can go home again.
– Carter, Design of the Picture Book @carterhiggins
I read so many books and seem to always be changing my mind as to which book I love or which book has impacted me. However, there are two books that I have read in recent years that has significantly affected how I look at teaching and my impact as a “reader leader” in a school setting. These are books that I continue to read again and again and buy stacks of to give away to teachers and other educators.
Choice Words by Peter H. Johnston: This book should be read at the beginning of every school year by every teacher. It may be a small book but the message about how our language impacts children’s learning is powerful.
The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller: After reading The Book Whisperer, I had to share this with the teaching staff where I was principal. It challenged me to think in new ways about how to build a reading community at a school and how to develop a reading passion in children. Another must read for teachers and administrators.
– Alyson, KidLitFrenzy @alybee930
How would you answer this question? We’d love to hear your thoughts!