Jul 30, 2010

Nostalgic Friday: Dear America

Welcome back to Nostalgic Friday! Since I love all things historical (culturally, physically, and personally) I do a post on Fridays honoring some awesome book that is a bit older. Many of them are books I enjoyed in my teens and others are books that I discovered as an adult that I think are relevant to YA readers.

Scholastic won my heart back in 1998 when I stumbled upon the wonderful series of Dear America. Told in the form of a young girl's journal, these fictionalized accounts based on true history were a goldmine to me. I devoured ever book in the series up until they canceled its publication in 2006. Good news for other long-time fans like myself, they are re-launching the series with new books & redesigned covers for the older books. This wonderful series will begin again in September of this year and you better believe that I am going to pick up where I left off and continue reading this wonderful series. Below are four of my favorites with their jacket descriptions.
A Coal Miner's Bride: the Diary of Anetka Kaminska
A diary account of thirteen-year-old Anetka's life in Poland in 1896, immigration to America, marriage to a coal miner, widowhood, and happiness in finally finding her true love.
My Heart is on the Ground: the Diary of Nannie Little Rose, a Sioux Girl
As a potential translator and bridge between two cultures, Nannie Little Rose is assigned by her teacher at the Carlisle Indian School to keep a diary in order to practice and improve her English skills. Beginning in broken English, Nannie tells of her incredibly difficult first year at the school, including entries detailing her previous life as her ability to communicate in English grows. From December, 1879, to October, 1880, readers follow a remarkably resilient girl, uprooted from her home and culture, trying to find a place for herself in a rapidly changing world. Loyal, caring, and creative, she is able to see a spirit helper in a kitchen mouse and willing to defy regulations in mourning the death of her dearest friend.

Look to the Hills: The Diary of Lozette Moreau, a French Slave Girl
Lozette, or Zettie, is an orphaned slave girl, who arrives with her French masters in New York Colony at the end of the French-Indian War. There, she must reconsider her loyalties when she is confronted with new landscapes, new conditions, and new conflicts.
Where Have All the Flowers Gone?: the Diary of Molly MacKenzie Flaherty
An agonizing dilemma plagues these brother-sister diarists. He is a Marine stationed in Vietnam. She is at home in America, far away from her brother's war zone, fighting for peace. As the marine writes in his journal about his experiences as a soldier, fighting an enemy he can't see, his sister seeks peace.

These are such wonderful novels about real events that allow girls access to history. It opens up the fact that most kids tend to forget that what they learn in school really happened to other people and these books allow the students to really feel that emotion. It's no longer a passage in a textbook, these people had names and families and feelings just like everyone else. A terrific series that I'm glad to see make a comeback, Dear America will always hold a special place in my heart.

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