Here are my plans for our homeschool teen book club this year. There is a shelf dedicated to it on Goodreads, for those of you looking for a set of easy links.
- North America: “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee
- South America: “Finding Miracles” by Julia Alvarez
- Europe: “Oliver Twist” by Charles Dickens
- Africa: “The Last Maasai Warriors” by Meikuaya and Ntirkana
- Asia: “Red Scarf Girl” by Ji Li Jiang
- Oceania: “In a Sunburned Country” by Bill Bryson
- Antarctica: “Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World” by Jennifer Armstrong
- “Around the World in 80 Days” by Jules Verne
For those of you looking for interesting companion reads for yourselves or older teens, “Something Fierce” won the Canada Reads contest a few years ago and is fantastic. I wish, wish, wish I could use this as the South American book , but there is a little bit of frank sexuality in it that rules it out for other families. It is about a girl who grew up in a family of South American revolutionaries. There is a lot to learn in here, about politics and history, yes, but also about sacrifice, personal choice, the meaning of struggle, the implications of living out a false identity.
“Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China” is a great compliment to “Red Scarf Girl”. I was stunned by the lack of rationality and compassion in China’s history again and again. I kept looking up from the book, saying to my husband, “This is crazy.” The most valuable piece was the understanding it brought me of what indoctrination by such a system does to the heart and mind – the way the mind learns to deal with contradiction, the way questioning ends, the way that playacting on the outside can creep inside. Jung Chang’s journey to question the system is so revealing. Her breakthroughs are such tiny pieces of logic; their smallness reveals how thoroughly her mind had been saturated with a stew of indoctrination and how compartmentalizing experiences and ideas can stunt thought.