Call it Courage by Armstrong Sperry has been on my “read aloud to the kids” list for a while. (Yes, I keep lists. Lots and lots of lists.) It has several things going for it which make it a good choice to read aloud, or for children to read themselves.
- It is a Newbury Medal winner. This is a good indication that it is quality literature. I have read many Newbury titles and have only found a few which didn’t really appeal to me.
- It features a young teen boy as the hero, and it makes boys look good. Too many books and TV programs these days make men and boys out to be idiots. This book shows the weakness of the main character, Mufatu, without making him look stupid.
- It has a strong moral. It is easy to see the main idea just from the title. The whole book is straightforward – no symbols or imagery – so kids instantly know what is happening. They can identify with Mufatu’s struggle and learn from his story.
- It is short. Clocking in at about 117 pages (depending on which edition you read), it won’t take you long to read this one to your kiddos. That’s important for busy families.
I would go into the details of the plot, but I think you can tell quite a bit from the cover. Also, I don’t want to give out any spoilers. Get this one from your library and enjoy it with your children this summer. Or, get a copy and have them read it.
I would also recommend two other books which are along this same line: On My Honor by Marion Dane Bauer and The Cay by Theodore Taylor. If you have a great Jamaican accent, like my mother, you should definitely read The Cay to your children. Both of these are short and exciting books.