5 books I read this week…3 are about Hiroshima

Barefoot Gen Vol. 6: Writing the Truth by Keiji Nakazawa

I’m trying to read this series slowly because I am loving them so much and don’t want it to end. This volume of the Barefoot Gen series takes place in 1948 and continues to show the tragedy the atomic bomb left behind. What I’m really loving about this series, aside from learning some Japanese history I never knew, is that is critical of both the American and Japanese sides and is truly a book about the need for peace. Gen is an amazing character, who is more and more determined, as the series goes on, not to let the bomb beat him or the others in his life. You can read more of my gushing in my earlier post here and I’m sure I’ll write another entry when I finish all ten.

The Bomb by Howard Zinn

Historian and social justice advocate, Howard Zinn has long been a hero of mine and I would highly recommend reading (if you had to choose only one) You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train, his 1994 autobiography/history of the past 50 years. I was lucky enough to hear him speak several times before his death and one of the most compelling things he often mentioned was his experience as a bombardier in WWII.  Thinking nothing of dropping bombs over France and Germany thousands of feet away in the sky, it wasn’t until years later when he read John Hersey’s Hiroshima that he became the passionate and inspiring advocate for peace that I loved him for.  The Bomb is made up of two powerful essays “Hiroshima: Breaking the Silence” and “The Bombing of Royan.”

Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes by Eleanor Coerr

So yeah, I’m obviously a little obsessed with Hiroshima right now and read this book yesterday.  It’s a beautiful story based on the real life of  eleven year old Sadako, who died in 1954, due to radiation sickness. With little mention of August 6, itself, the book does an amazing job of showing how the bomb continued to effect Japanese citizens. A book for young readers, Sadako’s biggest wish is to run on her junior high track team and is determined to get well by making a thousand paper cranes.  It’s really powerful and I’m thinking of possibly doing a unit with my fifth graders on it.

Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void by Mary Roach

One of my favorite books I’ve ever read is Stiff: the Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, so when I found out that Mary Roach had written a book about space (another love of mine), I couldn’t wait.  Like the nerd that I am, I tend to prefer nonfiction anyway, although I think her hilarious writing style and layman approach to her topics really make her books accessible to anyone. Stiff is still my favorite, but I really enjoyed Packing for Mars.  She focuses on the smaller, human details of space that are often overlooked and they really make for fantastic anecdotes and gives you a new appreciation for what goes into space programs all over the world

Word After Word After Word by Patricia MacLachlan

This is a sweet book by Sarah, Plain, and Tall author Patricia MacLachlan, who says she had often been asked to write a book about writing.  The story revolves around five elementary school students, who have a writer spending time in their class for six weeks and who challenges them to write. One of my favorite parts of the book was when the writer introduces the students to the concepts of plot, character, setting, etc. by reading to them passages from several classics, including Sarah, Plain, and Tall.  Most chapters ended with a poem or a few lines written by one of the main characters, which was very cute, and ultimately each character learned something about themselves through their writing. The book was rather simple, but a good introduction to the importance, joy, and pain of writing.