Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Book Review: Dear America, My Secret War

I found this book for 25 cents while out thrifting with Michelle. I read many of the Dear America series when I was younger and had forgotten about them until stumbling across this. 

I read it this past weekend on the ride to Texas. It only took me a couple of hours because it is written for beginning chapter readers. 

Each book in the series is set up like a diary from a girl during different time periods. The people are fictional, but the events, like WWII here, are not. 

I recommend these to anyone with young girls because they contain strong young female characters who seek to make a positive difference in their community. I think each book could be used to open the doors for deep discussions with children. In this example alone one could broach the topics of: 
  • War
  • How war affects families and children
  • Romantic relationships between boys and girls (Madeline is more focused on helping the war effort than Johnny, although they do hold hands and kiss once or twice)
  • Being a leader at school (Madeline reports on the war to her classmates and eventually starts a club to help the war effort
  • Being different (Madeline is the only student with a dad in the military)
  • The challenges of making new friends (Madeline is new at school)
  • Bullying (Some of the girls at school are mean to Madeline, but she eventually befriends them)
  • Trauma (Madeline becomes friends with a Jewish girl from Germany and Madeline later faces her own trauma when her dad is injured in the war)
  • Coping skills (Madeline withdraws from friends during her traumatic experience)
  • Standing up to friends (Johnny calls out Madeline when she stops being a leader)
  • And many more. 

It was fun to read something from a series I loved as a child. I'm so glad my parents encouraged and fueled my love for reading when I was younger. I think it has made all the difference. 

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