Thursday, May 5, 2016

Tasting the Sky: A Palestinian Childhood by Ibtisam Barakat

One of my teaching colleagues gave this book to me, and I've had it for a couple of years. I finally got around to reading Tasting the Sky by Ibtisam Barakat, and I loved it. This is a book that will make you think.

You won't care who is in the right or the wrong in wars, only that wars are wrong for children, for families, and for our planet. I loved that the author included parts of the Qur'an. I found it interesting that many stories from her scriptures are stories from my scriptures. We are more alike than different.

She tells about learning games - many that I learned in America as a child. She tells of normal childhood experiences that resemble my childhood experiences, but she was also a child of war and tells of fleeing bombs and bullets, of being in a refugee camp and an orphanage even though she wasn't an orphan, of missing her brothers when she was separated from them, and of discovering letters and words.

I loved her friend, Alef, or the first letter of the alphabet - that she named the piece of chalk. Her zest for knowledge was beautiful. Her parents loved their children, and while many of the things they did may seem harsh or abusive in our time now, in the late 60s many parents spanked, hit, and whipped their children. Her relationship with her mother, father, and brothers was beautiful.

When they got back to their house, and I realized her mother was only twenty-four years old, already had four children, and was running from war, it made me thankful to live in a place of peace.

This book shows us that in a sense there is no other. We are all the other to someone until we meet and care for each other.

When the children saw the Israeli soldier in the wrecked truck and took water to him, they saw him as person needing help, not someone who was out to kill them. She then worried about her own father and hoped if he were hurt, someone would help him.

This book was written for young adults or middle grade students and has a lexile measure of 870L, but this book is for everyone. May we all be a little kinder, more empathetic, and more helpful to all the others, and then maybe we can have a world of peace.

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