My 10-year-old son and I read a lot of books together. Usually we read for adventure and for laughs, but we’re currently working on the 2008 Children’s Sequoyah Masterlist, a group of 12 books thought to be the best of recent books by authors living in the United States. The award is named after Sequoyah, who is remembered as the father of the Cherokee alphabet.
The thing that really grabs my son’s attention is a true story about kids, especially if they’ve had to endure hardships. The hardest part about reading these books with him is explaining that all these horrible things really took place. That idea sometimes overwhelms him. He still lives in the mindset that adults can fix everything. I hate taking that away from him, but he also learns to appreciate the life he has and learns to be giving to others that have less.
Brothers in Hope: The Story of the Lost Boys of Sudan is one of those books. It’s really short and can be read within minutes, but the impact of the story is still with my child days later. Based on the tragic, real-life incidents in the Sudan where warlords massacred whole villages in the civil war that took place there, the book focuses on an eight year old boy named Garang Deng.
Garang became one of the leaders of the 30,000 Sudanese boys between 8 to 15 who became orphans as a result of that war. They ended up walking over a thousand miles to try to find safety. The fact that boys that age could endure the hardships and know enough to save most of them is astounding.
As I read the book to my son, I knew he was lost in that struggle, trying to imagine what he would do. That’s what he’s like. It wasn’t an adventure like we normally read. This was a real life-or-death situation.