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Current project on Young Adult Literature related to twenty-first century global issues

One of my current interests is exploring how  literature can provide an entry point to exploring adolescent and global issues. Click the pdf for recommended YA books:

Check out also a project I led that involved the design of Literature units on "Exploring Asia through poetry" and "Exploring race and identity through Singapore Poetry."

Here are some of the recommended short stories on global issues: that can be found online:

Here are some of the recommended books on global issues:

Crossworlds: Short stories on global themes edited by Suzanne Choo (Marshall Cavendish, 2015)


This anthology features short stories by internationally accalimed writers around the world such as Chimamanda Adichie, Nadine Gordimer, Margaret Atwood, Peter Carey. Ha Jin etc. Each story centers on an urgent global issue facing our world today such as terrorism, asylum seekers, climate change, modern-day slavery, cultural clashes etc.


Free? Stories about human rights by Amnesty International (Candlewick Press, 2009)


This anthology features various short stories related to various articles in

the Universal Declaration of Human Rights e.g.

freedom from slavery, right to have an education,

fairness, asylum etc.


Sold by Patricia McCormick (Hyperion Books, 2006)


A young 13 year old girl is sold by her uncle to a trafficker who takes her across the border from Nepal to India


Shadow by Michael Murpurgo (HarperCollins, 2010)



14 year old Aman and his mother struggle to survive in Afghanistan and attempt to escape to England. At the checkpoint, their dog, Shadow, runs away and though Aman and his mother make it to England, they continue to hope for Shadow’s return.


A long walk to water by Linda Sue Park ((Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010)


Based on a true story of Salva Dut who, in 1985 at age 11, experiences the devastating consequences of the war in Sudan. He loses his family, finds himself in a refugee camp and gains asylum in America. The book alternates and later connects with his story with an 11 year old girl in

Sudan in 2008 who travels long distances each day to fetch water for her home.


American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang (Square Fish, 2008) 


The text provides a good opportunity to discuss issues of race and the effects of stereotyping. As you read it, you may think the author references certain stereotypes about Chinese culture and behaviour but this is deliberately employed to great effect at the end. The text touches on themes teenagers will identify with such as identity, belonging and one does not need to be an American born Chinese to appreciate the experiences of the main character given this transnational age we live in. The story offers much literary potential as well such as the use of layering, intertextual references to Chinese mythology, comic devices, and irony.


Shooting Kabul by N. H. Senzai (Simon & Schuster, 2010)


As 11 year old Fadi and his family flee the Taliban, his sister is left behind. As his family relocates to the US and adjusts to a post 9/11 climate, Fadi looks for an opportunity to return to Afghanistan to find his sister.


Habibi by Naomi Nye Shihab (Simon Pulse, 1997)


14 year old Liyana and her family are comfortable living in the united States until her father announces that the family will be moving to

Jerusalem. Liyana begins to learn about her Arab heritage, the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians but her friendship with a Jewish boy

is frowned upon.


A bottle in the Gaza Sea by Valerie Zenatti  (Bloomsbury, 2005)


Israeli teenager decides to throw a bottle with a letter into the Gaza sea. It is picked up by a Palestinian boy who responds to her via email. They begin a conversation as they attempt to understand the turmoil affecting both their communities.



Wonder by R. J. Palacio (Knof Books, 2012)


A touching heart-warming story of a boy with a facial deformity who learns to fit in his new school. The book examines what it feels to be bullied and ostracised from the point of view of the key character as well as provide perspectives about how social perceptions of disabiltiy can affect families and friends who coureously try to befreind him.


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