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December 2018 Selections

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This December we’re exploring the topic of modern slavery, a theme inspired by our recommendations moderator, RA. For the past five years, RA has advocated for the eradication of modern slavery by completing the annual Dressember challenge. The challenge is to wear a dress every day in the month of December, and the goal is to raise funds for rescue operations, legal support, and treatment for survivors of modern slavery. Readers, if you’re looking for a way to do more this month, we encourage you to spend time following along with RA’s Dressember challenge on Instagram @definitelyra. If you feel inspired, we’d love for you to make a donation to Dressember.

Trigger Warnings:

Both of our selections this month are aimed toward younger audiences (young adult and middle grade) in order to give all of our readers an accessible entry point to these tough topics. Be aware that physical and verbal abuse arise, particularly in the young adult selection; however, none of the action is graphic or gratuitous. If you are reading with younger readers, we encourage you to preview ahead of time to ensure that the content is appropriate for them and what they can handle.

More Information on Modern Slavery:

Modern slavery includes human trafficking, and it refers to people being forced to work against their will, often with little or no pay, under threat of abuse and violence, with no chance for escape. Unfortunately, slavery was not abolished in the 19th century, and it thrives all over the world as a highly lucrative enterprise in industries including agriculture, manufacturing, hospitality, and the sex industry.

Other Notes:

Make sure you check out our Calendar throughout the month to keep up to date on our discussions and more -- December discussion dates will go up towards the end of this month!

Note: This post contains affiliate links. When you choose to purchase a book through an affiliate link, the DBC is granted a small commission at no additional cost to you. These commissions help to offset the cost of operations. Thank you!


Young Adult Fiction Selection:

The Bitter Side of Sweet by Tara Sullivan

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From the publisher:

Fifteen-year-old Amadou counts the things that matter. For two years what has mattered are the number of cacao pods he and his younger brother, Seydou, can chop down in a day. The higher the number the safer they are. The higher the number the closer they are to paying off their debt and returning home. Maybe. The problem is Amadou doesn’t know how much he and Seydou owe, and the bosses won’t tell him. The boys only wanted to make money to help their impoverished family, instead they were tricked into forced labor on a plantation in the Ivory Coast. With no hope of escape, all they can do is try their best to stay alive—until Khadija comes into their lives. 

She’s the first girl who’s ever come to camp, and she’s a wild thing. She fights bravely every day, attempting escape again and again, reminding Amadou what it means to be free. But finally, the bosses break her, and what happens next to the brother he has always tried to protect almost breaks Amadou. The three band together as family and try just once more to escape.

Inspired by true-to-life events happening right now, The Bitter Side of Sweet is an exquisitely written tour de force not to be missed. 


middle grade fiction selection:

Amal unbound by Aisha saeed

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From the publisher:

The compelling story of a girl's fight to regain her life and dreams after being forced into indentured servitude.

Life is quiet and ordinary in Amal's Pakistani village, but she had no complaints, and besides, she's busy pursuing her dream of becoming a teacher one day. Her dreams are temporarily dashed when--as the eldest daughter--she must stay home from school to take care of her siblings. Amal is upset, but she doesn't lose hope and finds ways to continue learning. Then the unimaginable happens--after an accidental run-in with the son of her village's corrupt landlord, Amal must work as his family's servant to pay off her own family's debt. 

Life at the opulent Khan estate is full of heartbreak and struggle for Amal--especially when she inadvertently makes an enemy of a girl named Nabila. Most troubling, though, is Amal's growing awareness of the Khans' nefarious dealings. When it becomes clear just how far they will go to protect their interests, Amal realizes she will have to find a way to work with others if they are ever to exact change in a cruel status quo, and if Amal is ever to achieve her dreams.


picture book selections:

When we selected our theme of modern slavery, we knew picture books would pose a unique challenge. We soon realized that this month presented a great opportunity to broach the larger topic of activism with the young readers in your life. We set out to find picture books to inspire young readers to take action in the face of injustice.

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LET US KNOW YOUR THOUGHTS ON THESE SELECTIONS, AND WHICH ONES YOU PLAN TO READ WITH US IN December

IN THE COMMENTS BELOW!