Read Across Texas suggested reads

Cultivating Communities of Compassion: know your neighbor

The Read Across Texas statewide reading campaign for 2019 encourages us to engage in “challenging, insightful, and transformative” conversations. These selecttions will help you explore what “knowing your neighbor” could mean.

Suggested Reads from Texas Center for the Book


A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman:

Called “the bitter neighbor from hell,” Ove is the kind of curmudgeon that neighborhood kids – and their parents – avoid. Strict and set in his ways, Ove is not shy about letting people know where he and you stand. But what lies beneath this crusty demeanor?

Ove’s life takes a turn when a new couple and their two daughters move into the neighborhood. From foes to friends, this heartwarming journey traces the path from isolation to forging bonds. Charming and funny, Ove’s story is a look at how understanding is the basis of change and community.

Tattoos on the Heart by Gregory Boyle:

Thirty years ago, Gregory Boyle founded Homeboy Industries, a gang-intervention, rehabilitation and reentry program in Los Angeles, the gang capital of the world. In Tattoos on the Heart, his debut book, he distills his experience working with gang members into a breathtaking series of parables inspired by faith.

From giant, tattooed Cesar, shopping at JC Penney fresh out of prison, you learn how to feel worthy of God’s love. From 10-year-old Pipi, you learn the importance of being known and acknowledged. From Lulu, you come to understand the kind of patience necessary to rescue someone from the dark. As Father Boyle phrases it, we can only shine a flashlight on a light switch in a darkened room.

Dreamers by Yuyi Morales:

In 1994, Yuyi Morales left her home in Xalapa, Mexico and came to the United States with her infant son. She left behind nearly everything she owned, but she didn’t come empty-handed.

She brought her strength, her work, her passion, her hopes and dreams…and her stories. Caldecott Honor artist and five-time Pura Belpré winner Yuyi Morales’s gorgeous new picture book is about making a home in a new place. Yuyi and her son Kelly’s passage was not easy, and Yuyi spoke no English whatsoever at the time. But together, they found an unexpected, unbelievable place: the public library. There, book by book, they untangled the language of this strange new land, and learned to make their home within it.

The Strange by Jerome Ruillier:

The Strange follows an unnamed, undocumented immigrant who tries to forge a new life in a Western country where he doesn’t speak the language. Jérôme Ruillier’s story is deftly told through bold visual techniques and a myriad of viewpoints, as each narrator recounts a situation in which they crossed paths with the newly-arrived foreigner.

By employing this third-person narrative structure, The Strange shows one person’s struggle to adapt while dealing with the often brutal and unforgiving attitudes of the employers, neighbors and strangers who populate this new land.

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