Boy soldier's tale prompts citywide reading event

Another horror of war has recently come to light: The tragedy of child soldiers.

Americans have read about and watched news accounts of the civil war in Sierra Leone, where 'boy soldiers' have been forced to take part in the fighting. Given drugs to staunch their constant fear and hunger, these children were thrown into a world of chaos and violence.

One former child soldier lived to tell his tale, the wonderfully charming Ishmael Beah, author of 'A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier'. This month, Multnomah County Library's many branches invite you to read and discuss this gripping memoir as part of 'Everybody Reads 2008'.

'Everybody Reads' is a community reading project based on the premise: What would happen if everybody read the same book? Participating in one of many library and community events is easy:

· Read the book: Borrow a copy from any Multnomah County library or purchase one at a participating bookstore.

· Discuss the book: share your thoughts during any of the book discussions happening at libraries and other places around our community.

· Attend an event: Explore important issues, connect with your neighbors, and have fun with your family at lectures, writing workshops, film screenings and other events hosted by the library and community partners.

· Visit the website: For the latest Everybody Reads information, events and resources, visit

Further related reading ideas for adults

'Blood Diamonds: Tracing the Deadly Path of the World's Most Precious Stones', by Greg Campbell. 'Blood diamonds' are mined in war zones, smuggled out of the country, and sold to legitimate companies to finance civil wars and international terrorists.

'Children at War', by P.W. Singer. In the last decade, more than two million children have been killed in combat, a rate of some 500 per day. Singer interweaves narrative voices of child soldiers as he explores the evolution of using children in warfare.

'The Devil Came on Horseback: Bearing Witness to the Genocide in Darfur', by Brian Steidle and Gretchen Steidle Wallace. This vivid report and call to action by a former Marine working in Africa is a powerful memoir of a young man's awakening to conscience, and the first extensive on-the-ground account of the genocide in Sudan.

'We wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families: Stories from Rwanda', by Philip Gourevitch. In April 1994, the Rwandan government called upon everyone in the Hutu majority to kill each member of the Tutsi minority, and over the next three months 800,000 Tutsis perished. This haunting book won the National Book Critics circle Award for Nonfiction.

Further related reading for teens

'Home of the Brave', by Katherine Applegate. Kek, a Sudanese refugee, is confronted by many strange things at his aunt's home, and in his fifth grade classroom. He longs for his missing mother, but finds comfort in the company of a cow and her owner.

'No Laughter Here', by Rita Williams-Garcia. In Queens, New York, 10 year old Akilah is determined to find out why her closest friend, Victoria, is silent and withdrawn after returning from a trip to her homeland, Nigeria.

Further related reading for kids

'Cooking the West African Way', by Bertha Vining Montgomery and Constance Nabwire. This colorful cookbook discusses Africa's land and people, and provides sample menus and shopping lists. Recipes include Okra Soup from Sierra Leone.

'The Hunterman and the Crocodile', by Baba Wague Diakite. Donso, a West African hunterman, learns the importance of living in harmony with nature, and the necessity of placing humans among, not above, all other living things.

Close to home, the Sellwood Library has Bring 'Em Back copies of 'A Long Way Gone' for you to pick up and read, and will host a discussion of the book on Tuesday, February 19th, at 6:30 pm at our monthly 'Pageturners' book group. We are hoping to have a professor from PSU join us for that discussion. Other branches have similar events based around the same book - check with the branch nearest you for dates and times.

And while at your nearby library branch, be sure to grab a newsletter with the complete listing of all the 'Everybody Reads' events.

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