Tuesday, December 1, 2009

World AIDS Day

Okay, so HIV/AIDS is another topic that has only a limited presence in children's literature.  While there are a lot of information books about AIDS, there are few works of fiction that take on discussion of the disease in an honest way.

The topmost book in my mind that does address AIDS is Chanda's Secrets:

Set in an unnamed country in southern Africa, Chanda must be responsible for her mother, whose health is deteriorating.  But since there is a stigma against admitting to having AIDS in Chanda's culture, she must care for her family and fight in silence.

Chanda's Secret is beautifully written and very moving.

It's worthchecking out!

If you want a young adult novel that came out when AIDS was still not being acknowledged by many as even existing, let alone being an epidemic, you may like to read Chris Crutcher's Stotan.

In this problem novel, four male swimmers deal with their complicated lives--one has a drug dealing brother, another is abused by his racist father, the third is an emancipated minor living in poverty and the fourth, Jeff, well, throughout the text be becomes more and more ill with some unnamed sickness that has afflicted many young people around the country.  Although the illness is never named as being HIV or AIDS, a teacher could use this book to help enter a discussion of how slow the world was to acknowledge AIDS as a national and international concern.

If a teacher wanted an information book to cover the same tensions, I'd go with When Plague Strikes. James Cross Giblin addresses the black death, smallpox and AIDS as plagues in separate chapters, exploring their origins, the ways they spread and the battles to control their spread.
It's worth noting that Giblin was writing this book to help elevate the status of AIDS to that of a plague when, at the time he was writing, most governments still ignored the the number of citizens and families being destroyed by the disease.

1 comment:

  1. I'm really surprised that no one has taken this up. Maybe a short childrens' book featuring a kid who's in the same class as a kid with HIV and an adult explains that you can't get HIV from holding hands or hugging or sharing a soda.



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