Thursday, June 4, 2015

Same Sun Here, by Silas House and Neela Vaswani -- terrific audiobook for summer (ages 9-13)

Pen-pals River and Meena reveal their "own true selves" to each other through the letters they write, and in the process they share their distinct voices and feelings with us. This is a truly wonderful story to listen to, either as an audiobook or read-aloud.
Same Sun Here
by Silas House and Neela Vaswani
narrated by Silas House and Neela Vaswani
Candlewick, 2012 and Brilliance Audio, 2013
*winner of 2013 Audie Awards*
Your local library
ages 9-13
At the outset, Meena and River seem as different as can be. Meena has just moved to New York City from India, while River has lived all his life in a small coal-mining town in Kentucky. Meena begins writing River as part of a summer school pen-pal project, but their friendship slowly develops as they share their hopes and frustrations, discovering how much they are alike despite their differences. They both have been raised by their grandmothers for much of their lives, and they both love the mountains-- River loves the Appalachian Mountains, and Meena misses the mountains in Mussoorie, India.

Their honesty and sincerity especially comes through in the audiobook, as you can hear River and Meena's emotions and accents. Silas House and Neela Vaswani actually became pen-pals as they wrote this book, writing letters and mailing them back and forth to each other. Although River and Meena are fictional characters, they are closely tied to the authors. The fact that the authors narrate the audiobook makes it even more powerful.

I know that my students will be able to connect with Meena and River as well. Whether they know first-hand how hard it is to have your father gone for much of the time because of work, or whether they can understand how River and Meena feel because of they way they describe themselves, this is a story that will help kids feel more at home with themselves and understand the world around them. I especially want to share a story with a character who's recently moved from India, since there are not many books in my library with East Asian characters.

Same Sun Here has been recognized especially as an audiobook (winning the 2013 Audie Award and read aloud (a finalist for the E.B. White Read-Aloud Award). If you want to see how to extend this in the classroom, head over to The Classroom Bookshelf to see a terrific collection of ideas.

The review copy was kindly sent by the publisher, Candlewick. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2015 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

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