Meet people who have had a profound impact on our world while bearing the physical and emotional scars born out of struggles and suffering, transforming their stories from pain to power in this inspirational middle grade nonfiction book about overcoming challenges.
Magazine spreads and Hollywood hits showcase stars with perfect skin, perfect faces, perfect hair, perfect lives, perfect everything. But what if this absence of scars—the hidden and physical—is really a lie? And what if, underneath all that perfection, something far more powerful and authentic is waiting to be seen, shown, and heard?
In Braver Than I Thought, kids discover the true stories of remarkable people whose scars have been a part of their journey, who have helped them become the world-shakers and game-changers that they are! The engaging and high-interest stories include Black Panther’s Chadwick Boseman, war veteran and now-senator Tammy Duckworth, and beyond-belief rock climber extraordinaire Aron Ralston, who all endured intense trauma that led to pronounced scars, but also helped them forge purposeful identities as they came to peace with their bodies.
Readers will find that whatever the physical, mental, or emotional challenges that we face, it is not the end of a story, but rather the beginning of a new one.
Luke Reynolds taught in public schools for many years before becoming an assistant professor of education at Endicott College. He is the author of the Fantastic Failures books, Surviving Middle School, The Looney Experiment, Braver Than I Thought, and the picture books If My Love Were a Fire Truck and Bedtime Blastoff!. He and his wife, Jennifer, have four sons, and they live in Massachusetts, where they endeavor to be outside and exploring as much as possible.
Publisher: Aladdin/Beyond Words (September 13, 2022)
A look at people—and animals—who parlayed obstacles into growth.
Incorporating candid anecdotes of his own traumas, Reynolds explains that everyone has physical or emotional scars, but these painful experiences can be catalysts of positive change for oneself and others. Importantly, he acknowledges myriad sources of emotional trauma, including mental illness, racism, and both experiencing and witnessing abuse. Profiles of 60 diverse contemporary and historical figures from around the world illustrate his point. Subjects include enslaved American abolitionist Harriet Tubman, who sustained a head injury that left her with chronic pain and seizures; nonbinary singer Demi Lovato, who struggled with drug addiction; Ugandan activist Hanifa Nakiryowa, whose face was disfigured in an acid attack; and Winter, a dolphin whose prosthetic tail inspired humans with disabilities. The author encourages readers to reframe their own scars as sources of strength, emphasizing the importance of self-care and seeking support during this difficult process. He avoids comparing struggles or triumphs, reassuring readers that their experiences matter and that no step toward healing is too small. Sidebars define terms and further discuss such concepts as recognizing injustice and supporting others. Though the focus is uneven (30 subjects receive individual chapters, while single-paragraph snapshots introduce the remaining 30), the wealth of experiences represented and the author’s conversational, compassionate tone will reassure readers coping with their own challenges that they are not alone.
A refreshingly down-to-earth exploration of trauma and healing. (resources, films and books, discussion questions) (Nonfiction. 9-14)
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