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Top 10 Room to Read Book Titles of 2013

December 30, 2013

Literacy Asia Africa

The end of the year always brings "Top 10" lists, so Room to Read is playing along by sharing our own! 

Below are our top 10 favorite Room to Read children's titles that we published in 2013 (and to make it fair, we have selected one per country). 

1. Khuku and the Catfish, Bangladesh

A catfish tows a boat to Khuku so that they can explore the water world together. As they are exploring the sea, Khuku becomes frightened when a crocodile begins to chase them. Will the catfish will be able to save Khuku from the crocodile?

Khuku and the Catfish uses traditional rhymes and lullabies from Bangladesh that will delight children through their journey to an imaginary world. Written by Helal Arifeen, an assistant teacher from a Room to Read partner school, and illustrated by Mamun Hossain, this book gives children a fun, rhyming read-aloud story.

2. The Smile of Friendship, Cambodia

Akira is a young Japanese boy traveling to Angkor Wat with his parents during the Khmer New Year. There are so many people at the festival that Akira gets lost among them! He meets Khema, a young Cambodian girl who tries to help him find his way. How will they will find their way back to Akira’s parents, and what will they see along the journey?

The Smile of Friendship, a touching story about helping someone in need, shows the generosity of the Cambodian people while showcasing a favorite holiday and important historical location.


3. The Ant and the Elephant, India


The elephant trumpeted. The voice echoed throughout the forest. Ant shouted. No one listened.The elephant blew a puff of air. A storm set in the forest. Ant blew, not a single tiny leaf moved from its place.The elephant cried. A river originated from his tears. Ant cried, not a single drop moistened the earth.The Elephant hid. Oh, he is visible to everyone.Ant hid, and no one could find her!

Although The Ant and the Elephant uses only a few words for easier reading, it still manages to have a surprise at the end of the story. To bring the text to life, the illustrator used Madhubani Art, one of the most cherished types of Indian folk art.



4. A Firefly as Bright as a Star, Laos


A little firefly desperately wants to become a star and be able to shine over the world at night. But when an elephant gets lost in the jungle, only the firefly's light can guide him back to his mother.

A Firefly as Bright as a Star is a beautiful story about friendship, dreams and the power we all have to shine, no matter what our size.



5. Story of My Childhood, Nepal


Rupa is an empowered and educated woman. She was lucky to have supportive parents when she was a young girl who knew the importance of a good education. As she grows older, Rupa comes to realize what great sacrifice her parents had to make in order for her to get an education.

Story of My Childhood, a heart-warming story that many young Nepali women can identify with, was written by one of our senior authors, Hiranya Bhoupure and illustrated by Yuwak Shrestha.


6. The Mountain and the Shadow, South Africa


Mountain and Shadow have been best friends for many years—singing and dancing together every day. One day, the animals living near them become jealous of their friendship and decide to cause trouble between Mountain and Shadow. Can they remain friends?

Bright illustrations and fun characters make this book especially appealing. We love the idea of a friendship between elements in nature, and know children will love it, too.



7. A New Member, Sri Lanka


All of the animals are excited that someone new has arrived in the forest. They run to greet him and find out who he is. Who will it be?

We have all experienced fun as a result of our curiosity or the silly things that happen in our day to day lives. Those moments not only give us something to smile about, but also some deep insights. Children will love A New Member—and its unexpected ending. 


8. Dayo and the Prince, Tanzania


Dayo is a beautiful girl who lives with her aunt in a small grass thatched hut where they make beautiful mats and baskets for a living. One day, the Prince decides he will marry the girl with the best artwork. Dayo works hard to create the best basket, but on the day of the show, it disappears! Where did it go?

Young girls will love the story of Dayo and the Prince, which shows how hard work and skill can help them build the future they desire.


9. The Penguin Queen's Museum, Vietnam


When a book of fairy tales is found, the Penguin Queen demands a castle be built full of splendid objects just like in the fairy tales. The penguins work tirelessly digging for treasure to appease the Penguin Queen until one day, they find a fierce creature instead.

In The Penguin Queen's Museum, the author juxtaposes the text and illustrations in order to describe the characters' personalities. While the readers know the Penguin Queen is greedy and unkind, the narrative is told through the point of view of the penguin citizens who admire her dearly.


10. Milimo and Chimuka, Zambia


Milimo and her brother Chimuka are on the way to fetch water from the river when they are startled by a snake! They both run for safety, but Chimuka trips and injures himself. Will Milimo be able to help her brother?

Milimo and Chimuka is a story of a young girl's bravery as well as the bond between siblings.