Sunday, September 13, 2020

Mirror? Window? Sliding Glass Doors?

EVERYTHING SAD IS UNTRUE: (a true story) BY Daniel Nayeri, Levine Querida, 2020

How do you want the readers you care about to benefit from the books they read?

This is my take-away from “Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding Glass Doors.” By Rudine Sims Bishop, from READING IS FUNDAMENTAL 1/3/2015, Multicultural Literacy

If you give children books that are mirrors, they see themselves, the readers.  When you were a young reader, did you see yourself in books? Do you want your children to identify with characters in the books they read?   

Books that are windows give readers a glimpse of the world that is different from theirs.

What is it like to live in another country? Do families whose language is different from ours love each other like our families do? Do siblings fight and make up?  Do kids want to make friends in their classrooms whether the classroom is on an island or in a mountain community or inside a city building?

Sliding glass door books invite readers to step outside. What kind of world will they enter? Who will be their friends?    

Daniel (birth name Khosrou), the main character in EVERYTHING SAD IS UNTRUE: (a true story) escapes from Iran with his mother and sister, running for their lives because their mother is a new Christian who meets in secret with other Christians. Her identity is uncovered, and the secret police give her a week to reveal the names of her Christian group members or she and her children will be killed. She finds a way to escape, taking her daughter and young son with her.

Daniel recalls how they are treated and how they respond to each sometimes life threatening and sometimes long, boring, and wearying stop on the way from the UAE to Italy to being granted asylum in the USA in Oklahoma.

In a manner that evokes Scheherazade, Daniel tells his classmates about his family, his country, and Persian culture.  His classmates are skeptical and derisive. The reader learns about Daniel’s humiliating trips on bus 209, his Oklahoma neighborhood, and his family’s loneliness. Like his classmates, the reader may or may not believe this foreigner’s tall tales. (Not my description of Daniel who sometimes made me cry.)

Mirror? Window? Sliding Glass Doors?

Author Daniel Nayeri was born in Iran, spent two years as a refugee, and emigrated to Oklahoma when he was eight. This autobiographical middle grade novel is a tribute to his mother, a dedicated practicing physician before her escape from Iran, whom he says is “unstoppable.” You can meet her, and Daniel, the author, too. 

Go to

Scroll all the way down to the full document short.

You will wish you could open a sliding glass door into Daniel’s mother’s kitchen to sample a  cream puff. Have you ever tasted a pastry flavored with rosewater?

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