Thursday, October 18, 2012

Blog Tour: Guest Post from Shana Burg, author of Laugh with the Moon

Shana Burg
I am proud to welcome to The Fourth Musketeer today author Shana Burg, whose most recent book Laugh with the Moon I reviewed on my blog earlier this year. I asked Shana to reflect on how we can get more kids interested in reading about Africa and foreign cultures in general.  I know you will enjoy reading her thoughtful essay on this topic.  You can enter to win an autographed copy of her book and a $25 gift card to your local independent bookstore on her Facebook page, ShanaBurgWrites, or on her blog   

Why My 8-Year Old Son Won't Be Reading The Hunger Games

As the mother of an eight-year-old boy, I keep thinking that kids these days seem older and wiser than when I was growing up. And I don’t really mean that as a good thing. Though my husband and I make sure not to watch the news when our son’s in the room, being a curious and attentive kid, he catches snippets of the human existence anyway.
“What is a dirty bomb, mom?” he asked the other day. “Why are we having a war with Afghanistan?” he asked this morning. And then, indignantly, and on a regular basis, “Why can’t I read The Hunger Games. Everyone else is!”
As everyone knows, the world is getting smaller and smaller thanks to the Internet and Japanese manga and Justin Bieber. Kids are drawn to dystopian novels because they sense our fear about the state of the universe and the violence that seems to encompass everything these days. They have questions. They want answers.
And they deserve answers too.
For that reason, literature that deals with contemporary global events—books that allow children and teens to travel the world, and present real-world depictions of cultures both similar and different from our own—provide them with what they crave. 
Young readers are fascinated with the lives of their peers around the world. What do their schools look like? What do they eat for lunch? Do those kids go to parties and soccer games like me? While authors can draw in readers with portrayals of youth across the globe, we also owe it to them not to sugarcoat what are often disturbing truths.
The comment I hear most often regarding my tween novel Laugh with the Moon (Random House, 2012) is, “Why did Innocent have to die?” Interestingly, this question is asked by adult readers and not children. My answer is that I want my young readers to learn about malaria—a preventable disease that kills hundreds of thousands of children every single year—  so that they can understand the world and work to improve lives.
I won’t let my son watch the news, because the stories aren’t formulated specifically for his young mind. And no, I won’t let him read The Hunger Games, because I don’t want him exposed to gratuitous violence when he’s not yet ready to analyze the deeper meaning of the story.
Still, I do encourage him to travel the world through fiction and nonfiction specifically designed to open his young mind to the disparities that exist between countries and expose him to the often overlooked gifts that materially poor, non-American youth have to offer.

Shana Burg is the award-winning author of Laugh with the Moon (Random House, 2012) and A Thousand Never Evers (Random House, 2008). You can follow her on her blog at, on Twitter @ShanaBurgWrites and on Facebook at

For readers of Laugh with the Moon, you can visit via a rural hospital in Malawi with the nonprofit World Altering Medicine by viewing this very special YouTube video:


Anonymous said...

Really insightful - I agree. Thanks for posting!

Anonymous said...

I am a ten-year old girl from Kentucky and I love to read about children in other parts of the world. Laugh With the Moon was my style completely.I even gave a copy to my library!

Anonymous said...

This author hits the proverbial nail on the head. Good, developmentally-appropriate literature--not pop culture, not commercial news and not commercial literature--is the best way to expose tweens to the world beyond their sheltered, American bubble. Laugh with the Moon is exactly what I want my children reading.

PragmaticMom said...

I completely agree with you that gratuitous violence is not what I want kids to read (stil both of my girls loved The Hunger Games). I also think that books are a great way to explore the world around them. Your book sounds great! I'll try to get my hands on a copy! I did my college thesis on malaria in the SE U.S. during the Great Depression.

Shana Burg said...

Thanks so much for your comments everyone. And a special thank you to Margo for hosting me! PragmaticMom, your thesis sounds fascinating.