Persepolis, The Story of a Childhood: Recommended Readalikes

It’s hard to know how to prepare children for the complicated, and sometimes terrifying experience of being alive. How much should you tell them, and when is it too soon to start discussing world events with them? While we may never experience the devastation of war, poverty, and loss of culture firsthand, we should share these stories with them. Young readers and their parents looking for age appropriate glimpses into these topics might enjoy the following books:

  • Hidden: a Child’s Story of the Holocaust by Loïc Dauvillier
    “Isn’t the Holocaust a little too overwhelming of a topic for a child?” you ask. No. It’s sometimes difficult to find age appropriate material about difficult topics such as war or genocide, but doing so is important. Hidden: a Child’s Story of the Holocaust is told from the perspective of Dounia, a grandmother recalling her childhood hiding from Nazis after her parents were taken to concentration camps. Staying away from the more upsetting details, the book focuses on what a child would focus on: her parents are gone, she doesn’t understand what’s going on, and she doesn’t want to hide anymore. After the war, Dounia is once again reunited with her mother and grows up to pass on her story to her granddaughter.
  • Catherine’s War by Julia Billet
    Rachel Cohen has a lot occupying her mind while at the Sèvres Children’s Home. She hasn’t seen either one of her parents in months and the France she loves is struggling under the pressure of the Nazis. When she’s forced to change her name and go into hiding, leaving all her friends and loved ones behind, she almost loses hope. However, her passion for photography allows her to shape the world around her. With her camera in her hands and hope in her heart, Rachel is determined to make it through the war. Based on the author’s mother’s experiences during World War II, Catherine’s War tells the story of the Hidden Children, the thousands of Jewish children who survived the Holocaust by being hidden.
  • Pashmina by Nidhi Chanani
    Priyanka Das, who goes by Pri, has so many questions about her mother’s homeland of India. Unfortunately, like her questions about her absent father, the questions she has about India are completely off limits. When she stumbles across a mysterious pashmina tucked away in a forgotten suitcase, however, she is magically transported to a vivid and colorful world that may or may not be real. Traveling between the black-and-white real world and the colorful pashmina-world allows Pri to explore the link between her two cultural identities and fill in some of the blanks about her mother’s background.

Teens and adults looking for similar stories, also in graphic novel form, might try some of these titles:

  • They Called Us Enemy by George Takei
    Most widely known for his role as Hikaru Sulu, helmsman of the USS Enterprise in the original Star Trek tv series, the actor, activist, and author George Takei shares his firsthand experiences in this graphic novel. At four-years-old, George finds himself being marched off to one of the ten Japanese “relocation centers” on the West Coast. There, his family and many others are held under armed guard for years. Even after the Japanese Internment Camps ended, the harassment and discrimination of Japanese and Japanese-Americans continued. As an adult, George attempts to research the events only to find history rewritten differently than he remembers it. Seeing the awful events through the eyes and perspective of a very young child who is struggling to understand what is happening only emphasizes their profound injustice.
  • The Arab of the Future: a Childhood in the Middle East by Riad Sattouf
    Riad Sattouf spends his childhood roaming with his nomadic family. First venturing to the Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab State before ending up in the family’s tribe in Homs, Syria, they chase a dream that always seems to be just out of reach. Starting with his descriptions as a wide-eyed two-year-old, Riad accurately and genuinely captures his experiences as a child wandering with his parents to a better future.
  • I Remember Beirut by Zeina Abirached
    Award winning graphic novelist Zeina Abirached turns her pen inward with this stunning black-and-white autobiographical work. Born in Lebanon in 1981, Abirached grew up in Beirut while Christians and Muslims divided the streets. From collecting bullet shrapnel on the sidewalk to planning travel around the area buses were willing to travel, Abirached shares countless stories of her childhood living in a warzone. She focuses more on the ripple effects of war through snapshots of her memories rather than clear cut plot progression.

This blog is created by Hannah and Ella in conjunction with the These Books Made Me podcast, a Prince George’s County Memorial Library System production. Check out the corresponding episode, Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood, on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or wherever you normally listen to podcasts. Or you can simply click on the link to the episode to listen.

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