Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Brotherhood/Sisterhood Week: Spiritual Differences

It's Brotherhood/Sisterhood week. It's to promote people of different faiths coming together to discuss their differences and affirm their similarities.

While many of these books have teens exploring their faith, they also all have family members or friends reconciling or at least confronting differences in belief, tradition, and/or practice.


OyMG by Amy Fellner Dominy. It Ellie wins the Christian Society Speech and Performing Arts summer camp, she's sure she'll get a scholarship to speech school. But when the scholarships donor might be anti-Semitic, should Ellie hide her religious identity to help her chances?

The Truth About My Bat Mitzvah by Nora Raleigh Baskin. Caroline has a Jewish mom and non-Jewish father. She's never worried much about religion, but when her Nana dies and Caroline inherits her Star of David necklace, she starts examining her faith.

Does My Head Look Big In This? by Randa Abdel-Fattah. Amal knew that starting to wear the hajib would get reaction from her parents, neighbors, and classmates, but can she prove that she's still who she always was while still so publicly and visibly proclaiming her faith?


Sam I Am by Ilene Cooper. Holidays have always been tense in Sam's interfaith household, but when the dog knocks over the Christmas tree/Hanukah bush, things finally erupt as the family tries to figure out how to honor each tradition.

Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume. We remember this book for its frank discussion of puberty, but a large part actually focuses on Margaret's search for religion, as she feels pressure from her grandparents (one set Catholic, one set Jewish) to decide.

Confessions of a Closet Catholic by Sarah Littman. Justine envies her new best friend's large and lively family. When Mary gives up chocolate for Lent, Justine decides to give up being Jewish for forty days. But when Bubbe has a stroke, is Justine's religious experimentation to blame?


Growing Up Muslim: Understanding the Beliefs and Practices of Islam by Sumbul Ali-Karamali. Brotherhood/Sisterhood week initially mainly focused on fostering understanding between Jews and Christians. Today though, it's Islam that has many teens confused and wanting to know more. Growing up Muslim focuses on the wide variety of Muslim experience, especially in terms of geography. It gives history, belief, and practice, and makes a point to answer the most common and biggest questions non-Muslim teens have about Islam.

The American Muslim Teenager's Handbook by Dalara Hafiz, Imran Hafiz, and Yasmine Hafiz. Written for a Muslim audiences, this title offers practical advice on how to observe religious belief, tradition, and practice while still being a "normal" teen in the US. While not the intended audience, non-Muslim teens will also enjoy this book while learning more about Islam.

The Handy Religion Answer Book by John Renard. Covering the history, beliefs, traditions, and practices of Christianity, Judiam, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Confucianism, Taoism and Shinto, this isn't a book you read straight through. The handy Q&A format makes finding out about other religions easy and straightforward. Although published for adults, this one is accessible and enjoyed by a wide range of ages.

What books do you recommend that have teens confronting religious differences? Which ones to you recommend for teens who want to know more about a different faith?

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