The House of Wisdom

“We should not be ashamed to acknowledge truth from whatever source it comes to us, even if it is brought to us by former generations and foreign peoples. For him who seeks the truth there is nothing of higher value than truth itself.” – al-Kindi, 9th century philosopher “

Heide, Florence Parry and Judith Heide Gilliland. The House of Wisdom. New York: DK Ink, 1999.

Long ago, during the Dark Ages in Europe, knowledge flourished in the Arabic-speaking world. Baghdad became the centre of a great civilization that made lasting discoveries in cartography, geography, mathematics, chemistry, medicine, and philosophy. Scholars gathered to study together and translate foreign documents in what was the largest library in the world.

Ishaq, the main character in this picture book biography, travels to far-away lands and returns with thousands of books and manuscripts  He later goes on to translate all the works of Aristotle into Arabic. Later still, those Arabic translations would help inspire the European Renaissance.

Softly coloured illustrations by Mary GrandPré, additional historical information, a timeline, and a map enhance this quietly adventurous biography for readers 9 years old and up.

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” – Aristotle, ancient Greek philosopher

You, Too, Were Once Strangers

“While every refugee’s story is different and their anguish personal, they all share a common thread of uncommon courage – the courage not only to survive, but to persevere and rebuild their shattered lives.” – Antonio Guterres, U.N. Secretary-General

There are many novels about courageous people who helped others during the Holocaust. There are far fewer about brave people who help others today; one of the most powerful is this novel from Britain. 

Halahmy, Miriam. Hidden. New York: Holiday House, 2016.

“Fourteen-year-old Alix is faced with a huge moral dilemma when she helps pull an illegal Iraqi immigrant from the incoming tide on the coastal English island where she lives.” – CIP.  Stories written in present tense from the first-person point of view are frequently tiresome in their self-obsession but this novel is a remarkable exception. Alix has no perfect life and no illusions about her own importance. What she has is the ability to see life from someone else’s point of view. Discovering the horror of life for refugees fleeing torture and seeking asylum opens her heart and reveals her courage in this novel highly recommended for all readers 12 years old and up. [England; Family problems; Friendship; Iraqis; Racism; Refugees; Schools; Secrets]

“For a start, people who traveled for so many miles through such horrific conditions in order to find work cannot accurately be portrayed as lazy benefit-scroungers”. – Patrick Kingsley, British journalist

Find more books about migration and refugees HERE

“I urge you to celebrate the extraordinary courage and contributions of refugees past and present.” – Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary-General

Find information and lessons on human migration HERE.