Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The SAN Back-to-School Reading List: 6 Books You Should Read to the Children in Your Life

Talking to children about sexual health and HIV may not always be the easiest. However it is vitally important for parents and teachers to gradually broach these subjects. This is important not just to reduce HIV prevalence down the line, but perhaps more importantly, to mitigate the stigma and discrimination associated with it. 

One of the best ways to impart such knowledge in a lighthearted way is during story time. We recently found Bill and Melinda Gates’ Reading List with books that help children to think globally and be inspired to effect change. In the same vein, we have created a SAN Back-to-School Reading List with books that help children begin to understand the subject of HIV and AIDS, as well as how to support those living with or who have family living with HIV.

Here is our list of 6 books that should help you to get talking about HIV with the kids in your life: 

"My Dad Has HIV is a children's book told from the point of view of Lyndsey, a 7-year-old girl in the second grade. Lyndsey is based on Earl Alexander's own daughter Lyndsey. With an easy-to-read style and fun illustrations, this book is a great way to really educate children about the real nature of HIV/AIDS." [1]

This book was written by Earl Alexander, a father living with HIV, for his daughter Lyndsey, and "all children whose lives have been touched by AIDS." [1Alexander initially struggled "to accept his condition" but ultimately "he resolved to devote himself to educating everyone, especially the youth, about the dangers of sex, drugs, alcohol, and disease." [1] 
"When a new boy who has AIDS joins Michael's fourth-grade class, Michael reluctantly becomes his work partner. He soon learns, however, that Alex is funny, creative, and mischievous. He says he can do anything he wants because "I'm sick," so the two boys write an insulting poem about their teacher. Alex's wish to be treated like everyone else is granted--both boys are disciplined, but their friendship is strengthened." [2]

"The story looks at the basic facts of HIV/AIDS through the eyes of a child. It explains in the simplest terms transmission, infection and the do's and don't's of prevention. It looks at practical ways of caring and coping. Young adults are more vulnerable to HIV/AIDS than anyone else. Lindiwe's explanation should empower learners to lower the risk of getting sick and increase their resilience to the virus. This is one of the JAWS HIV/AIDS readers developed for primary school learners.The story conveys both the basic information about HIV/AIDS (health promotion) and the subtle psycho-social dimensions of the pandemic affecting learners' lives (personal and social developement). It can be used as a reader, or to help teachers introduce subject matter that is difficult to manage in the classroom." [3]

"Little Feet, Big Steps is a coming of age story about a young girl that, with the help of her encouraging mother, takes on a huge project by signing up for the AIDS Walk in her city. She turns to her community to fundraise and is completely unstoppable on her journey to make a difference. Throughout the story, Gabby comes to terms with what AIDS is and why people come together to support causes that effect others. This story steps away from traditional storyline of a helpless female character waiting to be rescued by prince charming, and instead, empowers young people to take action in their communities, causing them to be leaders on the planet." [4]

Understanding the impact of HIV on children worldwide "Dr. Kim Chilman-Blair and Dr. Kate Hersov teamed up with a leading graphic novel artist to create a series of comic books explaining health conditions to young people from a medical viewpoint. Each comic is written by doctors and peer-reviewed by leading specialists in each respective therapy area. Medikidz is a resource designed to educate not only young patients, peers and their parents, but also to aid practitioners and educators in explaining health conditions as effectively as possible. The books follow a team of five larger than life superheroes from outer space, with each Medikidz specialising in explaining a different part of the body. What's Up with Jason? is an engaging way to educate children about the medical facts behind HIV and how it can be prevented." [5]

"In these writings and drawings, children with HIV infection and AIDS who have come to the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland, tell how it feels to be different from other kids, how they face rejection if people learn they are sick, and what it is like to lose friends and loved ones to AIDS. Simple and powerful, the writings and drawings express all the youngsters' hopes and fears." [6]

See one you want to read to the child or children in your life? 

We think this is a great collection of books on HIV and AIDS which discuss the subject from diverse angles in a way that would help a child understand this condition, as well as how to be supportive and non-discriminatory toward people living with HIV or AIDS. 

Here's to a generation free of HIV stigma! Let's all contribute to its making!

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