Sharing Our Homeland: Palestinian and Jewish Children at Summer Peace Camp
Author: Trish Marx
Genre: Non-fiction, Children
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Challenges: Middle East, POC
FTC Disclosure: The publisher sent me this copy for review
Summary (from the inside flap): Summer is here, and Alya, an Israeli Palestinian girl, and Yuval, an Israeli Jewish boy are off to Peace Camp. They are excited, but their excitement is mixed with apprehension. the area in which they live has been fought over by Palestinians and Jews for a hundred years. What will campers from the "other side" be like? the children wonder.
Review: This children's book is a great one for broaching a number of different subjects: tolerance and understanding for those who are different; friendship; going away to camp; and religions. The text and photographs follow Alya and Yuval from life at home to going away to day camp and the activities they do to having their families come and mingle at camp for the sleepover. It's nice to see photographs of Arabs and Jews mingling, having fun, and learning one another's languages and cultures.
One of the best parts of this book is when the children go on a field trip. They visit a Jewish Kibbutz where they bake Jewish bread (challah) and then they go to an Arab village where they bake bread called taboon. I liked that they did the same activity at both stops, showing how similar the two groups are. That's really what Peace Camp is all about: bringing children together so that they see they aren't really all that different. If more children in Israel and Palestine could experience such a camp perhaps the future of the region has a better chance for peace.
As I read this book I was reminded of a wonderful documentary that I have mentioned before in this blog: Promises. BZ, an Israeli-American, goes to Jerusalem and brings together 7 pre-teens from both sides. They spend a day together, learn so much about each other, talk about the political and cultural tensions. It is funny, poignant, emotional, and my students always enjoyed watching it.