The Island at the End of Everything by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

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Amihan lives with her mother who is “touched” on Culion Island in the Philippines (the world’s largest leper colony between 1906-1988), until the government decides that colonizing the affliction will eventually cause it to die out. The government believes that it knows what's best for the healthy children and that means taking them from their families and moving them to an orphanage on another island.  

This is not the only time in history that colonization has taken children from their parents and The Island at the End of Everything is a wonderful story to teach this historical mistake and the different faces of prejudice.

Recommended Age: 9- 14 years old.
For Those That Liked: “The Night Diary”, “Amal Unbound”, “Listen, Slowly”

Yoga Pose: Kurmasana (Tortoise Pose):
*Sit in Dandasana with your legs straight in front of you and your hands on the floor alongside your hips. Sit tall, flexing your feet and lifting your chest then bring your legs to the edges of the mat so that your knees are shoulders distance apart.
*Keeping your feet flexed, bend your knees and draw them closer to your hips. Pull your chest and arms forward between your legs (leading with your heart), releasing hands down to make contact with the floor.
*Bend your legs even more and work towards being able move your shoulders one by one under your knees.

Next Level:
*Once there, stretch your arms out to the sides. Roll your thighs inward and spread the front of your chest and collarbones forward and down with the help of the pressure of your thighs on the shoulders or upper arms. Keep the feet flexed (without adding tension) to stretch and straighten your legs. Your inner thighs should remain in contact with your side ribs.

Lifeboat 12 by Susan Hood

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There’s only so much that can be taught in school so all the historical fiction thrills me, giving children a chance to learn about more events and experiences than they will in a traditional public school curriculum!!

Historical fiction obsession established: Lifeboat 12!! Late in the evening of September 17, 1940, the steam passenger ship SS City of Benares (sailing from Britain to Canada and carrying evacuee children among its passengers) is torpedoed.  Lifeboat 12 travels too far from the site when help finally arrives, leaving them alone at sea with only enough water for one week. The lifeboat is filled with 36 crewmen, passengers, and sailors and six evacuee boys. They set sail for Ireland and pray for rescue, which arrives just as the water runs out.  The survival story is a miracle: only 13 children from the original 90 evacuees survived the attack, 6 of those 13 survived on Lifeboat 12.

Recommended Age: 9- 13 years old.

Yoga Pose: Modified Boat Pose/Paripurna Navasana:

*Sit on the floor with the soles of your feet planted on your mat.
*Press your hands on the floor a little behind your hips with fingers pointing toward the feet.
*Lift your feet off the floor, so that the thighs are parallel to the floor.
*Lengthen your tailbone and lift your pubis toward your navel.
*Remain with your knees bent, perhaps lifting the shins parallel to the floor. Keep your hands on the floor besides your hips or move them to hold the back of your thighs.

Next Level:
*Slowly straighten your knees, raising the tips of your toes slightly above the level of your eyes.
*Stretch your arms alongside your legs (parallel to the floor).


Everything Else in the Universe by Tracy Holczer

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Inhale.  Onetwothreefourfivesixseveneightnineten. Exhale.  I want to write all the magical emotions this book brought up.  I want to write about family, war, fragility, and resilience. But Tracy Holczer does that and does it beautifully.  So instead I’m going to say that reading this book was a serendipitous reminder that sometimes we’re stuck in our own lonely suffering but there will always be someone to bring you a big mess of polenta to share.  And through the sad stuff, no matter how alone we feel, we are connected to everything else in the Universe.

Recommended Age: 10yrs. old and up.

Yoga Pose: Revolved Chair Pose, Grasshopper Prep:
*Stand with feet together.
*Lift left foot (externally rotate the left hip open).
*Place left ankle onto right thigh (just above the knee).
Keep the left foot flexed and slightly sticking out past the right thigh.
*Find your Drishti (point of focus) and bend the right leg deeply.
*With hands in Anjali Mudra (palms together in front of your heart) slowly twist to the right from your upper ribs, reaching your left elbow/forearm to the sole of your left foot.
*Push the left elbow/ forearm into the sole of the foot as you press the palms together to deepen the turn of the chest.

Next Level:
*Work towards getting the armpit close to the sole of the foot.
*Drop the left hand down to the outside of the right foot while extending the right arm straight up into the air.