International Books: No Ordinary Day

What are the potential benefits of using international books with children and young adults? Are there any downsides?  Can children get excited about reading books set in other countries, or books that are actually from other countries?

Ellis takes us to a part of the world that few kids in the USA can imagine.

Check out this interview with Ellis from School Library Journal.


76 Responses to “International Books: No Ordinary Day”

  1. 1 Sarah Stuckey May 2, 2012 at 10:20 pm

    I enjoyed reading this story, as a reader you become tangled in this life that Valli lives. You feel sympathy for a child that is homeless with no family and has a disease she knows nothing about. I found that Deborah Ellis gave the reader great insight into how Valli thought about different situations. When she first met the doctor in the book, she didn’t even trust someone would actually be truly concerned about her. Which helps the reader understand how Valli is so strong and smart, but so lost. This is a tough topic to discuss with students, leprosy is something students might not know anything about. This book would be a great look for students into a disease that afffects alot of people.

    • 2 Taylor K. May 7, 2012 at 7:27 pm

      I actually thought it would be a great book maybe to read for health/social studies class. For a health class the book describes alot about leprosy – how you get it; how to treat it; what the symptoms are. Also, this would be a great social studies book because it gives the reader an visual of what life is like for those in that area. Students get a clear picture/idea of how life is for the people, especially children, in India.

      • 3 Rachel Ross May 7, 2012 at 10:28 pm

        I agree that this would be a great book to integrate into a Social Studies Unit. Children typically think that the world revolves around them, because as far as they know, it does. It it incredibly important to show students and teach them that there are so many other people around the world, who they might be able to relate to, but who lead lives that are completely different from their own lives. By reading about different details of the life of someone who lives on the other side of the world, students can imagine life from a different perspective.

      • 4 Sarah Stuckey May 7, 2012 at 11:33 pm

        That’s very true, this would make for a great book to teach students in social studies. They need to learn more about cultures and this book stays true to the culture and represents India, so students will learn about the true culture. Also since there is a glossary in the back the students will learn the vocabulary that is used there, since there are many words in the story that students will not know the meaning.

      • 5 Patricia Sims May 3, 2016 at 6:16 pm

        I never would have thought to read this for a health/social studies class, but I love the idea! This was a great book and an easy read for students as young adults. The book does talk a lot about leprosy and you could have great conversations with children about this disease and how to interact with people who have it, if they were to ever come across someone with it. I also love the idea of studying the area they live in and how they live because children here in the states probably have no idea what life is like over there. Overall great book and there is a lot you can do with the novel.

    • 6 Chelsea Tavik May 10, 2012 at 3:43 pm

      When I was reading the book I also noticed how strong of a character Valli is and how her strength is an admiralble trait that got her through many things in the book. I think children can read this book and experience the harsh conditions that children their age face and hopeful enlighten them to be more respectful to the world around them and even possibly children in their class.

      • 7 Mariya Flores December 5, 2015 at 4:48 pm

        I do agree with you Chelsea. I feel Valli was a very strong girl and it is an admirable trait. Many kids reading this book will admire Valli for her strength and battles she went through and even adults reading it as well. As I read the book, it was very heart-breaking what Valli was going through and I admired her a lot. Children and adults reading this book can feel the experience that Valli is going through and some can relate to hard experiences they have gone through with Valli. I hope this book can also help teach lesson to children who are reading and help them understand that children their age do go through these experiences and I do hope, like Chelsea said, they become more respectful to the world around them.

      • 8 Courtney Buckler April 18, 2016 at 6:17 pm

        I also think that this book will teach students about children their age and place some light on you never know what someone is going through. This book can be a great gate way to a community building activity that allows students see that we don’t know what everyone is going through and that we need to treat everyone with respect because we don’t want to be treated the way Valli was by some of the character. We want to be the Dr. Indra and place positive attitudes and actions in our students so they can also make a good decision and help others.

    • 9 Erin O'Shea May 12, 2012 at 5:21 am

      I agree with you in that the author does an excellent job in drawing us into the life of Valli. I also support that you feel this is a good way to teach children about various diseases, however, do you think this is something that should be taught in regular classes or in health class. Or, do you feel parents should have to agree to this lesson? I pose this question as many parents may have issues with these topics in the classroom.

      • 10 Melissa Murphy May 1, 2013 at 8:32 am

        I do agree that this book is useful to teach kids about diseases, but I don’t think that health class would be a good place to use it. Social Studies is a good option because the book has a lot of culture and its important that kids understand what other cultures are like and to be open minded about them. I also don’t think that the book is graphic enough for parental permission. It’s about a disease, but it’s not like its sex ed- which parents definitely have an opinion about. You don’t usually hear about leprosy in America, so I wouldn’t be surprised if most kids didn’t even know what it was.

      • 11 Kaitlyn W. May 9, 2013 at 2:12 am

        I think this would be great in either Health or the regular classroom. Leprosy is a disease just like some that are already taught in the school system. This could be a really cool way to incorporate literature and other subjects.

    • 12 Rebecca Swift May 18, 2012 at 10:20 am

      I also see Valli as a smart and strong individual. She left the only place she knew as home, to start over alone and with nothing. However, she does not use her head so well and seems a little stubborn to me. However, this changes over the period of the book and she grows to realize she must accept the fact that some people want to help her and it is alright to accept help when help is needed.

    • 13 Courtney Buckler April 18, 2016 at 6:07 pm

      I agree with you completely. Deborah Ellis does a great job of writing in a way that allows us to sympathize with Valli. She also portrays a character who grows up at a young age and shows that their is a lot to learn as a child and that is the importance of school. Incorporating that curiosity of learning with Valli’s lack of knowledge about leprosy shows that as humans there are always things we won’t know about and it is up to us to learn and be curious about the world around us.

    • 14 Heather Beard May 17, 2016 at 2:36 pm

      I agree with you Sarah. This book does make you feel sympathy for Valli. I like that the book talked about leprosy because it is not something that is common here and it would give students a chance to learn something new. Many times students would think leprosy is an old disease and not realize that it still effects people today. I also think that it gives children a glimpse into how hard being homeless can actually be.

  2. 15 Samantha Dammon May 6, 2012 at 4:57 pm

    I agree with Sarah. No Ordinary Day was such a good book introducing children to the idea of homelessness and having a disease that she knows nothing about and denial. These are all real world problems that Deborah Ellis introduces us to but in a narrative that captures the reader and keeps you interested. You always want to know what’s going to happen to Valli next, where she will sleep, where she’ll get food, will she go with the doctor? Children can get a brief look into the life of a homeless child and how hard it is. How poorly treated they get and how much of a struggle it is just to sleep somewhere.
    One of my favorite parts was when the older lady in the hospital ward with leprosy, Usha, told Valli to keep looking at her until she saw a person. I thought that was almost brilliant. So many people are like Valli and too scared of these so called ‘monsters’ but really they are still normal people too. Everyone just needs to learn to look past that. This is a great message for students to see.

    • 16 Taylor K. May 7, 2012 at 7:30 pm

      I totally agree with your last paragraph, Samantha. This is such an important message for students to learn since they are exposed to students who different than them everyday like special needs students who may look, act, or sound different. They need to learn that being different is okay – the younger they learn this the better.

    • 17 Rachel Ross May 7, 2012 at 10:23 pm

      Samantha, I also agree that the part in the book when Usha tells Valli to keep looking at her was really moving. I used to work with special needs kids, and it really bothered me that children (and unfortunately adults too) would either stare or avoid looking in their direction altogether, until I realized that it was just a lack of understanding. Those people were ignorant to the correct behavior. Students should be educated early on and throughout their educational experience that acceptance should be given to all people, not just the people that look and act like they do.

    • 18 Chelsea Tavik May 10, 2012 at 3:46 pm

      I love that part in the book too! Its an amazing message for children to experience and understand that people with disabilities are not less of a person. Being different is what makes us all uniques and some people are just different in more sever ways but that doesn’t make them any less important or amazing.

      • 19 Kerry Ryan November 20, 2014 at 5:42 pm

        That part of the book was inspiring and moving. It shows us, and young readers, that people with deformities and such are people too. It doesn’t take away from their personalities and uniqueness. This is extremely important for young readers!! This world is often too quick to judge others and young students would benefit from learning early on- that this type of behavior is not acceptable. They will miss out on getting to know very good people if they ‘judge a book by its cover.’ It’s ironic that Valli was so frightened of these “monsters” by she had the same disease as them. It gave her, and the reader, perspective.

    • 20 Danielle Strauss December 4, 2015 at 1:46 am

      This sounds like a really interesting and informational book. I think it’s a great book for students to read in a social studies class and it is a great introduction to teaching about different cultures and situations people have to deal with throughout the world.

    • 21 Mariya Flores December 5, 2015 at 4:54 pm

      I think the last paragraph is a great message Samantha. That was one of my favorite parts too. Valli, throughout the book, would refer to normal people as monsters. I really liked when Usha, the lady in the hospital, told Valli to look past the monsters and keep looking at them until they become people. This is a great message for children who are reading this book. The monsters could represent doctors, children with special needs or other people that children are scared or nervous around. They are normal people just like you and if you can get past the nervousness or being afraid than you can look at them normal too. I agree with Samantha when she said that everyone needs to learn to look past them. It is a great message.

  3. 22 Sarah Stuckey May 6, 2012 at 7:54 pm

    I agree with you Samantha, one of my favorite parts from the book was when she said to keep looking until she saw a person. That is a little deep for children at this young of a age, for a child they might not get that, some might. So as a teacher we need to teach children to look past the outer apperance of a person and look deeper to really see them and know who they really are as a person.
    Another part about the book I really enjoyed was how Valli spoke about the book “I’ll just borrow it and when I know everything in it, I’ll pass it to someone else who needs to know.” Valli showed with the pizza and the blanket, that once she didn’t need something, she would be selfless and just pass it on to someone who does. Which is a great lesson for students to learn.

    • 23 Samantha Dammon May 7, 2012 at 5:06 pm

      Exactly, Ellis did a really good job at placing in really important life lessons into her narrative so students can see how those traits are used in the real world with real people.

      • 24 Erin O'Shea May 12, 2012 at 5:22 am

        I have to agree with everyone. This is one of the best books I have read that puts such realistic lessons right in with the story. I feel that I, a 22 year old, learned lessons from this book without even realizing I was learning anything!

  4. 25 Taylor K. May 7, 2012 at 7:23 pm

    I really enjoyed reading this book. Although sad in most parts of the book, I did enjoy the storyline. I was quite amazed at this young girl’s life. I can’t imagine what it would be like to live the life she lived everyday, especially at her age. Begging for food everyday, “burrowing” such important necessities, nothing on her feet, bathing in a river, or if she’ll be beat up… it is just amazing. And to her this is completely normal, or ordinary. What I also couldn’t believe is that she living this way in addition to living with leprosy- which is unaware of for a very long time! She thinks her feet are “tough” but in reality she can’t feel any sensations because her nerves are damaged. It’s just a sad where you can’t help but feel bad for this child. I do think, however, that it would a good read for student in mid- to upper elementary because it exposes to a life that they do not know of. They are exposed what life is like for many children living in our world. I think it is good for them to learn to appreciate what they have and that things can be much worse than what they have. I think this book can inspire kids to get involved in their communities and help those who may not be as fortunate.

    • 26 Erin O'Shea May 12, 2012 at 5:24 am

      I agree with you that this book dealt with many sad parts, however, aren’t diseases sad for the most part? No matter what the disease, there are always going to be sad parts. I feel this book did a great job of not fabricating the disease, the author explained it for what it truly is and I respect that. I also agree with your statement of how this book can inspire children to take part in their community that they may not have thought of before.

    • 27 Hannah Wilkinson May 4, 2016 at 7:43 pm

      The plot of the story was a sad one since she felt like no one wanted her and she was on her own to survive. I agree with you that this book is a good exposure for kids to see what goes on in other countries and what they deal with. There are a lot of realistic things that students can be exposed to through this book.

  5. 28 Rachel Ross May 7, 2012 at 10:19 pm

    I really enjoyed reading this book. I can see so many parallels between Valli and some of the children that I have come in contact with in my classroom placements. Even though the character and the students I know are going through entirely different things, and lead entirely different lives, one of the most resounding themes that tie the two together is the issue of trust. Valli has been dealt such awful cards in her life, that it not surprisingly leads to a lack of trust in just about everyone, and a sort of disbelief that people actually care and want to help. Unfortunately I see similarities in my classroom placements. In low socioeconomic income schools, often times students are not coming from the most ideal situations. They also have had to deal with unfair situations, and because of this I see these students clearly showing a lack of trust in others. I think that this and any other book that can be read by students and helps them to realize that they aren’t the only ones who have to go through tough situations is a great addition to any library, and students should be encouraged to read it.

    • 29 Rebecca Swift May 18, 2012 at 10:23 am

      I also see this book as being very inspirational to students in the clasroom. Maybe not with this specific problem, but there are many types of diseases and illnesses that are treated the same as leprosy in India. Students can read this book to see that they are not alone, and there are people that want to help and understand. Also, the moral of even though you are different or sick, you are no less of a person then someone who is not like that. That is very important for students to see and accept. This book is a great read for many different types of students because the role of Valli can be morphed into many different types of situations.

    • 30 Melissa Murphy May 1, 2013 at 8:50 am

      I definitely agree with you. I have seen kids in my placement that I know are struggling day to day, even if they won’t admit it out loud. Salisbury is very different than the area I am from, and the kids really have so much more on their plates down here. It reminds me how important setting is, whether its in a book or real life. I think this book has a great message for kids because it is so true that no one is alone, no matter what their situation is. I think that trust is so important, and in a way I almost assume that young children would have it. Unfortunately, that is not the case, as you said. It’s sad that the kids we spend so much time with and get to know go home to situations that affect their outlook on trust. Children are supposed to be honest and innocent- not alone and angry. As teachers, it’s going to be so important that we pick up on kids like this and do whatever we can to keep them motivated. Education is so important, and someone has to step in and stop the vicious cycle.

  6. 31 Chelsea Tavik May 10, 2012 at 3:40 pm

    No Ordinary Day is about a girl named Valli who works in the coal town of Jharia picking up stray pieces of coal, living with an abusive aunt and uncle. When she find out that these people were merely given money by her family to take her in, she runs away to Kolkata. When there, she begs for food and lives on the streets. Until she is at first taken in by woman running what seems to be a brothel. The woman realizes that Valli has leprosy and kicks her out. Valli lives on the streets for a while until she meets Dr. Indra, who cleans her up and tries to treat her injured feet. Valli rebels against being cooped up inside and runs away, but eventually comes back to the hospital. Dr. Indra explains why her feet have no feeling due to the nerve damage caused by leprosy, and Valli decides to stay and get treatment because she wants to grow up to be like Dr. Indra.

    I though this books was fantastic and did a great job at portraying the real life problems that children like Valli face. After being homless, hungry, disowned, and having a disease it amazes me how strong her character was in the book. Disease is a tough topic to discuss with children but can offer a lot of insight into other peoples lives that they may not get anywhere else in life. Her journey and struggle in the novel are an inspirational message to anyone who reads the book.

  7. 32 Rebecca Swift May 18, 2012 at 10:17 am

    No Ordinary Day was about a girl named Valli growing up in the streets of India. She does not have any family, because who she thought was family, truly was not. She decides that living on her own is the best thing for her, and that she will be able to “borrow” what she needs and then pass it along to someone else in need. Shes does this for awhile, before a doctor notices how burned and cut her feet are, because Valli has leprosy. This disease is shunned in India, and this makes it hard for Valli to fit in anywhere she goes. The doctor wants to help Valli, and eventually Valli finally learns to trust someone and realizes that she must take help when help is needed.

    After reading No Ordinary Day, I truly see the struggles that many children go through in different parts of the world. Because of the world that Valli lived in, she was not accepted by anyone around her, simply because of a skin disease that can be treated. This is sadly how life works sometimes. We see it everyday, even in the United States. If people do not know something about a specifc disease or diablilty, that automatically assume the worst and make it seem as if it is one of the worst things possible. Students and children, even adults, are bullied every day by what most people are truly ignorant of. This is something that is an ongoing battle for some everyday, and as you can see Valli struggled with it. There is alot in this world we each do not know about, and before we judge, we should become more knowledgable.

    All in all, I really enjoyed reading this book, and look forward to having it in my classroom for students to read.

  8. 33 Melissa S. July 23, 2012 at 2:47 am

    “No Ordinary Day” is a story of young Valli who shows us what it is truly like to not live an ordinary day. This is a story of trust and mistrust, survival of the fittest, and mystery. The reader learns of Valli and the fact that she was lied to about her life from the first moment. Valli is a brave girl that runs away to find a new, better life for herself. She learns the life of living on the streets, and “borrowing”. She learns the mystery of her cursed feet, Leprosy. She learns that you can trust again. Valli walks the reader through a life that one can only barely picture. Through this story, you will be informed, enlightened, and made aware of the situations that some go through just to survive. You will cringe at the very thought of having to go through what this poor girl lived. But, you will be joyed by the end results. Such an extraordinary read. I would love to use this story as an awareness/ enlightenment story in the classroom. The ability to use a story such as this to study a community like this one would certainly impact our students.

  9. 34 Melissa Murphy May 1, 2013 at 8:38 am

    You guys already know how sad this book is, and I’m sure kids reading it would agree. I was thinking about it, and there is a reason that leprosy is not a huge issue in America- there is a cure for it. I think it would be really cool to share this with kids that have read the book and see what their reaction is. Why doesn’t India cure people with this disease so it will not be a problem anymore? The hard truth is that the sick are not a priority, in fact, they are often perceived as a nuisance. I would love to get kids to talk about these ideas and to see how strongly they feel about the topic. There are tons of lesson plans that could be used stemming from this idea.

  10. 35 Emily White May 12, 2013 at 7:35 pm

    I feel that this would be a great book to use across the curriculum in several different subjects. As many of you have mentioned, this book would be good to use to teach about social studies and the different situations that people and families live in. Community can also be addressed through this book. Economics could also be taught by looking at how Valli could use her resources and any money she earned in the most resourceful ways. This would then tie into math by looking at money and learning how to budget. Health, as many of you have also mentioned, can be looked at from the aspect of leprosy as well as hygiene and cleanliness. This could then link to science by studying germs and diseases. Cures could also be researched and then discussed in science as to how they work. Language arts would be a natural connection to the book as well. Students could write to so many prompts relating to this story and the topics involved. Overall, this book could be used to teach and introduce a whole week or unit of lessons in every subject. This keeps students interested and connected to the story and gets them learning lots of different related concepts.

    • 36 Liz Davidson November 18, 2014 at 8:21 pm

      Emily, you are so right. this book is excellent for integration which would be another plus for the book to be included in the schools. You have reached a lot of content areas already in your post. Touching on social studies, economics, health, and language arts. To extend on your connections one can integrate ethics as well. Valli is a young girl who has nothing and yet she is willing to give so much, whether it is a slice of pizza or a blanket. Yet she is in fact a giving/ ‘bowering” person. She survives on the kindness of others and gives it in turn. It would be interesting to gather the children’s perspectives on these situation’s and ask them if they would do the same if they were in her shoes. Great post!

  11. 37 Jessica Dryden May 15, 2013 at 4:08 am

    “No Ordinary Day” would be a great addition to the classroom library as the story as well as lessons learned are so captivating as many of you have already said. The book keeps you on the edge of the seat as you find out more and more about Valli’s life and what has been hidden from her as a child. Students can learn from Valli as she overcomes being lied to and also overcomes the serious disease of leprosy. Many students can relate to the topics in the story which is makes the book even more engaging which is what children need in the classroom.

  12. 38 Mallory C. May 16, 2013 at 8:14 pm

    No Ordianary day would fit in well with all aspects of the curriculum. Geography and history are both integrated into the storyline through the setting in India. Readers can connect with the main character through ages while still seeing how different life can be in different areas of the world. Wants and needs can also be discussed. Valli spends her coal frugually for food and the chance of survival. For many students this idea is very foriegn, but other students are going through similar struggles. This inspring story gives children who are in tough situations hope while allowing them to connect to Villi and her struggles. These type of characters allow students to connect to the novel and find some sense of reasurance.

  13. 39 Diana Schultz June 14, 2014 at 7:33 pm

    One of the first benefits that come to mind when using international books with children is the exposure to different cultures, different customs, and different philosophies. Various skills (not only reading skills) can be practiced by using those books. Students can learn about different geographical locations and specifics about the countries. For example, in “No Ordinary Day” they can learn about India, how the towns look, how its capital Kolkata looks like,they can even learn about the economical aspects of the country (currency, means of earning a living, jobs), the climate, the “rainy season “ the monsoon. Students get to explore the different culture and civilization through the immersion into the words of that book. They can learn about the social values and structure, and the way people from different socioeconomic backgrounds see each other and interact. By reading “No Ordinary Day” they can learn about customs, such as incinerating the dead and scattering their ashes in the Ganges, the specific cuisine (samosas, roti), the clothes people wear, cultural perspectives (of a patriarchal society), different philosophies and systems of beliefs, sometimes rooted in a lack of knowledge (people suffering from leprosy being called monsters and being outcasts).

    I can’t really think of any downsides to expanding one’s knowledge of various cultures, although, for some people they may reinforce negative stereotypes or have them acquire a negative perspective upon a certain culture, especially if the reader happens to be rigid in thinking and misinterpret the message of the book. Also, the books are often works of fiction , and even if they are rooted in reality, they may offer a very subjective view upon a certain country and its people.

    • 40 Kelly Dorman June 18, 2014 at 2:35 pm

      I really like your cross-curricular ideas for this novel! I think it would be interesting to have students delve deeper into the social values/ class structure within this novel. It would be really thought-provoking to pull a chapter or two from this book and have students try a Socratic Seminar. Then maybe they could dig deeper into some of the major themes!

  14. 41 Diana Schultz June 14, 2014 at 7:54 pm

    As to the question “Can children get excited about reading books set in other countries, or books that are actually from other countries?”, I would answer that as an avid reader as a child (and as a grown-up), I was always fascinated to get insights to various cultures through literature, and yes, I do believe that children can get excited reading international books.
    The fact that the worlds described in the books are so different than the ones we live in made them so interesting to me as a child. While reading “No Ordinary Day” , where someone cited the Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore, I remembered how, as a teenager, reading lines of his poems in a book whose action took place in India, I went to the library the next day and got a book of his poems. The inter-textual references in these books made me, as a young reader, expand my search of knowledge regarding those cultures and furthered my curiosity to read novels or poems that were either mentioned in the book or by authors that were born in that country. I believe that by exposing our kids to these novels we can get them to be enthusiastic about their reading and we can incite them to be curious and want to expand their knowledge and appreciation of different cultures through reading books from other countries.

    • 42 Carrie Hobbs-Ford June 19, 2014 at 6:11 pm

      Thank you for sharing your personal experience Diana. That is a perfect example of how reading about unfamiliar places and topics can inspire students to want to take control of their own learning. I find that when we read about places or time periods that my students are unfamiliar with that they are often inspired to conduct additional research on these topics on their own. Certainly this is an added benefit to using international texts in the classroom.

  15. 43 Kristin Camper June 15, 2014 at 11:24 pm

    What are the potential benefits of using international books with children and young adults? Are there any downsides? Can children get excited about reading books set in other countries, or books that are actually from other countries?

    Coincidentally, my best friend and I were just discussing how most of us–as Americans–don’t know very much about other countries, which often leads to a lack of empathy for others and a misunderstanding of our role in the world. Reading books from other perspectives and other countries would help foster the empathy students need to develop the ability to better interact with people and be more tolerant; these types of books can also help students gain a better understanding of how the global community works. I think students could be excited about these books, just so long as they’re well written. I don’t want to overgeneralize, but I think students who know very little about other cultures and those who are reluctant readers are less likely to enjoy reading international books, at least initially, because they may find it difficult to connect with characters from other walks of life.

    • 44 Kelly Dorman June 18, 2014 at 2:39 pm

      I think you made a really good point when you said that reading international books may help students see the importance of diversity. Especially since the economy is changing, and in the future a lot of our students are going to have jobs where they are going to have to work with diverse people. I think it’s a great idea for students to be exposed to other cultures now.

    • 45 Carrie Hobbs-Ford June 19, 2014 at 6:17 pm

      I agree that some students may struggle to connect with characters in international books, but the same can be said for characters who are diverse in other ways as well. However if an author is able to develop a main character who students can connect with on some level they are able to learn a great deal about another culture.

    • 46 Liz Davidson November 18, 2014 at 8:13 pm

      Kristin, I completely agree. I too think that many children of today’s world (I do not want to generalize either) are not as aware of other cultures. They may have a general idea, but they are not exposed to a more in-depth knowledge. Thus, these books provide that means to be exposed and understand the struggles and priorities different cultures face/have. Valli’s priorities were food, and then, getting help for her disease. Many American’s do struggles for food, but many do not. To extend, Valli had an innate desire to learn, and on the flip side, many children in the U.S. (not all) take education for granted. Excellent post.

  16. 47 Kelly Dorman June 18, 2014 at 2:30 pm

    I don’t think there are any downsides to using international books with children and young adults but only benefits. By reading an international book, children and young adults are being exposed to new cultures and new ways of life. For instance, in the book “No Ordinary Day,” a young reader would be able to learn more about India. Additionally, reading this novel would teach readers more about leprosy, a disease that is not very common in the United States. Reading international books can also expose children and young adults to the lifestyles kids in other countries live. The best way to get kids excited about reading books from other countries is to build background so they understand what they are reading. Also, guide readers to take a deeper look at the characters and themes within the novels because while they may be from another country, the life lessons can still apply to all of us as readers. Readers can also connect to the characters. For example, some may connect to Valli who was scared and untrusting because of the life she had led. Some students may be just like Valli, unable to trust people and unwilling to accept help.

  17. 48 Carrie Hobbs-Ford June 19, 2014 at 6:06 pm

    There are many benefits to using international books with children and young adults. Exposing students to countries and cultures that are different from their own helps them build background knowledge and understanding about the world around them. In my first two years of teaching, I taught 6th Grade Language Arts as well as Social Studies. I found that often students had very little understanding of the world around them and often struggled to comprehend that people in other countries live differently than we do in the United States. I do not think that there are any downsides to having students read international books, but I do think that sometimes students struggle to relate to the characters portrayed in these stories. I absolutely think that students can potentially get excited about reading books set in other countries, or even books that are from other countries if they are written in a way that makes the main character compelling to the reader.
    “No Ordinary Day” although rather sad, has a captivating storyline that would hold the interest of most middle school readers. It would make an excellent addition to a Social Studies curriculum because students would be able to gain insight as to how people live in India– their customs, clothing, beliefs etc.

    • 49 Kerry ryan November 20, 2014 at 3:50 pm

      You’re right, Carrie. Books like these expose children to the very real problems in our world but teach me in a way that interests them.

    • 50 Brianna Henry November 24, 2014 at 8:35 pm

      You make an excellent point that often times students are unaware of the world outside of their own lives.By introducing books like this to them in the classroom they can learn about other children their own age and explore the various cultures that exist in this world.

    • 51 Lauren Massey November 28, 2014 at 8:07 pm

      Carrie, I agree with you. I think this book would really grab the attention of young readers. The best part is that you would be able to tie it in to curriculum and certain subjects. I feel it is super important for students to learn about the customs of other countries and this would be a great way to do so.

    • 52 Jake Moss December 11, 2014 at 5:50 am

      Carrie, I couldn’t agree more. I believe that especially in our social studies curriculum, each student brings new knowledge to the table and these books only serve to enhance that knowledge. I think we need to be careful of ignorance taking over in our school system. It’s so important that we captivate young readers and that they can see themselves in the story but if that happens, as it does in “No Ordinary Day,” we have a way to expose them. I think that your comment is right on and I appreciate that you come in with first hand experience of teaching as well.

  18. 53 Liz Davidson November 18, 2014 at 8:06 pm

    This book offers a lot of insight and growth of a young child which would captivate the interests of young readers. Especially the part on page 136. “Instead I saw the face of the woman who had brought me a good cup of tea. I saw little lines around the corner of her eyes. I saw kindness in her smile. I saw a woman who was stubborn and hard working and did not want to hurt me. ‘I see you’, I said” (p. 136). That is a powerful message. To extend, with messages such as this, they grow as a person. With international books the children become more aware and can reflect on their own cultures. Thus, perhaps, be grateful and thankful for their education. Since they do not need to fight any obstacles to get one. It really puts things into perspective!

    • 54 Nicole Freni November 21, 2014 at 11:57 pm

      I totally agree with you on the last part of your blog, about the children being grateful and thankful for their education since they don’t have to fight for one. I think a lot of kids take their education for granted and don’t realize how lucky they are to live in a country that values education for all.

    • 55 Vira Ogburn December 4, 2014 at 12:37 pm


      You said it perfectly about children learning to appreciate that they can have an education without fighting obstacles. I think that this book definitely allows kids to see the struggle that not everyone will ever be exposed to. It definitely puts things perspective not only for a child but for an adult too!

    • 56 Jake Moss December 11, 2014 at 5:53 am

      Hey Liz,
      I really like what you said about the opportunity for growth with these students. We all want to grow as readers and it’s so important to understand that people in different cultures grow in totally different ways than we might. I really think what you said about it being a powerful message is absolutely right because we all want to reflect and we want to teach students to reflect. It’s a goal of mine as an educator. So thank you for presenting all of these ideas.

  19. 57 Kerry ryan November 18, 2014 at 8:50 pm

    While reading “No Ordinary Day” I became very grateful for things I may take granted for like having my own bed, getting an education, and even knowing my own birthday. This contemporary realistic fiction brings about really difficult themes like being an orphan, being homeless, poverty, and disease. Since the main character is a young girl, she is relatable to young readers. The reader followers her difficult journey to eventually be saved by a doctor. With this, she finally finds people who truly care for her and she sees what important in life. The book leaves us with thinking that she will become a doctor in her later life. This shows young readers that with perseverance, their dreams are reachable. In addition, throughout the book readers learn about the Indian culture and extremely real hardships.

    • 58 Nicole Freni November 21, 2014 at 11:54 pm

      I agree with you. I think this novel does a great job at conveying her hardships and the life that she lives. Any young reader who reads this book will realize how truly different some cultures are and how a lot of children don’t have the privilege of living the types of lives that most American children do.

    • 59 Lauren Massey November 28, 2014 at 8:11 pm

      I agree with everything you have said. A lot of us take for granted that we have a place to lay down at night and even the fact that we are able to receive a higher level education. I also feel that the use of young characters allows younger children to reach out more when they read. When they read, they are able to have these connections and will hopefully see how lucky they are to have what they have.

    • 60 Mariya Flores December 5, 2015 at 4:58 pm

      I agree with you Kerry. This book really shows what it was like to be Valli. It was like you were in her shoes and you were able to see and feel what she sees and feels. This book was an eye opener for me because I never really know that children this young went through this throughout the world and it hurts my heart. I am very grateful for all I have and wish all children in the world had a house to live in, a family to love them and schooling to teach them things for their futures.

  20. 61 Nicole Freni November 22, 2014 at 12:05 am

    “No Ordinary Day” is a fantastic book for young readers to read. I feel as though in today’s society, many children take their education, homes, and overall lifestyles for granted. This novel really puts it in perspective as to how hard children’s lives are in other countries that don’t have equal opportunity for education and don’t have all of the materialistic things that almost all children in America have. Children would benefit from using this novel in the classroom because it offers an insight into the lives of children from a different country, that most likely non of the students know anything about. It will open the eyes of the students to see just how lucky they are and that even though someone may come from hardships, there is always hope to do better for yourself if you stay true and show grit in life.

  21. 62 Robert Fillis November 23, 2014 at 10:03 pm

    I definitely learned from this story about how we can take so much for granted; especially during the Thanksgiving holiday where we should be thankful for what we have. Not everybody in the world has the luxuries that we tend to have in America and this story conveys that to perfection for young children. This contemporary realistic fiction is one that young students can relate to since the protagonist of the story is a young girl. This story takes us through her journey of hardships as she fights to survive and as she is saved by a generous doctor who gives her a new start at life. She grows to see the good in life and gains her own hopes and dreams to go out and fulfill her dreams.

  22. 63 Brianna Henry November 24, 2014 at 8:23 pm

    I completely agree with you that this book would serve as a great insight for children to gain a better understanding of how young adults in different countries live their daily lives. As future teachers we could use this book in the classroom to discuss the different cultures and how they vary from our own lives here in America.

  23. 64 Brianna Henry November 24, 2014 at 8:32 pm

    After reading the book No Ordinary Day I think that this is a text I could definitely see myself using in my own classroom one day. Not only would this book allow me to incorporate social studies into my reading language arts class it would give my students an extremely interesting insight into the lives of children in other countries. By using this book I would be able to talk with my students about how our culture is similar and different from theirs. This book would also open these students eyes to see the troubles that other children similar to their own age have to deal with based on their geographical location in the world.

    • 65 Hannah Wilkinson May 4, 2016 at 7:39 pm

      I agree with you that this book could be used to incorporate Social Studies with students. It makes a good comparison for students to look at the different cultures. This book gives them a good insight to see that not all countries are like ours and that kids go through different things. It also pulls in a family aspect as well.

  24. 66 Lauren Massey November 28, 2014 at 8:15 pm

    The book No Ordinary Day was a book I would definitely consider using in my classroom. This book teaches many lessons that children from our country would benefit from knowing. The culture and customs are different from where we live and this would open a discussion based on just this topic. However, this book would also reach out to our younger readers as this story is about a young girl. Many children do not understand how hard and cruel this world actually is. Too many of us in American take things for granted and do not appreciate what we have in front of us. This book would be able to make our children realize we need to appreciate what we do have and stop being so concerned about what we don’t because life could be much worse.

    • 67 Vira Ogburn December 4, 2014 at 12:34 pm

      I agree that this book opens the eyes of our younger readers to really talk and discuss real life issues. Hopefully they don’t know how cruel the world is and won’t ever experience that but it does offer insight as to what others issues are in the world and makes us appreciate that we don’t have to go through that.

  25. 68 Vira Ogburn December 4, 2014 at 12:30 pm

    I though this books was an amazing book and it did a great job portraying the concrete problems that children like Valli face in India or in certain parts of our world. After being homless, hungry, disowned, attempted to be sold into sex slavery and having a disease it amazes me how Valli immolated perseverance throughout the book. Disease is a tricky topic to discuss with children but can offer a lot of insight into other peoples’ lives that they may not get anywhere else in life. Her journey and struggle in the novel are an inspirational message to anyone who reads the book.

  26. 69 Jake Moss December 11, 2014 at 5:46 am

    Personally, I think this was a fascinating story of struggle and perseverance. Valli proved to me that she could do whatever she wanted to do and it really gave me some different perspective into things that happen in the world that I have no idea about. Because of that perspective, I really think that international books should be read by children and adults. I think that so many students in the United States are narrow minded and oblivious of things that happen around the world. I am one of those students who doesn’t want to be but is uneducated about the various happenings around the world. I would like to improve my personal knowledge and I think that literature from around the world is extremely valuable in encouraging education about other cultures and situations. I am glad that I got the chance to read this book even though sometimes it was eye-opening and difficult to read.

  27. 70 Savannah Quinn November 29, 2015 at 1:43 pm

    Once again, this book brought up many different aspects of the world that students need to be exposed to. Students are barely aware of everything that goes on in the United States, so it is important for them to understand what goes on in the rest of the world. The issues that arose in this novel are things that children do not see everyday, and it also helps them realize how lucky they are to live the lives that they do. I really enjoyed this book, despite how eye-opening it was.
    – Savannah Quinn

    • 71 Courtney Buckler April 18, 2016 at 6:11 pm

      I agree with the idea that children in the U.S. need to be exposed and learn about the life and hardships people in other countries face because being a United States citizen is a gift and they are lucky to have the life they do. But this book also presents a diverse out look on how a child with no family can survive. As teachers, we will face the fact some of our students may not have a family or a home and though this story presents a difficult topic to talk about, those students can empathize and relate creating a want to read more.

  28. 72 Kelly Mason April 18, 2016 at 6:47 pm

    For many students, they are not able to have the opportunity to become educated on things that happen around the world. This may be because of a parent’s need to shelter their child or the lack of encouragement from others to look beyond what they are directly affected. This book can be used as a way to help students look into the eyes of another person or culture; it is important for all students to develop an appreciation of others and the struggles that exist around the world.

  29. 73 Julie Nicholas April 26, 2016 at 10:19 pm

    I feel as though this book was an extremely beneficial read. It implies many internal issues that sometimes people in our world go through and it is great, not only for those to read this book, but for those who want to learn about the book to educate themselves about what some of their friends and neighbors go through. Especially in our world, this not a very common issue: however there are many countries in our world that have this as a common issue.

    • 74 Heather Beard May 17, 2016 at 2:38 pm

      Julie, I completely agree. I feel as though this is an extremely beneficial read for students. It does show issues that people in our world go through, even if students do not know these are issues that people sometimes encounter.

  30. 75 Hannah Wilkinson May 4, 2016 at 7:29 pm

    This book was very interesting and an engaging read. It gives a different perspective of how things happen in another country. It covers a range of things from homelessness to disease. I think this would be a good book to use with upper middle school kids because they would be able to deal with these issues. These are things that are kind of hard topics to cover in a classroom. I think this book would be used best in small groups. When reading this book you want to keep reading more to find out where the little girl will end up next. Great read.

  31. 76 Heather Beard May 17, 2016 at 2:33 pm

    This book was difficult and interesting to read. I think that it would be a good book to use with students of about 13 or 14. I would not use it with a younger group of students, but older students would better be able to handle to he difficulties that Valli faces. Ellis wrote and engaging story that makes you want to keep reading. It is not an extremely long book and I feel it would be easy for students to complete or work on in small groups. I think using international books such as this are good to have in the classroom because they give students a chance to see things through another’s eyes. They may be able to make connections to our world and another world, but also be able to see the differences that we face.

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