Courage and bravery come in different measures for all of us. Often we develop greater amounts of courage out of necessity. When faced with adversity, some choose to overcome the obstacle. Others crumble under its weight.

While I don't think we can accurately ascertain if courage is genetically predisposed, we do know that some people are braver than others. Certainly much of that behavior comes from what we have learned. How we handle adversities in life teaches us a great deal. There are other valuable teachers in this regard as well, such as courageous people we mimic, and those we can read about, be they fact or fiction.

Jimmy Dean once said: "I can't change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination." That is a powerful statement and a real survivor's attitude. We can help our children adopt the same attitude if that is what they observe in our own handling of life's obstacles. Similarly, reading about how others face their troubles provides important food for thought, for it gives the reader the opportunity to not only try the adversity on for size without actually experiencing it first-hand, but to consider how we might handle the same problem.

Today we review three books that fit into this category of people doing brave things, overcoming adversity, and displaying courage. Remember, though, that while books play an important role in teaching us countless things, you are your child's first and most influential teacher. That's a big job. Good books can help you and your kids stay on track. Read.

Books to Borrow

The following book is available at many public libraries.

"Thank You, Mr. Falker" written and illustrated by Patricia Polacco, Philomel, 40 pages

Read aloud: age 5 and older.

Read yourself: age 7 - 8 and older.

Based on Patricia Polacco's own childhood, this beautiful story shares the pain of having a learning disability and the joy of overcoming it.

At first, Trisha loved school, but when she realized she had great difficulty reading, she began to feel dumb. Letters and numbers looked like wiggling shapes, and her classmates made fun of her. Trisha not only felt stupid, but her self-image was very poor. It wasn't until fifth grade that help arrived. With gentle guidance and perseverance, her teacher worked with Trisha and helped her overcome her problem and in turn, helped her realize that she wasn't at all dumb.

An outstanding story of courage, this is Patricia Polacco's heartfelt thanks to the teacher who made her life whole, and a message of gratitude to all of the teachers who do the same for their students.

Librarian's Choice

Library: Switzerland County Public Library, 205 Ferry St., Vevay

Library Director: Shannon Phipps

Children's Librarian: Judy Terpening

Choices this week: "Shredderman" by Wendelin Van Draanen; "Flat Stanley" by Jeff Brown; "Chronicles of Narnia" by C.S. Lewis

Books to Buy

The following books are available at favorite bookstores.

"The Great Trouble: A Mystery of London, the Blue Death, and a Boy Called Eel" by Deborah Hopkinson, 2013, 250 pages, $16.99 hardcover

Read aloud: age 10 and older.

Read yourself: age 10 - 11 and older.

In London, 1854, the Thames River is awash with garbage and human and animal waste. Young Eel knows the Thames and its filth all too well; Eel is a mudlark, searching the Thames for whatever bits of things he can find to sell. As an orphan, this is his only means of survival. But his troubles are greater than that - he is being hunted by the evil Fisheye Bill Tyler and must, at all costs, avoid detection.

But the Great Trouble - the deadly cholera epidemic - has added an even greater problem. People are dying, and the outbreak has come to Eel's neighborhood on Broad Street.

Everyone believes cholera is spread by poisons in the air. One man, Dr. Snow, thinks differently, and by chance circumstances Eel and his friend Florrie are called upon to help Dr. Snow prove his theory before the entire neighborhood is erased from the earth.

Based on true events, Hopkinson has written a seamless, riveting novel that combines a medical mystery with a tale of survival and courage and characters that will inspire.

"I Survived: The Japanese Tsunami, 2011" by Lauren Tarshis, illustrated by Scott Dawson, Scholastic, 2013, 106 pages, $4.99 paperback

Read aloud: age 7 - 8 and older.

Read yourself: age 9 and older.

Through careful research and engaging writing, author Lauren Tarshis once again brings another exciting novel in her "I Survived" series.

Ben has recently lost his father, and he and his mother and brother are visiting his dad's hometown in Japan. Still reeling from his father's death, Ben can't imagine anything worse until he and his family are embroiled in a massive earthquake followed by a horribly destructive tsunami. Will Ben have to courage to endure and survive?

Fast-paced and thought-provoking, readers will devour this novel based on true events.



Nationally syndicated, Kendal Rautzhan writes and lectures on children's literature. She can be reached at her website: www.greatestbooksforkids.com