My Brigadista Year by Katherine Paterson
After visiting Cuba, Katherine Paterson, the legendary author of Bridge to Terabithia, was inspired to write this fascinating story. When Castro came to power in 1961 he resolved to stamp out illiteracy in Cuba. He recruited a volunteer army of students who moved into farms all around the country, working alongside the families and at night teaching them to read and write.
This warm, engaging novel is of one such student, thirteen-year-old Lora who, against the wishes of her father, leaves her life and family in the city to teach her fellow countrymen. When she first arrives none of her host family can even write their own names. By the end of Lora’s year, not only her hosts but neighbouring families have learned to read and write, and she has learnt many of their traditional jobs.
Filled with wonderful characters and incredible warmth, this is a fascinating story of a society very different from our own. Even now Cuba has one of the highest literacy rates in the world. The author has provided a timeline of Cuban history and more details in an afterword. This heart-warming novel will suit readers aged 9 to 12 interested in learning about different cultures.