O’Brien, Tony, and Mike Sullivan. Afghan Dreams: Young Voices of Afghanistan. New York: Bloomsbury Children’s Books, 2008. $18.99.
Afghan Dreams is a sobering look at the lives of children in and around Kabul. At the same time it is both beautiful and horrific. The beauty lies within the eyes and soul of each child featured in this photo tour. The horror abounds in the stories that comprise their past and the uncertainty of their future.
Tony O’Brien’s pictures are compelling, to say the least. They capture, without words, the necessary conclusion that children are the largest casualties of the longstanding Afghan wars. Mike Sullivan’s text reveals the mixture of hope and reality that makes dreams possible. Together, O’Brien and Sullivan relay the message that these Afghan children are forced to grow up too soon because of their geographic destiny.
The Afghan landscape has been fraught with problems for more than a century. The Taliban and the presence of the United States in the region is only the most recent version of the problem. Given the length of the protracted struggle, the strategy of O’Brien and Sullivan is to address the problem with a younger audience. By creating awareness the authors have planted seeds for humanitarian action that will eventually ripen.
The young voices of Afghanistan need to be heard in every community around the world. One way to make this happen is to share this book with someone, or ask that the local library make it available. Educators need to be refreshed by the war-torn stories of children who desire to be teachers. Kids of all ages need to hear the strained voices of children that could be their brother or sister. Everyone needs a beautiful encounter, and this book provides.
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