9 Kilometers by Claudio Aguilera, illustrated by Gabriela Lyon, translated by Lawrence Schimel

Published by Eerdmans Books for Young Readers

Summary:  It’s still dark when the boy leaves to walk the nine kilometers (5.5 miles, 15,000 steps) to school.  His walk takes him through the forest, across a stream, and under a barbed wire fence that he props up with a forked stick.  Some days the walk feels like “a stone inside a worn-out shoe” while other days it is “as sweet as a handful of blackberries or a ripe apple.”  He meets up with friends as he approaches the school, a small building in the middle of acres of farmland.  The last several pages tell about kids in other countries who walk as much as 30 kilometers round-trip to get to school.  There are also descriptions of all the birds the narrator sees on his trek.  56 pages; grades K-3.

Pros:  This book, originally published in Chile in 2021, reminded me of My First Day, with its beautifully illustrated description of a child in another country traveling to school.  The back matter showing other kids’ journeys is an important part of the book: “We hope that their steps guide us toward the construction of a society in which education is a right and not a privilege, and we hope that their footprints serve as a reminder of one of the greatest inequalities of our world.”

Cons:  Imagine all the reasons–disability, illness, fatigue, bad weather–that would make this journey to school impossible.

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