Written by Francisca Goldsmith on Wednesday, June 1, 2016
WORDS IN THE DUST, by Trent Reedy, features the fictional, and realistic, life of a girl in Afghanistan who faces the challenges of her fragile home and country, as well as both physical disability and exclusion from school. As performed by Ariana Delawari, for Scholastic Audio, Zulaikha’s hopes, anxieties, fears, and triumphs become fully present as we listen to her story. Delawari, herself an Afghan Sicilian American, voices her with pronunciations and cadences that ring true, exemplifying how a story can give us a more accurate understanding of the world than can a set of facts.
Paired with this teen novel is this year's Inspirational/Faith-based Nonfiction Audie Award winner, David Ring’s autobiography, THE BOY BORN DEAD, coauthored with John Driver and read for christianaudio by Paul Michael. Ring’s cerebral palsy is the result of lack of oxygen at birth; his capacity to take on a busy and productive life, in spite of his precarious start, is the result of his own faith and the friendship of David Wideman, from whose perspective we hear about Ring’s life. Growing up continents away from Zulaikha’s village, Ring also was born into straitened economic circumstances, where poverty of opportunity to reach potential plagued anyone with a physical disability. And, as with Zulaikha, hope and faith supported Ring's ability to respond successfully to life’s challenges.
Audiobooks give us rich opportunities to understand those who speak, think, feel, and move differently from the listener. Both Zulaikha and David Ring tell us personal stories that can inspire us as we face our own challenges in life.