Part of the beauty of reading is that I can learn about different places, "visiting" them without ever leaving my own home. Of course there are places I'd love to visit in real life, and others I'm very content to just read about.
The Bitter Side of Sweet is a novel by Tara Sullivan that I found amazing and disturbing all at the same time.
Amadou and Seydou are brothers spending their days picking cacao pods on a plantation on the Ivory Coast. The brothers left their home trying to help their family by finding work, only to be taken and used as forced labor. Now they are trapped, hoping to work off their debt and make their way back home, yet never knowing how much money they owe.
When Khadija, a girl, shows up at the camp, she attempts to escape time and time again. The bosses do everything they can to break Khadija's spirit, and force Amadou to spend time with her.
The two begin a friendship and it is through Khadija that Amadou begins to believe his situation might not be as hopeless as he thought.
As the story unfolds, the two - along with Seydou- embark on a journey that will take them to freedom, but also reveals the way chocolate is made and the people that are sacrificed along the way.
And since we are talking about reading books about different places, bringing the world to children, Give Your Child the World is a fantastic resource full of book suggestions to help give children (and adults) a better picture of our world.
Both of these are must reads.