The Conference of the Birds
Farid ud-Din Attar
Stunning illustrations accompany this adaptation of a long-beloved Sufi poem. Astonishingly apropos, the poem recounts a mission to gather all birds together and journey to meet the one true king. The flock travels through seven valleys: quest, love, understanding, detachment, unity, amazement, and death—ultimately guiding us to a universal message.
The Beautiful Struggle
Shifting from advice to his son in Between the World and Me, Coates writes of his own father’s quest to keep his sons safe and shepherd them through to adulthood—not by insisting on conformity or by delving out punishment, but by teaching them about their heritage. As you might expect from his previous works, the coming-of-age story is written in Coates’ trademark lyrical language, and showcases the kind of love that lasts generations.
I, Parrot is a riveting, funny, and tragic graphic novel by acclaimed author Deb Olin Unferth with stunning illustrations by artist Elizabeth Haidle. In it, after Daphne loses custody of her son, she is willing to do whatever it takes to get him back―even if it means enlisting the help of the wayward love of her life, a trio of housepainters, a flock of passenger pigeons, a landlady from hell, a super-sized bag of mite-killing powder, and more parrots than she knows what to do with. Authors Deb Olin Unferth and Elizabeth Haidle shared with Read it Forward their favorite stories that highlight the beauty of families in unexpected forms.
We’re approaching that time of year when many of us will soon be looking askance at whatever version of family we have chosen and assembled, and perhaps whisper to ourselves—or yell—“Is this normal? This cannot be normal.” Chances are: it is.
These books are a celebration of the spectrum and varieties of love and commitment, a study in how our families lift us up, crush us down, give us our best and worst selves; how they speak our language and share our sense of humor. But these books also broaden our traditional definition of families, emphasizing our responsibility to all living beings.
Featured image: “Coronation Street Party” Photo by Ernst Haas/Getty Images; Author images: Elizabeth Haidle