Airports are way more fun with Jedi Academy books in our little guy’s backpack. There’s only so much screen time our G3 world traveller can handle. While waiting for our food in Chicago’s O’Hare Airport on the way to Grandma’s house in Darke County Ohio in transit for almost 20 hours from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, a few minutes of quiet reading while waiting for Mexican food did wonders for our whole family. And it’s always fun to spot librarian characters in children’s fiction.
Seeing my son’s voracious enjoyment of this series, and dreading just a little bit what was going to happen when he finished all the Jedi Academy books before we had even made it to the gate, had me thinking about the students I serve in my world libraries, the many plots and characters in the Star Wars universe that have particular appeal to Third Culture Kids (TCKs) like ours. Star Wars characters leave home to explore other galaxies at the drop of a hat, one minute they are there the next in a galaxy far, far way. They create new friends and even families almost by happenstance from landing at the same place and the same time as other complete strangers who share only the fateful tug of the force. They are horribly lost and then miraculously found, and the whole time they are needing to find ships to highjack or pilot, lightsabers to whip about the place, droids with answers to all the questions they are only starting to discover for themselves.
TCKs don’t tend to spend a lot of time on backstory, they jump right into schools, friendships, cliques, battles and make it up as they go just like Rey and Finn. They are the great improvisers by necessity. They grieve loss, change, and new beginnings while in motion, just as many of the Star Wars heroes do. It’s all there, the archetypal orphan stories and the hero’s quests, the grit and resilience that comes from risking everything to save your friends and perhaps the world. I think TCKs can identify with these themes so intensely, with such acute interest via recognition of themselves in the thick of it, right alongside other kids who live with complex identities and histories. And right in step with the legion fans from Gen Xers like my husband and myself (who are both oldest children in our families despite our sandwiched generation and quite ambidextrous if I do say so myself, this may or may not be proof) right down to the babies in their Millenium Falcon beds (You know, I just guessed that this is a thing. It is a thing. A thing you can buy at Pottery Barn).
I love how our library boy takes pleasure and comfort in his favorite series, and he constantly reminds me to make sure that I am helping all my students find those favorites for their travels as well. I use my own kids as thermometers for reading all the time, proof of concept at home, at bedtime, at high altitudes.
I recommend the Jedi Academy series by Jarrett Krosoczka for G3 – G6 students from all over the galaxy. The combination of illustrations, visual humor, engaging dialog, and Star Wars nerd culture themes is a perfect match for many readers, from huge fans to reluctant ones. It’s an effective transition chapter book that introduces a whole new universe to readers not quite ready to tackle pages full of text. May the series be with you!