#VelshiBannedBookClub Feature: “Winterkill” by Marsha Skrypuch

“Winterkill” by Marsha Skrypuch is historical fiction, but the Holodomor, or the Ukrainian Famine, is fact. In the early 1920s, Dictator Joseph Stalin conceived of a plan to initiate rapid industrialization of the USSR – at any cost. The plan included forced agriculture collectivization – giving the Soviet state control of all of Ukraine’s abundant farms and lucrative grain exports. Unsurprisingly, Ukrainian farmers, labeled as kulaks, did try to resist – but eventually were forced to surrender their land, forced to work at government collective farms, and murdered. Then -- came the hunger. The very people who provided bread to the USSR, to Europe, and to the entire world starved to death. Their own food was held back from them as the primary weapon in their own genocide. It's important to recognize that the Holodomor was not an unfortunate byproduct of Stalin’s tireless pursuits. It was the calculated extermination of the Ukrainian people. As Skrypuch said, “Stalin wanted to destroy Ukrainian culture.” It didn’t take long for Russia to ban “Winterkill”. It’s crucial for children to be able to access banned books, says Skrypuch, especially books like this one. “Kids need to be exposed to all kinds of literature or they won’t be able to think for themselves.”