I'm Your Neighbor, "New Arrival" Children's Books http://www.imyourneighborbooks.org Thu, 22 Jun 2017 13:42:09 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.6 85836761 One Good Thing About America http://www.imyourneighborbooks.org/2017/06/22/one-good-thing-about-america/ Thu, 22 Jun 2017 13:42:09 +0000 http://www.imyourneighborbooks.org/?p=3195 One Good Thing about America
By Ruth Freeman
Illustrated by Kathrin Honesta
Published by Holiday House Publishing, Inc.
Age Range: 8 – 12 Years

Find a copy at Amazon | IndieBound | B&N | Worldcat

“Highly recommended for libraries seeking timely stories about the immigrant experience.”
School Library Journal

Description
It’s hard to start at a new school . . . especially if you’re in a new country. Back home, Anais was the best English student in her class. Here in Crazy America she feels like she doesn’t know English at all. Nothing makes sense (chicken FINGERS?), and the kids at school have some very strange ideas about Africa. Anais misses her family – Papa and grandmother Oma and big brother Olivier because here in Crazy America there’s only little Jean-Claude and Mama. So she writes letters to Oma – lots of them. She tells her she misses her and hopes the fighting is over soon. She tells her about Halloween, snow, mac n cheese dinners, and princess sleepovers. She tells her about the weird things Crazy Americans do, and how she just might be turning into a Crazy American herself. One Good Thing About America is a sweet, often funny middle-grade novel that explores differences and common ground across cultures. It arrives amidst the prevailing climate of fear and doubt in America. This story of a refugee child restores hope and reminds us that America is, in fact, a nation of immigrants where we must accept our differences in order to survive and that s one very good thing.

Reviews & Accolades
“Spanning a school year, this touching novel in epistolary format relates the triumphs and travails of a young Congolese refugee, Anaïs, and her family. Settled in Maine, the plucky nine-year-old diligently writes letters home to Oma (her grandmother), who has requested updates in English only. Hoping to help the child acclimate to life in a foreign country, Oma asks Anaïs to include in every missive at least “one good thing about America.” Realistically portraying the writing of an English language learner, the text is peppered with grammatical errors and misspellings. As the narrative progresses, readers see marked improvement in the tween’s writing. Anaïs’s voice feels true as she shares her experiences, which include befriending other immigrant children in her class, participating in traditional American activities such as trick-or-treating and Christmas decorating, and contending with a health emergency that tests her maturity and resolve. However, the letters often simplistically refer to political unrest—Anaïs’s older brother and father are hiding from the government as they try to make their way to a refugee camp in Kenya—and young readers may struggle to fully comprehend the gravity of the situation. Freeman’s characterization of African and Middle Eastern immigrants is well done, and she deftly dispels stereotypes about these cultures. When an American classmate asks Anaïs why she doesn’t wear a hijab like another Somali classmate, the protagonist responds, “Really?… You think Africa is one small place?” Helpful back matter includes links to informational websites, an author’s note, an ELL vocabulary list, and a French glossary. VERDICT Highly recommended for libraries seeking timely stories about the immigrant experience.
School Library Journal

“Congolese immigrant Anaïs adjusts to her new home in Maine over the course of one school year.Readers follow her progress in her letters home to her grandmother, who insists that she write in English and enumerate “one good thing about America” every day. Unsurprisingly, her letters feature an English language learner’s incomplete command of grammar and spelling; at the end of her first, Anaïs expresses her frustration: “Please let me use le français. I am very tired with English today.” Thus encouraging readers’ empathy, Freeman goes on to record, in her protagonist’s voice, a year that includes many comings and goings at the shelter where she lives with her mother and little brother and in her ELL classroom—but, sadly, not the arrival of her father or older brother, who are in hiding from the Congolese government, a situation that’s only vaguely explained to readers but a clear and ever present worry for Anaïs and her family. There are also the usual markers of an American school year: holiday observances, school projects, and friendship ups and downs. ELL teacher Freeman realistically populates Anaïs’ classroom with other immigrant children, including a Somali girl and an Iraqi boy, deftly disproving monolithic notions of both Africa and Islam. She expressly writes for an audience of English-speaking and presumably native-born Americans while articulating the hope that “one day soon…my students will write their own stories.” A touching if incomplete fictional glimpse at one immigrant girl’s experience.”
Kirkus Reviews

Groups Represented
Congolese American
Congolese

Main character has friends who are:
Iraqi American
Somali American

Themes
Theme: Building Futures
Theme: Cross-Group Friendship
Theme: Education & Literacy
Theme: Family Separation
Theme: Fleeing Persecution
Theme: Grandparents & Intergenerational
Theme: Learning English

Setting
United States (Maine)

Engagement Projects & Resources

READ & SHARE Educator’s Guide

Share with us how you use the book! Leave a comment!

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I’m Your Neighbor Welcoming Library http://www.imyourneighborbooks.org/2017/06/19/welcoming-library/ http://www.imyourneighborbooks.org/2017/06/19/welcoming-library/#comments Mon, 19 Jun 2017 23:30:00 +0000 http://www.imyourneighborbooks.org/?p=3177

Illustration © Alfonso Ruano

 

The I’m Your Neighbor Welcoming Library is a portable book collection and display of acclaimed picture books featuring the immigrant, refugee, or “new arrival” experience. This pilot traveling library will be made available to Maine school and public libraries for monthly loan starting in September 2017.

Given the national conversation about immigration, the I’m Your Neighbor Welcoming Library seeks to raise awareness and build sensitivity for all ages through children’s literature.

“The true meeting takes place when the book opens, and a stranger reads about — and comprehends — a stranger.” –Amit Majmudar, Poet, Author

Studies have shown that reading builds empathy and that cross-racial scenes in picture books build acceptance. Making this collection of 22 picture books available at no cost to schools and libraries, we hope to lift the financial barrier to reading and sharing these important books.

 

Click to view slideshow.

 

Each book will contain a discussion guide to facilitate engagement in the topics of diversity and welcoming. Whether it is a parent discussing a picture book with a child in a public library children’s room, or a second grade class gathered for a read-aloud with their teacher, these books will foster crucial discussions of what it means to arrive in a new culture, country, or community.  Readers who are “new arrivals” themselves will gain an increased sense of normalcy and acceptance when seeing their stories reflected in the narratives in this collection.

I’m Your Neighbor is a larger literacy movement founded in Maine to draw attention to immigration children’s literature and to its potential to bridge a sometimes difficult conversation about who belongs here, welcoming, assimilation and celebration of difference.

The I’m Your Neighbor Welcoming Library was funded by a grant from the Maine Public Library Fund. The project is managed by Kate Cutko at the Bowdoinham Public Library with support materials and packaging provided by Curious City, the administrator of I’m Your Neighbor.

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Amina’s Voice http://www.imyourneighborbooks.org/2017/03/18/aminas-voice/ Sat, 18 Mar 2017 22:36:57 +0000 http://www.imyourneighborbooks.org/?p=3127 9781481492065Amina’s Voice
By Hena Khan
Published by Salaam Reads / Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Age Range: 8 and older

Find a copy at Amazon | IndieBound | B&N | Worldcat

“Khan deftly—and subtly—weaves aspects of Pakistani and Muslim culture into her story, allowing readers to unconsciously absorb details and develop understanding and compassion for another culture and faith.”
Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review

Description
A Pakistani-American Muslim girl struggles to stay true to her family’s vibrant culture while simultaneously blending in at school after tragedy strikes her community in this sweet and moving middle grade novel from the award-winning author of It’s Ramadan, Curious George and Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns.

Amina has never been comfortable in the spotlight. She is happy just hanging out with her best friend, Soojin. Except now that she’s in middle school everything feels different. Soojin is suddenly hanging out with Emily, one of the “cool” girls in the class, and even talking about changing her name to something more “American.” Does Amina need to start changing too? Or hiding who she is to fit in? While Amina grapples with these questions, she is devastated when her local mosque is vandalized.

Amina’s Voice brings to life the joys and challenges of a young Pakistani American and highlights the many ways in which one girl’s voice can help bring a diverse community together to love and support each other.

Reviews & Accolades
“Written as beautifully as Amina’s voice surely is, this compassionate, timely novel is highly recommended for all libraries.” —Booklist, Starred Review

“A satisfying read about an 11-year-old girl navigating friendship, family, religion, and dreams of becoming a soul-singing sensation. In a quiet Milwaukee suburb, Amina and her best friend Soojin grapple with their own ethnic identities and the pressure to Americanize. Soojin is Korean American and on the pathway to citizenship. She’s contemplating changing her name to solidify her American identity, while Amina, who is Pakistani American, must reconcile her love of singing Motown with her Muslim faith. Popular Emily, a white girl, who has a history of bullying, creates a wedge when she tries to befriend the pair, drawing skepticism from Amina. Things begin to unravel when Amina’s uncle comes to visit from Pakistan and her deficiencies in Urdu and Arabic are exposed—along with the fact that Amina and her older brother, Mustafa, aren’t necessarily the perfect children her father would like them to be. When the neighborhood mosque is vandalized, the greater community comes together. Amina’s struggles to balance her faith, friendship, and aspirations are all resolved—albeit a bit too neatly. VERDICT A universal story of self-acceptance and the acceptance of others. A welcome addition to any middle grade collection.
School Library Journal, Starred Review

“A Pakistani-American girl starting middle school learns how to cope with the changes and challenges she faces at home, at school, and within her close-knit Muslim community. True to her parents’ endearment for her, geeta (“song” in Urdu), Amina loves to sing. But unlike the contestants on her favorite reality TV show The Voice, Amina shuns the spotlight—she’s a bundle of nerves in front of an audience! She’s happy living her life as usual, hanging out with her best friend, Korean-American Soojin, playing the piano, and attending Sunday school at the Islamic Center. Except that life isn’t “as usual” anymore. In fact, everything is changing, and changing fast. Soojin wants an “American” name to go with her new citizenship status, and even worse, Soojin starts getting chummy with their elementary school nemesis, a white girl named Emily, leaving a jealous Amina fuming. Then, her visiting uncle voices his disapproval of her piano-playing, saying it’s forbidden in Islam. Finally, when the Islamic Center is vandalized, Amina feels like the whole world as she knows it is crumbling around her. With the help and support of the larger community, the Islamic Center is slowly rebuilt, and Amina comes to terms with her identity and culture, finding strength in her own voice. Khan deftly—and subtly—weaves aspects of Pakistani and Muslim culture into her story, allowing readers to unconsciously absorb details and develop understanding and compassion for another culture and faith. Amina’s middle school woes and the universal themes running through the book transcend culture, race, and religion. A perfect first book for this new Muslim imprint.
Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review

“For musically gifted Amina Khokar, sixth grade heralds a multitude of changes. Her best friend Soojin is about to be granted citizenship and plans to leave her Korean name behind, plus Soojin has befriended another classmate, Emily, whom Amina distrusts. Meanwhile, Amina’s family is hosting her strict Muslim great-uncle, who is visiting Wisconsin from Pakistan, and stage-fright-prone Amina prepares to publically read a passage from the Quran in Arabic. The vandalism of the local Islamic Center and mosque further heightens the turmoil in this timely coming-of-age story. Through Amina’s emotional, honest responses—betrayed confusion over Soojin wanting an American name, her worry about her uncle’s comments that her passion for music is un-Islamic, her dejected disbelief in response to the Islamophobic vandalism—Khan (Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns) gracefully addresses the difficulty of reconciling individual beliefs with those of others, especially those you love, as well as the complications that accompany the merging of cultures. Watching Amina literally and figuratively find her voice—bolstered by community, friendship, and discovered inner strength—makes for rewarding reading.”
Publishers Weekly

Groups Represented
Pakistani American
Pakistani
Korean American

Themes
Theme: #OwnVoices
Theme: Art Therapy
Theme: Community
Theme: Cross-Group Friendship
Theme: Cultural Identity
Theme: First Generation
Theme: Religious Faith
Theme: Religious Persecution

Setting
United States (Wisconsin)

Engagement Projects & Resources

READ & SHARE Reading Group Guide

Share with us how you use the book! Leave a comment!

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A Distance Widens and Then It Is Crossed http://www.imyourneighborbooks.org/2017/03/18/a-distance-widens/ Sat, 18 Mar 2017 22:10:48 +0000 http://www.imyourneighborbooks.org/?p=3124

Antoine Maillard for The New York Times

“But the most magical moments in reading occur not when I encounter something unknown but when I happen upon myself, when I read a sentence that perfectly describes something I have known or felt all along. I am reminded then that I am really no different from anyone else.
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Perhaps that is the secret motive behind every library: to stumble upon ourselves in the lives and lands and tongues of others. And the more foreign the setting, the more poignant the event seems. For a strange thing occurs then: A distance widens and then it is crossed.”
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—Hisham Matar from “Books Can Take You Places Donald Trump Doesn’t Want You to Go” from The New York Times
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READ MORE

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Journey 84 http://www.imyourneighborbooks.org/2017/02/06/journey-84/ Mon, 06 Feb 2017 13:28:52 +0000 http://www.imyourneighborbooks.org/?p=3120 This is not a book, but it is story.

This is an ad created by 84 Lumber to air during the 2017 Super Bowl. It was deemed too controversial for the original ad and banned from broadcast.

It is a mother and daughter’s symbolic migrant journey towards becoming legal American citizens.

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Stepping Stones: A Refugee Family’s Journey http://www.imyourneighborbooks.org/2017/02/06/stepping-stones-a-refugee-familys-journey/ Mon, 06 Feb 2017 13:13:52 +0000 http://www.imyourneighborbooks.org/?p=3115 9781459814905Stepping Stones:
A Refugee Family’s Journey

By Margriet Ruurs
Art by Nizar Badr
Translated by Falah Raheem
Published by Orca Book Publishers
Age Range: 13 and older

Find a copy at Amazon | IndieBound | B&N | Worldcat
 
“An astonishing book that allows the humanity of refugees to speak louder than politics and introduces readers to one of Syria’s incredible artists.”
Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review
 
Description
This unique picture book was inspired by the stone artwork of Syrian artist Nizar Ali Badr, discovered by chance by Canadian children’s writer Margriet Ruurs. The author was immediately impressed by the strong narrative quality of Mr. Badr’s work, and, using many of Mr. Badr’s already-created pieces, she set out to create a story about the Syrian refugee crisis. Stepping Stones tells the story of Rama and her family, who are forced to flee their once-peaceful village to escape the ravages of the civil war raging ever closer to their home. With only what they can carry on their backs, Rama and her mother, father, grandfather and brother, Sami, set out to walk to freedom in Europe. Nizar Ali Badr’s stunning stone images illustrate the story.

Orca Book Publishers is pleased to offer this book as a dual-language (English and Arabic) edition.
 
About the Artist
Explore the art of Nizar Ali Badr.
 


 
Reviews & Accolades
“Rama wakes with the call of her family’s rooster, laughing, playing, and spending her days surrounded by the love of her family. When war comes to Syria, Rama’s happy, peaceful life shrinks, food becomes scarce, and bombs fall ever closer, until her family must leave their home. They walk “to the end of the earth,” climb aboard a little boat, and are battered by the roiling sea, saying prayers for those who didn’t make it any further. Ruurs writes purely and warmly, with the text set in both English and Raheem’s Arabic translation on each page, of a family who become refugees. She deftly conveys the happiness of peaceful childhood, then the confusion and the fears born of war and migration, and the relief and curiosity of arriving at a new home—and the uncertainty whether it will be forever. Artist Badr still lives in his birthplace of Latakia, Syria. Lacking resources, he began using the stones he collects from the sea to depict stories of his compatriots with love and compassion. Each illustration is masterful, with Badr’s placement of stones as careful as brush strokes, creating figures positioned to tell the whole story without the benefit of facial expressions: dancing, cradling, working; burdened, in danger, at peace. A foreword describes how the book came to be. An astonishing book that allows the humanity of refugees to speak louder than politics and introduces readers to one of Syria’s incredible artists.
Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review

“Ruurs’ beautiful words are twinned with the most stunning artwork by Nizar Ali Badr…I could not but be moved by Badr’s work, as it is unlike anything else I have ever seen and conveys so much emotion. I hope this beautiful book will reach the shelves of classrooms, libraries and homes throughout the world and be read and shared many times over.”
—Canadian Children’s Book News

Groups Represented
Syrian

Themes
Theme: Civil War
Theme: Fleeing Persecution
Theme: Immigration
Theme: Refugee Life
Theme: Survival
Theme: Undocumented Immigration
Theme: War

Setting
Syria
Europe (Unnamed Countries)

Engagement Projects & Resources
Share with us how you use the book! Leave a comment!

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Mango, Abuela, and Me http://www.imyourneighborbooks.org/2017/02/01/mango-abuela-and-me/ Wed, 01 Feb 2017 22:47:22 +0000 http://www.imyourneighborbooks.org/?p=3131 Mango, Abuela, and Me
By Meg Medina
Illustrated by Angela Dominguez
Published by Candlewick Press
Ages 5 and up

Find a copy at Amazon | IndieBound | B&N | Worldcat

A 2016 Pura Belpré Author Award Honor Book
A 2016 Pura Belpré Illustrator Award Honor Book

Description
When a little girl’s far-away grandmother comes to stay, love and patience transcend language in a tender story written by acclaimed author Meg Medina.

Mia’s abuela has left her sunny house with parrots and palm trees to live with Mia and her parents in the city. The night she arrives, Mia tries to share her favorite book with Abuela before they go to sleep and discovers that Abuela can’t read the words inside. So while they cook, Mia helps Abuela learn English (“Dough. Masa”), and Mia learns some Spanish too, but it’s still hard for Abuela to learn the words she needs to tell Mia all her stories. Then Mia sees a parrot in the pet-shop window and has the perfectoidea for how to help them all communicate a little better. An endearing tale from an award-winning duo that speaks loud and clear about learning new things and the love that bonds family members.

Reviews & Accolades
“The text is not bilingual line by line—instead Medina artfully weaves a few Spanish words and phrases into her mainly English sentences in a way young Latinos take for granted, and most English speakers should understand…Dominguez’s appealing illustrations, in tones of mango and papaya blended with a more gray and brown urban palette, capture a realistic trace of sadness and confusion on Abuela’s face amid cheerful scenes of comfortable family life.”
The New York Times Book Review

“Abuela has left her house in a sunnier place and moved to the wintry city to live with Mia and her family in their small apartment. Even though Mia and Abuela share a room, the older woman still feels like a “far-away grandmother” because her English is “too poquito” for Mia to speak with her. But Mia won’t give up; embracing the role of teacher and enlisting the help of a bilingual pet parrot (the “Mango” in the title) she and Abuela are soon “full of things to say.” With its emotional nuance and understated, observant narration—especially where Abuela’s inner state is concerned—Medina’s (Tia Isa Wants a Car) lovely story has the feel of a novella. Dominguez’s (Knit Together) broader, more cartoonlike art initially seems like a mismatch, but she captures the doubt in Abuela’s eyes, and her sunny colors and simple characterizations keep the story from sinking into melancholy before it bounces back to its upbeat ending. A Spanish-language edition is available simultaneously.
Publishers Weekly

“Mia is a happy little girl who is excited when her Grandmother, Abuela, comes to live with them. But Mia has a big surprise: Abuela cannot speak English, and Mia does not know enough Spanish to talk to her. Sadly, all the two of them can do is watch television—not a very interesting activity. So they try to teach each other their language, using repetition, pointing at objects, and placing “word cards” around the house. Things are not progressing very well until Mia spies a parrot for sale in the local pet shop. Soon the parrot is installed in their home and begins speaking both Spanish and English words to the delight of Mia and Abuela. In no time the parrot becomes the medium for their mutual understanding. Abuela is able to share her stories of home, a sunny place with mango and palm trees and rivers running nearby; and Mia is able to tell Abuela all about herself and how she can run as fast as the boys can. The story is told in first person, present tense by Mia. The sprinkling of Spanish words throughout the text will benefit readers with knowledge of Spanish. The illustrations, many of which are full-page, contain strong, rich colors and bold, thick strokes. This charming story of learning how to communicate and understanding each person’s unique story is likely to please little ones, especially those with a Hispanic background.”
— Children’s Literature

“Mia is unsure of what to think when her grandma, Abuela, comes to live with her. She must open up her room to share with Abuela, even though the two don’t even share a common language. “Abuela and I can’t understand each other” Mia confides to her mom. “Things will get better,” she tells her, and indeed they do. Through some trial and error, persistence and even a feathered friend, Mia and Abuela find new ways to communicate. “Now, when Abuela and I are lying next to each other in bed, our mouths are full of things to say.” In this tale, Medina blends Spanish and English words together as seamlessly as she blends the stories of two distinct cultures and generations. Dominguez’s bright illustrations, done in ink, gouache, and marker, make the characters shine as bright as the rich story they depict. The glowing images of Mango, the parrot, a nearly silent star of the book, will win over audiences of all ages but the real magic is in the heartfelt tale of love. Everything about this book will make readers want to share it with someone they love. VERDICT A timeless story with wide appeal.
School Library Journal

“Abuela is coming to stay with Mia and her parents. But how will they communicate if Mia speaks little Spanish and Abuela, little English? Could it be that a parrot named Mango is the solution? The measured, evocative text describes how Mia’s español is not good enough to tell Abuela the things a grandmother should know. And Abuela’s English is too poquito to tell Mia all the stories a granddaughter wants to hear. Mia sets out to teach her Abuela English. A red feather Abuela has brought with her to remind her of a wild parrot that roosted in her mango trees back home gives Mia an idea. She and her mother buy a parrot they name Mango. And as Abuela and Mia teach Mango, and each other, to speak both Spanish and English, their “mouths [fill] with things to say.” The accompanying illustrations are charmingly executed in ink, gouache, and marker, “with a sprinkling of digital magic.” They depict a cheery urban neighborhood and a comfortable, small apartment. Readers from multigenerational immigrant families will recognize the all-too-familiar language barrier. They will also cheer for the warm and loving relationship between Abuela and Mia, which is evident in both text and illustrations even as the characters struggle to understand each other. A Spanish-language edition, Mango, Abuela, y yo, gracefully translated by Teresa Mlawer, publishes simultaneously. This warm family story is a splendid showcase for the combined talents of Medina, a Pura Belpré award winner, and Dominguez, an honoree.”
Kirkus Reviews

Groups Represented
Latinx

Themes
Theme: #OwnVoices
Theme: Bilingual
Theme: Family Relationships
Theme: Grandparents & Intergenerational
Theme: Learning English

Setting
United States

Engagement Projects & Resources

Share with us how you use the book! Leave a comment!

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What It’s Like to Be a Refugee http://www.imyourneighborbooks.org/2017/01/31/what-its-like-to-be-a-refugee/ Tue, 31 Jan 2017 16:40:46 +0000 http://www.imyourneighborbooks.org/?p=3111 Screen Shot 2017-01-31 at 11.37.43 AM

 

Children’s book author Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich shares “Books to Help Kids Understand What It’s Like to Be a Refugee” in an article for Brightly.

What favorite book for building understanding?

 

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This in an Executive Order: Read 4 Picture Books http://www.imyourneighborbooks.org/2017/01/28/executive-order/ Sat, 28 Jan 2017 02:41:29 +0000 http://www.imyourneighborbooks.org/?p=3101 Illustration © Anne Sibley O'Brien from I'M NEW HERE

Illustration © Anne Sibley O’Brien from I’M NEW HERE

I’m Your Neighbor is a website offering children’s immigration stories and books. It is not a site about global or even American politics.  But immigration is a deeply political issue in America and across the globe.

Is I’m Your Neighbor about to get political?  I don’t know.  You might need to tell me.

This is what I do know.  Stories and books exist to explain things to us, to help us to stop being afraid of things, and to help us feel something for someone we have never met. Stories and books are part of our global culture because they build knowledge, confidence, and empathy.  The world cannot exist without knowledge, confidence, and empathy.

This is the other thing I know.  No matter in what year or from what country your ancestors or your best friend’s ancestors immigrated, their arrival was an uncertain thing. They were different. They were, for a time, a burden.  It is no different today.  A new immigrant’s arrival is an uncertain thing, a confrontation with difference, and for a time, a burden.

In January 2017, the American President equated the uncertainty, the difference, and the burden of immigration with terrorism. America has moved to build a wall to block out undocumented immigrants from Mexico and Central America. The American President blocked legal immigration from Somalia, the Sudan, Libya, Iraq, Iran, and Yemen. He called for a “temporary” moratorium on Muslim immigration. He has drawn a correlation between people of select countries and of Muslim faith to terrorists. The president has depicted immigration as an open door to people who want to commit violence against America.

This is why the American government needs stories and, yes, children’s books.  Because they have not heard the whole narrative.

Clearly they have not heard that people who leave their countries do so out of the deepest commitment to family.  They leave everything—culture, extended family, community, friends, work, achievement, home, possessions—to protect those who are most dear to them from war, famine, persecution, and the lack of a viable future. Reading two picture books will make Americans feel that fact in their hearts and in their minds.

The picture books The Journey (Flying Eye Books) and Two White Rabbits (Groundwood Books) show the deep love of immigrant parents for their children.  Books show us that immigration is an act of love and sacrifice, not an act of premeditated terrorism.

Books also show us that immigrants do not take from America, but give to America.  Immigrants give us their intelligence, dedication, productivity, and friendship, and they also give us a broader sense of the world.  What more does a nation, a neighborhood, or two strangers meeting need than that?

The picture books I’m New Here (Charlesbridge) and Here I Am (Capstone) depict new immigrant kids and how quickly the awkwardness of their arrival and assimilation becomes a celebration of friendships and new experiences for all of us.

I beg you to borrow, buy, share, and read these four books and see what the stories have to teach you. 

I might just beg you to flood local, state, and city government with them.

We need the whole story. 

We need books.

 


If you choose to send these books to someone who can influence immigration policy, here is some possible text to include:

Greetings,

You might be surprised to be receiving children’s books.  I am sending you books because I think they tell truths about immigration that we all have a hard time accessing from personal experience or from the rhetoric in the news. 

Children’s book are not just for juveniles, they are core stories about what we each stand for and what out country stands for.

The Journey and Two White Rabbits show that people who leave their countries do so out of the deepest commitment for family.  The parents in these books leave behind extended family, community, friends, work, achievement, home, possessions—to protect their children.  Would you make that sacrifice for your children?  Any of us would.

I’m New Here and Here I Am show how immigrants do not take from America, but give to America.  Immigrants and refugees give us their intelligence, dedication, productivity, and friendship, and they also give us a broader sense of the world.  What more does a nation, a neighborhood, or two strangers meeting need than that?

I urge you to read these books.
I urge you to experience what the characters sacrificed and why.
I urge you to support open immigration policy whenever and however you can.

 

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Somos como las nubes / We Are Like the Clouds http://www.imyourneighborbooks.org/2017/01/28/we-are-the-clouds/ Sat, 28 Jan 2017 00:58:23 +0000 http://www.imyourneighborbooks.org/?p=3095 9781554988495Somos como las nubes /
We Are Like the Clouds
By Jorge Argueta
Illustrated by Alfonso Ruano
Published by Groundwood Books
Age Range: 7 and older

Find a copy at Amazon | IndieBound | B&N | Worldcat

“Argueta and Ruano present a unique and much-needed perspective on the reasons driving young people to immigrate to the U.S. … extremely vital.”
Booklist, Starred Review

 

Description
Why are young people leaving their country to walk to the United States to seek a new, safe home? Over 100,000 such children have left Central America. This book of poetry helps us to understand why and what it is like to be them.

This powerful book by award-winning Salvadoran poet Jorge Argueta describes the terrible process that leads young people to undertake the extreme hardships and risks involved in the journey to what they hope will be a new life of safety and opportunity. A refugee from El Salvador’s war in the eighties, Argueta was born to explain the tragic choice confronting young Central Americans today who are saying goodbye to everything they know because they fear for their lives. This book brings home their situation and will help young people who are living in safety to understand those who are not.

Compelling, timely and eloquent, this book is beautifully illustrated by master artist Alfonso Ruano who also illustrated The Composition, considered one of the 100 Greatest Books for Kids by Scholastic’s Parent and Child Magazine.

 
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Reviews & Accolades
Poems written in Spanish and English poignantly address the struggles of child refugees fleeing Central America for the U.S. Shifting among the viewpoints of several children, the poems recount the sadness of leaving old lives behind and the dangers of the journey: “Don’t let us fall/ into the hands of the migra,/ and never in the hands of the traffickers,” reads a prayer to Santo Toribio, “saint of the immigrants.” Ruano’s lush paintings feature surreal flourishes (a rooster in a track suit, tattooed gang members with cyclopean eyes) as well as haunting images of families crossing deserts and crowding onto trains. A sobering but hopeful collection.
Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

“With tenderness and humanity, this bilingual book describes the hopes, fears, and uncertainties of the thousands of displaced children that arrive every year at the southern border of the United States. Every year thousands of children from El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, and Mexico leave their home countries and undertake a perilous journey across hundreds of miles in the hope of reaching the United States. They are fleeing crushing poverty and the fear of violence. Some are fleeing with their families, some are hoping to be reunited with a parent or relative in the U.S., and some are leaving parents and siblings behind. How to portray such a hard and harsh reality? Employing free verse, Argueta manages to evoke moments and feelings, softening the rough edges while remaining true to his subject. In poems that follow the harrowing journey, readers keep pace with the children who narrate. They describe their hometowns, the dangers of life in gang-dominated areas, their decisions to leave, border crossings and indecision over whether to turn back or go on, the inhospitable landscapes they traverse only to be met in the end by the border patrol, and, finally, safety in their mothers’ arms. Ruano’s realistic artwork conveys an immediacy that complements and extends the poems, allowing readers not familiar with the experience to be able to “see” it. Poignant, heartbreaking, and, sadly, timely.
Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review

“Argueta likens the spirit of refugee and immigrant children from Central America and Mexico to the movement of clouds in this collection of bilingual poetry. Some of these poems successfully evoke the fear and anxiety generated by this exodus from violence and privation. The portrayal of the tattooed Salvadoran gangs in “El barrio la campanera” is particularly visceral. But most of the poems skirt the edge of urgency, creating an emotional disconnect. Apprehension by the U.S. border patrol is a dreaded terror refugees pray to avoid. But the poem “Nos presentamos a la patrulla” (“We Introduce Ourselves to the Border Patrol”) couches the nightmare in terms of an innocuous meet-and-greet. In an introductory poem, “Mi barrio,” the author describes a rooster eating a Popsicle (“paleta”), but Ruano features the rooster with a lollipop—the alternate definition of the word. This misinterpretation disrupts the cyclical nature of the Popsicle motif carried forth into the concluding poem. Furthermore, the brutal march across the Sonoran and Chihuahuan deserts claims countless lives every year, but the image depicted implies that the crossing is nothing more onerous than a day hike. VERDICT Despite flaws, this is a much-needed jumping-off point for elementary classroom discussions of refugees and immigration.
School Library Journal

 
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Groups Represented
Central American
Mexican
Guatemalan
Honduran
Latino
Salvadoran

Themes
Theme: #OwnVoices
Theme: Family Separation
Theme: Fleeing Persecution
Theme: Immigration
Theme: Undocumented Immigration

Setting
Central America
Mexico
United States

Engagement Projects & Resources
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