Category Archives: immigration

Top Ten Tuesday – Top 10 Books to Explore Themes of Immigration and Refugees

top 10

With the recent events in the US, immigration has become an increasingly important topic to explore and discuss with our students.  I am currently working with a grade 6 class at my school exploring immigration through picture books.  Many of these books are based on the authors’ family experience and  are the perfect opportunity to discuss the many issues surrounding immigration: different reasons why people leave their homes to seek new land (the “pull” – some are drawn to new opportunity; the “push” – others fleeing war and oppression); refugee camps; the challenges of adjusting to so much “newness” – country, friends, language, school, culture.  And yes,  Donald Trump was brought up in today in our class discussion.

At at a time when we need to be talking about and modelling kindness and celebrating diversity,  here are my top 10 picture books about immigration and refugees.

                                                     

                                                             1. I’m New Here – Anne Sibley O’Brien

The school where I teach is made up of over 30 different cultures so this book is a must have “connect” book for our library!  We follow three immigrant children as they face the challenges of adapting to their new school and community while trying to maintain their  language, identity and sense of “home”.  Thoughtful, heartfelt and realistic with simple text and colorful illustrations. 

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Here I Am – Patti Kim

What must it be like to move far away from your home, across vast waters, to another country, culture and language?  Through this wordless picture book, we experience this  adventure through the eyes of a young Asian boy as he experiences the unknown city streets and cityscapes for the first time.  Gorgeous illustrations.

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2. The Arrival Shaun Tan

Beautiful, haunting, wordless picture book told from the perspective of a new immigrant. We see and experience everything he does  –  the heartbreak, fear, confusion, and enlightenment.  Sometimes strange, surreal and magical – this is a must share immigration book.

3. Sami and the Time of the Troubles Florence Parry Heide

Lebanon Civil War from a young boy’s point of view. Sami and his family spend much of their time in the basement trying to keep safe while the fighting goes on right outside his home.  To pass the time, they share happy memories.  This book is beautiful, moving and filled with hope.   Amazing illustrations.

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4. Gleam and Glo – Eve Bunting

Narrated from the perspective of an eight-year-old boy, this story is based on an amazing true story of what happened in a village in the 1990s as the Bosnian war.  The family  flees, leaving behind their home and belongings.  They spend time in a refugee camp and return to find their home destroyed, but their pet fish thriving and multiplying in their pond.  Beautiful, hopeful, inexpressibly sad – a must-read book.

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5. Stepping Stones: A Syrian Refugee Story – Margriet Ruurs

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.  Stunning artwork, a simple, poignant story about a Syrian family’s departure from their homeland written in both English and Arabic, and a wonderful story behind the story.

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6. Adrift at Sea – A Vietnamese Boy’s Story of Survival – Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch

This is the beautiful true story of a family’s survival in the face of overwhelming odds as they leave Vietnam in search of a new life.  In 1981, just at the end of the Vietnam war, sixty Vietnamese refugees, among whom is six-year-old Tuan Ho and his family, endure days at sea in horrific conditions. They are eventually rescued and finally reach Canada.  The amazing life-like illustrations and large format makes it an engaging read-aloud.  I appreciated the historical facts and real photos of Tuan in his family included at the back of the book.

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7. Let’s Go See Papa! = Lawrence Schimel

This is a powerful story that many of my students made connections to.  Told from a young child’s perspective, it  is about what it’s like to have an absent parent living and working overseas and then to have to leave your home, country and those you love for a new life.

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8. How I Learned Geography – Uri Shulevitz

This story is based on the author’s own boyhood when his family lived as refugees after  fleeing war-torn Poland at the onset of WWII.  One evening, instead of their ration of  bread, his father brings home a world map.  After the initial disappointment, the young boy see that there are places in the world beyond his home, allowing him to dream and imagine beyond his hardships.

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9. Four Feet, Two Sandals – Karen Lynn Williams

Taking place in a camp in Pakistan for Afghan refugees, this is a story of friendship, sharing and compassion.  When relief workers bring used clothing to the refugee camp,  two young girls race to grab whatever they can find, and discover they each have one sandal from a pair of shoes. Through their plan to share the shoes, the two become friends.   Powerful, heartbreaking and gives voice to the refugee experience.

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  One Green Apple Eve Bunting

This is a powerful and meaningful story about a Muslim immigrant trying to find her way in a new school without friends or words to connect to.   Important book about inclusion and one that we will be using for “point of view”.

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Anna and Solomon – Elaine Snyder

This is a true story of author Elaine Snyder’s grandparents’ immigration from Russia to the U.S. in 1897. It is a fascinating story of patience, understanding, and love. After Anna and Solomon are married, they choose to leave Russia during the Czar’s persecution of the Jews, and immigrate to the USA.  Having only enough money for one ticket, Solomon goes first.  After working hard to earn enough for a second ticket, he sends for Anna, only to discover she sends her brother.  Four more attempts bring 4 other family members, until eventually, Anna and Solomon are reunited.

Thanks for stopping by!  What are your favorite books about immigration?

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Filed under Diverse Children's Books, immigration, New Books, Picture Book, Social Studies, Top 10 Tuesday

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? Immigration, Autumn, Spiders and a Jellyfish!

IMWAYR

It’s Monday and I’m happy to be participating in a weekly event with a community of bloggers who post reviews of books that they have read the previous week. Check out more IMWAYR posts here: Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers

It’s been a busy start to the school year – with school and workshops!  But there is always time for new books!  Here are a few of my latest discoveries…

I’m New Here – Anne Sibley O’Brien

The school where I teach is made up of over 30 different cultures so this book is a must have “connect” book for our library!  We follow three immigrant children as they face the challenges of adapting to their new school and community while trying to maintain their  language, identity and sense of “home”.  Thoughtful, heartfelt and realistic with simple text and colorful illustrations. 

P’esk’a and the Salmon Ceremony – Scot Ritchie

With First Peoples being an important and integral part of BC’s new Education Plan, I’m on the look-out for authentic picture books to support the curriculum. P’esk’a is excited to celebrate the first day of the salmon ceremony, a custom of the Sts’ailes people, who have lived on the Harrison River in BC for 10,000 years. This celebration includes honoring and giving thanks to the river and the salmon.  This book includes an illustrated afterward, glossary and an introductory letter from Chief William Charlie.

My Leaf Book – Monica Wellington

Fall is my favorite season – changing leaves, apples, crisp mornings!  Last fall, I did a post of my favorite fall books.  (You can read that post HERE)  This new book is definitely be one I’ll add to my list!  This charming book follows a little girl as she hunts for fall leaves to press into her book.   An interesting look at different sizes, shapes, colors and patters of different leaves.  Simple text, bold, colorful illustrations and includes lessons on leaf rubbing and leaf art.

My Autumn Book – Wong Herbert Yee

It’s finally here!  I’ve been waiting for the final addition of Fall to Wong Herbert Yee’s adorable season collection!  (Other books include:  Tracks in the Snow, Summer Days and Nights, and Who Likes Rain? A little girl explores the outdoors and observes the gentle signs of the changing of the seasons and the arrival of fall. Soft, watercolor illustrations and lovely, simple text.  LOVE!

How to Be A Dog – Jo Williamson

Heart-warming and humourous “how to be”  book written from a dog’s perspective.  From choosing the right “owner” to learning where you should sleep, this book is delightful!  I would definitely use this as an anchor for a creative instructional writing piece.

I’m Trying To Love Spiders!  – Bethany Bartum

This humourous, creative non-fiction would make a great read-aloud!  It’s filled with interesting facts but written in a playful tone.  Great art! 

The Hugging Tree: A Story About Resilience – Jill Neimark

Wow. This is a powerful story that I can see being used at many levels.  It is the story of a tree, growing alone on a cliff.  The tree is faced with many challenges including thunder storms, freezing winters and vast, crashing waves, but the kindness and compassion of one little boy and protected by the natural world, the tree grows and eventually becomes a shelter for others.  The entire story could be seen as a metaphor for the hope and resilience we can show when faced with life’s struggles.  A great book for inferring and transform!

The Thing About Jellyfish – Ali Benjamin  (FREE Kindle PREVIEW of Chapter 1-11)

This book made my heart ache and my eyes sting. In fact, I think it should come with a box of Kleenex. Suzy is a smart, “different” grade 7 student who is dealing with the drowning death of her best and only friend, Franny.  As the story progresses, we learn the depth of Suzy’s grief: the end of her only friendship; her guilt for not being there; the terrible last conversation she had with Franny; – all too much for a young soul to carry.  Through her grief, she searches to find the reason why her friend drowned and becomes convinced that a jellyfish must have been the cause.  She stops speaking and becomes obsessed with jellyfish. This book is so, so beautiful, so emotional, so sad – at times, I had to stop reading it. I’m not sure how – but the weaving of jellyfish facts through Suzy’s sadness works seamlessly. I thought Fish in a Tree was my favorite novel of the year for middle grades – until I read this book.

Thanks for stopping by!  I’d love to know which book or books have caught your eye!

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Filed under dogs, Fall, Grief, immigration, instructions, jellyfish, New Books, Novels, Picture Book, Seasons

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

IMWAYR

It’s Monday and I’m happy to be participating in a weekly event with a community of bloggers who post reviews of books that they have read the previous week.  Check out more IMWAYR posts here:  Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers.

I have not been blogging lately as I have been focusing on trying to finish my book.  I am extremely pleased to have completed the first draft of my manuscript for Nonfiction Writing Power and it is now in the hands of  Kat – my extremely competent editor at Pembroke.  I know there is a lot of work still ahead but I am enjoying the temporary break from book writing and the chance to share some of the amazing new books I’ve read in the past few weeks.   51InOvbTzZL._SL500_AA300_[1]

David Wiesner fans – you will be happy to know that he has a new picture book out called Mr. Wuffles.  In his latest masterpiece, we meet a finicky feline called Mr. Wuffles who shows disinterest towards all the cat toys his owners have purchased for him.  He does, however, become interested in a tiny toy space ship.  After flicking it about, he discovers there are tiny aliens living inside – and now their space ship is damaged. The aliens eventually team up with household insects to repair their ship.    In his classic near wordless style, Wiesner illustrations are detailed and captivating, particularly capturing the movement and expressions of Mr. Wuffles.  Classic Wiesner!  51WL6EckLdL._SL500_AA300_[1]

How to Train a Train by  is a unique and hilarious “HOW TO” manual on how to take care of your “pet” train.  Any child who loves trains, or any who may prefer the mechanical toy rather than a real pet, will enjoy this book.  I was drawn to this book because of how well it fits into teaching students the form and language of instructional writing.  It is written as a handbook and includes everything from how to choose your train, feed, clean and care for your train.  I do not have a particular interest in trains but thoroughly enjoyed this book!

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This is Our House by Hyewon Yum is GEM!  It is one of those books that you could integrate into so many units of study – from family history,  to multiculturalism, to changing seasons, to immigration.  There is something so warm about this book as you follow a Korean-American girl and her family through seasons and generations.  Through their journey, we witness the true difference between a ‘house’ and a ‘home’.516qNkYtN9L._SL500_AA300_[1]A Single Pebble:  A Story of the Silk Road by Bonnie Christensen is the story of a little girl in 9th century China, who sends a small jade pebble to travel with her father along the Silk Road.  We follow the journey of the pebble along the Silk Road.  It ends up in the hands of a boy in the Republic of Venice – the end of the Silk Road.  The illustrations are lovely and the reference to the five “gifts” (reference to the five senses) which accompany the merchants along the silk road makes this a wonderful anchor book for writing as well as launching a unit in Social Studies.

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The Invisible Boy – Trudy Ludwig.  Brian is so quite he is “invisible”.  He is not included, invited to birthday parties or  is really noticed.  Then Justin, the new boy, arrives and works with Brian on a class project, giving him a chance to shine.  This gentle book is a valuable one to include in your class collection, showing children how small acts of kindness can help others feel included.  The illustrations by Patrice Barton are soft and gentle, just like Brian.

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Princess Tales:  Once Upon a Time in Rhyme with Seek and Fid Pictures by Grace Maccarone.  Ooooooo… you MUST see this book!  It is ingenious and splendid and clever!  Ten well known princess stories, from Princess and the Pea to Sleeping Beauty are retold with hidden pictures and extraordinary illustrations by Gail De Marcken.  Pour over each page and enjoy!  This book is on my Christmas list for several young girls I know!

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Speaking of Christmas… Peter H. Reynolds has released The Smallest Gift of Christmas just in time for the upcoming season ( I know it’s not even Halloween but I can’t help myself!)  I adore anything and everything Peter. H. Reynolds does so was thrilled to see his new book.  “Be careful what you wish for”  appears to be the theme of this book as Roland, after receiving a very small gift for Christmas, wishes for something bigger… and bigger… and BIGGER!  After his search takes him to outer space, he finally realizes that what is most important is waiting back on earth for him.  The true meaning of Christmas is shared as only Peter H. Reynolds can share it.  And in case he didn’t know, his books are enormous gifts to me.

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My dear friend Carrie Gels0n , who shares my passion for books, sent me this book recommendation last week and I am in love with it already.  What Does it Mean to Be Present? by Rana DiOrio has such an important message about being mindful, aware and grateful.  Amazing illustrations and the perfect book for transforming.  To help my students experience how a book can “transform our thinking”,  I started with the word “PRESENT” and asked my students what the word made them think about.  (I call this “taking stock of our thinking”)  Most connected the word  it to gifts, birthdays and Christmas.  After reading the book, we “revisited our thinking” about the word.  Many were transformed by the idea that “present” is not an object but a way of being.

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I love maps.  Any book that begins with a map has me hooked before I even begin reading.  I don’t know if it’s the physical shapes or the sense of adventure a map represents but whatever it is – I’m drawn in by a map.  And so when I saw the cover of MAPS by Aleksandra Mizielinska and Daniel Mizielinski, I was fascinated.   This book is an illustrated children’s atlas – but not one that you have ever seen before.  It is utterly amazing, delightful, sensual, amusing and informative.  There are maps, illustrations and detailed drawings.   The pages are heavy and I couldn’t stop running my fingers over them.  I was completely consumed and mesmerized.   A book for children but no doubt will be loved by many adults.

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I loved A Wrinkle in Time by  Madeleine L’Engle as a kid – my first real experience with Sci Fi that I enjoyed.  50 years later,  Hope Larson’s work has created this graphic novel of the classic tale.  I’m not sure if I wanted someone else to create images of Happy Medium and Aunt Beast that have stayed in my imagination for all these years and the jury is still out.  I did enjoy revisiting the characters and the many layers and themes of this book and think that children who are not familiar with the original version will be captivated by the classic story through this format.  Be prepared – it’s very long!

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My 13 yr. old is reading this book and loving it.  Zombie Baseball Beatdown by Paolo Bacigalupi has everything a 13 yrs. old boy could possibly want in a book – humor mixed with horror, baseball, zombie cows, evil coaches, battles and blood.  It also has a lot of great themes for teachers – racism, immigration, corporations, food processing and, of course, friendship.  The setting of this book is a small Ohio town with a big meat packing plant that is pumping their cows full of bad things.  The effect is that the cows turn into zombies.   I loved that the main character Rabi – a boy from South Asian – because there are not many books with main characters from this culture.   This book would make a great read-aloud for an intermediate class – lots of laughs but great discussions too!

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And finally…. Sutton by J.R. Moehringer is my Book Club read this month.  It is based on the true story of notorious bank robber Willie Sutton,  one of the most infamous criminals in New York during the 1960’s.  He was a hero of sorts amongst the public and dubbed a modern Robin Hood because he never carried a gun – his only victims were the banks.   His motivation for robbing – his first love.  I am half way through the book and thoroughly enjoying the writing of a tender love story disguised as a crime novel.

Well – there’s my latest list!  Hope you found one or two new titles that sparked your interest.  What have you been reading this week?

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Filed under graphic novel, immigration, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, Lesson Ideas, New Books, Novels, Picture Book, Social Responsibility, Transform, Writing Anchors