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Becoming American: Children's Books

A documentary film and discussion series on our immigration experience to be held in October-November 2018.

 


 

PICTURE BOOKS

‚ÄčMarwan's Journey (2017) by Patricia De Arias

Publisher:
Minedition 
Grades: 1-4

Marwan is a young boy on a journey he never intended to take, bound for a place he doesn't know. His journey relies on courage and memories of his homeland to buoy him up. Along with him are thousands of other people, crossing the deserts and the seas, fleeing war and hunger in search of safety. Marwan must take one step after another... taking whatever he can carry, holding on to dreams for a peaceful future. This is the journey of one boy who longs for a home, who walks with uncertainty and hopes for a peaceful future. Illustrated in a wonderfully bold, childlike style, this is a beautiful, heartfelt story that gives a human face to the plight of refugees all over the world. (Publisher description)

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My Beautiful Birds (2017) by Suzanne Del Rizzo

Publisher:
Pajama Press
Grades: 
1-3

Behind Sami, the Syrian skyline is full of smoke. The boy follows his family and all his neighbours in a long line, as they trudge through the sands and hills to escape the bombs that have destroyed their homes. But all Sami can think of is his pet pigeons—will they escape too? When they reach a refugee camp and are safe at last, everyone settles into the tent city. But though the children start to play and go to school again, Sami can’t join in. When he is given paper and paint, all he can do is smear his painting with black. He can’t forget his birds and what his family has left behind. One day a canary, a dove, and a rose finch fly into the camp. They flutter around Sami and settle on his outstretched arms. For Sami it is one step in a long healing process at last.ether in the end. (Publisher description)

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Teacup (2016) by Rebecca Young

Publisher: 
Dial Books for Young Readers 
Grades: Preschool - 3

A boy must leave his home and find another. He brings with him a teacup full of earth from the place where he grew up, and sets off to sea. Some days, the journey is peaceful, and the skies are cloudless and bright. Some days, storms threaten to overturn his boat. And some days, the smallest amount of hope grows into something glorious. At last, the boy finds land, but it doesn’t feel complete . . . until another traveler joins him, bearing the seed to build a new home. (Publisher description)

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The Journey (2016) by Francesca Sanna

Publisher: 
Flying Eye Books
Grades: 1-4

“I look up to the birds that seem to be following us. They are migrating just like us. And their journey, like ours, is very long, but they don’t have to cross any borders.” What is it like to have to leave everything behind and travel many miles to somewhere unfamiliar and strange? A mother and her two children set out on such a journey; one filled with fear of the unknown, but also great hope. (Publisher description) 

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Oscar and the Eight Blessings (2015) by Richard and Tanya Simon
Publisher: 
Roaring Brook Press
Grades: 3-5

A refugee seeking sanctuary from the horrors of Kristallnacht, Oskar arrives by ship in New York City with only a photograph and an address for an aunt he has never met. It is both the seventh day of Hanukkah and Christmas Eve, 1938. As Oskar walks the length of Manhattan, from the Battery to his new home in the north of the city, he passes experiences the city's many holiday sights, and encounters it various residents. Each offers Oskar a small act of kindness, welcoming him to the city and helping him on his way to a new life in the new world. This is a heartwarming, timeless picture book. (Publisher description)

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Stepping Stones: A Refugee Family's Journey (2016) by Margriet Ruurs
Publisher: Orca Book Publishers
Grades: Preschool - 3

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. (Publisher description)

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FOR OLDER READERS
 

REFUGEE (2017) by Alan Gratz
Publisher: 
Scholastic
Grades: 3-5,  6-8

JOSEF is a Jewish boy living in 1930s Nazi Germany. With the threat of concentration camps looming, he and his family board a ship bound for the other side of the world. ISABEL is a Cuban girl in 1994. With riots and unrest plaguing her country, she and her family set out on a raft, hoping to find safety in America. MAHMOUD is a Syrian boy in 2015. With his homeland torn apart by violence and destruction, he and his family begin a long trek toward Europe. All three kids go on harrowing journeys in search of refuge. All will face unimaginable dangers, from drownings to bombings to betrayals. But there is always the hope of tomorrow. And although Josef, Isabel, and Mahmoud are separated by continents and decades, shocking connections will tie their stories together in the end. (Publisher description)

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A Land of Permanent Goodbyes (2018) by Atia Abawi
Publisher: 
Penguin-Random House
Grades: 
7-9

In a country ripped apart by war, Tareq lives with his big and loving family . . . until the bombs strike. His city is in ruins. His life is destroyed. And those who have survived are left to figure out their uncertain future. Tareq’s family knows that to continue to stay alive, they must leave. As they travel as refugees from Syria to Turkey to Greece, facing danger at every turn, Tareq must find the resilience and courage to complete his harrowing journey. While this is one family’s story, it is also the timeless tale of the heartbreaking consequences of all wars, all tragedy, narrated by Destiny itself. When you are a refugee, success is outliving your loss. (Publisher description)

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A Long Walk to Water (2018) by Linda Sue Park
Publisher: Oneworld Publications
Grades: 3-8

Eleven-year-old Salva is forced to flee on foot when his village comes under attack. Braving every imaginable hardship - including killer lions and hungry crocodiles - he is one of the 'lost boys' travelling the African continent on foot in search of his family and a safe place to stay. Nya goes to the pond two times a day to fetch water. It takes her eight hours. But there is unexpected hope, as these two stories set in Sudan - one unfolding in 2008 and one in 1985 - go on to intersect with Nya's in an astonishing and moving way.
(Publisher description)

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Inside Out and Back Again (2011) by Thanhha Lai
Publisher: HarperCollins
Grades: 3-7

Inspired by the author's childhood experience as a refugee—fleeing Vietnam after the Fall of Saigon and immigrating to Alabama—this coming-of-age debut novel told in verse has been celebrated for its touching child's-eye view of family and immigration. Hà has only ever known Saigon: the thrills of its markets, the joy of its traditions, and the warmth of her friends close by. But now the Vietnam War has reached her home. Hà and her family are forced to flee as Saigon falls, and they board a ship headed toward hope—toward America. This moving story of one girl's year of change, dreams, grief, and healing received four starred reviews, including one from Kirkus which proclaimed it "enlightening, poignant, and unexpectedly funny." (Publisher description)

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The Red Pencil (2014) by Andrea Davis Pinkney
Publisher: Little Brown and Company
Grades: 4-12

Finally, Amira is twelve. Old enough to wear a toob, old enough for new responsibilities. And maybe old enough to go to school in Nyala— Amira’s one true dream.But life in her peaceful Sudanese village is shattered when the Janjaweed arrive. The terrifying attackers ravage the town and unleash unspeakable horrors. After she loses nearly everything, Amira needs to dig deep within herself to find the strength to make the long journey on foot to safety at a refugee camp. Her days are tough at the camp, until the gift of a simple red pencil opens her mind— and all kinds of possibilities. (Publisher description)

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Bamboo People (2012) by Mitali Perkins
Publisher: Charlesbridge
Grades: 3-8

A refugee and child soldier challenge the rules of war in this coming-of-age novel set against the political and military backdrop of modern-day Burma. Chiko isn’t a fighter by nature. He’s a book-loving Burmese boy whose father, a doctor, is in prison for resisting the government. Tu Reh, on the other hand, wants to fight for freedom after watching Burmese soldiers destroy his Karenni family’s home and bamboo fields. When Chiko is forced into the Burmese army and subsequently injured on a mission, the boys’ lives intersect. Timidity becomes courage and anger becomes compassion as both boys discover that everything is not as it seems. Mitali Perkins delivers a touching story about hopes, dreams, and the choices that define who we are. (Publisher description)

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