Warren St. John, writer of Outcasts United about a soccer team made up of refugee kids in Clarkson, Georgia said “children live in this fantastic mosaic of society.” His hope for the book was that people “might risk the awkwardness of interacting with someone unlike themselves.” The coach of the team he profiled, Luma Mufleh, recently gave a Ted Talk called, “Don’t Feel Sorry for Refugees, Believe in Them”. She invites us to understand the background or refugees and the significance of their success in the world.
St. John’s and Mufleh’s words make if essential to me to do my First Ever Book Giveaway of books that can help us all to “risk the awkwardness” of interacting that St. John talks about.
Stories in general offer first interactions readers can have with what’s unfamiliar. I’m in the possession of some stellar ones for children and teens that came as review copies about recent immigrants and refugees. This week I begin a giveway to send them out into the world to teachers and librarians and parents who can share them with readers.
My first is One Good Thing About America by Ruth Freeman, a middle grade novel for kids approximately ages 8 -12. Freeman’s protagonist is Anais; she and her little brother and Mama come to the U.S. from Congo. Anais helps readers imagine how a child experiences fear and worry for her father; her family does not know where he is, only that he is somewhere in Congo fleeing from soldiers. Anais tells her story of her first experiences in the U.S. in a series of letters to Oma, her grandmother in Congo. Through writing, she develops skill in English and follows Oma’s wish to tell her things she discovers and learns from in the U.S. Anais shows us a skill that many refugees bring to this country – she is multilingual and her teacher admires this. Anais writes, “I told [my teacher] we speak Lingala, French, and English or maybe a little English. She said it was awesome to speak 3 languages!” (p. 133) One Good Thing About America offers the intimate voice of an elementary school-aged child and allows readers to meet her and to believe in her.
Would you like my advanced reader’s copy? To enter the giveaway, post a comment here on my blog. Include your e-mail address so I can reach you, and tell me how you could use the book.