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Thursday, October 12, 2017

Our New Home: Immigrant Children Speak. Edited by Emily Hearn and Marywinn Milne. Second Story Press, 2015. $13.95 ages 8 and up

"On the first day that I came to Canada my family and I were very confused but luckily we received help by our uncle. Our uncle came and picked us up from the airport. Afterwards he drove us to his house to stay for a while. The roads in Canada are very different from the roads in Guang Zhou.

... Stephy China"

This second book in today's post is meant to be read by older readers. It is written by immigrant children who share in stories, songs and pictures how they are feeling about settling into a new place. It is often a tumultuous time for them. They are both uneasy and enthusiastic about leaving one home to find another. Their voices tell how they feel about being in Canada, what they find different from their previous experience, and how they are adjusting.

Readers get a chance to hear their personal stories. They will come away from reading this book with a better understanding of what it feels like to be new and confused about all that is happening with their families. For children who have never had to leave one home to find another, it provides an opportunity to put themselves in someone else's shoes (someone who might be the same age) and try to comprehend what it is like. For those who share the experience, they will feel some solace in knowing that others are feeling the same way.

A world map shows their home countries. The editors then divide the entries into five sections: Leaving, Differences, Adjusting, Problems, and Feelings. For Canadian children reading these entries, the learning is important. It is hard to imagine how many changes they face:

"Less pollution, less population, friends with good habits, school with more extracurricular activities and places with more security are some of the ways that my life has changed for the better. But some things like my family and my culture stayed the same and will never change.  (Vivek India)"

In each section the authors are listed, as well as their country of origin. Illustrations by some children are included. Their stories are sometimes frightening, and certainly filled with angst over all the changes they face as they attempt to adjust to their new circumstances. The stories are left as written, providing readers a chance to see how well they have adapted to reading and writing in a new and unfamiliar language. They are honest, often funny, and telling.  Reading one entry a day could result in meaningful classroom discussion and further understanding.

Bravo to these young writers for sharing their stories and their insights.

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