Books for Social Justice: Leaving Home

slice-of-life2I am participating in #SOL18. Thanks to the twowritingteachers blog team for creating this space to write, read, and respond.

Islandborn, a new immigration story by Junot Diaz, is the story of a little girl who learns about her birthplace from family and friends. Although the story does not reveal the name of the island, readers can conclude that the story is about the history of the Dominican Republic.  The wonderful illustrations by Leo Espinosa reveal the diversity of the people who live there.  Through the stories she is told, Lola discovers why her family had to leave the beautiful island when she was just a baby. The stories spark Lola’s imagination, and in her mind, she travels back to the island home that she never got to experience and know.


This picture book explains why some families are forced to leave their homes and try to rebuild in a strange, new land. It describes the dictatorship of Trujillo as a “monster that fell upon the land,” depicting Trujillo as a green-colored bat.  This age-appropriate book will open classroom conversations about immigration – why people leave a home and country they love, often leaving everything behind, to search for a new home. As Lola becomes immersed in the stories – sometimes joyous, sometimes painful and heartbreaking, she realizes what her abuela’s words really mean: “Just because you don’t remember a place doesn’t mean it’s not in you.” Islandborn


For secondary students, read In the Time of the Butterflies, How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents, and Before We Were Free all written by Julia Alvarez.



Other Children’s Books to Explore Immigration Themes:
My Name is Sangoel by Karen Williams
My Name is Yoon by Helen Recorvits
The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi
One Green Apple by Eve Bunting
Grandfather’s Journey by Allen Say
I’m New Here by Ann Sibley O’Brie
A Piece of Home by Jeri Watts
Lailah’s Lunchbox: A Ramadan Story by Reem Faruqi
Mama’s Nightingale: A Story of Immigration and Separation by Edwidge Danticat
The Keeping Quilt by Patricia Polacco
Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai