Immigration is huge in the news right now with the Syrian refugees, Mexican immigration to the United States, and the promises of the incoming administration. As libraries and librarians, we serve our entire community wherever they hail from. Here are some wonderful books to celebrate the power and importance of immigration for our nation and the world:
The Arrival by Shaun Tan
Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai
The Land of Forgotten Girls by Erin Entrada Kelly
Mama’s Nightingale: A Story of Immigration and Separation by Edwidge Danticat, illustrated by Leslie Staub
The Matchbox Diary by Paul Fleischman, illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline
Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote: A Migrant’s Tale by Duncan Tonatiuh
The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
Their Great Gift: Courage, Sacrifice and Hope in a New Land by John Coy, photographs by Wing Young Huie
The Turtle of Oman by Naomi Shihab Nye
The Unforgotten Coat by Frank Cottrell Boyce
Preaching to the Chickens by Jabari Asim, illustrated by E. B. Lewis (InfoSoup)
John Lewis, renowned Civil Rights leader and Congressman, dreamed of becoming a preacher as a child. When he was put in charge of the family’s flock of chickens on their farm, he knew it was a great responsibility. John loved going to church on Sunday and took what he learned in church back to his flock. He would sermonize to them, the chickens mesmerized by his voice. He would also baptize them, speak up for them when they needed a voice and rescue them when they needed help. As he preached the words he learned in church, he put those words into action while tending his flock.
Asim beautifully ties together the lessons in church to actions in caring for others. There is a richness to the writing in this picture book biography, capturing both scripture and the beauty of life on a small farm filled with hard work. This is not a fantasy farm, but one where toil is what makes for a successful harvest. Still, it is a place that grew an activist like John Lewis, who learned about using his voice for a cause right there on the farm with his chickens.
The illustrations by Lewis are done in watercolor, capturing the chicken coop and John himself with just enough detail to convey their simplicity but also their stature. Lewis uses the play of light spectacularly in the book, deftly incorporating shadow and light into John’s childhood sermons.
A beautifully crafted picture book biography that speaks of the power of childhood dreams to create activism and a man with a voice to change generations. Appropriate for ages 6-8.
Reviewed from library copy.