Happy New Year, Poetry Friday friends!
I am a member of the middle grade ARC sharing group, #BookExpedition. We are 12 educators — classroom teachers, librarians, and one visiting teacher (me) — from all around the U.S.
We request Advanced Reading Copies of middle grade books from authors and publishers, then share them within the group. ARCs travel via media mail from one member to another, finally landing in someone’s classroom or making their way back to the author. You can read more about how the process works here.
I am so grateful for the conversations we have in this group. Until I joined and began discussing books and classroom experiences with my #BookExpedition friends, I didn’t realize how much I had missed having colleagues.
Recently, three of the books that circulated in #BookExpedition have been about the refugee experience. I read:
Middle grade historical fiction in verse, published October, 2019
About: As World War II ends, two Japanese sisters must leave their settlement in Manchuria and make a harrowing journey back to Japan. (More information at Macmillan.)
Middle grade historical fiction in verse, published June 2019
About: Eleven-year-old Lam escapes from Vietnam with her brother during the Vietnamese Boat People Exodus in 1979, when people from Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia fled their homelands for safety. Ching has been friends with the real-life Lam and Dee Dee since 1986. (More information at Simon & Schuster.)
Middle grade novel historical fiction, due out May, 2020
About: Anna and her family escape from Czechoslovakia after the 1948 Communist takeover–based on the author’s own family history. (More information at Penguin Random House.)
It was fascinating to read these books together. I wonder if the popularity of Alan Gratz’s book Refugee opened doors for other authors to write refugee stories based on the real-life experiences of their family, friends, and cultures.
Under the Broken Sky and House without Walls had special appeal for me as sibling stories. Like the first person narrators in these two books, I am an eldest child and was always taught to protect my younger brothers. It was easy, but also heartbreaking, to connect with the bond between these siblings as they worked to survive and stay together.
In two of the books, Under the Broken Sky and Which Way Is Home?, the authors’ notes called upon readers to treat modern-day refugees with compassion and understanding. I recommend all three books for the light they shed on refugee experiences in the 20th century and today.
Here is a poem to pair with these books. It was written in response to today’s refugee crisis.
by Jason Fotso
Turn away the refugees.
We will not
our homes and hearts
Close our doors on
love can put
strength in our
We cannot let them bleed into our
They share the blood of our
are endangered by