Saturday, April 28, 2012

Welcoming New Neighbors

Woke up this morning excited about a project I'm helping to develop: "I'm Your Neighbor: Reading Projects that Build Bridges Between New Arrivals and Longterm Communities."
I’m Your Neighbor is a project which promotes the use of children’s literature featuring “new arrival” cultures and groups to engage the entire community in a discussion of commonalities and differences. 
The project features a recommended list of books and an evolving list of engagement projects for educators, librarians, and community organizations who seek to build bridges.
The goal of the project is to both support communities as their cultural makeup evolves and to create opportunities for children’s literature featuring refugees, immigrants, and “new” marginalized groups.
I'm headed to Chicago tomorrow to speak about the project at the International Reading Association Convention, with co-creators Kirsten Cappy (Curious City), book engagement consultant; and author Terry Farish. Our panel will address these questions:
How do we welcome new arrivals in a manner that truly makes room for them in the classroom, school or larger community, particularly when their cultural, language, religious and/or racial identities are unfamiliar to long-term community members? 
How do we ensure that everyone in the community is engaged and appreciated so that resentment is diminished and learning can flow both ways? 

We'll be presenting three titles as examples of the books and activities that "I'm Your Neighbor" will promote. All three are set in Maine.

The Good Braider by Terry Farish is a young adult novel featuring a South Sudanese girl making a new home in the U.S.

    Moon Watchers: Shirin's Ramadan Miracle
     by Reza Jalali, which I illustrated, is an older picture book about an Iranian-American Muslim family.

My own just-released A Path of Stars is a picture book told in the voice of a young Cambodian-American girl.

Please join us in building this project. Sign up to stay informed as the project develops: ImYourNeighborBooks. Share

  • book titles 
  • questions and challenges 
  • suggestions for languages to include for buttons and t-shirts
  • organizations we should know about
  • possibilities for funding

More information in my post about A Path of Stars and the New Neighbors projects, on IRA's ENGAGE: Teacher to Teacher Blog


Mama C said...

I am adding this "I'm your neighbor" to my blog roll, and just so happens I am reading the Good Braider book now! YES! Such a cool project--and of course you are in the core of it!

Anne Sibley O'Brien said...

Thanks so much for the support, Mama C! We just returned from the International Reading Association convention, where everyone who heard about the project responded with enthusiasm.

Next step - funding!