My students come from all around the world. Our New Arrival Center program welcomes refugees, immigrants, and asylum seekers who are new to the United States. These high school students come with a vast array of experiences and backgrounds. Many have experienced trauma, war or conflict. All have experienced the upheaval of moving to a new culture during their formative years.
All high school students are trying to discover their identity, but imagine doing so in a culture and community that is brand new to you.
What if you looked around your school and community and there was no one who looked or spoke like you? Books can be mirrors where students see themselves and windows where they can see the rest of the world. I want my students to be able to pick up a book in my room and find both mirrors and windows. I want my students to "meet" authors and protagonists who inspire and broaden their worldviews.
My students arrive with little to no English. Throughout the year, they make great gains in the academic content and English development. The challenge is that at any given moment, I can have students reading at levels K-9th grade. Most high school libraries do not have that range of literature, nor an extensive collection of books where new arrivals can "see themselves." I am wanting to expand the reading options of my students. I need to provide some lower level reading books until my students are more fluent in English. I have specifically chosen these books because of their diversity and issues of new arrivals.
My students may be far from home, but a book from their culture can give them a chance to visit a place that brings them comfort and joy.
Books from the other cultures can help them see how similar we all are. These books will be used during self-selected, independent reading time and direct instruction.
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