Whether escaping war, oppression, famine or discrimination, the United States has long been a place for new beginnings for people all over the world. Safe in our homes, it can be hard to put ourselves in the shoes of others, in the shoes of people who are fleeing their old life to make something better. Can you imagine being plucked from your home and while trying to hold on to what you know and understand, being placed in an entirely new (and sometimes scary) environment?
Reading Here I Am reminded me of the struggles of Syrian refugees trying to make new homes in various countries around the world. In this book, a young boy and his family leave Korea to make a new home in the US. This wordless picture book is inspired by the author Patti Kim’s experience leaving Korea at four years old to travel to the US. Her story, combined with Sonia Sánchez’s expressive and energetic art, is a moving tale of immigration.
In Here I Am, a child steps off a plane with his red seed from home tucked safely inside his pocket. It’s easy to see his confusion and reluctance to adjust to his new life. The words on sign posts and restaurants are a jumbled mess and all he hears from his teacher is “Blah Blah Blah” but…his red seed is comfort. He holes away in his family’s apartment, not ready to explore UNTIL…he drops his precious seed out the window and a girl picks it up and goes off with it! As he rushes down the stairs and begins to explore his city, he realizes how fascinating his new home is. Like his seed, he blooms and grows with his new friend, the new connection he makes in his new home.
This book is excellent for discussing difference, feelings and change and I hope you will keep this story with you!
Recommended for: Kindergarten and up
Great for: Diversity, Wordless, Moving, Immigration, Family, Friendship, We Need Diverse Books, Community, Discussion, Storyboarding
Book Info: Here I Am by Patti Kim/Illustrated by Sonia Sánchez, 2014 Picture Window Books (Capstone Young Readers), ISBN: 9781623700362