By Jan Pease
If you follow social media, the recent decisions made by the White House are being discussed everywhere. I just can’t understand the anger being expressed. Most of us can trace our ancestry to some brave soul who came to America for a new life. Unless we are Native Americans, who comprise less than 1% of the population in Litchfield according to the 2010 census, we all came from somewhere. I hope that cool heads can prevail here and that we will be able to welcome people who are willing to risk their lives to get here. see www.minnesotahistorycenter.org
Libraries have been part of the American immigrant experience for more than 100 years. The American Library Association formed The Committee on Work with the Foreign Born in 1918. Andrew Carnegie immigrated to America from Scotland at the age of 13. He was an avid reader who educated himself through books. In later life he donated funds to establish more than 2800 libraries. An interactive website about his life can be found at www.carnegie.org.
Here are some books that will help children learn more about the immigrant experience. A new book by Sara Weeks, “Save Me a Seat” looks at middle school through the eyes of Joe, an American boy and Ravi, the “new boy” from India. School Library Journal said of this book, “The phrase "save me a seat" is a life preserver. Four words that can make a kid feel safe in a sea of strangers.”
“Lucy and Linh,” by Alice Pung, tells an immigrant story, but us set in Australia. We would call the school a private school and Lucy, a newcomer to
Australia, doesn’t fit in. The private school set in Australia story takes this a step farther that the usual “Mean Girls” story.
Jamie Lee Curtis who is famous for acting and writing, has written a new children’s book, “This is Me: a story of who we are and where we came from.” She asks the question, “If you had to pack a suitcase and go somewhere unknown, what would you pack, knowing you can never go back?” A small suitcase pops up in the back of the book, to help a child imagine what it would be like to pack and leave for a new life.
More than 35 ago my college roommate told me about her experience as they were deported from a country they had lived in as missionaries. They left so much behind, knowing that they could never go back. She had none of the usual childhood treasures some of us keep. I look at my possessions, and try to imagine what would have to be in that suitcase: a few pictures, my grandmother’s necklace, my other grandmother’s ring, a lock of a baby’s hair. (Photo is my grandmother Emma wearing "our" necklace for her wedding picture. I have Grandpa Joe's nose!)
I’m grateful that I can live in beautiful Litchfield. My parents moved here in 1974, and it feels like home. We have a beautiful library that is proof of our community’s interest in the common good. See you at the library!