I’ve never been to Laos but I want to. My first introduction via children’s literature is from Mali Under the Night Sky, A Lao Story of Home. This story is universal in that it gives a gentle background to the refugee immigrant story and has a place in any classroom or home. I’ve found amazing Lao artisans who work with materials on hand including silver, wood, fibers and more. Finally, The Plain of Jars is fascinating stuff and still a mystery to be solved. Come explore Laos from your armchair with your children!
In eerily similar circumstances, young Navajo Americans were forced to relocate to attend boarding school where great attempts were made by the school to purge them of their ethnic identity, particularly their language. Both children’s books that are featured talk about harsh punishments for speaking in their native tongue. This forced relocation is not unlike the Japanese Americans during WWII. Is this really America, the home of the free?! This is the ugly underbelly that doesn’t get much press coverage. Am I the only one who didn’t learn about the Navajo Code Breakers at school in U.S. History? I am glad for these books to teach a new generation, and our nation, that the differences that make us unique make our country more powerful. Imagine if that boarding school were successful in wiping out the Navajo language? It’s really not inconceivable if the timing of the war were different!
And that is all it took. Plus me realizing that I knew nothing about Burma, to the point that I didn’t fully realize that Myanmar is Burma. Such is Teach Me Tuesday … I teach myself (that’s the Teach Me part) and then I share what I hope is also interesting to others. I’m not sure if I would feel safe traveling to Burma now with my family so this is my way to arm chair travel — through children’s literature, food, photo essays, and the briefest pit stop into the history. I hope you enjoy the trip. And please share in the comments section any experiences you have had in Burma. And if you have more children’s books suggestions, please share!
In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson by Bette Bao Lord is the story of Shirley Temple Wong as she immigrates to America at age 8 and discovers that American is the land of opportunity by learning about baseball, the Brooklyn Dodgers and the great Jackie Robinson. Four other immigrant stories are listed and all books are approrpriate for grades 3-5.