My 5th grade daughter’s book club got invited to the 5th grade boys’ book club because they had a special guest, William Maliul, an articulate and engaging Lost Boy of Sudan, who came to speak about his experiences in Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, and the United States. Brothers in Hope was the book club selection and though it is a picture book, the content is suitable for a 4th or 5th grader.
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!