Friday, September 17, 2010

Moon Watchers, today, 4:30 USM and Inspiration from the 5/6 social studies program

The 5/6 class is studying American History in the coolest way.  Instead of taking a linear path through the "big events" (aka wars) of American History, they are beginning with themselves, their families and the questions that emerge as they consider the experiences of generations that preceded them.  Each of our personal histories differ, yet we are also linked.  I am curious to learn what they learn, about themselves and about others. Questions about immigration are central to contemporary political discourse and worthy of family conversation. 

Today's Moon Watcher's event at USM with Reza Jalali and Annie Sibley O'Brien provides families with the opportunity to learn about  Ramadan, Iran, and "home" in a unique way.  

If it all gets you curious: 

Talking Walls - book cover  The Talking Walls books explore these questions from children's points of view. 

Talking Walls was turned into an exhibit at the Children's Museum a few years ago and is now somewhat institutionalized in their upstairs exhibit about family heritages.  Annie Sibley O'Brien is one of my very favorite author illustrators, too, and she has other great books that also explore heritage, identity and place.  The Many Voices program of the Maine Humanities Foundation provides further training and book lists for adults who want to use picture books to open up conversations about identity, belonging, change, and social justice.  
Adults and older kids might be interested in the book New Mainers : Portraits of Our Immigrant Neighbors, with a forward also written by Jalali.  The Telling Room features writing by young adults, including four online stories from the Coming to America Story House Project. 

The American Library Association "Becoming American" program offers booklists (albeit from 2004) for children, young adults, and adults. Parent's Choice offers a few more recent titles, including Julia Avarez's new book Return To Sender RETURN TO SENDER, a novel, ages ten and up (and up!), by Julia Alvarezwhich Grace and Craig found to be incredibly moving and disturbing (the book tells the story of a Mexican family faced split up by deportation and the challenges of the agricultural economy) -- there are more suggestions for resources on Alvarez's page.

For adults (or to find more resources for kids), two MA-based organizations do amazing work: 

Facing History and Ourselves offers incredible resources for educators, including workshops and online resources; Primary Source offers amazing resources for teaching about the world, but also has resources for teaching about immigration and migration to and from the U.S