These stories capture the varied experiences of learning English through a child's eyes. From the shy and nerve-wracking beginnings to the joy of a blossoming new friendship, ELL students will recognize the highs and lows of the situations and emotions of the stories, many of which were written by authors who themselves were immigrants. The books also provide valuable insight to adults working with ELLs in the classroom.
When Francisco's grandfather arrives from Mexico speaking no English and in search of a job, Francisco becomes his translator. In his desire to help Abuelo find work quickly, Francisco lies about what his grandfather knows how to do, creating trouble for both of them. In the end, Francisco learns an important lesson in this poignant story about immigrant families and day laborers.
Third grade Gabi speaks Spanish at home and English at school and sometimes "Spanglish" everywhere. Spanish and English combine naturally in Gabi's narration as the irrepressible, likable girl befriends a kindergartner who has moved from Nicaragua and as she controls her temper when teased by a classmate.
It is 1960 in Havana, and young Gabriella doesn't understand what the changes she sees around her in Cuba will mean until she boards a flight to New York to start a new life with her parents in the Bronx. New York is cold and busy; she doesn't speak any English, and she misses her grandparents. Slowly, however, she adapts to her new life, making friends and learning English along the way. The story is based on the childhood of Edie Colón (now an ESL teacher) and illustrated by her husband, Raúl.
When Ana's family comes to the U.S., she can tell that her mother misses their life and family in Mexico terribly. In addition, she doesn't want to learn English, and she relies on Ana and her husband to translate. Soon, however, Ana's mother realizes that English may be the key to finally feeling at home in her new country. A touching tribute to the children — and their parents — who have come to the U.S. for a better life.
This novel, written in free verse, tells the story of Kek, an eleven-year-old boy from the Sudan who arrives as a refugee to Minnesota in the middle of winter. In moments both amusing and heartbreaking, it is possible to see through Kek's eyes what it is like for new immigrants who come to this country and to think about the scars that war leaves on its youngest victims. Teacher's Guide available.
Mei Mei loves to think and write and talk…in Chinese. But at her school in New York City, everything happens…in English. Mei Mei is afraid that if she starts speaking in English, she will lose all that she loves in Chinese, including her friends at home in Hong Kong. Will Mei Mei always hate English as much as she loves Chinese? A humorous and touching story about the difficulty of accepting a new language and home.
Meet Shirley Temple Wong, a delightful heroine who has come from China and arrived in Brooklyn in 1947 — the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson. Based on the author's own experiences, the story captures the highs and lows of coming to live in a new country, learning English, and falling in love with the Brooklyn Dodgers during moments that are both heartbreaking and hilarious. A must-read for teachers working with ELLs and newcomer students.
It can be scary being new in school. Maria, Jin, and Fatimah are new to their American elementary school. The words that they hear around them and see on the page are confusing. They each long for the language that they understand and the friends who understand them back home. They feel as though they don’t fit in—they are alone, confused, and sad in their new school. After observing those around them, however, each new student slowly gains the confidence to interact with their new surroundings.
Juana loves many things — drawing, eating Brussels sprouts, living in Bogotá, Colombia, and especially her dog, Lucas, the best amigo ever. She does not love wearing her itchy school uniform, solving math problems, or going to dance class. And she especially does not love learning the English. Why is it so important to learn a language that makes so little sense?
Product Description: For María Isabel Salazar López, the hardest thing about being the new girl in school is that the teacher doesn't call her by her real name. "We already have two Marías in this class," says her teacher. "Why don't we call you Mary instead?" But María Isabel has been named for her Papá's mother and for Chabela, her beloved Puerto Rican grandmother. Can she find a way to make her teacher see that if she loses her name, she's lost the most important part of herself?
Yoon narrates the difficulty she experiences when her family moves to the United States from Korea. Her struggle with the transition focuses on the moment when she must learn to write her name in English rather than in Korean, and she remains resistant to learning a new language. Her imaginative voice is child-like and plausible, augmented by inventive illustrations.
No English is the story of two second-grade girls who become friends after overcoming a language barrier. Teachers and students alike will appreciate and empathize with both girls' struggles as they get to know each other and look for ways to communicate. An accompanying Teacher's Guide also provides activities and discussion questions.
In this heartwarming story, Farah is trying to get used to a new country and language. She knows what's happening around her, but without the words to say what she's thinking in English, she feels alienated from her classmates. A trip to the apple orchard helps her begin to bridge those gaps, however, and she realizes that "Laughs sound the same as at home." As she practices her first "outside-myself word," she knows that she will be able to say more in time. Beautiful watercolor illustrations bring Farah, her classmates, and the apple orchard to life.
Product Description: In Painted Words, Marianthe's paintings help her to become less of an outsider as she struggles to adjust to a new language and a new school. Under the guidance of her teacher, who understands that there is more than one way to tell a story, Mari makes pictures to illustrate the history of her family, and eventually begins to decipher the meaning of words.
Marisol is rushing home from school to see to her cat, but on the way she's stopped by adult family members and neighbors who need her to translate from Spanish for them so that they can communicate with shopkeepers and officials in English. Whether she's helping Uncle Tomas bargain with the poultry man, showing her neighbor how to fill out an application form, or speaking for Mama about a problem with the telephone bureaucracy, Marisol translates the words and also interprets the messages across cultures. — Booklist
When Sumi arrives at her big new school, she thinks that it is a lonely, scary, and mean place. Throughout the day, however, little things begin to change her mind and give her hope. An excellent portrayal of what the first day of school is like for both new students and ELLs. Expressive illustrations convey Sumi's emotions throughout the course of her first day.
Product Description: First-grader Hassan has only recently arrived in the United States after he and his family were forced to flee Somalia, and he deeply misses the colorful landscape of his former home in Africa. But with the help of his parents, an understanding teacher, and a school art project, Hassan finds that by painting a picture of his old home and sharing his story, his homesickness and the trauma of leaving a war-torn country are lessened.
On the way to Unhei's first day of school, a group of kids on the school bus make fun of her name. When she gets to class, she refuses to tell anyone her name, deciding that she wants to choose an American name instead. The next morning, she finds a name jar filled with pieces of paper and finds that her classmates are eagerly awaiting to see which name Unhei will choose. Yangsook Choi (who chose the name Rachael as a child) offers a moving portrait of the importance of names and identity to all children.
Product Description: The Upside Down Boy is the sequel to Calling the Doves and award-winning poet Juan Felipe Herrera's engaging memoir of the year his migrant family settled down so that he could go to school for the first time. Juanito is bewildered by the new school, and he misses the warmth of country life. Everything he does feels upside down…But a sensitive teacher and loving family help him to find his voice and make a place for himself in this new world through poetry, art, and music.
When Tío Tomás speaks in Spanish and tells his nephew Carlos ancient stories from Mexico, he is animated and happy. When he has to speak in English, however, his bad mood makes him look like a rain cloud. Eventually the two of them find a solution that will allow them to know "twice as much as everyone else!" This realistic story provides an authentic look at the frustration many recent immigrants feel when they are struggling to learn a new language, as well as the opportunities that being bilingual provides.
Yoko is ready for kindergarten! She can write her name, write numbers, and read stories. There is only one problem, though — she does it all in Japanese, and her classmates make fun of her scribbles. Can her new friend convince her that knowing a secret language isn't such a bad thing after all? Wells offers a loving, empathetic story that young ELLs will easily relate to, as well as a thoughtful portrayal of a teacher who embraces her young student's native language in the classroom.