ONE GOOD THING ABOUT AMERICA
By: Ruth Freeman
Published: March 21, 2017
Publisher: Holiday House
If you have ever moved and had to start over in a new school or new community or a new job, you can identify with that feeling of uncertainty and trepidation. But, imagine starting over in a new country, because you’ve had to escape the violence in your country. Imagine living in a shelter among total strangers. Imagine starting a school where the clothes the kids wear are different and itchy, the food they eat is strange….chicken FINGERS???, and the people speak English way too fast.
This is the story of Anais and her mother and brother. They came to America to escape the violence in Congo but had to leave their grandma, older brother, and father behind. Anais tells her story in a series of letters that she writes to her grandma expressing her frustrations, fears, and crazy things about Americans. When her grandma writes back she asks her to stop writing about all the bad things that are happening and that from now on in her letters, she must find “One Good Thing about America” every day and write about them in her letters.
Anais is a very bright girl and thought she understood English until she came to America. She is often frustrated by how she is treated by other kids in school. She doesn’t like that things aren’t the same as they were in Congo. She is happy they are safe, but she is constantly worrying about her family left behind in Congo.
Since the story is told in letter format from Anais’s point of view, it makes it an easy read for middle-grade students. This would make a great classroom read for teachers that have a student from another country in their classroom or school. Children will be able to emphasize with a new student when they hear Anais’s struggles with adapting to a new country, school, and culture.
Anais finds she is comforted by her ELL teacher Mrs. Taylor. This teacher offered Anais support and understanding and was able to give her the individual attention she needed to feel safe. Ruth Freeman wrote this book because of her own experiences as an ELL teacher and based Anais on many of the students she has taught over the years. Her story is timely and makes us pause a moment and try to understand those who come to our country and their struggles adapting to our norms.
|Ruth Freeman – source|
Ruth Freeman writes fiction and nonfiction for young readers. After publishing four nonfiction picture books, histories of beds, hairstyles, candy, and underwear, she has written her first novel, One Good Thing About America, inspired by her work teaching English to students new to the U.S. She grew up outside of Philadelphia and now lives happily in Maine. For more, check out her website, HERE.
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