The Welcoming Library, “Makes You Feel Like You Belong”

Michelle Amato in front of the mural project inspired by the Welcoming Library.

The Welcoming Library collection of books migrates, much like the immigrant children it is in the service of depicting and including. When it arrived at our school, it gave our educators the tools to raise awareness about our immigrant, refugee, and new American families through the lens of children’s literature.

The collection of books invites students to take the perspective of and empathize with others from diverse backgrounds and cultures. These conditions, in which children are able to relate to one another, is one of the five core competencies of the SEL Framework.

A student at Amanda C. Rowe School, said, ‘It helps change stereotypes whatever they are, which makes you feel like you belong.’

Another child reported that her father was a refugee and that these books could inspire children who were born here to feel proud of the countries that their parents came from and maybe even write their own books someday.

Educators understand that using books where children see themselves as characters creates opportunities for children to feel less alone. Feelings of loneliness affect children’s behavior and learning skills, and their ability to build resilience. This library provides a bridge through literature to establish and maintain healthy and rewarding relationships with diverse individuals and groups while it helps encourage positive self-awareness.

The books are engaging, well written, and include illustrations that are pleasing to both the senses and the mind. We love the Welcoming Library here in Portland, Maine.”

Michelle Amato, Curriculum Coordinator, Portland Public Schools