“Books Became Our Home”
To soften the trauma and cultural isolation felt by immigrant children, I’m Your Neighbor Books—with marvelous partners and sponsors—gifts books to Maine new arrivals.
Children’s books set child’s home country or set in their diasporic community can provide a crucial sense of home.
Books for Refugee Children
I’m Your Neighbor Books and Catholic Charities of Maine Immigrant and Refugee Services are giving Maine refugee children a pair of books upon arrival.
In the picture book Dreamers by Mexican immigrant artist and author Yuyi Morales, she describes how the discovery of children’s picture books became not only a tool to build her English skills, but a place where she and her young son could feel like they belonged—despite their isolation.
A quote from the book, “Books became our home” was printed on each bag of books recently delivered to Maine families from the DRC, Somalia, Haiti, Burkina Faso, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and other nations.
Books for Asylum-Seeking Children
The official refugee process is not open to all the families that need it. Maine is a destination for many asylum-seeking African families who cross the Mexican border.
I’m Your Neighbor Books was able to provide a bookcase stocked (and restocked) with 444 books to asylum-seeking families housed in a nearby sports center in the Spring-Summer of 2023.
We were able to do this work with the support of our donors, a targeted gift from a wonderful supporter, Register Round-up from the Portland Food Co-ops, and with general support from the Maine Community Foundation.
“Being a refugee or immigrant is not an easy journey, but most importantly it is not an easy integration process. A [new arrival] child is looking at a majority of individuals that do not look like them in their neighborhood. They feel far away from the norms they are used to…they have left their friends, family, teachers, and mentors back home. Here, they feel all by themselves and don’t know how to start in terms of integrating, connecting, and feeling like this is home.
When looking at the books, when reading, they discover someone knows a bit about your story. It puts you in a situation where you are not by yourself. It also gives you hope knowing that someone else knows your challenges.
As an immigrant child when I myself arrived all I wanted was for others to understand me.