A Diverse Nation PDF Print E-mail
Written by Flannery Fitch   


As we prepare for the next four years, many among us feel frightened or uncertain about what the future might hold. In the spirit of embracing the diversity that makes our country great, I want to recommend some books that highlight the diversity of our country as well as the struggles that have been fought to ensure the rights of all citizens. This month, I want to highlight books that showcase the origins and history of our country as well as the inclusivity so many of us cherish, largely focusing on immigration.


Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters

By Barack Obama

As we bid farewell to President Barack Obama, I turn to this book again and again for inspiration. Written as a letter to his daughters, it highlights thirteen of the many, many luminaries of our nation’s past—from Jackie Robinson to Helen Keller to Cesar Chavez—reminding us all that the ideals we hold as Americans are shared, and that a diversity of skills and ideologies helps make us great.


Emma’s Poem

By Linda Glaser

It seems easy to forget that we are a country of immigrants, many of our ancestors having arrived here from around the world over the history of our country, passing through Ellis Island to enter the new land. Told in prose, this picture book tells the story of Emma Lazarus—the woman who wrote the poem inscribed on the Statue of Liberty. It pairs her life story with the history of the statue, reminding us all of where we came from, and of the long history our country has of providing refuge and new opportunities to those in need.


This Land is Your Land

By Woody Guthrie

Last year, at a folk show one night, the singer ended the night singing this song, playing his acoustic guitar and walking around the room as the crowd sang along. It was a moment of unity and connectivity that remains a shining spot in my memory. This beautiful book pairs utterly lovely illustrations with the lyrics, concluding with a short history of both the song and Woody Guthrie. I love everything about this book.


Their Great Gift: Courage, Sacrifice, and Hope in a New Land

By John Coy

There are few words and no illustrations in this book, but it serves to highlight the immigrant experience in the U.S. through powerful photographs and telling the story of how and why people immigrate here. It puts a wide variety of faces on the immigrant experience, and the simple language makes it accessible to children of a wide variety of backgrounds and reading levels.


This Land Is Our Land

By Linda Barrett Osbourne

For a more thorough, historical overview of the history of immigration in the U.S., This Land Is Our Land provides details, historical context, and engaging visuals to tell the story of our immigrant past. It is a well-written and well-designed book, pretty as a picture book but more driven by fact. This is a great book for kids who are too old for simple picture books but who don’t necessarily want a chapter book.


A Different Mirror for Young People: A History of Multicultural America

By Ronald Takaki

For the child who does want a chapter book, this is a great overview of the history of the United States from the perspectives of the many cultures that give our nation such a rich mix of life. Much like Howard Zinn’s famous People’s History of the United States, this book gives voice to many of those left out of history textbooks, and does it in an engaging way. This is a terrific book to give any young reader who wants to learn more of the history of our nation.

 Flannery Fitch is a bookseller at Bookshop Santa Cruz. Her life has been about books since before she could read.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 07 June 2017 21:10
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