I’m a little late in my review of Who Belongs Here? by Margy Burns Knight. 120,000 copies have already been sold!
But I have to thank Tilbury House for republishing this book, which is very timely today as we debate immigrant issues and opportunities.
The story features Nary, a boy who fled his homeland of Cambodia, torn apart by war, and arrives in the United States only to be harassed by classmates. There are lots of immigrant stories in the book, and the back of the book provides very interesting information about immigrant history and the contributions of immigrants to our country. I learned a lot, including the history of laws governing immigration.
If you don’t realize it, all of us have ancestors who immigrated to our country. One of my personal favorites is my grandfather who moved from Canada’s Campobello Island to marry and live with my grandmother in Lubec, Maine.
The book’s illustrations by Anne Silby O’Brien, who has illustrated dozens of books and has a blog “Coloring Between the Lines” are especially wonderful. Her ancestors came from England, Scotland, Wales, France, and the Netherlands.
Margy Burns Knight has won national awards for her books and her work on immigrant issues and civil rights. Her ancestors came from Ireland and Scotland.
Margy also taught English to elementary and middle school students who escaped war-torn Cambodia. Nary is a composite character representing her Cambodian students. Who Belongs Here? has been used in thousands of classrooms all across our country.
“The faces of new arrivals change,” she writes, “and the places they come from change, but their stories remain the same. Their stories are the story of a boy from Cambodia more than thirty years ago.”
Please make sure your children and grandchildren read this important book. And it wouldn’t hurt to share it with your elected officials!