Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai

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Accessibility

  • Vocab
  • 800L; ages 8-10
  • Many onomatopoeias; written in stanzas.

Relevance

  • Family migrates from Saigon, Korea to Alabama due to Vietnam War; missing family members
  • Learning to speak English
  • Culture shock and struggles
  • Partner it with Enchanted Air

Goodness

  • I enjoyed it; some of my students thought it was boring
  • Took about 3 hours to read

PDF

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Breaking Through by Francisco Jiménez

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Accessibility:

  • 750L ~ 5th-7th grade
  • Language: occasional Spanish words, mostly simple vocabulary (some difficult words include: disrespects, notifying, snickering, huddles, janitor)
  • Short, quick read (193 pages, but it’s a small book with large text!)

Relevancy:

  • Topics: Family, heritage & culture, discrimination & racism, poverty, coming of age, immigration
  • Main character is a bright Mexican immigrant struggling to make his way to college despite the challenges of his family’s undocumented status and poverty.

Goodness:

  • Yes- would recommend (conditionally – see below)

Seal

  • Good story, discusses big issues such as racism and poverty without being depressing or hopeless.
  • Note: Some people had issues with this book because of the way it views meritocracy and the path to social mobility – for many people, the success that this narrative presents is not possible (or is even more difficult). However, it then presents a perfect opportunity to open up discussion about these issues through a critical lens!

Listen, Slowly by Thanhhà Lai

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Accessibility

  • 800L ~ 5th-7th grade
  • Written in prose

Relevancy

  • Family heritage and cultural background
  • The main character is a 1st generation American who returns to her parents’ country of birth to help her grandmother reunite with her grandfather

Goodness:

  • Yes- would recommend!

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Home of the Brave by Katherine Applegate

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Accessibility:

  • Lexile: N/A, but recommended for 5-8th grade
  • Written in verse, easy to comprehend vocab
  • Narrator is an ELL- first person
  • Short chapters

Relevance:

  • Narrator is a Somali refugee, culture shock, family trauma, going to school for the first time
  • Issues with it being written by a white woman from America, but that may not be noticeable to students
  • Very “happy ending”- almost everything “goes right” for Kek

Goodness: Yes- would recommend

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Audiobook