I'm New Here
written and illustrated by Anne Sibley O'Brien
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher
I say the new words again and again.
They feel like rocks in my mouth.
My tongue twists and stumbles on their edges.
It's not easy being the new kid in class. All eyes watch you. Your newness breaks up the humdrum of the classroom routine. Now imagine being new in a place where you don't understand the language. That is the challenge for three students in I'm New Here. Maria is from Guatemala. Recess in her old home meant free flowing conversations. Now she is overwhelmed by strange sounds. Jin has come from Korea. He loved writing stories in his native land. Writing in English is a challenge. The symbols are now letters instead of pictures. Fatimah, from Somalia, was a great fit in her old class. She has to learn different routines and ways in her new class. Loneliness and confusion are some of the feelings facing these students. The nice thing about kids is that they can make all sorts of connections. Through art, reading, and soccer, these students make new friends.
What a great book to share at the beginning of the year! I have three students who are new to our school and will be sharing it. Being aware of the difficulty of being new will help the rest of the class to make friends. I'm New Here would also be a good mentor text when talking about immigration. Pair this with the wonderful wordless book Here I Am which also focuses on the theme of being new from another country. I'm New Here is a valuable resource for building a community in your classroom.