Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday
Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday is hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy and was started to help promote the reading of nonfiction texts. Most Wednesdays, we will be participating and will review a nonfiction text (though it may not always be a picture book).
Be sure to visit Kid Lit Frenzy and see what other nonfiction books are shared this week!
Liberty’s Voice: The Story of Emma Lazarus
Author: Erica Silverman
Illustrator: Stacey Schuett
Published February 3rd, 2011 by Dutton Books for Young Readers
Goodreads Summary: Emma Lazarus overcame the barriers of her day to become one of the leading poets of the nineteenth century. She used her celebrity to help the poor and impoverished immigrants of Eastern Europe. When the statue Liberty Enlightening the World came to the United States as a gift from France, it was Emma’s poem “The New Colossus” that became forever connected with this American icon. Emma’s words have served as a rallying call to generations of immigrants. In breathtaking color, veteran artist Stacey Schuett brings life to Erica Silverman’s story of one of the great women of America.
My Review: I am always looking for biographies of strong women, and this is one I’d definitely add to my list. Emma Lazarus is a poet who everyone knows, but may not know her name, and that should change. She did so much not only with poetry, but with her editorials and articles speaking out against the oppressed, specifically the Russian Jewish immigrants. Emma Lazarus was lucky enough to have a dad that supported women getting education and helped her become a published poet and meet her mentor, Ralph Waldo Emerson. Without her dad supporting her in a time where society would not have, we wouldn’t have her beautiful poetry and much of the oppression being faced on Ward’s Island would not have been known by the public.
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This text is a wonderful introduction to Lazarus, but also to the plight that Jews faced in Russia because of pogroms in the late 1800s. It would be a great cross curricular read aloud to start discussions about poetry in reading/English as well as the history of Russia during this time.
Discussion Questions: How could Emma’s life have been different if she’d been poor or had a father who didn’t support her poetry?; Why were so many Russian Jews immigrating to America in the 1880s?; What is the meaning behind “The New Colossus,” and what does imply about America’s acceptance of immigrants?
We Flagged: “Emma thought about the immigrants she had met on Ward’s Island. They had known so much fear and suffering. They needed to be held, welcomed, comforted. If this statue was to have a name, it should be . . .
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.“
Read This If You Loved: A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams by Jennifer Fisher Bryant, The Dreamer by Pam Muñoz Ryan, The Right Word: Roget and his Thesaurus by Jennifer Fisher Bryant