Wrapping up our theme on immigration, I thought it would be nice to explore immigration through the context of historical fiction. While we showcased Yes! We are Latinos! a few weeks back, it is important to also see immigration through the lens of a child as we saw in Dear Primo. The nice thing about historical fiction with this topic is that it emphasizes the notion that immigration is not a new phenomenon; rather, the United States is a country built on immigration that has been happening for centuries from a variety of locations, for a variety of reasons. Thus, this week, we are turning to Goodbye Havana, Hola New York by Edie Colon.
Goodbye Havana, Hola New York chronicles the story of Gabriella, a Cuban girl whose family is forced to leave Cuba after the Cuban Revolution of 1959. While Gabriella is not necessarily cognizant of why her family must leave their home, her parents leave her with her grandparents while they go to the United States and get settled. Soon, they send for Gabriella to join them in New York as well. This is essentially a culture shock to Gabriella because the Bronx does not resemble Cuba at all. It is cold and snowy there in the winter, and she does not get to see the ocean from her apartment window in the Bronx. This book describes one girl’s struggle to assimilate to her new life in the United States.
This book is a good read for younger students, ages four to eight. That is one of the reasons why this book was reviewed. Immigration is an issue impacting people of all ages. What is most disheartening is that younger children can struggle the most to readjust to life after migration because their families are now apart and/or they are now attempting to readjust to a life in a strange new place. Many children have gone through this adjustment, and it is nice to point out that they are not alone. Also, this book serves as a good historical segue for younger children.
I hope you will check out Goodbye Havana, Hola New York! This is the last of our immigration series for this school year. Researching these different literary works for kids on immigration and considering how these books could be used to supplement traditional dialogue on immigration in the classroom has been quite an interesting experience.
Until next time,