i was reading a chapter from a book called the drinking gourd about a family of runaway slaves in the 19th century. they are walking from the south to canada to be free. the kids were really into the novel and didn't want it to stop at the end of the chapter. they are second graders and just developing an understanding of concepts like slavery. we talked about slavery in the u.s. and how hard it was for families like the one in the novel to walk all the way to canada with small children.
one of my kids raised his hand and said, my family walked from mexico to the united states when i was 7. we were caught by the police and sent back to mexico, then we walked back again. wow. that hit me like a ton of bricks. i know that many of my students made a tough journey to come here, but a lot of them were born here. this is also the age when kids start making the connection between characters in a book and their own lives. a lot of children's literature is about issues like being teased or bullied or having a baby sibling. this is a whole different level.