Maine writer donates $ 15,000 to reading program that welcomes immigrants


The generosity of a Maine author will allow more schools and libraries in Maine and across the country to participate in a reading program that welcomes immigrants to their new communities.

Phillip Hoose, whose 13 books include National Book Award winner Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice, donated $ 15,000 to I’m Your Neighbor Books, a Portland-based nonprofit that uses children’s books and stories to welcome immigrants to the United States. States. The organization’s “Host Libraries” are traveling collections of books that celebrate the diverse histories of modern immigrants and new Americans.

“As citizens of the world living in the biggest refugee crisis in history, how do we humanize 82.4 million forcibly displaced people? Said Kirsten Cappy, executive director of I’m Your Neighbor Books. “How do you make newcomers like Afghans and their next generations feel really like they belong in this country?” We tell stories.

Cappy said the $ 15,000 gift would help cover the costs of shipping from host libraries to schools and libraries across the country, who in turn will share the books with community groups interested in welcoming immigrants. The project is currently loaning collections of children’s books and discussion materials to 36 school districts and libraries in the United States and Canada.

“A good story transforms our perception of ourselves and of others,” Hoose said in a statement. “This organization uses books to invite immigrants to see their communities beautifully represented on the page and also to introduce longtime citizens to new American families. I love the way this non-profit organization makes neighbors of us all.

South Portland Mayor Deqa Dhalac, herself an immigrant, said host libraries should be present at every school in Maine.

“It has to be in schools which have colored children and which do not have colored children. The children in these books live in our cities and if you don’t know them you will meet them in books like this, ”Dhalac said.

Michelle Amato, Portland Public Schools program coordinator, said the books invite students to better understand the perspectives of others and to empathize with those of diverse backgrounds and cultures.

“The Welcoming Library’s book collection migrates, as do the immigrant children it represents and includes,” Amato said. “When he arrived at our school, he gave our educators new tools to connect with our immigrant, refugee and new American families. “

“(Hoose’s) donation was a shock. He’s an incredibly generous writer, ”Cappy said. “He has seen the power of books and he knows how powerful they can be. We serve the most powerful change makers in the workplace – children. “

Any educator or librarian across the country will be able to borrow a hospitality library by fall 2022, Cappy said.

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