From Teaching to Writing
TeachingBooks asks each author or illustrator to reflect on their journey from teaching to writing. Enjoy the following from Lars Ortiz.
Walls and Welcome Mats
by Lars Ortiz
I wrote this book because I’ve been hearing a lot of misinformation about immigrants in the media and especially out of the mouths of politicians. But as teachers we know that facts matter. Words matter. History matters. At its heart, immigration is a deeply human and personal topic, so I wanted to make sure this book touched on who immigrants are and why they choose to upend their lives and move to another country. Immigrants are not just statistics, they are people. They are us. Using engaging pictures and graphs, I share the history of immigration in the U.S. From the early migration of indigenous peoples, and the European waves of the 1800s, to the most recent arrivals from Latin America and Asia. I look at how government laws and policies shape immigration, including those of the Obama, Trump, and Biden administrations. I also cover other current event topics like undocumented immigrants, documented immigrants, and refugees.
When I was in the classroom, I liked knowing how I could use a resource in my classroom the next day, so with that in mind here is a list of possible research topics or extension activities that my book could help facilitate:
-Choose a nation, religion or ethnicity from Chapter 2. When and why did that wave of immigrants come to the U.S.? What kind of discrimination would they have faced?
-Pick a time period and write a story as an immigrant coming to the U.S. for the first time. Describe your backstory and experience.
-Research your own immigration story. If possible, create a family tree.
-Who are the DREAMers and what is DACA?
-Select a myth from Chapter 6 and debunk it. Can you think of another myth not covered in the book?
-Write a short biography about one of the immigrants profiled in the book.
-Make a list of your favorite foods. Figure out how many of them were brought here by immigrants. Invent your own dish.
I’ll bet after reading the book, you could think of countless more!
Books and Resources
TeachingBooks personalizes connections to books and authors. Enjoy the following on Lars Ortiz and the books he’s created.
Listen to Lars Ortiz talking with TeachingBooks about the backstory for writing Walls and Welcome Mats. You can click the player below or experience the recording on TeachingBooks, where you can read along as you listen, and also translate the text to another language.
Special thanks to Lars Ortiz and Lerner Publishing for their support of this post. All text and images are courtesy of Lars Ortiz and Lerner, and may not be used without expressed written consent.