Books DiverseKidLit Picture Books Reading Themes Universal Republic of Childhood

[DiverseKidLit] What It’s Like To Be The New Kid in O’Brien’s “I’m New Here”

Myra here.

Diverse Children’s Books is a brand new book-sharing meme designed to promote the reading and writing of children’s books that feature diverse characters. This community embraces all kinds of diversity including (and certainly not limited to) diverse, inclusive, multicultural, and global books for children of all backgrounds.


We encourage everyone who shares to support this blogging community by visiting and leaving comments for at least three others. Please also consider following the hosts on at least one of their social media outlets. Spread the word using #diversekidlit and/or adding our button to your site and your diverse posts.

Interested in joining as a host or an occasional co-host? Contact Katie at 1logonaut (gmail).

We hope this community will grow into a great resource for parents, teachers, librarians, publishers, and authors! Our next linkup will be Saturday, 02 July.

Most Clicked Post from Last Time

The most clicked post from our previous #diversekidlit is 2016 AmÈricas Award Winning Childrenís Books by Svenja at Colours of Us. She provides a brief description of each of the winners, finalists, and commended titles from this year’s awards announcement. The AmÈricas Award is a great resource for incredible books about Latin America, the Caribbean, and Latinos in the US.


For today’s post, I am following through with the theme of inter-cultural friendship which is also in keeping with our reading theme until end of June: Universal Republic of Childhood. For my Monday reading, I shared Michael Foreman’s Seeds of Friendship and Irena Kobald and Freya Blackwood’s My Two Blankets. It would be good to end the week with this book.


I’m New Here

Written and Illustrated by: Anne Sibley O’Brien
Published by: Charlesbridge, 2015 ISBN: 158089612X (ISBN13: 9781580896122)
Book borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

Classrooms around the world are increasingly becoming multi-racial, with various children from largely different backgrounds intermingling with native-born/local kids, second-generation immigrants, and so forth. In fact, the question “Where are you from?” is becoming contentious as it can signify multiple meanings depending on one’s perspective. Books like these provide a way of easing the transition that a lot of young children are facing. In this story, there are three new kids in school: Maria from Guatemala, Jin from Korea, and Fatima from Somalia.


My own daughter (turning 15 this year) shared with me how her classmates from her international (American) school found her accent strange when we moved here in Singapore nearly eight years ago – and this despite the fact that English was her first language. The combination of a new environment filled with unfamiliar sights, sounds, smells, tastes can amplify this feeling of alienation, and heighten one’s ‘different-ness.’


In this story, some of these sensations have been captured – particularly as it happens in a school context which would make for a good start-of-year discussion with teachers and their students:


While I did find the story too neatly-resolved for my own liking, this would be a good read-aloud to show what it is like to be in the shoes of the “other.” I also appreciated reading a fairly detailed Author’s Note which provided some kind of context as to why O’Brien wrote the story – and how she adjusted as a White American child in post-war South Korea. She also recommended the website I’m Your Neighbor“a project that promotes children’s literature featuring new arrivals” – definitely worth checking out.

Consider pairing with Trudy Ludwig Barton’s The Invisible Boy:


#DiverseKidLit is Hosted By:

Want to be notified when the next #diversekidlit linkup goes live? Click here to join the mailing list. Interested in joining as a host or an occasional co-host? Contact katie at

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Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

3 comments on “[DiverseKidLit] What It’s Like To Be The New Kid in O’Brien’s “I’m New Here”

  1. I’m New Here actually brought tears to my eyes – the author so effectively captures the heartbreaking confusion and isolation that immigration can cause.


  2. This sounds like a very worthwhile read. I’ve read the Invisible Boy and found it exceptional.


  3. This looks like a fabulous book — thanks for featuring it. I’ll need to get my hands on it!


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