#SurvivalStories2021 Award-Winning Books Early Readers Genre Lifespan of a Reader Picture Books Poetry Poetry Friday Reading Themes Stories Of The Dispossessed

[Poetry Friday] Ode to Migrants Everywhere

"Will I make a good life for my family, for myself?"

Myra here.

Thank you to Bridget @ Wee Words For Wee Ones for hosting this week.


The Great Migration: Journey To The North [Amazon | Book Depository]

Written by Eloise Greenfield Illustrated by Jan Spivey Gilchrist
Published by Harper Collins (2010).
ISBN: 0061259217 (ISBN13: 9780061259210). Literary Award: Coretta Scott King Book Award for Author Honor (2012). Bought a copy of the book. Book photos taken by me.

I have been slowly going through Coretta Scott King Honor books from 2010-2020 for a research project that I am heading here in the UAE, which is how I learned about this title. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the historical narrative of the great migration was told through poems, personalizing the experience, rendering it greater intimacy and power.


In the Author’s Note at the start of the book, Eloise Greenfield provided the historical context of this movement during this period:

Between 1915 and 1930, more than a million African Americans left their homes in the South, the southern part of the United States, and moved to the North. This movement was named the ‘Great Migration.’

I am grateful to picturebooks such as this which provides me a snapshot of the history of the United States in a way that truly makes it come alive. This is keenly felt with Eloise Greenfield mentioning how she was also a part of The Great Migration when her family moved from North Carolina to Washington DC in 1929 when she was only three months old. The jacketflap of the book also indicated how the illustrator, Jan Spivey Gilchrist’s parents made the same movement during this time.

For my Poetry Friday offering, I am sharing Question below as it truly resonated with me – especially since my family and I have essentially been doing this for the past 13 years now, when we moved from the Philippines to Singapore in 2008 and from Singapore to UAE in 2019. Add the fact that husband and I will soon be sending our daughter off to study overseas for college. Without knowing this poem, I realize that this has been our mantra years ago, and will continue to be our mantra in the coming years ahead. This is for im/migrants everywhere in the world.


#SurvivalStories2021 Update: 45 out of target 100

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).

10 comments on “[Poetry Friday] Ode to Migrants Everywhere

  1. bmagee10

    Thank you for introducing me to this book, Myra. As an immigrant to Switzerland I can relate to Greenfield’s poem, Question: “Will I make a good life for my family, for myself?” .I ask this daily… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is a lovely book! The poems and drawings are so powerful and poetry is a wonderful way to tell this story and tap into the emotion of such an event involving so much hope. Thank you for sharing this.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. lindabaie

    This is a new book to me, too, Myra. It looks wonderful & I imagine the rest will be, too. I see how you connect to that poem, gain strength from it, too. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. maryleehahn

    What a great project, to study the Coretta Scott King books! How did I miss this one?!? It looks like a fabulous introduction to The Great Migration. Understanding this period in US history is a key to understanding everything that came before and after. It’s a huge pivot point. I love how you can connect your FAMILY history as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Linda Mitchell

    Thank you for showing this book…I’m always on the look out for books that are not complex to read but complex in thought and issues.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you for sharing this book! As an immigrant myself, the second poem really resonated for me too.


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  9. haitiruth

    I tried to leave a comment here last week, but it looks as though I failed! In my attempted comment, I wrote about recently reading The Warmth of Other Suns, about the Great Migration. SUCH an amazing book, and highly recommended. Ruth, thereisnosuchthingasagodforsakentown.blogspot.com

    Liked by 1 person

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