Hi friends! This blog is for teachers and families- all for the sheer joy of literacy. When we are enthusiastic about reading and writing our students and our own kids become excited to read and write. I hope that we all can be models for those in our care- how did you show your passion for reading, writing, learning, language, or words today?? It's in those small, daily moments that we teach kids to love literacy.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Read Aloud Thursday: A Young Sudanese Refugee Comes to America

I read another Karen Lynn Williams book aloud to my students this week, My Name is Sangoel.  If you haven't done so already, check out Williams' website. I think I've found a new favorite author!!

Check it out:

Book description (from back flap/author's website):Sangoel is a refugee. Leaving behind his homeland of Sudan, where his father died in the war, he has little to call his own other than his name, a Dinka name handed down, proudly from his father and grandfather before him.

When Sangoel and his mother and sister are resettled in America, things are supposed to be better but life in their new home is strange and lonely. The refugee camp seems better than this place where no one can pronounce his name and some even make jokes about it. Sangoel quietly endures the homesickness and ignores his mother’s suggestion that he might want to take an American name. He finally comes up with and ingenious solution to this problem and in the process begins to make friends and perhaps feel a little at home.
Co-authored with Khadra Mohammed and Illustrated by Catherine Stock in bright detailed scenes this is a poignant story of identity and belonging that will help young readers understand the plight of many children around the world as well as in their own neighborhoods.

Behind the Story (from author's website):
Four Feet Two Sandals, takes place in Peswar, a refugees camp in Pakistan. Khadra and I knew we wanted to write another book about a refuge child after resettlement in the US, a child who has left the camp, an a story about a refugee from another part of the world, a boy this time. My Name is Sangoel again grew out of Khadra’s intimate knowledge of and experience with refugee children around the world. I too was well aware of the importance of names to all peoples as individuals. It is common knowledge that many immigrants and refugees who have come to the United States have had to change their names or for various reasons had their names changed for them. My own grandfather changed his name after emigrating from Hungary. Like Sangoel he felt unwelcome in his new home. He hoped an American name, easier to pronounce would help him fit into a new culture in his new home. In this story Sangoel solves his problem without changing his name.

How I used this book in the classroom:
I read this book to students in my reading intervention small groups this past week. We talked together about the importance of activating background knowledge while reading. I told my students about a movie I saw about the Lost Boys of Sudan, and how many experiences the characters have in this book are shared by the refugees in a documentary I saw about the war in Sudan. They were eager to share the knowledge they had about refugees and Africa.

I also think this book would I work well when talking about connections with my students. Many of my students are ELL whose families have immigrated to America,  and because of this, they connect strongly to the experiences of a refugee.

I'm linking up to Read Aloud Thursday!

Be Well! Read on!


  1. This does sound like a great book! I read A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park earlier this year and loved it. Here's my review-->

    Thanks so much for linking up to RAT! I know your students are blessed to have you in their lives!

  2. This book sounds compelling! It’s written for the YA audience? I hadn’t heard of Park either- thanks for the introduction (and the link!)


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