Featured KidLit FINDING HOME – Words From Kids Seeking Sanctuary

KidLit TV is honored to feature:
• A Collaboration: FINDING HOME – Words From Kids Seeking Sanctuary •
Written by Gwen Agna and Shelley Rotner
Photographs by Shelley Rotner
Featured KidLit FINDING HOME -u00a0Words From Kids Seeking Sanctuary


• A Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection •

In this photographic picture book, the authors record and transcribe the words of displaced children, raising up their voices—who they are, where they came from, and the many different reasons that they had to leave their home countries.

My parents told me we had to leave to stay safe. I was scared.
We left in a hurry. We could hardly bring anything. I could only take what fit in my backpack.
One day there was everyone and the next day there was almost no one. We had to go too.

This book celebrates the resilience, hope, and joy of children and their families who are seeking asylum. Stunning photographs capture children doing everyday things like playing on the playground, going to school, and meeting new friends alongside their stories of having to leave to their home countries in order to stay safe. The authors transcribed and photographed children from around the world to share their experiences on moving to a new place under extremely difficult circumstances as a way to raise up their voices and humanize people seeking asylum.
Countries include Afghanistan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Bosnia, Tibet, Republic of Congo, South Sudan, Mexico, Syria, Nigeria, Myanmar, and Ukraine. The authors have included backmatter with further information for kids, parents, and educators.

• A Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection •

There are different ways to show and be who you are in this affirming photographic picture book that offers a celebratory and informative look at kids and their wide-ranging gender identities.

“Sometimes it’s hard when kids say you have to be a boy or a girl when you’re not. Everyone should feel safe to just be who they are.”
Girls, boys, neither, both, or just not sure. Kids are kids! There are different ways to show and be who you are. It’s up to you—how you feel, how you dress, how you act, how you play, learn, and love.
Who is the true you?
With the permission of their parents, the children in this photographic picture book were recorded and transcribed by authors Gwen Agna and Shelley Rotner as they were photographed. These powerful testimonials paired with a spare narrative and vibrant, joyful portraits offer up a humanizing and moving exploration of kids and how they feel about their true selves.

ABOUT Gwen Agna

Gwen Agna has been an educator for over 45 years, most recently the principal of the Jackson St. Elementary School in Northampton, MA.  She was trained in early childhood education and strove to promote the principles of child and human development in elementary school classrooms. She did her undergraduate work at Nottingham University College of Education, Nottingham, UK. and has a master’s in education from Antioch New England Graduate School She recently received an honorary doctorate of humane letters from Smith College in Northampton, MA. She was awarded a Fulbright Memorial Teacher scholarship to study in Japan. She was born in Myanmar and lived in Haiti as a child. She has travelled extensively in Asia and Europe. She taught preschool and kindergarten in schools in Ohio, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts. She served as the Northampton Public Schools’ Early Childhood and Civil Rights Coordinator in the late 80’s and 90’s. In this position, she worked to incorporate social justice, anti-bias, and anti-racism in all aspects of classroom practice. She continued this work as the leader of the Jackson St. School. Recently retired, she is, as an elder, exploring all ways to share her knowledge and experience as well as to keep learning from humans of all ages. She is dedicated to making the world a safe and happy one for all children. She lives in Northampton with her husband, Tom Marantz, has two children, and two grandchildren.

ABOUT Shelley Rotner

Shelley Rotner is an award-winning author and photo illustrator of more than fifty books for young readers. With a background as an elementary school teacher, museum educational specialist, and UNICEF photographer, Rotner is also a noted freelance photojournalist whose work has appeared in Time magazine, National Geographic’s World magazine, and numerous others. She is best known for portraying diverse children with inclusivity in her books, notably All Kinds of People and Shades of People, where she explores kids’ worlds to raise awareness and to promote curiosity and compassion. She lives in Northampton, Massachusetts.

Connect with Gwen Agna
Threads | Instagram | Facebook | Website
Connect with Shelley Rotner
Instagram | Facebook | Website
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