WE CAME TO AMERICA by Faith Ringgold


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Age Range: 5 - 7
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A heartfelt U.S. history lesson that’s less about our differences and more about how “We are ALL Americans, / Just the same.”

Known for her trademark folkloric spreads, Caldecott Honoree Ringgold showcases the arrival of people immigrating to America. By way of luscious colors and powerful illustrations, readers embark upon a journey toward togetherness, though it’s not without its hardships: “Some of us were already here / Before the others came,” reads an image with Native Americans clad in ornate jewelry and patterned robes. The following spread continues, “And some of us were brought in chains, / Losing our freedom and our names.” Depicted on juxtaposing pages are three bound, enslaved Africans and an African family unchained, free. The naïve-style acrylic paintings feature bold colors and ethnic diversity—Jewish families, Europeans, Asian, and South Asian groups all come to their new home. Muslims and Latinos clearly recognizable as such are absent, and Ringgold’s decision to portray smiling, chained slaves is sure to raise questions (indeed, all figures throughout display small smiles). Despite these stumbling blocks, the book’s primary, communal message, affirmed in its oft-repeated refrain, is a welcome one: “We came to America, / Every color, race, and religion, / From every country in the world.” Preceding the story, Ringgold dedicates the book “to all the children who come to America….May we welcome them….”

In today’s complex world, this book offers a humbling reminder about our arduous histories, though it has significant gaps. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 10th, 2016
ISBN: 978-0-517-70947-4
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Knopf
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 2016


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