Sonya Sahni and the First Grade: Its International Day! by Soma Mandal and Tim Williams
Having a foot in two different worlds can be difficult for anyone. Even more so for a kid trying to figure out how to fit in with her friends at school and please her parents at home. Sonya tries her best to do just that in this bright, colourful picture book.
Sonya doesn’t like that her parents push her Indian culture on her. She wants to assimilate into American life and not have to worry about traditional clothes and food that looks and smells different from her peers.
She doesn’t understand that it’s important to acknowledge who she is. She doesn’t have to give up her heritage to fit in at all. To help her see this, her teacher decides to celebrate all of the cultures in the class on International Day. The students fly two flags that day. Sonya sports an Indian flag in one hand and an American one in the other. Her fellow students do the same thing with flags of their ancestry.
The teacher worked with parents to make sure different foods were available for everyone to try. Sonya saw all sorts of different foods that didn’t look like the regular lunches her fellow classmates bought or brought. She started to appreciate the differences and embrace her own heritage.
It is very important for children in our classes to see themselves reflected in the texts we have available. That is why I will be proud to add this to my classroom library.
One criticism I have of this book is that the entire story is written in rhyme. There are times where this seems forced. This story could have been told without the consistent end rhyme. It might have even been more powerful that way.
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